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This was a super busy week, with more French online classes.
And mostly, this was the first week of Great Lent (I’m Orthodox Christian), so with prayers at Church Monday through Thursday. As my reading time is essentially in the evening after supper, I didn’t have much reading time. Still, I managed to finish 2 short ebooks and 1 audiobook.
Emotionally, this was a blue week, seeing the horrifying invasion of Ukraine still going on and even intensifying. Finally, some Orthodox bishops (Metropolitan John for instance) are finally asking Patriarch Kirill to be a better spokesman of Gospel values…
- Yesterday, for our cultural breakfast, we washed Episode 3 of The Blue Planet documentary.
Since last Sunday, very little on this blog. And sorry for the delay in responding and approving your comments.
I’m including here posts I published on my 2 other blogs:
JUST READ 🎧
📚 Le Fou de Bergerac (Maigret #16), by Georges Simenon
Published in 1932
Available in English as The Madman of Bergerac.
Read with one of my French students and for
The Classics Club
This was an unusual one. For the first time in the series, there was a lot of humor, in Maigret’s situation and habits, and in the descriptions of locals.
And for once, we really get to know Madame Maigret (trying hard to prevent her husband from smoking, for the sake of his health!), and her husband even sends her on mission, as he is stuck in bed!
But as usual, the second half of the book was a bit more difficult for me, even though there’s some kind of recap of what was done by whom and for what reasons.
I guess I need to get resigned to the fact that when I’m done with a book by Simenon, I’m not completely sure I understand all that happened and why!
Is it also your experience?
📚 The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M. Cain
Published in 1934
Read with the Goodreads Mystery, Crime, and Thriller group
and for The Classics Club
I was impressed by Cain’s Double Indemnity, so I decided to read The Postman Always Rings Twice (for and with Goodreads’ The Mystery, Crime, and Thriller Group).
I found less subtlety in this plot than in Double Indemnity, but I really enjoy Cain’s voice here again, with his grittiness, his rough, toxic, and ambiguous characters (who ultimately don’t really know themselves nor each other), and down to earth dialogs.
It’s also a great picture of life in the bleak and underbelly world California in the late 1920s-early 1930s.
In a few words: Nick and his wife Cora run a sandwich shop and filling station. One day a drifter (Frank) shows up and gets a job there. A relationship starts right away between him and Cora. With many consequences.
First, I got puzzled by the title, but then realized it added a deeper almost metaphysical dimension, if you equate the postman with fate (and this applies both for Franck and Nick! Explaining more would be spoiling the story).
I read that Camus got here his inspiration for The Stranger. I can see that now, though it would never have come to mind when I read the book. I guess only Camus’s creativity could have made his work from this story.
VERDICT: A horrifying tale. Great research but dry style.
My full review is live here.
CURRENTLY READING/LISTENING TO
📚 After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Époque Through Revolution and War, by Helen Rappaport
March 8th 2022 by St. Martin’s Press
Ecopy received for review
Really enjoying the author’s writing. She does a fantastic summary of several centuries of relationship between France and Russia!
“Paris has always been a city of cultural excellence, fine wine and food, and the latest fashions. But it has also been a place of refuge for those fleeing persecution, never more so than before and after the Russian Revolution and the fall of the Romanov dynasty. For years, Russian aristocrats had enjoyed all that Belle Époque Paris had to offer, spending lavishly when they visited. It was a place of artistic experimentation, such as Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. But the brutality of the Bolshevik takeover forced Russians of all types to flee their homeland, sometimes leaving with only the clothes on their backs.
Arriving in Paris, former princes could be seen driving taxicabs, while their wives who could sew worked for the fashion houses, their unique Russian style serving as inspiration for designers like Coco Chanel. Talented intellectuals, artists, poets, philosophers, and writers struggled in exile, eking out a living at menial jobs. Some, like Bunin, Chagall and Stravinsky, encountered great success in the same Paris that welcomed Americans like Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Political activists sought to overthrow the Bolshevik regime from afar, while double agents from both sides plotted espionage and assassination. Others became trapped in a cycle of poverty and their all-consuming homesickness for Russia, the homeland they had been forced to abandon.
This is their story. ”
📚 Love in the Time of the Cholera, by Gabriel García Márquez
Published in 1985
Reading for The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
and The Classics Club
Still enjoying this a lot, Really loving the various characters, and the different portrayals of love! Very rich details.
It’s also much easier to follow than One Hundred Years of Solitude.
“In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is heartbroken, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs—yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.”
📚 The Year of My Life, by Kobayashi Issa
Published in 1973
Reading for The Japanese Literature Challenge 15
The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
and The Classics Club
An autobiography in haibun – a mixed form of haiku and prose.
I am in the (excellent) introduction for now.
🎧 The Clairvoyant Countess, by Dorothy Gilman
Narrated by Ruth Ann Phimister
Published in 1975
After the dreadful The Radium Girls, I’m glad to be going to my two last audiobooks on the list of books I have had on my audio shelf for a while. This is definitely lighter, mood wise!
I have thoroughly enjoyed Mrs Pollifax series by Dorothy Gilman. Emily Pollifax is probably my most favorite detective.
And in this book, I’m meeting another variation of Emily, in the person of Madame Karitska. So far, I really enjoy the unusual team between this clairvoyant and the down to earth detective Pruden.
Too bas there are only two books in this series.
“Madame Karitska has a style all her own—a rare blend of psychic power, an exotic past, and an uncanny gift for common sense. As a psychic to the public, Madame Karitska has seen a lot.
But when a chance encounter with Detective-Lieutenant Pruden of the Police Department catapults her into the unforeseen, she must use all of her resources to keep danger–and death–at bay….”
BOOK UP NEXT
📚 When I Whistle, by Shusaku Endo
Published in 1974
Will be reading for The Japanese Literature Challenge 15
The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
and The Classics Club
I was not too impressed by Endo’s short stories (Five by Endo), but I’d like to give him another chance. And I’m curious to see how it predates Ishiguro’s novel, as mentioned below.
“One of Endo’s most unusual and powerful novels is set largely in a modern hospital, with themes and scenes that eerily seem to predate Never Let Me Go.
A jaded businessman has a chance encounter with the doctor son of his best friend at school, Ozu, and memories are stirred of a former love interest of Ozu’s, Aiko. The son of his friend proves to be contemptuous of the outmoded values of his father’s world and ruthless in pursuit of success at his hospital. The story reaches a terrible climax when Aiko, now a middle-aged cancer-sufferer, is admitted to the hospital and Ozu leads the way in experimenting on her with dangerous drugs.”
LAST BOOK ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR
I actually didn’t add any book on my TBR Goodreads shelf this past week (really, again??), so I decided to feature one I added recently.
Another classic noir.
Phantom Lady, by William Irish (aka Cornell Woolrich)
Published in 1942
“Phantom lady, I was with you for six hours last night, but I can’t remember what you look like, or what you wore—except for that large orange hat. We sat shoulder to shoulder at a little bar in the east Fifties. We ate dinner together, saw a Broadway show together, shared a cab together.
The bartender, the waiter, the usher, the cab driver—none of them remembers you. The police say I was home strangling my wife at the moment I met you.
You are the only one who can prove my story—but I don’t know your name, or where you live. And I can’t search for you from a jail cell….”
📚 BOOK RECEIVED THIS PAST WEEK 📚
📚 Eat Pretty Live Well: A Guided Journal for Nourishing Beauty, Inside and Out. by Jolene Hart
Diary, 160 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by Chronicle Books
I won this when participating in the vvb32reads giveaway for her blogiversary. Thanks Velvet!
📚 GIVEAWAY, in French 📚
BOOK IN FRENCH AVAILABLE FOR REVIEW
Request today, review whenever you want.
And win credits towards gift cards!
HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS?
HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?