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message 1: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2510 comments Mod
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Read any good books lately? We want to know about them.
How about real stinkers? We want to know about those too!


Enter your reading list and/or reviews here. Did you like it? Hate it? Feel lukewarm?

Share your thoughts with us.

Happy reading!

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message 2: by James (new)

James F | 1605 comments Karl Popper, The World of Parmenides: Essays on the Presocratic Enlightenment [1998] 328 pages

This book is a posthumously published collection of Popper's writings on the Presocratics (mostly; there is some discussion of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle). The essays were written over a nearly forty year period (the earliest was from 1958, and some were still being worked on when he died.) As one would expect, given Popper's own philosophy of science, he constantly modified his views as a result of criticism and self-criticism, but there is a constant thread through all of them.

The first essay, and the earliest, is his 1958 Presidential Address before the Aristotelian Society, "Back to the Presocratics", in which he outlines his viewpoint on the Presocratics as essentially the first thinkers in history to form a critical tradition, one in which hypotheses could be improved by criticism rather than simply accepted or rejected as dogmas. I've long held the same view of the Presocratics, and I largely agree with Popper's viewpoint (although he sometimes interprets them as coming a bit too close to his own philosophy of science, which he calls "critical rationalism"). Like most writers on the Presocratics, he is in my opinion unfair to Anaximenes; if he had applied his own view that the Presocratic philosophies were all based on criticism of their predecessors, rather than taking Anaximenes as a sort of exception who didn't really understand Anaximander's ideas, I think he might have seen that Anaximenes represented a step forward rather than a step backwards. I know I'm in a minority here and I might not be understanding him correctly -- after all we don't have anything but a few fragments and testimonia to go on, but the ancients themselves considered him as the culmination of the Milesian philosophy and they knew more about both Anaximander and Anaximenes than we do. This is just a minor point, however.

The second essay is one of the best things I have ever read on Xenophanes -- actually the only thing I have read that takes him seriously as a thinker.

Most of the book, however, is devoted to Parmenides, and contains four versions of Popper's argument as he developed it over time. I agree with Popper's views that Parmenides was one of the most important figures in the history of philosophy, and has been long misinterpreted; and that the Way of Seeming is intended seriously and is also a step forward, especially in astronomy, although it was soon to be superseded by the Atomists, who came to their view through criticism of Parmenides. (Popper totally ignores Anaxagoras, who I think was also reacting to Parmenides.) He has two very interesting if unprovable (and unrefutable!) ideas about the origins of the Way of Truth -- that it may have been suggested by Parmenides' discovery that the phases of the Moon are illusions caused by reflected light from the Sun; and that he may have been color blind (or had a blind relative) -- to understand this argument you need to read the book.

The longest essay is his Opening Remarks to a 1965 Conference on Philosophy of Science, "Beyond the Search for Invariants", in which he argues that Parmenides' ideas have been one of the major tendencies in the history of science right down to the present, and discusses Parmenidean and anti-Parmenidean hypotheses in science, inter alia in Newton, Einstein, and thermodynamics.

The later essays are "work in progress", many fragmentary, but of interest.


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Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2510 comments Mod
The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzmán by Louis de Bernières
The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzmán – Louis de Bernières –
3.5***
The third and final installment in this author’s “Latin American Trilogy” returns to the village of Cochadebajo, in the mountains of an unnamed South American country. I love these books. I love de Bernières’s clever writing and vivid imagery, the outlandish plot points, and outrageous scenarios. The reader who can suspend disbelief and tolerate a great deal of magical occurrences will be delighted. However, I definitely recommend you begin with the first book in the trilogy: The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts.
LINK to my review


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Melissa (melissasd) | 857 comments Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2) by Deborah Harkness
Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2) by Deborah Harkness
4 ★

Diana and Matthew travel back to 1590 to look for Ashmole 782 and to find someone to help Diana discover her magic and teach her how to use it. There is a whole cast of new characters. Some are fictional and some are non-fictional. The author did a ton of research for this book and did an excellent job putting it all together. The connections between the past and the future (or present) are quite evident throughout the book and I enjoyed how the author included a chapter from the future that ties Diana and Matthew's adventures in 1590 to the present time period. They only thing that bothered me was that it took so long to get to the main reason for the trip. Matthew ends up dealing with a lot of personal business in 1590 and Diana gets herself noticed too much by the witch hunters. There is so much going on that you almost forget why they are even there. Things finally come together around part 3 and the story moves pretty quickly from there.


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Koren  (koren56) | 668 comments Words Will NEVER Hurt Me by Sally Northway Ogden

5 stars

I first heard of Sally Northway Ogden when I watched a video at the school where I worked and immediately came home and researched any other books or videos she has. This book is geared more towards adults who want to help kids who are bullied. I bought this book to help my granddaughter who gets teased because she is overweight. We discussed it quite a bit and I think she is going to go back to school with some useful tools to help her combat the teasing. If you get a chance to watch a video by Sally please do as she is extremely funny. One of her tools to combat the bullies is to come back at them with humor.


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Trying to catch up ... I am three weeks behind!

Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman
Up the Down Staircase – Bel Kaufman – 4****
An idealistic teacher clashes with school bureaucracy and struggles to reach her students in a large metropolitan high school. This is written in a kind of epistolary style – notes in the suggestion box, memos from the school principal or nurse or clerk, letters written to a college friend, messages from fellow teachers, items posted on the bulletin board, etc. It makes for a fast and very engaging read, and lends an air of verisimilitude. Hard to believe this was written in the ‘60s and still stands up today.
LINK to my review

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Moonraker (James Bond, #3) by Ian Fleming
Moonraker – Ian Fleming – 3***
Book three in the original James Bond series. This novel focuses on cold-war sensibilities about a decade post WW2. The reader gets what’s expected: danger, car chases, explosions, dastardly villains, beautiful women, and ever debonair, intelligent and resourceful Bond.
LINK to my review


message 7: by James (new)

James F | 1605 comments Terry Pratchett, Sourcery: A Novel of Discworld [1988] 253 pages

Book five of the Discworld series, this belongs to the same subseries about Rincewind the Wizard as the first two books, which is generally not the best writing in the series in my opinion (the character of Rincewind, the inept and cowardly wizard, becomes rather tiresome at times, although he sometimes rises to a higher level against his usual desires). If this hadn't been written nine years before the beginning of the Harry Potter series, I would have dismissed it as a Harry Potter clone; but since it came first, it has a certain interest as a possible source: it is about a school for wizards (although at the university rather than boarding school level), there is a "sourcerer" or powerful but evil wizard who wishes the wizards to rule the world (under his rule, of course) similar to Voldemort, a magical talking wizard's hat that decides destinies and reminded me of the "sorting hat", and a group of three, two male and one female, who form the opposition and try to save the world. Of course, there is going to be a certain similarity in any fantasy about magic and wizards, and Discworld is all about parodying the usual tropes of the genre, but at times these books read like children's or YA novels with adult protagonists and some sexual allusions thrown in. It's still better than the formula fantasies, and I like some of the humor although it seemed a little bit forced in places.



Kim Man-Choong, The Cloud Dream of the Nine: A Korean Novel; A Story of the Times of the Tangs of China About 840 A.D. (translated by James S. Gale) [ca. 1689; tr. 1922] 307 pages

I read this for a World Literature discussion group on Goodreads (the same group for which I read the Jamaican literature last year and the Chinese science fiction for the first half of this year, and which will be spending a year or so on Korean writing; it's expanding my horizons in literature.) Kim Man-Choong (or Man-jung, to use the more modern transliteration) was a seventeenth-century (1637-1692) Korean author, and this is apparently considered a classic of Korean literature. It is the first Korean work I have read, so I don't really have much background for appreciating or discussing it. The version I read is an old translation by a Christian missionary; there is a more recent translation which is currently well beyond my budget, but which will be issued in paperback sometime next year.

The story is set in China under the Tang dynasty; there is a frame story about a Buddhist monk named Song-jin, who is punished for his momentary failure in ascetic attitude in talking to eight beautiful fairies by being reincarnated as So-Yoo, a poor young scholar. The novel then follows the life of So-Yoo and his marriages to eight beautiful women, who are actually the eight fairies also being punished by reincarnation; he becomes a rich and powerful official of the Emperor. I wouldn't mind being punished like this. The eight wives are far more interesting and active characters than I would have expected in a novel about polygamy; two dancing girls, a rich daughter and her maid, a sword wielding assasin, a mermaid princess, and the only daughter of the Emperor, all of whom are poets and scholars in their own right. At the very end (if this is a spoiler, the introduction already tells you everything about the plot), he suddenly realizes without any preparation that human happiness is transient, the old monk collects him, and he finds himself in his old cell, the whole live of So-Yoo having been a "cloud dream". The eight wives show up as the eight fairies and they all devote themselves to Buddhist asceticism.

The story of So-Yoo is an interesting love-story; I'm sure I would have appreciated the book much more if I were familiar with the conventions of this type of literature (and knew Korean). I found it difficult to take the frame story seriously; it seemed like the old porno stories that tacked a moral on the end to try to claim to the censors that they were promoting virtue. Perhaps a Buddhist would find it more convincing.


message 8: by Melissa (new)

Melissa (melissasd) | 857 comments The Keepsake (Jane Rizzoli & Maura Isles, #7) by Tess Gerritsen
The Keepsake (Rizzoli & Isles #7) by Tess Gerritsen
5 ★

When a mummified corpse found in a museum turns out to be a recent murder victim, Rizzoli and Isles are thrown into the world of archaeology and the process of mummifying a body. This was probably my favorite Rizzoli and Isles book so far. There is so much interesting information. I very well researched book. Rizzoli is still dealing with her parents divorce and Isles is still in love with someone she can't have, but they aren't the main focus of the book, which I find to be a good thing. The story flows smoothly from start to finish with the chapters from different character perspectives. I like when authors do that. It keeps the suspense up. The surprises and twists in the story continue to the very end.


message 9: by James (new)

James F | 1605 comments Terry Pratchett, Wyrd Sisters: A Novel of Discworld [1988] 373 pages [Kindle]

The sixth book in the Discworld series, and the second in the "Witches" subseries, this is full of allusions to literature, especially Shakespeare (and particularly MacBeth). Probably the best of the six I've read so far.


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Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2510 comments Mod
After the Funeral (Hercule Poirot, #29) by Agatha Christie
After the Funeral – Agatha Christie – 3***
Oh, I love Hercule Poirot and his little grey cells. Always entertaining and always keeping me guessing. Here we have quite a number of characters, all of whom seem to have some motive for killing Cora Lansquenet and/or Richard Abernathie. The killer and Dame Christie cleverly give us many red herrings, false clues, misleading statements, and seemingly meaningless occurrences to confuse, baffle and thwart any attempts at solving the mystery. But, of course, Poirot will unveil the killer.
LINK to my review


message 11: by James (new)

James F | 1605 comments W.K.C. Guthrie, The Sophists [[1971] 345 pages

Originally published as part one of his History of Greek Philosophy, v.3: The Fifth-Century Enlightenment; part two has also been published separately as Socrates, which I will be reading in a month or so. I read the first two volumes of the History, on the Presocratic natural philosophers, almost fifty years ago; they are still the best books I have read on the Presocratics. Like the Presocratics, the Sophists are known only through fragments and generally hostile references in Plato and Aristotle, and even more than in the first two books this is a speculative attempt (though based on what evidence we have) to reconstruct their thought.

As the subtitle of the original version indicates, the Sophistic movement had many similarities in themes and spirit with the Enlightenment of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and Guthrie points them out. He makes the point that there was no real "school" of Sophists, and they differed on most points among themselves; what makes them an identifiable group is not the answers they gave but the questions they were concerned with, many of which were first raised in the fifth century BCE and are still being debated today. These thinkers are far more interesting to me than the more conservative Plato, and it is really unfortunate that their works have been lost; Guthrie suggests that it was because they were more topical than systematic writers and that Plato and Aristotle more or less superseded them, but I think it is also due to the fact that all ancient writers had to pass through the bottleneck of copying by the Christians and Moslems in late antiquity and the Middle Ages, and these writers were simply not as congenial as Plato and Aristotle to the religious-minded. Guthrie unavoidably has to discuss the Sophists largely on the basis of the use of them as characters in Plato's dialogues, which probably gives a fair idea of what the movement as a whole was like but is very unreliable when it comes to the specific positions of particular figures.

Most of the book is organized by themes, such as the Nomos-Physis (Convention vs. Nature) opposition, the idea of the "Social Compact", Ethical Relativism, Rationalizing of Religion and Skepticism, etc. At the end he briefly discusses the ten individuals we know the most about, Protagoras, Gorgias, Prodicus, Hippias, Antiphon, Thrasymachus, Critias, Antisthenes, Alcidamas, and Lycophron, and tries to reconstruct their positions as coherent approaches. Not surprisingly nearly all of these figure as characters in Plato's dialogues.


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Cactus Blood A Mystery Novel by Lucha Corpi
Cactus Blood – Lucha Corpi – 1*
Book two in the Gloria Damasco mystery series. She’s a private detective in training, with a gift for premonition…. Or at least vividly violent dreams that seem to come true. The plot was all over the place and I didn’t care about any of these characters. If it wasn’t a selection for my F2F book club, I would not have finished it.
LINK to my review


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The Pearl Thief (Code Name Verity #0.5) by Elizabeth E. Wein
The Pearl Thief – Elizabeth E Wein – 3.5***
This is a prequel of sorts to Wein’s Code Name Verity , giving readers a little background on the character of Julia Beaufort-Stuart. It’s a good mystery and coming-of-age tale set in 1938 in the Scottish Highlands. I thought Wein did a good job of moving the plot forward and keeping the reader guessing. There are plenty of suspects and certain bits of evidence point first in one direction and then in another. Author notes at the end give additional information on the Travelers and on Scottish river pearls.
LINK to my review


message 14: by James (new)

James F | 1605 comments Mia Couto, Every Man is a Race [1990, tr. 1994] 118 pages

Mia Couto is one of the best-known writers of Mozambique; he won the 2016 Neustadt Prize, at which time I read his 1992 novel The Sleepwalking Land (translation of Terra Son âmbula) which is probably his best-known work. The little I know about him is from the front matter of the book; he was born in 1955 in Beira, Mozambique, and, although white, he was involved in the independence struggle and became an official under the post-independence government. The present collection of short stories combines some of his 1989 stories from his newspaper column "Cronicando" with a collection of stories from a book published with the same title (in Portuguese, Cada homem é uma raça) in 1990.

This is his third book, after a volume of poetry and an earlier short story collection. It contains eighteen stories. The stories range from straight realism to "magical realism"; his style in some of the stories is the closest to Gabriel Garcia Marquez of anyone I have read. Many of them, like the novel I read before, are concerned with the problems of colonialism, the independence war and the subsequent civil war. All are extremely good and thought-provoking. I will be reading many of his later books.


message 15: by Melissa (new)

Melissa (melissasd) | 857 comments Alight (The Generations Trilogy, #2) by Scott Sigler
Alight (The Generations Trilogy #2) by Scott Sigler
3 ★

Em and the others from the Xolotl have landed on the planet Omeyocan and must now work together to find food and explore the land. They find many drawings on buildings that suggest that the Grownups lived there at one time. They also find that Omeyocan is already inhabited. Now Em and the others must learn how to get along with the planets tribe and keep one of their own from destroying them all. Plus, are the Grownups really gone?

Alight moves along at a very steady pace. It starts off where the first book ended, so the reader hasn't missed anything. It's almost confusing at times because the group has only been "alive" for a few days, but they are all maturing quickly as their makers memories come back. The species they find on Omeyocan are interesting and advanced. I really liked them. It's a great story about a group of "kids" who try to become who they want to be instead of who they were born and programmed to be. I look forward to reading the last book in the trilogy, but I hope the author goes into more detail about why the Grownups left Omeyocan and what actually happened on the Xolotl. There are many unanswered questions.


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Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm – Kate Douglas Wiggins – 4****
What a delight this classic is! From the first introduction, as she boards the stagecoach as the lone passenger, Rebecca charms and entertains. She is ever curious, constantly moving, always exploring, and chattering away. I wish Wiggins had written a sequel; I sure would read more about Rebecca as a young woman. She’s every bit as engaging and interesting as Anne Shirley (of Green Gables).
LINK to my review


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Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
Ordinary Grace – William Kent Krueger – 4****
Krueger is best known for a series of mysteries set in Minnesota. Here he departs from that formula to write a stand-alone novel that explores issues of family loyalty, decency, and faith. The catalyst this particular summer is death – an accidental death, a natural death, a murder, a suicide. Through the Drum family we see how differently people react to death in this small town, where every person, related by blood or not, is somehow close to you and any death affects you. This is the first book by Krueger that I’ve read. It will not be the last.
LINK to my review


message 18: by James (new)

James F | 1605 comments Khalid Hosseini, Sea Prayer [2018] 48 pages

Hosseini, the author of such best-selling novels as The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, wrote this short book in reaction to the deaths of the refugees, many of them children, fleeing Syria for Europe in 2015. I'm not certain how to describe it; it has the form of a children's picture book, with full page water color illustrations by the British artist Dan Williams, and Amazon lists it as "Age Level 7 and up" and "Grade 2 and up", but the Library of Congress catalog record goes out of its way to code it as "adult" (usually they only include an "audience" code if it's not for adults.) The book is in the form of a letter to a young boy, and would probably be understandable to someone in the middle grades, but I think it was probably intended for adults. The Library of Congress also classified it as prose fiction, but most of the early reviews I have seen (it was only released today) call it "poetic" and it seems to me to be in free verse. Whatever it is, it makes a strong statement about those who haved been forced to flee the political and religious violence in their country.


Terry Pratchett, Pyramids [1989] 321 pages

The seventh book in the Discworld series (I'm planning to read one more in order and then begin skipping), this is a "stand-alone" in the sense of not being part of any of the subseries (all but the first and second novels are "stand-alone" in the sense that they don't have to be read in order and don't depend on earlier books). It begins with a short section on the "Assassins' Guild" but the major portion of the book takes place in Djelibeybi, the Discworld equivalent of ancient Egypt, and is full of clever allusions to Egypt and classical Greece, obviously intended as satire of wossname. Probably the main point is about religion, with the gods becoming real and how that terrifies their priests (imagine the terror our televangelists and Christian rightists would feel if Jesus turned out to be real and showed up to hold them accountable.) The situation is too removed from modern times to be really powerful as satire, though, and the novel is really more comic than satirical. It was worth reading, though not particularly outstanding.


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The Widow Clicquot The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It by Tilar J. Mazzeo
The Widow Clicquot – Tilar J Mazzeo – 3***
Subtitle: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It. Mazzeo’s biography is sparse on intimate detail, due to lack of personal letters and papers. The result is somewhat interesting but flat. The extraordinary woman at the center of the story never quite comes to life.
LINK to my review


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Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
Cold Sassy Tree – Olive Ann Burns – 4****
Thirteen-year-old Will Tweedy narrates Burns’ historical novel which takes place in the small Georgia town of Cold Sassy Tree circa 1906. Oh ,what a treat this novel is! The characters are richly drawn, and cover the gamut of personalities. I was completely engaged in the story from beginning to end, laughing aloud several times as I watched the residents engage in gossip and speculation.
LINK to my review


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The Little French Bistro by Nina George
The Little French Bistro – Nina George – 3***
A German tourist in Paris runs from her loveless marriage and winds up in Brittany where she finds her inner strength, and love. I liked some aspects and was disinterested in others. (The whole Celtic Druid connection was unnecessary in my humble opinion.) All told, it’s an okay story and there are some moments that are really tender and enjoyable.
LINK to my review


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Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts
Shelter in Place – Nora Roberts – 2.5**
Roberts, best known as a romance writer, turns her attention to the thriller genre, and she fills it will all the stereotypical characters of that genre. There wasn’t much suspense as I could see the end coming practically from the beginning of the novel. Still, it was a pretty fast read and mostly held my attention.
LINK to my review


message 23: by James (new)

James F | 1605 comments Benjamin R. Foster, tr., Before the Muses: An Anthology of Akkadian Literature [2005] 1044 pages

Earlier this summer, I read two anthologies of Sumerian literature in translation, probably the oldest literature written (or at least which survives). This month I followed up with this anthology of Akkadian literature, translated from Old Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian. The book, after a general introduction, is divided into four chapters, the Archaic Period 2300-1850 BCE, the Classical Period 1850-1500, the Mature Period 1500-1000, and the Late Period 1000-100. The assignment of particular selections to periods is often uncertain. Within each period, the selections are organized by topics, as Kings of Babylonia, Kings of Assyria, Mythology and Epics, Hymns and Prayers, Love Lyrics, Folktales and Humor, Incantations, and so forth. Most of the selections are poetry, although there are a few prose works as well. All are newly translated, and this supersedes the much earlier anthologies I have read (e.g Heidel's Babylonian Genesis and the relevant sections of Pritchard's Ancient Near Eastern Texts, although the latter contains some, mainly non-literary texts such as the Law Codes which are not included here.) Most of the selections are complete, although there are a few excerpts from longer works. Among the selections are such major texts as Atrahasis, the Epic of Creation (the Enuma Elish), The Descent of Ishtar, and Erra and Ishtum -- basically everything that one would expect, and all the works that are most often quoted or referred to in books about ancient Mesopotamia. It seems to be a fairly representative view of all the major genres of literature that have survived. Unlike Heidel and Pritchard, the literature is considered for its own sake without a lot of comparisons to the Bible, although it is obvious from the texts that we are in the same world that produced the Old Testament.


message 24: by James (new)

James F | 1605 comments Jane Hawking, Travelling to Infinity: The True Story behind The Theory of Everything [2007] 487 pages

This book is not what I thought it would be. Given the subtitle and the fact that the library record classifies it as Physics Biography, I assumed it would be a biography of Stephen Hawking by his first wife; actually it is her own autobiography. Of course, much of it is about her relationship with Stephen and the battle against his illness, but there is very little about his life except in terms of his relationship to her and their domestic problems. In particular, there is nothing about his scientific work and how he reached his theories (which is what I was looking for in a biography of a scientist), apart from the honors he received from it and the conferences she resented being dragged to, and she admits that she doesn't understand anything about it. (After twenty-five years of marriage!) Actually, this was what bothered me in reading this; I never really understood why they were married in the first place. He was a physicist, an atheist whose major concern in life was trying to understand the origins of the universe in terms of physical laws; she was a Christian who already knew all she wanted to know -- God created it. It's not just that they had different interests, but that she knew nothing about what was most important to him (and at bottom disagreed with his whole endeavor) while for his part he was openly contemptuous of mediaeval studies, which was her main intellectual interest. She says she wanted to be an equal partner, but how could there be any real partnership?

She tells us that she hoped he would somehow come to have faith, and that when he answered journalists' questions by saying that he wasn't a believer and that God had no part in his view of the universe, she felt attacked in her beliefs -- it never occurs to her that he might feel the same way about her religion, which implicitly attacks his whole view of life. (Christians never seem to realize that their views can offend other people; only disagreement with them is offensive.) The more the difficulties in their marriage, the more she turned to the Church for support. She constantly harps on the fact that they never really communicated -- not just after he lost his speech, but from the beginning of their relationship. Wouldn't that be a warning flag? This is certainly an honest book, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the truth -- it's what she felt, at least in retrospect, but not necessarily the way an outside observer would interpret things, and certainly not the way that Stephen and his family saw it (she was shocked that his family did not approve of the marriage.)

Stephen's short autobiography, very much unlike this book, scrupulously refrains from any criticism of her, and gives a very different view of her relationship with Jonathan and the reasons for the break-up. Even from her own book, I was shaking my head. I have no doubt that she was loyal, devoted, and suffered a great deal in caring for him -- but despite her constant refrain about how much she loved him, I got the impression that she was acting out of duty and a feeling of guilt if she abandoned the burden of his care. I'm sure that if he had been healthy, their marriage would have been much shorter. In the end, they broke up (the book is very bitter in its description of his second wife, whether or not that is justified) and she ended up marrying her religious friend Jonathan, who shared her religious views and with whom she had a real partnership based on a common interest in music -- the sort of person she obviously should have married in the first place.

According to the publisher's description, this is "an extensively revised version (with new material) of Music to Move the Stars, first published by Macmillan in 1999"; while it does have nine pages at the end bringing it up to 2007 (and four short paragraphs from 2014), she describes it in the acknowledgements as an abridgment of the earlier book. Summary: if you're interested in the dynamics of a failed marriage, or in the problems of being a caregiver to a severely disabled spouse, you may find this worth reading; but if you are interested in Stephen Hawking as a physicist, this is not relevant.


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The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan
The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir – Jennifer Ryan – 4****
Among the many novels about World War II, this one stands out for its focus on the women left behind. Set in an English village, where most of the men are off to the fight, and the women have stepped up to the task of keeping things going. The novel is told by a series of diary entries and letters. I was engaged and interested from beginning to end, and thoroughly enjoyed spending time with these ladies!
LINK to my review


message 26: by James (last edited Sep 30, 2018 07:00PM) (new)

James F | 1605 comments Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!: A Novel of Discworld [1989] 355 pages

The eighth Discworld novel and the first in the City Watch subseries. A satire on government corruption and the willingness of people to accept authority, the book deals with a plot to overthrow the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork and its consequences. The protagonist, an honest and idealistic but very naive young man from the mining country (where he was raised by dwarves), becomes a member of the City Watch, the corrupt and discredited police force of the city. Along the way are many jokes and allusions based on cop shows. At times, it was difficult to understand because of the amount of British slang. As with most of the books in the series, there was also much play with fairytale and fantasy motifs, here especially concerning dragons. Some great lines about libraries. A light, enjoyable but not especially profound novel.


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