Sunday Post #42 – 4/11/2021

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

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



My top 10 books for the 1936 Club

the 1936-club


For several years, Simon at Stuck in a Book, has been organizing club years, in which he encourages everybody to read books published in the same year.

For this year, he chose 1936. As I had a few titles from that year on my Classics Club list, I thought that would be a great way to work on my list.

I think the main idea is to draw a literary portrait of that year.
If you are curious, you can check on this Goodreads list or on this one (less complete, but you can compare with the books you have read), or on this wikipedia page (more complete I think) titles of books published that year.

It seems I have personally read 10 books published that year.
NB: For books translated into English, I am considering the year they were first published in their original language, not the year they were published in English

  1. Gone with the Wind
  2. The Joy of Cooking
  3. The Diary of a Country Priest
  4. A City of Bells
  5. Double Indemnity
  6. The Swedish Cavalier
  7. The A.B.C. Murders, by Agatha Christie
  8. Murder in Mesopotamia, by Agatha Christie
  9. Cards on the Table, by Agatha Christie
  10. A Cat, a Man, and Two Women, by Jun’ichiro Tanizaki’

And I have 3 on my TBR list:

  1. Jamaica Inn
  2. War with the Newts
  3. Death at the President’s Lodging (Sir John Appleby, #1)

I have read and reviewed four since January 1st, 2021:

click on the covers to access my reviews

  The ABC Murders Murder in Mesopotamia

  Cards on the Table A cat a man and two women

So now, to follow the rules for #1936Club, here are 2 fresh reviews:

Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity,
by James M. Cain
Published in 1936
115 pages

I watched the movie years ago, but didn’t remember all of the story, and have completely forgotten the ending, which is a good thing, as I am told the ending of the book is different. They changed the ending in the movie, to go along with the movie codes of the time.

It’s basically the story of Walter Huff, a Californian insurance salesman always on the lookout for the ideal client for a perfect sale. He thinks Mr. Nirdlinger could be one. Until things don’t go exactly as planned.

What really struck me right away was the style. It’s a first person narrative that flows like daily conversation and inner monologue, with loose grammar. I think this raw style fits beautifully to tell that story, but it sounds quite modern for 1936.

There’s many a man walking around today that’s worth more to his loved ones dead than alive, only he don’t know it yet.
Chapter 1

The richness of the book is in the astute psychological study of the characters.
As an Orthodox Christian steeped in Patristics, I have to say this was also a perfect illustration of the functioning of what we call temptations and the passions. You just touch something lightly with your little finger (at that point, you still have the freedom to get away afterwards), but you linger on the feeling, and then before you know it, you are stuck in up to your elbow, and then with your whole body and soul (and it’s basically too late to unglue yourself from the situation).
For instance, when Huff meets Mrs. Phyllis Nirdlinger for the first time, he sees all the red flags and his intuition tells him to get out of there presto, and yet he sits down and starts talking.
All along, Huff almost seems to be dragged along by inner forces stronger than his conscious will. 

I knew where I was at, of course.  I was standing right on the deep end, looking over the edge, and I kept telling myself to get out of there, and get quick, and never come back. But that was what I kept telling myself.  What I was doing was peeping over that edge, and all the time I was trying to pull away from it, there was something in me that kept edging a little closer, trying to get a better look.

But that thing was in me, pushing me still closer to the edge.
Chapter 2

And at the same time, he is actively getting more and more willingly and creatively involved. But is he even smart enough to do that?

Of course, the suspense is extremely well done. The story could go into so many directions, as little by little, more characters get involved.
The ending the author chose seems consistent to me with the inner mechanism I have described above.

It’s ultimately a great study of double manipulation. 

The Swedish CavalierThe Swedish Cavalier,
by Leo Perutz
(Austrian novelist and mathematician)
Translated from the German by John Brownjohn
Published in 1936
192 pages
Historical fiction

This was a major surprise, and I am shocked indeed to see that none of my fellow readers at the Classics Club seems to have reviewed it. I don’t remember seeing this title on any book blog I follow. The reason why it was on my TBR is that I heard about it in 2016 in a French TV literary program. It was recommended by contemporary author Emmanuel Carrère.

The foreword wants to present the story within a firm historical background, telling the reader this is based on the unknown memoirs published by Maria Christine von Blohme, whose father she only called “the Swedish cavalier”. His story, or the story of two men, then follows.

The first part opens in the cold winter of 1701, along the war-torn Polish-Russian border. By chance, a thief fleeing the gallows meets Christian von Tornefeld, a Swedish aristocrat and deserter (because he no longer wants to fight for foreign powers), now on his way to fight for his Swedish king Charles XII. But neither will reach his destination, and their fate is going to get inter connected in many ways, to the extreme that I will not specify here to avoid spoilers.

If Cain chose a rather modern style, Perutz did just the opposite, with a curious mix of genres (and it works superbly!): older style historical fiction, crime novel, and fairy tale (for instance with the secret powers of an arcanum, the character of the old miller, and the visits to the young girl at the end). It totally felt I was meeting with Don Quixote again. It has some of its humoristic passages (for instance with the thief giving his particular interpretation to what he sees in the fields, and then following that as reality), yet also dramatic scenes not unlike Dante’s Inferno (the bishop’s stamp-mill is even called the inferno; and there are a few final judgement scenes), and outcome that have made some critics compare it to Kafkaesque literature.
I often also felt I was inside a Bruegel painting!

The Swedish Cavalier has themes not uncommon to Double Indemnity, such as manipulation, deceit, and betrayal, but with a more metaphysical outlook, with moral values like courage and loyalty, an active conscience leading to thoughts of repentance, as well as aspects of redemption, totally absent in Cain’s novel.

This is a fascinating story in its form and content, and I highly recommend it.

My year 1936 recap over three continents:

A major American classic (and I am sorry, but if you plan on cancelling it, you have no idea what REAL culture and history are, and you might want to look into ways to get educated in the first place); a major French classic; a cookbook that is still used in many households; a charming and romantic British classic (at least that’s the memory I have of this book by Elizabeth Goudge I read in my late teens); three books by the queen of crime; a whimsy Japanese classic; and the two unique works (including one from Austria) reviewed here: all these attest to a rich and diverse year 1936, at least from I have read.