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Thread: Recommend A Book to a GS friend

  1. #91
    Bona Fide Member LRK's Avatar
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    Eleanor H Porter: "Pollyanna" (Re-read) - I really do enjoy reading a feel good book - it makes me feel good, and I enjoy feeling good. Actually, the glad game is harder than one could think - at least I found it so when as a child I was inspired by the book to try it. But then, being quick-tempered and irritable doesn't really help.

    Mrs Snow had lived forty years, and for fifteen of those years she had been too busy wishing things were different to find much time to enjoy things as they were.

    (I miss Olympia. She asked me to tell her what I thought of the book when I'd re-read it. I did reply, and I was pretty right in how I'd feel about it as it turns out - but I'd forgotten how funny it was!)

  2. #92
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    The humor in children's / young adults' books often is more appreciated by the adults in the reading audience.

    I missed half of Marilla's jokes in "Anne of Green Gables" when I first read it as a ten year old.

  3. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    The humor in children's / young adults' books often is more appreciated by the adults in the reading audience.

    I missed half of Marilla's jokes in "Anne of Green Gables" when I first read it as a ten year old.
    I know - the same can be true of some children's programs. I used to love a program called "Fablernas värld" (the world of fables) as a child - and then I happened across an episode as an adult and thought... "Wow, this is really great - and funny!" (I now own the DVDs.) I think it's especially irony that tends to pass one by...

  4. #94
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    Thomas Mann: I read the book in Swedish translation "Bergtagen" - the original German title is "Der Zauberberg" - and it has been translated into English as "The Magic Mountain".

    Hans Castorp, feeling a tad under the weather, is sent to a Swiss mountainside sanatorium to recouperate. The visit was supposed to last three weeks - he ended up staying there... seven years.

  5. #95
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    Anthony Trollope: "The Struggles of Brown, Jones and Robinson" - A new-to-me Trollope - one of the few last ones left to me. An ironic tale about how the ill-assorted trio of Brown, Jones and Robinson go into business together - and how it, eventually, all goes to heck in a handbasket. (Scarcely a spoiler, as George Robinson, the youngest member of the firm, tells us as much in the Preface.)

    This is a new age (the 1850s), in which capital is no longer of any consequence - what matters is credit... and advertisement.

    That necessty of having something to sell almost overcame Mr Brown in those days. 'What's the good of puttng down 5,000 Kolinski and Minx boas in the bill if we do not possess one in the shop?' he asked; 'we must have some if they're asked for.' He could not understand that for a first start effect is everything. If customers should want Kolinski Boas, Kolinski Boas would of course be forthcoming - to any number required; either Kolinski boas, or quasi-Kolinski, which in trade is admitted to be the same thing. When a man advertises that he has 40,000 new paletots, he does not mean that he has got that number packed up in a box. If required to do so, he will supply them to that extent - or to any further extent. A long row of figures in trade is but an elegant use of the superlative. If a tradesman can induce a lady to buy a diagonal Osnabruck cashmere shawl by telling her that he has 1,500 of them, who is injured? And if the shawl is not exactly a real diagonal Osnabruck cashmere, what harm is done as long as the lady gets the value for her money? And if she don't get the value for her money, whose fault is that? Isn't it a fair stand-up fight? And when she tries to buy for £4 a shaw that she thinks is worth about £8, isn't she dealing on the same principles hersef? If she be lucky enough to possess credit, the shawl is sent home wthout payment, and three years afterwards fifty percent is perhaps offered for settlement of the bill. It is a fair fight, and the ladies are very well able to take care of themselves.

    A pleasant and amusing read for the already dedicated Trollope aficionado, I'm not sure I'd recommend it as much to someone who is just starting to get acquainted with him. And it probably is not the ideal first Trollope read - seeing how atypical it is to his other work. But, I enjoyed it.

  6. #96
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    David Almond: "The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas"

    Here's a question. How would you like it if someone in your house - your Uncle Ernie, for instance - decided to turn it into a fish-canning factory? How would you like it if there were buckets of pilchards and tubs of mackerel everywhere you looked? What if a shoal of sardines was swimming in the bath? What if your Uncle Ernie kept making more and more machines - machines for chopping the heads off, cutting the tails off, getting the guts out; machines for cleaning them, and boiling them and squashing them into cans? Can you imagine the racket? Can you picture the mess? And just think about the stink!
    What if your Uncle Ernie's machines grew so big that they took over every room - your bedroom, for instance, so that you had to sleep in a cupboard? What if your Uncle Ernie said you couldn't go to school any more but had to stay at home to can the fish? Sounds good? Ah, but what if instead of going to school you had to start work every morning at six o'clock on the dot? And you got no holidays? And you never saw your old pals? Would you like that? Would you heck! Well, neither did Stanley Potts.

  7. #97
    Tripping on the Podium Kitt's Avatar
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    I just discovered Joyce Maynard. All I knew about her before is that when she was young she was the paramour of J. D. Salinger.

    I read The Good Daughters and really liked it, so I might get her memoir and some of her other novels.

  8. #98
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    Charlotte Brontë: "Jane Eyre" (Re-read) - This is one of my Absolute Favourites, and this was probably my fifth or sixth re-read (it would be more, doubtless, were it not for my very strict Reading Rules). This time my re-read was very leisurely, and I took my time through the book, savouring it. I loved doing doing so; but one character did not fare well from it. I was never a St John Rivers fan - but this time he managed to really get up my nose!

  9. #99
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    Elizabeth von Arnim: "The Enchanted April" - Delightful, joyous, and happy-making.

  10. #100
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    Wilkie Collins: "Miss or Mrs?" (re-read) - Victorian "sensation" fiction. This (Oxford University Press) edition includes three novellas: 'Miss or Mrs?', 'The Haunted Hotel' and 'The Guilty River'.

  11. #101
    On the Ice elbkup's Avatar
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    Canadian writer Robertson Davies has long been one of my favorite authors. Am now rereading "The Cunning Man", about Dr. Jonathan Hullah who combines traditional medicine, spiritual healing with folk remedies in his practice of psychosomatic medicine. The story begins with a mystery: how did Father Hobbes die? But it's not a whodunit in the strict sense... More like a journey or exploration into cause and effect of human nature.
    Other favorites from Davies include "The Rebel Angels", "The Manticore" and "The Lyre of Orpheus" which follows the development of an artist.

    Rebel Angels has a note of apology that is truly memorable and wickedly funny:

    "When I arrived at Hollier's outer room the following morning there was a note for me placed beside a bouquet of flowers - salvia- which had too obviously been culled from the garden outside the rector's lodging. The note read:

    Dearest and Most Understanding of Created Beings:
    Sorry about last night. Some time since I had a really good swig at anything. Shall I say it will never happen again? Not with any degree of sincerity. But I must make reparation! So ask me to dinner again soon and I shall tell you The Story of My Life which is well worth whatever it may cost you.
    Your crawling slave ... P"
    Last edited by elbkup; 11-01-2015 at 07:42 PM.

  12. #102
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    Margaret Oliphant: "Hester" - Victorian "domestic" (that is, realist) fiction. Especially recommended, I'd say, to fans of Anthony Trollope and Elizabeth Gaskell.

    From the (Oxford Univeristy Press) Introduction:

    To turn around Hester is to see the painful story of Catherine Vernon: a 65-year-old unmarried woman, denied love in youth, who finds compensation, most unusually, in the power acquired by her role as the head of the family bank. Around her she gathers a whole family of dependants, both old and young, many of them exploitative, gossipy, and ungratefully resentful. Among the aged is the malicious Mr Mildmay Vernon and the carping spinsters, the Vernon-Ridgeways, as well as the more benign Captain Morgan and his wife. The young include the two young relatives whom Catherine puts in charge of the bank - the dull, conventional Harry and Edward, her trusted favourite - as well as Harry's fashion-loving sister Ellen, and the Morgans' grandchildren Roland and Emma, both of whom are on the lookout to make their way in life.
    Into their midst arrive a sparky 14-year-old Hester, uncomfortably too much like a younger version of Catherine herself, together with her widowed mother Mrs John, the simple, pretty woman whom John Vernon long ago chose in preference to his cousin Catherine. Ironically, it was from John Vernon's disastrous management that Catherine had to rescue the bank. Now, after his death in exile in France, his destitute wife and daughter, ignorant of his culpability, return to England at Catherine's invitation. Supporting all these people who have either hurt her in the past or who challenge and resent her in the present, Catherine half-magnanimously, half-ruefully 'tolerated everything, and smiled at it; she became indulgent and contemptuous. What did it matter what they said or felt?' But it does matter, in one case above all. Together with the rebellious Hester herself, the beloved Edward is, in the increasing power struggle of youth and age, Catherine's weak spot.


    Note: In this case I'd also highly recommend the Introduction, as I think it offers great insight into the novel and also Margaret Oliphant herself.

  13. #103
    Bona Fide Member LRK's Avatar
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    Sebastian Faulks: "Jeeves and the Wedding Bells" - When the book opens we find Bertie Wooster masquerading as the manservant Wilberforce, and Jeeves as his employer Lord Etringham.

    I was woken in the middle of the night by what sounded like a dozen metal dustbins being chucked down a flight of stairs. After a moment of floundering in the darkness I put my hand on the source of the infernal noise: the twin copper bells on top of a large alarm clock. There followed a brief no-holds-barred wrestling bout before I was able to shove the wretched thing beneath the mattress.
    It was a panting and lightly perspiring B. Wooster who then consulted his wristwatch to find that it was in fact six o'clock - the appointed hour at which I was to throw off the bonds of slumber and rise to tackle my new duties.
    This was a dashed sight harder than it sounds. Easing the person to an even semi-recumbent position caused pain to shoot across the small of the back. Whoever had designed the palliasse on which I had lain these seven hours had clearly been of the opinion that nature's sweet restorer, as I have heard Jeeves call it, can get the job done in five minute bursts. It required a steadying grip on the beadstead before I could cross the bare boards and don the dressing gown. It's possible that a sharp-eared observer might have heard a few groans as, sponge bag in hand, I headed down the passageway towards the servants' bathroom.
    Mercifully, I seemed to be the first to the ablutions. Hot water came from a geyser in a boiling trickle over the bath, but in the basin the H and C taps might more accurately have been labelled 'Cold' and 'Frozen'. It was a haggard Bertram who stared back from the glass as he plied the morning steel and sponged the outlying portions. I dried off with a strip of material less like a towel than a yard of well-used sandpaper.



    Some extracts from the Author's Note:

    This book is intended as a tribute - from me, and on behalf of any others who don't think it falls too lamentably short of the mark - to P. G. Wodehouse: a thank you for all the pleasure his work has given. I have been reading him with joy and admiration for almost half a century. I am no expert or mastermind on things Wodehouse; I am just a fan.
    ---
    To the old hands, meanwhile, I would say only this: that yes, I understand the size of what I had taken on; and yes it was as hard as I had expected. Wodehouse's prose is a glorious thing; and there's the rub. I didn't want to write too close an imitation of that distinctive music for fear of sounding flat or sharp. Nor did I want to drift into parody. Therefore what I tried to do was to give people who haven't read the Jeeves books a sense of what they sound like, while for those who know them well I tried to provide a nostalgic variation - in which a memory of the real thing provides the tune and these pages perhaps a line of harmony.
    ---
    I hope that readers of this story will be encouraged to go back to the peerless originals, and thence to a brighter world.
    Last edited by LRK; 03-30-2016 at 01:53 PM.

  14. #104
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    Anthony Trollope: "Cousin Henry" (re-read) - Indefer Jones is torn as to whom to leave his property to in his will - his niece Isabel Brodrick, whom he loves, or his nephew Henry Jones, whom he rather dislikes.

    During all this time the old squire was terribly troubled about the property. His will was always close to his hand. Till Isabel was twenty-one this will had always been in Henry's favour - with a clause, however, that a certain sum of money which the squire possessed should go to her. Then in his disgust towards his nephew he changed his purpose, and made another will in Isabel's favour. This remained in existence as his last resolution for three years; but they had been three years of misery to him. He had endured but badly the idea that the place should pass away out of what he regarded as the proper male line. To his thinking it was simply an accident that the power of disposing of the property should be in his hands. It was a religion to him that a landed estate in Britain should go from father to eldest son, and in default of a son to the first male heir. Britain would not be ruined because Llanfeare should be allowed to go out of the proper order. But Britain would be ruined if Britons did not do their duty in that sphere of life to which it had pleased God to call them; and in this case his duty was to maintain the old order of things.

    When he dies, his last will names Cousin Henry as the heir - but is that really the last will?

    Note: This is not really a suspense novel but a character study - Trollope falling rather into the "domestc" than the "sensation" bracket.

  15. #105
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    Compton Mackenzie: "Water on the Brain"

    The "New Preface" from 1954:

    Water on the Brain was written immediately after my trial at the Old Bailey under the Official Secrets Act. At the time, the book must have seemed to the average reader a fantastic Marx Brothers affair, but during the Second World War many more people discovered that those responsible for Secret Intelligence do, in very fact, as often as not behave like characters created by the Marx Brothers. Duck Soup, for instance, appealed to me as a film of stark realism.
    Water on the Brain at one time looked like becoming a serious textbook of neophytes of the Secret Service, and indeed if it had not for a time been so difficult to get hold of, it probably would have become a standard work. People who knew the book were convinced that the Ediinburgh police had been studying it before the 'conspiracy' trial of four young Scots was embarked upon in November 1953. It has indeed become impossible for me to devise any ludicrous situation the absurdity of which will not soon be surpassed by officialdom.
    The film world is still under the impression that Water on the Brain might get them into trouble if it were produced as a film. The project has been mooted many times in the last twenty years, but in the end it always fell through because 'They' might not like it, and if 'They' did not like it that might be disadvantageous to the prospects of the film industry in Britain. Quite a number of people believe that I was prosecuted for writing Water on the Brain and revealing the secrets of Pomona Lodge.
    In a letter to the late Principal of Glasgow University, to whom Water on the Brain is dedicated, I insisted that my book was only 'a grotesque fairy tale'. I have little hope that the public's wider experience of the absurdities of Secret Intelligence will persuade them to accept this disclaimer, but I must insist that the book is intended to be comic, and if it does not succeed in being as comic as Intelligence I must plead the impossibility of painting the lily.





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