Bookish selfie…

A snapshot of my reading week in quotes…

….On the evening of 30 April 1483, London was in holiday mood. The next day, it would erupt in the day-long street party that was the ‘maying’, which, with its associations of anarchy and sex, was one of the more eagerly anticipated feast days. In the early morning, Londoners would walk through the city gates out into the surrounding countryside, bathe their faces in dew, and return with garlands to adorn houses, doorways and churches in preparation of the day’s junketing. In the heart of the city, outside St Andrew Undershaft, stood the great corporate-sponsored maypole from which the church took its name. Each parish, too, had prepared its maypole, its feasts, bonfires, stages and ‘warlike shows’ of archery and gunfire, its batteries of drummers and its pageants that would sway through the streets. At the heart of each pageant were the ‘lord and lady of May’, the young May king and queen. Their procession, a triumph of ‘honour and glory’, marked spring’s conquest over winter whose discord and duplicity, ‘heaviness and trouble’, was replaced by universal peace, the spring flowers of ‘perfect charity’ and the buds of ‘truth and unity’. That year, London’s preparations acquired a particular intensity as, the next day, the city was due to welcome a real May king, the twelve-year-old boy whose choreographed arrival promised a new start for both the city and the country – Edward V.

~The Brothers York by Thomas Penn

* * * * *

….He was sitting on a bench, inertly watching the devastation wrought by Bendicò in the flowerbeds; every now and again the dog would turn innocent eyes towards him as if asking for praise at labour done: fourteen carnations broken off, half a hedge torn apart, an irrigation channel blocked. How human!
….“Good Bendicò, come here.” And the animal hurried up and put its earthy nostrils into his hand, anxious to show it had forgiven this silly interruption of a fine job of work.

~The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa

* * * * *

….A voice came over the speaker system, replacing the electronic alarm.
….“This is not a test. Repeat, this is not a test.”
….They paused to look at each other, reading a fresh panic in eyes reflecting their own. Not a test! It had to be a test. Otherwise they’d just lost a thousand million pounds’ worth of tin and plastic. Lost it for how long? Hepton checked his watch. The system had been inoperative for over two minutes. That meant it was really serious. Another minute or so could spell disaster.
….Fagin, the operations manager, had appeared from nowhere and was sprinting from console to console as though taking part in some kind of party game. Two of the brass were in evidence too, looking as though they’d just stepped out of a meeting. They carried files under their arms and stood by the far door, knowing nothing of the system or how to be of help. That was typical. The people who held the purse strings and gave the orders knew nothing about anything.

~Westwind by Ian Rankin

* * * * *

….He had elevated lust to its most exalted type. It was for the sake of this lust alone that he had married the first time and then for the second. Over the course of time, his conjugal love was affected by calm new elements of affection and familiarity, but in essence it continued to be based on bodily desire. When an emotion is of this type, especially when it has acquired a renewed power and exuberant vitality, it cannot be content with only one form of expression. Thus he had shot off in pursuit of all the varieties of love and passion, like a wild bull. Whenever desire called, he answered, deliriously and enthusiastically. No woman was anything more than a body to him. All the same, he would not bow his head before that body unless he found it truly worthy of being seen, touched, smelled, tasted, and heard. It was lust, yes, but not bestial or blind.

~Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz

* * * * *

….Gallivan suddenly put his hands flat on the table and leaned forward, staring beyond me down the Rhine. He said, softly: “There she is, Mr. Marle. There’s Castle Skull.”
….It was still far away, but our steamer seemed to sweep with incredible speed now. At first it was a domed blot with two thin towers, swimming in spectral dusk, disembodied high above the pines on the right. Now the river lay dead black. There were white streaks in the grey sky behind the towers, but the dark fleece of thunderheads crawled to blot them out. From the left bank, a few lights ruffled the inky water. It had grown very warm.
….Then Castle Skull grew in size, though it seemed even farther above our heads. Massive walls, battlemented and fully a hundred feet high, were built into the hillside. I bent over the rail and craned my neck to look up. In the centre of the walls, built so that the middle of the battlements constituted the teeth of the death’s head, reared the vast skull of stone. The light was too dim to make out details, but I saw the eyes. I saw the two towers on either side, horribly like ears; I saw the whole thin, rain-blacked, monstrous pile move slowly above our heads.

~Castle Skull by John Dickson Carr

* * * * *

So… are you tempted?

26 thoughts on “Bookish selfie…

  1. You have a fine lot of books there, FictionFan! It’s hard to go wrong with Rankin, so that one interests me. So does the Penn. I suppose it’s the historian buried in me, but I do like learning about history, especially parts of it that I don’t know well enough. And the writing style of that one seems to flow nicely, too. I’ll be especially interested in what you think of it.

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    • The Rankin is an early one they’ve resurrected – it’s very different to the Rebus books, but good so far. Penn is very good at storytelling and creating a feeling for the setting, which I always appreciate in history books. Not sure this one is in-depth enough for academics but it’s excellent for the general reader – requires no background knowledge! Which in my case is just as well… 😉

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  2. I read The Leopard a few years ago, before a holiday in Italy. Not sure I can take another book about the Princes in the Tower – I am convinced that it was Richard III whodunnit, but modern books all seem determined to blame anyone but!

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    • I must admit I found the first half of The Leopard a bit of a slog, but it’s beginning to get more interesting now. Ha – yes, I’m convinced Richard did it too – it seems so obvious! (Maybe they’ve all read too much crime fiction, where the murderer is never the obvious person… 😉 ) I’m just getting to that bit in the book so I don’t know yet what line Penn’s going to take, but I’m hoping he doesn’t come up with anything too fanciful…

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      • I only got half way – it was chosen for a book club read. I liked some parts of it but found the history confusing so never finished it. I did keep it on the shelves for two years thinking I might go back to it but last year made a decision that it was never going to happen. So its gone!

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        • I’m determined to finish it but it does feel much longer than its length, if you know what I mean! It’s not a period of history I’m familiar with either, so I’m sure that’s not helping…

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  3. Yes! The first and the last! I’ve already put Castle Skull on my wishlist at Amazon, but I’m waiting a bit on the Penn book, hoping it will be availing through my library app once it’s released here. It’s non-fiction, correct?

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    • He is and it makes such a difference. History books in general are much more approachable these days, I find – they seem to have finally worked out they have to entertain as well as educate if they want to attract general readers.

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  4. They all look good, but I’m especially tempted by the Brothers York. Penn’s style seems fairly engaging and approachable for the more casual reader of historical biographies.

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    • I’m enjoying the Penn – his style is indeed very approachable. I read his earlier book on Henry VII a few years ago and enjoyed it, so I was fairly confident about this one. History books have become much more readable in recent years – they seem to have realised there’s a big potential market of non-academic readers out there…

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    • Castle Skull is great – spooky! The jury’s still out on the Rankin – it’s an early book of his that they’ve dug up and republished, and it’s very different from the Rebus books. It’s pretty good so far though… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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