Leopard VI: The Norwegian Feeling for Real by Harald Bache-Wiig, Birgit Bjerck, Jan Kjarstad

Leopard VI by Harald Bache-Wiig
 

 

Who doesn’t like the cover (excluding Scott from Utah of course); an extra star right there!

1. On An Old Farmstead in Europe by Hans Herbjörnsrud, translated by Liv Irene Myhre. A recounting of one of Norway’s oldest myths ‘Blind Margjit and the Man with the Eyes’.

2. The Dogs in Thessaloniki by Kjell Askildsen, translated by Agnes Scott Langeland. Pug-Ugly domestic scenario.

3. Ice by Roy Jacobsen, translated by Kenneth Steven. Had to read this one eyes through splayed fingers. Excellent suspense.

4. The Cock and Mr. Gopher by Jonny Halberg, translated by Don Bartlett. Culinary addiction.

5. I Could Not Tell You by Jon Fosse, translated by May-Britt Akerholdt. blergh – s.o.c. affected shite.

6. Cows by Lars Amund Vaage, translated by Nadia Christensen. Well that was a dairy farmer’s wet dream but no more entries like that, I hope.

7. The Last Beat Poets in Mid-Hordland by Ragnar Hovland, translated by James Anderson. Lovely story.

8. The Jealous Barber by Lars Saabye Christensen, translated by Kenneth Steven. A psychological thriller that was noirly amusing in its absurdity.

Just when I am mentally composing the end rant about the lack of female writers here, next up is a goodie:

9. The Pillar by Karin Fossum translated by Robert Ferguson. Bullying father reveals his fecklessness.

10. The Catalogue by Jostein Gaarder and translated by James Anderson. Superb piece of nihilism surrounding an every leap-year global publication.

11. A Good Heart by Karin Sveen and translated by Katherine Hanson. Crofting community and the question of hand-me-downs ♥♥♥

12. The Motif Herbjørg Wassmo and translated by Donna H Stockton. Not so much!

13. Dublin in the Rain by Frode Grytten and translated by Peter Cripps.

14. I’m Asleep by Tor Ulven and translated by Sverre Lyngstad. Lots of individual ideas to ponder upon here, however, does that make a good story?, I don’t think so.

This is the most ‘quotable snippets’ entry but I cannot recommend it as a whole.

15. Love by Hanne ørstavik and translated by James Anderson

A path runs into the forest, from a secret, forgotten place.
If you can only find it, your body will follow its trace.
Past trees and flowers and anthills and up to a castle so rare,
In the castle sit three damsels, fabulous, fine and fair.
For the prince they sit there waiting, naybe he’ll come one day,
They’re singing a song in the meantime, a lilting, lugubrious lay.

16. The Man Who Collected the First of September, 1973 by Tor Åge Bringsværd and translated by Oddrun Grønvik.

17. A Forgotten Petunia by Bjørg Vik and translated by Don Bartlett.

18. Deep Need – Instant Nausea by Trude Marstein and translated by Don Bartlett.

19. The Story of the Short Story by Kjartan Fløgstad and translated by Sverre Lyngstad.

20. Life of a Trapper by Gro Dahle and translated by Katherine Hanson.

21. It’s So Damned Quiet Øystein Lønn, trans by Steven T. Murray.

22. Veranda With Sun Laila Stein, Katherine Hanson

22. Homecoming Jan Kjæstad, Sverre Lyngstad

23. The Long Trip by Beate Grimsrud, translated by Angela Shury-Smith

————————————-

Edited by Harald Bache-Wiig, Birgit Bjerck and Jan Kjærstad.

Introduction by Harald Bache-Wiig.
—————————————-

Now a good thing about anthologies is that you can get a taster, a little peek at an unknown writer. Having enjoyed #3 I have ordered a book by Roy Jacobsen about the northern war.

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!

A Rough Ride to the Future by James Lovelock

bookshelves: spring-2014, absolute-favourites, author-love, britain-england, climate, cover-love, e-book, how-to, nonfiction, published-2014, environmental-issues, net-galley

Read from March 25 to May 19, 2014


Description: In A Rough Ride to the Future, James Lovelock – the great scientific visionary of our age – presents a radical vision of humanity’s future as the thinking brain of our Earth-system James Lovelock, who has been hailed as ‘the man who conceived the first wholly new way of looking at life on earth since Charles Darwin’ (Independent) and ‘the most profound scientific thinker of our time’ (Literary Review) continues, in his 95th year, to be the great scientific visionary of our age. This book introduces two new Lovelockian ideas. The first is that three hundred years ago, when Thomas Newcomen invented the steam engine, he was unknowingly beginning what Lovelock calls ‘accelerated evolution’, a process which is bringing about change on our planet roughly a million times faster than Darwinian evolution. The second is that as part of this process, humanity has the capacity to become the intelligent part of Gaia, the self-regulating Earth system whose discovery Lovelock first announced nearly 50 years ago. In addition, Lovelock gives his reflections on how scientific advances are made, and his own remarkable life as a lone scientist. The contribution of human beings to our planet is, Lovelock contends, similar to that of the early photosynthesisers around 3.4 billion years ago, which made the Earth’s atmosphere what it was until very recently. By our domination and our invention, we are now changing the atmosphere again. There is little that can be done about this, but instead of feeling guilty about it we should recognise what is happening, prepare for change, and ensure that we survive as a species so we can contribute to – perhaps even guide – the next evolution of Gaia. The road will be rough, but if we are smart enough life will continue on Earth in some form far into the future. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974, JAMES LOVELOCK is the author of more than 200 scientific papers and the originator of the Gaia Hypothesis (now Gaia Theory). His many books on the subject include Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (1979), The Revenge of Gaia (2006), and The Vanishing Face of Gaia (2009). In 2003 he was made a Companion of Honour by Her Majesty the Queen, in 2005 Prospect magazine named him one of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals, and in 2006 he received the Wollaston Medal, the highest Award of the UK Geological Society.

Sipping this with total love on a daily basis gives rise to two burning issues:

Our National Treasure is into his 95th year and here he is with a new book – match that STGRB *cough* authors. More importantly, he is not scared to u-turn or change tack.

Does anyone here read Brain Pickings? there was a great debate about not sticking to a mind-set when interially, a thought is now untenable. **INSERT ARTICLE HERE** The Backfire Effect: The Psychology of Why We Have a Hard Time Changing Our Minds

Don’t try to save the planet in environmental terms, instead build domed, dammed cities, this is the new message in a nutshell.

WOW – how do I love thee, let me count the ways.

Of course you wouldn’t get me or mine kicking or screaming into a sealed-in space where the consumerism vulture can sit on neon light stands to pick off the unwary – we’ll take our chances thank you very much. But hey, you bods who already live in cities, would you even notice if the dome closed over your heads if the rags didn’t inform you? When was the last time anyone looked to the sky when in Picadilly Circus.

Say it was sneakily done – so long as there are shop fronts to languish over and the gossip press pumps gumph out, really, who would notice. Strikes me it wouldn’t be too much of a hardship for the majority of first-worlders; so long as young mums can demand to wear Jimmy Choo up to a nine month regardless of the safety of the unborn, who cares about the planet earth.

Did I mention I was cynical?

Did I mention that Lovelock is the bee’s fricking knees?

Okay – I’ve gushed enough and readers need some hard facts – this is repetitive: think Ouspensky’s Strange Life of Ivan Osokin tops, or Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life at base, or Groundhog Day at funniest. Seriously though, look this man up; see what he has been about. Love him.

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The Birds of Pandemonium by Michele Raffin

bookshelves: spring-2014, nonfiction, published-2014, cover-love, environmental-issues, zoology, net-galley, e-book

Recommended for: Jeanette
Read from May 12 to 15, 2014

 

Algonquin Books

16 pages of full-color photos in the book, however they were not included in this ARC.

Description: Each morning at first light, Michele Raffin steps outside to the bewitching bird music that heralds another day at Pandemonium Aviaries–a full symphony that swells from the most vocal of over three hundred avian throats representing over forty species. “It knocks me out, every day,” she admits.

Pandemonium Aviaries, the home and bird sanctuary that she shares with some of the world’s most remarkable birds, is a conservation organization dedicated to saving and breeding birds at the edge of extinction, including some of the largest populations of rare species in the world. And their behavior is even more fascinating than their glorious plumage or their songs. They fall in love, they mourn, they rejoice, they sacrifice, they have a sense of humor, they feel jealous, they invent, plot, cope, and sometimes they murder each other. As Michele says, “They teach us volumes about the interrelationships of humans and animals.”

Their amazing stories make up the heart of this book. There’s Sweetie, a tiny quail with an outsize personality; the inspiring Oscar, a disabled Lady Gouldian finch who can’t fly but finds a brilliant way to climb to the highest perches of his aviary to roost. The ecstatic reunion of sibling Victoria crowned pigeons, Wing and Coffee, is as wondrous as the silent kinship that develops between Amadeus, a one-legged Turaco, and an autistic young visitor. Michele shares with us the challenges of caring for such an extraordinary menagerie and the precarious fate of the birds themselves.

Ultimately, The Birds of Pandemonium is about one woman’s crusade to save precious lives, bird by bird, and offers a rare insight into how rescuing others, regardless of species, can lead to true happiness.

Dedication: To Ross, Jason, and Nick

Opening: Morning at Pandemonium: I rise every morning a 4:00 a.m. – gladly on most days – and pad as silently as possible across the terra-cotta-tiled floors of our home. If I make the smallest sound as I pass by the dining room, they might hear. I don’t want to set off our resident clown posse – not yet.

In the foothills of Santa Cruz range, Michell Raffin lives with her family, two donkeys, a pair of goats, a collie, a sheepdog, a cat and some birds in ‘Pandemonium Aviaries’.

Pandemonium Averies is a party house that also serves as a protected birds’ paradise.

This is a joyful book full of music and dance and birds. Who knew African grey parrots will form a conga line to the beat of hip-hop. You like birds, rare ones or not, you will love this.

“Michele Raffin has made an important contribution to saving endangered birds, and her book is a fascinating and rarely seen glimpse behind the scenes. The joy she gets from her close relationships with these amazing animals and her outsized commitment to them comes through loud and clear in this engaging and joyful book.” —Dominick Dorsa, Curator of Birds, San Francisco Zoo

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The Brothers by Asko Sahlberg

bookshelves: published-2010, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, finland, spring-2014, translation, paper-read, one-penny-wonder, historical-fiction, under-100-ratings, war, cover-love

Read from April 13 to 16, 2014

 

Description: Finland, 1809. Henrik and Erik are brothers who fought on opposite sides in the war between Sweden and Russia. With peace declared, they both return to their snowed-in farm. But who is the master? Sexual tensions, old grudges, family secrets: all come to a head in this dark and gripping saga.

Opening: I have barely caught the crunch of snow and I know who is coming. Henrik treads heavily and unhurriedly, as is his wont, grinding his feet into the earth. The brothers are so different. Erik walks fast, with light steps; he is always in a hurry and then he is gone.

It all began with a horse, a stallion, or rather, a colt: an unruly colt…

Having spent most* of the last weekend finishing up open reads that had laid on the currently reading shelf for too long I was looking for a short snappy paper read that fits into my jacket as palate cleanser and walking companion.

This fitted the bill splendidly, set at the end of the Russian, Swedish war, the brothers Henrik and Erik, who had fought on opposing sides, were united back at the ranch. Let me tell yah, things did not bode well.

* also watched films on youtube: love that films of books via ipad are available no matter where I am ♥ ♥ ♥

Asko Sahlberg (born 1964) is a Finnish novelist.

I can’t praise this series of European shorties highly enough, just look at the covers, scrumptious.

Peirene Press series:

4* The Brothers by Asko Sahlberg
4* The Murder of Halland by Pia Juul
WL Sea of Ink by Richard Weihe

A Death in the Family by Karl Ove Knausgård

bookshelves: published-2009, translation, winter-20132014, series, paper-read, norway, newtome-author, tbr-busting-2014, families, cover-love

Read from September 14, 2013 to April 13, 2014


Oslo’s National Theatre holds Knausgård play

Norway’s National Theatre has postponed its production of Karl Ove Knausgård’s novel My Struggle until next year, after the theatre’s director, Hanne Tømta, decided it needed more time.

Translation: Don Bartlett

Opening: FOR THE HEART; LIFE IS SIMPLE: it beats for as long as it can. Then it stops. Sooner or later, one day, this pounding action will cease of its own accord, and the blood will begin to run towards the body’s lowest point, where it will collect in a small pool, visible from the outside as a dark, soft patch on even whiter skin, as the temperature sinks, the limbs stiffen and the intestines drain.

Karl Ove Knausgaard: Norway’s Proust and a life laid painfully bare

This is a ramble, a sad ramble. A lengthy meander through a fictionalised slice of the author’s young life. It is belly-button mining in a big way, and that parallel with Proust we all hear about? It was posited by Knausgård himself right at the beginning. I enjoyed this as a dip in, dip out read however I won’t continue with the series unless it drops in my lap.

Arauco by John Caviglia

 

Description: Set in a land of earthquakes and towering volcanoes, weaving history with myth, Arauco tells of war, sorcery … and a love demonstrating that a man can embrace what he was seeking to destroy. When in 1540 Pedro de Valdivia headed south from Peru to conquer lands and gold, he took with him his beautiful mistress, Inés de Suárez. With him also rode his secretary, Juan de Cardeña, whose hopeless love of Inés stems from the same romances that inspired the Quixote. Having crossed the Atacama Desert, the Spanish encounter the indomitable resistance of the Mapuche people…. For the first time, Arauco recreates the Spanish invasion of Chile from the native perspective as well, so that its pages include: Lautaro, the Mapuche youth who led his people to an epic victory; Ñamku, albino shaman; his enemy, the sorcerer Kurufil … and Raytrayen, the Mapuche girl Juan de Cardeña comes to love…

Villarrica Volcano, Chile

Opening lines from the prologue: THE BEGINNING (Mapu)

The sun was dying in fucha lafken, the great sea, but Ñamku, shaman of the Mapuche, did not see it. Behind him, the sacred volcanoesof the ancestors soared into the sunrises of the past, and he did not see them. Breathing deep, he removed his mask. Opening his eyes, he spread his arms to embrace darkness. This night the pillañ – the ancestors – would speak to him.

THANKEE DON, so kind of you. I have two weeks to read this before the invitation expires; pretty sure that will be just dandy given your 5* and the epic storyline.

The story opens out in Sevilla, Andalucia 1539 with Juan de Cardeña, together with his travelling companion Pedro Gómez de San Benito, admiring the opulance of the south of Spain.

It’s all in here: coming of age, swashbuckling, comradeship, brutality, foul-mouthed and sexy, heart-breaking and chivalric. A veritable pot-pourri of adventure: Rag Tag and Bobtail doing a hop, skip and jump, and the range is so sprawly that at times I felt I was a fully paid up member of the Where The FuckRwe Tribe?

The Authors blog

olla podrida seems to be equivalent to pottage, anything and everything gets chucked in.

• “The Monocli have just one huge foot. And they jump like fleas. They are called the Umbrella Foot Tribe because in hot weather they lie on their backs and rest in the shadow of their foot.”

The Lewis Man (Lewis Trilogy, #2) by Peter May

bookshelves: nutty-nuut, e-book, gr-library, britain-scotland, series, published-2011, spring-2014, mystery-thriller, bucolic-or-pastoral, bullies, casual-violence, contemporary, cover-love, dodgy-narrator, families, handbag-read, hebridean, lifestyles-deathstyles, mental-health, ouch, protestant, religion, roman-catholic, those-autumn-years, tragedy

Read from March 19 to 20, 2014

Description: A MAN WITH NO NAME. An unidentified corpse is recovered from a Lewis peat bog; the only clue to its identity being a DNA sibling match to a local farmer. A MAN WITH NO MEMORY. But this islander, Tormod Macdonald – now an elderly man suffering from dementia – has always claimed to be an only child. A MAN WITH NO CHOICE. When Tormod’s family approach Fin Macleod for help, Fin feels duty-bound to solve the mystery.

Dedication: In memory of my dad

‘That is where they live:
Not here and now, but where all happened once.’

– from ‘The Old Fools’ by Philip Larkin

Opening: On this storm-lashed island three hours off the north-west coast of Scotland, what little soil exists gives the people their food and their heat. It also takes their dead. And very occasionally, as today, gives one up.

Mona and Finn say their goodbyes just down the cobbles from St. Giles on the Golden Mile; sixteen years, ~20% of their lives just written off, and now deeper strangers than they ever had been when they first met. So it’s back to the womb, amongst the Wee Frees on the Isle of Lewis, for our hero Finn.

An eye-scorcher that has definitely ratcheted up a couple of notches from the first book. This is a fictionalised story set around the factual and gruelling Roman Catholic practice of sending orphaned kids to the islands to work as slaves.

Sphagnum bog

Beinn Ruigh Choinnich/Ben Kenneth, S. Uist. Strong Roman Catholic community.

Oiled wool Eriskay jumpers: the individual family patterns were as good as a fingerprint.

The Dean Gallery is an art gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is part of the National Galleries of Scotland. It was opened in 1999, opposite the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which is its sister gallery. In 2011 the buildings were renamed Modern Art Two and Modern Art One respectively. The building was originally an orphanage, designed in 1830 by Thomas Hamilton. The conversion of the building into a gallery was designed by Terry Farrell. Since its opening it has housed the Paolozzi Gift, a collection of his works given to the Gallery of Modern Art in 1994 by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi. It contains a large collection of Dada and Surrealist art and literature, much of which was given by Gabrielle Keiller. It is also used for temporary exhibitions. (wiki sourced)

3.5* The Blackhouse (Lewis Trilogy, #1)
5* The Lewis Man (Lewis Trilogy, #2)
TR The Chessmen (Lewis Trilogy, #3)

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Lady of the Butterflies

one-penny-wonder, paper-read, currently-reading, winter-20132014, published-1999, tbr-busting-2014, somerset, civil-war-english, britain-england, sciences, historical-fiction, under-1000-ratings, plague-disease, floods, zoology, lifestyles-deathstyles, philosophy, politics, restoration, religion, love, cover-love

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Jae
Read from June 13, 2013 to February 16, 2014
Dedication: For Tim, Daniel, Gabriel and Kezia.
Also in memory of my mother, Muriel Swinburn

Opening quotes from Sir Francis Bacon and John Ray

From the description: On the ancient marshlands of Somerset — a place of mists and magic — a girl grows up in the shadow of the English Civil War, knowing that one day she will inherit the rich estate which belonged to her late mother. Her father, a stern but loving Puritan, once a distinguished soldier in Cromwell’s army, fears for his daughter in the poisonous aftermath of the war, and for her vulnerability as an heiress. But above all he fears and misunderstands her scientific passion for butterflies. Eleanor Glanville was in fact destined to become one of the most famous entomologists in history, bequeathing her name to the rare butterfly which she discovered, the Glanville Fritillary. But not before she had endured a life of quite extraordinary vicissitude. Two marriages and an all-consuming love, which proved her undoing, a deep friendship with one of the great scientists of the day and finally, a trial for lunacy (on the grounds that no sane person would pursue butterflies) are all played out against the violent events of the Monmouth Rebellion and the vicious controversy over whether or not to drain the Somerset marshes. Now, if you drive down the M5, you will cross Kings Sedgemoor Drain — one of the first great ditches which reclaimed the land for farming and destroyed the precious habitat of the Glanville Fritillary.

Glanville Fritillary is what I know as Meadow Butterfly.

Discarded from Tower Hamlets Libraries

Prologue opening: November 1695: They say I am mad and perhaps it’s true.

(view spoiler)[Oh dear, the wearisome has blurbed on the front cover ‘One of the best historical novels I have read in ages’ – let’s hope this Alison Weir endorsement is not the kiss of death! (hide spoiler)]

Part I opens up in the year 1662; Christmas Day in a Puritan household and it is a tough day for a nine year old girl who has to fast and not join in the fun.

Charles II is on the throne: ‘We had a merry King on the throne of England now, a King who had thrown open the doors of the theatres again and restored the maypoles, much to father’s disgust.

Tickenham is a wealthy village and civil parish near Clevedon and Nailsea, North Somerset, England. Looking SW at Tickenham Court with the church tower of St Quiricus & St Juliet in the background. The buildings are now a farm but parts date from the 14th Century

Eleanor Glanville is the daughter of Major William Goodricke ‘of the Parliamentarian army, Cromwell’s formidable warrior.’ (page 14) Her mother and sister are dead.

Book Trailer

A major part of this story is about reclaiming land, the Somerset Levels, and today 28.1.2014, the talk is of the flooding there and the impact of rising temeratures and increased rains upon those very marshes.

David Cameron – Somerset Levels

(page 74) The lone mound of Cadbury Camp floated above the greyness like a galleon, the only easily distinguishable natural feaure for miles.

This was a comfortable ramble for 400 pages; a book that I could pick up, place down and not lose a ha’p’worth of interest… and then came the action.

I had to sit up, back straight, be alert to take in what I was reading. Fan Me Fast!

Both comfy then exciting modes hit at the right times, which makes for a very enjoyable conclusion.

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The Kill (Les Rougon-Macquart, #2)

bookshelves: published-1872, winter-20132014, e-book, france, incest-agameforallthefamily, filthy-lucre, paris, series, architecture, families, lit-richer, classic, cover-love

Read from February 09 to 13, 2014

Recommended by Lisa Hill, Brazilliant, Wandaful etc etc

Description: The Kill (La Curée) is the second volume in Zola’s great cycle of twenty novels, Les Rougon-Macquart, and the first to establish Paris – the capital of modernity – as the centre of Zola’s narrative world. Conceived as a representation of the uncontrollable ‘appetites’ unleashed by the Second Empire (1852-70) and the transformation of the city by Baron Haussmann, the novel combines into a single, powerful vision the twin themes of lust for money and lust for pleasure. The all-pervading promiscuity of the new Paris is reflected in the dissolute and frenetic lives of an unscrupulous property speculator, Saccard, his neurotic wife Renée, and her dandified lover, Saccard’s son Maxime.

Is there a free download to be had? Sorted by the sleuthing skills of Wandaful: http://alfalib.com/book/181378.html

Opening: On the way back, in the crush of carriages returning via the lakeshore, the calèche was obliged to slow to a walk. At one point the congestion became so bad that it was even forced to a stop.

As much as I like descriptive prose Zola’s version of that in this first chapter seems forced, self-conscious, even experimental, I hadn’t noticed this aspect before. However it turns out there was a very specific reason why these gardens were described at such length: (view spoiler)

When the revolting Aristide Saccard is looking down on Paris from a restaurant on the Heights of Montmatre and describes with a cutting motion the new layout, I envisage that this is just how Zola fore-planned his novels.

Looking forward to ‘The Masterpiece’ very much: The Masterpiece is the tragic story of Claude Lantier, an ambitious and talented young artist who has come from the provinces to conquer Paris but is conquered instead by the flaws of his own genius. Set in the 1860s and 1870s, it is the most autobiographical of the twenty novels in Zola’s Rougon-Macquart series. It provides a unique insight into Zola’s career as a writer and his relationship with Cezanne, a friend since their schooldays in Aix-en-Provence. It also presents a well-documented account of the turbulent Bohemian world in which the Impressionists came to prominence despite the conservatism of the Academy and the ridicule of the general public.

++++

As always, introductions and forewords I leave to the end because they always kill off enjoyment of the personal research.

Georges-Eugène Haussmann, Baron Haussmann was the Prefect of the Seine Department in France, who was chosen by the Emperor Napoleon III to carry out a massive program of new boulevards, parks and public works in Paris, commonly called Haussmann’s renovation of Paris. Critics forced his resignation for extravagance, but his vision of the city still dominates Central Paris.

From page 14 of Painted Love: Prostitution in French Art of the Impressionist Era

‘ In a Figaro column, Zola claimed to find adultery rampant among all bourgeois women: “Among the bourgeoisie, a young girl is kept pure until her marriage; only after the marriage does the effect of her spoiled surroundings and poor education throw her into the arms of a love: it is not prostitution, it is adultery, the difference is only in the words.” ‘

Engrossing from start to finish but that last line was on a page by itself and the abruptness, the dismissal was very harsh. Seems that Zola doesn’t care for his characters, just uses them as examples and if the author doesn’t buy in, then how can the reader be expected to. For this reason my rating is somewhere in the realms of 3.75*

As a silly – have you seen James Joyce in this cover art:

The actual painting is by Gustave Caillebotte

4* Thérèse Raquin (1867)
TR The Fortune of the Rougons (1871)
3.75* La Curée (1872)
OH The Belly of Paris (1873)
WL Nana (1880)
4* The Ladies’ Paradise (1883)
5* Germinal (1885)

The plan is that I read all again in my rocking-chair days.

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