1958. This book is ill-written and otherwise reads like some guy's sexual fantasy. He has two impossibly beautiful women who are wiling to sleep with...more1958. This book is ill-written and otherwise reads like some guy's sexual fantasy. He has two impossibly beautiful women who are wiling to sleep with him and they are also willing to sleep with other women or each other. The story basically makes out that one is evil and one good and eventually he marries the good one. The man gets everything he wants; so boring! Also he is brave and meanwhile sorts out all the political intrigue in a little Italian town. Yeah right.
Garnett wrote a number of novels, so hopefully they aren't all this bad, but it made me think: gosh, they'd publish anything in the 50s!
Interestly pagan in bits. The nominally Catholic peasants are following the cult of Diana without really knowing it. There are witches in the woods. Neither the Church nor the pagans are really criticised, they just hapen to be among the many ridiculous subplots of this poorly conceived work. Oh boy!(less)
This book, written right after WWII, is about an 8-year-old boy, Barney. He's relatively well-off it seems, but he hasn't yet learned the prejudices o...moreThis book, written right after WWII, is about an 8-year-old boy, Barney. He's relatively well-off it seems, but he hasn't yet learned the prejudices of his family or grasped the idea of class. He talks to the black garbage man and plays with the colored children, to use the laguage of the book, and invites the Italian gardener to his birthday party. At first it seems like it's going to be a good moral tale about how he brings round his stuffy grandmother and gets her to let him play with the black kids he likes instead of the stuffy rich kids from his school, but it doesn't turn out that way. It kind of tries to walk a middle line showing things for what they were at the time, but not judging. The black family he befriends initially bring him home when he's lost and then they willingly accept charity from his rich grandfather to help their sick daughter. The tension between the races and classes are occasionally alluded to delicately, but most of it is just assumed to be understood by readers.
It's a nice story, where goodwill between everyone prevails, and even though the issues underlying it all are felt by the reader, they aren't directly addressed by the author. Perhaps at the time it wouldn't have been published had it been any more explicit.
The second half of the book is taken up by his father's escape from France when his 'spitfire' plane is shot down. It is the sort of lucky escape adventure with the help of the French underground that I have often heard before. The Germans and Japs are the bad guys, the French, English and Americans are the good guys and no one is conflicted about any of that. I wonder if it felt that simple at the time?
For a book about WWII it was remarkable that there were no Jews in it and the Jews were never even mentioned although they did throw darts at a picture of der fuehrer at Barney's birthday party. Overall an interesting little time-capsule of the of the zeitgeist of the era. Set in Pittsburgh.(less)
1954. Published in French in 1946. Chantal is a bitter, selfish orphan, who wants nothing but comfort and ease in life and is willing to do almost any...more1954. Published in French in 1946. Chantal is a bitter, selfish orphan, who wants nothing but comfort and ease in life and is willing to do almost anything to get it. She becomes the mistress of a married man who keeps her lavishly in her own apartment. Suddenly she contracts leprosy and goes off to an island in Fiji, Makogai, to be cured. Her cure takes five years, at the end of which she becomes a nun and goes back to the island to take care of the other lepers. Her change of heart was a little abrupt. Trashy, but enjoyable.(less)
Nobody is this smart anymore, so don't even try to read this unless you're a complete egghead. It went sailing right over my head -- woooo! Almost as...moreNobody is this smart anymore, so don't even try to read this unless you're a complete egghead. It went sailing right over my head -- woooo! Almost as boring as The Late George Apley, which I also read a modern library edition of. I'm beginning not to think too much of their choice of books to publish.
Anyway this is a satire of human society, mostly political and religious aspects thereof. It starts off great: an aged monk, St. Mael, nearly blind, baptizes a flock of king penguins when he gets stranded on their island.
Then God, with the help of the communion of saints, especially St. Augustine, decides to make the penguins human, so that they'll have souls, thus forming the isle and nation of Penguinia from decidedly Roman Catholic beginnings.
I wish they had stayed Penguins. It would have been more interesting. He uses this awesome beginning as a springboard to say some very dry things about human nature, like basically that we're all stupid and contradictory and selfish and vain. Whatever.