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)

Moment Of Freedom by Jens Bjørneboe

bookshelves: spring-2014, published-1966, norway, under-500-ratings, summer-2014, picaresque, noir, author-in-the-mirror, germany, jewish, nazi-related, wwii

Recommended for: Don
Read from May 02 to August 21, 2014

 

Cover image: Frans Wideberg: Selvportrett (1976) 91.5 x 76 cms oil on canvas. Property of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo. Photograph Morten Thorkildsen

Original title:Frihetens øyeblikk: Heiligenberg-manuskriptet

Translated from the Norwegian by Esther Greenleaf Mürer

Opening: During the several years that I’ve now been a Servant of Justice, I haven’t been able to avoid acquiring a certain perspective on life.

Re-booted twice due to travelling.

Our depressed and oppressed Servant of Justice has a very prominent nickname that we are not privy too. He has teeth missing behind his beard and no-one knows he wears glasses because he only uses them for reading, and that he never does in public.

Hilarious, that is the only way to describe this, yet it is not really meant to be so as we are looking inside the author’s mind, and he commited suicide. The episodic narrative becomes more dire with each new adventure. Page 92 for instance:

In the town wall I found a narrow gate down at the end of one of the back streets, and outside was a road which was more than usually filthy. I hadn’t discovered this road before; the earth was black and moist, slippery, polluted. There was a placard nailed up on a dead tree trunk at the road’s edge: “This area is infested with…” Then followed a word I don’t understand, a monstrously long word containing something with “…ixo…”

Doesn’t that read like an old text adventure?

Have marked up the other two book as wishlist, however, unless they leap out at me and at a reasonable price, that is where they will stay. Four blackest of the black skulls.

The Brigade by Howard Blum

bookshelves: summer-2014, wwii, nonfiction, history, published-2001, jewish, military-maneuvers, nazi-related

Read from March 13 to August 18, 2014

 

Description: Although the official history of the Jewish Brigade Group (a unit of some 5,000 Jews who fought with the British Eighth Army in Italy in the waning months of the conflict) has been written, Blum (Wanted! The Search for Nazis in America) breaks new ground by looking into the clandestine operations that occurred after the shooting had stopped. Once they learned the true extent of the holocaust, soldiers of the brigade began using intelligence reports to pinpoint the location of former SS officers and camp guards. The enraged Jewish troops took vengeance into their own hands, eventually slaying hundreds of Nazi death dealers. Blum follows the story of three men Israel Carmi, Johanan Peltz and Arie Pinchuk in detail, interviewed dozens of others, read unpublished personal memoirs and had Hebrew-language documents translated for him. During the war, the more daring Jewish soldiers formed a secret unit that appropriated British supplies trucks, weapons and food and diverted them to ships heading illegally for Palestine The plan included the “repatriation” of thousands of war orphans, who were clandestinely taken from displaced person camps and smuggled to Palestine. The underground Jewish Haganah figured prominently in these operations, which contributed directly to the creation of Israel. Blum, twice nominated for a Pulitzer as a New York Times investigative reporter, and now a Vanity Fair contributing editor, presents the material masterfully, building suspense and carefully documenting all the action.

Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds is loosely based on this – from the US pov only, of course.

So this is the start of the group that were to dedicate their future lives to the hunting down of Nazi criminals. And this brings me smack bang back into an interesting discussion at the end of The Railway Man – would forgiveness given straight away have been a better way forward: the unforgivers turning bitter and twisted over time. Is that how we view Israel today? HAH – big questions and only little old me; perhaps there are no answers.

Further reading is Leon Uris ‘Exodus’

The Brigade is a fascinating, action-packed non-fiction that reads like a full-on adventure thriller, which proves yet again, fact is waay more bizarre than fiction. Fully recommended, and four gleaming menorahs.

The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles by Roy Jacobsen

The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles by Roy Jacobsen
bookshelves: finland, paper-read, hardback, war, slavic, spring-2012, one-penny-wonder, wwii, published-2005, historical-fiction

Read from March 20 to 21, 2012


Withdrawn from London Borough of Enfield Public Libraries. Translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw.

Dedication: To my children – Maria and Daniel

Opening: Suomussalmi was set ablaze on 7 December, after all four thousand inhabitants had been evacuated, except for me, I was born here, had lived here all my life and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else – so when I became aware of a figure in a white uniform standing in front of me, reading from a piece of paper and telling me I had to get out, I dug my heels into the snow and refused to budge.

That is some sentence!

Wanted to read something more from this author as I enjoyed his short story Ice in the anthology: The Norwegian Feeling for Real.

From wiki – The Soviet–Finnish Non-Aggression Pact signed in Helsinki on 21 January 1932. On the left is the Finnish foreign minister Aarno Yrjö-Koskinen, and on the right the ambassador of the Soviet Union, Ivan Maisky

Karelia.

Some history from the Familj Malm archives that I was told today. When f-i-l was a very young boy he lived in Halmstad where there was a Finnish Hostel and one of these young evacuees liked f-i-l so much that he lived with the family for a year or so.

 

P148: “…and from what I heard in Suomussalmi, Sweden and Norway’s betrayal of Finland didn’t necessarily mean they would take kindly to Russian deserters; quite the opposite – these countries feared the Soviet Union.”
 
P158:
 
 
 

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.

The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen

bookshelves: radio-4, autumn-2011, published-1949, fradio, wwii

Read from October 29 to November 06, 2011

 


Sunday Classic Serial.

BBC blurbs – Adapted by Tristram Powell and Honor Borwick.

Elizabeth Bowen’s wartime novel of betrayal adapted from a screenplay by Harold Pinter. Part love story, part spy thriller, in which the beautiful Stella’s allegiances are tested.

Stella discovers that her lover, Robert, who works for British Intelligence, is suspected of selling classified information to the enemy. Harrison, the man who has tracked Robert down, wants Stella herself as the price for his silence. Caught between these two men, not sure whom to believe, Stella finds her world crumbling as she learns how little we can truly know of those around us.

First published in 1949, The Heat of the Day was Bowen’s most successful novel. In it she draws heavily on her affair with Charles Ritchie, a Canadian diplomat, to whom the book is dedicated. The tortuous nature of their affair is reflected in the doubts and uncertainties of Stella’s relationship with Robert. Robert and Stella share the same ages (and age difference) as Bowen and Ritchie.

Bowen’s preoccupation with the cracks below the surface and the psychology of hurt and betrayal is echoed in Harold Pinter’s work. Pinter’s style and Bowen’s dialogue find a perfect marriage in this adaptation.

Directed by Tristram Powell

Cast:

Screenwriter ….. Henry Goodman
Harrison ….. Matthew Marsh
Stella …… Anna Chancellor
Robert ….. Tom Goodman-Hill
Louie/ Anne …… Teresa Gallagher
Roderick …… Daniel Weyman
Ernestine …… Honeysuckle Weeks
Mrs Kelway/ Mrs Tringsby …… Tina Gray
Cousin Francis/ Blythe …… Nigel Anthony
Nettie ……. Gemma Jones
Peter …… Ben Baker

Producer: Marilyn Imrie A Catherine Bailey production for BBC Radio 4.

 
SO enjoying the atmosphere here, and Pinter’s touch with stage directions remind me of Lars Von Trier. Part love story, part spy thriller, in which Stella’s allegiances are tested.”

The Temporary Gentleman by Sebastian Barry

bookshelves: summer-2014, published-2014, radio-4, gambling, britain-ireland, afr-ghana, under-500-ratings, mental-health, wwii

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from June 07 to 22, 2014

 

BABT R4

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b045z7sg

Description: Jack McNulty is a ‘temporary gentleman’, an Irishman whose commission in the British army in the Second World War was never permanent. In 1957, sitting in his lodgings in Accra, he urgently sets out to write his story recounting his strange and tumultuous marriage to the elusive great beauty of Sligo, Mai Kirwan, and the inevitable fate that he now feels compelled to reconcile himself with. He feels he cannot take one step further, or even hardly a breath, without looking back at all that has befallen him. He is an ordinary man, both petty and heroic, but he has seen extraordinary things.

The Temporary Gentleman is, ultimately, a story about a man’s last bid for freedom, from the savage realities of the past and from himself.

Ciarán Hinds is one of Ireland’s most prolific and esteemed actors. His many television and film credits include: Game of Thrones, Munich, The Sea, Road to Perdition, There Will Be Blood, Frozen, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Woman in Black and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Read by Ciarán Hinds
Abridged by Neville Teller
Producer Gemma McMullan.

1/10: Jack McNulty recounts his past hoping he can at last find the freedom he desperately needs

2/10: Mai invites Jack home to Grattan House to meet her father.

3/10: In Accra, Jack receives a surprising visit from the Ghana Police Force.

4/10: Is Jack and Mai’s wedding day a sign of things to come?

5/10: Mai’s happiness at returning to Grattan House is short-lived.

6/10: Mai and Jack receive some startling news which could be their saving grace.

7/10: On a trip home, Jack is horrified to discover how bad things have become at home.

8/10: An inspector from the Ghana Police Force warns Jack to watch his back.

9/10: Can Jack and Mai ever regain the love they once had for each other?

10/10: Returning with Tom to his village, Jack witnesses a remarkable life-changing event.

I wallowed in this misery with the same delight that any Thomas Hardy potboiler by torchlight under the covers often shivered me to awestruck admiration.

CR The Secret Scripture
4* The Temporary Gentleman
2.5* On Canaan’s Side

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

bookshelves: fraudio, summer-2014, historical-masturbation, published-1962, sci-fi, wwii, slaves, tbr-busting-2014, books-about-books-and-book-shops

Read from May 08 to June 06, 2014

 

Narrated by George Guidall -A Hugo Award Winner

Description: In his critically-acclaimed science fiction novel, Philip K. Dick creates a shocking vision of the United States of the 60s that stands in direct opposition to history’s records of that uninhibited decade. The Axis have won World War II, Japan and Germany occupy America, Nazi rockets rule the skies, and slaves again are forced to serve harsh masters.

This is an alternative history that supercedes Fatherland etc. An intelligent use of divination far superior to ‘Dice Man’, although just as ludicrous of course. Enjoyed the idea of syphillitic Hitler in the madhouse, however it is the book with in a book trope that gets me every time and this one is called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, by Hawthorne Abendsen.

3* Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
4* A Scanner Darkly
3.5* The Man in the High Castle
3* The Minority Report
3* Galactic Pot-Healer

Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius, Jamie Bulloch (Translator)

bookshelves: paper-read, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, translation, women, war, wwii, under-500-ratings, spring-2014, next, bettie-s-law-of-excitement-lost, published-2006, yawn

Read from April 29 to May 18, 2014


grrrrramazon description (which seems to be a personal review):

So the good news first: It’s got the usual suspects – Rome, the war, the Germans. Now to the slightly trickier aspect: there is just one, 105-page-long sentence with a single full stop after the final word. I have been advised “Don’t mention the sentence”. But this is no twisted, unreadable Germanic syntax a la Thomas Mann. Far from it: Instead it’s a mesmerizing psychological portrait of the human need to safeguard innocence and integrity at any cost – even at the risk of excluding reality.

Usually the plot line of a single sentence is quickly told. And this is no exception. It describes a walk through Rome one January afternoon in 1943. A pregnant young German woman is on her way to listen to a Bach concert at the Lutheran church. Innocent and naïve, the war is for her little more than a day-dream, until she realizes that her husband might never return.

Will she change her attitude? Her refusal to understand the obvious turns this slim book into a page-turning thriller. No really. The author’s stroke of genius is to present the young woman as credibly normal. She commits no crime, she just walks along having thoughts and some doubts too. We understand her. We engage. And we follow her because we all want to know if she finally admits reality of her situation. Or at least Peirene did.

However, it’s not for the page turning that I chose this book. After all there are many spell-binders out there. But it is plain and simply for “the sentence”. Its rhythm mirrors so beautifully the steps of a walk – you can almost feel the paving stones beneath your feet. At the same time the text is astonishingly clearly structured. It drives towards an end just as the young woman heads for her concert. Neither lose their direction. The book enchants like a Bach cantata and so enthralls us with the rhythm of the words and the beauty of Rome that we too are tempted to forget the reality of war.

Translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch.

Dedication: For U.B.

Opening: Walk, young lady, walk if you want to walk, the child will like it if you walk, Doctor Roberto had said in his funny German with a strong Italian accent

Came to this story for no other reason that it is part of the delicious Peirene Press series ‘books to red in two hours or less’. However this entry did not strike me as at all palatable.

3.5* Next World Novella
4* The Brothers
WL Sea of Ink
1* Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman
4* The Murder of Halland

Fatherland by Robert Harris

bookshelves: alternative-history, mystery-thriller, published-1992, spring-2014, re-visit-2014, re-read, wwii, nazi-related

Read from May 07, 2006 to May 07, 2014

 

BBC DescriptionA chilling adaptation of Robert Harris’s best-selling novel set in an imaginary Hitler-led post-war Germany. Nazi Germany has won the war. Churchill is living in exile. King Edward and Queen Wallis are puppet monarchs of the UK. It is 1964, a week before Hitler’s 75th birthday…

Adapted and directed by John Dryden.

Anton Lesser
Angeline Ball
Peter Ellis
Stratford Johns
Andrew Sachs
Graham Padden

Now for the film, 1994 TV film starring RUTGER HAUER (swoon) as SS-Sturmbannführer Xavier March and Miranda Richardson as
Charlie Maguire.

Excellent.

4* Fatherland
3* Pompeii
3* Imperium
2* The Ghost
4* Lustrum
3* Selling Hitler