Book review: The Final Days of Abbot Montrose. An Asbjørn Krag Mystery

The Final Days of Abbot Montrose

The Final Days of Abbot Montrose:
An Asbjørn Krag Mystery,
by Sven Elvestad
Montrose
was first published in 1917.
Translated from the Norwegian by
???
Kazabo Publishing
8/24/2018
204 pages
Mystery/Norwegian Literature

Goodreads

Buy the book on my Bookshop

If you are a recurrent visitor here, you know how much I enjoy both literature in translation and classic mysteries.
So I was thrilled when I was contacted by Chiara at Kazabo Publishing. They specialize indeed in publishing books that at one point were best sellers in their respective countries, but never got translated into English until now.
Here is the book I received from the publisher: The Final Days of Abbot Montrose. It was first published in Norwegian in 1917, by Sven Elvestad, aka Stein Riverton (1884-1934), who ended up being the father of Norwegian detective fiction and the inventor of the Norwegian police procedural (as is specified in the Foreword by Chiara Giacobbe ). So much so that a Norwegian crime literature award is now named after him.
Obviously, I had never heard of this author before and was eager to discover his writing. Or a glimpse of it, as he wrote over 90 books, as well as many articles (he was a journalist), essays, and short stories. Click to continue reading

Sunday Post #55 – 2/27/2022

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by
Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It’s a chance to share news.
A post to recap the past week on your blog,
showcase books and things we have received.
Share news about what is coming up
on your blog
for the week ahead.
See rules here: Sunday Post Meme

*** 

This post also counts for

Sunday Salon    Stacking the Shelves  Mailbox Monday2

 It's Monday! What Are You Reading2  IMWAYR  WWW Wednesdays 2

#SundayPost #SundaySalon
#StackingTheShelves #MailboxMonday
#itsmonday #IMWAYR
#WWWWednesday #WWWWednesdays

Click on the logos to join the memes,
and on the book covers to access synopsis or review

More cold, more snow. Nothing new here. Did I already write this introduction last week?

  • Yesterday, for our Cultural Saturday breakfast, we watched the second episode of The Blue Planet, one of many fabulous documentaries by David Attenborough.
    In this time of ugliness, beside urgent prayer for peace, it is good to focus on beauty in the natural world. I had no idea such stunning creatures existed so deep down on the ocean floor.

Since last Sunday, on the blog:

📚  JUST READ 🎧 

 A Brush With Birds  

📚  A Brush With Birds: Paintings and Stories from the Wild, by Richard Weatherly
Published in 2020 by Hardie Grant
Christmas gift!

This book was offered to us for Christmas.
I love birding and art, but didn’t know the Australian artist Richard Weatherly.
This is a gorgeous book (the cover is a good example).
In it, you follow Weatherly throughout the world, as he studies and paints birds. He exclusively paint from live observation in nature, not from picture!
The book made me discover many Australian birds, with so many amazing colors. The author is a specialist on fairy-wrens.
The book is divided into parts relative to each continent. There are not many pages on North America, but the choice of the wood-duck should delight many readers.
Some passages are a bit dry, with lots of scientific details.
But other parts are fascinating travel journals, with anecdotes and humor. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on Antarctica. The chapter where he tells about the disastrous consequences of Australian wild fires are so so sad.
If you have bird lovers in our life, this is a gorgeous gift for them!

The Final Days of Abbot Montrose 

📚  The Final Days of Abbot Montrose, by Sven Elvestad
Published in 1917
Read for The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
and The Classics Club
Ecopy received for review

VERDICT: A clever plot symbolizing different layers of the Norwegian society in the early 20th century. A nice glimpse into the impressive work of Sven Elvestad, aka Stein Riverton.
My review will be live on March 2

  Chez les Flamands

📚 Maigret chez les Flamands (Maigret #15), by Georges Simenon
Published in 1932
Available in English as
The Flemish House.
Read for The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
and The Classics Club

With this novel, we are back near the water, this time the River Meuse, in the French town of Givet, not far from the Belgian border. Incidentally, it was fun visiting Givet through Google Streets, seeing the Meuse there, the narrow streets, the railway station, and the larger square in front of the church, with bars, restaurants, and hotels around, as mentioned in the novel.
A Flemish inhabitant of this small city asked Maigret to come from Paris to investigate about a murder her family is accused of. I’m not going to say more about the plot.
I have to admit, I wasn’t really surprised at who did it, though I’m not completely clear about the why even after finishing the book, just like after I finished the previous book in the series.
But as usual, Simenon is fabulous at creating and describing an ambiance. The city seems both half asleep and violent, with the cold rain and the raging waters of the Meuse, flooding the area.
What is special to this novel, is the description of the animosity between French and Flemish people in the same city.

   Once Upon a River  

🎧 Once Upon a River, by Diane Setterfield
464 pages/16H27
Published December 4, 2018 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Historical fiction

I enjoyed a lot The Thirteenth Tale, so I blindly launched into this one. I listened to it all only because I had bought it, otherwise I would have DNFed it.
Some positive things: the narrator Juliet Stevenson is absolutely fabulous, in her various intonations and voices, from little girls and boys, to kind women and rascal men. She can do it all!
The theme of storytelling was interesting, especially at the beginning. There are with fascinating characters, and intriguing details on the Thames and on the famous photographer of it, Henry Taunt (1842-1922), but the plot got really boring.
I would probably have enjoyed this ten years ago, but this type of historical fiction is no longer for me.

📚  CURRENTLY READING/LISTENING TO 🎧 

The Box Man  After the Romanovs

  Love in the Time of Cholera The Radium Girls  

📚 The Box Man, by Kobo Abe
Published in 1973
Reading for The Japanese Literature Challenge 15
The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
and The Classics Club

Really enjoying the quirkiness and the deeper social themes under it.

“Kobo Abe, the internationally acclaimed author of Woman in the Dunes, combines wildly imaginative fantasies and naturalistic prose to create narratives reminiscent of the work of Kafka and Beckett.
In this eerie and evocative masterpiece, the nameless protagonist gives up his identity and the trappings of a normal life to live in a large cardboard box he wears over his head. Wandering the streets of Tokyo and scribbling madly on the interior walls of his box, he describes the world outside as he sees or perhaps imagines it, a tenuous reality that seems to include a mysterious rifleman determined to shoot him, a seductive young nurse, and a doctor who wants to become a box man himself. The Box Man is a marvel of sheer originality and a bizarrely fascinating fable about the very nature of identity.”

📚  After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Époque Through Revolution and War, by Helen Rappaport
Expected publication: March 8th 2022 by St. Martin’s Press
Ecopy received for review

I really enjoyed The Romanov Sisters, by the same author, who’s really an authority for the Romanovs and this period. This topic is very much of interest to me, and the author really knows her stuff.

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

For February, The Classics Club invited us to read a classic romance. I accepted the challenge and decided to choose this book that’s on my classic list. Not sure everyone would classify it as romance, but the word love is at least in the title!
I started it late, so will not be done by the end of the month.
I’m enjoying it a lot, especially the amazing description of characters… and the parrot!

“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 Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women, by Kate Moore
404 pages/15H52
Narrated by Angela Brazil

Published May 2, 2017, by Sourcebooks
Nonfiction/History

This book was very popular five years ago, and I’m finally listening to it.
It is both fascinating and horrible. The content is great, but I find the narrator annoying. I don’t like her voice. I used a credit for this, so I’m stuck, So I try to really focus hard on the content and ignore the voice.

“The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.
Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive—until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.
But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.
Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives.”

📚  BOOK UP NEXT 📚 

The Year of My Life

📚 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.

📚  LAST BOOK ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR 📚 

The Echo Wife

📚  The Echo Wife, by Sarah Gailey
Science-fiction
February 16, 2021, by Tor Books

I discovered this book through Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy, and it sounds really good.

“Martine is a genetically cloned replica made from Evelyn Caldwell’s award-winning research. She’s patient and gentle and obedient. She’s everything Evelyn swore she’d never be.
And she’s having an affair with Evelyn’s husband.
Now, the cheating bastard is dead, and both Caldwell wives have a mess to clean up.
Good thing Evelyn Caldwell is used to getting her hands dirty.”

📚   NO BOOK RECEIVED THIS PAST WEEK  📚 

📚  1st GIVEAWAY, in French 📚 

Le Promeneur sur le cap

📚  2nd GIVEAWAY: choose 1  📚 

Constellation Red is my Heart

 The Most Beautiful Book in the WorldThe Woman with the BouquetThree Women in a Mirror 

📚  BOOK IN FRENCH AVAILABLE FOR REVIEW 📚

Le Promeneur sur le cap

Request today, review whenever you want.
And win credits towards gift cards!

📚📚📚

HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS?
HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?

PLUS SPECIAL QUESTION FOR YOU:
Do you prefer the format used here for “JUST READ”
or for “CURRENTLY READING”? WHY?
Thanks for your input, much appreciated!

Sunday Post #54 – 2/20/2022

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by
Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It’s a chance to share news.
A post to recap the past week on your blog,
showcase books and things we have received.
Share news about what is coming up
on your blog
for the week ahead.
See rules here: Sunday Post Meme

*** 

This post also counts for

Sunday Salon    Stacking the Shelves  Mailbox Monday2

 It's Monday! What Are You Reading2  IMWAYR  WWW Wednesdays 2

#SundayPost #SundaySalon
#StackingTheShelves #MailboxMonday
#itsmonday #IMWAYR
#WWWWednesday #WWWWednesdays

Click on the logos to join the memes,
and on the book covers to access synopsis or review

More cold, more snow. Nothing new here.

  • On Friday, we had our monthly book club meeting online. Will share the books we talked about on February 24.
  • Yesterday, for our Cultural Saturday breakfast, we watched the first episode of The Blue Planet, one of many fabulous documentaries by David Attenborough. We are twenty years late, I know, but it is still enjoyable today. This should keep us busy for a few months.
  • We may actually use another Saturday morning to finish watching the ballet Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev, in a modern choreography by Nureyev (Opéra de Paris).

Since last Sunday, on the blog:

📚  JUST READ 📚

 Lean On Me   Les Dimanches de Monsieur Ushioda

Strega Nona

📚 Lean on Me, by Serge Joncour
Translated from the French by Louise Rogers Lalaurie and Jane Aitken
US publication date: March 1, 2022
by Gallic Books
Literary fiction/romance

Received for review
Read it also for
The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge

VERDICT: Romance and social analysis of the impact of urban life on human nature. An exquisite French mix.
My full review is here

📚 Les Dimanches de Monsieur Ushioda, by Yasushi Inoue
Published in 1970
Translated by Jean-François Laffont and Tadahiro Oku
Read for The Japanese Literature Challenge 15
The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
and The Classics Club

VERDICT: Humoristic take on Japanese modern life. With warnings related to the environment.
Come back tomorrow to read my full review.

📚Strega Nona, by Tomie dePaola
Picture book published in 1975

I saw this on another blog, and the cover was so cute I checked it out right away at my library.
The illustrations are indeed fabulous, this is a style I thoroughly enjoyed.
The beginning of the story was great, but I didn’t like at all the ending. I thought the choice of the punishment was stupid and didn’t really fit with the original intention of the boy.
Strega Nona could have turned the boy’s action into something so much more positive than this stupid thing to do. Definitely not eco-sensitive either.

📚  CURRENTLY READING/LISTENING TO 🎧 

The Box Man  The Final Days of Abbot Montrose

Chez les Flamands

Once Upon a River

📚 The Box Man, by Kobo Abe
Published in 1973
Reading for The Japanese Literature Challenge 15
The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
and The Classics Club

“Kobo Abe, the internationally acclaimed author of Woman in the Dunes, combines wildly imaginative fantasies and naturalistic prose to create narratives reminiscent of the work of Kafka and Beckett.
In this eerie and evocative masterpiece, the nameless protagonist gives up his identity and the trappings of a normal life to live in a large cardboard box he wears over his head. Wandering the streets of Tokyo and scribbling madly on the interior walls of his box, he describes the world outside as he sees or perhaps imagines it, a tenuous reality that seems to include a mysterious rifleman determined to shoot him, a seductive young nurse, and a doctor who wants to become a box man himself. The Box Man is a marvel of sheer originality and a bizarrely fascinating fable about the very nature of identity.”

📚  The Final Days of Abbot Montrose, by Sven Elvestad
Published in 1917
Reading for The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
and The Classics Club

I was contacted by Kazabo Publishing. They specialize in forgotten gems, best-sellers in their country of origin at one point, but never yet translated into English. Totally my type of books, especially for classic mysteries. This one is a classic from Norway.

“From the founder of the modern Norwegian crime novel, a story that will keep you thrilled and mystified.
It is an evening in early May when the quiet of Montrose Abbey is shattered by the sounds of shouting and broken glass. When the police arrive, they find the abbey library ransacked and bloodstained. Broken furniture and a burning carpet bear witness to a violent struggle. And the abbot himself, the scholarly Abbot Montrose, is missing. Only a torn fragment of his cassock remains, caught in the wrought-iron fence surrounding the abbey.
The police, the press, and citizens of this northern city fear the worst. What could have befallen the missing abbot? Has he been murdered? Abducted?
As world-renowned Detective Asbjørn Krag and his partner, Detective Sirius Keller, begin to unravel the tangled knot of clues left behind, they find themselves in the city’s infamous Krydder District, “where the dark doorways are as close together as rat holes in an old warehouse.” The more answers they find, the more questions seem to pop up.
This well-constructed, evocative and witty mystery by Sven Elvestead, also known as Stein Riverton (for whom the Norwegian Riverton Prize was named), will keep you guessing until the very last page.”

📚  Maigret chez les Flamands (Maigret #15), by Georges Simenon
Published in 1932
Available in English as The Flemish House.
Reading for The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
and The Classics Club

I am reading this one with one of my French students.
With this #15 (out of 75!), we are back near the water, this time in France near the Belgian border. Awesome greyish ambiance as always with Simenon.
Talking about Maigret, this week a new movie, Maigret, is coming out in France, with Gérard Depardieu as Maigret himself. I have the feeling this is going to be really good. I can’t wait to have it available in streaming.

“Maigret is asked to the windswept, rainy border town of Givet by a young woman desperate to clear her family of murder. But their well-kept shop, the sleepy community and its raging river all hide their own mysteries.”

🎧 Once Upon a River, by Diane Setterfield
464 pages/16H27
Published December 4, 2018 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Historical fiction

I have a few more hours to go, and not sure yet where this is going. It’s good, but I find it too long and not as good as The Thirteenth Tale.

“On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed.
Those who dwell on the river bank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer the essential questions: Who is she? Where did she come from? And to whom does she belong? But answers proliferate nonetheless.
Three families are keen to claim her. A wealthy young mother knows the girl is her kidnapped daughter, missing for two years. A farming family reeling from the discovery of their son’s secret liaison, stand ready to welcome their granddaughter. The parson’s housekeeper, humble and isolated, sees in the child the image of her younger sister. But the return of a lost child is not without complications and no matter how heartbreaking the past losses, no matter how precious the child herself, this girl cannot be everyone’s. Each family has mysteries of its own, and many secrets must be revealed before the girl’s identity can be known.
Once Upon a River is a glorious tapestry of a book that combines folklore and science, magic and myth. Suspenseful, romantic, and richly atmospheric, the beginning of this novel will sweep you away on a powerful current of storytelling, transporting you through worlds both real and imagined, to the triumphant conclusion whose depths will continue to give up their treasures long after the last page is turned.”

📚  BOOK UP NEXT 📚 

The Year of My Life

📚 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.

📚  LAST BOOK ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR 📚 

L'Oiseau bleu

📚  L’oiseau bleu, by Maurice Maeterlinck
Play published in 1905 – Belgian classic
Available as The Blue Bird in French

There was a mention to it in Les Dimanches de Monsieur Ushioda! Now I’m intrigued!

“A story of a brother and sister who help a little girl whose illness can only be cured by the magical Blue Bird of Happiness. To find the bird, Mytyl and Tyltyl quest through the Land of Memory to the Palace of Night. The children get help from the good fairy Bérylune.”

📚   BOOK RECEIVED THIS PAST WEEK  📚 

The Final Days of Abbot MontroseSee information above.

📚  1st GIVEAWAY in French 📚 

Le Promeneur sur le cap

📚  2nd GIVEAWAY: choose 1  📚 

Constellation Red is my Heart

 The Most Beautiful Book in the WorldThe Woman with the BouquetThree Women in a Mirror 

📚  BOOK IN FRENCH AVAILABLE FOR REVIEW 📚

Le Promeneur sur le cap

Request today, review whenever you want.
And win credits towards gift cards!

📚📚📚

HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS?
HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?