Midnight in Europe encapsulates the frantic effort and energy devoted to preserving the republican government during the Spanish Civil War. While thesMidnight in Europe encapsulates the frantic effort and energy devoted to preserving the republican government during the Spanish Civil War. While these efforts proved futile, the dedication of those individuals fighting against Franco and his Falanage-led coalition proved a greater reflection of the war that consumed Europe a few years later. Furst does an admirable job of capturing this chaotic era, especially with his snapshot approach to characters and viewpoints. He adds layers to his contemporary characters by flipping major characters from other books, such as S. Kolb and Count Polyani, into peripheral players. This shows how interconnected Europe was even after the tribulations of the First World War and the political factionalization of the '20s and '30s, but also speaks to how so many influential members of the Continent's government and society simply allowed the fascist movements to press on with their ambitions in the testbed of Spain....more
**spoiler alert** George Moore played with more than a few interesting concepts and a particularly intriguing character in his novella, but I am left**spoiler alert** George Moore played with more than a few interesting concepts and a particularly intriguing character in his novella, but I am left with an overall feeling of disappointment after reading Albert Nobbs. The story is restricted in many ways by its narrative-near stream of consciousness-format that rudely grabs its characters and forces them into an all too brief, staggeringly linear format.
Besides Albert herself, the cast of Moore's store are little more than set pieces in an equally shallow sketch of nineteenth century Dublin. Albert's employers, associates, and acquaintances (there were no characters that knew Albert in any appreciable sense) are almost as much spectators as the reader and offer little more than an outlet to emphasize the tragedy of Albert within the novella's framework. The exception is the painter Hubert, another woman masquerading as a man, whose existence requires a suspension of disbelief I was a bit too unwilling to make. Two women successfully hiding as men in Victorian society is plausible, but the incident of two such women meeting by accident is mechanical and an example of the narrator's naked hand exposed as a magician caught in the middle of an illusion.
With its stifling form and heavy reliance on all to convenient coincidence, Albert Nobbs reads as a story that would do quite well as either a play or a film. It's no surprise Moore's work was transformed into both. I am assuming both the play and the recently released film must take extensive liberties with Moore's original story. At less than 100 pages, the original text makes for either a play shorter than most street performances or a film easily outstripped by the final project of a film-making course. Moore's rough sketch does provide a framework with wealthy potential for someone willing to delve more deeply into the character's possibilities and give Albert's tragedy a certain amount of visual splendor. Glenn Close's touching forward in this specific edition suggests Albert Nobbs found a patron willing to visit its 'perhapser' potential more intimately than its author. I fully expect this to be one of the rare occurrences when the film far outmatches the book....more
I read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in high school and wanted to revisit the book before going to see Working Title's new film version. Le Carre's booI read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in high school and wanted to revisit the book before going to see Working Title's new film version. Le Carre's book is still the high point of espionage fiction for me, and I prefer his work more than Ludlum's overblown action sequences and most of Clancy's Jack Ryan Cold War exploits. I enjoy Tinker, Tailor's feel of cerebral reflection as George Smiley unravels the decades-long Soviet effort to infiltrate the British secret service after most of its explosive flashpoints already passed by. It gives the novel a chilling foreshadowing and dramatic build no action thriller can hope to match.
However, there is one part of Tinker, Tailor that still bothered me as much during this reading as it did during the first one. The start of the novel that introduces Jim Prideaux-the crippled field man of the Circus-before the rest of the cast still comes off as cumbersome, as if the whole chapter was abruptly shoved in as a prologue by some zealous editor. I like the development of Prideaux in exile scattered throughout the novel. It shows how terrifying and bizarre Cold War-era espionage appeared when it intruded into the vision of populace-at-large, but Prideaux's introduction may have enjoyed greater meaning if it was read after introducing Smiley. This would not have greatly diminished the air of suspense.
I also want to go beyond Tinker, Tailor this time and read through the rest of the trilogy describing the Circus pursuit for Karla, the Soviet spymaster. I hope to pick up the immediate sequel, The Honourable Schoolboy after knocking out a few history books and watching Gary Oldman and Colin Firth delivery a knock-out performance in the Tinker, Tailor film!...more
I stuck with Harry Turtledove for a long time, and I was incredibly devoted to his Timeline-181 and World War series. However, the later books in bothI stuck with Harry Turtledove for a long time, and I was incredibly devoted to his Timeline-181 and World War series. However, the later books in both series showed a disturbing tendency to produce characters that were impossible to be emotionally invested in or even care if they lived or died. That trend is continuing into the new Hitler's War series. Turtledove's history is spot on. There can be no doubt that the man does his research, but at the last page I honestly couldn't have separated one of the characters from the other. I may glance at the following sequels to Hitler's War at the bookstore or library. I doubt I will find enough to really make me want to pick them up and add them to my personal collection. ...more