Bookish selfie…

A snapshot of my reading week in quotes…

“I shall not withdraw,” he said slowly, with a dull, dogged evenness of tone. “I shall not withdraw in any circumstance. I have gone too far,” he went on, raising his hand to check Falmouth’s appeal. “I have got beyond fear, I have even got beyond resentment; it is now to me a question of justice. Am I right in introducing a law that will remove from this country colonies of dangerously intelligent criminals, who, whilst enjoying immunity from arrest, urge ignorant men forward to commit acts of violence and treason? If I am right, the Four Just Men are wrong. Or are they right: is this measure an unjust thing, an act of tyranny, a piece of barbarism dropped into the very centre of twentieth-century thought, an anachronism? If these men are right, then I am wrong. So it has come to this, that I have to satisfy my mind as to the standard of right and wrong that I must accept – and I accept my own.”

* * * * * * * * *

The order to abandon ship was given at 5 P.M. For most of the men, however, no order was needed because by then everybody knew that the ship was done and that it was time to give up trying to save her. There was no show of fear or even apprehension. They had fought unceasingly for three days and they had lost. They accepted their defeat almost apathetically. They were simply too tired to care…

She was being crushed. Not all at once, but slowly, a little at a time. The pressure of ten million tons of ice was driving in against her sides. And dying as she was, she cried in agony. Her frames and planking, her immense timbers, many of them almost a foot thick, screamed as the killing pressure mounted. And when her timbers could no longer stand the strain, they broke with a report like artillery fire.

* * * * * * * * *

Niamh saw the lights change to green and the Mercedes start to turn left across the flow of traffic. And then she was blinded. A searing, burning light that obliterated all else, just a fraction of a second before the shockwave from the blast knocked her off her feet. As she hit the ground, sight returned. She saw glass flying from the broken windows of the [Café] Fluctuat Nec Mergitur, tables and chairs spinning away across the square. As she rolled over, the Mercedes was still in the air. Later she would remember it as being ten feet or more off the ground. But in fact it was probably no more than eighteen or twenty inches. Flaming debris showered down across the Place de la République as the car slammed back on to the road, a ball of flame.

* * * * * * * * *

But the pupils – the young noblemen! How the last faint traces of hope, the remotest glimmering of any good to be derived from his efforts in this den, faded from the mind of Nicholas as he looked in dismay around! Pale and haggard faces, lank and bony figures, children with the countenances of old men, deformities with irons upon their limbs, boys of stunted growth, and others whose long meagre legs would hardly bear their stooping bodies, all crowded on the view together; there were the bleared eye, the hare-lip, the crooked foot, and every ugliness or distortion that told of unnatural aversion conceived by parents for their offspring, or of young lives which, from the earliest dawn of infancy, had been one horrible endurance of cruelty and neglect. There were little faces which should have been handsome, darkened with the scowl of sullen, dogged suffering; there was childhood with the light of its eye quenched, its beauty gone, and its helplessness alone remaining; there were vicious-faced boys, brooding, with leaden eyes, like malefactors in a jail; and there were young creatures on whom the sins of their frail parents had descended, weeping even for the mercenary nurses they had known, and lonesome even in their loneliness. With every kindly sympathy and affection blasted in its birth, with every young and healthy feeling flogged and starved down, with every revengeful passion that can fester in swollen hearts, eating its evil way to their core in silence, what an incipient Hell was breeding here!

* * * * * * * * *

From the Archives…

“I don’t drink…” Archy said, and stopped. He hated how this sounded whenever he found himself obliged to say it. Lord knew he would not relish the prospective company of some mope-ass m*********** who flew that grim motto from his flagpole. “…alcohol,” he added. Only making it worse, the stickler for detail, ready to come out with a complete list of beverages he was willing to consume. Next came the weak effort to redeem himself by offering a suggestion of past indulgence: “Anymore.” Finally, the slide into unwanted medical disclosure: “Bad belly.”

(Click for full review)

* * * * * * * * *

So…are you tempted?

41 thoughts on “Bookish selfie…

  1. Some great excerpts today, FF! That paragraph from Four Just Men is a most intriguing one and very powerfully written. Can’t beat a bit of Dickens and this bit from Nicholas Nickleby is especially good – so brilliantly graphic, you can almost believe you are right there! That last one is also very good, I’m interested to know more about this book. From this little bit here, I’d say I like the style 🙂

  2. Those all sound great, FictionFan. As you can probably guess, I’m especially interested in the May, so I’m very much looking forward to what you think of that one. But the rest look intriguing, too…

    • I’m going unusually slowly with the May because I’m balancing it with Dickens, but I’m enjoying it so far. But yes, they’re a good bunch this week – all heading for high ratings! 😀

  3. Great excerpts! I already read Nicholas Nickleby, though that excerpt tempts me to pick it up again.
    I loved Summerland by Michael Chabon–a vastly different book in tone than Telegraph Avenue seems to be.

    • I love Nicholas Nickleby – one of my favourite Dickens – and am enjoying it just as much this time around! I haven’t read Summerland, but I loved Telegraph Avenue – his use of language blew me away. But I wasn’t nearly so keen on The Amazing Adventure of Kavalier and Clay, so he hasn’t become a must-read author for me… though I will try more some day…

  4. I haven’t read Nicholas Nickleby, and you just can’t beat a good Dickens, especially at this time of year! I think that’s the one I’d start with. Endurance sounds pretty interesting, too, but reading about all that water and ice would necessitate a nice thick blanket to wrap up in. Oh, and a cup of hot cocoa, with marshmallows.

    • I love Nicholas Nickleby – one of my favourite Dickens – and I’m thoroughly enjoying my re-read! Ha! Yes, Endurance is definitely a blanket and hot chocolate kind of book – it does make our freezing temperatures seem pretty mild though… I don’t think I’m cut out to be an Antarctic explorer… 😉

  5. I am very, very tempted by the Peter May book. Can’t wait to get my hands on it. I love his books. My mystery group is doing ‘Peter May’ month in May (Ha! I actually hadn’t thought about ‘May in May’ until just this minute. Even though I’m the one who sets the schedule. Duh!). Have you read any of his books set in China? Just curious as they are being rereleased.

    • Yes, I read the first four or five of them many years ago when they first came out, so my memories of the plots are very vague. But I thought they gave a great picture of China kinda emerging from the worst of the Communist years. I liked the main characters at first, but got a bit tired of Margaret, the American, as the series went along. Definitely worth reading, though in my opinion his Lewis books and the other later ones are his best work.

  6. Well I only read about the Four Just Men yesterday so know exactly why you’re reading that one – and of course I’ve read the Peter May, The extract from Nicholas Nickleby confirms that I was just being grumpy when I couldn’t find any classic books – I have read it but of course it would be great to revisit! So you have me interested in two – good work 😉

  7. These are all great, FF! I’m most intrigued by the Peter May excerpt. I’ve never read him before and I’d like to. I’ve also never read the Dickens. There are so many Dickens books I’ve never read! I really must do so.

    • Peter May is an excellent writer – he’s one of the authors on my must-read list! I have a horrible habit of re-reading the Dickens books I already love instead of searching out the few I’ve still not read. Maybe next year!

      I’ve just noticed that I seem to have ‘unfollowed’ you somehow or other – don’t know if it was me or WordPress! Now sorted, in case you wonder why you suddenly see me ‘following’ you again. I’ll need to check and see what I’ve missed… 😀

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