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review 2018-02-17 11:00
The Powerful Heritage of a Woman: The Loving Spirit by Daphne du Maurier
The Loving Spirit - Daphne du Maurier

In spite of its title, the novel The Loving Spirit isn’t just another one of those shallow romances set in the picturesque landscape of Cornwall that swamp the book market. Much rather the English novel from 1931 is a family saga with obvious echoes of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and poetry.

 

Spanning a hundred years, it shows the fate of four generations of the Coombie family starting in 1830 with wild Janet whose boundless love not only marks her own life but also that of her descendants... including that of her unloved son who makes a fortune to gain power and have his revenge to the very last. But he can't destroy the strong seed that Janet planted.

 

Please click here to read my long review on Edith’s Miscellany!

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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review 2018-02-10 11:00
An Ex-Soldier Finding His Way at University: Bells Above Greens by David Xavier
Bells Above Greens - David Xavier

Here's a review of light young adult fiction for a change:

 

Sam Conry is nineteen, but he has already seen a lot since he was a soldier in the Korean War for nine months and he lost his admired older brother. Now he is back to the USA and he meets the girl whom his brother wished to present to him as a surprise... and his fiancée. After the summer Sam resumes his studies at the University of Notre Dame where also his late brother's girlfriend Elle is a student at St. Mary's College. Sam drifts through student life - confused and without direction.

 

You'd like to know more? Find my review here on my book blog Edith's Miscellany!

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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review 2018-02-03 11:00
Rebirth of an Orphan Girl: The Encyclopaedia of Good Reasons by Monica Cantieni
The Encyclopaedia of Good Reasons - Monica Cantieni,Donal McLaughlin
Grünschnabel - Monica Cantieni

Here's the sublime debut novel of a - so far - rather unknown Swiss author. As a matter of fact, the book won the most renowned Swiss literary award. The story is simple and yet gripping:

 

Being only six years old and an orphan girl she is a greenhorn in life and in a family, when she arrives at the home of her new parents sometime in the 1970s. They are Swiss, but not particularly well-off so they live in a poor immigrant neighbourhood on the outskirts of Zurich with all its problems. The little girl needs to learn an awful lot and not just new words that she stores in all kinds of boxes (following the suggestion of her new father). With the help of her new - senile - grand-father Tat she finds her way.

 

To know more about this Swiss novel, I invite you to click here and read my long review on my main book blog Edith's Miscellany!

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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review 2018-01-27 11:00
War and Peace in Classical Japan: The Heiké Story by Yoshikawa Eiji
The Heike Story: A Modern Translation of the Classic Tale of Love and War (Tuttle Classics) - Fuki Wooyenaka Uramatsu,Kenkichi Sugimoto,Kenichi Sugimoto,Eiji Yoshikawa

Japanese literature has a lot to offer although little is available in English translation. One of the great writers known also in the western hemisphere is Yoshikawa Eiji.

 

The Heiké Story is an epic story of war and peace with sentimental sidesteps – set in Classical Japan and based on true events as well as characters! Well, not as epic and colourful as the Japanese original must be because the translator took it upon himself to decide which plotlines and details might be interesting for western readers. Despite all, the life story of Heita Kiyomori is an intriguing novel that makes the classical "Tale of the Heike" accessible to modern readers.

 

Please click here to read my long review on my main book blog Edith's Miscellany!

 

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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review 2017-10-04 11:00
The Longing for Love: Marie Grubbe by Jens Peter Jacobsen
Marie Grubbe: Seventeenth Century Interi... Marie Grubbe: Seventeenth Century Interiors (Dedalus European Classics) - Jens Peter Jacobsen,Mikka Haugaard

In the nineteenth century the discoveries of Charles Darwin not only revolutionised science and introduced the idea of evolution into human thinking, they also changed literature inspiring authors to a new approach to fiction writing. One of the first in Northern Europe to break with Romantic narrative tradition and to begin telling stories in a naturalistic style that showed man as a beast driven by instincts and urges was Danish botanist and writer Jens Peter Jacobsen (»»» read my author’s portrait). After his successful literary debut with a short story, he published in 1876 the historical novel Marie Grubbe. A Lady of the Seventeenth Century (Fru Marie Grubbe. Interieurer fra det syttende Aarhundrede). It is loosely based on the true story of a Danish noblewoman who died in 1718.

 

Jens Peter Jacobsen introduces Marie Grubbe as a slim and delicate girl with luxuriant hair of dull gold strolling in the gardens of her father’s estate in Tjele in Jutland. She is fourteen years old, motherless and according to the housekeeper, who is also the mother of her illegitmate baby half-sister, she is stubborn and bad. When war with Sweden breaks out, her father takes Marie with him to Copenhagen wishing her to stay with her wealthy aunt there. In fact, the widowed aunt is well-connected with the Royal Court and men like Ulrik Frederik, the favourite illegitimate son of the King, frenquent her house. Marie, however, is a romanitc child and has a crush on the King’s brave half-brother who successfully defended the city against Swedish attack. By the age of seventeen Marie has turned into a pretty young woman with many courtiers and Ulrik Frederik is one of them. Since he is a handsome and very promising young man, Marie agrees to marry him although she loves him only “after a fashion”. After a quiet wedding they pass passably happy months together until the King calls Ulrik Frederik to arms against Spain and he gladly departs to prove himself in combat. Upon his return he is a different man. His violent behaviour, his heavy drinking and philandering repulse her, so she refuses herself to him. What follows are nearly ten years of constant fight that after many tribulations and interference of their families end in divorce after all. And Marie sets out on a journey to Paris with her brother-in-law and lover who leaves her as soon as he realises that she has used up all her money. Grudgingly she returns to live with her father on his estate in Tjele in 1773. After six years her father persuades her through different threats to marry Palle Dyre, a counsellor of justice to the King whom she despises. For ten years their lives are eventless except for “endless quarrelling and bickering, mutual sullenness and fault-finding”. Then the coachman Soren Sorensen Moller commonly known as Soren Overseer enters into her life. She is forty-six and he twenty-two years old…

 

The wild and headstrong Marie Grubbe who isn’t willing to content herself with being well provided for by just any suitable husband higher or equal in social status as her surroundings expect is sometimes called the Danish Madame Bovary, but having read both novels, I can make out only one similarity, namely the fact that the protagonists are women who driven by their longing for romantic love and happiness break social conventions. The plot isn’t particularly complex, the psychological depth, on the other hand, that Jens Peter Jacobsen lends his leading character is remarkable and outdoes even Gustave Flaubert in my opinion. In fact, much of the book’s charm lies in the skilful and meticulous depiction of the thoughts, emotions and unconscious urges of Marie Grubbe. Together with the precise and detailed illustration of scene, society and history it makes a gorgeous novel. To my great relief, Jens Peter Jacobsen’s writing style isn’t longwinded and flowery as that of many of his precursors and contemporaries which made the read very pleasant for me and amazingly modern too considering that the novel first appeared in 1876.

 

It goes without saying that the works of Jens Peter Jacobsen are all in the public domain by now although there may be newer translations that aren’t. Nonetheless, an English edition of Marie Grubbe can be downloaded for free from Project Gutenberg for instance.

 

Marie Grubbe: Seventeenth Century Interiors (Dedalus European Classics) - Jens Peter Jacobsen,Mikka Haugaard 

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