Bookish selfie…

A snapshot of my reading week in quotes…

….“…I knew there was no point. I could claw at the rock the rest of my life and get no closer. I knew the truth.”
….“And what truth was that, sir?”
….“They were dead. My woman. My children. All the People. They were dead. Buried alive. All four hundred of them.”
….Although virtually everyone in the courtroom – the judges, the rows of prosecutors, the court personnel, the spectators behind the glass, and the few reporters with them – although almost all of us knew what the answer to that question was going to be, there was nonetheless a terrible drama to hearing the facts spoken aloud. Silence enshrouded the room as if a warning finger had been raised, and all of us, every person, seemed to sink into ourselves, into the crater of fear and loneliness where the face of evil inevitably casts us.
….So here you are, I thought suddenly, as the moment lingered. Now you are here.

* * * * * * * * *

….One moment the sun had shone, then we were abruptly thrust into the devil’s playground as the squall hit us like a shield wall. The ship shuddered, water and wind and gloom smashing us in sudden turmoil and Heahengel swung to the blow, going broadside to the sea and nothing I could do would hold her straight, and I saw Leofric stagger across the deck as the stærbord side went under water. ‘Bail!’ I shouted desperately, ‘bail!’ And then with a noise like thunder, the great sail split into tatters that whipped off the yard, and the ship came slowly upright, but she was low in the water, and I was using all my strength to keep her coming round, creeping round, reversing our course so that I could put her bows into that turmoil of sea and wind, and the men were praying, making the sign of the cross, bailing water, and the remnants of the sail and the broken lines were mad things, ragged demons, and the sudden gale was howling like furies in the rigging and I thought how futile it would be to die at sea so soon after Ragnar had saved my life.

* * * * * * * * *

….‘We are slaves because we are unable to free ourselves,’ Herzen once wrote. If there was one lesson to be drawn from the Russian Revolution it was that the people had failed to emancipate themselves. They had failed to become their own political masters, to free themselves from emperors and become citizens. Kerensky’s speech of 1917, in which he claimed that the Russian people were perhaps no more than ‘rebellious slaves’, was to haunt the revolution in succeeding years. For while the people could destroy the old system, they could not rebuild a new one of their own. None of the democratic organizations established before October 1917 survived more than a few years of Bolshevik rule, at least not in their democratic form. By 1921, if not earlier, the revolution had come full circle, and a new autocracy had been imposed on Russia which in many ways resembled the old one.

* * * * * * * * *

….Across the room, near the window, there was a dressing table fitted with an oval three-piece mirror. The mirror was not quite closed; the upper edges of the glass glinted through the cracks like splinters of ice. In front of the mirror rose a small city of bottles: eau de Cologne, perfume sprays, lavender toilet water, a Bohemian glass goblet, facets glittering in the light… a crumpled pair of brown-lace gloves lay withering like cedar leaves.
….A couch and two chairs, a floor lamp, and a low, delicate table were arranged directly under the window. An embroidery frame, the beginnings of a pattern needled into the silk, was propped on the couch. The vogue for such things had passed long ago, but his mother loved all kinds of handicraft. The pattern seemed to be the wings of some gaudy bird, a parrot maybe, on a background of silver-gray. A pair of stockings lay in a heap next to the embroidery. The shocking embrace of sheer nylon and the imitation damask of the couch gave the room an air of agitation. She must have noticed a run on her way out and changed in a hurry.
….Only dazzling sky and a few fragments of cloud, hard and glossy as enamel in the light bouncing off the water, could be seen through the window.

(Nastiness Alert! Don’t be fooled by this quote – the book has subsequently been abandoned for being one of the nastiest little pieces of nastiness I’ve come across in a long time.)

* * * * * * * * *

From the archives…

….The letters told Eilis little; there was hardly anything personal in them and nothing that sounded like anyone’s own voice. Nonetheless, as she read them over and over, she forgot for a moment where she was and she could picture her mother in the kitchen taking her Basildon Bond notepad and her envelopes and setting out to write a proper letter with nothing crossed out.

(Click for full review)

* * * * * * * * *

So…are you tempted?

32 thoughts on “Bookish selfie…

    • The Turow was great – one of his absolute best, I think. And that’s high praise since I think his standard is always excellent. I’ll be reviewing it soon, tennis permitting! 🙂

  1. That first one looks quite interesting… and a bit familiar, have you mentioned this one before? Glad to see you are ploughing on with the Russian one and always nice to have a bit of Bernard Cornwall about the place 🙂 BUT – obviously the nasty one has caught my eye! It must be bad if it has been abandoned… which can only make one wonder why? I do hope we will find out, FF – I love it when there’s a book you really don’t like 🙂 For what it’s worth, that prose is like a cheesy GCSE essay of a pretentious little oik trying far too hard, in my humblest of opinions – but then, is it possibly a translation? In which case, perhaps some of the original essence has been lost.

    • Only on a TBR post, I think, but I love Turow so I may have fangirled about it at some point. This is one of his best! I finished the Russian one at last – a monster read but brilliant! And that was my first Cornwell so I’m glad to say I loved it too. Haha! I won’t be reviewing the nasty one, but to please you, here’s what I said on Goodreads…

      “A nasty little book about nasty little boys being nasty. I tolerated the boy spying on his naked mother’s body and later on her having sex. I put up with the pretentious, unrealistic conversations the boys have about the existential emptiness of life. But I abandoned it when they were getting ready to kill a kitten for fun. Not for me. But literary critics love it, of course.”

      Yes, it is a translation and people rave about the beautiful language. There are some nice passages but I feel it’s grossly over-rated, and so do my kittens! 😉

      • I’m sure I have read rave reviews for the Turow so will be adding it to my list! I quite like Cornwall, although bits of his books can get a little dry in parts, but overall he’s pretty good.
        Oh my – what a horrible, horrible book! I am convinced that there is something seriously wrong with literary critics. Sounds like a load of pretentious drivel, being nasty for the sake of it. People are too scared to stand up and say ‘actually, you know, this is crap.’ I hope the author gets bunions! 🙂

        • The Turow would be a great addition to your list, (Do you know there’s a new Howowitz coming soon, BTW? The Word is Murder, in August :D) I know – it baffles me, With this one, there are loads of 5 star reviews in Goodreads, but even a lot of them are saying things like ‘not for the faint-hearted’. Haha! Apparently he committed hara-kiri (seriously) and tragically I found myself thinking it served him right… 😉

          • A NEW HOROWITZ?! Oooh maybe it is an Atticus Pund!! There is now nothing else more important or exciting in the world 😀 This eclipses all thoughts of horrific nasty boys and their kitten-murdering tendencies. Begone! Horowitz returns! (apologies for getting a bit epic, there, but this really is wonderful news!)

            • I don’t know anything about it other than the blurb, which makes me think it’s not an Atticus Pund but is a crime thriller mystery thingy. Somehow I must get my grubby hands on an advance copy…!!

            • I’m working on it… but popular books are sometimes harder… bah! I kinda got offered him to do a guest post recently, got all excited and then it didn’t happen… not his fault, the publicity people. I can quite see why someone whose books shoot to the top of the bestseller list automatically don’t have time to do blog posts, but nonetheless… *sobs*

  2. I’ve already read Brooklyn (because of your earlier review), and I must say I enjoyed it a lot. I kind of wish he’d written a sequel though because I wanted to read the rest of Eilis’s story.

    Testimony sounds like the best of the others you’ve featured. Scott Turow is an outstanding writer, and I expect that one would be right up my alley. Guess I’ll have to add it to my own TBR. Drat!!

    • He hasn’t written a direct sequel, but I feel two of his other books, Nora Webster and The Blackwater Lightship, form a loose trilogy with Brooklyn – same community in Ireland though with different women and at different time periods. I recommend them both, especially Nora Webster which I think is one of his very best books. 🙂

      Testimony was great – one of Turow’s best! Definitely worth making room on the TBR for. My review will be along soon – tennis permitting!

    • The Russian Revolution book is brilliant – a monster, but perhaps the best history book I’ve read. Up there in the top five anyway!

      Haha! I’m not going to review it, but just to make you happy, here’s my brief comment on Goodreads…

      “A nasty little book about nasty little boys being nasty. I tolerated the boy spying on his naked mother’s body and later on her having sex. I put up with the pretentious, unrealistic conversations the boys have about the existential emptiness of life. But I abandoned it when they were getting ready to kill a kitten for fun. Not for me. But literary critics love it, of course.”

      Haha – I was still feeling bitter when I wrote it. Can you tell? 😉

  3. The selection from the book about the Russian Revolution reminded me of the little I know about Iranian history – it could apply to their Revolution in the 70’s as well, I think. I am tempted by Brooklyn – I’ve been meaning to read that one for a while now. But you know how that goes!

    Enjoy your tennis!

    • Interesting! I know very little about the Iranian revolution, but sadly I think most revolutions end up with yet another dictator replacing the one they just got rid of. 😦 Brooklyn is excellent – you can squeeze it in, I’m sure… 😉

      Thanks – Rafa is doing well! 😀

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