Book Reviews

Review: Haven by Emma Donoghue UPDATED

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Thank you to NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.

My Interest

I read Donoghue’s book Akin and liked it. My kids read Room in school, but I have not read it. This book sounded interesting so I requested it and was happy to get it.

The Story

“It seems to him that nature is God’s holiest language.”

 

“That’s the problem with the vow of obedience; it tends to make sheep of men.”

Three monks set out to start a monastery where no one else lives, away from worldly temptations. They find an island off Ireland and settle there. Artt, the leader, and Cormac, the second monk, are men of faith. Trian (I constantly read this as “train”) is young. He was given by his parents to the monastery. Once they find their island, they begin to test their ability to obey Artt and to trust God to provide all that they need beyond the minuscule cache of supplies they brought with them in their boat.

My Thoughts

SPOILERS ABOUND HERE–YOU ARE WARNED

I should have known this book was being too nice to religion! There was the “duh, duh, de dum” moment of music when someone mentioned that the young monk had to squat to pass water. “Ugh,” my brain screamed! “Please not another stupid woman pretending to be a man book.” I wanted to quit, but I’m mostly glad I did not.

When, later in the story, young Trian is ill, the monk caring for him finally sees the young man with out his underpants on and gets an eyeful. Annoyingly, like with the mental illness diagnosis in Sorrow and Bliss (unless my eyes rolled too hard and too long and missed it), we are not told exactly what type or combination of genitalia Trian has but the word “androgyni” is bandied about.

“He’s never seen one of these botches that Pliny calls androgyni. Not a true male, made in God’s image, nor a true female, shaped to bear young.”

Did I mention this monk was left-handed? Never any issues in history with that. [For the unenlightened, the left hand was not allowed to be the dominate hand for centuries. Even well into the 20th Century people forced children to change from left- to right-handed.

So, naturally, once the secret is out it disrupts everyone. The Red State GOP monk, Artt, is horrified and can’t cope. The Blue State Democrat monk, Cormac sides with Trian and they simply must leave the Red State Island. So much for serving a higher purpose. The Catholic Church was founded on the idea that you must “pee like Jesus to be like Jesus,” so I’m guessing old Artt missed the way Trian peed? Could have saved themselves a lot of heart ache if he’d just paid attention before or during that boat ride.

Holy-hit-us-over-the-head-with-a-sledgehammer-Batman! So modern! I found it truly difficult to imagine how Trian had lived? With all the superstition abounding back in that day, you’d think he/she/they would have been left out to die. And, in a Catholic Church that required the Pope to prove he had two you-know-whats and one dangly thing (I don’t want spam) you’d think they’d have checked Trian out when he arrived at that first monastery–wouldn’t you?? Apparently not. Just like in those woman passing as a man books I’ve thrown across the room.

It is not news that there have always been a very few children born with different combinations of genitalia or with deformed genitals. That has happened throughout history. Even today most parents would be shocked to be told of such an outcome for their baby. Today, it can be dealt with through surgery and testing to identify the child’s true gender/sex. Back in 7th Century Ireland, he might have been allowed to live hidden away, but that’s a pretty big “might”. I just did not buy that this young monk would have been alive to go on this journey and that ruined the book for me.

In spite of my strong feelings on the ending, this was another well-written story by the author. It more than kept my attention throughout. I would caution very sensitive readers who love birds and animals–there are some rough spots in this book. Remember, it is a deserted island (no other humans) and the monks did what they had to do to survive.

One more comment: I do not like what I call the “verbing” of nouns. Here is the example from this book: “…he griddles oatcakes.” “To griddle” is now  a verb? (Eye roll). Donoghue is a better writer than this.

My Verdict

4.0

This is based on the writing, not on whether I agreed with the (to me) far-fetched idea that Trian would have been welcomed into a monetary in 7th Century Ireland.

Haven by Emma Donoghue

Book Reviews

Review: Our Last Days in Barcelona: A Novel by Chanel Cleeton

My Interest

If, like me, you loved Next Year in Havana and When We Left Cuba likely you’ve wanted to know more of the Perez sisters’ story. When I saw that this book was that “more” I was soooooo excited!

WARNING: If you have not read Next Year in Havana and When We Left Cuba, this review will have spoilers!! Sorry, it just isn’t very realistic to review a sequel without them!

The Story

It’s now 1964 and the Perez family is settled into life in Palm Beach after fleeing Castro’s Cuba. In spite of the passage of a few years, they are still morning the death of their son/brother, Alejandro. Beatriz is in Barcelona and her sister, Isobel, married for the good of the family to an older husband, Thomas, is worried about her. Isobel goes off to Barcelona to find her sister who is still working for the CIA. The second story line is of their mother, Alicia, a young wife and mother running away from her husband’s betrayal to Barcelona in 1936–her visit overlapping with the start of the Spanish Civil War. 

Like in When We Left Cuba, the Perez sisters in the present, and their mother in the Civil War years, face a variety of dilemmas that test their character, beliefs, and family pride. Love or rejection, personal growth, and an awakening of their souls are to come.

My Thoughts

Aside from one modern use of “agency” that just HAD to rear it’s ugly, out-of-place, head, this was a fabulous story. I loved Isobel coming to terms with the fact that her world had been so “insular” and all that that realization did for her. I also loved that Alicia did the “hard” thing [no spoilers]. Are there coincidences that beggar belief? Well, yes, but don’t let them ruin such an excellent read. With each book, Cleeton’s characters get more believable in spite of necessary coincidences to pull the story into shape. I think this is my favorite of Cleeton’s books (so far!).

My Verdict

4.2

I can’t stop at just 4 stars, but maybe 4.5 is just a tad over the limit.

Our Last Days in Barcelona by Chanel Cleeton

Book Reviews

Midyear Reading Challenge Update: The Ongoing Challenges I’m Doing

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#ReadNonFicChal

One of the options in this challenge is to read by the following categories. While I’ve chose the option to just read and review any nonfiction, I thought as part of my half-way update I’d see how I’m doing on the categories without trying.

Total Nonfiction Books Read January 1 to June 30, 2022

CATEGORIES

1. Social History   After the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport 

2. Popular Science 

3. Language

4. Medical Memoir

5. Climate/Weather

6. Celebrity

7. Reference

8. Geography [I’m seeing Geography as set in another country] Girl From Lamaha Street (Guyana)

9. Linked to a podcast Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? by Seamus O’Reilly of Griefcast (podcast)

10. Wild Animals The Puma Years by Laura Coleman

11. Economics 

12. Published in 2022  Valor by Dan Hampton

I have one more I’m currently reading that should be finished by the end of June, but I’ll leave it off.

20 Books of Summer

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#20booksofsummer22

June 1, 2022 to September 1, 2022

Here is the link to my original 20 Books of Summer post with my list of possible books. I don’t like a set reading list–it gets to be like homework. So these are just possibilities. 

Update from my possibilities list (link above):

  • The School for German Brides arrived very early, so isn’t counted. Click to read my review.
  • The Good Left Undone–DNF
  • The No-Show–DNF for now–I got several audios in at the same time. This one didn’t make the cut, but I’ll try it again later.
  • Entangled Life–DNF, but only because it took too much concentration for a commuting audio.
  • Haven–I’m reading it from NetGalley right now.

Read For 20 Books of Summer

I only do challenges that allow using books in multiple challenges–it’s more fun that way.

  1. River of the Gods by Candice Millard–review coming soon
  2. Churchill’s Band of Brothers by Damien Lewis–review coming soon
  3. The Puma Years by Laura Coleman Click to read my review
  4. Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? by Seamas O’Reilly Click to read my review
  5. Mary Churchill’s War by Mary Churchill [Soames].Click to read my review

I will finish a few more before June ends.

Audio Book Challenge

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Thanks to my long (2 hours+) commute, I listen to a ton of audio books!

I will finish a few more before June ends, but this is when the post fit in my blogging schedule!

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Historical Fiction

    1. The School for German Brides
    2. Book Woman’s Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson
    3. Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier
    4. Mary Anne by Daphne Du Maurier
    5. Far Country by Nevil Shute 
    6. Angels of the Pacific by Elise Hooper 
    7. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell 
    8. Under the Golden Sun by Jenny Ascroft 
    9. River of Earth by James Still 
    10. How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn 
    11. The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed

I debate some books–if they were written as contemporary (like Spring Magic below or another older book that I’m reading now) are they historical fiction? Who knows! I’ve probably missed a book or two as well. I may finish one more before June ends.

50 European sovereign states 

Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Vatican City.

NOTE: Even with Brexit, the United Kingdom is still one country, part of Europe, that includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. One book from any one of these four counts as your one book for the United Kingdom.

ERC 2022

  1. The Statement (France)
  2. The Sixteen Trees of the Somme (Norway)
  3. The Vintage Springtime Club (Germany)
  4. The Conclave (Vatican City)
  5. Small Things Like These (Ireland)
  6. The Secret Life of Albert Entwhistle (UK as one country) 

Possibly one or two more countries by the end of June, depending on what I finish reading.

 

Countries: Ireland, Norway, Germany, Vatican City, France and UK**

** I don’t agree with the UK representing just one country. I see England, Scotland, Wales. and Northern Ireland as unique. My page. My rules.

  1. Spring Magic (Scotland)
  2. How Green Was My Valley  (Wales)
  3. Sorrow and Bliss (England
  4. Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? (Northern Ireland)

Aussie-Author-Reading-Challenge-2022

Far Country by Nevil Shute 

I found this challenge late, so I’m not off to a great start.

Coming up during the rest of the year

The next Classics Club Spin is a definite as is October’s 1929 Cub read. I’m not sure about the Aussie lit month this year, but the others should be a “go.” I haven’t put in a Christmas book challenge even though I enjoyed one last year that’s way too mood-driven to predict.

What about you? Are you participating in any of these challenges? Leave me a comment or a link to your own post.

Book Reviews

Review: The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting, translated by Paul Russell Garrett

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#TheSixteenTreesoftheSomme #NetGalley

My Interest

Say the words “The Somme” and you generally have my attention. World War I ends one of my favorite historical periods. That battle is one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century. The loss of life is beyond fathoming. Add to that a Norwegian author (translated into English) and a country I haven’t yet “read” in my reading the world project and you have a book I had to read. I’m so glad I did. Not only did it introduce me to the Shetland Islands, but this story weirdly incorporated a part of a character’s story in one of my own works in progress.

The Story

“If you look at life as a whole, most of our conduct is second-rate.”

At the Somme battle site from World War I there is a group of trees affected by an apparently one-time use of an odd poisonous gas. The grain and coloration of the wood is some of the finest ever. An Edinburgh timber merchant has a big financial stake in this wood–it is perfect for the bespoke sporting guns British aristocrats lust after and use to shoot grouse on the Glorious 12th and other birds throughout the year.

In 1971, a small boy goes missing for a few days after his parents are killed by an unexploded shell at the forest area containing the trees. The area is cordoned off by signs and barbed wire due to the unusually large number and close proximity of unexploded shells from World War I. 

Two Norwegian brothers take different paths in World War II. One, who farms the family farm for a living, fights for the Nazis in the Norse Legion. The other is killed in the French resistance, or by the French resisitence…or…is he?

Why would the “caretaker” of a grand house on a Scottish Island be so reluctant to gossip about her employers?

My Thoughts

Wow! This story takes twists and turns that amazed me. Admittedly, I’m not a big murder or mystery book reader, but wow all the same. And for once a contemporary author did research and put much of it into the story without boring the reader to death. I learned more about the Somme tragedy, a good bit about the natural environment in the north of Norway and on the Shetland Islands, as well as more about bespoke shotguns [see the bottom of this post]–all of which kept me paying rapt attention. The characters were believable, the story was told in a very compelling manner and there was no ridiculous “oh, look, old Uncle Whoever’s secret stash of letters” to start us off. The story was told in the present and the events of the past were uncovered in the present. I really liked that. One more cheesy dual-timeline story would have sent me over the edge. Both the author and the translator did a great job of conveying atmosphere and of pacing the story in a way that kept me wanting more each time I had to stop listening.

Note: There are 3-4 sentences later in the book that will be distressing to pet lovers, I was ok and I’m a big pet lover, but some may not be.

My Verdict

4.0

The Sixteen Trees of the Somme: A Novel by Lars Mytting, translated by Paul Russell Garrett

Book Reviews

Review: The Vintage Springtime Club by Beatrice Meier, translated by Simon Pare–UPDATED

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My Interest

“Yet ever since she’d had this six in front of her age, things hadn’t been exactly as they were before. The six had sucked some of the life out of her.”

Well, the obvious word her is “Springtime”–this one fits in nicely with reading according to the season of the year. Second, the people are all my age–60 and up. Third, a lot of us NEED a “flatshare” or “houseshare” to live a comfortable retirement. But, will this idea catch on in time for me? I wonder. I should have listened to my grandmother on money.

The Story

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“‘Old-age flatshares are such a lovely idea….’ the woman remarked. ‘A nice boost at the onset of the third age. Being there for one another when someone needs help.  Doing things together, cooking together, going to the theatre and the cinema, playing sports….’ She leaned forward kindly. ‘What were your reasons?’ [He] narrowed his eyes like Clint Eastwood as he sized her up in the rear-view mirror. ‘Old-age poverty,’ he said through gritted teeth.”

In Cologne, Germany, Philip has inherited his mother’s pre-war apartment. It has numerous bedrooms, good living space (only one bathroom) and her beloved, fat, dachshund, Ralf. Having spent his life as a doctor Mali, Philip is coming to terms with moving back to his childhood home.  His friend from college and nuclear protest days, Ricarda–widow of his best friend, has just found out she must vacate her flat so the whole place can be totally rebuilt and redone. Voila, a “flatshare” is born. Once Eckart, Harry, and Uschi move in they all have a new family. Until…. [No spoilers].

What will communal living do for these five 60-somethings?

My Thoughts

“I always thought that some day I’d do this or that….When I ‘grow up’ I’ll do this or that. I didn’t notice that, if I really wanted to do something, that ‘some day’ has to be now. I just let time tick away. As if it would go on and on forever, you know? And suddenly, I’m past sixty…..Past sixty! I can’t get used to the thought.”

I liked ALL of these characters, but had a special fondness for Ralf. Who doesn’t love a chubby Dachshund with a love of salami? I thought the conflict in the book was very real–as in real life. It was believable.

I love this idea of same age (more or less) co-housing (as opposed to co-housing with multiple ages), but not sure if I could cope with four housemates! Still, economic necessity will likely drive many of my generation (the not-really-baby-boomers born in ’60 to ’64) to seek out solutions like this. I have friends in mind who’d fit the bill nicely, but I only know of one who is as badly prepared for retirement as I am.

My Verdict

3.5

The Vintage Springtime Club by Beatrice Meier

I read this for the 2022 European Reading Challenge hosted by Rose City Reader

ERC 2022

Funny note: I keep noticing how books today mention the “notes” or whatever of a man’s cologne. In this book it was the woman’s perfume. And, another thing that seems only to happen in books–someone sticks the tip of their tongue out in concentration. Something I have never, ever seen in anyone other than in books and movies or in an early elementary school classroom.

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Book Reviews

Reading Ireland Month Review: The Statement by Brian Moore–UPDATED

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#readingirelandmonth22 or #begorrathon22

My Interest

Cathy at 746 Books introduced me to Irish author Brian Moore when she hosted a read-along for the author’s 100th birthday year. I did not get anything read for that, but kept him in mind. This month is Read Ireland Month, (also hosted by Cathy) so I made sure to start with a Brian Moore book. This is the one I could get on e-audio from the library.

His name is Brian–Bree-an? I did not know that. I was thinking Brian.

The Story

“…he could feel no contrition. He had never felt contrition for the acts of his life.”

In Nazi-occupied Vichy France, Pierre Brossard, was responsible for the execution of 14 Jews and for other crimes against humanity in the War. Since then he has come to hate other groups, too–the “Noir” especially. Now past retirement age, Brossard rejected a Vatican passport and the chance to hide away in South America years ago. To stay alive he has been constantly on the run staying at religious retreat houses, monasteries, and other places of “sanctuary” and supported by a conservative Catholic group. A new surge of interest in bringing fugitive Nazi’s and Nazi-sympathizers to justice means he is in trouble. The newer factions in the church are turning against him and those doors of sanctuary are closing for him. What will he do?

My Thoughts

I thought this a very good political thriller. Good suspense, realistic atmosphere and believable events were what impressed me the most. The inner dialogue, the conversations, the nightmares, though, were what made it so good. When we hear the fugitive admit he has never felt ANY contrition! Wow. No words. Yet no one can truly believe, looking at today’s world, that he was alone in that feeling. Powerful book.

The Statement by Brian Moore

To learn more about Reading Ireland Month, read the introductory post found here.

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ERC 2022

Due to the setting, this book is also one I read for the 2022 European Reading Challenge hosted by Rose City Reader

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Book Reviews

Review: The Conclave by Robert Harris–UPDATED

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I learned of this book while looking for the author’s book Enigma which was recommended by the blogger Books Please.

My Interest

I used to be an avid political junkie. And no where are politics more rife than within the walls of a church or religious denomination! My Dad’s cousin, was a Catholic nun in Chicago. It was long rumored that the first Pope John Paul died of a heart attack or stroke while reading a dossier of the long-time Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago, John Cody. My cousin’s stories of him were like listening to stories of that other Chicago legend, Mayor Richard Daley. (There is a funny addition to the John Paul I story early in Conclave that made me laugh).

The other reason this book appealed was my goal for this year of reading more books by men.

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The Story

The Pope is dead. The Cardinals of the Catholic Church have been called into conclave to elect the new Pope–the successor to Saint Peter. This story takes place in a fictional “today.” The factions within the Church are on full display. The African and South American church standing out as far more conservative than the Church of the Northern Hemisphere. Within each faction are favorites their followers want to see elected. But suddenly, as the Conclave is starting, a new face, a new Cardinal arrives. His mission, made it necessary for his appointment to be In pectore –done with only the late Pope’s knowledge. [No spoilers] His appointment and other secrets of the now late Pope play out alongside the lobbying of the various factions within the church to advance their candidates. Just as in secular politics, the past comes out for some and secrets stay hidden for others, making this a great big roller coaster ride.

When the modern world intrudes causing a problem for the Conclave, the unity of the church hinges on the Cardinals picking the right man. But will they? When the white smoke finally rises will they truly have the right man for the job? [See a fun clip at the bottom of this post from the t.v. show The Borgias].

My Thoughts

Wow! Political junkie heaven! This was a thrilling story and, if you are worried, the Conclave had to focus only on electing a Pope. 

This book was wonderfully fast-paced. To say more would risk spoilers and I won’t do that.

I cannot wait to read or listen to another book by Robert Harris–probably his book Munich will be next since Jeremy Irons is in the film and I want to see it.

My Verdict

4.0

I almost went to 4.5 but …. [no spoilers]

Conclave: A Novel by Robert Harris

I learned of this book while looking for the author’s book Enigma which was recommended by the blogger Books Please.

Note: The child molestation scandal is mentioned in an aside–there is no graphic description of any sexual acts in the story.

I read this book for the 2022 European Reading Challenge hosted by Rose City Reader

ERC 2022

Jeremy Irons was the best Pope ever. Here he is passing the test for office.

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Book Reviews

Review: The Finishing School by Muriel Spark–UPDATED

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“Be careful who takes you to Ascot…because, unless you have married a rich husband, he is probably a crook. Even if he’s your husband, well….Not many honest men can take four days off their work, dress themselves in a black suit and a silk hat with all the accoutrements, and lose a lot of money on the horses, and take you out afterward or join a party of people like him. For Ascot you will need warm underwear in case it’s cold. You can wear a flimsy dress on top. But your man is bound to be a crook, bound to be….”

My Interest

“In order to succeed with the public you have to be a hypocrite up to a definite point…..It’s hypocrisy,…that makes the world round. …”

Muriel Spark is an author whose backlist I am slowly reading my way through. I started this book hoping to finish it for Novellas in November, but then I lost my job. Last Thursday, S.W. Ohio was hit with an ice storm and the power was out for most of 24 hours. It was dark, I had thought to have emergency candles, but forgot a means to light them! Typical. Flashlights haven’t survived in my house since my son arrived. I no longer even think to have one. Happily, my phone had about 75% of its battery life so I could use its flashlight feature when necessary. Meanwhile, I pulled out my Kindle wanting to read the book I had just started. Seems I had sent it to my Kindle, but hadn’t bothered to download it. Typical. So, I looked around and spotted this one. I easily recalled what I’d read and who was who and decided I’d challenge the prompt telling me it was 1 hour and 22 minutes to finish the book. I did it.

“‘Do you have to be a hypocrite if you have a career in the Church?’ ‘Oh, yes [it] applies to the Church very much.’ “The Anglican Church?’ ‘Any church.'”

The Story

“…it was know that there had so far been no sexual scandals and that it was an advanced sort of school, bohemian, artistic, tolerant. What they smoked or sniffed was little different from the drug-taking habits of any other school….”

If you were expecting The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie The Younger, you are in for a huge disappointment. This book was the last Spark wrote and frankly, wasn’t up to her usual standard. Set in an odd boutique-sized finishing school run by Rowland and his wife Nina, it boasts seven “real” students and Chris. The school exists as a parking place for rich kids with nothing else to do until the head off to University. In the early years of computers and email gap years were just emerging. Finishing school was the stop-gap.

“No longer a boy student, he was now a meaning, an explanation in himself.”

Rowland is writing a novel and so is Chris. Chris isn’t enrolled as a student, but he does attend a few of the interest-driven classes that go with his own interests. At 17 he is writing a historical novel for which he has a publisher and possible movie option. Rowland is obsessed with Chris. Rowland’s wife just wants to get through the term and then get on with her life–preferably without Rowland. She asks herself in what I assume was the British lingo of that day, if he could be an “unconscious” homosexual. But Chris, in true Finishing School style is bonking (a great British term from that era) just about everything female in the school. Poor Rowland’s obsession takes over and he must go off to get himself back together. Until Chris shows up….. That’s the way this story goes.

My Thoughts

“If it can be said of you that you’ve got ‘exquisite manners,’ it’s deadly….Try not to look very well brought up, it’s awful.”

If this was anyone by Muriel Spark I don’t think they would have published this–though admittedly, much, much worse is published today. I began to wonder if this was a first draft she’d dictated by phone. When I saw it was published two years before she died I think I may have been right. The characters were just flat. Even Rowland’s obsession was flat. I did sort of come to like Nina. And I enjoyed P

Oh, it isn’t an awful book. It’s just the name Muriel Spark conjures up way better stories to be read than this. I’m glad I’ve checked it off the backlist, but I can’t say you’d miss anything by skipping it. There was no sex or anything needing a trigger warning at least.

My Verdict

3.0

That’s being extra generous because it was an excellent writer’s last effort.

The Finishing School by Muriel Spark

My Other Reviews of Muriel Spark books:

Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark

The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark My review was lost on my old blog, but this quote stays with me always: “Not really a presence….The lack of an absence….”

Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and A Far Cry from Kensington were read way before even the Internet was with us.

ERC 2022

Book Reviews

Review After the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport–UPDATED

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My Interest

First, thank you to NetGalley for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.

I started reading on the Romanov’s with Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert Massie in 1977. It’s a given that I’ll at least skim just about any book with their name in it. Plus, this one was a book I agreed to review on Netgalley and forgot about, so I needed to get that done.

The Story

There are two major stories here–what happened to some of the surviving Romanovs after Yekaterinburg and what happened to other, mostly aristocratic or otherwise high-ranking Russians who escaped Russia after the Bolsheviks came to power, the Civil War started, etc. The term “White Russians,” or those who were either pro-Tzar or just anti-Communist, is a generic term for most of them. It refers to the side they were on in the Civil War, not to race or ethnicity. The other story is various writers, dancers, artists and others in Paris at the time. Hemingway even gets a mention.

My Thoughts

Of all the author’s work, this to me is her weakest. Throwing names around about artists, then discussing Russian authors of the period who are barely known today just wasn’t that interesting to me. I DID however, LOVE reading how several aristocrats came to earn their living–especially the women and how various Romanovs ended up. I also found it fascinating that parts of regiments stayed together in exile, working together in French car factories! I also found it very interesting to see how the former aristocracy came to terms with their reduced circumstances. Attitude is everything and some just plain got on with life. I admire that. To me, this was the story–forget Hemingway and a few others. The artist or writer stories lack the sureness and polish of her Romanov chapters. Her gift is in writing social history as it relates to the Imperial Family.

My Verdict

3.5

After the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport

Book Reviews

The Year Long 2022 European Reading Challenge!

ERC 2022

My Interest

Reading challenges have been working well for me the last few years aside from November and December of 2021. Losing a job bites into all aspects of life. Reading challenges went to the wayside in those two months for the most part. I’m happy to have stumbled up this one at “You Might As Well Read”. It would be tough to fail with a goal of one book, wouldn’t it? I am planning to do the Spanish and German literature months again so there’s two books. Plus, one of my 2022 goals (yet to be posted) is to read from a new-to-me-country in translation. There’s three, right off the bat. Win!

You can read all about this Challenge–which sets out to be a European tour through books, at Rose City Reader’s 2022 European Challenge sign up post.

These 50 European sovereign states are:

Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Vatican City.

I fully admit to having never heard of San Marino….. I have Miss Iceland so it is one possibility.

Some possibilities:

Some Short Book Suggestions

Links to my reviews:

Often I am Happy

The Red Notebook

Picnic at the Iron Curtain

Every Frenchman Has One

This Too Shall Pass

The 6:41 to Paris

Snow in May

Meet Me at the Museum

Travelers

Wild Horses of the Summer Sun

Are you participating in this Challenge? Leave me a link to your post!