Your decision: New or Old
What is 2nd best to reading? Yes, listening. It is a great way to get acquainted with unknown books. And there are some very good sources to make use of, free of charge. First there is BBC radio 4, they feature a new book in 5 to 10 instalments of 15 minutes. The books are abridged, but also dramatized, read by professional actors. Secondly there is Librivox, a website devoted to “old” books, where amateurs read you the complete books. So if you are in your car, or walking or cycling and want to enjoy “new” books, take this opportunity.
The BBC radio 4 schedule feature the following books in September:
- News of the dead, James Robertson, is a captivating exploration of refuge, retreat and the reception of strangers. It measures the space between the stories people tell of themselves - what they forget and what they invent - and the stories by which they may, or may not, be remembered.
- The Fortnight in September, RC Sheriff, was first published in September 1931. It was glowingly reviewed: ‘A lovely novel,’ declared the Daily Telegraph, ‘a little masterpiece’ wrote the Sunday Express. In America the Saturday Review of Literature thought that ‘nothing since Dickens has come closer to giving between covers the intrinsic spirit of England.’
Now for the old, one of the writers I find fascinating is George Eliot (1819 - 1880), but be aware that He is a She! She was using a male pen name to avoid her work being ignored. And did she write! Amazing, her prose is rich, her stories are fascinating. To read her work one needs some encouragement. Take her novel Daniel Deronda for instance.
Click here to read Marc's full article
Letters to Camondo – Edmund de Waal
In 2010 Edmund de Waal’s book “The Hare With Amber Eyes” was published. De Waal tells the story of his family, once a very wealthy European Jewish banking dynasty, peers of the Rothschild family. This year De Waal published “Letters to Camondo”.
This new book is a collection of 58 imaginary letters from Edmund de Waal to count Moise the Camondo, banker and art collector.
In the 1870’s the Jewish banking family Camondo settled down in Paris in a spectacular palace at the Parc Monceau, a few doors from the house of the family Ephrussi, well known from “The Hare With Amber Eyes”. The family Camondo moves in the higher cultural circles, the world of Proust and the freres Goncourt, but also the world of antisemitism and the Dreyfus affair.
Click here to read the full review, written by Hans van der Weide
Marc Kalf joined the English Literature group a year ago and he also likes to write about his favourite books. This is his first review for the Senia website:
Hillary Mantel writes history
The English novelist Hillary Mantel has taken what you might describe as a “small footnote” from the compelling history of King Henry VIII and turned it into a major event. She wrote three novels on the life of Thomas Cromwell, the chief minister until his beheading after his fall from grace. The first two (Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies) have won the Booker Prize. This is a great achievement, becoming the first woman and the first British writer to win this literary award twice. She has triumphed as a historical novelist, and now “writes history” herself.
The trilogy on Thomas Cromwell concludes with The Mirror and the Light, a majestic book of over 900 pages. You will need a long hot summer to finish reading this book!
The story of part 3 starts with the beheading of Anne Boleyn, the first of Henry’s wives to be executed. “Once the queens’s head is severed, he walks away. A sharp pang of appetite reminds him that it is time for a second breakfast”. Who is this man, you might wonder? Well, this is what the final book is all about. We get closer to this “footnote” in history, the son of a blacksmith who rises way above his humble origins. He becomes maybe even more human than in the previous books. There he was the mastermind of King Henry and although he now rises to his ultimate height, becoming Earl of Essex, he also faces increasing opposition from his enemies. They persuade King Henry to arrest him despite the close relation and understanding between the two men apparent in the previous books. And Henry does not even prevent his execution, making Cromwell a victim to his own deadly reputation.
Click here to read Marc's full review
Below you'll find the books reviewed
in the previous months by Elise Prins-Kleuskens
Where Madness Lies – Sylvia True
It is the year 1934 in Germany. Inga’s sister Rigmor is suffering from depression and psychosis. It’s a time in which people suffering from mental illnesses are frowned upon. Inga and her mother Frieda have tried several doctors and treatments, but to no avail. Then Inga comes up with a new plan. They have to find Rigmor a friend, someone she can talk to and perhaps even fall in love with. Inga chooses psychiatrist Arnold for this. Hesitant at first he accepts and gets involved in Rigmors life, leading up to her being institutionalized at Sonnenstein Castle in Pirna. Will Rigmor be okay?
The Girl at the Back of the Bus – Suzette D. Harrison
It's 1955. Mattie Banks is boarding a bus that will take her to Miss Celestine's. Mattie is only sixteen, but finds herself in a difficult position. She's pregnant and on her way to secretly get rid of the unwanted child. But there with her in the "Colored" section of the bus is Miss Rosa Parks, who refuses to give up her seat to a white person and is taken off the bus. Unknowingly, Rosa Parks changes Mattie's life for good, as she decides to keep her baby. Mattie tries to hide her changing body, until her mother finds out. An unmarried black girl who's having a baby! What would everybody think of her?
Click here to read Elise's full review
The Age of Miracles – Karen Thompson Walker
Julia lives with her parents in a coastal town in California. Petrified, they sit in front of the television and take in the news of the rotation of the earth that’s slowing down. Days are getting longer. What would be the long-term consequences? What would happen to gravity? Governments all over the world are desperately trying to keep control over a phenomenon they cannot control at all. A clock time of 24 hours is set. Soon, sunrise and sunset no longer coincide with time. At a certain moment, days are sometimes completely enveloped in darkness or, on the contrary, overflowing with sunshine.
Click here to read Elise's full review