Bookish selfie…

A snapshot of my recent reading in quotes…

….It was 28th April. Wet, naturally, the grass percolating water as John Rebus walked to the grave of his father, dead five years to the day. He placed a wreath so that it lay, yellow and red, the colours of remembrance, against the still shining marble. He paused for a moment, trying to think of things to say, but there seemed nothing to say, nothing to think. He had been a good enough father and that was that. The old man wouldn’t have wanted him to waste his words in any case. So he stood there, hands respectfully behind his back, crows laughing on the walls around him, until the water seeping into his shoes told him that there was a warm car waiting for him at the cemetery gates.
….He drove quietly, hating to be back here in Fife, back where the old days had never been ‘the good old days,’ where ghosts rustled in the shells of empty houses and the shutters went up every evening on a handful of desultory shops, those metal shutters that gave the vandals somewhere to write their names. How Rebus hated it all, this singular lack of an environment. It stank the way it had always done: of misuse, of disuse, of the sheer wastage of life.

~ Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

* * * * *

….The second photograph is from the wedding itself. In it, the newly-weds pose in front of a glossy, cream trailer, holding hands, but standing apart. A dog is a moving blur behind them. Chrome trim winks in the sunlight, and both have their eyes slightly narrowed against the glare. Rose has had her hair done – permed, lightened and arranged into blonde flicks that frame her face. The high neck of her wedding dress hides the birthmark. She smiles nervously. Her new husband, Ivo Janko, wears a black suit; he is blade-thin with longish, slicked-back dark hair, high cheekbones and large, dark eyes. He’s very good looking, and looks as though he knows it. He does not smile – his expression appears arrogant, even hostile. He seems to be leaning away from her, his body tense, his chin lifted. Studying his face in the photograph – looking for clues – I decide that his expression is due less to arrogance than nervousness. They are both very young, after all, and are marrying a person they hardly know. Who would look at ease?

~ The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney

* * * * *

….Crusade and pilgrimage strengthened linkages between northern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. And around the time that the crusades began, trumpets resembling the one found at Billingsgate began to appear in European art. Arabic influence is shown in the decorative knobs along its length, grafted onto a straight-stemmed form of Byzantine origin. Although we cannot be certain, it seems highly probable that returning crusader fleets carried the archetype into Europe, whence it was honed and replicated by the brassworkers of Nuremberg and Paris.
….No home-grown instrument, then, the ships trumpet, but one that originated in the Holy Land. It embodies a peculiar crossover between the prosaic business of ship-signalling and the potent symbolism of the crusade. And as the only surviving example of its kind, the Billingsgate Trumpet powerfully commemorates the furthest from England a mediaeval ship would go, limited by seaworthiness, circumscribed by piety.

The Billingsgate Trumpet
Found during excavations in 1984, and kept in the Museum of London

~ The Ship Asunder by Tom Nancollas

* * * * *

….“I want to take you to Pakistan.”
….Suzie looked up. “Khalid, do you? You’ve never said that before.”
….Even as he said it, he knew it was a terrible idea.
….It just wouldn’t work. His cousins would be charming, wrapping Suzie up in clothes and jewellery and taking care of her, and whispering in his ear about her prettiness, spoiling Alia with everything she asked for. But there was something that he’d find too difficult, pulling him in two directions. It wasn’t their fault. Just the artifice, pretending again that he belonged there, when things had moved on so much. This was his life now. He had created something that couldn’t be exported.
….His mother called every week from Karachi to ask him about the family, and sometimes he put Alia on the phone. It was all kind of excruciating because of the language. The incantation of the same words, Mashallah, Khuda Hafiz, and his little girl’s blank expressions when she heard Urdu, which made him guilty for not teaching her more, and not knowing quite who this grandmother was or where the voice came from. The worst was when Alia held the phone away from her ear with a scrunched-up nose and refused to speak at all.

~ Edgware Road by Yasmin Cordery Khan

* * * * *

So… are you tempted?

50 thoughts on “Bookish selfie…

  1. I’ve never read Rebus but I’ve always meant to because Ian Rankin always seems so funny and thoughtful in interviews. I really like the extract you pulled…Oh dear, aren’t there a million books in the series? My TBR can’t take it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, only about 24 so far, I think! 😉 Honestly though, it’s one of those series that is made up of standalones, especially the ones in the middle, so it’s easy to dip in and out. There are still some of them I’ve never read – mainly the early ones before I discovered him.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think I’ll be recommending newcomers to Rebus to start a few books in rather than with this first one, which I felt was very different in style to the way Rankin developed them later. I’m not far into The Invisible Ones yet but I’m enjoying it very much so far – fingers crossed! Have you read it? Again I’ve not read much of The Ship Asunder yet, and it’s fine, but so far it’s not catching my imagination the way the lighthouse book did. I think that might be because I know more already about our maritime history than I did about the lighthouses…

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m only a few chapters into Edgware Road so far, but I’m really enjoying it – I love her writing! I’m also just starting the Nancollas so fingers crossed I enjoy it as much as you did. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve only read a few chapters of Edgware Road so far, but I’m enjoying it a lot – I love her writing and the story is shaping up well. Ha, it was a strange experience going back to the beginning of the Rebus series – how he’s changed! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Knots and Crosses is great, I should have continued with the series, but Rebus’s increasing gloom and cinicism put me off. Edgeware Road looks interesting, I’ll wait for your review before deciding whether to read it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Now that’s interesting! I struggled with Knots and Crosses because the Rebus in it seems so different to the ones in the later books. He’s always a cynical old so-and-so, but he doesn’t seem nearly as damaged and dysfunctional as he comes over in this one. Looks like Rankin changed him a lot over time! I’ve only read a few chapters of Edgware Road so far, but I’m enjoying it a lot – I love her writing and the story is shaping up to be interesting…

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  3. Well, as far as I’m concerned, FictionFan, you can’t go far wrong with a Rebus story, whether it’s the first time or a re-read. And The Invisible Ones is, I think, an excellent book with a fine sense of place and culture. I hope you’re enjoying that one. I’ll be especially interested in what you think of it, and of Edgware Road.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, I’ve found it a strange experience going back to the beginning of the Rebus character – he’s changed so much over time! I came to the conclusion I hadn’t read Knots and Crosses before – I know I missed several of the early ones before I got into the habit of reading them as they came out, more or less. I’ve just started both Edgware Road and The Invisible Ones and so far I’m enjoying both very much – let’s hope that continues!

      Liked by 1 person

    • The man who narrates the Rebus books is very good – always sounds to me as if he enjoys the books himself! I’ve just started Edgware Road but so far I’m enjoying it a lot – I really like her writing and the story is shaping up to be interesting…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Knots and Crosses — at least this section — sounds as if it would depress me to no end! And the very last thing I need right now is another book I have to FORCE myself to read. I’m sorry, but the other three don’t intrigue me either. I’ll be happy to read your reviews, though — maybe then I’ll be tempted!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha, Rebus certainly isn’t known for his cheery nature and great sense of humour! And I must say he seems even more damaged and dismal in this first book in the series than he is in the later ones! I haven’t got far enough with the other three yet to know if I’ll be recommending them…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Am I guessing correctly that The Invisible Ones is a book that was sent to you unsolicited? It doesn’t seem like your regular reading FF, but I’ve got my fingers crossed this modern day book is good – you have had some luck lately in modern day reads?

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, The Invisible Ones is one I actually bought because I’d enjoyed her previous book. But then it got some pretty disappointing reviews so I kind of shoved it aside for other things. However having now finished it, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it! Yes, I feel that maybe at long last the time of the first person present tense “that day” thriller is drawing to an end? Or maybe I’ve just been lucky…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ian Rankin has said in interviews that Knots & Crosses wasn’t conceived as part of a series, but a stand-alone and that’s why Rebus changed over the series… The quote from The Ship Asunder reminds me of a book I posted about last year, Ivory Vikings, with those links between the two regions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I’d seen that about the Rankin and can see that he was trying something different. I’m rather sorry he didn’t use a different name for the character Rebus became – I suspect new readers who read series in order might not get past this first one – it’s barely a crime novel at all! Oh yes, I remember being tempted by Ivory Vikings following your review! Haven’t got around to it yet, of course…

      Liked by 1 person

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