Bookish selfie…

A snapshot of my reading week in quotes…

After the first few times, when things had gone wrong, there was no point denying it, the people who’d stayed in the farmhouse had been treated well. They’d been fed, kept warm and safe. After what they’d been through on the journey, the farmhouse really wasn’t that bad.

Warily the woman stepped forward, allowing Cat to take her arm and lead her into the next room, the one where they kept the medical equipment and the records. He breathed an invisible sigh of relief. He’d got quite good at keeping them calm and cooperative.

Of course, they all panicked when they saw the leather straps.

* * * * * * * * *

The dogs were uneasy. Although he spoke to them with more than customary friendliness, and handled them with unwonted gentleness, they still mistrusted him. They nuzzled into his hands, they thrust themselves against his legs, they gazed up at him with affection; but there was always a detectable droop of appeasement, as if they sensed what was in his mind and were afraid that it might at any moment goad him into maltreating them. He was more and more aware of their apprehension, and saw himself, in furious revenge, rising and snatching a switch from the wall, and thrashing them till their noses and eyes dripped faithful blood: they would suffer his maddest cruelty without retaliation. But as he saw himself thus berserk he sat in the box and continued to pat the cringing dogs and speak consolingly to them.

* * * * * * * * *

The oilmen have arrived from Beijing for a ceremonial signing-over of drilling rights. It’s a holiday for them, their translator told me last night at the Grozny Eternity Hotel, which is both the only five-star hotel and the only hotel in the Republic. I nodded solemnly; he needn’t explain. I came of age in the reign of Brezhnev, when young men would enter Civil Service academies hardy and robust, only to leave two years later anaemic and stooped, cured forever of the inclination to be civil or of service to anyone. Still, Beijing must be grim if they’re vacationing in Chechnya.

* * * * * * * * *

All is changed and yet all remains as before. The revolution has shaken the country, deepened the split, frightened some, embittered others, but not yet wiped out a thing or replaced it. Imperial St Petersburg seems drowned in a sleepy lethargy rather than dead. The revolution has stuck little red flags in the hands of the cast-iron monuments of the monarchy. Great red streamers are hanging down the fronts of the government buildings. But the Winter Palace, the ministries, the headquarters, seem to be living a life entirely apart from those red banners, tolerably faded, moreover, by the autumn rains. The two-headed eagles with the sceptre of empire have been torn down where possible, but oftener draped or hastily painted over. They seem to be lurking there. All the old Russia is lurking, its jaw set in rage.

* * * * * * * * *

So…are you tempted?

57 thoughts on “Bookish selfie…

  1. Oh these all sound a little bit grim, FF! I am always tempted by Russian-y stuff, of course. That one with the dogs is quite intriguing, that’s an excellent passage you have picked. But I rather fancied something cheery on this grey Tuesday morning! Dead Woman Walking does sound pretty good, though.

    • Isn’t that odd – I picked two of these because they made me laugh! It just shows they must read quite differently out of context. I loved the Sharon Bolton line “Of course, they all panicked when they saw the leather straps.” and laughed out loud at Anthony Marra’s “Still, Beijing must be grim if they’re vacationing in Chechnya.” Haha! Perhaps I need counselling… 😉

      • It has been a miserable morning here, so perhaps it’s just me! Although the second one – about Beijing – did make me laugh too, so you’re not too crazy! The sun is peeping out now, so I shall be a little more jovial 🙂

        • You’re not alone – other people have thought they were all pretty grim too. I think it must be to do with the context – you’ll just have to read all four books and then tell me what you think of the quotes… 😉

    • I’m loving The Tsar of Love and Techno – I don’t think I’ve ever read a book before where the author can make me laugh at the start of a sentence and cry at the end of it, or vice versa, but he manages it frequently! And while Trotsky can be immensely over-detailed and ludicrously biased, sometimes his descriptive writing is great. Daed Woman Walking is actually quite fun so far. The Cone-Gatherers – well, no fun in that one…

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Margot! 🙂 The Sharon Bolton so far is fab, and I’m about two-thirds through it now, so I’m confident it’ll stay fab! But I’m also loving The Tsar of Love and Techno so far, and the Trotsky is… interesting… 😉

  2. “Still, Beijing must be grim if they’re vacationing in Chechnya.” Had to laugh at that. 🙂 Because of that line and the title, I would be tempted by Marra.

    • The Marra is great so far – stunning writing! It’s taking me ages because I’m doing the audiobook version, but the narrators are fabulous too, so it’s worth it… 🙂

    • No, I haven’t read his earlier book, but The Tsar is stunning so far – I’m about half way through. His writing is brilliant – he’s got me laughing and crying, sometimes at the same time! If you get a chance to read it, do! I’ll almost certainly be including it as a book of the year unless something awful happens to the second half. And I now really want to read his other one too… 😀

  3. These all sound pretty grim to me, especially the one about the dogs. Then again, being a dog-lover, I can’t stand to read stories about animal mistreatment (and I’m just assuming that’s where this one is going). The first one *might* tempt me, but on the whole, I think I’d probably pass. Sorry — here’s hoping they’re not as dreary as they sound!

    • Hahaha! Dreary?!? And I carefully picked these quotes because I thought they were interesting! 😉 The dog one, you’ll be happy to hear, doesn’t result in animal cruelty… at least not to dogs. There is a deer hunt and some animals traps, both of which I think are cruel, but I accept they’re part of country living, I suppose. I won’t be recommending that one anyway when I review it, but I shall try to tempt you with the first one… 🙂

        • Nor me! I don’t even really like reading about the “normal” cruelty that happens as part of country life, but I try to tolerate it as being realistic. It’s not always easy though…

    • Hmm… a couple actually, though they’re very different. Dead Woman Walking is a great thriller with quite a lot of humour mixed in, and the writing in The Tsar of Love and Techno is amazing – both could easily end up on my book of the year shortlists. And I’m enjoying Trotsky a lot too, but that’s because I’m weird… 😉

    • It is, and it’s jolly good! I’ve had a mixed reaction to her in the past too – sometimes I’ve felt she went too far, both in terms of gruesomeness and over the credibility line. This one has its moments, but it’s also very well done, and has a lot of humour which keeps it entertaining rather than bleak… 🙂

  4. I think they sound a bit grim, too. But how dull the world would be if we all liked the same books (and my current read, a survey of modern literature written in 1960, would probably put quite a few people off!).

    • It’s definitely to do with them being taken out of their context then, because the first and third are honestly quite funny when you read them in the books! Haha! Yes, some books are harder to sell than others – I can see why not many people are clamouring for 900 pages of Trotsky… 😉

    • So do I (though I must admit to being halfway through and still not really understanding why it’s called that! 😉 ) Brilliant writing though – loving it!

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