Sunday salon: Catching up

sundaysalonSome of you may have noticed I’ve been a tad quiet for the past 2 weeks.  No reason other than the combination of organising my parent’s 60th wedding anniversary celebration and a busy time at work which diverted my attention.

I planned to take advantage of a week’s holiday in the Yorkshire countryside to help catch up on my backlog of books. But there was one thing we’d overlooked when we planned the holiday – checking if the idyllic cottage by the river had an internet connection. It didn’t, as I discovered early on our first morning when I sat in the pretty little garden accompanied by nothing more than a few butterflies and bees.  I knew it was no use looking for a connection in the nearby market square since only the night before we’d been lauding the fact this village was mercifully free of the ubiquitous ‘chain’ coffee houses/take aways. So that had me scuppered.  I managed to write some reviews but of course couldn’t post them at the time.

I did get plenty of time to read instead however.

Heart of the MatterFirst up was Graham Greene‘s The Heart of the Matter which I read as part of the ‘Greene for Gran’ readalong organised by Savidge Reads as a tribute to his book-loving gran. I first read this about 30+ years ago since Greene was on my university course syllabus but since I had to read at least 4 of his titles in one week, I could barely remember them. What a joy to re-discover this book. I’ll post my review in a few days but for now all I can say is that if you haven’t read it, you’re missing something special. It’s tremendous.

My other two books couldn’t be more different from Grahame Greene in style or subject. The Roar of the Lion is a detailed evaluation of the true impact of Winston Churchill’s wartime speeches on people at home and abroad. It’s by Richard Toye, a Professor of History from my alma mater Exeter University but although it’s been well researched isn’t one of those turgid academic type books. Instead its a highly readable account of how Churchill wrote those famous speeches and how their reception wasn’t as universally positive as we might imagine.

And finally, a book in a genre that I don’t normally read. But Pierre Lemaitre’s novel Alex  was so highly rated by Savidge Reads that I decided to give it a go. Lemaitre is a French author who’s won multiple literary awards but this is the first of his novels to be translated into English. It’s a thriller that really is hard to put down. Alex is the victim of a kidnapping very early in the novel. Her abductor forces her into a wooden cage suspended from the roof of a disused factory and then entices the rats to take a close interest in her. Not the kind of thing that makes comfortable bedtime reading I warn you. But just when you think you can’t take any more of this, Lemaitre throws a twist in the plot (the first of several).  And that’s all I’m going to reveal about plot right now…… At the rate I’m reading it, I will be finished tonight. Then it’s back to my more familiar stamping ground of the classics, world literature and the Booker prize winners.

 

 

 

 

 

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on August 25, 2013, in Sunday Salon and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. A forced unplugged vacation, sounds lovely really, at least after the initial shock wears off 🙂

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  2. Priceless memories–that’s what the celebration of your 60th wedding anniversary will conjure for your parents, the best excuse I can think of for taking a hiatus.

    On our recent vacation to Monterey/Carmel, CA, we had both TV and internet connection, but we never turned on the TV. Instead I read something light and English, which I love: Thrush Green by Miss Read (aka Dora Jessie Saint). Easy to pick up and set aside. We “Booker” people can easily lose track of all the books we read. That’s why like the database Riffle.com.

    I love your stylish banner, and of course, the content.

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  3. My sister and I are organizing a 50th wedding anniversary for our parents, coming up Sept. 8, so understand a little of what you’re going through.

    I read The Heart of the Matter back in college about 20 years ago and remember enjoying it, as I enjoyed most of his work, especially The Power and the Glory. I’ll look forward to revisiting it in your upcoming review.

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    • Good luck with the celebration event. It would have been easier all round if my parents had been in favour of a party. So we had to think even more creatively on how to make the day special without a party. In the end we hired a stretch limo and took them to places in the area which had significance for them in younger days and arranged for friends/family members to meet them at each stop as a surprise. it was great fun but exhausting

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  4. The thriller sounds fun. I didn’t have internet for about a week either as I was on vacation staying with an elderly relative who doesn’t have a connection. At first I was a little lost, but was so busy I was glad I couldn’t waste time on it.

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  5. Love the sound of an idyllic cottage by a river…enjoy! Here’s MY SUNDAY UPDATES/MAILBOX MONDAY

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