Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Sunday, September 14, 2014


THIS is my last catch-up post! I could find no common category for the last lonely books on my Have Read, Must Blog list, so what links them is that they have no ties to one another. Hence, my orphans:

HHhH by Laurent Binet. This book was originally written in French, but I (of course) read my husband's brilliant English translation. It tells the true story of the 1942 assassination attempt on Reinhard Heydrich, high-ranking Nazi official, by two soldiers (Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík) who parachuted in to Prague for their mission. Did their mission succeed or not? If your history is as spotty as mine, do yourself a favor and don't look up their story before reading this book--not knowing the outcome added to the reading experience for me. As did the thing that makes this book unique when compared to other historical fiction: the author does not remain hidden, nor does he even attempt to convince his readers to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. The story of Kubiš and Gabčík is shot through with the author's own experiences in researching and writing their story. (Meta-non-fiction?) I really don't like war books but this one was worth reading.

Bluebird, or The Invention of Happiness by Sheila Kohler. My memory of this book is (not surprisingly) not vivid; I suppose it didn't make much of an impression on me, whether positive or negative. It's the story of Lucy Dillon, French aristocrat, escaping the French Revolution by sailing across the Atlantic with her young family to start a new life on a dairy farm in upstate New York. I seem to remember the sea journey being fraught with trials and tribulations, and the new life being a bit bleak and barren, but through it all Lucy was strong and unwavering. I could be completely wrong, though.

Silk by Alessandro Baricco. I know for a fact that I read this novella more than three years ago. I can still remember, however, the simple and poetic form of its writing, and the way it disguised strong undercurrents of passion. At times it almost seems like a fable or a fairy tale. It's the story of a Frenchman in the late 19th century who travels to Japan in search of silkworm eggs and becomes enslaved by all-consuming love along the way (but it's not so gag-inducing as that makes it sound).

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. This novella is worthy of much more than the tiny blurb I'm about to give it, which may be why I avoided writing about it earlier--could I do it justice? I'd read it years before but, true to form, hardly remembered it. It's the story of a pair of itinerant workers, George and Lennie, during the Great Depression. Lennie is mentally deficient and dependent on George, and George is protective of Lennie. It's a powerful story, very short, and a satisfying read (or re-read).

And now my blog is up-to-date! I no longer have a Have Read, Must Blog list! Unfortunately there is a distinct possibility that I've completely forgotten about some books . . . just last week I realized that two of my (relatively) recent reads had not made it on to my HRMB list. Both were re-reads for me, one being Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, and the other Lady Chatterley's Lover (which Sam has blogged about). Both of those books are special to me. I first read them during college (though for my own enjoyment rather than as assigned reading), and I remember why I chose each one. Tess first caught my eye at Blockbuster Video (!!)--the synopsis interested me, and when I saw it had originated as a classic novel, I wanted to start there. And LCL was on the reading list for my senior English class in high school, but my teacher wouldn't let me read it because he knew my mom would not approve! So, less than a year later and glorying in my new independence, I got to see what all the fuss was about. And I enjoyed re-reading both books, not least because I'd first read them during what were (for me) my formative years.

Any other forgotten books are destined to remain forgotten, but it feels great to be caught up on my blog again!

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