The Captain and the Enemy by Graham Greene

 

Description: Victor Baxter is a young boy when a secretive stranger known simply as “the Captain” takes him from his boarding school to live in London. Victor becomes the surrogate son and companion of a woman named Liza, who renames him “Jim” and depends on him for any news about the world outside their door. Raised in these odd yet touching circumstances, Jim is never quite sure of Liza’s relationship to the Captain, who is often away on mysterious errands. It is not until Jim reaches manhood that he confronts the Captain and learns the shocking truth about the man, his allegiances, and the nature of love.

Read by Kenneth Branagh

I see there are many luke-warm reviews and ratings on this, yet I thought the writing exquisite, as always, and the story suspenseful. Not much longer than novella length, ‘The Captain and the Enemy’ is easily done and dusted in a day; be warned though, it does become rather absurd in the final part.

Who, or what, is King Kong.

3 strong wins at backgammon.

3* The Quiet American
4* The End of the Affair
3* Our Man in Havana
4* Brighton Rock
4* Travels With My Aunt
3* The Third Man
4* The Human Factor
4* A Burnt Out Case
4* Monsignor Quixote
3* The Captain and the Enemy
CR This Gun for Hire

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Dead Man’s Time by Peter James

 

Description: New York, 1922. Five-year-old Gavin Daly and his seven-year-old sister, Aileen, are boarding the SS Mauretania to Dublin—and safety. Their mother has been shot and their Irish mobster father abducted. Suddenly, a messenger hands Gavin a piece of paper on which are written four names and eleven numbers, a cryptic message that will haunt him all his life, and his father’s pocket watch. As the ship sails, Gavin watches Manhattan fade into the dusk and makes a promise, that one day he will return and find his father.

Brighton, 2012. Detective Superintendent Roy Grace investigates a savage burglary in Brighton, in which an old lady is murdered and £10m of antiques have been taken, including a rare vintage watch. To Grace’s surprise, the antiques are unimportant to her family—it is the watch they want back. As his investigation probes deeper, he realizes he has kicked over a hornets nest of new and ancient hatreds. At its heart is one man, Gavin Daly, the dead woman’s ninety-five-year-old brother. He has a score to settle and a promise to keep—both of which lead to a murderous trail linking the antiques world of Brighton, the crime fraternity of Spain’s Marbella, and New York.

Dedication: FOR PAT LANIGAN
This book would never have happened without your generosity in sharing your family history with me

Opening: Brooklyn, February 1922
The boy’s father kissed him goodnight for the last time – although neither of them knew that.
The boy never went to sleep until he had had that kiss. Every night, late, long after he had gone to bed, he would lie waiting in the darkness, until he heard the door of his room open, and saw the light flood in from the landing. Then the shadowy figure and the sound of his father’s heavy footsteps across the bare boards. ‘Hey, little guy, you still awake?’ he would say in his low, booming voice.

I so love the casting here, especially Glenn, and the over-arching storyline of their personal lives. We are still waiting for a resolution over Sandi, and each book I wonder: ‘will this be the one where we get to know her fate?’

Because I love these characters, so much so that I like to point out things that seem slightly out of step with how I perceive the set-up:

Okay, here’s the thing: Cleo, in the view I have had built up for me by Peter James would not be reading Fifty Shades of Grey, now would she.

Oh! look at this: R.M.S Mauretania

Best line: ‘exuded all the personality of an unplugged fridge’

Disputing the ease of location 100/433: If you want a telegram from the Queen on your 100th birthday, be prepared for a frightful slog”

The music:
BEETHOVEN.ODE TO JOY
Dr. Hook – The Millionaire
Marla Glen – The Cost Of Freedom

4* Dead Simple (Roy Grace, #1)
4* Looking Good Dead (Roy Grace, #2)
4* Not Dead Enough (Roy Grace, #3)
4* Dead Man’s Footsteps (Roy Grace, #4)
4* Dead Tomorrow (Roy Grace, #5)
3* Dead Like You (Roy Grace, #6)
3* Dead Man’s Grip (Roy Grace, #7)
3* Not Dead Yet (Roy Grace, #8)
4* Dead Man’s Time (Roy Grace, #9)

The Bride of Lammermoor by Walter Scott

bookshelves: summer-2014, classic, re-visit-2014, play-dramatisation, published-1819, under-1000-ratings, fradio, gothic, radio-4, britain-scotland, ghosties-ghoulies

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read from January 01, 1976 to June 30, 2014, read count: 2


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b047wb66

Less sprawling than most of Scott’s novels, “lean and tragic” (E. M. Forster), but still boasting his characteristic humor and wisdom, The Bride of Lammermoor (1819) brings to vivid life a historical incident from his own family lore and from Scotland’s turbulent past.

Description: Mike Harris adapts Sir Walter Scott’s The Bride of Lammermoor.

The novel is set in the Lammermuir Hills of south-east Scotland at the beginning of the 18th Century and tells of a tragic love affair between young Lucy Ashton and her family’s enemy Edgar Ravenswood.

The Ashtons and Ravenswoods have been enemies for centuries – but will a proposed union between the warring families finally bring peace?

Music Composed and performed by Ross Hughes and Esben Tjalve
Violin and viola – Oliver Langford
Written by Mike Harris
Produced and Directed by Clive Brill
A Brill production for BBC Radio 4.

  'BLOOD WILL FLOW'

Deep cut water course on the eastern side of the Lammermuir Hills. The area is managed as the East Lammermuir Deans nature reserve.

Having read the greater part of Scott’s works whilst a young girl at the duty visits to Great Granny in Corstorphine, this BBC offers me a chance to wallow in sentimental reminiscing.

This fiscal Romeo and Juliet tale is only really enjoyable if one knows the impact of the Darien scheme on future generations.

Wedlock: The True Story of the Disastrous Marriage and Remarkable Divorce of Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore

bookshelves: spring-2014, paper-read, biography, history, one-penny-wonder, nonfiction, published-2009, under-1000-ratings

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Anna Matsuyama
Read from April 30 to May 12, 2014

 

Description: With the death of her fabulously wealthy coal magnate father when she was just eleven, Mary Eleanor Bowes became the richest heiress in Britain. An ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II, Mary grew to be a highly educated young woman, winning acclaim as a playwright and botanist. Courted by a bevy of eager suitors, at eighteen she married the handsome but aloof ninth Earl of Strathmore in a celebrated, if ultimately troubled, match that forged the Bowes Lyon name. Yet she stumbled headlong into scandal when, following her husband’s early death, a charming young army hero flattered his way into the merry widow’s bed.

Captain Andrew Robinson Stoney insisted on defending her honor in a duel, and Mary was convinced she had found true love. Judged by doctors to have been mortally wounded in the melee, Stoney persuaded Mary to grant his dying wish; four days later they were married.

Sadly, the “captain” was not what he seemed. Staging a sudden and remarkable recovery, Stoney was revealed as a debt-ridden lieutenant, a fraudster, and a bully. Immediately taking control of Mary’s vast fortune, he squandered her wealth and embarked on a campaign of appalling violence and cruelty against his new bride. Finally, fearing for her life, Mary masterminded an audacious escape and challenged social conventions of the day by launching a suit for divorce. The English public was horrified–and enthralled. But Mary’s troubles were far from over . . .

Opening quote is from ‘The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon Esq’ by William Makepeace Thackeray.

Opening: Settling down to read his newspaper by the candlelight illuminating the dining room of the Adelphi Tavern, John Hull anticipated a quiet evening.

Actively urged on by Anna, and Gerry’s current enthusiasm this has been picked as ‘next’. Ay-up, Susanna is reading it alongside too, which makes this incredibly spiffy all round.

An engrossing read, I just ate up the pages and now find there are a zillion other books that need reading, however most important is a re-read of Boswell’s ‘The Life of Samuel Johnson’.

Mary Bowes, Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne

Gibside Hall today

Column of Liberty, Gibside

Clotworthy Skeffington. Later, 1st Earl of Massereene: 1744-46

Marriage à-la-mode : The Marriage Contract

The Tête à Tête from the Marriage à la Mode series (No. 2)

Painting cycle ” Mariage à la Mode “, scene: visit with the Quack Doctor

Marriage à-la-mode: The Countess’s Morning Levee

” Mariage à la Mode “, scene: The murder of the count

6. The Lady’s Death

Glammis Castle – don’t mention the Scottish Play

Angels of the Universe by Einar Már Guðmundsson

bookshelves: film-only, tbr-busting-2014, spring-2014, dodgy-narrator, amusing, iceland, mental-health, published-1993, under-1000-ratings, translation, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, slit-yer-wrists-gloomy, suicide, tragedy

Read from April 25, 2013 to May 04, 2014

 

Universums änglar (2000)”Englar alheimsins” (original title)

Description: Born on the day Iceland joined NATO, this novel’s unstable narrator worries this and other incidental phenomena into a highly complex, hilarious, and tragic cosmology. More interested in David Bowie and the Beatles than the Nordic sagas that shape the lives of the working-class peoples of Reykjavik, Paul retreats into his own fantastic, schizophrenic, painful world. His madness springs from bits of reality and brighter strikes of insanity. Out-of-work and aimless, tormented by bouts of drinking and ferocious tantrums, Paul walks Reykjavik’s streets scaring his family lusting after women, recounting petty humiliations, and imagining the forces that both guide and haunt him. Paul’s behaviors lead him to Klepp, a psychiatric hospital outside Reykjavik where he plays out his days in therapy and frantic conversation with its resident patients. Sparsely inhabited, Klepp tends to a variety of disturbed people creating comedic havoc.

Penguin Lost by Andrey Kurkov

Kiev

Description: When last we saw Viktor, in the final pages of Death and the Penguin, he was taking his seat aboard the Expedition to Antarctica plane, fearing for his life. Meanwhile, Penguin Misha was left abandoned in a clinic recovering from a heart transplant. Now, in Penguin Lost, we join Viktor for his brief stay in and escape from Antarctica to discover that, characteristically, he has fallen on his feet. Visiting, on his return to Kiev, Penguinologist Pidpaly’s grave, Viktor mistakes an elusive child in white shirt and black shorts for Misha on funeral duty. He is first interrogated and then befriended by a Mafia boss who, while burying his contract-killed son-in-law, is also running for election as People’s Deputy. Viktor helps in his campaign, and is rewarded with introductions to those able to further his desperate search for Misha, said to be in the zoo of the murderous Chechen Khachayev. For Viktor, it is both a quest and an odyssey of atonement; for the reader, an experience as rich, topical and black-humouredly illuminating as Death and the Penguin.

Opening: It took Viktor three days to recover from the four spent crossing Drake Passage. In which time, the scientists who had sailed with him from Ushaia in the Horizon were already acclimatized and working fast to complete measurements and analyses before the onset of the polar night.

As you can see, this book starts off where the first one finished. Neat!

Vernadsky Base: (page 7)[..]after losing 16 men and two supply aircraft, the British had presented it [the base] to Ukraine.

Chechnya

Vernadsky Station, a Ukrainian base which was formerly the British ‘Faraday’ base.

3.5* Death and the Penguin
CR   Penguin Lost

SUPPORT UKRAINE

Turning Crimea into ‘Putinland’?
From Andrey Kurkov, Special for CNN
April 9, 2014 — Updated 0311 GMT (1111 HKT)

“Under pressure from the Kremlin, Russian airlines — the only ones now flying to the peninsula — have slashed prices on flights. I think Russian oligarchs will soon receive an order from the Kremlin to buy holiday packages to Crimean sanitoriums and resorts for their employees.”

Read more

Kiev Zoo Under Fire For Shocking Number Of Animal Deaths And Disappearances

The Sebastopol Sketches

bookshelves: published-1855, spring-2014, e-book, ipad, classic, lit-richer, historical-fiction, war, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, slavic, ukraine, under-1000-ratings, medical-eew, military-maneuvers, translation

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Wanda
Read on April 17, 2014

 

This is made up of ‘December’, ‘May’, ‘August’, 1854-1855

Description: In the winter of 1854 Tolstoy, then an officer in the Russian army, arranged to be transferred to the besieged town of Sebastopol. Wishing to see at first hand the action of what would become known as the Crimean War, he was spurred on by a fierce patriotism, but also by an equally fierce desire to alert the authorities to appalling conditions in the army. The three “Sebastopol Sketches” – December’, May’ and August’ – re-create what happened during different phases of the siege and its effect on the ordinary men around him. Writing with the truth as his utmost aim, he brought home to Russia’s entire literate public the atrocities of war. In doing so, he realized his own vocation as a writer and established his literary reputation.

Opening to the introduction: On 29th April 1851, at the age of twenty-two, the young Leo Tolstoy set out from Yasnaya Polyana for the Caucasus, together with his older brother Nikaolai, whose battery was stationed there.

**points up** that introduction is lengthy: 38 out of 171 pages, and then there is the huge map that follows. The first sketch starts 40/171 with:

The light of daybreak is just beginning to tint the sky above the Sapun-gora.[*] The dark surface of the sea has already thrown off night’s gloom and is waiting for the first ray of sunlight to begin, its cheerful sparkling. From the bay comes a steady drift of cold and mist. There is no snow—everything is black—but the sharp morning frost catches at your face and cracks beneath your feet, and only the incessant, far-off rumble of the sea, punctuated every now and again by the booming of the artillery in Sebastopol, breaks into the morning quiet. From nearby ships sounds the hollow chiming of eight bells.

SAME PLACE, DIFFERENT ERA:

[*] Sapun-gora is a ridge (240 m height) to the southeast of Sevastopol, in Crimea, Ukraine.

It became the arena of fierce battle during the siege of Sevastopol (1941-1942), and also during its recapturing in 1944.

When defending Sevastopol the Soviet troops held the Sapun Ridge and could observe German movements to the city from the south. It took Wehrmacht nearly 2 weeks of desperate fighting to take control over these positions in late June 1942. As a consequence, Soviet troops had to evacuate from Crimea.

In 2 years, on the final stage of the Crimean Offensive the assault of Sapun-gora on the 7th of May, 1944 was successful for Red Army. On 9 May 1944, just over one month after the start of the battle, Sevastopol fell. German forces were evacuated from Sevastopol to Constanța.

Later in 1944 the first monuments to the Soviet warriors on this place were erected, in 1959 the diorama showing the assault of the German fortifications was opened. (wiki sourced)

SAME PLACE, DIFFERENT ERA:Putin annexes Crimea, March 2014, then pokes a hornets nest by sending covert anarchists into mainland Ukraine to trigger a civil war. The heat from his rubbing, gleeful hands, is curdling the milk of human kindness.

HOW history repeats itself – and yet through the ages man is forever surprised at events. How can that be, mon chere, just how…

view toward Sapun Gor ridge. The Causeway height is on the left. The Light Brigade charged from the far end of this valley straight toward us. source

To get a clearer context here is a bit from wiki which sums it up well: The Siege of Sevastopol was the subject of Crimean soldier Leo Tolstoy’s Sebastopol Sketches and the subject of the first Russian feature film, Defence of Sevastopol. The Battle of Balaklava was made famous by Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade” and Robert Gibb’s painting The Thin Red Line, as well as by a panorama of the siege painted by Franz Roubaud. Treating the wounded from these battles were celebrated English nurses Mary Seacole and Florence Nightingale.

4* The Death of Ivan Ilych
4* Anna Karenina
5* War and Peace
3* The Kreutzer Sonata
CR Resurrection
2* The Cossacks
TR What Men Live By
3* A Letter to Hindu
3* The Sebastopol Sketches

TRIVIA: For 20 odd years, close to a Sebastopol in an entirely different location, was a five stone soaking wet, pink mountainbike cyclist. Helen or Petra will know where I mean: 3/4 up from Casnewydd to Pont-y-pŵl is Sebastopol, with its Panteg and on to Goytre Wharf; and just what was the name of that pub there on the dog-leg where many a lad threw his dart on a Tuesday night and was pinned, by convention, to a bobbing line full of terry toweling, boiler-engrained buntings.

Open Hearth