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Chibiabos83
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3351


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2016 8:35 am    Post subject:  Reply with quote

I don't remember Tonio Kröger well, though I remember what a struggle it was to maintain my interest when I read it as a teenager. I don't think I even tried Tristan, which was the other story often anthologised with it and Death in Venice. I got around to them in my twenties, but they haven't really stayed in the memory. Little Herr Friedemann is one I know I was impressed by, though it's quite downbeat and depressing (perhaps they all are).


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
Posts: 650


Location: Canada

PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Continuing my romp through Mann short stories. Mario and the Magician I believe this one is called. Another story set, beachside in Italy. Mann draws his characters very carefully and believably. Not a lot happens...but it is somehow fascinating.


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
Posts: 650


Location: Canada

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, since you ask..... I have started a book by Donna Tartt, called The Goldfinch.
'This is the best novel I have ever read!' gushed a friend of mine, at choir practice a week or two ago, handing me the book.
Oh dear..... what if I don't like it? I wish she wouldn't oversell a book like that. Not that I am immune to enthusiasm - or 'mere' enthusiasm, as one of Patrick O'Brian's characters calls it.
But so far, so good. Tartt (Who is she, and why have I never heard of her?) has a certain pleasing style; as for substance, the early going seems pregnant with possibilities. It reminds me a bit of The Swan Thieves, which I read and enjoyed last year.


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2917


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2016 1:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Donna Tartt is, unlike my impression that she was British, an American writer.  Her first book was a success: A Secret History.  I have never read her, and was a bit put off by the length of The Goldfinch when I was considering it.

I did read The Swan Thieves, I think about the same time as you, and very much enjoyed it.  Though I don't think of it often; I don't think of many of the books I have read often - Room is one of them and Dickens' books.  

Our bookclub is ended for the year, so I have more time to read what I fancy, and will get on The French Lieutenant's Woman, then back to my Peter Ackroyd book on the civil war, maybe Dickens' Old Curiosity Shop that someone gave me.  

But first I am going to relax with a Georgette Heyer that I have read a number of times, The Talisman Ring, one of my favourites of hers.


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
Posts: 650


Location: Canada

PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2016 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tartt is, as you say, Caro, American, but I notice she tries to sound British, so she may be fooling the odd reader into thinking she is. Her use of 'er,' (instead of 'uh' or 'eh') is either an affectation or (let's be charitable) an unconscious imitation of the Brit style, or is it merely English?

Having read a bit more of The Goldfinch, I don't think it resembles The Swan Thieves at all, except that a painting may (or may not) play an important role.


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Sandraseahorse



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 1141



PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have started my final book group novel of the year, "The Great Lover", by Jill Dawson. This is a fictionalised account of the poet Rupert Brooke.  I am one of those people who prefer historical fact to fiction and already this book is setting my teeth of edge to the extent that  I am starting to resemble a female Victor Mildrew in terms of irritability.

It is about a fictional love affair between Rupert Brooke and a maid, Nell, who, despite being a humble maid, sounds and writes like a 21st century University lecturer.

I am not against novels using real historical characters; I enjoyed Lynne Truss's "Tennyson's Gift", which described Victorian literary figures on the Isle of Wight and was great fun.  It is just that I get irritated when writers take the life of an extremely interesting historical character and have to embellish it, as if that person's life wasn't interesting enough in itself.

I was also exasperated by the notes at the end of the book which explain what the Suffragette Movement was, the significance of The Fabian Society and the fact that the Labour Party is the party "of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown."  I hope these are for the benefit of overseas readers but I fear that many in this country will need these basic facts of 20th century history laid out for them.


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2917


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I was a bit perturbed when the movie Suffragette came out recently and they advertised it as the first film about the Suffragettes.  I suppose that was literally true, but did no-one else remember the wonderful television series about the Pankhursts in the 1980s or thereabouts.  (I was about to query if it was really in the 1990s but on checking it was called Shoulder to Shoulder and was produced in 1974.  The reviews on IMDB all gave it 9 or 10.

From the distance of New Zealand I am not too clear on the Fabian Society but think it was a labour movement or some sort of protest group on conditions of the day.  The Labour Party extends far beyond Tony Blair and Gordon Brown - I hope that wasn't all the notes said. Were they notes for book clubs specifically or for readers generally?  Sometimes books do have notes for bookclubs in them - our last one did, as well as coming with notes from the WEA which runs many bookclubs in NZ.


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Sandraseahorse



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 1141



PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2016 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello, Caro.  The book was one selected as part of the Richard and Judy book club.  They are a couple who used to have a TV show and after the success of Oprah Winfrey's Book club, they launched their own.  The book has a lot of suggestions for discussions at the back.


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
Posts: 650


Location: Canada

PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've just started Joseph Kanon's Leaving Berlin, a story set in that city at the time of the Berlin Airlift (1949?). Too early to tell much, but if it resembles his earlier The Good German, I think I will like it very much.
The Good German I guess you could call a political potboiler, but it was so much more finely crafted and believable than most of the stuff in this genre.

I suppose I should say something about the Donna Tartt book I just spent the past two weeks with. Very engaging but sometimes quite uncomfortable. She does not stint in taking the reader to the extremes a disturbed person might go (drugs, depression, despair) to escape unbearable circumstances. There is redemption, of a sort, but it takes a lot of suffering to get to it. Roughly 800 pages, if I can measure it that way.


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2917


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 6:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some people are very erudite and well-read, aren't they? John Fowles is one.

He has just written about geology (that might just be one of his interests, since the 'hero' of The French Lieutenant's Woman is looking for fossils.

But he ab le to quote Lyell, and the writings preceding him about the timeframe for the world, then he goes on to talk about Philip Gosse's Omphalos which postulates (apparently) that God could have made fossils at the same time as he made the living creatures.  His son, Edmund, wrote a memoir of his father, a Plymouth Brethren, and how his beliefs impacted on him, Edmund.  It is called Father and Son and Fowles calls it 'famous and exquisite'.

Have any of you read it?



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