MissWatson roams the centuries, part 2

Dies ist die Fortführung des Themas MissWatson roams the centuries.

Dieses Thema wurde unter MissWatson roams the centuries, part 3 weitergeführt.

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MissWatson roams the centuries, part 2

1MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 27, 4:51am

Hello, I'm Birgit, I live on the shore of the Baltic Sea and this is my eighth year in the CategoryChallenge. This year I'm taking things a little easier. I won't set numerical goals for my categories. Fiction reading will be categorised just by the century it was written in. There's a subgroup for historical fiction set in that period. Overlap between the CATs is allowed, even welcomed in the spirit of achieving CATtricks. Of course there's room for the Bingo and other reading challenges. By happy coincidence we're having a HistoryCAT this year, which fits in nicely with my plans.

2MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 27, 4:51am

21st century



Time flies
Faster and faster, and sometimes I can't believe this century is already two decades old!

1. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
2. Revenger by Alastair Reynolds
3. Wie die Tiere by Wolf Haas
4. Papanini : Pinguin per Post by Ute Krause
5. Papanini : Pinguin in Gefahr by Ute Krause
6. The mortal word by Genevieve Cogman
7. Old Filth by Jane Gardam
8. To be taught if fortunate by Becky Chambers
9. Die Muskeltiere und die rattenscharfe Party by Ute Krause
10. Die Muskeltiere und das Weihnachtswunder by Ute Krause
11. Unter Katzenfreunden by Axel Scheffler and Frantz Wittkamp
12. Heimsuchung by Jenny Erpenbeck
13. Kurt – EinHorn, eine Mission by Chantal Schreiber
14. Die vielen Talente der Schwestern Gusmão by Martha Batalha

3MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 27, 5:00am

20th century



While I breathe, I hope
Two great wars and innumerable conflicts make this century very bleak. Literature reflects this and I have mostly ignored it (genre fiction apart). Time to remedy this by means of lists, lists and more lists.

One of the lists I'm using for this project is Deutsche Welle's "A century of books" which presents 100 seminal titles by German authors whose books have been translated into English: https://www.dw.com/en/top-stories/100-must-reads/s-43415865

1. Elkes Sommer im Sonnenhof by Emma Gündel-Knacke
2. Das fliegende Klassenzimmer by Erich Kästner
3. Verschlossen und verriegelt by Sjöwall/Wahlöö
4. Astérix et les normands by Goscinny/Uderzo
5. Mirjam by Luise Rinser
6. Skandinavische Märchen
7. Au rendezvous des Terre-Neuvas by Georges Simenon
8. Die tückische Straße by Walter Serner
9. Tage der Kindheit by Waldemar Bonsels
10. The doll's house and other stories by Katherine Mansfield
11. The return of the soldier by Rebecca West
12. Liebe kleine Ursula by Margarete Hahn
13. Drei Kameraden by Erich Maria Remarque
14. Uncommon danger by Eric Ambler
15. Von alten Menschen, den Dingen, die vorübergehen by Louis Couperus
16. La maison du juge by Georges Simenon
17. Die dritte Kugel by Leo Perutz
18. Der Flachsacker by Stijn Streuvels
19. Der letzte Sommer by Ricarda Huch
20. The borrowers by Mary Norton
21. Bürger, Bauern, Söldner und Gesandte by Gunnar Teske
22. The Z murders by J. Jefferson Farjeon

Historical fiction
1. Tod an der Wien by Beate Maly
2. Mord auf der Donau by Beate Maly
3. Sommer in Wien by Petra Hartlieb

4MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 27, 4:52am

19th century



Faster, higher, stronger
My favourite literary period. So many great classics! Also a century that believed in progress and competition.

Unterm Birnbaum by Theodor Fontane
Clair de lune {et autres nouvelles} by Guy de Maupassant
Orley Farm by Anthony Trollope
The beach of Falesá by RL Stevenson
The ebb-tide by RL Stevenson

Historical fiction
Die rote Stadt by Boris Meyn
The reluctant widow by Georgette Heyer
Death comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
Die sizilianische Oper by Andrea Camilleri
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Feuer in der Hafenstadt by Anja Marschall

5MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 27, 4:53am

18th century



Dare to know.
The Age of Reason or Enlightenment. Novels written in this century tend to be dreary or moralising, but there's lots of historical fiction here.

Historical fiction
Maria Christina : Tagebuch einer Tochter by Rebecca Novak
Der Grenadier und der stille Tod by Petra Reategui
Die Dame mit der bemalten Hand by Christine Wunnicke

6MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 27, 4:53am

17th century



From the deep I call.
A time of religious disputes and wars in the middle of Europe. If I can finish five books written in this period, I shall be truly proud of myself.

Historical fiction
Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
Das Fräulein von Scuderi by ETA Hoffmann
Die Schatten von La Rochelle by Tanja Kinkel

7MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 27, 4:54am

Before 1600



What we are you will be.
I don't see myself reading many books actually written in these centuries, but you never know until you try.

8MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 27, 4:55am

HistoryCAT



Since the foundation of the city.
History is a subject that fascinates me, some periods more than others. This is a strictly non-fiction section. The category title is taken from Livy's history of Rome.

hosting December

January: Middle Ages
Krieger und Bauern by Georges Duby
Die Ritter by Karl-Heinz Göttert
The Byzantine Economy by Angeliki Laiou
Einladung ins Mittelalter by Horst Fuhrmann

February: Modern 1800 to now
The War in the Peninsula by Robert Knowles
Rifles by Mark Urban
Die King's German Legion 1803-1816 by Jens Mastnak

March: early modern era 1500-1800
Piraten und Korsaren im Mittelmeer by Salvatore Bono
The Queen's agent by John Cooper
The world of Renaissance Florence
Der Astronom und die Hexe by Ulinka Rublack

April: ancient history
Rom : Aufstieg einer antiken Weltmacht

May: Dynasties, civilisations, empires
The fate of Rome by Kyle Harper

June: War, Military, Revolutions
Bürger, Bauern, Söldner und Gesandte by Gunnar Teske

9MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 27, 4:55am

RandomCAT



The dice is cast.
The quintessence of randomness, and my favourite category.

January: LOL
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
The reluctant widow by Georgette Heyer

February: Fruits & veggies
Unterm Birnbaum by Theodor Fontane

March: Surprise
Revenger by Alastair Reynolds
Wie die Tiere by Wolf Haas
The ebb-tide by Robert L Stevenson

April: from the library of a fellow LTer
Mirjam by Luise Rinser
Old Filth by Jane Gardam
To be taught if fortunate by Becky Chambers

May: Let's play Monopoly
The Doll's House and others stories by Katherine Mansfield
Drei Kameraden by Erich Maria Remarque
La maison du juge by Georges Simenon

June: Everything old is new
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

10MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 27, 4:56am

GenreCAT



Variation delights.
I am very much looking forward to buffet reading.

January: Non-fiction
Krieger und Bauern by Georges Duby
Die Ritter by Karl-Heinz Göttert
The Byzantine Economy by Angeliki Laiou
Einladung ins Mittelalter by Horst Fuhrmann

February: memoir/biography
Monteverdi by Wulf Konold

March: Action and Adventure
Revenger by Alastair Reynolds
Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

April: Literary Fiction
Mirjam by Luise Rinser
Old Filth by Jane Gardam

May: Short stories/essays
Die tückische Straße by Walter Serner
The doll's house and other stories by Katherine Mansfield

June: Historical fiction
Sommer in Wien by Petra Hartlieb
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Feuer in der Hafenstadt by Anja Marschall
Die Schatten von La Rochelle by Tanja Kinkel
Die Dame mit der bemalten Hand by Christine Wunnicke

hosting SFF in November

11MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 27, 4:56am

BingoDOG



Beware the dog.
There's no need to worry, the BingoDOG is a cute little puppy!



1: Revenger by Alastair Reynolds
2: Der Grenadier und der stille Tod by Petra Reategui
3: Clair de lune {et autres nouvelles} by Guy de Maupassant
4: To be taught if fortunate by Becky Chambers
5: Monteverdi by Wulf Konold
6: Von alten Menschen, den Dingen, die vorübergehen by Louis Couperus
7: Der Astronom und die Hexe by Ulinka Rublack
8: The fate of Rome by Kyle Harper
9: Feuer in der Hafenstadt by Anja Marschall
10: The Byzantine Economy by Angeliki Laiou and Cécile Morrisson
11: Adeliges Leben im Baltikum by Agnese Bergholde-Wolf
12: Maria Christina : Tagebuch einer Tochter by Rebecca Novak
13: Drei Kameraden by Erich Maria Remarque
14: Die vielen Talente der Schwestern Gusmão by Martha Batalha
15: The reluctant widow by Georgette Heyer
16: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
17: Die rote Stadt by Boris Meyn
18: Verschlossen und verriegelt by Sjöwall/Wahlöö
19: Krieger und Bauern by Georges Duby
20: Die Ritter by Karl-Heinz Göttert
21: Das fliegende Klassenzimmer by Erich Kästner
22: Tod an der Wien by Beate Maly
23: The doll's house and other stories by Katherine Mansfield
24: Tage der Kindheit by Waldemar Bonsels
25: Astérix et les normands by Goscinny/Uderzo

12MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 27, 4:56am



January: 2,470 pages
February: 2,749 pages
March: 3,890 pages
April: 2,915 pages
May: 3,719 pages

13MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 27, 4:57am

The Popsugar reading challenge:

A book that's published in 2021 Sommer in Wien by Petra Hartlieb
An Afrofuturist book
A book that has a heart, diamond, club, or spade on the cover
A book by an author who shares your zodiac sign Unterm Birnbaum by Theodor Fontane
A dark academia book Krieger und Bauern by Georges Duby
A book with a gem, mineral, or rock in the title
A book where the main character works at your current or dream job Tod an der Wien by Beate Maly
A book that has won the Women's Prize For Fiction
A book with a family tree
A bestseller from the 1990s
A book about forgetting The return of the soldier by Rebecca West
A book you have seen on someone's bookshelf (in real life, on a Zoom call, in a TV show, etc.)
A locked-room mystery Verschlossen und verriegelt by Sjöwall/Wahlöö
A genre hybrid
A book set mostly or entirely outdoors Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
A book with something broken on the cover Die Schatten von La Rochelle by Tanja Kinkel
A book by a Muslim American author
A book that was published anonymously
A book with an oxymoron in the title
A book about do-overs or fresh starts Die rote Stadt by Boris Meyn
A book set in multiple countries Die tückische Straße by Walter Serner
A book set somewhere you'd like to visit in 2021 Mord auf der Donau by Beate Maly
A book by a blogger, vlogger, YouTube video creator, or other online personality
A book whose title starts with "Q," "X," or "Z"
A book featuring three generations (grandparent, parent, child) Von alten Menschen, den Dingen, die vorübergehen by Louis Couperus
A book about a social justice issue
A book set in a restaurant Au rendezvous des Terre-Neuvas by Georges Simenon
A book with a black-and-white cover
A book by an lndigenous author
A book that has the same title as a song
A book about a subject you are passionate about The fate of Rome by Kyle Harper
A book in a different format than what you normally read (audiobooks, ebooks, graphic novels) Astérix et les normands by Goscinny/Uderzo
A book that has fewer than 1,000 reviews on Amazon or Goodreads Maria Christina : Tagebuch einer Tochter by Rebecca Novak
A book you think your best friend would like
A book about art or an artist Monteverdi by Wulf Konold
A book that discusses body positivity
A book everyone seems to have read but you
A book found on a Black Lives Matter reading list
Your favorite prompt from a past Popsugar Reading Challenge

Advanced
The longest book (by pages) on your TBR list
The shortest book (by pages) on your TBR list The War in the Peninsula by Robert Knowles
The book on your TBR list with the prettiest cover
The book on your TBR list with the ugliest cover
The book that's been on your TBR list for the longest amount of time Skandinavische Märchen
A book from your TBR list you meant to read last year but didn't
A book from your TBR list you associate with a favorite person, place, or thing
A book from your TBR list chosen at random
A DNF book from your TBR list
A free book from your TBR list (gifted, borrowed, library) Das Fräulein von Scuderi by ETA Hoffmann

14MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 27, 4:58am

This is for the GoodReads Around the Year Challenge, borrowed from Judy's thread.

1. Related to "In the Beginning": Feuer in der Hafenstadt by Anja Marschall
2. Author's Name Has No "A, T or Y": Monteverdi by Wulf Konold
3. Related to the lyrics of the song "Favorite Things":
4. Monochromatic Cover: Krieger und Bauern by Georges Duby
5. Author is on USA Today's List of 100 Black Novelists You Should Read:
6. A Love Story: Maria Christina : Tagebuch einer Tochter by Rebecca Novak
7. Fits a Suggestion that Didn't Make the Final List:
8. Set somewhere you have never visited: Verschlossen und verriegelt by Sjöwall/Wahlöö
9. Associated with a specific season or time of year:
10. A female villain or criminal: Orley Farm by Anthony Trollope
11. Celebrates The Grand Egyptian Museum:
12. Written by a woman and translated to English: Der letzte Sommer by Ricarda Huch
13. Written by an author of one of your best reads in 2020:
14. Set in a made up place:
15. Siblings as main characters:
16. A building in the title: The doll's house and other stories by Katherine Mansfield
17. Muslim character or author: Die Dame mit der bemalten Hand by Christine Wunnicke
18. Related to the past: Adeliges Leben im Baltikum by Agnese Bergholde-Wolf
19. Related to the present: Heimsuchung by Jenny Erpenbeck
20. Related to the future: To be fortunate if taught by Becky Chambers
21. Title and Author contain the letter U: Einladung ins Mittelalter by Horst Fuhrmann
22. Posted in one of the ATY Best Book of the Month Threads:
23. A Cross Genre Novel:
24. About Racism or Race Relations:
25. Set on an island: Die sizilianische Oper by Andrea Camilleri
26. A Short Book (less than 210 pages): Unterm Birnbaum by Theodor Fontane
27. Book has a character that could be found in a deck of cards:
28. Connected to ice:
29. A Comfort Read: Liebe kleine Ursula by Margarete Hahn
30. A Long Book:
31. Author's career spanned more than 21 years: The reluctant widow by Georgette Heyer
32. Cover shows more than 2 people: Tage der Kindheit by Waldemar Bonsels
33. A Collection of Short Stories, Essays or Poetry: Clair de lune {et autres nouvelles} by Guy de Maupassant
34. A book with a travel theme:
35. Set in a country on or below the Tropic of Cancer: Die vielen Talente der Schwestern Gusmão by Martha Batalha
36. Six or More Words in the Title:
37. From the "Are You Well Read in Literature List": Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
38. Related to a word given to you by a random word generator:
39. Involves an immigrant:
40. Flowers or Greenery on the cover:
41. A new-to-you BIPOC Author:
42. A Mystery or Thriller: Die rote Stadt by Boris Meyn
43. Contains elements of magic: Astérix et les normands by Goscinny/Uderzo
44. Title Contains a Negative:
45. Related to a codeword from the NATO phoenic alphabet:
46. Winner or nominee from the 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards:
47. Non-Fiction book other than a Memoir or a Biography: Rifles : Six years with Wellington's legendary sharpshooters by Mark Urban
48. Might cause someone to say "You Read What!!":
49. Book with an ensemble cast: Von alten Menschen, den Dingen, die vorübergehen by Louis Couperus
50. Published in 2021: Sommer in Wien by Petra Hartlieb
51. Refers to a character without giving their name: Der Astronom und die Hexe by Ulinka Rublack
52. Related to "The End": Skandinavische Märchen

15MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 27, 4:58am

And here it is, the classics challenge discovered on Leslie's thread.

1. A 19th century classic - any book published between 1800 and 1899. Unterm Birnbaum by Theodor Fontane
2. A 20th century classic - any book published between 1900 and 1971. Drei Kameraden by Erich Maria Remarque
3. A classic by a woman author. The return of the soldier by Rebecca West
4. A classic in translation. Von alten Menschen, den Dingen, die vorübergehen by Louis Couperus
5. A children's classic. Indulge your inner child and read that classic that you somehow missed years ago. Short stories are fine, but it must be a complete volume. Young adult and picture books don't count!
6. A classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction. This can be a true crime story, mystery, detective novel, spy novel, etc., as long as a crime is an integral part of the story and it was published at least 50 years ago. Orley Farm by Anthony Trollope
7. A classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction. The journey itself must be the major plot point -- not just the destination. Good examples include The Hobbit, Around the World in 80 Days, Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, Kon-Tiki, Travels with Charley, etc.
8. A classic with a single-word title. No articles please! Proper names are fine -- Emma, Germinal, Middlemarch, Kidnapped, etc.
9. A classic with a color in the title. The Woman in White; Anne of Green Gables; The Red and the Black, and so on. (Silver, gold, etc. are acceptable. Basically, if it's a color in a Crayola box of crayons, it's fine!)
10. A classic by an author that's new to you: Der Flachsacker by Stijn Streuvels
11. A classic that scares you. Is there a classic you've been putting off forever? A really long book which intimidates you because of its sheer length? Now's the time to read it, and hopefully you'll be pleasantly surprised!
12. Re-read a favorite classic. Like me, you probably have a lot of favorites -- choose one and read it again.

And because I am utterly insane, here is also the #WomenReading21 Challenge (enabled by ELiz_M):
1) A Book Longlisted for the JCB Prize
2) An Author from Eastern Europe:
3) A Book About Incarceration
4) A Cookbook by a Woman of Color: Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry Bible
5) A Book with a Protagonist Older than 50: Tod an der Wien by Beate Maly
6) A Book by a South American Author in Translation: Die vielen Talente der Schwestern Gusmão by Martha Batalha
7) Reread a Favorite Book The reluctant widow by Georgette Heyer
8) A Memoir by an Indigenous, First Nations, Native, or Aboriginal Woman:
9) A Book by a Neurodivergent Author
10) A Crime Novel or Thriller in Translation:
11) A Book About the Natural World
12) A Young Adult Novel by a Latinx Author
13) A Poetry Collection by a Black Woman
14) A Book with a Biracial Protagonist:
15) A Muslim Middle Grade Novel
16) A Book Featuring a Queer Love Story
17) About a Woman in Politics
18) A Book with a Rural Setting:
19) A Book with a Cover Designed by a Woman To be taught if fortunate by Becky Chambers
20) A Book by an Arab Author in Translation
21) A Book by a Trans Author
22) A Fantasy Novel by an Asian Author
23) A Nonfiction Book Focused on Social Justice
24) A Short Story Collection by a Caribbean Author
BONUS
25) A Book by Alexis Wright
26) A Book by Tsitsi Dangarembga
27) A Book by Leila Aboulela
28) A Book by Yoko Ogawa

16MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Mrz. 28, 7:37am

Welcome to the spring thread of my challenge!

17MissWatson
Mrz. 28, 7:42am

XXI / RandomCAT

I was surprised to see the second branch of our local charity bookshop has opened, and I was even more surprised to find a book from the Simon Brenner series that I had never seen before: Wie die Tiere. And because I needed something different after two less than stellar non-fiction books, I pounced on it immediately.

This time, Brenner finds himself in Vienna investigating who is killing dogs in the Augarten park with dog treats spiked with needles. The style is very unusual in these mysteries, told in the first person by an unknown narrator who constantly addresses the reader as if he were teling the story over a beer in a pub. A little disjointed, ungrammatical, and very funny. Just what I needed now.

18MissWatson
Mrz. 28, 7:47am

XIX / GeoKIT

And a short story: The beach at Falesá, one of RL Stevenson's South Sea tales. I think I need to read the introduction to understand why this was published together with the Jekyll & Hyde story, but I want to read the third story first.
Again, a story told in the first person by someone who doesn't speak correct English, and the broken English of the indigenous islanders was particularly hard to follow. It's a rather strange and brutal tale.

19MissBrangwen
Mrz. 28, 7:47am

>17 MissWatson: What a great find! And Happy New Thread, Birgit!

And I hope you have a wonderful Easter with your sister.

20MissWatson
Mrz. 28, 7:57am

>19 MissBrangwen: Thanks, Mirjam. I was so shocked on Tuesday when the rules for the hard lockdown came out that I decided to travel a day earlier. I would have felt very uncomfortable travelling on Thursday under those circumstances. And then they changed their minds... it is such a weird situation. It is illogical, the risk is the same whether it's allowed or not, but I try to comply with the rules. And there will only be the two of us, no place to go, just tea and good food. I'm looking forward to one of her cakes.

21Helenliz
Mrz. 28, 9:31am

Happy new thread. I love the surprise finds, the ones that sort of jump off the shelf at you and into your arms. >:-)

22Jackie_K
Mrz. 28, 9:56am

Happy new thread, Birgit! I'm glad that your surprise find turned out so well!

23rabbitprincess
Mrz. 28, 10:35am

Happy new thread! I do so miss wandering the shelves of the bookshop and looking for something to jump out at me!

24Tess_W
Mrz. 28, 11:57am

Happy new thread!

25kac522
Mrz. 28, 3:47pm

Happy new thread! You've made a lot of progress on your challenges this year--well done!

26DeltaQueen50
Mrz. 28, 4:10pm

Happy new thread, Birgit. I love how you described the GenreCat as a buffet - that's such a good comparison! :)

27MissWatson
Mrz. 29, 3:05am

>21 Helenliz: Thanks Helen! It's the only kind of surprise I truly like.
>22 Jackie_K: Thanks, Jackie. He is a reliable author for taking you out of the dumps, very funny, but occasionally very black, too.
>23 rabbitprincess: Hi, rp! Yes, that's why I visited a bookshop nearly every day since they have been allowed to open. It looks like it won't last, so I'm glad I made the most of it.
>24 Tess_W: Thanks, Tess!
>25 kac522: Thanks, Katie. I'm very pleased with my progress, especially since it helps me to get rid of a few books that turned out not so great.
>26 DeltaQueen50: Hi Judy! It has been great to nibble on favourite bits and pieces and then to move on to something completely different.

28MissWatson
Mrz. 30, 4:41am

XIX / RandomCAT / GeoKIT

And another short story set in the South Sea: The ebb-tide. This was a bit longer and tells of three white men who have failed to make a success of their lives. Another bleak tale that I find hard to sum up.
I wonder why Stevenson chose to name one of them Robert Herrick, like the Elizabethan poet? Simply because he loves poetry? He considers Heinrich Heine to be a perfect poet, whom I have never before seen mentioned in an Engish book. So that was a real surprise.

29MissWatson
Mrz. 30, 6:07am

I will be offline the next few days, and I'm really looking forward to not touching a notebook for some time.
I hope everyone has a lovely time during the Easter break!

30MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Apr. 16, 3:15am

XVIII / Bingo: marginalised group

Der Grenadier und der stille Tod is a historical mystery which caught my eye because it is set in Karlsruhe in 1772. This turned out to be much better than I had hoped for, it is well-researched and very well written. The author manages to give a sense of the times just by spelling a few words in an old-fashioned way. It also has lots of history I didn't know about, about a group of Protestants who left France and settled in Württemberg, just across the border from Karlsruhe (which is in Baden). And the mystery was very well told, in a slow, casual way.
It is told from the perspective of two people mostly, Ignatz who works as a crossing sweeper and odd-job man and can't hear and speak (what's the current PC word for that condition?) and Madeleine, a young girl from the community of Waldensians across the border. She was born in Germany and wants to belong to this new country which to her family and friends is still exile rather than home. Both characters are convincingly handled, as we slowly find out about Ignatz' different way of interpreting the world and Madeleine's wish to become independent. The major who tries to find out who killed the man from his regiment is not exactly the brightest, but even he learns to think beyond his prejudices. And surprisingly enough, he is based on a real person.

31MissWatson
Apr. 7, 10:20am

XXI

My sister had laid out two recent acquisitions for me, from one of our favourite authors for children. Of course I read them immediately: Papanini : Pinguin per Post and Papanini : Pinguin in Gefahr.
Emma has recently moved to a new town with her parents and is unhappy at school. A huge packet arrives, a dilapidated icebox, which contains a little pinguin who can talk. Adventures ensue as Emma tries to hide him from her parents and to find out where he belongs. A linguist and ornithologist who studies bird languages is the one who taught him to talk, he is around and together they defeat the bad guys who want to sell him. In the second book Emma visits the penguin in his new home in Abu Dhabi (a sheikh has hired the ornithologist to study the language of his falcons) and this time the sheikh's favourite falcon is kidnapped. This was quite fun.

32MissWatson
Apr. 7, 10:22am

It has been a wonderful Easter break and a successful reading month, all in all, even if not all books were fabulous. And since we are having bad weather (it started snowing again on Monday!!) I am spending the next evenings on the sofa with books and tea.

33Tess_W
Apr. 7, 10:55am

I'm glad Easter break was a great time for you and your sister. As always, your reviews are fab and although the Reategui book is not translated into English, I was able to pick up 2 Krause books (but not the penguins), one about a bear and one about a pig. After reading those to my grandchildren, they will go home with them.

34MissWatson
Apr. 7, 11:09am

>33 Tess_W: I hope your grandkids enjoy them! She's a prolific writer and hard to keep up with.

35spiralsheep
Apr. 7, 1:56pm

>32 MissWatson: The snow reached us yesterday, one day after you, but the weather which brought it was comparatively gentle.

I'm glad you had a break with your sister.

36MissWatson
Apr. 8, 3:02am

>35 spiralsheep: Thanks, I enjoyed my break very much. It was very restful. Watching snowflakes in a storm is fun if you're safely inside.

37MissWatson
Apr. 8, 3:11am

HistoryCAT / Bingo: heartily recommended / GR: prompt 51

I am a bit late with Der Astronom und die Hexe for the March HistoryCAT, but never mind. This has everything I expect from a non-fiction history book: well-written, interesting, full of stuff I didn't know before and with proper notes! Thus a book I can recommend.
This is about Johannes Kepler, his studies, his family and the legal action against his mother who was accused of being a witch. She lived in Leonberg, a small town in Württemberg, so there's also lots of local history.
My only surprise was that it is a translation from English, I didn't pay attention when I bought this (I ususally prefer originals).

38spiralsheep
Apr. 8, 4:47am

>37 MissWatson: I didn't know about Katharina Kepler. How terrible!

39Tess_W
Apr. 8, 7:57am

>37 MissWatson: no idea about this aspect of Kepler's life. This is going on my wish list.

40MissWatson
Apr. 9, 2:02am

>38 spiralsheep: >39 Tess_W: I didn't know about the Württemberg connections, so we have all learned something new. LT is great.

41MissWatson
Apr. 10, 10:39am

Saturday notes

On Friday, 9 April, the FAZ marked the bicentenary of Baudelaire's birth and mentioned that Flaubert's is due later in the year. It also mentioned that both authors, considered as fathers of modern literature, didn't like the modern world they lived in. I feel a vague desire to take Flaubert off the shelf. And there's also Proust's 150th birthday coming up.

Today there's a lot about Prince Philip, of course, and one obituary mentioned that he had a library of 13,000 books. That is something I'd like to see...

42MissWatson
Apr. 10, 10:43am

HistoryCAT

I suspect I bought Rom : Aufstieg einer antiken Weltmacht because it was cheap and because I know comparatively little about the Roman Republic. This book did nothing to improve my knowledge, as it serves up nearly seven hundred years of history in easily digestible morsels. I guess I should have known better, since it is published by a news magazine, but at least I now recall what I have learned in school and can turn to something more solid.

43hailelib
Apr. 11, 1:40pm

>37 MissWatson:

I knew about Kepler’s mother but there wasn’t a lot of detail about her legal problems in the books I’ve read about his work.

44charl08
Apr. 11, 2:43pm

>31 MissWatson: I love books about penguins and hadn't heard of these ones before. Will have a look for some copies the next time I'm in Germany (when Covid permits that!).

45MissWatson
Apr. 12, 2:45am

>43 hailelib: According to the author, there's only one serious book about his mother and that's unreliable in her eyes.
>44 charl08: They have only been published last year.

46MissWatson
Apr. 12, 2:59am

XX / RandomCAT / GenreCAT

I have finished Mirjam, a novel by one of Germany's foremost novelists in the second half of the 20th century. It tell the story of Mary Magdalene in her own words and sticks close to the gospels, but always from the perspective of a woman who refused to live the life of a "proper" Jewish woman, as in wife and mother. The author uses the Hebrew version of the names for all protagonists, as in Jeschua, Jochanan or Jehuda, which is unsettling at first as you try to figure out who this is. But it helps to look at the story afresh. Mirjam, Jochanan and Jehuda are the ones who argue about the teachings here, with Jehuda taking the role of the political rebel which reminded me that I know far too little about the historical situation of the times. It's the kind of book that stays with you.

47MissBrangwen
Apr. 13, 3:49pm

>46 MissWatson: I remember that I liked this book and that the atmosphere was very special, but otherwise I don't remember that much. It's probably time for a reread because I'm sure I'd appreciate it even more now.

48Chrischi_HH
Apr. 13, 4:40pm

The penguin books sound lovely, I'll make a note to remember them as gifts or somewhere in the distant future for my own children.

Did you see that the theatre in Kiel is part of the culture pilot project? Lübeck's theatre is participating as well, and I just saw that they offer two online streaming plays this month. Something new to take my time away from books...

49MissWatson
Apr. 14, 2:32am

>47 MissBrangwen: I think she caught the atmosphere of political unrest very well.
>48 Chrischi_HH: They are lovely. I may look at the culture projects, but right now I feel more a need to et away from the screen, I spend too much time in front of it.

50MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Apr. 16, 3:15am

XX / MysteryKIT / Bingo: senior citizen / Popsugar: dream job / WomenReading: protagonist older than 50

I needed something nice and undemanding and found it with Tod an der Wien. Retired teacher Ernestine Kisch and retired pharmacist Antn Böck attend the premiere of a Lehár operetta and later that night the leading diva is found dead. Ernestine is curious and sets about finding out what happened.
This is the second instalment in the series. The author explains a bit too much about the historical background, and I think the main characters spend a little too much money on cakes and hot chocolate in cafés, considering that this is 1923 and inflation is raging, but it is an engaging couple and it certainly satisfied my nostalgia for Vienna. I was also very much surprised to find that "Land des Lächelns" actually did premiere in that year, somehow I always associated Lehár with the 19th century.
Ah yes, and my current dream job is to be a pensioner.

ETC

51MissWatson
Apr. 16, 3:28am

XX / Popsugar: a place you'd like to visit in 2021

I have decided to put my recent historical mystery reads in the centuries in which they are set, as was the original plan, so some editing has been done.

Mord auf der Donau is the next in the series set in Vienna in 1923, and this time we accompany Anton and Ernestine on a short cruise on the Danube from Vienna to Budapest and back where, of course, a murder takes place. The series has a pattern: a short prologue set in the past describes an event that provides the motive for the murder in the story's present. And this time the author goes back too far. We are not told the exact ages of the protagonists, but if we take the date of 1873 in the prologue seriously, it would mean that the murderer and our reluctant male detective companion are in their early seventies, which I find unbelievable. Especially given the fact that he was drafted into the armyin 1917/1918 for the Isonzo front. In his late sixties?
Other than that, it is an engaging story. How I wish I could visit Vienna again.

52spiralsheep
Apr. 16, 5:47am

>51 MissWatson: You will visit Vienna again, not now but sometime.

I miss the sea, but it'll be there later.

53MissWatson
Apr. 17, 12:05pm

>52 spiralsheep: And we'll always have Paris.

54MissBrangwen
Apr. 17, 12:10pm

>50 MissWatson: >51 MissWatson: I haven't heard of this series, it sounds like something I'd like for sure! And the covers look pretty, too.

I'm all in for Paris, Vienna or the sea.

55MissWatson
Apr. 17, 12:30pm

54 It's the covers that made me buy them, they are so gorgeous. The stories can be a little thin, but they are very comforting if you're not feeling too well.

56MissBrangwen
Apr. 17, 12:32pm

>55 MissWatson: "but they are very comforting if you're not feeling too well."
It's book like this that are proving to be a safe haven these days...

57MissWatson
Apr. 17, 12:48pm

>56 MissBrangwen: So very, very true. Can't imagine where I would be if I couldn't escape into a book.

58spiralsheep
Apr. 17, 1:36pm

>53 MissWatson: We'll always have Paris.

(Although mine is the cynical tourist Paris of Le Week-end.)

>54 MissBrangwen: I hadn't noticed the Art Nouveau covers. They're very stylish.

59MissWatson
Apr. 18, 7:36am

>58 spiralsheep: Ooh, I don't know that film. Looks promising!

60MissWatson
Apr. 18, 7:40am

Saturday notes

A lovely, sunny day took me outside and I stepped into the charity bookshop because it was still open, and somehow I left with five books in my bag. But it's all for a good cause.
Here's the haul:
At home
A medal for murder
Death of an avid reader
Le maître des âmes
Die sizilianische Oper

I also notice that I haven't read much in French these last months, should try to do better next month with European mysteries...

61MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Apr. 18, 7:56am

XX / GeoKIT / Popsugar: on the TBR longest / GR: Related to "the end"

I was looking for something else and came across the cover image of Skandinavische Märchen which sent me to my shelves and then the DNB catalogue. It is a collection of Scandinavian fairy tales. My edition is dated December 1972, it has been reprinted several times since then and this means I must have bought this while still in school, with my pocket money. This must be one of the eldest unread books in my library, if not the eldest. I spent a nice afternoon on the balcony finally reading it. There are stories from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Faeroes, some from the Sami, and finally Iceland. Some very familiar plots, others less so, and the names are so Tolkienesque.
In those days paperbacks were rather narrow and the font size small, the paper is brown and the glue brittle, but I think I'll keep it for nostalgic reasons and an interesting preface.

ETC

62spiralsheep
Apr. 18, 8:08am

>59 MissWatson: Le Week-end has references back to other films too, especially Bande à part.

>60 MissWatson: I have sooo many books to go to the charity shop. Three big boxes full! I hope you enjoy your finds.

>61 MissWatson: "In those days paperbacks were rather narrow and the font size small"

My ageing eyes can confirm this.

63MissWatson
Apr. 20, 3:32am

XXI / SFF KIT

The previous instalment of the Invisible Library series fell rather flat for me and I put the series on hold. For this month's SFF KIT I took The mortal word from the shelf and loved it enough to order the next volumes. There's Paris and a diplomatic conference, and Irene has to find a murderer while trying not to upset the delegations. This was fun.

64spiralsheep
Apr. 20, 4:12am

>63 MissWatson: I'm glad you've fallen back in love with a series. It's so heartbreaking when one stops loving them in the middle of a potentially long relationship.

65Tess_W
Apr. 20, 5:59am

>63 MissWatson: Glad it was fun! We don't have enough fun anymore!

66MissWatson
Apr. 21, 2:38am

>64 spiralsheep: There will always be weaker and better books in a series, but this one had a serious dip. I'm picking up the new ones today...
>65 Tess_W: And it was very escapist fun which is even rarer.

67MissWatson
Apr. 22, 5:24am

XIX / GR: set on an island / GeoKIT: Europe

Die sizilianische Oper is set in Vigàta, some ten years after Italy was united into a kingdom, and the prefect has decided that the new theatre shall be inaugurated with the performance of a little known opera by a little known composer. The city's dignitaries are up in arms, not because they don't like the opera, but because they refuse to be bossed around by the prefect. There's a tumult during the performance and the building goes up in flames later in the night, taking the house next to it and two lives with it. And they are not the only ones who end up dead...
This is an odd book. It is told in non-chronological order, each chapter a self-contained episode introducing some of the people involved in the affair, if only as a victim. Camilleri plays with form here, you could read the chapters in any order you like. It is based on real events which were the subject of a parliamentary investigation. There's a huge amount of fornication going on, everyone seems to lust after or to be having an affair with someone other than their spouse. Everyone, even the upper classes, use a very crude language. It's hard to tell if that is an attempt to reproduce Camilleri's Sicilian, it often reads too modern. But the translator explains in her afterword why she didn't use German dialects to mark the various regional dialects of Italian. They matter very much here, because the representatives of the state are all imports from other regions, and the Sicilians resent these outsiders lording it over them.
This is very much a book about the disillusionment after the unification wars, and the promises not kept. Ah yes, and there are some gruesome deaths, as we also have a Mafia don sitting on the right hand of the prefect.

68MissWatson
Apr. 24, 7:56am

XXI / RandomCAT / GenreCAT

Old Filth was a wonderful read. The life story of Edward Feathers was harrowing, but how the author tells it is fabulous.

69spiralsheep
Apr. 24, 8:51am

>68 MissWatson: I'm glad you enjoyed it. The most recent Jane Gardam I read was the third book in her Filth trilogy, Last Friends (which reminded me oddly of Mary Wesley's The Camomile Lawn), but I have her Flight of the Maidens to look forward to on my To Read shelf. I think of those two authors and Penelope Lively together for some reason.

70Tess_W
Apr. 24, 9:13am

>68 MissWatson: on my WL it goes!

71MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Apr. 25, 12:17pm

>69 spiralsheep: I've got the rest of the trilogy on the TBR and hope to get to it soon. That comparison to The camomile lawn is intriguing, as that is also waiting.
>70 Tess_W: It is one I can recommend, I hope you enjoy it, too.

ETC

72MissWatson
Apr. 25, 12:30pm

XXI / RandomCAT / Bingo: a character you'd be friends with / GR: related to the future / WomenReading: cover designed by a woman

I didn't realise that To be taught if fortunate is not a part of the Wayfarer series when I started this, but never mind. It fits for quite a few challenges, as I have also seen it in Charlotte's (charl08), mathgirl40's, spiralsheep's and a few other libraries. And it is simply fabulous. It makes you think about things, about the universe and our place in it. One of the best books I've read this year, so far.

73MissWatson
Apr. 25, 1:05pm

Saturday notes

No interesting reviews (which is a relief, the wishlist is growing out of control). On the bright side: lovely weather and the asparagus season has started. The first local farmers brought theirs to the market and I caved in to temptation.
As usual, I tried new recipes. Both a bit too complicated and using too much crockery, but the one with pasta can be adapted, I think...just fry the asparagus in lime-flavoured olive oil instead of cooking it in water first. The author did this so she could cook the pasta in the same water, but it doesn't make enough difference to the taste to justify the effort. Just cooking the pasta, draining it, mixing it with the fried asparagus and sprinkling some parmesan on it should do it.

74spiralsheep
Apr. 25, 1:55pm

>71 MissWatson: It might be that Last Friends and The Camomile Lawn both use funerals and memory as devices.

>72 MissWatson: Isn't it a splendid book? Not her best as a story but maybe her most deeply thoughtful. I loved it and expect I'll reread it at least once.

75RidgewayGirl
Apr. 25, 2:06pm

>73 MissWatson: My husband and I were talking last night about how much we miss asparagus season, from the special menus in restaurants, to the small stores posting signs outside indicating where their asparagus was grown, to the way that the many asparagus stands at the Munich Viktualienmarkt would peel the asparagus you'd just bought as you finished shopping.

76Helenliz
Bearbeitet: Apr. 25, 2:25pm

The asparagus in the garden is just about ready for a first pick this week. I'm thinking salmon...

It is one of those food that you wonder who first thought to try eating it, as it does look a bit otherworldly.

77Tess_W
Apr. 25, 2:41pm

I baked asparagus spears last night at a high temp along with chopped sweet potatoes. Just drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper and they were delicious.

78MissWatson
Apr. 26, 2:37am

>74 spiralsheep: Yes, it is, and I can see a re-read in the future.
>75 RidgewayGirl: I used to scoff at people who didn't peel their own, but now that I need my glasses for preparing veggies I can see their point.
>76 Helenliz: There are many foods like that...
>77 Tess_W: Oh, that sounds delicious. And little washing-up required! I'll try that soon.

79pamelad
Apr. 26, 4:44am

>75 RidgewayGirl: I’ve never thought of peeling asparagus and have never come across anyone else doing it. Do you have a different sort that needs peeling?

80MissWatson
Apr. 27, 10:07am

>79 pamelad: In Germany green asparagus is a recent arrival. We are fanatical about white asparagus which needs to be peeled.

81spiralsheep
Apr. 27, 10:37am

>80 MissWatson: Ah! Thank you for the explanation. I too was wondering. :-)

82MissWatson
Mai 1, 8:55am

Saturday notes

It's Labour Day today and even the bakery is closed. Every other day of the year they are open at least half the day, but not today. The farmer's market was held yesterday and somehow the whole day feels as if it were Sunday already. Weird. And I'm still plugging away at The fate of Rome. Definitely not a quick read.
In other news: the stay at home rule has been extended until the end of May, so I'll spend another month working from my living room. Sheesh.

83MissWatson
Mai 2, 7:01am

April roundup

A good reading month with some truly great books. Pride of place goes to To be taught, if fortunate, but Der Astronom und die Hexe and Old Filth are close. And The fate of Rome would have been in there as well if I could have finished it in time. Hopefully today...

84spiralsheep
Mai 2, 9:59am

>83 MissWatson: The fate of Rome took hundreds of years. You can't hurry it! ;-)

85MissWatson
Mai 3, 7:22am

>84 spiralsheep: And they were tenacious to the end.

86MissWatson
Mai 3, 7:38am

HistoryCAT / Bingo: nature or environment / Popsugar: a subject you're passionate about

The fate of Rome took me much longer than I expected. First, because the font is uncomfortably small, and second because I had to look up all kinds of scientific terms from epidemiology and geosciences. I had planned to use it for the April theme, but as it is about the end of the Roman Empire and the end of Antiquity, it fits just as well for May. As promised, it takes a new look at the causes for the downfall and makes a convincing case. Reading about the first plague pandemic while confined to my home by another raging pandemic added poignancy, but it also helps to understand what devastating effects these pandemics must have had.

It was a rewarding read, but doesn't get the five-star treatment because of the small font, which was really taxing, and the awful maps: too small, and in greyscale. Grey print on grey background is illegible, and when the lettering was black it was so small I couldn't decipher it, not even with a magnifying glass.

87MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Mai 31, 5:10am

So, May. I've decided to live dangerously this month and do the 1900-1950 challenge.

1) the author is from your own country: Tage der Kindheit by Waldemar Bonsels
2) the author is from a country other than your own: Au rendezvous des Terre-Neuvas by Georges Simenon
3) is a classic in its genre (mystery, sci-fi, play, etc.): Uncommon danger by Eric Ambler
4) is NOT a novel (nonfiction, plays, short stories, poetry, etc.): The doll's house and other stories by Katherine Mansfield
5) is about, set during or references WWI or WWII: The return of the soldier by Rebecca West

and a Bonus Challenge: Read a book from each decade (1900s, 1910s, 1920s, etc.)
1900s: Von alten Menschen, den Dingen, die vorübergehen by Louis Couperus, Der Flachsacker by Stijn Streuvels
1910s: Die dritte Kugel by Leo Perutz
1920s: Die tückische Straße by Walter Serner
1930s: Drei Kameraden by Erich Maria Remarque
1940s: La maison du juge by Georges Simenon

88pamelad
Mai 4, 5:51am

>87 MissWatson: I will be back to see what you're reading.

89NinieB
Mai 4, 7:25am

>87 MissWatson: Looking forward to seeing your list!

90MissBrangwen
Mai 4, 8:08am

>87 MissWatson: Like the others, I'm excited to see your choices!

91MissWatson
Mai 5, 7:06am

>87 MissWatson: >88 pamelad: >89 NinieB: Thanks for dropping in! I'm keeping a close watch on your choices, too. I'm going to make it easy for myself with short books.

92MissWatson
Mai 5, 7:22am

XX / MysteryKIT / Popsugar: set in a restaurant / 1900-1950

And the first book for the May challenge is Au rendezvous des Terre-Neuvas. This is an early Maigret, first published in 1933, very short and easy to read, as long as you have a dictionary at hand for all the long-defunct technology.
The restaurant is actually a bar, called Rendevous des Terre-Neuvas, where the crews of the Newfoundland cod fishing fleet carouse when they return from their three-month tours. This time a trawler has come back early, there have been accidents and on the day after reaching port the captain is found dead in the harbour basin. The wireless operator is arrested, and Maigret is called in to help by an old schoolmate who was the young man's teacher. Maigret decides to give up his holiday plans and travels to Fécamp in Normandy, with poor Madame Maigret in tow.
The joy of these early books are the glimpses of a vanished life, where phones and private cars are still very rare, holidays are short and living often hard. As usual, Maigret mostly listens, tries to understand the people involved in the affair and works out what happened.

93MissWatson
Mai 6, 7:39am

XX / GenreCAT / MysteryKIT / Popsugar: set in multiple countries / 1900-1950

Die tückische Straße is a difficult book to describe. The author had one of those fates that seem typical for the first half of the XXth century: born in the Habsburg empire, converted from Judaism to catholicism, got his PhD in law from a German university, spent WWI in Switzerland, was a member of the Dadaist movement, turned to sexually explicit mysteries, stopped writing/publishing in 1927, was banned by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp, and was killed in 1942.
The book belongs to the sexually explicit mysteries period. They were on the index during the Weimar Republic, too, then banned by the Nazis and subsequently vanished from sight until his novel Die Tigerin was made into a movie.
In this collection we have 19 very short stories, set all over Europe that reflect the dark side of the Golden Twenties: gangs, a loss of the moral compass, greed and a high degree of callousness. The sexual content was shocking at the time and seems mild compared to modern offerings, but it made me uncomfortable because it is always about male dominance and often turns into violence. These people lie, cheat, steal and kill without remorse, they have no redeeming features and nearly always get away with their crimes. To this, add a writing style that is mediocre at best.
Frankly, I did not like this and will happily put it in the recycling bin.

94MissWatson
Mai 9, 6:31am

Saturday notes

I was browsing in my charity bookstore, and in walked a little girl. Eight, maybe nine years old. She asked if they had children's books, and the lady behind the desk showed her. She picked one of the Inkheart books and solemnly paid for it with her pocket money. There's hope for the future.

95MissBrangwen
Mai 9, 6:33am

>94 MissWatson: Love love love!!!

96MissWatson
Mai 9, 6:44am

>95 MissBrangwen: She was so serious about it, carefully choosing and then counting out her money. Adorable.

97spiralsheep
Mai 9, 6:53am

>94 MissWatson: This is a very heartening anecdote. Thank you.

98MissWatson
Mai 9, 6:58am

>97 spiralsheep: Yes, it put a smile on my face. And the saleslady's, too.

99Tess_W
Bearbeitet: Mai 9, 11:41am

100DeltaQueen50
Mai 9, 1:33pm

It does give one a feeling of hope when hearing and seeing children show an appreciation and interest in books. Perhaps you saw a future LT member!

101MissWatson
Mai 10, 4:39am

>99 Tess_W: Yes!
>100 DeltaQueen50: I certainly hope so!

102MissWatson
Mai 10, 5:00am

XX / Bingo: time word / GR: more than 2 people on the cover / 1900-1950: author from your own country

I didn't leave the charity shop without purchasing something myself, of course: Tage der Kindheit because the days of childhood that the author here recalls were spent in Kiel. A few names and landmarks are indeed familiar, but otherwise there's nothing standing out.
This was published in 1931 and it is rather odd. He claims to have no very clear memories of his childhood and then tells a few episodes. He and his sister Anni come across as very lifelike, they fight (physically), play pranks on grown-ups, he repeats quite a few classes and is not above petty theft. The father seems to have been the usual remote stern patriarch, his mother has rather modern ideas about bringing up children without fear. He has no good word to say about the schools of his time, and there's a very cruel portrait of one tyrannic teacher. Most striking is how much freedom the children have, roaming in the woods and moors (he kept a whole menagerie at home) and spending days on the harbour front. And there are lots of things missing from this: his other siblings aren't even mentioned once, and as I learnt from Wikipedia, a younger brother was killed at school in the year the author turned 15. That's roughly where the book ends, he ran away from home the next year.
There are some sensible remarks about teaching and children growing up at their own pace, but knowing what I know about him now (he was a rabid antisemite) I have no desire to keep this book.

Bonsels is famous for Die Biene Maja und ihre Abenteuer which was made into a very annoying animated series in the 1970s.

103Helenliz
Mai 10, 5:07am

>94 MissWatson: that warms my soul.

>102 MissWatson: I didn't leave the charity shop without purchasing something myself, of course Quite right too.

104MissWatson
Mai 10, 5:11am

>103 Helenliz: And I have high hopes that the other purchase will prove a better read!

105MissBrangwen
Mai 10, 5:39am

>102 MissWatson: I'm not a fan of the Biene Maja series either, but I'm still shocked to learn that Bonsels was an antisemite and an early Nazi. I didn't know that.

106MissWatson
Mai 11, 3:35am

>105 MissBrangwen: Neither did I, but there was a disturbing scene in this childhood memoir, so I looked him up.

107MissWatson
Mai 12, 3:08am

XX / RandomCAT / GenreCAT / Bingo: building in the title / GR: building in the title / 1900-1950

The doll's house and other stories collects stories by Katherine Mansfield written between 1908 and 1934. We had to read The garden party in school and since then I haven't read anything else she wrote. My loss.

The previous owner of the collection rated them, and I was surprised to find that we have the same favourites in this collection: "New dresses" and "The doll's house". The family dynamics in the first are so true to life, just like the schoolgirls in the second.

108MissBrangwen
Mai 12, 4:45am

>107 MissWatson: I'm reading The Garden Party and Other Stories for the first time these days and so far I'm enchanted! I haven't come across Katherine Mansfield until a few years ago and I wonder why.

109MissWatson
Mai 12, 8:41am

>108 MissBrangwen: There are so many writers waiting to be (re)discovered. I think Virago Press has had much to do with it and I wish I had kept a sharper lookout for those distinctive green covers on my London trips. I bought a few, mostly because the title was familiar from a BBC TV version, and there have been no duds among them.

110MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Mai 13, 12:08pm

XX / Popsugar: about forgetting / classics: by a woman author / 1900-1950

I was browsing for books mentioned on other people's threads, came across those gorgeous Virago Anniversary covers and gave in to temptation. And because it is surprisingly short I have already finished The return of the soldier. The introduction (read after the novel, of course) is rather superficial and adds nothing to my understanding of the text. I cannot say that I liked Kitty and Jenny very much. So very class-bound and snobbish. But the writing is gorgeous.

ETA: This appears on quite a few lists, such as the 1001 BYMRBD and the Guardian's.

111MissWatson
Mai 13, 12:25pm

XX / GR: a comfort read

It's a holiday today and the weather is perfect for staying indoors with a book, so I finished Liebe kleine Ursula which I loved as a kid. A story about a little girl from her first schoolday to her twelfth year when a little sister arrives. Her first year in school was very much like mine: a kindly old teacher, learning to write on a slate etc. Things changed a lot within a few years.
My own copy was lost years ago, but my sister found another for me. It's amazing how much I remember about this book. The Rhine flooding the town especially. Reading it now I realise it must be set sometime in the thirties, when diphtheria raged. And I was surprised that this was written after Ursula Theen where she is a young woman.

112RidgewayGirl
Mai 13, 5:19pm

>110 MissWatson: Oh, those covers are gorgeous. Making a wishlist now.

113MissWatson
Mai 14, 4:35am

>112 RidgewayGirl: Aren't they just? I'm going to treat myself to some more next month, to make the joy last longer.

114charl08
Mai 14, 8:21am

>110 MissWatson: Now you've got me checking the Virago site too!

115MissWatson
Mai 15, 7:23am

>114 charl08: Enjoy the view!

116MissWatson
Mai 15, 7:28am

Saturday notes

No new books reviewed, so I'm still debating with myself about Fire from heaven. The Anniversary cover is beyond gorgeous, but the other two books in the trilogy have different covers, which is offputting. Oh dear.

117Tess_W
Mai 15, 5:29pm

>116 MissWatson: I love Mary Renault! I don't have the one you mentioned, but on my WL it goes!

118MissWatson
Mai 16, 6:39am

>117 Tess_W: Maybe I should just read the other books I already own first...

119MissWatson
Mai 16, 6:51am

XVII / Popsugar: a borrowed title from the TBR

I have finally finished an audiobook borrowed from my sister at least a year ago: Das Fräulein von Scuderi. The plot turned out to be very familiar, and it's possible we read this at school, although I have no memory of doing so. This is historical fiction, as it was written in the early 19th century and is set at the court of Louis XIV. Lots of historical figures in this. And lots of overly dramatic sentimental scenes which can be wearying.

120Tess_W
Mai 16, 8:37am

>119 MissWatson: I have this novella contained within an omnibus of the author. Thank you for reminding me of it. Will find it double-stacked somewhere!

121MissWatson
Mai 17, 2:40am

>120 Tess_W: He's one of those authors I feel I should read more of.

122MissWatson
Mai 17, 3:09am

XX / RandomCAT / Bingo: read a CAT / classics / 1900-1950

Drei Kameraden is the third of Remarque's books about World War I. We're in the late twenties, and the story is narrated by the youngest of the three veterans. They run an car workshop together and struggle to make ends meet, the economy is getting worse, and the political clouds are gathering. We meet lost of people in precarious situations, the future looks bleak, and when Robert, the narrator, meets a girl he finds it hard to believe in love. She suffers from tuberculosis, and has to go to a sanatorium in the Alps.
There are obvious parallels with Mann's Der Zauberberg here, and I have to say that in Remarque's writing you get a much better sense of what a terrible disease it is. She suffers a hemorrhage during a seaside holiday, and the raw physicality of it is scary, there's blood everywhere and you can almost smell it. Mann is aseptic, compared to this.
The writing is totally different, too, it draws you in. My edition adds previous versions of the first chapter and a synopsis that the author set to publishers. The bok ends much sooner than planned, and I think it was a good choice to leave things open-ended.

123MissWatson
Mai 19, 8:20am

XX / 1900-1950

Uncommon danger is one of Ambler's early thrillers which has a British journalist getting tangled up with Soviet spies and big business henchmen interfering in European politics, Roumania, to be precise. The time is shortly before the "Anschluss", they're still paying with schillings in Austria, but the clouds are gathering.
Very atmospheric, but as usual the German words and phrases are often mis-spelt or not idiomatic. A matter of shoddy typesetting or weird dictionaries? But Ambler gets extra points for a very unusual locale: at one point Kenton and his Russian ally have to extricate themselves from a vulcanising tank in a cable factory.
A morally ambiguous tale very much in the style of LeCarré or Ross Thomas.

124pamelad
Mai 19, 5:09pm

>123 MissWatson: I really like the early Eric Amblers with the heroes who stumble into espionage. I think they're more humorous and less confusing than Le Carre, easier to read.

>122 MissWatson: This looks very interesting. Like most people, probably, the only book I've read by this author is All Quiet on the Western Front. In The Magic Mountain, the people who were dying of TB were hidden away in their rooms, which I think fitted in with the political theme of people ignoring the corruption and collapse around them.

125MissWatson
Mai 20, 6:46am

>124 pamelad: Until recently, that was my only contact with Remarque, too. It was assigned reading in school. But then I came across these new, critical editions and picked up some of the lesser known titles. I have found them very good and plan to read more.
As to TB, one of the words that sprung to my mind when I read the scene with the hemorraghing attack was "etepetete", which is a slightly pejorative term for people who are finicky about manners and cleanliness and a little stuckup, which fits perfectly for Hans Castorp, and Mann himself, and how they would have reacted. Physical contact is something you simply do not talk about and avoid at all cost. Whereas it is obvious that both Remarque and his narrator Robert have seen more blood and dirt than they ever wanted to and are not scared away by it. And of course they are of a different social class.

126pamelad
Mai 20, 4:46pm

>125 MissWatson: Etepetete is such a good word, and adds another perspective to Mann's avoidance of the blood and pain of TB.

127MissWatson
Mai 21, 2:52am

XX / GeoKIT: Europe / Popsugar: three generations / GR: ensemble cast / Bingo: describes yourself / classics: in translation / 1900-1950

I think Von alten Menschen, den Dingen, die vorübergehen is the closest I'll get to this Bingo square. I have been feeling very old this year whenever it was brought home to me that life without a smartphone is no longer acceptable. I still resist, but it is getting harder.
The book, however, is simply wonderful. The author is considered a classic in the Netherlands and here he portraits an extended family affected by the secret that the eldest living members have been hiding for 60 years. They believe it will die with them, but so many of the younger people know or guess...
At first I was reminded of The Forsyte Saga and I actually drew up my own family tree to keep the characters straight, but it soon becomes an exploration of what it means to be old. Nothing much happens, but how he presents all these different characters is marvellous. It is also a fascinating look at life in Den Haag in the early 1900s.

128MissWatson
Mai 21, 3:11am

So. I am currently reading La maison du juge for the 1940s section, and I only need to find one published in the 1910s to finish the May challenge. I think I'll rope in my sister's library for this, I am spending the Pentecost weekend with her and will be offline for a few days.
See you again on Tuesday!

129FAMeulstee
Mai 21, 3:31am

>127 MissWatson: I am glad you enjoyed Von alten Menschen, den Dingen, die vorübergehen.
I am the same with smartphones, still resisting. My old Nokia works on the 2G network, but that will end soon. So I have to upgrade to 3G or 4G :-(

130MissWatson
Mai 21, 3:37am

>129 FAMeulstee: Thank you again for bringing it to my notice!
Yes, there will come a day when every important transaction will take place on smartphones only. Right now I'm wondering if they will provide documentation of a Covid vaccination in other forms than an app.

131FAMeulstee
Mai 21, 3:51am

>130 MissWatson: I think the Covid documentation can be printed as well, probably in combination with ID. And I DO have a printer ;-)

132MissWatson
Mai 21, 6:31am

>131 FAMeulstee: They haven't really decided how to do it in Germany yet, which is symptomatic for the whole vaccination campaign so far. I'm not holding my breath.

133NinieB
Mai 21, 2:26pm

>127 MissWatson: I just bought his Eline Vere in English translation. It's very long!

134Tess_W
Mai 21, 5:07pm

Couperus goes on my WL. I don't feel like a dinosaur when it comes to phones/technology, but I do feel like one (and am sometimes told as much) when I insist on good manners and politeness.

135kac522
Bearbeitet: Mai 22, 9:32pm

>127 MissWatson: My husband & I don't have smartphones, and I know what you mean. We have little flip phones that fit nicely in our pockets, which are all we need. Until, as you say, the day they start making having a smartphone mandatory for certain things. We have a computer, a laptop, a tablet, a printer, but we have no desire to have to carry around a clumsy device that we don't want or need. We're holding out as long as we can.

136charl08
Mai 23, 2:52am

I didn't realise in my ignorance that Remarque had written more novels. Good to learn.

Re TB I'd missed the haemorrhage element until recently reading Love is Blind, which provides a graphic image I have yet to forget!

The smartphone thing is a bit worrying in terms of people taking access to the things for granted. I was listening to a news item about modernising our national train service, and a government minister said "why have we still got paper tickets?". And I wondered about all the people who don't have the kind of phone you would need to use. What does he expect those people to do?

137Tess_W
Bearbeitet: Mai 23, 6:03am

I, also, had not idea that Remarque wrote anything other than All Quiet on the Western Front. I was so thoroughly bored by that book I'm not sure I could even force myself to try another!

138JayneCM
Mai 23, 6:04am

>136 charl08: Agreed! It is very worrying that it is assumed that everyone has access to certain technology as it is expensive and we shouldn't be 'forced' to purchase an item we don't want. I recently bought a ticket for a show that you could only purchase online and then had to show the 'ticket' at the gate on your smartphone. When I emailed them to ask for an alternative, they were truly stumped! Both on how to do it another way and to why everyone doesn't have a smartphone!

139ELiz_M
Mai 23, 8:15am

>133 NinieB: But it is a great read!

140NinieB
Mai 23, 9:13am

>139 ELiz_M: I'm looking forward to it!

141rabbitprincess
Mai 23, 12:01pm

>136 charl08: So true that we need paper tickets as a backup for e-tickets. Even people who have smartphones may have limited data plans (especially in Canada, where data charges are totally unreasonable) so may not have access to their email on the go, or they may not want to have 15,000 apps on their phone to display tickets from various vendors. I always print my tickets.

I would add too that the train tickets used in the UK make excellent bookmarks ;)

142MissWatson
Mai 26, 6:06am

XX / RandomCAT / MysteryKIT / GeoKIT / 1900-1950

La maison du juge was first published in 1942, but there is no mention of the German occupation. Maigret has been transferred to the Vendée, no reason or explanation given, and is called to solve the death of a man found dead in the house of a retired justice of the peace. Once again we are on the seaside, among fishing folk, and the case mostly consists of Maigret talking to people. The justice confesses a crime committed years before, and the most recent murder is also solved.

143MissWatson
Mai 26, 6:16am

>133 NinieB: til >141 rabbitprincess: Fascinating conversation. We talked about this at my sister's who has acquired one because she needed it for credit card transactions and was furious at having to do so. There was so much fuss involved, I am really not keen on all those registrations and passwords and general bother.

>137 Tess_W: He wrote a lot about car racing, which I also find rather boring.
>141 rabbitprincess: Yay, train tickets! My sister showed me one from 1972 she found in a donated book recently. I still buy my train tickets from a real person at the counter. Trains are services, which means the company should do the work, not the customer. That is my major gripe about all these online services, the clients have to do everything by themselves and get blamed if it doesn't work. What kind of business ethos is that?

144MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Mai 27, 4:09am

XXI

I also finished two books in the musketeer series: Die Muskeltiere und die rattenscharfe Party and Die Muskeltiere und das Weihnachtswunder. She writes the series for different reading ages which is a bit disorienting, and they are coming rather quickly. The Christmas story was a bit crowded with too many people and too little characterisation, but all in all still enjoyable.

145MissWatson
Mai 28, 3:35am

XX / Geo KIT / 1900-1950

Die dritte Kugel was first published in 1915, and with this I have finished my May challenge.
It is set during the Conquest of Mexico, and the author has clearly done his research, but is not straight historical fiction. There is a phantastical element here, as in all Perutz' stories, and I am not quite sure if I have figured this out correctly.
We have two small chapters bookending the main story, where an outlawed count sets the scene of one of the countless battlefields of the 16th century, and then we switch to the narrative of an unnamed soldier in Spanish services who tells the Mexican campaign of this same count, who arrived in Mexico before Cortez, made friends with the indigenous people and tried to thwart Cortez, mostly because he didn't want Aztec gold to fill the chests of Charles V and pay for the counter-reformation. He paints a very vivid picture of the Spanish greed for gold and their uneducated, vainglorious and superstitious soldiery.
The amazing thing about the book is the author's knack for taking you into the era simply by choosing old-fashioned vocabulary and phrasing. The swearwords, the honorifics, the clothes, everything seems to come straight out of the lansquenet world.
Now I want the newish dtv edition which has an introduction, hopefully explaining some of the more obscure bits. I actually went out hunting for it, without luck. But I found something else, of course: Der Flachsacker in a lovely Manesse edition. Sigh.

146spiralsheep
Mai 28, 3:58am

>145 MissWatson: Congratulations on completing your mini-challenge!

147MissWatson
Mai 28, 4:10am

>146 spiralsheep: Thank you! I see that Der Flachsacker was first published in 1905, and I am itching to read it, so there's even a bonus.

148spiralsheep
Bearbeitet: Mai 28, 4:49am

>147 MissWatson: Ha! And apart from your random bonus crop of flax, these arbitrary challenges often lead readers to new-to-them authors and several other tempting books.

149MissWatson
Mai 28, 8:02am

>148 spiralsheep: Yes, and a TBR slowly spiralling out of control.

150spiralsheep
Mai 28, 8:22am

>149 MissWatson: I can't comment. I've read 89 books so far this year, while my To Read shelf is currently +2 since 1 Jan 2021. :D

151Tess_W
Mai 28, 11:47am

>149 MissWatson: I concur. I have not been on a book diet this year. I've read almost 80 books and my TBR is still 50+ more than last year!

152MissWatson
Mai 30, 11:33am

>150 spiralsheep: >151 Tess_W: it is such a pleasant feeling to know that I will never run out of books to read.

Saturday notes
Nothing bookish to report. But: the sun is here. Finally! I went for a long walk, along with everybody else in town, apparently. Such a pleasure to stretch my legs again after being cooped up indoors for weeks.

153kac522
Mai 30, 8:22pm

>145 MissWatson: Congrats on finishing the Challenge! Good for you! I am still plugging away, and still need to finish a "non-novel", but I wanted to get in a few extras. So I may run a bit "over-month."

154hailelib
Mai 30, 9:30pm

You’ve done a lot of reading and had some great conversations since the last time I visited.

We are also resisting the idea of using a smartphone for everything. We each have an inexpensive pay-as-you-go phone for emergencies and away from home use. Our real one is still a landline.

155MissWatson
Mai 31, 4:39am

>153 kac522: Thanks and good luck with yours. I have found some very interesting books with this!

>154 hailelib: I use the mobile just for emergencies when travelling. But I had to get a new device for the landline recently, and they too have become so overloaded with technical gimmicks that I had trouble getting it started. It came without a decent manual, of course.

156MissWatson
Mai 31, 4:54am

XX / GeoKIT / Classics: new author / 1900-1950

Der Flachsacker had been on my wishlist for a long time, and I finally found a used copy at an affordable price. Manesse make beautiful little books, hardcover and high grade paper, but they are expensive (and collector's items).
The book is also beautiful, a tale about farmers in the Schelde valley full of gorgeous descriptions of the landscape. We start in winter when everyone is tired of the endless rain and the farmer plans the spring sowing. The most important crop is flax, and we follow its growing till harvest time when the conflict between the farmer and his son ends in tragedy. I was often reminded of Pearl Buck's The good earth, it gives just such a vivid picture of farming life.

This was written in 1907 and farming is still done by hand and horse-drawn ploughs. I had no idea how labour-intensive this crop was, and how delicate. We just saw the blue fields one summer when driving to Brittany. Now I am curious to know more. My former hometown Bielefeld used to be a centre of linen weaving, so there's a personal link.

157Tess_W
Bearbeitet: Mai 31, 8:25am

>156 MissWatson: So glad you were able to get a copy at a good price. It is often difficult to find (at least for me) early 20th century books at a good price in a fair condition.

158spiralsheep
Mai 31, 8:51am

>156 MissWatson: It's marvellous that local history can bring obscure details of the past suddenly alive.

159MissWatson
Jun. 1, 3:02am

>157 Tess_W: German authors are usually in print for a very long time, but translations from the lesser-known tongues of Europe (such as Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian, Polish etc.) are scarce, and usually the province of specialist publishers such as Manesse. If I ever win the lottery, I'll start a collection.

>158 spiralsheep: I've already bookmarked a few titles at my library. How I wish to return to my office, then I could read them in my lunch breaks!

160MissWatson
Jun. 1, 3:24am

May roundup

It's been an extraordinarily good month. Two disappointments (Die tückische Straße, Tage der Kindheit), but everything else has been good or very good, and the May challenge has led me to some new authors whose other books I will gladly read. Some time. Now I've got to pick something for June...

161MissWatson
Jun. 3, 4:46am

XX / GenreCAT / Popsugar: published in 2021 / GR: published in 2021

Heimweh nach Prag was overloading my brain with too many different things, most of them bleak or unhappy, given the times he observes. It's not a book you can read in one go, just two or three articles at a time, because you want to think about them.
So I took a break with Sommer in Wien, an undemanding historical romance set in Vienna in 1912, which I picked off the display with the newly published books. It is very short and the third in a series. The protagonists Marie and Oskar are finally able to marry, as the owner of the bookstore where Oskar works dies suddenly and leaves the store to him. There's also a friend who survived the sinking of the Titanic and now suffers from post-traumatic stress.
I realised rather late in the day that the bookstore featured in this series is the very one which the author bought and still runs, so it is quite possible that these are real people and events, the previous owners of the store, even if she doesn't state this explicitly. It throws a different light on the story, which ends with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. So there will be a sequel which I will also read. How can you not love a book which gently pushes readers towards a classic author like Adalbert Stifter?

162spiralsheep
Jun. 3, 5:27am

>161 MissWatson: I'm glad you've found an appropriate break from the doom and gloom. I hope you enjoy the next volume too.

Oddly, I'm now reading a book about 11-12th century poet Omar Khayyam that also has a significant Titanic connection. Only a couple of weeks ago I was thinking about why some wrecks become cultural icons while many others don't.

163MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 3, 8:32am

>162 spiralsheep: Would that be Amin Maalouf's Samarcande? I enjoyed that.

I think in the case of the Titanic it has had so much media exposure from the very first day, and it offers so many opportunities for making a case for something or other, that every generation finds something to relate to. In the case of my Viennese girl, it seemed like a cheap device, but I cannot rule out entirely that it is a true story. Haven't had time to check it out yet.

164spiralsheep
Jun. 3, 9:49am

>163 MissWatson: It is Samarkand by Amin Maalouf, yes. I'm only at the beginning but it's good so far.

The famous jewelled copy of the Rubaiyat that sank with the Titanic was sold by Sotheran's, a bookseller who're still open (and still weird, lol). I hope Maalouf's fiction manages to be at least as strange as the truth. Although sometimes, of course, history is as cheesy or tawdry as any fictional "cheap device". :D

165MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 29, 3:38am

XX / GR: written by a woman and translated into English

Der letzte Sommer is a short novel set in Russia and consists entirely of letters written by several persons, most of whom spend the summer on a country estate. The governor of St. Petersburg has taken leave of absence because he has been threatened with assassination in letters after he closed the university. It is never exactly stated why, but his own children side with the revolutionary students. A young man has been hired as bodyguard, but his letters reveal that he is actually the one assigned to do the killing. And so the summer passes slowly...
The names of most of the characters do not strike me as particularly Russian, and I find it hard to believe that a committed assassin would leave so many letters around. These minor quibbles apart, it reads easily and holds the reader's attention.

ETC

166MissWatson
Jun. 5, 10:59am

XIX / GenreCAT / RandomCAT / GeoKIT / GR: the "Are you well read in literature" list

Wide Sargasso Sea was scary and pitiful in turns. Such a strange. lonely life she gives to Antoinette! I was surprised to find so much of the narrative given over to Rochester, but of course she needed him as the voice of the English looking down on all the people on the islands.
This edition had an introduction and notes by Angela Smith, and I am slightly baffled which audience she had in mind: she gives explanations for the most banal things. As a reader I felt insulted.

167MissWatson
Jun. 5, 11:08am

Saturday notes

The FAZ had an obituary for Friederike Mayröcker which reminded me again how little I know of contemporary German-language literature. I don't think I'll look for her books, but I did spend a little time in my usual bookstores and found Simple Storys at an unbeatable price. He's usually on the long list of most awards here, so I think I'll give him a try.
And Hugendubel's had a table with books about cats, one of them fresh off the press, a picture book with a large picture of anthropomorphic cats on one page and a rhymed verse on the opposite page. It was short, so I managed to read all 32 pages, and great fun: Unter Katzenfreunden. Twenty minutes well-spent!

168spiralsheep
Jun. 5, 11:36am

>166 MissWatson: Was it an edition likely to be aimed at students?

169MissWatson
Jun. 6, 5:29am

>168 spiralsheep: It's not obvious from the introduction, but to be told that hibiscus is a flower might annoy even them.

170Tess_W
Jun. 6, 3:53pm

>166 MissWatson: That one is on my TBR. I will be interested to compare different reviews and where I land!

171MissWatson
Jun. 7, 5:48am

>170 Tess_W: It's a sad story.

172MissWatson
Jun. 7, 6:02am

XIX / GenreCAT / Bingo: classical element / GR: In the beginning

Feuer in der Hafenstadt is the first book in a series of historical mysteries set in the 1890s. This one was first published under a different title and by a different publisher ten years ago, but apparently the success of the later instalments persuaded the present publisher to make it available again to readers who want to know how the protagonists first met.
This time we're in Glückstadt, a small town on the Elbe estuary, where they want to establish a herring fishery. Strange accidents happen and a furniture factory goes up in flames.
Decently written, and the author also provides information about her sources and where she deviated from historical fact.

173MissWatson
Jun. 7, 6:04am

XX

The Borrowers caught my eye in the charity bookstore. I had a vague memory that this is some kind of children's classic, so I bought it. Nice, but not really memorable.

174hailelib
Jun. 8, 7:45am

I read Wide Sargasso Sea a long time ago and I didn’t much like it. I might think differently now but am giving it a miss.

175MissWatson
Jun. 9, 4:15am

>174 hailelib: I am pretty sure I wouldn't have liked it in my younger years. I think I have a better appreciation now how people, and especialy women, can find themselves trapped in situations where they have no control.

176MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 9, 4:31am

XX / HistoryCAT

Bürger, Bauern, Söldner und Gesandte is a non-fiction history of the Thirty Years' War in Westfalia.
That is a very narrow regional focus and told me a lot I did't know. The lessons in school concentrated on the big names and players, and because of that it was a bit of a surprise that the peace negotiations took place in Münster and Osnabrück, who were bit players. Now it's more clear. There's a decent map showing what a jigsaw puzzle the area was, splintered into tiny dominions, many under clerical rule, and some of them bitterly disputed, as between Brandenburg and Pfalz-Neuburg over who was heir to Kleve. It also tells how other wars spilled over int the area and the big war, such as the war of succession in Kleve and the war between the Dutch and the Spaniards.
And of course lots of familiar names and places which brings so much more immediacy.

177MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 10, 3:24am

XXI / GR: related to the present

Heimsuchung is on the Deutsche Welle list and was first published in 2007, so it's not apparent immediately why or how this relates to the present. It tracks the story of a house and its inhabitants, from the time the plot of land bordering a lake is sold by the farmer to the moment it is torn down again. It covers a century of German history, and here especially of the part of Brandenburg known as the Mark, and as you read and reflect, you realise how much the past reaches into the present.

It's a short book, but it requires a lot of attention. Most of the characters have no names, and there are seldom years or events named by which you can identify a precise chronology. The only constancy comes from the gardener who tends the grounds, and his work of planting and pruning, always told in the same words, gives a strange lyrical feeing of the natural surroundings. Occasionally there's a remark in the conversation that makes you wonder how much of it is based on a real house, as she mentions lots of official sources in her afterword. People more familiar with the area may have a better idea of where it is.

Erpenbeck's writing is carefully crafted, and the subtle ambiguity of the title does not fully come across in translation. In modern German, "Heimsuchung" is first a blow of fate, usually by something humans can't control. The second meaning is the Visitation of Mary, a religious feast no longer on the official calendar, and probably few people in Germany know it. But you can also interpret it as "home-seeking" and that is the real theme of the book, finding or losing the place you can call home. All of the characters are on the move, and even if their stay in the house lasts decades, in the end it is temporary.

This is one to be re-read.

178Tess_W
Jun. 10, 7:47am

>177 MissWatson: Definitely a BB for me!

179MissWatson
Jun. 11, 2:56am

>178 Tess_W: I hope you like it. She also includes lots of folk customs from the region, too, some were quite unknown to me.

180MissWatson
Jun. 12, 11:07am

XVII / GenreCAT / Popsugar: something broken on the cover

Die Schatten von La Rochelle is set in the last year of Richelieu's life and has a shipwreck on the cover.
This is historical fiction at its best, well-written, well-researched and exciting to read. The cover is a bit misleading, I thought this would be about the siege and Richelieu's famous dyke which he had built to keep out the English. But the action is mainly about the Cinq-Mars conspiracy. The only thing the author adds to real events is a mysterious stranger involved in the conspiracy who uses it to get close to the cardinal and kill him in revenge for his wife and son who died during the siege.
The most important relationship in the book is the one between Richelieu and his niece, much is told from her point-of-view, which reminded me very much of Dumas' Le sphinx rouge. There's also her maid, a black woman, and a Huron who has come to France with a French missionary to see the stone houses with his own eyes. These two were sadly under-used, which is my only complaint about the book. They did provide a lol moment, though: the missionary has already booked his return journey on the ship of his brother, Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

181Tess_W
Jun. 12, 2:37pm

>180 MissWatson: I've loved Richelieu since I read something about him concerning Louis XIV. Alas, this author has nothing translated into English.

182charl08
Jun. 12, 4:04pm

>177 MissWatson: I love her writing, but for me this one wasn't as successful / enjoyable to read. But I have really high expectations now of her books, so probably not very fair!

183MissWatson
Jun. 13, 7:07am

>181 Tess_W: I think most people only know him as the bad guy in The Three Musketeers. The author says she originally planned a book about Lady de Winter and when she started reading about the time, Richelieu became so much more interesting.

>182 charl08: This was the first I have read so I can't compare yet.

184MissWatson
Jun. 17, 12:59pm

We're having a heatwave and my reading has slowed down accordingly. Just went outside and felt as if I had walked into a furnace. It's a good thing I'm spending the weekend at my sister's, it should be a little cooler in the hills. Or so we hope. See you all on Tuesday.

185Tess_W
Jun. 17, 1:35pm

Have a "cool" time!;(

186MissWatson
Jun. 22, 5:34am

>185 Tess_W: The temperature difference was minimal at first, but things improved on Sunday. We went swimming and attended a garden show, put up at very short notice. So many beautiful flowers to admire!

187MissWatson
Jun. 22, 5:36am

XXI

I also finished a book at my sister's, the latest adventure of Kurt the unicorn has just been publkished: Kurt – EinHorn, eine Mission. This time he has to rescue a group of ninja goldfish. Don't ask, these are silly but fun.

188MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 22, 5:47am

XXI / GeoKIT / Bingo: Southern Hemisphere / GR: below the tropic of cancer / WomenReading: South American author in translation

I took Die vielen Talente der Schwestern Gusmão as my reading on the train, the print is large enough to read without glasses (which always slip and fog up when I wear a mask). At a stretch, it could be historical fiction, too, as it describes the lives of two sisters in Rio de Janeiro in the early 20th entury.
A fascinating glimpse at a society in constant motion; Eurídice's husband moves steadily up the career ladder as an employee of the National Bank. But her life as a housewife is constricting, she takes up several activities and ever time her husband puts his foot down. We also learn a lot about her family and neighbours, and especially her sister.
I did wonder about the choice of title, they did not translate it literally, as the English translation does, but chose the one that Eurídice chose for her own writing. And some of the colloquial language struck me as too modern, so not full marks.
This also means I have filled my Bingo Card, yay! I may even try another, starting next month...

ETC

189spiralsheep
Jun. 22, 7:14am

>188 MissWatson: Congratulations on your bingo full house!

190DeltaQueen50
Jun. 22, 12:34pm

Congratulations on completing your Bingo Card!

191Helenliz
Jun. 22, 12:41pm

>188 MissWatson: Excellent on the Bingo card. Havng finished one in under 6 motnhs, there's clearly time for you to manage a second... but only if you feel like it.

192Tess_W
Jun. 22, 12:56pm

193pamelad
Jun. 22, 6:29pm

Congratulations on finishing the BingoDOG.

194MissWatson
Jun. 23, 9:42am

>189 spiralsheep: >190 DeltaQueen50: >191 Helenliz: >192 Tess_W: >193 pamelad: Thank you! It was easier than I thought it would be, a nice variety of themes that works well with my not-planning-in-advance reading.

195MissWatson
Bearbeitet: Jun. 23, 9:56am

XXVII / GenreCAT / GR: Muslim character

Die Dame mit der bemalten Hand was a loan from my sister that needs to go back to her. I have wanted to read this since it was nominated for the German Book Award shortlist because it features Carsten Niebuhr. I read about his expedition to Arabia last year and have been fascinated ever since.

This is a very slim volume, exquisitely made, and we meet Niebuhr on Elephant Island off the western coast of India. He's the only left from his team, all the others have died, and he has come to explore the caves on recommendation from an English officer, but falls victiom to a fever attack. Musa al-Lahuri finds him, who has also come to the island for curiosity and is now stranded here because his boat left. He is a Persian and chief astronomer for the Prince of Jaipur and on his way to Mecca, but got sidetracked a little...

Little happens, the men try to communicate, but cannot really get past the misunderstandings that arise from not knowing much about the other's way of life. And yet, a wonderful read, beautifully written.
The "lady with the painted hand" of the title is the Arab (Persian?) of the constellation Cassiopeia.

ETC

196VivienneR
Jun. 23, 12:56pm

Congratulations for completing your Bingo card!

197hailelib
Jun. 23, 5:23pm

Congratulations on the Bingo card.

198MissWatson
Jun. 24, 6:22am

199MissWatson
Jun. 26, 10:03am

XX / MysteryKIT

The Z murders was disappointing. It's not a classic whodunnit, more a thriller as Richard Temperley chases after a girl who may or may not be involved with the death of a man shot in a hotel. I liked the writing style, the auctorial voice is amusing. But I was instantly annoyed by the hero who is utterly convinced that a beautiful girl must be innocent and promptly decides to prove this, keeping information from the police and going after her himself. The police play a marginal role in this, at some point the author tells bits of the story from other POVs, and the final denouement was preposterous.

200rabbitprincess
Jun. 26, 10:31am

>199 MissWatson: I agree, definitely a thriller rather than a whodunit. For me the preposterousness was a feature rather than a bug. But it's not one I'd read again.

201MissWatson
Jun. 27, 4:48am

>200 rabbitprincess: I thought Farjeon didn't tell us enough about the killer to understand him or make us wanting to understand the motivation.

202MissWatson
Jun. 27, 5:05am

It's a lazy sunday morning and I've decided to set up a new thread for the next quarter. I'll be happy to see you there!
Dieses Thema wurde unter MissWatson roams the centuries, part 3 weitergeführt.