Much tighter than Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy or The Honourable Schoolboy, which makes sense, since I think it was earlier and Le Carre was still proMuch tighter than Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy or The Honourable Schoolboy, which makes sense, since I think it was earlier and Le Carre was still proving his chops. You can see why it got all those accolades. Le Carre is the master of capturing subtle body language in his characters. The ending is so perfect ... prima facie, incredibly depressing, but still expressive of a kind of existential defiance, a refusal to simply accept being made into a pawn by men above morality ... and of course there's the moral complexity, though in Leamas's famed speech to the girl near the end, the reader does kind of get hit over the head with it....more
I really enjoyed this travelogue about the Alps, which I was interested in and picked up when I saw it in the bookstore, since I'm going to be spendinI really enjoyed this travelogue about the Alps, which I was interested in and picked up when I saw it in the bookstore, since I'm going to be spending a couple of weeks in the French Alps in September (!) - it was a pretty easy-going, charming read about a bunch of places I've always wanted to go to. Here's my favorite passage:
"There is the princess of the moon, who came to marry a prince of these mountains. In her trousseau she brought to earth a brilliant moon flower, the edelweiss, to brighten the severity of the brooding peaks. But soon she fell ill, disheartened by the darkness of the mountains at night, so unlike those of the moon. The prince, in despair, took to wandering the forests of the kingdom. There he came across a Salwan, a cave-dwelling dwarf leader whose scattered people possessed magical powers. On hearing of the prince’s plight, the Salwan summoned his fellow dwarves together, and the next night they set to work. Standing on the jagged peaks, groups of Salwans captured the moonlight and wove it into a magical, glowing cloth, which they then draped over the mountains. This is why the Dolomites are also called the Pale Mountains. The moon princess, on seeing this transformation, was overjoyed, and her homesickness vanished."...more
Really enjoyed this - a historical mystery novel set in turn-of-the-century Vienna, featuring the Wittgenstein family (as in, Ludwig Wittgenstein, ofReally enjoyed this - a historical mystery novel set in turn-of-the-century Vienna, featuring the Wittgenstein family (as in, Ludwig Wittgenstein, of Tractatus-Logico-Philosophicus fame. This is the third in the series and the second one I've read, and this one was just as satisfying as Requiem in Vienna was, that is, very!...more
I really, really enjoyed this mystery set in turn-of-the-century Vienna, featuring appearances and cameos by all kinds of famous historical figures. TI really, really enjoyed this mystery set in turn-of-the-century Vienna, featuring appearances and cameos by all kinds of famous historical figures. The premise is that someone is trying to kill the composer Gustav Mahler. In the course of the investigation, we also meet Hugo Wolf (a great composer of art songs), the artist Gustav Klimt, the critic Eduard Hanslick, journalist Karl Kraus, and on and on. Of course, it helps that I was sort of familiar already with some of the historical framework - so I got the same sort of thrill from reading this as from watching the movie Midnight in Paris - seeing people you've only read about as historical figures come to life in a mystery novel (as on screen) was sort of like walking into a resaurant and recognizing a group of modern celebrities hanging out.
I've sometimes thought turn-of-the-century Vienna was one of those golden ages and places that I'd like to go back to and visit with a time machine, just because it was such a hotbed of artistic and cultural and intellectual activity at the time. I finally got my wish, thanks to J. Sydney Jones. If you're not familiar with the era, Jones's book makes a fun introduction. As a book (vs. time machine), Requiem in Vienna is well-written and seemed decently plotted to me - I haven't read enough mysteries to compare it to others in the plot department, but it seemed to have the usual twists and turns, plus some unexpected ones, and the characters were likeable and charming. It was also interesting to how the historical issue of anti-Semitism was portrayed, since the main character is Jewish.
I appreciated that this story was a bit less grisly and hard-boiled than some of the (few) contemporary mysteries/crime novels I've read. Yes, there is some violence and death, but it still made for a comfortable, pleasant read, and as I said, the characters were charming and I enjoyed getting to know them. I recommend this, especially for anyone who loves classical music or cultural history....more
This was a YA Christian Historical Romance that I got through a first-reads giveaway. It's set in Germany in the Middle Ages and is about a teenage giThis was a YA Christian Historical Romance that I got through a first-reads giveaway. It's set in Germany in the Middle Ages and is about a teenage girl who's apprenticed to a healer and falls in love with a handsome, rich duke's son. I'm tempted to give the book only two stars, but since I don't think I'm the book's target audience, I feel like that wouldn't be quite fair. I think the target audience is Christian teen girls, and I'm, well, not a Christian teen.
The strengths of the book for me were that it's kind of a sweet story and an easy read, with enough suspense to keep me turning the page. Also, for much of the book the Christian elements were not so heavy-handed as to turn me off.
The weaknesses were that often the writing is repetitive, the characters cliched and two-dimensional, and the plot a bit obvious. The hero is described in similar terms over and over and over again. The man is invariably masculine, strong, handsome, noble-minded, chaste, and tender. And at the end, the Christian elements became not just heavy-handed but in my view verged on silly and superstitious - (view spoiler)[the heroine is beset by devils, which the hero has to cast out in the name of Jesus, making me feel that the author embraces the medieval world view a little too sincerely (hide spoiler)].
But, on the whole, this might make a nice light read for an undemanding Christian reader....more