Friday, 31 July 2009

What I've been reading

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Mistress of the Art of Death
by Ariana Franklin

"It is 1171, and in Cambridge a child has been hideously murdered and other children have disappeared. The Jews, who provide a large part of King Henry's revenue, are being accused of the crimes by angry townspeople, therefore the king wants the real killer found, and quickly."
The title refers to Adelia, who is a forensic doctor sent from Sicily to help the investigation. The story is a good one, told with a good deal of historical accuracy (not that I'm any expert on 12th century England). I enjoyed it enough to be interested in reading subsequent titles in the series. Good holiday reading!

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by Robert Harris

"The engineer Marcus Attilius has been placed in charge of the massive aqueduct that services the teeming masses living in and around the Bay of Naples. Despite the pride he takes in his job, Marcus has pressing concerns: his predecessor in the job has mysteriously vanished, and another task is handed to Marcus by the scholar Pliny: he is to undertake crucial repairs to the aqueduct near Pompeii, the city in the shadow of the restless Mount Vesuvius."
Again the author boasts of historical accuracy, and again I'm no expert, but it seems pretty authentic. He manages to weave a human interest story alongside an event which we all know will end in tears, but will our hero live? Will he save the young woman he seems to be falling for? And what will happen to old, fat, Pliny? I finished this on the plane coming home, leaving me without printed reading material - but hooray, I still had my ipod!

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The Inimitable Jeeves
by P. G. Wodehouse

narrated by Jonathan Cecil
"A collection of stories with a cast of characters that includes bearded revolutionaries, practical-joking twins, incognito authors, and a pair of confidence tricksters. Our upper-class hero Bertie Wooster finds himself in all kinds of hot water, and Bertie's friend Bingo Little falls in love so often that it is impossible to keep track of his romantic entanglements, and always with the most unsuitable women."
I do love the language that Wodehouse uses, so it's always a treat to listen to a good narration. Despite being a series of short stories, there are running themes of Bingo's romantic entanglements, Bertie's choice of unsuitable clothing, and Jeeves successfully sorting them both out. Perfect holiday reading.

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Primary Phase
by Douglas Adams

performed by the cast of the original radio broadcast
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. More popular, and certainly more successful than the Celestial Home Care Omnibus, better selling than Fifty-Three More Things to do in Zero Gravity, and more controversial than Oolon Colluphid's trilogy of philosophical blockbusters Where God Went Wrong, Some More of God's Greatest Mistakes and Who is this God Person Anyway?"
This isn't strictly a book since it's the original BBC radio broadcast, but it's my blog and I can include whatever I want. I haven't heard the recording for many years, having had to make do with books, TV and the film, but the original is the best, no doubt about it. This special edition even includes a fascinating documentary about the origins of the first and second radio series: poor Douglas Adams had to be locked in a hotel room by the producers to force him to meet deadlines, and on the day of the broadcast, he hadn't actually finished writing the final episode of the second series.


aims said...

Interesting selection as always Lola.

On another note - glad to see you have discovered Rachel. She certainly has posted some beautiful pictures of where you live.

Anonymous said...

Lola gave me 'Pompeii' after she finished it. The author has certainly researched the area and its history. But his 'human interest' tale is unconvincing. What killed Exomnius [and, later, Corax] on the summit of Vesuvius? And the survival and escape of Attilius and of Corelia from Pompeii are highly improbable. Was Pliny fat? (You'll have to read the book to identify them.) All the Roman names, the Latin clock-timings, and the quotes from vulcanology texts add nothing and are confusing. There are better books around - unless you are bored on the plane.

Lola said...

I quite liked it...