Bookish selfie…

A snapshot of my reading week in quotes…

The customary expedient of provincial girls and men in such circumstances is churchgoing. In an ordinary village or country town one can safely calculate that, either on Christmas day or the Sunday contiguous, any native home for the holidays, who has not through age or ennui lost the appetite for seeing and being seen, will turn up in some pew or other, shining with hope, self-consciousness, and new clothes. Thus the congregation on Christmas morning is mostly a Tussaud collection of celebrities who have been born in the neighbourhood. Hither the mistress, left neglected at home all the year, can steal and observe the development of the returned lover who has forgotten her, and think as she watches him over her prayer book that he may throb with a renewed fidelity when novelties have lost their charm. And hither a comparatively recent settler like Eustacia may betake herself to scrutinize the person of a native son who left home before her advent upon the scene, and consider if the friendship of his parents be worth cultivating during his next absence in order to secure a knowledge of him on his next return.

~The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

* * * * *

Leila was scared. What had started off yesterday as a sort of game wasn’t fun any more. She was thinking she really shouldn’t have gone along with it. But he’d been so nice at the start – kind and caring. He’d said he was worried about her and told her she was pretty. Her mother called her plain. He’d said a young girl like her shouldn’t be out all by herself after dark. It wasn’t safe and it was very wrong of her mother not to look after her properly, which Leila sort of knew. He’d said he would take care of her and together they’d teach her mother a lesson. He’d given her chocolates – really posh ones with soft centres – and told her he’d bought her a beautiful doll and it was waiting for her in his flat. It wasn’t like she was going with a stranger – she would never have done that. She knew him, so did her mother, which made it OK.

~Taken by Lisa Stone

* * * * *

….Tormad blew up his big buoy until his eyes disappeared. He had got it from the man in Golspie, and though its skin crackled with age it seemed tight enough. He could hardly blow up the second one for laughing, because it was the bag of an old set of pipes to which they had danced many a time as boys. It had a legendary history, for the old piper, its owner, had been a wild enough lad in his day. When he was driven from home, he cursed the landlord-woman (who had inherited all that land), her sassenach husband, her factors, in tongues of fire. Then he had broken his pipes, tearing them apart. It had been an impressive, a terrifying scene, and shortly after it he had died.
….Well, here was the bag, and perhaps it marked not an end but a beginning! They had had a little superstitious fear about using it. But they couldn’t afford to buy another buoy, and, anyway, they argued, if it brought them luck it would be a revenge over the powers that be. The dead piper wouldn’t be disappointed at that!

~The Silver Darlings by Neil M. Gunn

* * * * *

….Don Miguel’s mind swirled like water in a rotated cup. He put his hands to his head and struggled to think clearly. He had been trained to some extent in casuistry, and he could see the dim outlines of a logical sequence here. Postulate: the terrible women gladiators who wrought the harm originated in a non-actual world – a world brought about through the experimental interference of Society members with their own past history. Therefore the consequences of their acts were also non-actual, or potential. Therefore the rectification of these consequences must be not non-actual, if this was a safe case to exclude the middle…
….It came to him with blinding, horrifying suddenness that in fact, in the fact where he must now have found himself, all the nightmare so vivid in his memory had already not happened.

~The Society of Time by John Brunner

* * * * *

….Hopkins stood and, as Ismay recalled it, first made “a tilt or two at the British Constitution in general, and the irrepressible Prime Minister in particular.” Then he turned to face Churchill.
….“I suppose you wish to know what I am going to say to President Roosevelt on my return,” he said.
….This was an understatement. Churchill was desperate to know how well his courtship of Hopkins was progressing, and what indeed he would tell the President.
….“Well,” Hopkins said, “I’m going to quote you one verse from that Book of Books in the truth of which Mr. Johnson’s mother and my own Scottish mother were brought up – ”
….Hopkins dropped his voice to a near whisper and recited a passage from the Bible’s Book of Ruth: “Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.”
….Then, softly, he added: “Even to the end.”
….This was his own addition, and with it a wave of gratitude and relief seemed to engulf the room.
….Churchill wept.

~The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

* * * * *

So… are you tempted?

41 thoughts on “Bookish selfie…

  1. Interesting mixture, I’m hoping to get cracking with the Silver Darlings later this week. The Return of the Native looks great too, I imagine it sounds even better being read by Alan Rickman.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Return of the Native is wonderful so far, and Alan Rickman is right up there as one of the best. Pure pleasure! I’m still struggling a bit to get into The Silver Darlings properly, but I’ve cleared the decks so it can get my full concentration over the next few days…

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  2. You’ve got some very interesting titles here, FictionFan. And I always like it when you do a bookish selfie, because I do like reading the excerpts. I think the Larson interests me; history fascinates me, and Churchill was such an interesting person. I wonder how you’ll get on with the Hardy. Some of his stuff is very good, and, well, I don’t have such a good relationship with some of it.

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    • So far the Hardy is going brilliantly, partly due to the book and partly due to Alan Rickman’s narration which is bringing out lots of mild humour I’m sure I’d have missed on the page – humour and Hardy not being two words I ever expect to use in the same sentence! 😉 I finished the Larson yesterday and loved it – he has such a way of bringing history to life. So a good week’s reading!

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    • Rickman’s narration is brilliant – even better than I was expecting. Pure pleasure! 😀 And the Erik Larson book is great – he’s so good at bringing history to life.

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  3. I like the excerpts also. I read a good bit of Thomas Hardy in my late teens, so hadn’t planned to return to them. But that excerpt from The Return of the Native really pulls me in.

    I want to read more by John Brunner but The Society of Time did not appeal (based on the excerpt).

    I will be reading The Splendid and the Vile because my husband bought a copy (and has read it) and I am interested in Churchill and the Blitz.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve read surprisingly little Hardy for some reason, but have loved the books I have read. This one’s shaping up to be great too, and Alan Rickman’s narration is fabulous if you listen to audiobooks.

      I had never heard of John Brunner, and actually I really enjoyed the book. I’ll review it properly in the next couple of weeks, but I was a bit naughty with that quote – I chose it because it was so mind-bogglingly hard to understand it made me laugh… 😀

      I just finished The Splendid and the Vile and thought it was great. Larson is so good at bringing history to life, and the Blitz stories in this one gave a real feeling for what it must have been like.

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      • I look forward to your review of the John Brunner book, I did not realize it was a reprint of novellas which had previously been abridged. I have read only Stand on Zanzibar from 1968 and The Sheep Look Up from 1972, so it has been a long time.

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        • I’m enjoying the books the BL is choosing for this series. I don’t know much about SF and have only read the most well known ones, so they’re introducing me to authors I’ve not encountered before and so far I’ve been impressed.

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  4. The Return of the Native narrated by Alan Rickman sounds wonderful.
    In other news, I’m still waiting for my copy of The Silver Darlings to arrive. I went to the bookshop last week but they had no visibility of where it might be (in a box on a ship, probably).

    Liked by 1 person

    • It truly is – his narration is even better than I was expecting. Pure pleasure! 😀

      Oh, no! Well, since you and I are the only ones who’ll be doing actual reviews – Alyson and Christine will be leaving comments instead – we can easily change the date. It’s quite a long book, so don’t feel you have to rush through it. Let me know when it arrives and we can decide on a date…

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    • You know, I’ve never though of Hardy as having any humour in the books but this one has lots of quite funny passages, which has been a lovely surprise. I expect it’ll still have a tragic ending though! Alan Rickman’s brilliant, too – he’s really bringing out all the humour… 😀

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    • So glad you popped in, Christine – I was just hearing about the earthquake down there and hoping you weren’t affected by it. I’m enjoying The Silver Darlings too and loving Rickman’s narration of The Return of the Native. By the way, Rose’s copy of Darlings hasn’t reached her yet so given that it’s quite a long book, I think we’ll probably reschedule our reviews for a later date so she doesn’t feel she has to rush through it. She’s going to let me know when it arrives, and I’ll put out a suggestion for a new date. Hope that’s OK with you. 🙂

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      • Yes, that’s fine about the rescheduling.
        It’s a big quake but I haven’t heard that it’s caused much damage on the East Coast of the North Island where it was centred. It woke me as a long gentle rolling miles away in the south. People in the north have gone to high ground as a tsunami precaution. Here on the east coast of the South Island we’ve been told to stay away from the beach (I live in a beach community.) Interesting times, as always!

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        • Hope it turns out to be a non-event but it’s good that they got the warnings out so quickly. Earthquakes and tsunamis terrify me, possibly because we never get them – the unknown is always scary.

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          • I agree, I think the unknown does increase fear. Having lived through big quakes, has given them some reality for me, which in my case deescalates my reaction a bit (though some others now have very heightened anxiety levels). I’m kind of fatalistic about tsunamis, they’re so sudden that if you’re in the path of one there’s not much to do. Fires (as in the massive ones in Australia and USA) are my big fear.
            And yes, we’ve been stood down on the tsunami, the swells have passed. 🙂

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            • Ha, yes, the big fires terrify me too! We get occasional wildfires but nothing in comparison and they rarely impinge on populated areas. Maybe the downside of not getting too many natural disasters is a kind of complacency – may account for our terrible early failures over Covid. I think we’ve got (or had) a kind of national belief that bad things always happen elsewhere.

              Glad it’s over, anyway!

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