Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville

bookshelves: currently-reading, vienna, victorian, gothic, e-book, net-galley, newtome-author, fantasy, anti-semitic, eugenics, historical-fiction, cults-societies-brotherhoods, austria, eye-scorcher, witches-and-wizards, superstitions, published-2014, psychology, lifestyles-deathstyles, gardening, food-glorious-food, doo-lally, cover-love, adventure, a-questing-we-shall-go, austro-hungarian-empire

Read from July 10 to 13, 2014


** spoiler alert **

**WARNING: there are spoilers galore in the reviews of this book, so don’t check down through the community book page.**

Description: Gretel and the Dark is Eliza Granville’s dazzling novel of darkness, evil – and hope. Vienna, 1899.

Josef Breuer – celebrated psychoanalyst – is about to encounter his strangest case yet. Found by the lunatic asylum, thin, head shaved, she claims to have no name, no feelings – to be, in fact, not even human. Intrigued, Breuer determines to fathom the roots of her disturbance.

Years later, in Germany, we meet Krysta. Krysta’s Papa is busy working in the infirmary with the ‘animal people’, so little Krysta plays alone, lost in the stories of Hansel and Gretel, the Pied Piper, and more. And when everything changes and the real world around her becomes as frightening as any fairy tale, Krysta finds that her imagination holds powers beyond what she could have ever guessed . . .

Eliza Granville was born in Worcestershire and currently lives in Bath. She has had a life-long fascination with the enduring quality of fairytales and their symbolism, and the idea for Gretel and the Dark was sparked when she became interested in the emphasis placed on these stories during the Third Reich. Gretel and the Dark is her first novel to be published by a major publisher.

This as change of pace from the huge and delicious dip-in/dip-out read of Der Turm: Geschichte aus einem versunkenen Land

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a young adult read. The main narrative is from the point of view of a young girl who doesn’t quite catch the meaning of all that happens around her, yet you the reader will discern straight away just what is unfolding if you remember your history of the time and the place.

Karl Lueger: The populist and anti-Semitic politics of his Christian Social Party are sometimes viewed as a model for Hitler’s Nazism.

Turn of the century Vienna is a time of blossoming psycho-analysis, uprise in anti-semitism, a rumbling of discontent with the emperor Franz Joseph, and the poor are becoming poorer. This is the backdrop to ‘Gretel and the Dark’, where the deeds are dark, superstitions run rife and most important, the writing superb.

Lambach Abbey: In 1897/98 Adolf Hitler lived in the town of Lambach with his parents. It is often claimed that he attended the secular Volksschule at which Benedictine teachers were employed, but also that he attended the monastery school, where each day he saw swastikas among the carved stones and woodwork, which included the symbol.

Just as Oskar in The Tin Drum is one step removed from the events, so here with Krysta, and her real thoughts sometimes are only revealed when she is conversing to her doll. This is clear at the death of her father where she vocally tells everyone that papa is not dead, then she whispers a query to her doll about what are they going to do now.

Just a smidgeon short of five hitlers

An aside: on NetGALLEY(™) you get a chance to vote whether you do or don’t like the cover. I liked it!

The Strangled Queen (Los Reyes Malditos, #2) by Maurice Druon

Description: The King is dead. Long live the King.

With King Philip IV dead, and the Kingdom left in disarray, as the fatal curse of the Templars plagues the royal house of France.

Imprisoned in Chateau Gaillard, Marguerite of Burgundy has fallen into disgrace. Her infidelity has left her estranged husband, Louis X King of France, with neither heir nor wife.

The web of scandal, murder and intrigue that once wove itself around the Iron King continues to afflict his descendants, as the destruction of his dynasty continues at the hands of fate.

Wonderful storyline surrounding the events of 1314 and I don’t think I had grasped the Lombards so well as I feel I do now.

Loius X: called the Quarreler, the Headstrong, or the Stubborn. Louis allowed serfs to buy their freedom, which was the first step towards the abolition of serfdom, abolished slavery and readmitted French Jews into the kingdom.

The scenery in these films is most definitely odd.

4* The Iron King
4* The Strangled Queen
The Poisoned Crown
The She-Wolf of France
The Lily and the Lion

A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths

bookshelves: published-2013, series, spring-2014, tbr-busting-2014, conflagration, fraudio, archaeology, britain-england, norfolk, lancashire, library-in-norway, cults-societies-brotherhoods, historical-fiction, lifestyles-deathstyles, mythology, anti-semitic

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Series recommended initially by Carey
Read from March 22 to April 17, 2014

 

Narrated by Clare Corbett

Description: Ruth Galloway is shocked when she learns that her old university friend Dan Golding has died tragically in a house fire. But the death takes on a sinister cast when Ruth receives a letter from Dan written just before he died. The letter tells of a great archaeological discovery, but Dan also says that he is scared for his life. Was Dan’ s death linked to his find? The only clue is his mention of the Raven King, an ancient name for King Arthur. Then Ruth is invited to examine the bones Dan found. Ruth travels to Lancashire- the hometown of DCI Nelson- with both her eighteen-month-old daughter, Kate, and her druid friend, Cathbad, in tow. She discovers a campus living in fear of a sinister right-wing group called the White Hand. She also finds that the bones revealed a shocking fact about King Arthur- and they’ ve mysteriously vanished. When Nelson, visiting his mother in Blackpool, learns about the case, he is drawn into the investigation, especially when Ruth and his beloved Kate seem to be in danger. Who is willing to kill to keep the bones a secret?

The Raven King by Christian Schloe

Enjoyable enough as a gothic-cosy; all the cast are here in their individual, quirky glory yet somehow I feel a disinterest settling in when contemplating continuing this series. This happens with series doesn’t it, when the point of elegant sufficiency is reached.

the skeleton dance 1929

Pendle Hill

This image is traditionally associated with the Witches of Pendle Forest and their Trial.

The Pendle Witch Trials 1612 were the most notorious witch hunts in English history.

Singing Detective – Dem Bones

4* The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway, #1)
4* The Janus Stone (Ruth Galloway #2)
3* The House at Sea’s End (Ruth Galloway, #3)
3* A Room Full of Bones
3* A Dying Fall
MB The Outcast Dead (Ruth Galloway #6)

Unexploded by Alison MacLeod

bookshelves: spring-2014, radio-4, published-2013, fradio, booker-longlist, brighton, historical-fiction, wwii, britain-england, under-500-ratings, books-about-books-and-book-shops, jewish, anti-semitic, music, newtome-author

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from March 27 to April 12, 2014


BABT

Description: A tale of love, art and prejudice set in wartime Brighton.

“Fear was an infection – airborne, seaborne – rolling in off the Channel, and although no one spoke of it, no one was immune to it. Fifty miles of water was a slim moat to an enemy that had taken five countries in two months, and Brighton, regrettably, had for centuries been hailed as an excellent place to land.”

In May 1940, Geoffrey and Evelyn Beaumont and their Philip, anxiously await news of invasion on the beaches of Brighton. Geoffrey, a banker, becomes Superintendent of the internment camp on the edge of town while Evelyn is gripped first by fear and then quiet but growing desperation.

A discovery widens a fault-line in family life.

Alison MacLeod lives in Brighton. She was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award in 2011 and her story ‘Solo, A Capella’, about the Tottenham riots, featured in the Radio 4 series ‘Where Were You …’ in 2012. Her previous works include The Changeling and The Wave Theory of Angels. Unexploded was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2013. Alison is Professor of Contemporary Fiction at the University of Chichester.

Reader: Emma Fielding
Abridger: Jeremy Osborne
Producer: Rosalynd Ward
A Sweet Talk production for BBC Radio 4

Episode 1: With Brighton braced for an imminent invasion on its beaches, Geoffrey comes home with some shattering news.

Episode 2: After a difficult evening and a restless night, Geoffrey wakes up hoping to reconcile with Evelyn.

Episode 3: Who is the other patient – hidden behind a screen – in the internment camp infirmary?

Episode 4: Relations between Evelyn and Geoffrey remain strained – but Evelyn plans a brief diversion from everyday pressures.

Episode 5: The Beaumonts are set on ever-diverging paths. Geoffrey has begun to see Leah, while Evelyn – against his wishes – has decided to visit the internment camp.

Episode 6: Evelyn has become interested in the fate of internee Otto Gottlieb. But according to Geoffrey, there’s more to Otto than meets the eye.

Episode 7: Things come to a head between Geoffrey and Evelyn. And Orson’s brother Hal comes home ‘on leave’.

Episode 8: Otto has started work on a fresco in a local church. The internment camp has closed, but Geoffrey now has observer duties with the UXB unit

Episode 9: Stung by Otto’s off-handedness, Evelyn has thrown herself into her work with the WI and at home. But can it last?

Episode 10: Evelyn is not at home. Prompted by Philip’s anxiety and suspicions, Geoffrey has gone looking for her. And why is there smoke coming from No. 5?

Catch it here

Well this is a book of two halves. Totally limp-wristed inertia, then, too late for the bailers I’m afraid, this gets an edge that becomes quite compelling.

I did rather dry retch at the Woolf moment though – that was a ‘(name)drop’ too far, and sort of out of context, no? Kind of an inauthentic plot developer

3.5*

Burning Girls

bookshelves: shortstory-shortstories-novellas, published-2013, e-book, spring-2014, anti-semitic, boo-scary, conflagration, disaster, doo-lally, eye-scorcher, families, fantasy, gangsters, jewish, lifestyles-deathstyles, mythology, newtome-author, ouch, tragedy, women

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Melki
Read from April 10 to 11, 2014


Opening: When we came to America, we brought anger and socialism and hunger. We also brought our demons. They stowed away on the ships with us, curled up in the small sacks we slung over our shoulders, crept under our skirts. When we passed the medical examinations and stepped for the first time out onto the streets of granite we would call home, they were waiting for us, as though they’d been there the whole time.

Within a few years, I was able to help my bubbe as she wrote out amulets to preserve infants from the lilim[..]

Bundism is a Jewish socialist and secular movement that originated with the General Jewish Labour Bund, founded in the Russian Empire in 1897. (wiki sourced definition)

Read online here

Spoilers after the break

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Playing for His Life by John Peacock

bookshelves: winter-20132014, anti-semitic, sport, nazi-related, wwii, published-2011, fradio, radio-4

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read from January 31 to February 01, 2014

 

Thankee Brazilliant!

Desciption: Already under Gestapo Surveillance, tennis ace Baron Gottfried Von Cramm, married but secretly homosexual, offends Hitler, by refusing to join the Nazi Party. He believes himself to be safe as long as he remains Germany’s number one and winning. ‘But I must win. I can’t lose, and I can’t quit.’ He was left playing for his life.

Producer/Director: Celia de Wolff
A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4

1931 portrait of Gottfried von Cramm

From wiki: The Nazis wanted to exploit his blonde good looks as a symbol of Aryan supremacy, but he refused to identify with Nazism. In the war, he was discharged from the military because of frostbite.

This was a heartbreaker. Especially recommended for bulletpoint Karen bulletpoint