Bookish selfie…

A snapshot of my reading week in quotes…

….After another short rest, Curtis finally made it to the third floor. It hadn’t been easy, but he was fifteen – old enough to get all the way to the top if he’d wanted to. He finally reached the beam he’d been dreaming of sitting on – perched like a bird over the city street below. When he got to the beam, he slowly straightened up and prepared to walk to the end of it. He knew he could do it: all it took was concentration. Foot in front of foot. He focused carefully and started moving. Then he heard it again – that same noise he’d heard earlier. He stopped for a moment but didn’t hear anything. Still, he couldn’t help feeling like someone was watching him.
….All of a sudden, the world spun out of control as Curtis felt a hard push from behind and lost his balance. He scrabbled frantically to grab something – anything – to keep him from falling…

* * * * * * * * *

….Seated with Stuart and Brent Tarleton in the cool shade of the porch of Tara, her father’s plantation, that bright April afternoon of 1861, she made a pretty picture. Her new green flowered-muslin dress spread its twelve yards of billowing material over her hoops and exactly matched the flat-heeled green morocco slippers her father had recently brought her from Atlanta. The dress set off to perfection the seventeen-inch waist, the smallest in three counties, and the tightly fitting basque showed breasts well matured for her sixteen years. But for all the modesty of her spreading skirts, the demureness of hair netted smoothly into a chignon and the quietness of small white hands folded in her lap, her true self was poorly concealed. The green eyes in the carefully sweet face were turbulent, wilful, lusty with life, distinctly at variance with her decorous demeanor. Her manners had been imposed upon her by her mother’s gentle admonitions and the sterner discipline of her mammy; her eyes were her own.

* * * * * * * * *

….It would be easy to blame the Chernobyl accident on the failed communist system and the design flaws of Chernobyl-type reactors, implying that those problems belong to the past. But this confidence would be misplaced. The causes of the Chernobyl meltdown are very much in evidence today. Authoritarian rulers pursuing enhanced or great-power status – and eager to accelerate economic development and overcome energy and demographic crises, while paying lip service to ecological concerns – are more in evidence now than they were in 1986. Could the nuclear Armageddon called Chernobyl repeat itself? No one knows the answer to this question. But there is no doubt that a new Chernobyl-type disaster is more likely to happen if we do not learn the lessons of the one that has already occurred.

* * * * * * * * *

….So we two poor terrestrial castaways, lost in that wild-growing moon jungle, crawled in terror before the sounds that had come upon us. We crawled, as it seemed, a long time before we saw either Selenite or mooncalf, though we heard the bellowing and gruntulous noises of these latter continually drawing nearer to us. We crawled through stony ravines, over snow slopes, amidst fungi that ripped like thin bladders at our thrust, emitting a watery humour, over a perfect pavement of things like puff-balls, and beneath interminable thickets of scrub. And ever more helplessly our eyes sought for our abandoned sphere. The noise of the mooncalves would at times be a vast flat calf-like sound, at times it rose to an amazed and wrathy bellowing, and again it would become a clogged bestial sound, as though these unseen creatures had sought to eat and bellow at the same time.

* * * * * * * * *

….“Yes,” I said, “every single Blainer is the crème de la crème by virtue of our outstanding education. But a depraved novelist claimed that this epithet applied only to a small coterie, the pupils of one particular teacher. And in a salacious misrepresentation of our beloved school and its irreproachable staff, she portrayed that teacher as a promiscuous adulteress who was prepared to prostitute her pupils. Pupils whose prepubescent sexual fantasises she described in sordid detail.”
….I had to clutch a nearby gilt salon chair for support, and to let my pulse slow down. I pride myself on my self-control, but this is a wound that will never heal.
….A lady sitting nearby leaned forward eagerly: “Please, Shona Fergusovna, may we have the name of this book and its author? In order that we may avoid it, of course.”

* * * * * * * * *

So…are you tempted?

71 thoughts on “Bookish selfie…

  1. Such a great variety here, FictionFan! Wells and Mitchell, for instance, are such different authors! And thanks so much for including Downfall, too. I’m drawn to Miss Blaine’s Prefect…. I’ll be very interested in learning what you think of that one.

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    • It’s an odd bunch this week – I enjoyed some more than I expected and others less than I expected. I am enjoying Downfall, though! Still at the early stages, but it’s off to a great start… 😀

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  2. Margot’s tome sounds suitably dramatic! I have always had a bit of a fascination with Chernobyl so I will be interested to see how that pans out. And that last one there, I do like the sound of it!
    Also – I thought of you on Saturday as I found myself in a hotel bar talking with a Russian gentleman about Lenin and such. Having faithfully followed your Russian Revolution reviews, I was able to participate with some authority!

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    • Margot’s book is providing welcome relief from Gone with the Wind! (The Americans are going to hate me, I fear…) I’ve just started the Chernobyl one, so haven’t really got an opinion on it yet. But I’m glad you like the sound of the last one, because that’s the one I was warning you to make space for – review soon! 😀

      Hahaha! I feel dreadfully guilty for making you read all these Russian reviews, but if it came in useful then that makes me feel a little better! 😉

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  3. Downfall is already on my list, and I’ve read the Wells. I’m never drawn to other authors’ sequels to famous novels, so no to miss B.

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    • I’d never read that Wells before, for some reason – lots of fun! I think I might try to change your mind on the last one – it’s really not either a sequel or a pastiche. The author actually went to the real Marcia Blaine School (can’t remember its real name at the moment) which is why she’s picked it, but beyond a few quite funny references to the original, it’s got nothing to do with it really. Review soon!

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    • The First Men in the Moon turned out to be great fun – I love HG Wells, but hadn’t read that one before. I’ve only just started Chernobyl so haven’t really formed an opinion on it yet… 🙂

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  4. This must surely be your most eclectic reading week ever! And I know it’s wicked of me, but I couldn’t help smiling at the excerpt from GwtW. Muslin dresses and 17inch waists… oh my! 😀

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    • Ha! Eclectic is my middle name! Gotta be honest, I’m struggling with Gone with the Wind… I’ll stick with it a bit longer to see if I get into it, but 1000 pages of a book that I’m not really enjoying seems masochistic even for me… 😉

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      • It picks up in Part Two. I appreciate the first part now, but I didn’t when I first read it. POWER THROUGH. (And if you still dislike it, don’t tell me. It will destroy me.) 😉

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        • Haha! I fear I shall have to be honest when the time comes. I got all excited last night because the war started and I thought that might spare me from more descriptions of dresses. But sadly, within a few pages I was getting descriptions of widow’s dresses! I shall struggle on, but not for too much longer if it doesn’t start grabbing me soon – it would be crazy to read such a long book if I’m not enjoying it at all… sorry! 😀

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  5. I loved Gone with the Wind — Scarlett is a fascinating heroine. The Wells excerpt and Downfall both sound intriguing. It’s nice, isn’t it, to have a full week of such good selections for a change!

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    • Oh dear, Debbie, I’m struggling with Gone with the Wind. I though I’d love it too – I used to love the film back in the day. I’ll stick with it a bit longer to see if I can get into it though. But the Wells was excellent and I’m enjoying Downfall… and maybe Scarlett will win me round… 😀

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  6. A nice variety there! I’ve read GWTW, but it was ages ago, I think I was in the 8th grade! So I don’t have an adult’s perspective on it. But your passage reminded me that Scarlett was only SIXTEEN at the beginning of the book. I know women married younger back then, but still… I think I will reread it one day. After all of my Classics Club reading, of course! 😉

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    • I must be honest – I’m struggling with Gone with the Wind for all sorts of reasons. I think I’d have enjoyed it when I was young and decades ago when I wasn’t so conscious about questions of race and horror-stricken at the idea of a forty-three year old man marrying a fifteen-year-old child and suchlike. I’ll stick with it a bit longer though and see if it can win me round…

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    • I have to host a readalong of GWTW one of these days. I can’t right now — TOO BUSY. But honestly, I’m the best one to host it. WHO AGREES? All of us. 🙂

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  7. Downfall, Miss Blaine’s Prefect and Chernobyl are tempting. Can’t see myself reading GWTW again, I last read it aged 16 and think I’ve grown out of it. Definite no to The First Men in the Moon…

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  8. Oh my what a varied selection this week from Scarlett O’Hara and her well-developed bust to Chernobyl – fluff to fear in one easy step!
    I do like the sound of Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar which I aim to read once I’ve read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

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    • Haha – yes, but it’s odd that I’m finding Chernobyl less horrifying than Scarlett!! *spoiler alert* Miss Blaine’s Prefect is brilliant fun! What a treat – I hope the humour works as well for you as it did for me. Kept me chuckling all the way through… 😀

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  9. I’m tempted by the Samovar choice too, but the library hasn’t got it so that’s a good excuse not to add it to my TBR.
    BTW a while ago I completed a large GWTW jigsaw puzzle, so I don’t need to read the book – right?

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    • Ah, you’ll have to demand that your library gets a copy – I’ll be doing my best to make it compulsory reading! 😉

      Haha! GWTW on the other hand – well, let’s just say I think the jigsaw sounds like far more fun than the book…

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