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review 2018-03-12 23:00
Fun Beginning to Tommy & Tuppence
The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence #1) - Agatha Christie

I haven't really focused on Christie's non-Poirot/Marple books. Last year I said j would read all of Christie's other books and I just got busy and lost interest. Now I'm ready to take a look at her other works. There's also a rereleased of a biography coming out soon about Christie that I can't wait to read. 

 

"Secret Adversary" is flawed, but I enjoyed it. The plot gets down right ridiculous after a while and there's way too many coincidences to make the story work, but Tommy and Tuppence are great partners and it makes me think that this is what I wanted "The Thin Man" to be more like. 

 

The characters of Tommy and Tuppence were fun. They were weirdly apart for most of the book, but still were totally in each other's corners. I did laugh at Christie saying how Tommy isn't attractive and Tuppence was just okay. And it's even said many times that Tommy is not that smart. She does love disparaging her creations, it's kind of funny to read a book where the main characters are not beautiful and the smartest things ever. 

 

The secondary characters were sketched with broad strokes. We get a millionaire American that I felt was just a walking talking stereotype of an American. We get mysterious women and a mysterious man hell bent on wrecking England. I had a hard time swallowing this storyline in The Big Four and didn't buy it here either. 

 

The writing takes a bit to get used to, but I didn't find it hard to understand the dialogue between characters. The flow didn't work though. Some scenes felt endless. 

 

The setting of post war England shows that not everything is coming up roses. Tommy and Tuppence are both struggling to make ends meet and there frank conversation about marrying for money was funny, but also realistic.

 

The ending was rather sweet I thought. You have Tommy and Tuppence setting off together in more ways than one. Going to read book number two soon. 

 

This book is available via public domain. I would say that the formatting drove me up the wall. I'm glad I got it for free, but now I'm wishing I just paid for a version. 

 

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review 2018-03-03 00:05
When Dr. Watson Met Sherlock Holmes
A Study in Scarlet - 'Leo Zanav', Arthur Conan Doyle

Well this book is free, so if you want to read about how Dr. Watson first came to meet and live with Sherlock Holmes on Baker Street, here you go.


I actually thought that the character of Dr. Watson and Sherlock read as very young to me. Sherlock is so excited about things and Dr. Watson is a bit nonplussed at times with Sherlock. I liked that Sherlock doesn't talk down to Watson and that Watson gets a very clear idea early on that Sherlock is quite brilliant.

 

The first case this two work together "A Study in Scarlet" finds them going to a crime scene where a man is found dead with the word "Rache" on the wall. With Scotland Yard trying to solve the case, Sherlock steps in and shows how to properly deduce the guilty parties. 

 

I enjoyed Watson and Sherlock in this one. Even though I saw some hints of Sherlock not being overly impressed with the deductions made by Scotland Yard, it wasn't written as nasty. 

 

The story falls a part a bit in my opinion when Doyle takes the action to Salt Lake City (the Mormon community). I seriously was confused for a couple of minutes and actually wondered if I had gotten the wrong book and just kept reading. That whole segue ruined the flow of the book. It just felt like we got a random information dump in the middle of the book that does not quite work. 

 

The solution felt a little too elaborate for me. Reading this after "Murder on the Orient Express" was probably a bad idea. Christie does a better job of setting up her mysteries I think than Doyle does. 

 

I read this for Kill Your Darlings and Horror Aficionados Public Domain Challenge. 

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review 2018-01-20 11:00
Abused and Shunned by Society: The Diary of a Lost Girl by Margarete Böhme
The Diary of a Lost Girl (Louise Brooks edition) - Thomas Gladysz;Margarete Bohme
Tagebuch einer Verlorenen - Margarete Böhme

This forgotten classic from Germany was a best-selling novel in 1905 and translated into many languages.

 

It was also widely read for nearly three decades – until the story of a fallen girl from a bourgeois family who sees no other way to survive but prostitution was pushed into the abyss of oblivion because it didn’t fit into the ideal and virtuous image of Germans that Nazi propaganda created. Mute films made of it had the same fate although the 1929 film of G. W. Pabst starring Louise Brooks is much appreciated by enthusiasts like the editor of the again available English edition of the book.

 

Please click here to read the full review on my main book blog Edith’s Miscellany!

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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review 2017-04-05 11:00
A Widower’s Grief: Bruges-la-morte by Georges Rodenbach
Bruges-La-Morte - Georges Rodenbach,Will Stone,Mike Mitchell
BRUGES LA MORTE - GEORGES RODENBACH

Women or men who need to come to terms with the loss of a loved one are popular figures in literature. Often, the grieving find new joy, maybe even new love by the end of the story and at first this also seems to be the case in the late nineteenth-century novel Bruges-la-morte by almost forgotten Belgian journalist, poet and novelist Georges Rodenbach (1855-1898). But he was obsessed with death and so it’s little wonder that his symbolist chef-d'œuvre first published in 1892 is a thoroughly gloomy piece of prose poetry, a short Gothic novel in the vein of his contemporary Oscar Wilde. The book focuses on the melancholy scene of dead or moribund Bruges in Belgium at least as much as on the woebegone protagonist who has chosen the city to indulge in his infinite sorrow after the death of his adored wife and in keeping her memory alive.

 

The central figure of Bruges-la-morte is the widower Hugue Viane who is forty years old and whom the author describes as prematurely aged by grief. In the opening scene, aptly set on a day in November, he has been living in Bruges for five years, i.e. ever since the day after his beloved wife had died. It was the bleak atmosphere of the mediaeval city with its many convents, dark canals and narrow streets that brought him there because it corresponded perfectly with his anguish and allowed him to get completely wrapped up in mourning. In the first edition of his short novel Georges Rodenbach included several black-and-white photos of the city to increase the effect of his very poetical though sombre portrait of Bruges. But he shows the city also as a place of deep religiosity and he makes Hugue Viane live on Quai du Rosaire (Quay of the Rosary!) where a big procession passes every year on Ascension Day. To the widower his house is less a home than it’s a shrine dedicated to his dearest departed. Above all, the drawing rooms serve him as places of adulation. With great skill and in great detail Georges Rodenbach evokes the feeling of two rooms crammed with all kinds of memorabilia of Hugue Viane’s late wife. Some of them can be called her relics with due right, notably the long blonde plait that, on one of the last days of her suffering, he cut from her head instead of just a curl and that he keeps under glass on her now mute piano. The plait is so sacred to him that he doesn’t even dare to touch it! As can be expected of an inconsolable mourner, he leads a withdrawn life following an almost monastic routine. Mostly, he stays at home in his room, but in the late afternoon, he likes to go out for a walk through the city that he loves at this time of day because it’s sad like him. During one of these solitary walks, a woman looking just like his late wife crosses his way. The encounter is so brief that he isn’t sure that he really saw her. Nonetheless, he begins to search her during his walks and one evening there she is again. He follows her into the theatre where she is a dancer. Not without hesitation he addresses her and he can’t help beginning an affair with the woman who seems a second chance for happiness with his wife resurrected. And thus fate takes its fatal course…

 

Overall, Bruges-la-morte by Georges Rodenbach is an impressive short novel that flows over with all kinds of most beautiful allegories and metaphors that not only allow but also inspire thorough analysis. I loved its poetical language that offers lots of remarkable images and that feels exceedingly precise in spite or because of the author’s frequent use of vague or ambiguous words or expressions. For me the read was a great pleasure and I can’t thank enough my friend in Belgium who surprised me with the book past year. It’s a shame that such a marvellous piece of fiction had to remain in the darkness of literary oblivion for a hundred years until someone thought of bringing it back to light… and to the attention of avid readers like me.

 

Bruges-La-Morte - Georges Rodenbach,Will Stone,Mike Mitchell 

 

Nota bene:

Since George Rodenbach died already in 1898, the original French versions of his work are all in the public domain and can be downloaded legally and free from sites like Ebooks libres et gratuits. If old translations of this impressive short novel exist, they might be in the public domain too, but all English editions that I found are of very recent date and therefore copyrighted.

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review 2016-05-28 11:00
A Woman Longing for Peace: The Church of Solitude by Grazia Deledda
Church of Solitude the - Grazia Deledda,E. Ann Matter
La chiesa della solitudine - Grazia Deledda

So here's a classical novel dealing with a very serious topic. This time it's breast cancer. Its author is the Nobel laureate in Literature of 1926 who suffered from breast cancer herself. She died in 1936, the same year when the novel was published.

 

However, The Church of Solitude isn't just the author's attempt to cope with her own fate. Far from it! Like all this writer's novels it offers a very interesting as well as first-rate portrait of rural life on Sardinia, Italy, during the 1930s. Moreover, its plot surrounding a female protagonist who suffers from breast cancer and who longs for nothing but peace and quiet so she tries her best to keep at bay her suitors is touching as well as gripping. I enjoyed the read and hope that the novel will be to your taste too!

 

If you'd like to know about this novel by Italian Nobel laureate, please click here to read my review on my main book blog Edith's Miscellany or you can find its duplicate here  Read the Nobels.

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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