Recommend A Book to a GS friend

elbkup

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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"
 
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LRK

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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.
 

LRK

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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.
 
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LRK

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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.
 

LRK

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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.




 

LRK

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Elizabeth Gaskell: "My Lady Ludlow"

I am an old woman now, and things are very different to what they were in my youth. Then we, who travelled, travelled in coaches, carrying six inside, and making a two day's journey out of what people now go over in a couple of hours with a whizz and a flash, and a screaming whistle, enough to deafen one. Then letters came in but three times a week; indeed, in some places in Scotland where I have stayed when I was a girl, the post came in but once a month; but letters were letters then; and we made great prizes of them, and read them and studied them like books. Now the post comes rattling in twice a day, bringing short, jerky notes, some without beginning or end, but just a little sharp sentence, which well-bred folks would think too abrupt to be spoken. Well, well! they may all be improvements - I dare say they are; but you will never meet with a Lady Ludlow in these days.
I will try and tell you about her. It is no story; it has as I said, neither beginning, middle, nor end.
 
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IleK

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Very nice thread. I found it a little bit late because I don't write here very often. My program is too busy. So... I've seen lots of titles, some I've read myself, some I've known about, some I haven't but anyways it's always nice to talk about books and find out about new ones.
I am a classic reader, this is how I started when I was 10 years old so it's very hard for me to pay attention to the contemporary litterature. My first novel was Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte. I was in fourth grade and it took me about 2 weekes to read it. I had finnished all the children books I had or borrowed and I said I have to try something bigger, like a book from my parents library, nobody recomended it, it was pure luck. I fell in love with the book, with Caherine and Heathcliff and read it several times since. Very soon after that came Pride and Prejudice, again picked it up myself without knowing anything about the book or the author.Between 10 and 14 years old I read lots of books more than I could afford reading in highschool, university or after becoming a mother. I had all the time in the world and I am happy I used it properly:). Wilkie Collins - The woman in white, D.H. Lawrence - Sons and Lovers (I have never read it since and I can't remember much but I recentely read Woman in love and The princess), Jane Eyre after finnishing 8th grade and in the same summer i think I read also Gone with the wind twice (probably hoping for a different end:). Around 10-12 years old I read lots of french writers, Alexander Dumas & son, Michel Zevaco & son, Victor Hugo, Xavier de Montepin.
A book that impressed me as a child because of its tragedy an I re-read it after almost 25 years is An american Tragedy -Thomas Dreiser and at that time I also read Torrents - Marie Ann Desmarest which I re-read while in highschool. Well, I already wrote too much, I stop here for now.
I currently read The English pacient and I finnished The Pearl of China by Anchee Min and The Aviary Gate by Katie Hickman. I recomend all three of them, there are stories based on history and real facts.
 
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elbkup

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In the midst of deep winter, I find myself gravitating toward thoughts of spring and look forward to digging up soil and planning a garden. I have collected a few non-fiction reads on the topic... books I return to each year to start the juices flowing, some more wild and fantastic than any mystery or thriller I've ever read!

Take, for example, a series of small books by Amy Stewart.. my favorite is
WICKED PLANTS: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Atrocities
Plants are listed in alpha order, all beautifully illustrated, and there are some huge surprises and chilling stories in store...
"Khat" leaves , for example, are a toxic hallucinagen when chewed and a money crop for Somalilian pirates like the ones who, high on the stuff, captured Captain Phillips' tanker in the south China seas. Khat is a close relative of a landscape staple found in most of our gardens -- eunonymous - which comes in huge variety, all toxic. My only complaint of this fascinating read is its lack of a workable index.
Other books by Stewart:
FLOWER CONFIDENTIAL: The Good, The Bad, and The Beautiful
DRUNKEN BOTANIST: The Plants That Create The World's Great Drinks
http://www.wellread.org/bookdetail/...incolns-Mother-and-Other-Botanical-Atrocities

ALSO, I return again and again to Michael Pollan's THE BOTANY OF DESIRE which examines 4 important plants the author argues have changed the course of human history.... the Apple, Tulip, Potato, and Marijuana... Entertaining, informative, highly recommended reading.
 

LRK

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Michelle Magorian: "In Deep Water and Other Stories" - Water-centric short story collection.
 

luckyguy

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Willa Cather's monumental The Great Plains Trilogy (O Pioneers!, 1913; The Song of the Lark, 1915 and My Ántonia, 1918) about the hard life of immigrant women from Sweden and Bohemia. Cather describes those women with breathtaking sensibilty.
 

andromache

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Has anyone read Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels? Life-changing narration and captivating relationships set against post-war Italy. The hype is real.
 

marlet

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Cyberstorm - Matthew Mather
Darknet - Matthew Mather

both are Science Fiction / Thriller
 

madforskating

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My favorite books right now would have to be the Hunger Games trilogy, because the characters are so captivating. Katniss is such a commanding girl and Peeta is the perfect match for her. There's even a lot of deep meaning about life, love, and how the world works. It's definitely the kind of trilogy that makes you think - not just the bloodbath you'd expect.

Also, I find their characters remind me of Stolbova and Klimov so I'm a huge fan :laugh:
 
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madforskating

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Also would recommend Shannon Hale's "Books of Bayern" quartet - "The Goose Girl", "Enna Burning", "River Secrets", and "Forest Born". Interesting fantasy that's actually pretty realistic, very deep human characters, overall fairly clean books and I've read them like 50 times.
 

LRK

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Alison Uttley: "The Country Child" - The country childhood of imaginative 9 year old Susan Garland. Since this is inspired by the author's own childhood, I'm assuming it is set in the 1890s.

From Nina Bawden's introduction:

There are some happy books that are neither "children's books" nor "adult books", but books that, given a reasonable measure of literacy, can comfortably span the generations, appealing to like-minded people in their early teens to centenarians. The Country Child is one. I read it first during the Second World War, when I was thirteen or so, and found it magical; re-reading it recently I was still enchanted by its sweet and singing resonance.

The beginning of the book:

The dark wood was green and gold, green where the oak trees stood crowded together with misshapen twisted trunks, red-gold where the great smooth beeches lifted their branching arms to the sky. In between jostled silver birches - olive-tinted fountains which never reached the light - black spruces with little pale candles on each tip, and nut trees smothered to the neck in dense bracken.
The bracken was a forest in itself, a curving verdant flood of branches, transparent as water by the path, but thick, heavy, secret, a foot or two away, where high ferny crests waved above the softly moving ferns, just as the beech tops flaunted above the rest of the wood. The rabbits which crept quietly in and out reared on their hind legs to see who was going by. They pricked their ears and stood erect, and then dropped silently on soft paws and disappeared into the close ranks of brown stems when they saw the child.
 

LRK

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Leon Garfield: "Shakespeare Stories" - Retellings of the following plays: Twelfth Night, King Lear, The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew, Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth.
 

luckyguy

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Three books by James R. Hines:

- Figure Skating: A History, 2006
- Historical Dictionary of Figure Skating, 2011
- Figure Skating in the Formative Years, 2015
 

LRK

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Nancy Springer: "The Boy on the Black Horse" - A tentative friendship grows up between two teens with traumatic pasts - Gray, who lost her family in an accident; and Chav, who has suffered severe abuse.
 
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