Bookish selfie…

A snapshot of my reading week in quotes…

….Meanwhile Esther was telling us about a friend from preschool who is named either Lisi or Ilse or Else and either took a toy away from her or gave her one, at which point the teachers did either nothing at all or just the right thing, or something wrong; little kids are not good storytellers. But Susanna and I exclaimed That’s great! and Incredible! and How about that! and the relief when she stopped talking brought us closer together.

* * * * * * * * *

….The main aim of detective stories is to entertain, but the best cast a light on human behaviour, and display both literary ambition and accomplishment. [FF shouts: Hear! Hear!] And there is another reason why millions of modern readers continue to appreciate classic crime fiction. Even unpretentious detective stories, written for unashamedly commercial reasons, can give us clues to the past, and give us insight into a long-vanished world that, for all its imperfections, continues to fascinate.

* * * * * * * * *

….I had tried to explain to my mother that it was awful to go so early; that one looked so silly when the field was full of small children. I could not explain that when it was dark a new dignity would transform the fair into an oasis of excitement, so that it became a place of mystery and delight; peopled with soldiers from the camp and orange-faced girls wearing head scarves, who in strange regimented lines would sway back and forth across the field, facing each other defiantly, exchanging no words, bright-eyed under the needle stars. I could not explain how all at once the lines would meet and mingle performing a complicated rite of selection; orange girls and soldier boys pairing off slowly to drift to the far end of the field and struggle under the hedges filled with blackberries.

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With this one it’s all about the images…

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….There are certain humiliating moments in the lives of the greatest of men. It has been said that no man is a hero to his valet. To that may be added that few men are heroes to themselves at the moment of visiting their dentist.
….Hercule Poirot was morbidly conscious of this fact.
….He was a man who was accustomed to have a good opinion of himself. He was Hercule Poirot, superior in most ways to other men. But in this moment he was unable to feel superior in any way whatever. His morale was down to zero. He was just that ordinary, craven figure, a man afraid of the dentist’s chair.

* * * * * * * * *

….At first Mr Cooke is angry with Isabelle. He wants her to know what she is putting her mother through. When the anger lifts he wishes it back because then he is just terrified. He is so frightened he wants to hold his daughter tight and never let go. Then he just wants to hold her hand, then just to see her. Just to see her. The yearning is worse than the fear. The yearning is a sorrowing ache that burrows deep down into the core of him.
….As the night wears on he gets less and less tired. Mr Cooke knows how men talk about girls. He knows what might have happened to his own Isabelle. Over the long hours of the dark, as all the hope he will ever feel is sucked out through his soles into the wet, treacherous earth, it comes to feel absolutely vital that he find the dancing shoes that she has worn thin with all her dancing.

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So…are you tempted?

45 thoughts on “Bookish selfie…

  1. *GASP* The Story of Classic Crime could be the most perfect book ever, possibly! I await your review of this one with great interest, FF! Good to see the Russians again, this is now my go-to place for my revolutionary fix 🙂 The artwork is quite striking, mildly terrifying and very effective. Always a delight to see our favourite Belgian! One very much gets the sense that Christie relishes reducing her most famous hero to a mere mortal, here 🙂

    • It will be getting a glowing review! And I think it will be the start of a new challenge to read and review all 100, though I’ll need to check if it will be possible to get hold of most of them at non-exorbitant prices before I commit. Haha! You’ll be delighted to hear I’m unlikely to run out of Russian stuff for months – publishers seem delighted that somebody in the blogosphere is willing to read and review all the new releases for the anniversary… 😉 This one is very good – plenty of textual info, but the illustrations are what makes it special. Ha! Yes, poor old Poirot! Mind you, the dentist came off worse – I don’t understand why anyone ever lets Poirot come near them…

      • Oh, I would be over the MOON if you read and reviewed all 100, but I do see your point. You should perhaps investigate the possibility… your adoring audience awaits… 😀
        You must be a publisher’s dream! And no doubt Mr Putin has a picture of you on his bedroom wall also. The illustrations do look wonderful.
        No one ever gets one over on Poirot. I feel for him, though, 1930s dentists must have been brutal *shudder*

        • I think several of them are ones the British Library have already re-issued, and I’ve already got one or two, so my fingers are crossed. 😀 Hahaha! I find that thought very disturbing, but not as disturbing as Mr Putin finds it, I bet! I do laugh though – Princeton Uni Press in particular seem to think I’m the person who’ll read all the weird factual stuff no-one else wants – can’t think why! 😉
          I’ve often been tempted to bump off my own dentist, I admit…

          • I imagine that as well as your picture being on Putin’s wall, there is a huge oil painting hanging in the Princeton Uni Press head office!! I bit my dentist once. It wasn’t strictly on purpose, I was scared, he was okay about it thought.

  2. The Russian posters are intense, and you seem to be enjoying reading the Russian Revolution. The Poirot novel sounds very human when he admits his fears, and there is a Poirot movie coming out soon!

    • The Russian book is very good – lots of textual info but it’s the illustrations that make it special. Yes, I’m thoroughly enjoying immersing myself in one period of history for a change – usually I flit about all over the place. Oh yes – a remake of Murder on the Orient Express, isn’t it? I shall look forward to that!

  3. Oh, you’ve got some good ones this time, FictionFan! One, Two… is a great story. And, of course, the Edwards is both interesting and informative. I have to admit, I’ve not (yet) read Harriet Said, ‘though I hear good things about it. I’ll be interested in knowing what you think of it when you get there. I think you’re in for some good reading!

    • I’m thoroughly enjoying listening to the audiobooks of the Christies – so many great narrators out there! The Story of Classic Crime is great too, though it’s killing my TBR. 😉 All of these ones are good actually – there will be a few glowing reviews in the near future… 😀

  4. Wow. As Margot said, you definitely have some good books!! Since I already read the Agatha Christie, The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books sounds good to me. Alas, it is not yet available in the States. Debuts next month.

    • Yep, this is a good bunch! All of these will be getting fairly glowing reviews, if I ever get around to writing them! It’s an advance copy I have of The Story of Classic Crime and I will be recommending it highly to anyone interested in the genre – and may be challenging myself to read all 100!

  5. Classic Crime – always a winner. I’m on a Christie kick at the moment. Just read the “Tommy and Tuppence” series, and am now reading “The Big Four” -maybe “One, two” will make it onto the list!

    • Me too, though my kick is to listen to them on audio – so many great narrations of them out there, and I know them well enough that my drifting attention isn’t so much of a problem with them. The Classic Crime book is also great, though really bad for TBRs…

    • These classic crime short story collections are great light reading for fitting in around other stuff – you’d hardly even notice if you added them to your TBR. And audiobooks don’t count… 😉 Well done on staying under 400 – mine was going down but it’s been a bad week. Or a good one depending how you look at it!

    • Aren’t they? The book is a companion piece to an exhibition the British Library are doing later in the autumn and on the basis of the illustrations in this, it ought to be great!

  6. All of these — minus the Russian one! — sound intriguing. I don’t know how you’re going to decide where to start reading. I think I’d start with the Christie — can’t beat Poirot (and the dentist!)

  7. These all seem potentially promising. I have to admit (please forgive me) there is a certain part of me that laughed at the first quote because it holds some truth. Russian Revolution (enjoyed the images) and the Long Drop favor my interest the most. Will be watching for the reviews 😉

    • I love that first quote – I think it captures the essence of chatting with a four-year-old perfectly! 😉 Both excellent choices – I shall be doing my best to tempt you…

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