His sense of strangeness was increased by the surprise of his companion's next speech. You wish to marry my sister-in-law?" she asked abruptly; and DurHis sense of strangeness was increased by the surprise of his companion's next speech. You wish to marry my sister-in-law?" she asked abruptly; and Durham's start of wonder was followed by an immediate feeling of relief. He had expected the preliminaries of their interview to be as complicated as the bargaining in an Eastern bazaar, and had feared to lose himself at the first turn in a labyrinth of “foreign” intrigue.
I started my year of reading Edith Wharton with this novella, first published in a magazine in 1906, because it was the only one of her books on the shelf last time I went to the library. The copy I read has large print, wide borders and several blank pages between chapters, and it's still a slim book that didn't take much more than an hour to read.
The story is about a straightforward and honourable American man who wishes to marry the estranged American wife of an aristocratic Frenchman. Although long separated from her husband, Madame de Malrive is sure that her husband's family will find a way to prevent her from getting a divorce, even though as a Protestant is is not against her religion, and she enlists her sister-in-law Madame de Treymes to help persuade the rest of the family.
It's not much of a spoiler to say that things do not go well for the protagonist. It is obvious from the beginning that the marriage will never happen, and the publishers of my book quote a review on the back cover that gives it away too. I think that the strength of this novella lies in the gloomy atmosphere and the weight of tradition and family hanging over Madame de Malrive, rather than the plot....more
I received a free copy of this book in return for a review, via the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.
I felt I was begining to understand what happI received a free copy of this book in return for a review, via the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.
I felt I was begining to understand what happiness is about. It isn't about guzzling ten or twenty energy drinks a day, barreling down the highway for hours at a time, turning over your paycheck to your wife without even opening the envelope, and trying to force your family to respect you. Happiness is based on secrets and lies.
This book contains translations of stories from five short story collections, dating from 1986 to 2003.
My favourite story was "Whenever I sit at a bar drinking like this, I'm reminded what a sacred profession bartending is"", which involves a long chain of favours. I liked the titles of this and the other stories from "Run, Takahashi!", which were all named after the first sentence of the story. I guess that's the way to go when you can't think what to call your stories!
A lot of the stories seem to be autobiographical, about a young man who comes to Tokyo, bums around for a while before attending art school, developing a love of Cuban music and becoming a film maker. These characters have messed up personal lives although they become well-respected professionally later in life. There also are several stories about call girls and women who fall in love with Cuban dancers. It's all a bit seedy and down-beat, although well-written.
Due to the repetitive themes and the seediness of the stories, I think this is a book best read one story at a time not all at once....more
'What praise is more valuable than the praise of an intelligent servant?' asks the narrator of Pride and Prejudice, in effect echoing Elizabeth's thou'What praise is more valuable than the praise of an intelligent servant?' asks the narrator of Pride and Prejudice, in effect echoing Elizabeth's thought. There is nothing like the verdict of a servant, for the servants see everything, and we as readers should see them watching and listening.
To start with I wasn't sure about this book, as the first 2 or 3 chapters seemed quite repetitive, as they kept referencing the same scenes from the books, but it soon got more interesting. The chapter that explained why everyone in Jane Austen seems to know exactly how much money everybody else has was especially fascinating, and other favourites were chapters about servants, right and wrong ways to propose marriage, and the significance of blushing in the books.
Having re-read Northanger Abbey and Emma last year, I remember the details John Mullan describes quite well, and I am now planning to revisit some of the other books this year, while "What Matters in Jane Austen?" is fresh in my mind....more
A saying: too little too late. They know this, and yet they are doing it anyway. Another saying: every little bit helps. Although actually this is notA saying: too little too late. They know this, and yet they are doing it anyway. Another saying: every little bit helps. Although actually this is not always the case. Indeed, it has to be said that the percentage of old human sayings and proverbs that are actually true is very far from 100 percent. Seems it may be less important that it be true than that it rhyme, or show alliteration or the like. What goes around comes around: really? What does this mean?
By the time I was half-way through the book, I was finding the story very exciting, but also strangely distancing because it is the ship telling the story rather than one of the humans, so the dramas and disasters don't have the emotional impact you would expect. I got more and more into the ship's story as it became more skillful at story telling, following Freya's life but opening the story out where necessary, and deciding that it liked analogies much more that similes and metaphors as they made more sense to it.
I don't want to say much more in case I spoil the book for future readers, but I don't think I've ever read a another generation ship story where they actually arrive at their destination. In "Chaos City" by Alastair Reynolds, a fleet of generation ships does colonise a planet, but the story begins a long time after the settlement of the Sky's Edge and the generation ships are only shown in flashback....more
Her father's comfort was amply secured, Mrs. Bates as well as Mrs. Goddard being able to come; and her last pleasing duty, before she left the house,Her father's comfort was amply secured, Mrs. Bates as well as Mrs. Goddard being able to come; and her last pleasing duty, before she left the house, was to pay her respects to them as they sat together after dinner; and while her father was fondly noticing the beauty of her dress, to make the two ladies all the amends in her power, by helping them to large slices of cake and full glasses of wine, for whatever unwilling self-denial his care of their constitution might have obliged them to practise during the meal.—She had provided a plentiful dinner for them; she wished she could know that they had been allowed to eat it.
What I like about "Emma" is how funny it is, with Mr. Woodhouse's hypochondria (on behalf of his friends and relations as well as himself), and Emma herself trying unsuccessfully to play matchmaker while being oblivious to what the people she is trying to manipulate are actually feeling....more
Everywhere she looked she saw people abasing themselves before her: men bending forward to tie their shoes, women leaning over to rest laden shoppingEverywhere she looked she saw people abasing themselves before her: men bending forward to tie their shoes, women leaning over to rest laden shopping bags on the floor. Bowing down. An illusion, though. There was nothing special about her. She was as perfectly ordinary as anybody else in the world. And the world itself was perfectly unexceptional, ordinary, banal, in cosmic terms a Copernican un-wonder.
Most of the stories in this collection are science fiction, with a few being more like folk tales. I've read one or two of them before, definitely "Shall I Tell You The Problem With Time Travel", which is a tale of time travel experiments and nuclear bombs, and either "ReMorse" or something with a very similar premise.
My favourite stories were "Anticopernicus", "Me-topia" in which humans have left the polluted earth to genetically engineered Neanderthals, and "Thrownness" about a man who is transferred into a new, but very similar, alternate world every 3 days....more
High, high above, just before the top of the tower had broken, hung the wound of a mighty sword, a window petalled by glass ... magenta and maroon, crHigh, high above, just before the top of the tower had broken, hung the wound of a mighty sword, a window petalled by glass ... magenta and maroon, crimson and carmine, blood, scarlet, madder and pomegranate – it bled, this glass, every petal, and as it fell down towards the east, the sunrise, it paled through every flushed nuance of roses.
A while ago, I asked for recommendations of books set in alternate versions of cities other than London, and someone recommended the Secret Books of Paradys. A couple of years later, I finally got round to borrowed an enormous omnibus edition of The Secret Books of Paradys from the library, intending to take it back to the library after reading the first two books and borrow it again later to read the other two books, as I tend to get bored with series if I read the books too close together. But by the time I finished the second book there was no sign of boredom or my interest flagging, so I decided to carry on and I’m glad I did, as this is a fantastic and fantastical series, and I enjoyed each book better than the last.
Paradys is an alternate version of Paris, and the stories are set at various times in its history from the last days of the Roman Empire to the 20th century.
The Book of the Damned contains three novellas set in Paradys, an alternate version of Paris, the first in the eighteenth and/or early nineteenth century, the second in the Middle Ages, and the last at the turn of the twentieth century with flashbacks to the time when the city was ruled by the Romans. The stories are linked by windows with coloured glass, jewellery in matching colours (a ruby ring, a topaz cross and an earring decorated with a sapphire spider), and characters who present as both male and female.
The Book of the Beast is the story of a family cursed by demonic possession linked to an ancient amulet, from the time the amulet is given to a Roman centurion stationed at Paradys until the curse passes to a student who is lodging in the family’s mansion after the death of the centurion’s last descendants.
The Book of the Dead contains individual short stories short stories about death, linked by someone walking through graveyards and past solitary graves and telling stories about the occupants of various marble tombs and graves.
The Book of the Mad contains three novellas set Paradys and the equivalent cities in two other worlds. The stories of a girl sent mad by love who is sent to a nineteenth century asylum, an artist imprisoned in a much more salubrious mental hospital by greedy relatives who want to steal her inheritance, and a homicidal brother and sister in a decaying city, are linked by the siblings uncle, who found a way to move between the worlds and made them his heirs in two worlds....more
'A lot of nonsense is spoken about that fellow,' said MOHmie Yin. 'If you listen to the rumours he's ninety percent Grendel and only ten percent man!'A lot of nonsense is spoken about that fellow,' said MOHmie Yin. 'If you listen to the rumours he's ninety percent Grendel and only ten percent man! But I refuse to believe he's a superman. He's only a man. He's not even the shadow of his own reputation.'
I borrowed this book from the library as it's been on my wish list for a while, and by the end of the prologue I knew it would be great. Each of the three parts of the book features a different murder mystery, but they are howdunnits rather than whodunnits as you know right from the start that Jack Glass is the murderer and there is an element of a locked-room mystery in all three.
The ending of part 1 is absolutely crazy and I wouldn't have guessed it in a million years, although once I knew the solution I could see that there had been clues throughout the story. I had a vague idea about what might have happened with the third murder, but not really close enough to say that I guessed the solution....more