Bookish selfie…

A snapshot of my reading week in quotes…

….‘My God!’ exclaimed the prince. From his standing position, he had a better view of the situation. I threw open my door, but before I could move, the man in saffron had stood up. He had wild eyes between dirty, matted hair, an unkempt beard and what looked like streaks of ash smeared vertically on his forehead. In his hand an object glinted and my insides turned to ice.
….‘Get down!’ I shouted to the prince while fumbling with the button on my holster, but he was like a rabbit hypnotised by a cobra. The attacker raised his revolver and fired. The first shot hit the car’s windscreen with a crack, shattering the glass. I turned to see Surrender-not desperately grabbing at the prince, trying to pull him down.
….All too late.
….As the next two shots rang out, I knew they would find their mark. Both hit the prince squarely in the chest. For a few seconds he just stood there, as though he really was divine and the bullets had passed straight through him. Then blotches of bright crimson blood began to soak through the silk of his tunic and he crumpled, like a paper cup in the monsoon.

* * * * * * * * *

Lenin the Dictator by Victor Sebestyen

….The public Lenin adopted a highly populist style of politics that would be recognisable – and imitated by many a rabble-rouser – a hundred years later, even in long-established, sophisticated democracies. He offered simple solutions to complex problems. He lied unashamedly. He was never a sparkling orator, as Kerensky and Trotsky were in their varying ways. But he was brilliant at presenting a case in direct, straightforward language that anyone could understand, and explaining how the world could be changed if only people would listen to him and his Bolsheviks… he argued that people had heard too much from experts. ‘Any worker will master any ministry in a few days, no special skill is needed…’

* * * * * * * * *

….His eyes were lifted meaningly to his listener’s face, and in a flash Loreto understood.
….‘Good God!’ he cried. ‘You were a friend of Lilian Hope! You have not been threatened by…’
….‘Yes,’ said Sir George, grimly. ‘I am the next on the list.’
….He drew a fairly large envelope from his breast pocket and extracted some folded papers. They were dingy and faintly yellow; one edge of the paper was jagged where it had been torn from the book, and Loreto immediately recognised these sheets as pages from Lilian Hope’s fatal diary.
….‘Poor Lilian!’ murmured the old man. ‘She was a wonderful creature, and I loved her once, though she never treated me too well. I had her picture – kept it for years, but my wife grew jealous. Poor Lilian! To think that she was in such poverty, and that she died in such a frame of mind!’

From: The Diary of Death by Marten Cumberland

* * * * * * * * *

….She cooked or did laundry and then with the remaining soapy water washed the floors in the house. Or, calm and less flushed, she ironed and mended her own, his, and Katenka’s linen. Or, having finished with the cooking, laundry, and tidying up, she gave lessons to Katenka. Or, burying herself in textbooks, she occupied herself with her own polemical re-education, before going back to the newly reformed school as a teacher.
….The closer this woman and girl were to him, the less he dared to see them as family, the stricter was the prohibition imposed upon his way of thinking by his duty to his family and his pain at being unfaithful to them. In this limitation there was nothing offensive for Lara and Katenka. On the contrary, this non-family way of feeling contained a whole world of respect, excluding casualness and excessive familiarity.
….But this split was always tormenting and wounding, and Yuri Andreevich got used to it as one gets used to an unhealed, often reopening wound.

* * * * * * * * *

….The others went upstairs, a slow unwilling procession. If this had been an old house, with creaking wood, and dark shadows, and heavily panelled walls, there might have been an eerie feeling. But this house was the essence of modernity. There were no dark corners – no possible sliding panels – it was flooded with electric light – everything was new and bright and shining. There was nothing hidden in this house, nothing concealed. It had no atmosphere about it. Somehow, that was the most frightening thing of all. They exchanged good-nights on the upper landing. Each of them went into his or her own room, and each of them automatically, almost without conscious thought, locked the door…

* * * * * * * * *

So…are you tempted?

36 thoughts on “Bookish selfie…

  1. Blimey, that bit from Lenin sounds frighteningly modern! I think someone should point this out to the masses before it’s too late!!
    That’s a nice passage from A Necessary Evil, I like the writing and the description of the Prince being shot is very good, I think. Likewise, the extract from Miraculous Mysteries sounds like it might be right up my street. Not sure I could get through Zhivago, although I did like the film (such a philistine, I know!)
    Brilliant passage from Christie – ‘There was nothing hidden in this house, nothing concealed.’ Chilling and clever on so many levels! She really is a goddess of literature.

    • Haha – I’m coming more and more to the conclusion that we should all be forced to read these Russian Rev books before being allowed to vote!

      A Necessary Evil is very good, though it’s not grabbing me quite as much as his first one – but I think that’s more to do with my mood than the books. A new tragedy every day seems to be interfering with my concentration levels! Miraculous Mysteries is great fun – one of the best of these anthologies so far. Personally, I don’t think you’re missing much by not reading Zhivago… 😉 Christie’s fab! I may spend the rest of the summer just binge-listening to all her books…

      • With so much awfulness going on in the world at the moment, Christie and the like should be must-reads (or listens!) for the nation. We need reminding that life can be cosy and polite, the wearing of hats is the cornerstone of proper civilisation and a mystery solved over a nice cup of tea is paramount. When reality gets as real as it is currently, we need our lovely fiction more than ever. A serving of Captain Hastings all round! 😉

  2. You’ve got quite the fine collection there this time, FictionFan! I am interested in A Necessary Evil. And of course, And Then There Were None is, in my opinion, one of Christie’s best. You’re definitely having a good week book-wise!

    • Yes, it’s been a good week for reading! A Necessary Evil is shaping up to be very good, and of course the Christie is fab. And the Miraculous Mysteries collection is excellent too – one of the best of these anthologies so far… 🙂

    • The Miraculous Mysteries collection has lots of goodies in it, including that one – I like being able to fit a short story in if I only have a short amount of time available for reading. 🙂

  3. Lenin’s book defo caught my eye… I recall finding a box of brooches in the attic with Lenin’s face on them.. my mother would have had to wear those when she was a young one… Strangely, the only thing I know about Lenin is his slogan: “Learn, learn, learn’ as my father always used to say that while I was doing my homework (not because he was a follower or anything) .. so, yes, I defo need to look into reading books about Lenin just to school myself a bit more 🙂

    • How interesting! Yes, the reading I’ve been doing on the Russian Revolution shows what a huge cult grew up around Lenin, during his life and long after his death. Sadly, I don’t think he deserved the adulation – but then how many of these dicators ever do! This book is particularly readable, I’m finding – it doesn’t go into as much geeky depth as some of them do, but it gives what feels like a pretty accurate picture of the man and the broad history… 🙂

  4. Already read And Then There Were None, so I’d probably go with Miraculous Mysteries since reading Anthony Horowitz’s Magpie Murders has put me solidly in the mood for mysteries.

    • Oh, did you enjoy Magpie Murders? He’s got a new one coming out very soon – I still haven’t managed to snaffle a copy of it yet though. Miraculous Mysteries is very good – one of the best of these British Library anthologies so far…

    • As they should! And apart from Zhivago, they’re all quite light reads – even the Lenin bio is much lighter than these things usually are but still very good…

  5. Definitely the Christie!! She’s a master at puzzles, and I rarely (if ever) guess the bad guy. Oh, and A Necessary Evil sounds most intriguing. Not sure I have the patience to wade through Lenin, ha!

    • Good choices! The Christie is definitely the best, but A Necessary Evil is shaping up to be very good too. Haha, the Lenin is actually quite light in comparison to some of these Russian histories I’ve been reading – feels like a bit of a holiday! 😉

  6. “Lenin the Dictator” by Victor Sebestyen sounds good. In spite of majoring in political science and my lifelong interest in current, political and historical affairs, I have read very little nonfiction or biographies. Time to change all that.

    • I love political and historical bios, and the Lenin is a good one. It’s not as in-depth or detailed as some of them admittedly, but that makes it an easier read and it still gives plenty of insight into the time. I’m nearly finished it now so can safely say I’ll be recommending it… 🙂

  7. All of those quotations are tempting, honestly. I’ve read the Christie before and it was quite the page-turner! And that quote about Lenin sounds frighteningly modern. Sigh…

    By the way, I went through my Goodreads TBR yesterday and chopped off 50 books! So I’m down to a quite lightweight 350. 🙂 Feeling rather good about myself right now…

    • Ooh, well done! That’s probably about the same as mine if I add in my wishlist, which I only do for quarterly roundups. But even so, for me that’s still about three years’ worth! 😉

      Anyway, that means you have plenty of room to add all of these ones then…

    • The whole Russian Revolution thing is horrifyingly reminiscent of current events, I fear! Scary!

      Interesting! I thought it was odd too, but for a slightly different reason – I felt paper cups wouldn’t have been commonplace enough in 1920 for that simile to spring to mind. I have duly rapped his knuckles over it when writing my review… 😉

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