Bookish selfie…

A snapshot of my reading week in quotes…

….He was an old man, slight, with white hair and bowed head, and with a professional caressing voice. His practice had shrunk, and his bills to Mrs. van Beer were large and paid without question. He was not dishonest or in any way a dishonourable man. Later events threw an unkindly brilliant light upon him. But he was an averagely diligent G.P., with a professional equipment which had been moderately good in 1889, the last year in which he had attempted to learn anything, with failing eyesight and memory and with an increasing difficulty in concentrating. Lack of any other resources forced him to go on practising when he should have retired. He had to live, and for that reason, someone else was to have to die.

* * * * * * * * *

I met Victory Day in East Prussia. For two days it was quiet, there was no shooting, then in the middle of the night a sudden signal: “Alert!” We all jumped up. And there came a shout: “Victory! Capitulation!” Capitulation was all right, but victory – that really got to us. “The war’s over! The war’s over!” We all started firing whatever we had: submachine guns, pistols… We fired our gun… One wiped his tears, another danced: “I’m alive, I’m alive!” A third fell to the ground and embraced it, embraced the sand, the stones. Such joy… And I was standing there and I slowly realised: the war’s over, and my papa will never come home. The war was over… The commander threatened later, “Well, there won’t be any demobilisation till the ammunition’s paid for. What have you done? How many shells have you fired?” We felt as if there would always be peace on earth, that no-one would ever want war, that all the bombs should be destroyed. Who needed them? We were tired of hatred. Tired of shooting.

Valentina Pavlovna Chudaeva, Sergeant, Commander of Anti-Aircraft Artillery

* * * * * * * * *

….Mrs Swettenham was once more deep in the Personal Column.
….Second hand Motor Mower for sale. Now I wonder… Goodness, what a price!… More dachshunds… “Do write or communicate desperate Woggles.” What silly nicknames people have… Cocker spaniels… Do you remember darling Susie, Edmund? She really was human. Understood every word you said to her… Sheraton sideboard for sale. Genuine family antique. Mrs Lucas, Dayas Hall… What a liar that woman is! Sheraton indeed…!’
….Mrs Swettenham sniffed and then continued her reading.
All a mistake, darling. Undying love. Friday as usual. – J… I suppose they’ve had a lovers’ quarrel – or do you think it’s a code for burglars? … More dachshunds! Really, I do think people have gone a little crazy about breeding dachshunds. I mean, there are other dogs. Your Uncle Simon used to breed Manchester Terriers. Such graceful little things. I do like dogs with legsLady going abroad will sell her two piece navy suiting… no measurements or price given… A marriage is announced – no, a murder. What? Well, I never! Edmund, Edmund, listen to this…

‘A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6.30 p.m. Friends please accept this, the only intimation.’

….‘What an extraordinary thing!’

* * * * * * * * *

….He stood at the window with a tumbler of whisky, smoking a cigarette, and watched the last traces of the sun disappear behind the trees of Ludwigkirchplatz. The sky glowed red. The trees looked like the shadows of primitive dancers cavorting around a fire. On the radio, the opening of Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture signalled the start of a special news bulletin. The announcer sounded half-crazed with excitement.
….“Prompted by the desire to make a last effort to bring about the peaceful cession of the Sudeten German territory to the Reich, the Führer has invited Benito Mussolini, the head of the Italian Government; Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of Great Britain; and Edouard Daladier, the French Prime Minister, to a conference. The statesmen have accepted the invitation. The discussion will take place in Munich tomorrow morning, September 29th…”
….The communiqué made it seem as if the whole thing had been Hitler’s idea. And people would believe it, thought Hartmann, because people believed what they wanted to believe – that was Goebbels’s great insight. They no longer had any need to bother themselves with inconvenient truths. He had given them an excuse not to think.

* * * * * * * * *

From the Archives…

….In those early visits it was as though we were building something sacred. We’d place words carefully together, piling them upon one another, leaving no spaces. We each created towers, two beacons, the like of which are built along roads to guide the way when the weather comes down.

* * * * *

….Already the mountain grass is fading to the colour of smoked meat, and the evenings smell of burning fish oil from lamps newly lit. At Illugastadir there will soon be a prickle of frost over the seaweed thrown upon the shore. The seals will be banked upon the tongues of rock, watching winter descend from the mountain.

(Click for full review)

* * * * * * * * *

So…are you tempted?

41 thoughts on “Bookish selfie…

  1. Oh, I thought Burial Rites was quite good, FictionFan. So much atmosphere, and a very interesting story, too. I hope you’ll enjoy that one. And you’ve got A Murder is Announced – a really clever mystery, in my opinion. Yes, you definitely have some good reading/listening ahead of you!

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    • Oh, Burial Rites is one I brought back from the archives – I loved it when I read it a few years ago. She creates a fabulous sense of place! I’m thoroughly enjoying Joan Hickson’s reading of A Murder is Announced – it’s almost like having Miss Marple herself read it to you! 😀

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  2. Oooh what a tempting bunch, FF! Verdict Of Twelve sounds like just my sort of thing, certainly. I can’t remember if I have read this Christie or seen the TV adaptation, but it’s a brilliant story. The war-y ones also appeal – but then I am in a very genial mood just lately as I have acquired mountains of cake over the weekend so pretty much everything seems marvellous! 😀

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    • A particularly enjoyable bunch I must say! Tune in tomorrow for my verdict on Verdict of Twelve. This is one of Christie’s best plots, I think – the way she handles the clues in it is so good! And Joan Hickson is perfect for the narration of the Miss Marple books. Munich is also fab – nearly as good as cake! All that cake is bad for you though – you should really send it to the FF Cake Recycling Centre for safe disposal…

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      • Excellent, I can’t wait for the review! Joan Hickson is my favourite Marple, I think. Mumsie refuses to watch anyone else in the role! You’re right about the cake… I have some M&S cake and some made by the aforementioned Mumsie… I should probably send at least half to be disposed of safely, if only for the sake of poor trousers, which are struggling enough as it is!

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        • I love her too, though in truth she’s not really like my own picture of Miss Marple. Not quite fluffy enough. I love the old Margaret Rutherford films – though she’s even less like the real Miss M! Mumsie’s quite right about the newer versions – gah! They ought to be put in the stocks for what they’ve done to the books! Mmm… you keep the M&S one and send me Mumsie’s then – that seems fair…

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          • Joan Hickson is a bit sharp, isn’t she, but I do think she does a marvellous job of it. I thought Margaret Rutherford was a bit scary as Miss M! But the films were just beautiful and much closer to the spirit of Christie. The latest ones seem more about getting as many big names into the cast as possible and although they are shot beautifully, they just don’t have that proper feel about them.
            Very fair cake division, I think. Mumsie’s one it a bit wonky, but that’s alright because a jaunt through our Royal Mail system should tidy it up a bit! (It does taste very good, though!)

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            • Yes, I think sometimes the adaptations try to make them too dark and forget about the humour in them. The Poirot ones are much better for that – David Suchet has the twinkling eyes down to perfection!

              Ooh, I saw the cake on Twitter – yum-yum-yum!!! I’m a big fan of untidy cakes…

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            • Suchet and Our Friend Hugh bring the perfect balance of Christie-ness to it! There’s a new Hollywood version of Murder on The Orient Express and I’m really not sure I fancy watching it…
              Isn’t it a super cake! Well done Mumsie 🙂

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            • I don’t think I fancy it at all – I love Kenneth Branagh but he looks ridiculous in the trailer. Nothing like Poirot at all. The only thing that tempts me is Judi Dench as the Russian princess…

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    • I thoroughly enjoyed Munich – he’s so good at bringing history to life. I’m randomly re-reading the Christies – well, listening to them rather. Having found all the brilliant narrators who’ve done readings of them has got me addicted to them all over again…

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  3. I read the Agatha Christie book years ago. But now I want to read it again, since I love Miss Marple. And The Unwomanly Face of War again tempts me. What a compelling excerpt!

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    • I think this is one of Christie’s best plots – she really gives out all the clues so the reader has every chance. I know the solution from having read it so often in the past, but I still love seeing how she does it! And Joan Hickson’s narration is great. The Unwomanly Face of War has powerful moments, but in truth I found it quite repetitive after a bit. I haven’t quite decided how to rate it yet…

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    • Ooh, yes! If you haven’t listened to any of Joan Hickson’s narrations of the Miss Marple books, you’re in for a treat – it’s just like having Miss Marple herself read to you! These audio versions are giving the books a whole new lease of life for me… 😀

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  4. I don’t think I’ve read that Agatha Christie, and it sounds brilliant! “Dogs with legs” — too funny! Oh, and Verdict of Twelve is intriguing as well. You’ve got a good selection here, FF.

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    • I know – I wish I could fit more re-reads in without always feeling like I’m missing out on new shiny stuff! A Murder is Announced is one of the best – great plotting and totally fair-play! Joan Hickson actually made me cry a little bit in the middle of it… 😀

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  5. That extract from A Murder is Announced shows how good Christie can be with dialogue.
    I have Burial Rites to read but haven’t got around to it yet. Would it work as an audio version do you think?

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    • She really is – I love the way that, just through the dialogue, you get a really clear picture of the character.

      Yes, I think it probably would – I just had a wee listen to the Audible sample and the narrator sounds excellent. Hmm… now I really want to listen to it myself… 😉

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