Certainly not what I expected, although I am not sure what my expectations were. Anyway, La Douleur is a compendium of half a dozen short stories abouCertainly not what I expected, although I am not sure what my expectations were. Anyway, La Douleur is a compendium of half a dozen short stories about the months before and after the end of World War II. From what I know, it is part autobiography and part fiction, but that's not the point of the novel. It is very interesting to see how Paris was at that time, how war and the aftermath transformed people, how the pain of what they had been through transformed them. Duras has a very... let's say I was surprised that her writing was not at all ornate but quite simple and direct (contrary to a lot of French writers, not that I think one is better than the other). To sum up, it was an interesting book, but it didn't stir any particular feeling in me. ...more
When I started this novel I certainly did not expect it to be so... philosophical in a way. Through the eyes of Shevek, a physicist, we are introducedWhen I started this novel I certainly did not expect it to be so... philosophical in a way. Through the eyes of Shevek, a physicist, we are introduced to the worlds of Anarres and Urras. Urras is kind of similar to what the Earth was back in the 1970s; a capitalist country – huge inequalisties, low social mobility, no welfare state, etc –, a communist country - i.e. the USSR -, and some poorer countries that are a bit chaotic. In Anarres we find the Odonians, who left Urras 170 years ago to create a society free of government, of laws, of hierarchies, where everyone would be free! I was very impressed by how LeGuin showed the weaknesses of each regime, and especially this "anarchist utopia". Can humans really be free of social conventions, of subtler forms of power? To survive in a hostile/arid environment, don't we need to create a dogma, rules, and punish, even if not through a legal system, any deviations? I found this part extremely interesting, but was a tinsy bit bored by the plot overall and all of the physics talk (it can really get very tedious in some points). ...more
2.5/5 Feel-good and predictable novel set in Colorado sometime between the 1980s and the 1990s. The story is narrated through the POV of five character2.5/5 Feel-good and predictable novel set in Colorado sometime between the 1980s and the 1990s. The story is narrated through the POV of five characters that slowly come together. It's nice to read, there's no surprising turning point; it's basically a series of things you'd expect to happen in a small town in the US. The writing is decent so that the book doesn't bore you to death, but I still don't understand how this series is so popular. ...more
This is a clear and concise investigation of the disappearance of the princes in the tower. Inspector Grant is in hospital bored to death until his frThis is a clear and concise investigation of the disappearance of the princes in the tower. Inspector Grant is in hospital bored to death until his friend recommend him to investigate one of History's mysteries. This is a very short book but I really recommend it to people interested in the War of the Roses and the figure of Richard III. I am not a Historian so I cannot assess whether what the author presents in this book is actually real or not. However, as far as I know, you only get facts in this novel and there is little place left for speculation. Through Inspector Grant, Josephine Tey conducts a meticulous enumeration of the facts previous to the supposed disappearance and what ensued to all people that could have been involved or that benefited from it. Let me stress the fact that this is a very readable (even light) book, it is not something written by a historian but a novelist! ...more
This is a very unconventional book that is extremely well written, it reads like poetry. The topic is a bit truculent, there are certainly some surpriThis is a very unconventional book that is extremely well written, it reads like poetry. The topic is a bit truculent, there are certainly some surprises, but, above all, I think it is a must from Spanish literature (and, unfortunately, not very well known!)...more
Ah, I had high expectations for this one, but no. The story starts with the affair between Stephen and Isabelle, which is kind of... physical. They raAh, I had high expectations for this one, but no. The story starts with the affair between Stephen and Isabelle, which is kind of... physical. They ran away, then she gets pregnant (doesn't tell anything to poor Stephen who left his job and has now become unskilled labour) and then she feels a pang of guilt (catholic upbringing has much to do with it I fear) and goes back to her abusive husband. And then the war starts. I liked the war part way better, it is very realistic no doubt, and the last part was really dramatic. Anyway, nothing beats All Quiet on the Western Front in terms of WWI-set novels. ...more
Reading this book brought back memories from when I read Memoirs of Hadrian., by the same author. Being both novels biographies of sorts, the writingReading this book brought back memories from when I read Memoirs of Hadrian., by the same author. Being both novels biographies of sorts, the writing style is similar: precious, elegant, intricate, just as you would expect a cultured frenchmen to talk. However, whereas Memoirs is narrated by Hadrian himself, this novel has POVs, all using the third person. Finally, although both apparently tell the story of a man, what the book really is about is an era, being the Roman Empire or the Renaissance. The main character is a man named Zenon, whose life remains quite a mystery for a good part of the novel. He is an alchemist, a doctor, a philosopher. He is, above all, someone who seeks knowledge and that has a moral code that clashes with what prevailed in 16th century Holland.
I did not think much of the characters, what was interesting were the conversations between Zenon and some other character, or the chapters devoted to a character that does not seem to be very connected to the plot. In such occasions you can delight in quite extensive philosophical discussions on religion, the idea of God, as people from that time thought about it. I also learned about all the socio-political and religious conflicts that took place in Holland and Germany during that time (Munster, the Peasant's Revolt, the Reform, etc) and what it meant then.
However, some parts of the novel were rather slow and well... Boring. But overall I enjoyed the novel, Yourcenar writes wonderfully well....more
I'm not very fond of comedy fiction but I must admit I had a lot of fun reading this one. Although the back-and-forth pregnancy and the absurd/messy sI'm not very fond of comedy fiction but I must admit I had a lot of fun reading this one. Although the back-and-forth pregnancy and the absurd/messy situations when two characters seem to be unable to understand each other were a bit tiring (and repetitive)....more
What a strange book... it took me a while to get into the story, basically because I'm in the middle of my finals and I don't have much time to read aWhat a strange book... it took me a while to get into the story, basically because I'm in the middle of my finals and I don't have much time to read and, consequently, a read a bit in a hurry. And this is definitely not the way to read this book. The main character, Gallip, one day comes back home and realises his wife, Ruya, has left him. He believes she has run away with Celal, his step-brother and a famous columnist, and that they are hiding somewhere in Istanbul. So he starts looking for them and, in the process, he starts discovering who he is and who he wants to be. It is so beautifully written. And yet. During most of the book I had no clue where the story was leading, I did not see the purpose of anything. So, instead of getting a bit upset because of the lack of direction of the plot, I decided to sit down, relax, and enjoy the writing. It was the correct decision. After finishing the novel I think I know what the direction was, but there are still a lot of questions in the air (which I think is intentional). I really enjoyed this book, I liked it much better than Silent House....more
First time in 2014 I've read a book worthy of 5 stars. It's a brilliant book, I'm still overwhelmed by this book. It's so intense, so powerful and draFirst time in 2014 I've read a book worthy of 5 stars. It's a brilliant book, I'm still overwhelmed by this book. It's so intense, so powerful and dramatic (not melodramatic), that I simply wasn't able to concentrate on anything while I still had some pages left to read. It's been six years since the last time I read All Quiet on the Western Front, which still remains one of my favourite books, and only a couple of months ago I started to wonder whether Erich Maria Remarque had written any more books. And he had! So, the natural place to start with was with the so-called sequel to his most famous novel. It starts in the last months of the war, in April 1918, but quickly moves to peacetime. Actually, you actually get to know more how life was in the trenches through the character's memories than during those 40 odd pages at the beginning. However, they are also interesting because they will serve as a contrast in the interaction between a group of six or seven soldiers who were only 18 when they became soldiers, and now they have to come back to civilian life. At the beginning, even if Ernst is the narrator, we don’t know much about him. Most of the story is about what happens to his comrades, to the company of men he is with, they are a community. But this stops when they come back from the war and need to adapt to their civilian lives. They lose touch and they become different people, so that even they cannot understand each other. It's a beautiful book, beautifully written (something that already fascinated me from his first novel), and it's a pity that this translation is not very good (or that's my feeling). But it's very tough to read sometimes, the accounts of what happened in the war, or the despair of some former soldiers, who see that they are no longer fit for "normal" life, they cannot adapt to society, that war has killed them in some other cruel way. It is also a very interesting portrait of German society after the war and it gives an intuition of what happened later. Anyway, great book, the best I've read this year so far. It's not required to have read All Quiet on the Western Front to understand it! ...more