Posts tagged ‘Victor Hugo’

Booktube: David Bellos and Les Misérables

The Novel of the Century:
The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables
by

David Bellos

Yes! You are reading correctly, another vlog!
Enjoy, this time on a French classic:



 HAVE YOU READ LES MISÉRABLES?
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST IN IT?

 

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9 titles for our April 2014 Book Club

Recap of our Block Book Club April 2014 meeting

 

Recap of the titles we shared [synopsis from Goodreads.com].

 

1. The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen (1978) presented by J.

When Matthiessen went to Nepal to study the Himalayan blue sheep and, possibly, to glimpse the rare and beautiful snow leopard, he undertook his five-week trek as winter snows were sweeping into the high passes. This is a radiant and deeply moving account of a “true pilgrimage, a journey of the heart.”

 

2. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (1862) presented by P.

Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean – the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread – Les Misérables (1862) ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them onto the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose.

Within his dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Inspector Javert, the desperation of the prostitute Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Misérables gave Victor Hugo a canvas upon which he portrayed his criticism of the French political and judicial systems, but the portrait which resulted is larger than life, epic in scope – an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses even as it touches the heart.

 

3. Be Careful What You Wish For (The Clifton Chronicles #4) by Jeffrey Archer (March 2014) presented by M.

Bestselling author Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish For opens with Harry Clifton and his wife Emma rushing to hospital to learn the fate of their son Sebastian, who has been involved in a fatal car accident. But who died, Sebastian or his best friend Bruno?

When Ross Buchanan is forced to resign as chairman of the Barrington Shipping Company, Emma Clifton wants to replace him. But Don Pedro Martinez intends to install his puppet, the egregious Major Alex Fisher, in order to destroy the Barrington family firm just as the company plans to build its new luxury liner, the MV Buckingham.

Back in London, Harry and Emma’s adopted daughter wins a scholarship to the Slade Academy of Art where she falls in love with a fellow student, Clive Bingham, who asks her to marry him. Both families are delighted until Priscilla Bingham, Jessica’s future mother-in-law, has a visit from an old friend, Lady Virginia Fenwick, who drops her particular brand of poison into the wedding chalice.

Then, without warning, Cedric Hardcastle, a bluff Yorkshireman who no one has come across before, takes his place on the board of Barringtons. This causes an upheaval that none of them could have anticipated, and will change the lives of every member of the Clifton and Barrington families. Hardcastle’s first decision is who to support to become the next chairman of the board: Emma Clifton or Major Alex Fisher? And with that decision, the story takes yet another twist that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Be Careful What You Wish For showcases the master storyteller’s talent as never before – when the Clifton and Barrington families march forward into the sixties, in this epic tale of love, revenge, ambition and betrayal.

4. Cross My Heart (Alex Cross #21) by James Patterson (2013) presented by B.

Detective Alex Cross is a family man at heart–nothing matters more to him than his children, his grandmother, and his wife Bree. His love of his family is his anchor, and gives him the strength to confront evil in his work. One man knows this deeply, and uses Alex’s strength as a weapon against him. When the ones Cross loves are in danger, he will do anything to protect them. If he does anything to protect them, they will die.

5. The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve (1999) presented by J.

Until now, Kathryn Lyons’s life has been peaceful if unextraordinary: a satisfying job teaching high school in the New England mill town of her childhood; a picture-perfect home by the ocean; a precocious, independent-minded fifteen-year-old daughter; and a happy marriage whose occasional dull passages she attributes to the unavoidable deadening effect of time. As a pilot’s wife, Kathryn has learned to expect both intense exhilaration and long periods alone—but nothing has prepared her for the late-night knock that lets her know her husband has died in a crash.

As Kathryn struggles with her grief, she descends into a maelstrom of publicity stirred up by the modern hunger for the details of tragedy. Even before the plane is located in waters off the Irish coast, the relentless focus on her husband’s life begins to bring a bizarre personal mystery into focus. Could there be any truth to the increasingly disturbing rumors that he had a secret? Fighting the impulse to protect herself and her daughter from the details of the crash and the mystery surrounding it, Kathryn sets out to learn who her husband really was—whatever that knowledge may cost. The search will lead her to shocking revelations, testing both the truth of her marriage and the limits of her ability to face it.

From the bestselling author of The Weight of Water, this taut, impassioned novel asks fundamental questions we all have about how well we can really know anyone—even those (or especially those) we love the most. Written with grace and controlled beauty, The Pilot’s Wife definitively places Anita Shreve among the ranks of the best novelists writing today.

6. Hitched (Regan Reilly Mystery #9) by Carol Higgins Clark (2006) presented by S.

The date is Saturday, April 2. Five April brides discover their wedding dresses have been stolen. One of the brides is private investigator Regan Reilly. Her wedding is in seven days. Regan Reilly and her fiance, Jack “no relation” Reilly — head of the NYPD Major Case Squad — are getting married! Regan had the perfect dress made by two young designers on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Arriving at the bridal salon to pick up her gown, Regan discovers the shop has been broken into, the designers bound and gagged, and wedding dresses for four of the April brides (her dress included) are missing. A fifth dress is in shreds on the floor. Even though it’s a week before her wedding, Regan gets on the case, and in the process she meets an unusual mix of brides and grooms-to-be, or — perhaps “not-to-be.”

Over at One Police Plaza, Regan’s bridegroom, Jack, is trying to solve a perplexing series of bank robberies. The robber, nicknamed “The Drip” by the NYPD because he always strikes during rainstorms, has been eluding the police for months. Jack is determined to crack the case before his upcoming nuptials.

Carol Higgins Clark fuses the two seemingly unrelated mysteries with an ingenious twist, taking readers from the streets of New York City, to the casinos of Atlantic City, and finally to that most popular wedding spot — the one and only Las Vegas. She weaves a web of mystery around a charming, humorous tale of five April brides and the trials and tribulations they face planning their weddings.

7. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon (Feb 2014) presented by A.

The New York Times bestselling author of Promise Not to Tell returns with a simmering literary thriller about ghostly secrets, dark choices, and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters . . . sometimes too unbreakable.

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

8. Breach Of Trust (Jason Kolarich #2) by David Ellis (2011) presented by R.

Former college football star and criminal defense attorney Jason Kolarich returns in this shocking thriller from the award-winning author of The Hidden Man.

Jason Kolarich has spent the past year struggling to recover from the horrific deaths of his wife and baby daughter.

On the night of their deaths, Kolarich was at the office, awaiting a call from a confidential informant named Ernesto Ramirez-a call that never came. Kolarich blames himself not only for the deaths of his wife and child, but for the informant’s murder as well. He can’t bring back his family, but he can find out who killed Ramirez and bring the killer to justice.

Unfortunately, Kolarich’s guns-blazing approach to justice lands him smack in the middle of an FBI probe of a deeply corrupt governor and his cronies. To avoid jail, Kolarich must enter a world of wiretaps, double-dealing, and kickbacks, where he soon discovers that the murder of his informant was only the tip of the iceberg.

This breach of trust runs up to the highest levels of power, and exposing it may drag Kolarich into the fight of his life.

Shadow Queen cover

 

9. The Shadow Queen, by Sandra Gulland (April 2014) presented by me

From the author of the beloved Josephine B. Trilogy, comes a spellbinding novel inspired by the true story of a young woman who rises from poverty to become confidante to the most powerful, provocative and dangerous woman in the 17th century French court: the mistress of the charismatic Sun King.

1660, Paris

Claudette’s life is like an ever-revolving stage set. From an impoverished childhood wandering the French countryside with her family’s acting troupe, Claudette finally witnesses her mother’s astonishing rise to stardom in Parisian theaters. Working with playwrights Corneille, Molière and Racine, Claudette’s life is culturally rich, but like all in the theatrical world at the time, she’s socially scorned.

A series of chance encounters gradually pull Claudette into the alluring orbit of Athénaïs de Montespan, mistress to Louis XIV and reigning “Shadow Queen.” Needing someone to safeguard her secrets, Athénaïs offers to hire Claudette as her personal attendant.

Enticed by the promise of riches and respectability, Claudette leaves the world of the theater only to find that court is very much like a stage, with outward shows of loyalty masking more devious intentions. This parallel is not lost on Athénaïs, who fears political enemies are plotting her ruin as young courtesans angle to take the coveted spot in the king’s bed.

Indeed, Claudette’s “reputable” new position is marked by spying, illicit trysts and titanic power struggles. As Athénaïs, becomes ever more desperate to hold onto the King’s favor, innocent love charms move into the realm of deadly Black Magic, and Claudette is forced to consider a move that will put her own life—and the family she loves so dearly—at risk.

Set against the gilded opulence of a newly-constructed Versailles and the War of Theaters, THE SHADOW QUEEN is a seductive, gripping novel about the lure of wealth, the illusion of power, and the increasingly uneasy relationship between two strong-willed women whose actions could shape the future of France.

My own review is here: https://wordsandpeace.com/2014/04/26/book-review-and-giveaway-the-shadow-queen-i-love-france-93/

I also organize a giveaway to win 1 copy of this book. If you are interested, fill in this quick form before May 31 midnight: http://francebooktours.com/2014/05/01/may-books-of-the-month-giveaway/

 

   ***

 HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THOSE?
WHICH ONE IS YOUR FAVORITE?

9 titles for our February 2014 Book Club

Recap of our Block Book Club February 2014 meeting

 

Recap of the titles we shared [synopsis from Goodreads.com].

1. Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II

by Mitchell Zuckoff  (April 2013) presented by P.

Two harrowing crashes . . . A vanished rescue plane . . . A desperate fight for life in a frozen, hostile land . . . The quest to solve a seventy-year-old mystery
The author of the smash New York Times bestseller Lost in Shangri-La delivers a gripping true story of endurance, bravery, ingenuity, and honor set in the vast Arctic wilderness of World War II and today.
On November 5, 1942, a U.S. cargo plane on a routine flight slammed into the Greenland ice cap. Four days later, a B-17 on the search-and-rescue mission became lost in a blinding storm and also crashed. Miraculously, all nine men on the B-17 survived. The U.S. military launched a second daring rescue operation, but the Grumman Duck amphibious plane sent to find the men flew into a severe storm and vanished.
In this thrilling adventure, Mitchell Zuckoff offers a spellbinding account of these harrowing disasters and the fate of the survivors and their would-be saviors. Frozen in Time places us at the center of a group of valiant airmen fighting to stay alive through 148 days of a brutal Arctic winter by sheltering from subzero temperatures and vicious blizzards in the tail section of the broken B-17 until an expedition headed by famed Arctic explorer Bernt Balchen attempts to bring them to safety.
But that is only part of the story that unfolds in Frozen in Time. In present-day Greenland, Zuckoff joins the U.S. Coast Guard and North South Polar—a company led by the indefatigable dreamer Lou Sapienza, who worked for years to solve the mystery of the Duck’s last flight—on a dangerous expedition to recover the remains of the lost plane’s crew.
Drawing on intensive research and Zuckoff ’s firsthand account of the dramatic 2012 expedition, Frozen in Time is a breathtaking blend of mystery, adventure, heroism, and survival. It is also a poignant reminder of the sacrifices of our military personnel and their families—and a tribute to the important, perilous, and often-overlooked work of the U.S. Coast Guard.

2. Mortal Sins: Sex, Crime, and the Era of Catholic Scandal

by Michael D’Antonio  (April 2013) presented by J.

A Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction Book of 2013
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2013
An Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime Nominee
An explosive, sweeping account of the scandal that has sent the Catholic Church into a tailspin — and the brave few who fought for justiceIn the mid-1980s a dynamic young monsignor assigned to the Vatican’s embassy in Washington set out to investigate the problem of sexually abusive priests. He found a scandal in the making, confirmed by secret files revealing complaints that had been hidden from police and covered up by the Church hierarchy. He also understood that the United States judicial system was eager to punish offenders and those who aided them. He presented all of this to the American bishops, warning that the Church could be devastated by negative publicity and bankrupted by its legal liability. They ignored him.
Meanwhile, a young lawyer listened to a new client describe an abusive sexual history with a priest that began when he was ten years old. His parents’ complaints were downplayed by Church officials who offered them money to go away. The lawyer saw a claim that any defendant would want to settle. Then he began to suspect he was onto something bigger, involving thousands of priests who had abused countless children while the Church had done almost nothing about it. The lawsuit he filed would touch off a legal war of historic and global proportions.
Part history, part journalism, and part true-crime thriller, Michael D’Antonio’s Mortal Sins brings to mind landmark books such as All the President’s Men, And the Band Played On, and The Informant, as it reveals a long and ferocious battle for the soul of the largest and oldest organization in the world.

3. Les Misérables

by Victor Hugo  ( 1862) presented by P.

Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean – the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread – Les Misérables (1862) ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them onto the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose.
Within his dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Inspector Javert, the desperation of the prostitute Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Misérables gave Victor Hugo a canvas upon which he portrayed his criticism of the French political and judicial systems, but the portrait which resulted is larger than life, epic in scope – an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses even as it touches the heart.

4. The Husband

by Dean Koontz  (2006) presented by B.

With each and every new novel, Dean Koontz raises the stakes and the pulse rates higher than any other author. Now, in what may be his most suspenseful and heartfelt novel ever, he brings us the story of an ordinary man whose extraordinary commitment to his wife will take him on a harrowing journey of adventure, sacrifice, and redemption to the mystery of love itself and to a showdown with the darkness that would destroy it forever.
What would you do for love? Would you die? Would you kill?
We have your wife. You can get her back for two million cash. Landscaper Mitchell Rafferty thinks it must be some kind of joke. He was in the middle of planting impatiens in the yard of one of his clients when his cell phone rang. Now he has standing in a normal suburban neighborhood on a bright summer day, having a phone conversation out of his darkest nightmare.
Whoever is on the other end of the line is dead serious. He has Mitchel’s wife and he is named the price for her safe return. The caller doesn’t care that Mitch runs a small two-man landscaping operation and has no way of raising such a vast sum. He is confident that Mitch will find a way.
If he loves his wife enough. . . Mitch does love her enough. He loves her more than life itself. He has got seventy-two hours to prove it. He has to find the two million by then. But he will pay a lot more. He will pay anything.
From its tense opening to its shattering climax, The Husband is a thriller that will hold you in its relentless grip for every twist, every shock, every revelation until it lets you go, unmistakably changed. This is a Dean Koontz novel, after all. And there is no other experience quite like it.

 5. Whispers

by Dean Koontz  (2006) presented by J.

For thirty-five years, Bruno Frye has lived in the shadow of the mother who made his heart beat with constant fear. And even though she died five years ago, the whispers still haunt him in the dark…enough to make him kill—and kill again… Hilary Thomas is one of his intended victims. And she’s about to learn that even death can’t keep a bad man down…

 6. Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18)

by Janet Evanovich  (2011) presented by S.

Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum’s life is set to blow sky high when international murder hits dangerously close to home, in this dynamite novel by Janet Evanovich.
 Before Stephanie can even step foot off Flight 127 from Hawaii to Newark, she’s knee deep in trouble. Her dream vacation turned into a nightmare, she’s flying back to New Jersey solo, and someone who sounds like Sasquatch is snoring in row 22. Worse still, her seatmate never returned to the plane after the L.A. layover. Now he’s dead, in a garbage can, waiting for curbside pickup. His killer could be anyone. The FBI, the fake FBI, and guns-for-hire are all looking for a photograph the dead man was supposed to be carrying.
Only one other person has seen the missing photograph—Stephanie Plum. Now she’s the target, and she doesn’t intend to end up in a garbage can. With the help of an FBI sketch artist Stephanie re-creates the person in the photo. Unfortunately the first sketch turns out to look like Tom Cruise, and the second sketch like Ashton Kutcher. Until Stephanie can improve her descriptive skills, she’ll need to watch her back.
Over at the Bail Bonds Agency it’s business as usual—until the bonds bus serving as Vinnie’s temporary HQ goes up in smoke, Stephanie’s wheelman, Lula, falls in love with their “largest” FTA yet, lifetime arch nemesis Joyce Barnhardt moves into Stephanie’s apartment, and everyone wants to know what happened in Hawaii?!
Morelli, Trenton’s hottest cop, isn’t talking about Hawaii. Ranger, the man of mystery, isn’t talking about Hawaii.  And all Stephanie is willing to say about her Hawaiian vacation is . . . It’s complicated.

 7. Bad Monkey

by Carl Hiaasen  (June 2013) presented by R.

Carl Hiaasen is back doing what he does best: spinning a wickedly funny, fiercely pointed tale in which the greedy, the corrupt, and the degraders of pristine land in Florida–now, in the Bahamas too–get their comeuppance in mordantly ingenious, diabolically entertaining fashion.
Andrew Yancy–late of the Miami Police, soon-to-be-late of the Key West Police–has a human arm in his freezer. There’s a logical (Hiaasenian) explanation for that, but not for how and why it parted from its owner. Yancy thinks the boating-accident/shark-luncheon explanation is full of holes, and if he can prove murder, his commander might relieve him of Health Inspector duties, aka Roach Patrol. But first Yancy will negotiate an ever-surprising course of events–from the Keys to Miami to a Bahamian out island–with a crew of equally ever-surprising characters, including: the twitchy widow of the frozen arm; an avariciously idiotic real estate developer; a voodoo witch whose lovers are blinded-unto-death by her particularly peculiar charms; Yancy’s new love, a kinky medical examiner; and the eponymous Bad Monkey, who earns his place among Hiaasen’s greatest characters with hilariously wicked aplomb

Mr Penumbra's 24-hour bookstore

 8. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore #1)

by Robin Sloan  (2012) presented by me

Global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, young love, and the secret to eternal life — mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore. The Great Recession shuffles Clay Jannon from his web-design drone job to night shift at Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Curiously, few customers come in repeatedly and never buy. Analysis reveals astonishing secrets…

My own review is here.

 9. Orphan Train

by Christina Baker Kline  (April 2013) presented by M.

The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.
Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from “aging out” of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.
Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.
The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.
Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

 

   ***

 HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THOSE?
WHICH ONE IS YOUR FAVORITE?

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