A companion piece to Life after Life which switches viewpoint to that of Teddy the brother of Ursula the main focus of the earlier book.
Seemingly veryA companion piece to Life after Life which switches viewpoint to that of Teddy the brother of Ursula the main focus of the earlier book.
Seemingly very different to Life after Life we are not presented with alternate timelines where various characters die and are then resurrected to live an alternate story. Its the tale of Edward from his early life through his wartime role as a bomber pilot and his post war marriage to Nancy and raising of his daughter Livia and his grandchildren Bertie and Sunny through to his old age and death.
The story jumps backwards and forwards in time giving viewpoints of different events from different characters viewpoints but subtly intertwining the stories, building up a strong narrative focus and fore-shadowing later events in the story.
A wonderful story told well with characters, some you will love and some you will loathe and maybe both at the same time. Its in turns funny, moving and horrifying. I'm not sure I fully understood the ending but it affected me emotionally and thinking about it sometime after finishing seemed right and made the book even stronger to me elevating it to a (for me) rare 5 star status....more
An almost straight mystery style novel from Stephen King with only a hint of the supernatural and horror that is his key calling card.
The detective inAn almost straight mystery style novel from Stephen King with only a hint of the supernatural and horror that is his key calling card.
The detective in fact doesnt make an appearance until a 100 pages or so into the book and it has a literary theme where a J.D.Salinger type reclusive writer, Brady Rothstein, is murdered not just for the money but for the rumoured 18 years of work he has stashed away without releasing a word during that time and Misery style revenge for his key hero selling out in the last book.
The author most obviously invoked in the main trilogy of Rothstein is John Updike who's 'Rabbit' series of books starting with Rabbit Run most closely invokes the Jimmy Gold trilogy here presented as The Runner, The Runner sees Action and The Runner Slows Down and possibly Philip Roth's Zuckerman series.
20 years after the murder a young kid called Pete Saubers finds a treasure trove containing a fair sum of cash and Rothsteins missing novels. He uses the cash to help out his parents - the father having been one of the victims of Mr Mercedes first killing/maiming spree in the first of the trilogy. He also discovers a deep love of Rothsteins books and in particular two follow up books to the Jimmy Gold trilogy which rehabilitate Jimmy Gold from his apparent selling out in the third book.
As always King excels at the everyday (and not so everyday) life struggles of middle America but here he also brings out his love for literature through the eyes of Pete Saubers and Rothstein's killer who unusually has a deep love of literature driving his homicidal rages.
This book is the second in a proposed trilogy of books about Bill Hodges. The retired detective in Mr Mercedes and his oddball sidekicks Holly and Jerome.
I've been looking for this book for ages as one of my missing 1001 books you must read but found it dreadfully disappointing.
It sounds on paper that iI've been looking for this book for ages as one of my missing 1001 books you must read but found it dreadfully disappointing.
It sounds on paper that it might be great fun with a megalomaniac, self aggrandising, vitriolic, waspish, anti-left wing minor cleric actually becoming pope. In a modern idiom think David Starkey making PM.
I quite liked the first chapter (chap 0) which introduces the character and his cat after he has been out of clerical world due to wrongful allegations (largely unspecified) about him.
After that it gets denser. Hadrian tends to make up his words based on a supposed Greek/Latin base and spells common words in strange ways - Xystine Chapel, yearnest etc etc. This occasionally might be fun but becomes extremely wearing after a while.
The first chapters go through the papal election process in wearying detail giving the names of every cardinal in every round of voting and who they voted for.
Following chapters go on and on about someone's indiscretions without being very clear what they are and given Mr Rolfes predilections its probably just as well.
'Comic' relief is provided by his vulgar landlady and a Keltic (here we go again) Socialist who also does the novel a good turn towards the end.
Its quite possibly my fault for not paying attention but I struggled through this to the last page.
I found myself getting to the end of a page or even a chapter and realising I haven't understood a word of what was going on.
Frederick Rolfe himself was apparently much like his character - see second para of this review (using the nom de plume Baron Corvo and shortening his forename to Fr to make it look like he was in holy orders).
His biography The Quest for Corvo - An Experiment in Biography by A J A Symons is supposed to be very good background to the real Mr Rolfe but I think I might pass. ...more
I started reading the Ellen Marriage translation - which is the version most often found for free on Project Gutenberg et al - but I found that very hI started reading the Ellen Marriage translation - which is the version most often found for free on Project Gutenberg et al - but I found that very heavy going.
I happened to come across this version (Penguin Classics trans Olivia McCannon) and found it much easier to read.
What a fantastic book with fascinating characters and plenty of drama and pathos. This is part of Balzac's massive novel sequence La Comedie Humaine which involves characters introduced in earlier (or later!) works but I understand are not sequential and can be read stand alone.
It is set in a seedy boarding house in Paris in the early part of the nineteenth century.
Each of the guests in the boarding house has their own story to tell but the main protagonist appears to be Rastignac - a young student, Vautrin - a powerful man of dubious morals and the titular Old Man (Pere) Goriot who's relationship with his two children is central to the plot.
This is my second Balzac after Eugenie Grandet which I enjoyed but this is the first one I've read which I feel sets the tone for the complete comedie.
Even minor characters are fully fleshed out and the effect is extremely engaging.
It struck me that this was incredible filmic you could make up scenes in your mind. If only Marcel Carne (of Les Enfants du Paradis) had filmed this it would have made a magnificent film....more
Cosiest of cosy classic era crime stories nowhere near the class of a Dorothy L Sayers or even an Agatha Christie but nice undemanding reading all theCosiest of cosy classic era crime stories nowhere near the class of a Dorothy L Sayers or even an Agatha Christie but nice undemanding reading all the same which is what I needed at this time. I started and finished it within a day.
Apparently a big best seller in the UK over Christmas 2014 - largely, I think, because it is set over Christmas and has a nostalgic, evocative cover of a snowbound steam train.
Whenever my children came up with a life or ethical problem I would often refer them to a televisual example of where a character resolved that issueWhenever my children came up with a life or ethical problem I would often refer them to a televisual example of where a character resolved that issue or where they did exactly the opposite.
A rich source of these bon mots was the Simpsons. e.g. Homer -
'If something's hard to do, then it's not worth doing.'
'Here's to alcohol, the cause of, and solution to, all life's problems.'
I've threatened to do an episode by episode analysis of The Simpsons laying out the life lessons (or anti-lessons) and picking up all the little references and parodies of books, film and tv shows they sneak in to every episode and call it Philosophy of the Simpsons.
Its highly unlikely I get round to it especially since they're still going strong and producing 20+ new episodes every year and I'm also sure someone else has thought of it and much of the information is already on the net.
Anyway my daughter thought it would be fun to buy me this book to show that it had indeed been done.
It wasn't quite what I had in mind but I gave it a go.
I enjoyed some of the earlier sections such as Bart and Nietzsche and the section on Simpson Themes but oh boy does it get bogged down in some heavy philosophical discussions with an occasional mention of a simpsons episode to make it relevant.
One for the philosophy geeks who like to leaven their studies with some jocular references to the Simpsons rather than Simpsons geeks who want to pick up a bit of philosophy.
I didn't want to give it less than 3 stars in case it upset the daughter but I was sorely tempted. D'oh!...more