All Things Wise and Wonderful

 

 

Had my doubts when picking this up such along time after reading the others however I loved it; gentleness coupled with reserved mode of story-telling had me in its grips right from the get-go. The inclusion of RAF training and the birth of his son in this volume were absolutely lovely.

4* – All Creatures Great and Small (1972)
4* – All Things Bright and Beautiful (1973)

4* – All Things Wise and Wonderful (1977)
4* – The Lord God Made Them All (1981)
4* – James Herriot’s Dog Stories (1986)

The Thief Taker by C.S. Quinn

 

Description: The year is 1665. Black Death ravages London. A killer stalks the streets in a plague doctor’s hood and mask.

When a girl is gruesomely murdered, thief taker Charlie Tuesday reluctantly agrees to take on the case. But the horrific remains tell him this is no isolated death. The killer’s mad appetites are part of a master plan that could destroy London – and reveal the dark secrets of Charlie’s own past.

Now the thief taker must find this murderous mastermind before the plague obliterates the evidence street by street. This terrifying pursuit will take Charlie deep into the black underbelly of old London, where alchemy, witchcraft and blood-spells collide.

In a city drowned in darkness, death could be the most powerful magic of all.

Opening: London, 1665
In the year of the Black Death London is a city of half-timbered houses and dark towers. In the narrow backstreets, astrologists predict the future, and alchemists conjure wonders. Traitors’ heads line London Bridge, where witches sell potions, and gamesters turn cards. The river flowing beneath lands a daily cargo of smuggler gangs and pirates.

Loved this from the very start: it is gory, graphic and dead gruesome. Many gizzard for dinner scenes so I suppose this is not for the squeamish, and the murdering hulk is terrifying so this is not for the shiverers either. Rest assured though, it is not a horror fic by any stretch of the imagination. The Thief Taker for all its grisly subject is written in a very upbeat fashion. I would loath to call it YA because lots of people have a very prejudiced mindset when it comes to that shelf. It is a highly enjoyable piece of hist-fic fluff.

Holborn Bridge: 1831 Drawn by Tho. H. Shepherd. Engraved by M. Woolnoth.

What a debut, and ike Oliver Twist, I’m asking for more of Charlie Tuesday. Three point five plague hoods rounded up for the sites that do not operate on half ratings.

Endorsed by my Peter James: ‘Quinn is a brilliant new talent!’
Images from the book

Dr. Finlay Further Adventures of a Black Bag

bookshelves: summer-2014, britain-scotland, medical-eew, series, published-1947, shortstory-shortstories-novellas

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from August 11 to 20, 2014

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lwx7d

Description: Dr. Finlay is back ready to remedy all manner of ailments suffered by his patients in the Scottish Highland town of Levenford. In The Catch, Finaly moons over Nurse Angus while Dr. Cameron gets two archenemies to look after each other. Scarlet fever hits Levenford in The Fever and Finaly decides to do a little investigative work–with disastrous results. In Miracle by Lestrange, Finlay and Cameron find themselves out of favor as alternative medicine takes over the town, and in Birth and Death, a baby manages to teach the two doctors a hard lesson in humility. A fish bone promises Finlay a fast fortune in The Golden Fishbone, and finally, in The Match, Finlay plays a dangerous game when flirting with man-eater Georgina McNab. Finlay’s compassion and trademark Scottish humor make him a favorite.

1/6 Hysteria hits Levenford after the GP visits a well-known hypochondriac. AJ Cronin dramatisation with John Gordon Sinclair.

2/6 A mysterious overnight call leads the GP on a dark and dangerous journey.

3/6 When a Levenford black sheep turns over a new leaf, the GP is not convinced.

4/6 The GP gives temporary shelter to a young woman with a bullying husband.

5/6 A far-off face from the GP’s past sets social tensions boiling in Levenford

6/6 When the GP wakes up with a bad head, it is only the start of a very bad day.

The Physician by Noah Gordon

 

Description: In the 11th century, Rob Cole left poor, disease-ridden London to make his way across the land, hustling, juggling, peddling cures to the sick—and discovering the mystical ways of healing. It was on his travels that he found his own very real gift for healing—a gift that urged him on to become a doctor. So all consuming was his dream, that he made the perilous, unheard-of journey to Persia, to its Arab universities where he would undertake a transformation that would shape his destiny forever.

Not an item for the rigid, pedantic historian as there are anachronisms galore. Black Death, for one glaring instance and, wait for it,… the discovery that fleas were the carriers. Yes this is 11th century. Who cares, ’tis romping fun!

That aside it is a fabulous tale fully worthy of an encounter.

Isfahan

Three and a half genie lamps

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

 

Description: In this dizzyingly rich novel of ideas, Mann uses a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps–a community devoted exclusively to sickness–as a microcosm for Europe, which in the years before 1914 was already exhibiting the first symptoms of its own terminal irrationality. The Magic Mountain is a monumental work of erudition and irony, sexual tension and intellectual ferment, a book that pulses with life in the midst of death.

Total Duration: 2:18:04

Olwen Wymark’s BBC R4 dramatisation, first broadcast 2001:

Paul Schofield (narrator)
Robert Whitelock (Hans Castorp)
Clive Merrison (Settembrini)
Sian Thomas (Clavdia)
Simon Ludders (Joachim)
John Hartley (Dr Behrens)
Norman Rodway (Peeperkorn)
Rhodri Hugh (Naphta)
Richard Elfyn (Dr Krokowski)
Christine Pritchard (Frau Stohr)
Directed by Alison Hindell, with music by Colin Sell

Schatzalp Davos

Not sure what I thought this story was going to be like, however I have come away satisfied. Mann makes the reader perform emotional somersaults, at times this is stanley-blade morose then quickly the mood changes to satire. I really did not like the blizzard scene.

In the bigger picture, this is another way to view the mentality in Europe circa 1914 – how weird! The music.

Overall, from this superb BBC production, I come away with three Hans Castor(p)s

The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings

 

Description: Matthew King was once considered one of the most fortunate men in Hawaii. His missionary ancestors who came to the islands were financially and culturally progressive one even married a Hawaiian princess, making Matt a royal descendant and one of the states largest landowners. But now his luck has changed. His two daughters are out of control 10-year-old Scottie has a smart-ass attitude and a desperate need for attention and 17-year-old Alex, a former model, is a recovering drug addict. His thrill-seeking and high-maintenance wife, Joanie, lies in a coma after a boat racing accident, and will soon be taken off life support. The King family can hardly picture life without their charismatic mother, but as they come to terms with this tragedy, their sadness is mixed with a sense of freedom that shames them and spurs them into surprising actions.

Jonathan Davis narrates.

Book before film.

LATER: No film for me, it would ruin this story in the mind’s eye. The Descendants is not 5* perfect, however it is pretty darn fantastic debut, and so well read by Davis. I have internal film of all the family members, and that, right there, shows how finely wrought Hemmings has crafted them.

My one-liner sum up is this: Mr King, father to Valley Girls, new millenium style, has to grow thick skin in order to keep his family together in the aftermath of tragedy and amidst revelations of disloyalty.

Four and a half Hawaiian Islands

Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris

 

** spoiler alert **

RELEVANT QUOTE – “I am constantly amazed by man’s inhumanity to man.”
― Primo Levi

From wiki – On 11 March 1944, neighbors of a house owned by Marcel André Henri Félix Petiot at 21 rue Le Sueur in Paris, complained to police of a foul stench in the area and of large amounts of smoke billowing from a chimney of the house. Fearing a chimney fire, the police summoned firemen, who entered the house and found a roaring fire in a coal stove in the basement. In the fire, and scattered in the basement, were human remains.

General Information
===============
Narrator…………………..Paul Michael
Abr/Unabr………………..Unabridged
Genre………………………True story of a brutal serial killer
Total Runtime……………13 Hours 54 Mins

BLURBS: Death in the City of Light is the gripping, true story of a brutal serial killer who unleashed his own reign of terror in Nazi-Occupied Paris. As decapitated heads and dismembered body parts surfaced in the Seine, Commissaire Georges-Victor Massu, head of the Brigade Criminelle, was tasked with tracking down the elusive murderer in a twilight world of Gestapo, gangsters, resistance fighters, pimps, prostitutes, spies, and other shadowy figures of the Parisian underworld.

The main suspect was Dr. Marcel Petiot, a handsome, charming physician with remarkable charisma. He was the “People’s Doctor,” known for his many acts of kindness and generosity, not least in providing free medical care for the poor. Petiot, however, would soon be charged with twenty-seven murders, though authorities suspected the total was considerably higher, perhaps even as many as 150.

Who was being slaughtered, and why? Was Petiot a sexual sadist, as the press suggested, killing for thrills? Was he allied with the Gestapo, or, on the contrary, the French Resistance? Or did he work for no one other than himself? Trying to solve the many mysteries of the case, Massu would unravel a plot of unspeakable deviousness.
When Petiot was finally arrested, the French police hoped for answers.

But the trial soon became a circus. Attempting to try all twenty-seven cases at once, the prosecution stumbled in its marathon cross-examinations, and Petiot, enjoying the spotlight, responded with astonishing ease. His attorney, René Floriot, a rising star in the world of criminal defense, also effectively, if aggressively, countered the charges. Soon, despite a team of prosecuting attorneys, dozens of witnesses, and over one ton of evidence, Petiot’s brilliance and wit threatened to win the day.

Drawing extensively on many new sources, including the massive, classified French police file on Dr. Petiot, Death in the City of Light is a brilliant evocation of Nazi-Occupied Paris and a harrowing exploration of murder, betrayal, and evil of staggering proportions.

This book should have come face to face with an active editor to whittle it down to ten hours max. Georges Simenon, Sartre, Camus, Fleming, Picasso and de Beauvoir’s lives overlap with this grisly tale.

Speaks the Nightbird (Matthew Corbett, #1) by Robert McCammon

 

Description: The Carolinas, 1699: The citizens of Fount Royal believe a witch has cursed their town with inexplicable tragedies – and they demand that beautiful widow Rachel Howarth be tried and executed for witchcraft. Presiding over the trial is traveling magistrate Issac Woodward, aided by his astute young clerk, Matthew Corbett. Believing in Rachel’s innocence, Matthew will soon confront the true evil at work in Fount Royal….
Evil Unveiled
After hearing damning testimony, magistrate Woodward sentences the accused witch to death by burning. Desperate to exonerate the woman he has come to love, Matthew begins his own investigation among the townspeople. Piecing together the truth, he has no choice but to vanquish a force more malevolent than witchcraft in order to save his beloved Rachel – and free Fount Royal from the menace claiming innocent lives.

4* Gone South
CR Speaks the Nightbird (Matthew Corbett, #1)

Somewhere down below there is a comment that this was written by a mid-life crisis guy who wasn’t having his bedroom needs resolved. Probably nearer the truth than said author would care to acknowledge. You can’t get away from the fact that this is written purely from a male POV, and some of it right from the playground and it would fail the Bechdel test in fine style.

However.

This was an eye-scorcher of epic proportions that at times felt rather long-winded and at other points I was breathless with anticipation. Quite the nail-biting period-piece murder-mystery.

Supernatural? No.

Horror? Hell no.

Just a riveting story that could have been a five star if McCammon shown more style, and have dropped a couple of scenes that were graphic and pointless.

Four Spanish coins from the belly of a turtle.

The Tower: A Novel by Uwe Tellkamp

d-piece

Read from July 09 to 13, 2014

 

Translated by Mike Mitchell

Dedication: For Annette and Meno Nikolaus Tellkamp

Description: In derelict Dresden a cultivated, middle-class family does all it can to cope amid the Communist downfall. This striking tapestry of the East German experience is told through the tangled lives of a soldier, surgeon, nurse and publisher. With evocative detail, Uwe Tellkamp masterfully reveals the myriad perspectives of the time as people battled for individuality, retreated to nostalgia, chose to conform, or toed the perilous line between East and West. Poetic, heartfelt and dramatic, The Tower vividly resurrects the sights, scents and sensations of life in the GDR as it hurtled towards 9 November 1989.Uwe Tellkamp was born in 1968 in Dresden. After completing his military service, he lost his place to study medicine on the grounds of ‘political sabotage’. He was arrested in 1989, but went on to study medicine in Liepzig, Dresden and New York, later becoming a surgeon. He has won numerous regional prizes for poetry, as well as the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize for The Sleep in the Clocks. In 2008, he won the German Book Prize for The Tower.

Opening: The pedagogical province: I: Ascent: The electric lemons from V E B Narva decorating the family tree were faulty, flickered on and off, erasing the silhouette of Dresden down stream.

Dresden Castle and Cathedral.

The painting secured for Richard Hoffmann on his fiftieth birthday was entitled ‘Landscape during a Thaw‘ and that title could easily double up as a strapline for this story set at the end of Cold War East Germany.

It took a while for me to get into step with the writing style, yet I am pleased to have persevered because The Tower is a glorious, eye-opening period piece rendered with insight and infinite care. At times the writing reminded me of Celestial Harmonies, and at other times, because of the attention to detail, My Struggle, yet KOK is just another self-pitying, belly-button mining first-worlder who chose to rip apart those around him rather than love and respect those close to him. Here, the uncomfortable circumstances had to be endured and pandered to, for fear of the ever watchful secret services and their boot-lickers.

So yes, similarities spring to mind, however by the end, the discovery is that nope, this little bit of history has never been revealed to me quite as intimately before and I was checking details, dates and images as the story progressed. So to re-cap:

– 896 pages
– challenging writing
– engrossing insights into DDR
– satisfying more than enjoyable

3.5 Dresden Opera Houses

NOTES: ‘They came to Turmstrasse, the main though-road of the district, and from which it derived its popular name of the ‘Tower’.’ (page 12)

re the cover image: ‘he also touched – a superstition, the origin of which was lost – the wrought-iron flower on the gate, a strangely shaped ornament that could often be seen up here.’ (page 19) Meno named it a bee lily, and it is on the gate to the house with a thousand eyes.

‘Bruno, or On the Natural and the Divine Principle of Things’

Christian
Meno (uncle)
Ulrich (Christian’s other Rohde uncle)
Anne – mater
Richard Hoffmann – pater. Surgeon.
Robert – brother

Brezhnev died 1982

Andropov dropped off in 1985

The Private Journals of Edvard Munch: We Are Flames Which Pour Out of the Earth by Edvard Munch

Recommended for: Don, Laura, Susanna, Fionnuala
Read on May 29, 2014

Watch the Full Film (3:32:03)

La Belle Epoch Norwegian style.

From wiki: Hans Henrik Jæger (2 September 1854, Drammen, Norway – 8 February 1910, Oslo) was a Norwegian writer, philosopher and anarchist political activist who was part of the Oslo (then Kristiania) based bohemian group Kristianiabohêmen. He was prosecuted for his book Fra Kristiania-bohêmen and convicted to 60 days’ imprisonment in a supreme court ruling in 1886. He and other bohemians tried to live by the nine commandments Jæger had formulated in the Fra Kristiania-bohêmen.

The following year, he was forced to flee Norway. He had been sentenced to 150 more days in prison after the Norwegian government learned that he had sent 300 copies of Fra Kristiania-bohêmen to Sweden under the auspices of a volume of Christmas stories. He was a friend of Edvard Munch, and was the subject of one of Munch’s paintings.

And so to Paris…

And now Berlin, where he meets up with August Strindberg

Dagny Juel-Przybyszewska (8 June 1867 – 5 June 1901) was a Norwegian writer, famous for her liaisons with various prominent artists, and for the dramatic circumstances of her death. She was the model for some of Edvard Munch’s paintings. She had relationships with Munch and briefly with August Strindberg. In 1893, she married the Polish writer Stanisław Przybyszewski. Together they had two children. She was shot by a young lover in a hotel room in Tbilisi in 1901, three days before her thirty-fourth birthday. See also The Legs of Izolda Morgan

How I feel for you, Munch, what with your poor health and existential angst.