Six degrees of separation: from sorrow to the Romanovs


Six degrees of separation:
from sorrow to the Romanovs

Time for another quirky variation on this meme.
The title doesn’t sound very cheerful, but my list contains some great books, and at least one is hilarious.

Using my own rules for this fun meme hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest (see there the origin of the meme and how it works – posted the first Saturday of every month).

Here are my own quirky rules:

1. Use your list of books on Goodreads
2. Take the first word of the title (or in the subtitle) offered and find another title with that word in it – see the titles below the images to fully understand, as often the word could be in the second part of the title
3. Then use the first word of THAT title to find your text title
4. Or the second if the title starts with the same word, or you are stuck

Click on the covers 
links will send you to my review or to the relevant page

Sorrow and Bliss

This is the book we are supposed to start from.
I have not read it, and I am not planning to.

This novel is about a woman called Martha. She knows there is something wrong with her but she doesn’t know what it is. Her husband Patrick thinks she is fine. He says everyone has something, the thing is just to keep going.
Martha told Patrick before they got married that she didn’t want to have children. He said he didn’t mind either way because he has loved her since he was fourteen and making her happy is all that matters, although he does not seem able to do it.
By the time Martha finds out what is wrong, it doesn’t really matter anymore. It is too late to get the only thing she has ever wanted. Or maybe it will turn out that you can stop loving someone and start again from nothing – if you can find something else to want.

The Sorrows of Young Werther  Diary of a Young Naturalist

    The Diary of Adam and Eve    The Lament of Eve  

Isaiah Through the Ages  After the Romanovs

Click on the covers to read my review
or the relevant page

Sorrow and Bliss

1. The Sorrrows of Young Werther, by Goethe

I read this one a few decades ago (in French), and enjoyed it A LOT. It might be time to revisit.

This is Goethe’s first novel, published in 1774. Written in diary form, it tells the tale of an unhappy, passionate young man hopelessly in love with Charlotte, the wife of a friend – a man who he alternately admires and detests. ‘The Sorrows of Young Werther’ became an important part of the ‘Sturm und Drang movement, and greatly influenced later ‘Romanticism’. The work is semi-autobiographical – in 1772, two years before the novel was published, Goethe had passed through a similar tempestuous period, when he lost his heart to Charlotte Buff, who was at that time engaged to his friend Johann Christian Kestner.”

2. Diary of a Young Naturalist, by Dara McAnulty

I heard about this book a few weeks ago. The theme of environment is an important one for me, and I’m looking forward to reading it. It’s also listed in a Goodreads giveaway.

“Diary of a Young Naturalist chronicles the turning of 15-year-old Dara McAnulty’s world. From spring and through a year in his home patch in Northern Ireland, Dara spent the seasons writing. These vivid, evocative and moving diary entries about his connection to wildlife and the way he sees the world are raw in their telling. “I was diagnosed with Asperger’s/autism aged five … By age seven I knew I was very different, I had got used to the isolation, my inability to break through into the world of talking about football or Minecraft was not tolerated. Then came the bullying. Nature became so much more than an escape; it became a life-support system.” Diary of a Young Naturalist portrays Dara’s intense connection to the natural world, and his perspective as a teenager juggling exams and friendships alongside a life of campaigning. “In writing this book,” Dara explains, “I have experienced challenges but also felt incredible joy, wonder, curiosity and excitement. In sharing this journey my hope is that people of all generations will not only understand autism a little more but also appreciate a child’s eye view on our delicate and changing biosphere.””

3. The Diary of Adam and Eve, by Mark Twain

This book is totally hilarious. I don’t like the author’s personality, but some his books are so good, and this one so so funny. Maybe god for a fun summer day.

“”Good deal of fog this morning. I do not go out in the fog myself,” notes Adam in his diary, adding, “The new creature does. It goes out in all weathers. And talks. It used to be so pleasant and quiet here.”
Adam has a lot to learn about Eve, and even more from her, as she names the animals, discovers fire, and introduces all manner of innovations to their garden home. Mark Twain’s “translation” of the diaries of the first man and woman offers a humorous “he said/she said” narrative of biblical events. The great American storyteller found comfort and inspiration in the company of women, and his irreverent look at conventional religion is also a thoughtful — and humorous — argument for gender equality.”

4. The Lament of Eve, by Johanna Manley

We are going from hilarious to very serious, with this excellent patristic and Orthodox commentary of the first five chapters of Genesis. 
I have read three books by this author, she’s really good.

The Lament of Eve attempts an exegesis of sections of the first five chapters of Genesis based on commentary of the Fathers of the Church. Subjects covered include: the creation and dignity of men and women, theosis, stewardship of the earth, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the Fall, the sentence of mortality and God’s love, providence and primacy in our lives. Appropriate for both elementary and advanced Bible studies, it also makes thoughtful reading during Great Lent. Includes index and bibliography.

5. Isaiah Through the Ages, by Johanna Manley

Got stuck here, as I don’t have any other book on my shelves with either the word lament or Eve. And no other Johanna author, so I’m going with my favorite book by her. An excellent patristic compilation and Orthodox commentary on the book of Isaiah.

“A compilation of previously unavailable commentaries by the Church Fathers on the Book of Isaiah. Fourth and fifth century exegetes are prominently featured, but excerpts from others, such as Ss Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Anthanasius of Alexandria and Jerome, are also included. Modern commentary (from 1775 to the present) has been added to provide insight into the historical context, poetry and structure. A short Judaic section points to Messianic passages and assists with obscure metaphors and references. The Prologue is excerpted from the works of Georges Florovsky. Includes bibliography and index.”

6. After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Époque Through Revolution and War, by Helen Rappaport 

Hellen Rappaport is an expert on Russian history. I really enjoyed her book on The Romanov Sisters, and this one, her latest, published in March 2022. Alas, I haven’t posted my review yet!

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.


Visit other chains here




Year of reading 2021 part 3

And after my list of 2021 favorites,
as well as my 2021 stats,
here is to a fun wrap up:

Year of reading 2021 part 3

There are a lot of those online, but these are my favorites. The idea is to finish the sentences and answer the questions exclusively with titles I read in 2021.

If you are intrigued by a title, just copy and paste it in the search button, and you will access the review. If nothing shows up, look it up in Goodreads

– When I was younger I was The Swedish Cavalier
– People might be surprised to discover that I’m The Code Breaker
– I will never be Le Mineur
– At the end of a long day I need Une Rose seule
– Right now I’m feeling (like) Living with a Dead Language
– Someday I want to (see) Les grands cerfs
– At a party you’d find me Looking for the Stranger
– I’ve never Gone By Midnight
– I really don’t enjoy Sad Cypress
– In my next life I want The Kingdom of God

– If you could go anywhere, where would you go: The Old Capital
– Your favorite form of transportation: Compartiments tueurs
– Your best friend is Oscar et la dame rose
– You and your friends are Cats at the Louvre
– What’s the weather like: A Swim in the Pond in the Rain
– Favorite time of day: The Night Masquerade
– If your life was: The Archipelago of Another Life
– What is life to you: To the Spring Equinox and Beyond
– Your fear: The Stone Killer
– What is the best advice you have to give: Regarder le noir
– Thought for the Day: When All Light Fails
– How I would like to die: Death in the Clouds
– My soul’s present condition: The Half-Finished Heaven

I began the day with A Cat, a Man, and Two Women.
On my way to work, I saw Klara and the Sun,
and walked by La Vallée
to avoid The Black Lizard,
but I made sure to stop at The Hallowe’en Party.
In the office, my boss said, Some Prefer Nettles,
and sent me to research The Sound of Waves.
At lunch with The Romanov Sisters,
I noticed (a) Beast in the Shadows
under The Grid,
then went back to my desk (in) The Hollow.
Later, on the journey home, I bought Encre sympathique
because I have Nature humaine.
Then settling down for the evening, I picked up Cards on the Table
and studied (a) Trap for Cinderella
before saying goodnight to Monet & Oscar.

I have so much fun with this every year!
Have you tried with the titles of the books you read in 2021?


A big Thank You to all of you,
book bloggers
and other readers who subscribed to this blog
through email, bloglovin, wordpress, facebook, twitter,
linkedin, pinterest, instagram, youtube,
thanks for stopping by and leaving comments,
with great reading recommendations!
Thanks again for following this blog!

Happy year of reading 2022 to each of you!

Please leave the link of your post in a comment
if you did some of that fun stuff
with the titles you read yourself in 2021

Sunday Post #34 – 1/17/2021

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

You can read tons of information and reflections on world events on many other sites, so I’ll stick to what this blog is about: reading good books.
I have already finished 6 books, actually probably 7 when this post gets live on Sunday.


The Romanov Sisters Les grands cerfs

📚 The Romanov Sisters, by Helen Rappaport
Published in 2014
Public library book

Every winter, my public library proposes a winter reading challenge. You answer questions, and they try to have you read a book that’s outside your reading comfort zone. I guess they forgot I am very active in my Russian Orthodox Church, and had me read The Romanov Sisters! In case you don’t know, the Orthodox Church considers them martyrs for their faith, so they are saints for us, and we even have an icon of the whole family in our church.
Anyway, I had never read the book, so I’m glad the library picked it up for me.
Helen Rappaport is an author and historian specialized in that period both in England and Russia. She writes very well and you can see she put so much research into this book.
Even if you are not Orthodox, but are interested in world history, you absolutely need to read it. She has two more books on the Romanovs.
I so enjoyed getting to know better each sister, with her own strong personality. But it was emotionally really hard, for instance when they have crushes and talk about marriage plans, and when you know how it all ended.

The Romanov Sisters p132Another element of the sadness is that the tsar was never made to have that position (as this page 312 excerpt shows), and all he or his wife dreamed of was living peacefully in a secluded area with their children, their family life being their most precious treasure.
So it was ultimately a very sad read for me.

Added on 1/23/21: 
I forgot to add how struck I was by the maturity of the girls.
At the beginning, they were looked upon by some people as being very immature, due to their lack of connection with other girls and not knowing anything about the world. But the war came, and they were very involved at the hospitals, where they spent many hours every day treating very badly wounded soldiers. They grew up in a few weeks in very mature and dedicated girls, exposed everyday to soldiers dying under their watch. Very inspiring young ladies. Even though some people thought as royals, they should intermingle with common people and do that type of work. Which shows you can never please everyone.

If you are interested in Orthodoxy, there were two points I discovered:
– it’s actually thanks to the French crook doctor Nizier Anthelme Philippe that Saint Seraphim of Sarov was recognized by the whole Church and canonized. Indeed, before leaving the Russian court where he had been too influential, Philippe told the couple to pray St Seraphim of Sarov to have a son (see pages 69-70). At the time though, there was no such official saint in the Orthodox Church. So they went to Sarov and discovered a humble monk who had been locally revered and had died 70 years before. That was the beginning of the process, and he is now one of the most beloved modern Russian saints. So, even French crooks can help, lol!
– Also, I sometimes wondered why my Church has such a strong position on keeping the Julian calendar (which runs 13 days late compared to our Gregorian civil calendar). I had not realized that the Julian calendar had been used not only for Church life, but also in civil life in Russia until 1918. It’s actually the Bolsheviks who made the change and had Russia adopt the Gregorian calendar for civil life on February 4, 1918. Now it makes sense to refuse such a change. (information found on page 351)

📚 Les grands cerfs, by Claudie Hunzinger
Published in 2019, book received through

Nice discovery for me. A novel strongly based on the author’s own experience of living in a very remote area. It’s all about observing deer in all kinds of weather, to the point of recognizing each one, of naming them, of following their daily life. And it’s also about disastrous decisions taken by the French government about French rural areas. Also ultimately sad!!
The descriptions are fabulous and remind me of Sylvain Tesson‘s style and content.


The sound of waves  L'Anomalie

📚The Sound of Waves (1954), by Yukio Mishima
Published in 1954
Reading for Japanese Reading Challenge 14, for Books in Translation Challenge, and for The Classics Club
Purchased at a library book sale

I should actually have finished this book when you read this post. This is the first time I read Mishima, and I really enjoy his style, especially his description of the natural environment, and also of the two main characters, with their innocence that most of the world cannot even understand.

“Set in a remote fishing village in Japan, The Sound of Waves is a timeless story of first love. It tells of Shinji, a young fisherman and Hatsue, the beautiful daughter of the wealthiest man in the village. Shinji is entranced at the sight of Hatsue in the twilight on the beach and they fall in love. When the villagers’ gossip threatens to divide them, Shinji must risk his life to prove his worth”

📚 L’Anomalie, by Hervé Le Tellier
Published in 2020, winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt

I’m often weary of literary awards, but when I realized this author is part of the Oulipo (a bunch of authors trying something very different in their art of writing), I knew I had to try it. I have heard that the originality is that he mixes many different literary genres in the same book. I have just started it, and so far, sounds good indeed.



Some Prefer Nettles

📚 Some Prefer Nettles (1928), by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki,
For The Japanese Reading Challenge, for the Books in Translation Challenge, and for The Classics Club

The marriage of Kaname and Misako is disintegrating: whilst seeking passion and fulfilment in the arms of others, they contemplate the humiliation of divorce. Misako’s father believes their relationship has been damaged by the influence of a new and alien culture, and so attempts to heal the breach by educating his son-in-law in the time-honoured Japanese traditions of aesthetic and sensual pleasure. The result is an absorbing, chilling conflict between ancient and modern, young and old.”


  Permafrost How to Mars

📚 Permafrost, by Alastair Reynolds
Published in 2019

If I consider the recent additions to my Goodreads TBR, looks like I’m shifting more towards science-fiction. And the last two added are in that genre.

“Fix the past. Save the present. Stop the future. Alastair Reynolds unfolds a time-traveling climate fiction adventure in Permafrost.
2080: at a remote site on the edge of the Arctic Circle, a group of scientists, engineers and physicians gather to gamble humanity’s future on one last-ditch experiment. Their goal: to make a tiny alteration to the past, averting a global catastrophe while at the same time leaving recorded history intact. To make the experiment work, they just need one last recruit: an ageing schoolteacher whose late mother was the foremost expert on the mathematics of paradox.
2028: a young woman goes into surgery for routine brain surgery. In the days following her operation, she begins to hear another voice in her head… an unwanted presence which seems to have a will, and a purpose, all of its own – one that will disrupt her life entirely. The only choice left to her is a simple one.
Does she resist… or become a collaborator?”

📚 How to Mars, by David Ebenbach
Expected publication: May 25, 2021 by Tachyon Publications

“What happens when your dream mission to Mars is a reality television nightmare? This debut science-fiction romp with heart follows the tradition of Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, with a dash of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and a hint of The Real World.
For the six lucky scientists selected by the Destination Mars! corporation, a one-way ticket to Mars—in exchange for a lifetime of research—was an absolute no-brainer. The incredible opportunity was clearly worth even the most absurdly tedious screening process. Perhaps worth following the strange protocols in a nonsensical handbook written by an eccentric billionaire. Possibly even worth their constant surveillance, the video of which is carefully edited into a ratings-bonanza back on Earth.
But it turns out that after a while even scientists can get bored of science. Tempers begin to fray; unsanctioned affairs blossom. When perfectly good equipment begins to fail, the Marsonauts are faced with a possibility that their training just cannot explain.
Irreverent, poignant, and perfectly weird, David Ebenbach’s debut science-fiction outing, like a mission to Mars, is an incredible trip you will never forget.”




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  • Late reviews?
  • More Orthodox book notes?
  • Another tour live: L’Origine