Bookish selfie…

A snapshot of my reading week in quotes…

….Luckily for Frederick – or the Palatine, as he was called in England – he had some potent weapons in his wooing arsenal. Although his property was in Germany, he had been educated in France by his suave uncle the duke of Bouillon. The duke could not have provided a more thorough or excellent preparation for royal lovemaking. Whatever else the results of Frederick’s studies, his uncle had made sure that he knew how to dress, that his manners were charming, that he spoke French to perfection, and, more important, that he was well versed in the art of romance.
….Judging by the recollections of an observer who chronicled the Palatine’s visit to England, Frederick’s first performance at court was nothing short of masterful. He flattered James [. . .] conciliated Anne [. . .] joked with Henry [. . .] and then knocked it completely out of the park with Elizabeth: “Stooping low to take up the lowest part of her Garment to kiss it, she most gracefully courtesying lower than accustomed, and with her Hand staying him from that humblest Reverence, gave him at his rising a fair Advantage (which he took) of kissing her.”

* * * * * * * * *

….All things considered, the new academic year has not got off to a very auspicious start. No tea and biscuits in the Porters’ Lodge, a murderous Russian inducted as our new Bursar and now two dead bodies at the bottom of the gardens. When I first came to Old College a year ago, the arbitrary arrival of dead bodies used to worry me a bit. I soon learnt that, for some reason, academia is more dangerous than would first appear and for reasons harking back to the ancient founding of the College, prominent figures of The Fellowship meeting an untimely demise was par for the course. And, having also learned what a conniving bunch of power-crazed narcissists they all are, this seems perfectly reasonable. The politics of the academic elite make the machinations of Ancient Rome look like a bun fight and many of the devious buggers deserve everything they get. Not all of them. But quite a few of them.

* * * * * * * * *

….Jane, observing Selena’s long glance of perfect balance and equanimity resting upon Nicholas, immediately foresaw that she would be disposed in the front seat with Felix, while Selena stepped with her arch-footed poise into the back, where Nicholas would join her, and she foresaw that this arrangement would come about with effortless elegance. She had no objection to Felix but she could not hope to win him for herself, having nothing to offer a man like Felix. She felt she had a certain something, though small, to offer Nicholas, this being her literary and brain-work side, which Selena lacked. It was in fact a misunderstanding of Nicholas. She vaguely thought of him as a more attractive Rudi Bittesch, to imagine he would receive more pleasure and reassurance from a literary girl than simply a girl. It was the girl in Jane that had moved him to kiss her at the party. She might have gone further with Nicholas without her literary leanings. This was a mistake she continued to make in her relations with men, inferring from her own preference for men of books and literature their preference for women from the same business, and it never really occurred to her that literary men, if they like women at all, do not want literary women, but girls.

* * * * * * * * *

….The devil makes work for idle hands. The memory of his mother saying those words was so sharp that he almost turned round, expecting to see her sitting in the chair by the fire, the belt filled with horsehair round her waist, one needle stuck into it, held firm, while the other flew. She could knit a pair of stockings in an afternoon, a plain jersey in a week. She was known as the best knitter in the south, though she’d never enjoyed doing the fancy Fair Isle patterns. What point is there in that? she’d say, putting the stress on the last word so she’d almost spit it out. Will it keep dee ony warmer?
He wondered what other work the devil might find for him.

* * * * * * * * *

….Tear the collar of your last shirt at your throat, dear heart! Tear the hair of your head, thin with your joyless, heavy life; bite your lips till the blood comes; wring your work-scarred hands and beat yourself against the floor on the threshold of your empty hut! The master is missing from your hut, your husband is missing, your children are fatherless; and remember that no-one will caress you or your orphans, no-one will press your head to his breast at night, when you drop worn out with weariness; and no-one will say to you as once he said: “Don’t worry, Aniska, we’ll manage somehow!” You will not get another husband, for labour, anxieties, children have withered you and lined you. No father will come for your half-naked, snivelling children. You yourself will have to do all the ploughing, the dragging, panting with the over-great strain. You will have to pitchfork the sheaves from the reaper, to throw them onto the wagon, to raise the heavy bundles of wheat on the pitchfork, feeling the while that something is rending beneath your belly. And afterwards you will writhe with pain, covering yourself with your rags and issuing with blood.

* * * * * * * * *

So…are you tempted?

47 thoughts on “Bookish selfie…

  1. I like the sound of Frederick, we need more chaps like him about the place! Not like those fellows in Slender Means who don’t want literary ladies… I know their type!
    I see that there are two mentions of Russians today, FF 🙂 That passage from Sholokhov is probably the most Russian thing ever written, isn’t it? Good lord, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so enthusiastically miserable! As for the Russian Bursar, well – I’m sure he will bring much cheerier tidings 😀

    • He sounds like a proper charmer, doesn’t he? And definitely nicer than Nicholas the literary gent, who would be greatly improved by being run over by a steam road roller in my humble opinion.

      Hahaha – enthusiastically miserable! Perfect description! *makes note to steal it* I have to tell you I sobbed my little heart out over that paragraph, but maybe it needs the big build-up to get the full effect. Prof Sinistrov will be a welcome relief from these Cossacks, I tell you…

  2. Oh, I really hope you’re going to like Raven Black, FictionFan. I think it’s a terrific novel, just full of atmosphere. I love the setting for this particular series. And Sinister Dexter looks great. You have a very good week of reading going on, I think.

    • I’ll be writing my review of Raven Black later today, so I won’t give any spoilers as to my opinion ahead of time… 😉 Yes, I’ve enjoyed or am enjoying all of these, a pretty good week!

  3. I’ve just read Sinister Dexter – it appeared on my Kindle as a pre-order. Saving my comments for your review! The only one I haven’t read of this week’s selfie is the Cleeves – somehow or other I haven’t got around to these.

    • I started Sinister Dexter last night but I’m so behind with review writing at the moment I haven’t had a chance to get stuck in properly. For some reason, I hadn’t read any Cleeves before either, but I enjoyed it and will definitely be reading more…

  4. I, too, am looking forward to Lucy’s book, and Raven Black sounds good, too. That last one sounds pretty dreary, though. Probably ought to stock up on chocolate first!

    • I’ve just started Lucy’s book, so that should be fun, and I enjoyed Raven Black. Haha – the Russian quote was a bit dramatic, I admit, but she was bewailing the loss of her husband in the war so she had a good excuse… 😉

  5. I really liked The Girls of Slender Means, hope you’re enjoying it! I’ve not read any Ann Cleeves but the adaptation of Raven Black I thought was excellent – I’m hoping its a rare instance of it being better than the book so my TBR is safe 😉

    • I am enjoying it but am rather regretting going for the audiobook – I’m so slow at listening and I feel this is one that would have worked better in one big reading session. Haha – I have some bad news about the Cleeves… you may have to clear a space… 😉

    • The Lucy Brazier? Ah, that’s our Lucy who comments here all the time – her books are great fun! They’re very British style comedy crime, filled with endless cups of tea and sausage sandwiches to aid the process of detection… 😉

  6. Raven Black is already on my Kindle and I’ve just discovered the library has a copy of And Quiet Flows. I’m looking forward to both! It’s been quite a while since I’ve been immersed in the wonderful density of Russian writing, I think I’m ready to slip into it again.

    • I enjoyed Raven Black and will definitely be reading more. I’m not usually a fan of Russian literature but I loved And Quiet. It felt entirely realistic and historically accurate and yet told a good story too. Pretty horrific in parts though… be warned! But worth it, I think…

  7. The Spark is *already* on my list thanks to HeavenAli, so technically you failed to get me once again (Mwah ha ha!) But I feel sure that next week you can break through my steely reserves and get me to add something to my ridiculous TBR list!

    • This just won’t do! And I’m not sure if my next batch will appeal to you either… hmm! I shall have to trawl my TBR to see if I can find something… *mutters profanities*

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