The Winship Family by Michael J. McCarthy

 

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Description: From his humble beginnings in 1851, as the son of a native Irish gardener, Seamus Tobin endures a terrible tragedy that leaves him orphaned in early childhood. His fortunes change when he is adopted by his father’s employer, the lord of an ancient Anglo-Irish estate in County Cork and a leading member of the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy in Ireland.

As James Winship, the young man lives the life of a privileged aristocrat, as the young master in the Great House and in school at Eton College and Oxford University. But he squanders the opportunities in a series of misjudgments and mishaps. A final chance at redemption is afforded him as a cavalry officer in British India, where he learns to play polo, hunts wild game, befriends the local rajah, and, most dramatically, leads his troops in a series of pitched battles against the Empire’s enemies.

Returning home to Ireland, James Winship becomes involved in the Irish independence movement, which dominated British politics for nearly forty years, working with Charles Stewart Parnell and William Ewart Gladstone.

A duel at Dieppe

Opening:THE FATHER, William Winship, The Eighth Lord Milleston. London April 1850: Lord Milleston’s Choice.

The Carleton Club, one in the morning: Entering his rooms, William Winship felt a little light-headed. Stetching out on the couch, replaying the day in his mind, he thought, What the hell is going on?

Hmm, that was not exactly an attention grabbing start and as it turned out the whole caboodle was dry and lacklustre. A lot was told not shown, and the episodic nature drove me mad. So, not what you could call a bad encounter, yet I have no urge to read the next two books when I have Trinity in the TBR. Two Irish tricolours:

I thought I would get into the swing of things. FutureLearn course: ‘Irish Lives in War and Revolution, Trinity College Dublin’ starts next Monday.

Henry by Elizabeth Yandell

 

bookshelves: hardback, one-penny-wonder, published-1976, gardening, summer-2014, autobiography-memoir, kent, nonfiction, britain-england

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Sylvester
Read from August 05 to 22, 2014

 

This book originally comes from Cromwell Bookshop (S A Maher) 67a Pears Road, Hounslow, MX TW3 1SS. The original receipt is still within the pages.

Illustrated by Faith Jaques

God gave us memory
in Springtime
that we might have roses
in December
Kent 1894 Jersey 1973

Opening: I was one year old when I fell for Henry. Thereafter I was his devoted slave. It was on record and a standing joke,that when I became aware of him as a person, as distinct from all others who prodded my middle in passing, I squirmed right round in my bassinet and pitched out over the hood.

The magic of childhood clung to Henry as scraps of eggshell cling to newly hatched chicks. Magic waked with him; all around him. A pied piper. Spinner of the most enchanting fairy stories and animal tales.

Love stories that feature gypsies (and pirates too, of course, when I can get my handies on them), thanks Sylvester. Henry is a breath of fresh Kentish air from start to finish and fully recommended to anyone who wants a change of pace and/or some time out glimpsing into a world gone by. A short yet rich read. Four gypsy caravans.

Twilight Garden: A Guide to Enjoying Your Garden in the Evening Hours by Lia Leendertz

bookshelves: summer-2014, e-book, net-galley, nonfiction, gardening, published-2011

Read from July 16 to 21, 2014

 

Pavilion Books

Archive Date Jul 29 2014

Description: Some say that the twilight hours are the best time to enjoy a garden; a time when the spirit of the place really comes alive. It is also the time when many people pass front gardens on their return home, have a few spare minutes for garden maintenance, or want to enjoy the garden for entertaining. Full of easy maintenance advice, planting ideas for evening fragrance, colour, lighting, design, and attracting wildlife, this is a book for how people garden now. Front gardens, terraces, larger plots and containers will all be covered in an attempt to inspire everyone to transform their outdoor space into a twilight paradise.

Opening quote:

'In the cool of the garden when evening draws in
Serenity waits where the shadows begin.'
-- Joyce Grenfield 'The Garden at Dusk

The foreword encourages that there are millions of us around the world on seeing our gardens as sanctuaries. Heh – no-one could possibly hold a candle to the obsession I feel for my sanctuary, could they?

dot dot dot

Well apparently they can and do and the sort of things they get up to once the sun starts to go down is nobody’s business.

Packed with suitable plants and scrumptious photographs such as the White Garden at Sissinghurst:

[image error] (This is not the exact same picture as in the book)

All I need to do now on the blistering hot night is to rise up with my chablis and have a mooch around what is on offer at the destination I am at at this moment. Where’s my pith helmet…

Four night nectaring moths

Authoritarian Sociopathy: Toward a Renegade Psychological Experiment by Davi Barker

bookshelves: essays, nonfiction, summer-2014, fraudio, anarchy, psychology, boo-scary, bullies, casual-violence, games-people-play, gardening, gulp, how-to, lifestyles-deathstyles, mental-health, ouch, politics, published-2014, rid-the-world-of-tyrants, totalitarian

Read from July 14 to 21, 2014

 

Description: Numerous studies have shown us that those given authority are more likely to lie, cheat and steal, while also being harsher in their judgments of others for doing these same things. Science tells us people with power feel less compassion for the suffering of others.

Previous experiments also show us that those who are obedient to authority are capable of the worst forms of murder, and tolerant of the worst forms of abuse. They will even chastise those of us who resist corrupt authority. They become facilitators of evil, believing that obedience to authority absolves them of personal responsibility.

This is the fifth draft of a renegade psychological experiment on authoritarian sociopathy, specifically on police brutality. We aim to show the world beyond a shadow of a doubt, that power corrupts absolutely, and corrupt authority deserves no obedience.

Interesting front about plagiarism being about love, and who wants love policed. Hmmm

Stamford experiment just got worse
Milgram experiment
– Government has the monopoly of violence in a designated area

Nothing new here, really. Refresh yourselves with the videos linked to above so you don’t forget how we can all act like either laboratory rats or merciless tyrants.

Just the two hazard signs as rating

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” ― Aristotle, Metaphysics

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!

Deadheading by Val McDermid

bookshelves: published-2014, radio-4, play-dramatisation, summer-2014, mystery-thriller, gardening, next

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from June 07 to 13, 2014

 

R4 Drama

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b045y41q

Description: Best selling crime writer Val McDermid turns to comedy capers among the carrots, as we rummage through the undergrowth of a murder on the allotments. Starring Julie Hesmondhalgh and Miriam Margolyes.

It’s a case for Detective Chief Inspector Alma Blair, the Alpha Detective, her sergeant Jason Trotter, and Jo Blake the crime scene manager. Watch how the women behave towards each other. Rivals? Not quite. There may even be a barely detectable flirtatiousness between them.

Sound Designer: Eloise Whitmore
Writer: Val McDermid
Directed and Produced by Justine Potter
A Savvy Production for BBC Radio 4.

Episode 1: A body is found on an allotment in Cranby

Episode 2: Are there green shoots of love between Alma and Jo?

Episode 3: Alma and Jason follow the money to intrigue on a market veg stall.

Episode 4: Fear stalks the herd. Surely we must be getting nearer to solving the crime

Episode 5: Events draw to a climax in the traditional mode of the detective story.

How disappointing – flippancy is not what I expected nor desired. See, if I wanted EXPERT flippancy on the allotments I would search out a re-read of Robert Rankin’s Brentford Trilogy. Nuff said.

The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett

bookshelves: spring-2014, gardening, forest, gutenberg-project, e-book, lit-richer, maine, published-1896, victorian, travel, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, period-piece, north-americas, women

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: Wanda
Read from May 16 to 18, 2014



Read for free: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/367/36…

Opening: THERE WAS SOMETHING about the coast town of Dunnet which made it seem more attractive than other maritime villages of eastern Maine. Perhaps it was the simple fact of acquaintance with that neighborhood which made it so attaching, and gave such interest to the rocky shore and dark woods, and the few houses which seemed to be securely wedged and tree-nailed in among the ledges by the Landing. These houses made the most of their seaward view, and there was a gayety and determined floweriness in their bits of garden ground; the small-paned high windows in the peaks of their steep gables were like knowing eyes that watched the harbor and the far sea-line beyond, or looked northward all along the shore and its background of spruces and balsam firs. When one really knows a village like this and its surroundings, it is like becoming acquainted with a single person. The process of falling in love at first sight is as final as it is swift in such a case, but the growth of true friendship may be a lifelong affair.

Brazilliant calls these stories adorable – and that, dear friends, is more than good enough for me.

“A shipmaster was apt to get the habit of reading,” said my companion, brightening still more, and taking on a most touching air of unreserve. “A captain is not expected to be familiar with his crew, and for company’s sake in dull days and nights he turns to his book.” – Captain Littlepage.

Mrs Almiry Todd: ‘There was something lonely and solitary about her great determined shape. She might have been Antigone alone on the Theban plain. How I would love a friend such as this one.

And said of Mrs Todd’s mother: [..]she had that final, that highest gift of heaven, a perfect self-forgetfulness.

Note: SARAH ORNE JEWETT (1849-1909) was born and died in South Berwick, Maine. Her father was the region’s most distinguished doctor and, as a child, Jewett often accompanied him on his round of patient visits. She began writing poetry at an early age and when she was only 19 her short story “Mr. Bruce” was accepted by the Atlantic Monthly. Her association with that magazine continued, and William Dean Howells, who was editor at that time, encouraged her to publish her first book, Deephaven (1877), a collection of sketches published earlier in the Atlantic Monthly. Through her friendship with Howells, Jewett became acquainted with Boston’s literary elite, including Annie Fields, with whom she developed one of the most intimate and lasting relationships of her life.

The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896) is considered Jewett’s finest work, described by Henry James as her “beautiful little quantum of achievement.” Despite James’s diminutives, the novel remains a classic. Because it is loosely structured, many critics view the book not as a novel, but a series of sketches; however, its structure is unified through both setting and theme. Jewett herself felt that her strengths as a writer lay not in plot development or dramatic tension, but in character development. Indeed, she determined early in her career to preserve a disappearing way of life, and her novel can be read as a study of the effects of isolation and hardship on the inhabitants who lived in the decaying fishing villages along the Maine coast.

Jewett died in 1909, eight years after an accident that effectively ended her writing career. Her reputation had grown during her lifetime, extending far beyond the bounds of the New England she loved.

 

For All the Tea in China: Espionage, Empire and the Secret Formula for the World’s Favourite Drink

bookshelves: nonfiction, autumn-2012, history, published-2009, biography, colonial-overlords, victorian, recreational-drugs, war, fraudio, china, india, gardening, pirates-smugglers-wreckers

Read on November 05, 2012

Read by the author herself.

Blurb – A dramatic historical narrative of the man who stole the secret of tea from China.

In 1848, the British East India Company, having lost its monopoly on the tea trade, engaged Robert Fortune, a Scottish gardener, botanist, and plant hunter, to make a clandestine trip into the interior of China’s territory forbidden to foreigners,to steal the closely guarded secrets of tea horticulture and manufacturing. For All the Tea in China is the remarkable account of Fortune’s journeys into China; a thrilling narrative that combines history, geography, botany, natural science, and old-fashioned adventure.

Disguised in Mandarin robes, Fortune ventured deep into the country, confronting pirates, hostile climate, and his own untrustworthy men as he made his way to the epicenter of tea production, the remote Wu Yi Shan hills. One of the most daring acts of corporate espionage in history, Fortune’s pursuit of China’s ancient secret makes for a classic nineteenth-century adventure tale, one in which the fate of empires hinges on the feats of one extraordinary man.

Camellia sinensis:

Robert Fortune, the tea thief. From wiki: Robert Fortune (16 September 1812 – 13 April 1880) was a Scottish botanist, plant hunter and traveller, best known for introducing tea plants from China to India. Robert Fortune was born in Britain on 16 September 1812, at Kelloe, Berwickshire.

This does have the tang of ‘must publish my dissertation or bust’, feeling; the author delivers this in rather a dramatic and staccato’d fashion.

Can’t fault the historical research and it is enjoyable enough for a solid 3*