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A post to recap the past week on your blog,
showcase books and things we have received.
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on your blog for the week ahead.
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So far, preparing this Sunday Post has been very helpful: I have read 10 books so far this year, and have reviewed them all. I may finally have found the solution – after 10 years of book blogging, that’s a relief.
JUST READ/LISTENED TO
📚 Pietr-le-Letton [Pietr the Latvian]
Read for The Classics Club. It was written in 1931.
It’s fun (re)discovering (I think I may have read some Maigret, decades ago) how Maigret is first portrayed, with his pipe at the corner of mouth and his bowler hat.
You can definitely feel a Sherlock Holmes influence (how he gives details about a body, his attention to the details of the ear, apparently a sure way of identifying someone), plus a more modern touch.
I liked also the international dimension. Basically, Maigret is called to help arrest an international crook. He goes to the train station, but when the train arrives, a murder has been committed in the train. The body does look like Pietr, but Maigret is not totally sure really if Pietr is the victim or his killer.
Unfortunately, I guessed what was happening fairly early on.
I liked Maigret’s patience, as he waited for the weakness of his suspect, or for a chink in his behavior that would make him or her vulnerable. He called it his theory of the chink, (NB added on 2/1/20: the new translation by David Bellos has “the crack in the wall”, obviously way better translation!!) the moment when the human being showed through the criminal (La théorie de la fissure, in chapter 5). Throughout the book, I liked this cat and mouse play.
Maigret is definitely not presented as a super hero though. He’s really trying to do his job, and makes bad moves, like a bad acrobat (chapter 16). I like this very human aspect.
I was surprised to see what happened to his help Torrence, right in the first book! I won’t give details to avoid a spoiler.
I discovered there was such a thing as PolCod. The novel actually opens with coded messages. The polcod was invented in the early 1920s by the Commission internationale de police criminelle, which then became Interpol. It is a telegraphic code based on a 3 letter system. You can see the codes here.
Looking for this, I stumbled upon the Maigret Encyclopedia!
Added on 1/28:
My French student commented that besides the pipe and a hat, Maigret is really not like Sherlock Holmes: he is not a hero like him, he is presented here with weakness, he is even wounded here. He is more human. His assistant is already killed in volume 1 (will he get a new one??), and he’s married (poor wife!!).
We are going to read volume 2 together in February: Le Charretier de la Providence.
So even though it was not a spectacular mystery, it was an enjoyable and quick read.
This Maigret series has been recently re-translated in English, so you can enjoy it in English.
📚 And Then was reviewed here
📚 The Haunted Bookshop (1918), by Christopher Morley
Sequel to the delightful classic book on books: Parnassus on Wheels
I listened to it for The Classics Club.
“The new life the itinerant bookman delivers to Helen McGill, the narrator of Parnassus on Wheels, provides the romantic comedy that drives the novel. Published in 1917, Morley’s first love letter to the traffic in books remains a transporting entertainment. Its sequel, The Haunted Bookshop, finds Mifflin and McGill, now married, ensconced in Brooklyn. The novel’s rollicking plot provides ample doses of diversion, while allowing more room for Mifflin (and Morley) to expound on the intricacy of the bookseller’s art.”
The book was very disappointing compared to book 1, Parnassus on Wheels.
And despite the word haunted in the title, don’t think it’s about ghosts or the like.
The center of the plot is the mysterious disappearance of a book in a bookshop.
But it’s slow, definitely not a page-turner, and there are too many long digressions. In these the author talks at length about the job of booksellers. The digressions I thought were much more interesting were about and against the war (the book was published in 1918). In this regards, the end of the book was satisfying, though I hated what happened to the books and to the dog near the end.
There are a few, not very subtle, funny passages, but romantic comedy is not really my thing. I did laugh about why Trollope turned out to be very useful in one of the last scenes!!
Still, it is a book about the love of books. So you may glean a few gems here and there.
“I have never read King Lear, and have purposely refrained from doing so. If I were ever very ill I would only need to say to myself ‘You can’t die yet, you haven’t read Lear.’ That would bring me round, I know it would.”
The narrator is very good, if you plan to listen to it (Blackstone Audio).
But if you want to discover Christopher Morley, read instead Parnassus on Wheels, which is really good!
📚 Theological Territories: A David Bentley Hart Digest
Received for review through Edelweiss
Release date April 15
A collection of 26 essays related to Orthodoxy.
📚 The Gate
Last book in the trilogy after Sanshiro and And Then.
Will be reading for Japanese Literature Challenge 13 and The Classics Club.
“One of the central masterpieces of 20th-century Japanese literature, The Gate describes the everyday world of the humble clerk Sosuke and his wife Oyone, living in quiet obscurity in a house at the bottom of a cliff. Seemingly cursed with the inability to have children, the couple find themselves having to take responsibility for Sosuke’s younger brother Koroku. Oyone’s health begins to fail, and news that her estranged ex-husband will be visiting nearby finally promotes a sense of crisis in Sosuke and forces him temporarily to quit his life of quiet domesticity. Highly prized for the beauty of its description of the understated love between Sosuke and Oyone, the novel has nevertheless remained in many ways mysterious. An analysis of the novel by Damian Flanagan casts fresh insights into its complex symbolism and ideas, establishing The Gate as one of the most profound works of the modern age. ”
I so enjoyed book 1 in this series, that I don’t want to wait and am plunging in book 2.
A mysterious plot involving the Norwegian Prime Minister.
BOOK UP NEXT
📚 The Ten Loves of Nishino
I hope to finally get to this one soon, for Japanese Literature Challenge 13 and also because it’s been on my egalley shelf for a while.
“Each woman in this book has succumbed, even if only for an hour, to that seductive, imprudent, and furtively feline man who managed to glide so naturally into their lives. But who really was Mr. Nishino?
Still clinging to the vivid memory of his warm breath, his indecipherable silences, and his nonchalance, ten women who have loved him tell their stories as they attempt to recreate the image of the unfathomable and seemingly unattainable Mr. Nishino. Through accounts that are full of humor, intelligence, and the bittersweet joys of love, these women evoke Nishino’s image but reveal themselves. Each perspective is both captivating and sensual, droll but important, and each is a variation on themes of love and identity.”
This actually sounds very familiar! And it’s marked as read on my Goodreads shelf, without any date. So it could be a reread…
LAST 2 BOOKS ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR
📚 The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary
Published in 1981
By an author I really enjoy, see Atlantic for instance.
📚 Le Charretier de la Providence [Lock 14 – Maigret #2]
To be read with by one of my French students
“One rainy night a canal worker stumbles across the strangled body of Mary Lampson in a stable near Lock 14. The dead woman’s husband seems unmoved by her death and is curt and unhelpful when Maigret interviews him aboard his yacht. But gradually Maigret is able to piece together their story–a sordid tale of whiskey-fueled orgies and nomadic life on the canals. Can the answer to this crime be found aboard the yacht? Or is the murderer among the bargemen, carters, and lockkeepers who work the canal?”
BOOKS RECEIVED THIS PAST WEEK
📚 No Woods So Dark As These
Release day 8/4/20, received for review
I’m totally thrilled Sourcebooks sent me this review copy. I so enjoy Randall Silvis’s style, see my review of the previous book in this series.
Release day 2/11/20, received for review
A coloring and activity book for kids
📚 I wasn’t able to read anything today, too exhausted a Sunday (which is not unusual) after Church and family get together.
📚 Plodding along on And Then. Some passages about connections between characters were a bit confusing, especially a passage built like nesting dolls. Otherwise, I really enjoy the style. I constantly feel like comparing elements with volume 1, Sanshiro.
📚 I started and read half of Pietr-le-Letton.
Well, I did it again! I had this nice full reading plan for January-March, with a lot of Japanese Literature for Japanese Literature Challenge 13, and here I am starting another book, Pietr-le-Letton, the first book in Georges Simenon’s Maigret series.
My excuse is that one of my French students decided to read it, and as it’s a Classic, and that I was actually planning to read it one day, I thought the day had come. And obviously, it counts for The Classics Club. It was written in 1931.
📚 I finished Pietr-le-Letton. See review above
📚 Theological Territories
I’m now in chapter 6: The Devil’s March: Creatio ex Nihilo, the Problem of Evil, and a Few Dostoyevskian Mediations.
It des help I have read The Brothers Karamazov! The theme of evil is central to it, as well as to DBH’s own theological reflections.
📚 Enjoying a lot And Then
📚 Finished And Then. I reviewed it here.
📚 I finished listening to The Haunted Bookshop, see my review above.
THIS PAST WEEK ON
WORDS AND PEACE
and FRANCE BOOK TOURS
- Sunday Post #21
- Book review: Goddess Power
- Top Ten Tuesday on most recent additions to my TBR
- Spotlight and giveaway on The Permanent Weight Loss Plan
- I posted my notes on Chapter 1 of Theological Territories (yes, I do have another blog, exclusively for Orthodox topics)
- Book review: The Healthy Breakfast Cookbook
- Book review: Logic Puzzles For Clever Kids
- I signed up to the #Pondathon. A team readathon, with points per pages you read and books you finish!
- Book review: And Then
📚 Book tour open for reviews/spotlights: Landing by Moonlight: a Novel of WWII, by Ciji Ware (Romantic thriller/Historical novel). Reserve your spot!
📚 Book of the month giveaway
COMING UP ON WORDS AND PEACE
January-March: Japanese Literature Challenge 13
- 1/26: Sunday Post #22
- 1/27: Book review: Dogs
- 1/28: Top Ten Tuesday Book Cover Freebie
- 1/29: Notes on Chapters 2 and 3 of Theological Territories
- 1/30: Book review
- 1/31: Book review or monthly recap
- 2/1: 6 degrees of separation
HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THESE?
HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?