What I read in May 2010

Time to be in earnest by PD James
An autobiography in the form of a diary over a period of one year (1997/1998). As always, I find it interesting to get insight into the life of authors I admire. But I wish she had just written an “ordinary” autobiography, because the diary-as-an-excuse-for -reminiscing ploy sometimes feels a little clunky. Still, I enjoyed this.

 

Notting Hell by Rachel Johnson
This was lent by a fellow book club member and was a fun read. “Witty, sharp, outrageous and cringingly real.  I was riveted” says Sophie Kinsella on the front cover and I more or less agree with her. It left me with the feeling that having the money to live in a place like Lonsdale Gardens would be a very mixed blessing.

What I read in April 2010

The pillars of the earth by Ken Follett
This one, warmly recommended by a fellow book club member, is about cathedral building in the 12th Century. I know it’s probably not a great literary work, but it’s a hugely enjoyable read. I loved reading the Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters a while back, so I already knew a bit about the historical background to the Empress Maud and King Stephen’s drawn out tussle. And cathedrals are fascinating things, so it’s nice to get a little insight in how these amazing buildings were erected nearly a thousand years ago.
As you like it by William Shakespeare
I saw this with my sister recently, in English (which you don’t get to see that often in Paris), directed by Sam Mendes, and we both really enjoyed the show, so I read it afterwards. I thought there was some great acting and it was generally easy on the brain, despite it being by the Bard. Reading the play having watched it first, I was once again struck by how much easier it is to understand (well, for me to understand at any rate) Shakespeare’s plays acted rather than read. The language gap of a few centuries is largely erased with the clues provided by the actors’ and the director’s skills.

What I read in March 2010

Are Women Human? by Dorothy L. Sayers (see the “Crime books I love” page on this blog)

These two essays are quick and easy to read. They are also very entertaining and 95% relevant today.
La formule préférée du professeur de Yoko Ogawa.
J’ai acheté ce livre parce que j’avais adoré cet auteur (voir l’article “What I read in July & August 2009” sur ce blog) et à cause du titre (je travaille dans un endroit où il y a  beaucoup de grands mathématiciens).  Le roman met en scène trois personnages: un professeur de mathématiques qui a une mémoire de 80 minutes seulement, suite à un accident, son aide-ménagère, et le fils de cette dernière.  Leurs interactions, centrées autour des mathématiques et du baseball (l’autre passion du professeur), font l’objet du livre. Certains passages sont très réussis, comme l’admiration de l’aide ménagère pour une belle formule, qui lui permet d’entrevoir la profondeur et la beauté des mathématiques. Cependant, je n’ai pas été complètement emballée par ce livre. Je me demande si, plus court, il n’aurait pas fait une nouvelle admirable, comme La petite pièce hexagonale.
Au bonheur des ogres de Daniel Pennac.
J’avais bien aimé Merci et Comme un livre, donc le livre choisi par notre club de lecture pour sa prochaine réunion devait être une lecture au moins agréable. Elle l’a été, en effet, mais comme disait un ami, on a envie de demander à Monsieur Pennac “Quand écrirez-vous un livre sérieux?” Ce roman date de 1985 et il accuse bien son quart de siècle… Le terrorisme est toujours d’actualité, mais les cercles sataniques sont beaucoup moins en vogue. Sinon, on retiendra du livre cette idée amusante de bouc émissaire séculaire des temps modernes et certains personnages. Parmi eux, la figure ambigüe du grand frère/père/amant parfait m’agace profondément; manque de bol, c’est le héros de l’histoire. Je préfère la soeur mystique et le chien.
The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
I wasn’t going to own up to having read this, but this is a warts-and-all blog, and I did read it to the end, so it must have contained some of the essentials of story telling. It is incredibly soppy and sentimental and 19th Century apothecaries were clearly a weird lot. Oh, you wanted to know what it was about? A young girl, whose father is an apothecary, whose brother has learning difficulties, whose mother has disappeared, and whose friend has epilepsy, goes to London to live with wealthy relatives. She has several suitors, including  a boy back home, and doesn’t know which to choose. She comes home, discovers dark family secrets and chooses the Right Man. 
The Private Patient by PD James
No apology required here to say that I enjoyed this very much. It’s vintage James. All the ingredients are here: brilliantly drawn characters from different social backgrounds, classic it-can-only-have-been-an-inside-job intrigue, beautiful location, a compassionate and highly intelligent police force in the shape of Dalgliesh and his team and the continuing love story. I found James pretty vitriolic in some of her side comments on British society today, but hey, she’s allowed her opinion.

Ce blog cause surtout de livres, en français parfois.