Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller

bookshelves: spring-2014, norway, library-in-norway, one-penny-wonder, hardback, oslo, those-autumn-years, published-2012, mental-health, families, debut, jewish

Read in February, 2013

 

Description: He will not admit it to Rhea and Lars – never, of course not – but Sheldon can’t help but wonder what it is he’s doing here..

Eighty-two years old, and recently widowed, Sheldon Horowitz has grudgingly moved to Oslo, with his grand-daughter and her Norwegian husband. An ex-Marine, he talks often to the ghosts of his past – the friends he lost in the Pacific and the son who followed him into the US Army, and to his death in Vietnam.

When Sheldon witnesses the murder of a woman in his apartment complex, he rescues her six-year-old son and decides to run. Pursued by both the Balkan gang responsible for the murder, and the Norwegian police, he has to rely on training from over half a century before to try and keep the boy safe. Against a strange and foreign landscape, this unlikely couple, who can’t speak the same language, start to form a bond that may just save them both.

An extraordinary debut, featuring a memorable hero, Norwegian by Night is the last adventure of a man still trying to come to terms with the tragedies of his life. Compelling and sophisticated, it is both a chase through the woods thriller and an emotionally haunting novel about ageing and regret.

Frogner Park – Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943) worked on the sculpture park from 1924 until his death in 1943.

Dedication: For my son

Opening: It is summer and luminous. Sheldon Horowitz sits on a folding director’s chair, high above the picnic and out of reach of the flood, in a shaded enclave in Oslo’s Frogner Park. There is a half-eaten karbonade sandwich that he doesn’t like on the paper plate cradled in his lap.

Nothing major at fault – it just proved to be an also-ran in my reading career. Three stars by the skin of its teeth.

History of the Rain by Niall Williams

bookshelves: published-2014, spring-2014, newtome-author, library-in-norway, fradio, britain-ireland, radio-4, amusing, books-about-books-and-book-shops, families

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read from April 09 to 26, 2014

 

BABT – Looks delicious!

Description: We are our stories. We tell them to stay alive or to keep alive those who only live now in the telling.

Nineteen year old Ruth Swain is lying in her childhood home in the small Irish village of Faha in the attic room at the top of the stairs in the bed which her father had to construct in situ and which turned out to be as much boat as bed. She has Something Wrong with her, having collapsed during her fresher year at Trinity in Dublin, and finds herself bedbound in the attic room beneath the rain, in the margins between this world and the next.

Ruth is in search of her father. To understand the father she has lost. To find him Ruth journeys through the ancestry of the curious Swain family – from the Reverend Swain her great-grandfather, to her grandfather Abraham to her father Virgil – and in doing so discovers an enchanting story of pole-vaulting, soldiering, stubbornness, leaping salmon, poetry, the pursuit of the Impossible Standard, and the wild rain-sodden history of fourteen acres of the worst farming land in Ireland. Above all, Ruth embarks on a journey through books. Three thousand, nine hundred and fifty-eight books to be precise, which are piled high and line the walls of her attic room. As Ruth searches for her father in their pages, her story becomes a vital, witty and poignant celebration of imagination, books, love and the healing power of storytelling.

History of the Rain is the latest novel from Niall Williams, the author of bestselling novels including As It is In Heaven, The Fall of the Light, Only Say the Word and Four Letters of Love which is currently being adapted into a film.

Abridged by Doreen Estall
Read by Ailish Symons
Producer Heather Larmour.

Episode 1: Witty and poignant story of a woman’s search for her deceased father.

Episode 2: Ruth has Something Wrong with her, having collapsed during her fresher year at Trinity in Dublin, and finds herself bedbound in the attic room beneath the rain, in the margins between this world and the next.

Episode 3:Ruth tells of her father’s education and recalls a significant moment in her own.”

Episode 4: Ruth follows the course of her father’s story as it leads to the sea.

Episode 5: Ruth relates the curious circumstances in which Virgil first met her mother.

Episode 6: Virgil must find some work in Faha, whilst Ruth undergoes more tests.

Episode 7: Ruth recounts the arrival of her and her twin Aeney into her father’s life.

Episode 8: Ruth relates the events that led to a devastating family tragedy

Episode 9: When Virgil stops writing poetry Ruth and her mother devise a scheme to help

Episode 10: As Ruth nears the end of Virgil’s story, is she any closer to finding her father?

Listen here

Orkney by Amy Sackville

bookshelves: orkney, britain-scotland, hardback, one-penny-wonder, paper-read, spring-2014, library-in-norway, seven-seas, newtome-author, contemporary, lit-richer, under-500-ratings, handbag-read, midlife-crisis, mythology, fantasy

Recommended for: Wanda, TA
Read from March 26 to April 19, 2014


Dedication: For my grandparents, Nancy and Joseph

Description: On a remote island in Orkney, a curiously matched couple arrive on their honeymoon. He is an eminent literature professor; she was his pale, enigmatic star pupil. Alone beneath the shifting skies of this untethered landscape, the professor realises how little he knows about his new bride and yet, as the days go by and his mind turns obsessively upon the creature who has so beguiled him, she seems to slip ever further from his yearning grasp. Where does she come from? Why did she ask him to bring her north? What is it that constantly draws her to the sea?

Opening: She’s staring out to sea now. My young wife. There she stands on the barren beach, all wrapped up in her long green coat, among the scuttle and clatter of pebbles and crabs. She stares out as the water nears her feet and draws back, and when that soft and insistenet suck of the tide gets close enough to slurp at her toes she shuffles herself up the shore. Soon the beach will be reduced to a strip of narrow sand and she will be forced to retreat to the rocks; and then, I think, she’ll come back to me.

I ordered this paying little attention as to just what the story was about. An Orkney island, Westray, and a one-penny deal on a hardback – sorted!

However after 50 pages or so, I was thinking that this is going to a place I don’t particularly want go. And if you had missed the subtle leads up to that point, Sackville starts lumping her readers over the head with clues for the rest of the book. You are left in no doubt at all and it all ends the way these myths are supposed to end.

The writing is worth the ramble, it is what kept me to the end – those wonderful descriptions of the bays, skies and seas I am a sucker for.

There is just one question left: did he?

2.5* Orkney
2* The Still Point

Three Brothers by Peter Ackroyd

bookshelves: published-2013, e-book, ipad, spring-2014, period-piece, london, lit-richer, britain-england, tbr-busting-2014, under-100-ratings, families, antarctica, author-love, betrayal, books-about-books-and-book-shops, bullies, casual-violence, christian, doo-lally, filthy-lucre, journalism, library-in-norway, lifestyles-deathstyles, lit-crit, prostitution, recreational-homicide, religion, roman-catholic

Read from March 11 to April 18, 2014

 

description: Rapier-sharp, witty, intriguing, and mysterious: a new novel from Peter Ackroyd set in the London of the 1960s.

Three Brothers follows the fortunes of Harry, Daniel, and Sam Hanway, a trio of brothers born on a postwar council estate in Camden Town. Marked from the start by curious coincidence, each boy is forced to make his own way in the world, a world of dodgy deals and big business, of criminal gangs and crooked landlords, of newspaper magnates, backbiters, and petty thieves.

London is the backdrop and the connecting fabric of these three lives, reinforcing Ackroyd’s grand theme that place and history create, surround and engulf us. From bustling, cut-throat Fleet Street to hallowed London publishing houses, from the wealth and corruption of Chelsea to the smoky shadows of Limehouse and Hackney, this is an exploration of the city, peering down its streets, riding on its underground, and drinking in its pubs and clubs.

Everything is possible, not only in the new freedom of the 1960s but also in London’s timeless past.

Opening: IN THE London borough of Camden, in the middle of the last century, there lived three brothers; they were three young boys, with a year’s difference of age between each of them. They were united, however, in one extraordinary way. They had been born at the same time on the same day of the same month—to be precise, midday on 8 May.


John A. Parks, Camden Town

Wormwood Scrubs in the ’50s

Three boys, so very different on the surface:

Harry ‘Heck’ Hanway, the reporter
Daniel, lit-crit bitch
Sam, personal assistant.

At an early age these lads drifted away from each other, however, by the time they are late teens, early twentiers, they are so ‘Oh my giddy aunt-ishly’ connected in both business and personal matters that it is a wonder Ackroyd could keep this devilishly sly plot going. All the balls were in the air.

Three Brothers is a parable about conectivity: I drew parallels with Brothers Karamazov, Dickens, and The New Testament, however it is because London itself is a main character that these parallels only held a superficial similarity. Ackroyd himself alludes to connections on page 192.

I did not enjoy those brief hallucinatory passages and that is reflected in a star fall.

3* Three Brothers
3* Hawksmoor
4* Shakespeare: The Biography
4* Chatterton
4* Dickens
1* The Lambs of London
3* The House of Doctor Dee
3* Poe: A Life Cut Short
3* Venice: Pure City
2* The Plato Papers
5* Tudors (The History of England, #2)
3* The Fall of Troy
4* Wilkie Collins
5* The Mystery Of Charles Dickens

B is for Bauhaus by Deyan Sudjic

bookshelves: spring-2014, published-2013, nonfiction, filthy-lucre, art-forms, library-in-norway

Read from April 10 to 18, 2014

 

I see this has been re-published as ‘B is for Bauhaus: An A-Z of the Modern World: An A-Z of Design’. It is now Book of the Week.

Description: An essential tool kit for understanding the modern world, by the Director of London’s Design Museum, Deyan Sudjic.

Not a dictionary, though it attempts to tell you all you need know about everything from Authenticity to Zips. It’s not an autobiography either, though it does offer a revealing and highly personal inside view of contemporary culture.

It’s about what makes a Warhol a genuine fake, the creation of national identities, the mania to collect. It’s also about the world seen from the rear view mirror of Grand Theft Auto V, and digital ornament and why we value imperfection. It’s about drinking a bruisingly dry martini in Adolf Loo’s American bar in Vienna, and about Hitchcock’s film sets. It’s about fashion and technology, about politics and art.

Born in London, Deyan Sudjic studied architecture in Edinburgh, edited Domus in Milan, was the director of the Venice architecture biennale, and a curator in Glasgow, Istanbul and Copenhagen. He’s the author of The Language of Things and The Edifice Complex.

Read by Deyan Sudjic
Abridged by Polly Coles
Produced by Clive Brill
A Pacificus Production for BBC Radio 4.

Episode 1: A is for Authentic but how do we decide exactly what that means? C is for Car which perhaps more than any other consumer object, has shaped the texture and shape of modern life. Deyan Sudjic considers both.

Episode 2: C is for Chair. Few objects have attracted the attention of designers as much as the chair. Perhaps only the corkscrew and the bicycle have had as many reinventions. F is for film and its depiction of architects and architecture.

Episode 3: G is for Grand Theft Auto and how its creator might be the modern Charles Dickens. H is for Habitat: how Conran changed British homes and IKEA made everyone’s house look the same.

Episode 4: K is for Kitchens and how they were once at the frontline of class warfare. N is for National Identity and the way it is somehow provisional and yet also utterly compelling.

Episode 5: W is for War and whether design collections are really the place for weapons? Y asks is Youtube really so democratic? Z is for Zip and how in the thirties it was the height of modernity.

Enoch Soames by Max Beerbohm

bookshelves: books-about-books-and-book-shops, britain-england, doo-lally, e-book, library-in-norway, lit-crit, newtome-author, nutty-nuut, poetry, published-1916, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, time-slip, under-50-ratings, spring-2014

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: ‘Three Brothers’ – Peter Ackroyd
Recommended for: Gerry
Read on April 18, 2014

 

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/760

Opening: When a book about the literature of the eighteen-nineties was given by Mr. Holbrook Jackson to the world, I looked eagerly in the index for Soames, Enoch. It was as I feared: he was not there. But everybody else was. Many writers whom I had quite forgotten, or remembered but faintly, lived again for me, they and their work, in Mr. Holbrook Jackson’s pages. The book was as thorough as it was brilliantly written. And thus the omission found by me was an all the deadlier record of poor Soames’s failure to impress himself on his decade.

A 48 page tale concerning Catholic diabolism

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)