Bookish selfie…

A snapshot of my reading week in quotes…

.Sweet though it was, the perfume of the incense could not disguise the odour of putrefying flesh. And the summer heat was not helping.

.The cadavers were at the back of the room on a long table, surrounded by bowls of fresh fruit, boiled eggs in bowls of rice, dim sum still warm from the steamer, buns, a bottle of chilled white wine running with condensation.

.The guests assembled at the far side of the room, near the door, and the window with a view on to the siheyuan courtyard. In the hutong beyond, children played unaware of the bizarre marriage taking place behind high walls.

* * * * * * * * *

.Whether it was our warmth, and freedom, and our harmless love of God, and trust in one another; or whether it were our air, and water, and the pea-fed bacon; anyhow my Lorna grew richer and more lovely, more perfect and more firm of figure, and more light and buoyant, with every passing day that laid its tribute on her cheeks and lips. I was allowed one kiss a day; only one for manners’ sake, because she was our visitor; and I might have it before breakfast, or else when I came to say ‘good-night!’ according as I decided. And I decided every night, not to take it in the morning, but put it off till the evening time, and have the pleasure to think about, through all the day of working. But when my darling came up to me in the early daylight, fresher than the daystar, and with no one looking; only her bright eyes smiling, and sweet lips quite ready, was it likely I could wait, and think all day about it? For she wore a frock of Annie’s, nicely made to fit her, taken in at the waist and curved – I never could explain it, not being a mantua-maker; but I know how her figure looked in it, and how it came towards me.

* * * * * * * * *

.What did he fancy eating? Because he was on his own, because he could go anywhere at all, he seriously asked himself that question, thinking about the different restaurants that might be able to tempt him, as if he were about to celebrate. First he took a few steps towards Place de la Concorde, and that made him feel a little guilty, because he was pointlessly going further and further away from home. In the window of a butchers’ shop he saw some prepared snails, swimming in parsley butter, which looked as if it had been painted.

.His wife didn’t like snails. He himself seldom ate them. He decided to have some this evening, to ‘take advantage’, and he turned on his heels to make towards a restaurant near Bastille, where they are a speciality.

* * * * * * * * *

.‘I didn’t know the darkness could be so beautiful,’ said Kit, aiming his lens at the horizon.
.As if he had summoned it, at that moment, a hole was torn lengthways through the cloud and the sun was partly visible, a sooty black disc surrounded by a ring of pure light. Kit’s camera clicked and reloaded next to my ear. An ecstatic cheer carried on the strange winds from all around us. There were none of the phenomena I’d hoped for: no shooting corona, no sun leaking through the moon’s craters to create the diamond ring effect, and in a few seconds it was gone, but still I felt changed, as if a giant hand had reached down from the sky and touched me. I was torn between wanting it to be over so that we could talk about it and never wanting it to end. But it did end; the veil pushed east and the colours came back.

* * * * * * * * *

.Chkheidze, the Soviet chairman, was sitting next to the hysterical worker. He calmly leaned across and placed a piece of paper into his hand. It was a manifesto, printed the evening before, in which it was said that the demonstrators should go home, or be condemned as traitors to the revolution. ‘Here, please take this, Comrade,’ Chkheidze said to him in an imperious tone. ‘It says here what you and your Putilov comrades should do. Please read it carefully and don’t interrupt our business.’ The confused worker, not knowing what he should do, took the manifesto and left the hall with the rest of the Putilovites. No doubt he was fuming with anger and frustration at his profound humiliation; and yet he was powerless to resist, not because he lacked the guns, but because he lacked the will. Centuries of serfdom and subservience had not prepared him to stand up to his political masters – and in that lay the tragedy of the Russian people as a whole. This was one of the finest scenes of the whole revolution – one of those rare moments in history when the hidden relations of power are flashed up on to the surface of events and the broader course of developments becomes clear.

* * * * * * * * *

.“So you’re up and about, are you?” she boomed. “I thought you’d be in bed snoring your head off!”
.“It is a little unusual for me to be in circulation at this hour,” I agreed, “but I rose today with the lark and, I think, the snail. Jeeves?”
.“Didn’t you tell me once that snails were early risers?”
.“Yes, sir. The poet Browning in his Pippa Passes, having established that the hour is 7 a.m., goes on to say ‘The lark’s on the wing, the snail’s on the thorn.’”
.“Thank you, Jeeves. I was right, Aunt Dahlia. When I slid from between the sheets, the lark was on the wing, the snail on the thorn.”
.“What the devil are you babbling about?”
.“Don’t ask me, ask the poet Browning!”

* * * * * * * * *

So…are you tempted?

42 thoughts on “Bookish selfie…

    • Ooh, yes, but I wish they weren’t now! It would look as if I’d actually given it some thought! 😉 I enjoyed this Maigret a lot – I think I’ll be reading more of them…

  1. Lorna Doone has taken a turn for the better, I see, although ‘pea-fed bacon’ is a worrying concept. As ever, the Russians are super and who couldn’t love a bit of Maigret? The Wodehouse is just delightful. I wish I lived in a Wodehouse novel.

    • Some of Lorna Doone is great, but there’s just so much of it! Actually by the end, I was enjoying it a lot though. Haha! Veggie pea! There are tons of luscious foodstuffs – no animal was safe… This Maigret was great – I really enjoyed it, and of course Jeeves never lets me down. Only another two weeks of this Russian one I think – but fear not! Then I have a biography of Lenin… 😉

      • I am looking forward to the review of Lorna Doone, I may yet have to consider it as it is a classic, after all. The foodstuffs could tempt me – I can always skip over any bits I don’t like 🙂
        Blimey, I bet the biography of Lenin will a laugh-out-loud romp! I look forward to it – although, I’m pleased you are reading it rather than me! (as much as I love those revolutionary Russian-types 😉 )

    • Ha! The China thrillers always tended to be more gruesome than May’s other books! Yeah, sometimes all the hype round books leaves me feeling as if I’ve already read them before I do. But it’s worth a place on your 2018 list, I think… 🙂

  2. You’ve got some good ‘uns there, FictionFan.I do like the Maigret novels, and the Peter May sounds good, too. But, then, I’m biased…. I agree with Donna, too, about He Said/She Said. I keep hearing about it. Don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, if I can put it that way.

    • This Maigret was a particularly enjoyable one – I’ll certainly be reading more of them. The Peter May is good as always, even though it’s just a shortie. Yes, sometimes I think all the hype backfires – it either puts me off or sets up too high expectations leading to disappointment. I liked it, but didn’t love it…

  3. Simenon and Wodehouse! Both authors have such strong styles though the tone of each excerpt is different. Neither excerpt, however, tempts me to like snails.

  4. I’m very interested in your thoughts on HeSaid/She Said. I’m on the fence about that one. BTW, I’m currently into the 6th Jane Casey After the Fire and I have to again thank you for encouraging me to start this series…I’m obsessed and I’m Team Derwent all the way:)

    • I’ve still to write up my review for He Said/She Said, so I’ll leave you in suspense! 😉 Oh, I’m so glad you’re loving the Maeve books – what fun to read them all in a splurge! I’m kinda jealous. But noooooooo!!! Rob, not Josh!!! 😀

  5. Not particularly tempted this week — whew, as my TBR is still fat and sassy!! The Ghost Marriage sounds particularly interesting, in a dreadful sort of way, though. I can’t help wondering what’s going to happen there!

    • The Peter May China thrillers were always more gory than his other books, because the star is a pathologist, I suppose, but they really bring Beijing to life. I’ll try to catch you next week, though… 😉

  6. He Said/She Said may be tempting… though I’m worried I’ll quote Jeeves and declare, “What the devil are they babbling about!” Then promptly toss the book aside in an attempt to pet Tuppence when she’s not looking! (Alas, I can’t resist a scoundrel…)

    • I won’t reveal my opinion of He Said/She Said yet – it would spoil the suspense! Haha! I love Wodehouse – he does babbling so well. Oh dear – well, don’t say you haven’t been warned, and keep your first-aid kit handy… 😉

  7. I could clearly hear Jonathan Cecil’s voice when I read the Wodehouse quote. Good thing he seems to have narrated every Wodehouse audio my library has to offer, so I will never have to deal with a different voice.

    • He’s great, isn’t he? I had built up about a zillion credits on Audible at one point and stocked up on a ton of his Jeeves narrations, so I have loads of pleasure to come! 😀

    • Haha! The China thrillers were always more gory than Peter May’s other books, but that’s probably the worst bit of this particular story. I love that extract from He Said/She Said, though – she’s such a good writer… 😀

  8. The Ghost Marriage caught my eye as I like Peter May. I’ve read He Said / She Said and thoroughly enjoyed it as well as it making me think.

    • I enjoyed Peter May’s China thrillers, so I’m hoping he might be going to do a new full length novel maybe. I still haven’t written my review of He Said/She Said, so I’ll leave you in suspense about what I thought of it… 😉

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