Sunday Post #42 – 4/11/2021

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Already a month since last time I was able to participate in the #SundayPost #SundaySalon! And I have missed it!
It’s been a bit crazy here schedule wise, with more Church services (yeah, I am still in Lent until May 2, the Orthodox Pascha/Easter this year!), a lot of French classes, and a lot more business at France Book Tours, including the preparation for our first webinar: “French artists in fiction: four lives, four authors”. 


Since last post a month ago, I have read 8 books and listened to 5 novels, plus listened to 11 Biblical books. So as usual, I’m actually only going to talk to you about what I finished this past week.

  The Swedish Cavalier  Appointment with Death  

📚 The Swedish Cavalier, by Leo Perutz
Published in 1936
Read for the #1936Club, the Classics Club, and the Books in Translation Challenge.

I have already experienced a lot of wow reading moments this year, with some delightful surprises. That is definitely one of them. It had been on my TBR for a while, because I heard a French author say a lot of good things about it. I now understand why.
Very unique and fascinating mix of genres, think of Cervantes and Kafka maybe. How come this Austrian author seems to be so little known? I don’t remember seeing this book on many blogs, including those covering the classics.
As it’s for the #1936Club, you will have to come back after April 12 to read my review. But here is part of the synopsis (one more, I’m not happy with the full synopsis that reveals too much):

“A thief and a nobleman, both down on their luck, cross paths on a bitter winter’s day in 1701. One, known locally as “The Fowl-Filcher,” is fleeing the gallows; the other, the callow Christian von Tornefeld, has escaped execution to fight for his Swedish king. Neither will reach his destination. Sent with a message to secure aid for von Tornefeld, the thief falls in love with his companion’s secret fiancée. He resolves to win her love for himself, and through a clever stratagem, exchanges his fate for the other man’s.”

🎧 Appointment with Death, by Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot #19)
Published in 1937
Listened to for the Classics Club, and personal project to listen to all of HP.

I didn’t remember this story at all. Great description of a dysfunctional family around a most detestable matriarch. There were many reasons for each of her children to kill her, so which one did it? Only the great Hercule Poirot could figure it out!
I liked the portrayal of rich tourists of the time visiting the Middle East (Israel, Jordan, and Egypt). It also made me want to visit Petra!
There was also a neat epilogue, set five years later.

“Among the towering red cliffs of Petra, like some monstrous swollen Buddha, sat the corpse of Mrs Boynton. A tiny puncture mark on her wrist was the only sign of the fatal injection that had killed her.
With only 24 hours available to solve the mystery, Hercule Poirot recalled a chance remark he’d overheard back in Jerusalem: ‘You see, don’t you, that she’s got to be killed?’ Mrs Boynton was, indeed, the most detestable woman he’d ever met.”

🎧 I also listened to 8 Biblical books, as part of my project to listen to the whole Bible:
these are very short books of the Minor Prophets: Jonah, Obadiah, Micah, Joel, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Nahum, Haggai.


  A Swim in the Pond in the Rain The Archipelago of Another Life

Piège pour Cendrillon

📚 A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, by George Saunders
Published on 1/12/2021

I have never read his novels or short stories. This is based on “his class on the Russian short story to his MFA students at Syracuse University”. “he shares a version of that class with us, offering some of what he and his students have discovered together over the years. Paired with iconic short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, the seven essays in this book are intended for anyone interested in how fiction works and why it’s more relevant than ever in these turbulent times.”

I have not read that type of literary criticism for a long time, and I so thoroughly enjoy how the author analyses the functioning of each story.

📚 The Archipelago of Another Life, by Andreï Makine
Published in 2016 in French and 2019 in English

I have meant to read this one since it came out, and then Carol at Cas d’intérêt proposed we do a buddy-read. You can join us, reading it either in French or in English, our posts will be bilingual. I have read the first 25%, this is gorgeous writing!

I have found 3 versions of the synopsis in English! The one on Goodreads is quite bad, compared to the French one, the one by the publisher is slightly better. The one that captures better the spirit, the ambiance, and is closest to the French is on Amazon:

“At the borders of the Russian Far East, at the limits of the Pacific Ocean, inside a land that seems to escape history, at the sundown of the Stalin era, unfolds an incredible manhunt.
Who is the criminal with many faces that Pavel Gartsev and his comrades must track into the eye of the taiga?
When Pavel discovers the true identity of the fugitive, his life will be turned on its head. The hunt will become an exalting experience that makes another life possible, in the frail eternity of love.”

🎧 Piège pour Cendrillon, by Sébastien Japrisot
Published in 1962
Listening to for the Classics Club

Before jumping into the next Hercule Poirot, I looked at my Wishlist on EStories (same as Audible really, but cheaper), and saw this title, by an icon French author of mysteries I have never read!!
The beginning is weird, at least in audio. The whole book is only 4 hours, so I have the feeling I am going to have to listen to it twice.

It has been translated as Trap for Cendrillon:
“A racy, chilling noir mystery of mistaken identity, deception, and greed by the author of A Very Long Engagement. A suspicious fire consumes a beach house at a southern French resort. Two young women — friends on the surface but deep down foes — are trapped inside. One is rich, the other poor. One is killed and the other survives, burned beyond recognition and in a state of total amnesia. Plastic surgery gives her a new pretty face, but it can not restore her memory of her identity. Who is she? The heiress or her friend? A killer or an intended victim? Only one person knows the truth about the betrayal and hair-raising terror which took place that night. And she is not about to give it away…Winner of France’s most prestigious crime-fiction award, Trap for Cinderella is an engrossing tour de force by a master of mystery and deception.”

I am also still reading:

📚 Dictionnaire amoureux du polar, by Pierre Lemaitre
Published on October 22, 2020

📚 The Future of Buildings, Transportation, and Power, 
by Roger Duncan and Michael E. Webber
Published in July 2020


Monet and Oscar

📚 Monet & Oscar: The Essence of Light, by Joe Byrd
To be published in May 1st, 2021
Will be reading for France Book Tours

This is one of the four historical novels that will be discussed during our webinar.
We have some review copies available!

“At the end of WWI, Oscar, an American soldier in a French Army hospital, learned of his mother’s death while recovering from his war wounds. He remained in France to search for his father, an Impressionist painter, whose identity his mother never revealed. Through curious circumstances, he’s hired to be a gardener for Claude Monet.   Oscar jumped at the opportunity to further his landscaping career by working in Monet’s world-famous garden at Giverny. He hoped the most renowned Impressionist could help him find his father.
Monet, tired and disheartened by his ailing health and deteriorating eyesight, took Oscar along on visits to his previous painting venues and allowed him to meet some of his art-world friends. These meetings provided insights into Monet’s life and art and clues to Oscar’s father’s identity.
On a train returning from Paris to Giverny, Oscar met and fell in love with Isabelle, a beautiful young American artist, who introduced him to the emerging 1920’s fashions and mores. She is the daughter of one of Monet’s major American clients, which interests him. Over Monet’s daughters’ objections, Isabelle and Oscar become regular guests at family gatherings as their infatuation blossoms into a unique love affair. Oscar’s past, present, and future collide in a way that he could not have anticipated.”


    Agatha Christie's Poirot Murder for Pleasure

📚 Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World, by Mark Aldridge
Published March 9th 2021 by William Morrow

Planning to read this when I finish listening to all of Hercule Poirot, as a wrap-up.

“From the publication of Agatha Christie’s very first book in 1920 to the release of Sir Kenneth Branagh’s film Death on the Nile in 2020, this investigation into the phenomenon of Hercule Poirot celebrates a century of probably the world’s favorite fictional detective.
Hercule Poirot has had a near-permanent presence in the public eye ever since the 1920 publication of The Mysterious Affair at Styles. The detective who solves diabolical crimes using his “little grey cells” has enamored audiences not only in the original novels, short stories, and plays, but also across radio, television, and movies.
From Agatha Christie’s earliest conceptions and publication history, to forays on the stage and screen, the story of Poirot is as fascinating as it is enduring. Mark Aldridge tells this story decade-by-decade, exploring and analyzing Poirot’s many and often wildly different appearances, following the detective to present day when he is enjoying a worldwide renaissance. 
Packed with original research, never-before-published correspondence, and images from the Agatha Christie archives, Agatha Christie’s Poirot will delight fans of Hercule Poirot and mystery lovers alike.

📚 Murder for Pleasure: The Life and Times of the Detective Story, by Howard Haycraft
Published in 1941

I found this reference book it in the excellent preface to The Black Lizard, by Edogawa Rampo. As I have been reading a ot of classic mysteries, I ant to check this one out.

“Author Howard Haycraft, an expert in detective fiction, traces the genre’s development from the 1840s through the 1940s. Along the way, he charts the innovations of Edgar Allan Poe, Wilkie Collins, and Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as the modern influence of George Simenon, Josephine Tey, and others. Additional topics include a survey of the critical literature, a detective story quiz, and a Who’s Who in Detection.”


5-Minute Core Exercises for Seniors

📚 5-Minute Core Exercises for Seniors, by Cindy Brehse
Expected publication: April 20th 2021, by Rockridge Press

Not yet officially in the senior group, but still these exercises might be handy when I feel too busy.

“Strengthen your core and boost your confidence with 5-minute exercise routines for seniors.
Having a strong core can improve mobility, reduce aches and pains, prevent falls, and build everyday confidence. 5-Minute Core Exercises for Seniors makes it easy to incorporate daily exercise for seniors, with a collection of 40 individual movements and 25 quick routines for strengthening the major core muscles.”


My inspiration to add this section comes from
Book Jotter‘s posts called “Winding Up the Week”.

15 classic French mysteries/thrillers
(article in French)

A gallery of fabulous bird pictures(among other categories) by a fellow birder.


📚 Book of the month giveaway choice between this book and four others 
The Readers' Room
📚 Book available for free this month, to review at your own pace!
Island on Fire
Review copies available for upcoming book tours:
    Madeleine Last French Casquette Bride in New Orleans  Island on Fire Monet and Oscar  Church of Tango
📚 Subscribe to my Newsletter, and win a book each month!
Here is a sample, with link for subscription at the bottom
📚 Books available for swapping


  • A few reviews for the #1936Club
  • Tips on where to cross-post your reviews



35 thoughts on “Sunday Post #42 – 4/11/2021

  1. It sounds like you had a good reading week. I too have enjoyed Appointment with Death and since I’ve been to Petra, I might do one of my Literary Location posts, where I combine my photos and descriptions of the location with a short review of the book. You are right, I haven’t heard of Leo Perutz, but he sounds like an interesting writer.


  2. I’ve decided to extend my Lent decision to avoid sweets, so, in a sense, I’m still continuing my Lent.

    I’m trying to imagine what an author who is a mix of Cervantes and Kafka would be like, and, to me, it sounds like something I’d love. Thanks for sharing this new-to-me classic.

    So glad you are enjoying A Swim in a Pond. George Saunders inspired me to put more Russian classics on my club list.

    I am definitely a senior and 5-Minute Core Exercises for Seniors sounds ideal. I have missed the Y so much over the last year. I’ve gotten serious about doing a bit of yoga every day lately, and that’s helped.


    • Cool that you are continuing Lent with us Orthodox, lol!
      Yes, you need to read Perutz! Full review on Tuesday. I added also a pinch of Dante in my review, but this should not make you run away, lol


  3. I love Appointment with Death! She may be the most unlikable character to have ever existed in fiction. I really need to read the book on Poirot. That looks like something I’d really enjoy!


    • No, very different from listening to it at Church, for several reasons. First at Church, we only get a passage of a book, not the whole book. So it’s neat hearing it all, to have a better context and overview of the work of each book. Also, in the Orthodox Church, nothing is read. It’s all even sung (usually 4 parts, a capella) or chanted (recto tono, on one note), including all the Biblical readings. As illustrations, you can listen to my reading of the prayers after communion in this video: (starting there, at 8:05)
      The recordings I’m listening to are really read, with intonations that you would insert for more dramatic effect.


  4. I hope you are finding time to breathe amidst all the busy in your life right now! It sounds like you have still managed to get in some quality reading time. Always a plus! And you can’t go wrong with Agatha Christie. I hope you have a great week!


  5. We had a nice visit to Giverny in 2018 … so this Monet historical novel seems interesting. Have you started it? thanks for highlighting it.


  6. I remember a time when I wanted to read Leo Perutz, but I never got to it, don’t remember why. I’ve added Murder for pleasure on my TBR ^^ and thank you for the page with the bird pictures, they’re absolutely beautiful ! What you wrote about Mrs Boynton reminded me of Absent in the spring that she wrote under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, I bet you would love this one.


    • Sounds like only Europeans know about Perutz! It was at La Grande Librairie that I hear Carrère talk about him.
      Oh my, when I’m done listening to all of Hercule Poirot, I’ll have to tackle her other series, then her standalones, then the books she wrote under a pseudonym, lol. Thanks, I’m going to check that one now


  7. Some classic Agathe Christie and others that are unique to me. The Swim cover sure looks interesting and different from the blurb. 🙂
    Enjoy all of your reading!


  8. Mysteries aren’t really my thing so I’ve never read any Agatha Cristie, but who knows, one of these days…..
    I’m listening to a Bible in a Year podcast and I’m loving it–usually three chapters and a selection from Psalms or Proverbs daily. I read the Bible through once in high school and I hear the Mass readings weekly but there is so much I don’t remember reading and I’m just loving it.


    • Nice way of revisiting the Bible! Mystery classics are often excellent examples of great writing, according to my experience. You should try some. And mystery is actually a huge genre, there are so many sub genres. If you love historical novels, you could try historical mysteries, where you find solid historical research and background, plus suspense built in.


  9. What a nice variety of books you’ve been reading lately and have planned! When I was a teen, I read every Agatha Christie book in my public library! I just rediscovered her a few years ago and re-read And Then There Were None and really enjoyed it. I’ll have to read some more from her.

    Hope you are enjoying your books this week!

    Book By Book


  10. Pingback: 2021: April wrap-up | Words And Peace

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