Monday 26 September 2016

Mantel, Hilary "Bring up the Bodies"

Mantel, Hilary "Bring up the Bodies" - 2012

After reading "Wolf Hall", I knew I'd have to read any sequel to this. I am looking forward to the next one, "The Mirror and the Light" because the story of Thomas Cromwell and/or Henry VIII has not ended, yet.

In this novel, the author focuses on the king's wish to divorce Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell's role in this. Same as the first, Booker Prize-winning novel, we can see a lot what is going on behind the scenes, what the history books don't tell us. Hilary Mantel has a great talent to make the characters come alive again on the pages, to describe them so you really get to know them.

Apparently, Hilary Mantel has written twelve books so far, I am sure I will read more of them.

Hilary Mantel won the Booker Prize for "Bring up the Bodies" in 2012.

From the back cover:

"By 1535 Thomas Cromwell, the blacksmith’s son, is far from his humble origins. Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes have risen with those of Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife. But Anne has failed to bear a son to secure the Tudor line. At Wolf Hall, Cromwell watches Henry fall in love with plain Jane Seymour. The minister sees what is at stake: not just the king’s pleasure, but the safety of the nation. As he eases a way through the sexual politics of the court, he must negotiate a ‘truth’ that will satisfy Henry and secure his own career. But neither minister nor king will emerge undamaged from the bloody theatre of Anne’s final days.

In Bring up the Bodies, sequel to the Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Boleyn."

Friday 23 September 2016

García Márquez, Gabriel "The General in His Labyrinth"

García Márquez, Gabriel "The General in His Labyrinth" (Spanish: El general en su laberinto) - 1989

Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios, better known to the world as Simón Bolívar lived from 24 July 1783 to 17 December 1830. He is largely considered as THE politician who brought about South America's independence from Spain in the early 19th century. I must admit, I knew his name, I knew he had something to do with south America, the state Bolivia was named after him, as well as the Bolivian and Venezuelan currencies. But that was about all I knew about this man who has been so important to a whole continent.

This book was written by one of the greatest South American authors ever. Even though it concentrates on Bolívar's last journey, the novel is full of details about his whole life and about South America at the time. We can learn about the history of this great continent and how it became what it is now. How it became liberated from being Spanish colonies, the obstacles they had to deal with. Bolívar also had a dream. A dream of a united South America. That this wasn't fulfilled was not his mistake but he certainly died a disappointed man.

Anything written by Gabriel García Márquez is worth reading, whether it is just fiction or, as in this case, historical fiction. Even if you are not interested in history at all, the writing is so beautiful. I wish I could read it in its original language.

From the back cover:

"Gabriel Garcìa Màrquez's most political novel is the tragic story of General Simon Bolivar, the man who tried to unite a continent. 

Bolivar, known in six Latin American countries as the Liberator, is one of the most revered heroes of the western hemisphere; in Garcìa Màrquez's brilliant reimagining, he is magnificently flawed as well. The novel follows Bolivar as he takes his final journey in 1830 down the Magdalena River toward the sea, revisiting the scenes of his former glory and lamenting his lost dream of an alliance of American nations. Forced from power, dogged by assassins, and prematurely aged and wasted by a fatal illness, the General is still a remarkably vital and mercurial man. He seems to remain alive by the sheer force of will that led him to so many victories in the battlefields and love affairs of his past. As he wanders in the labyrinth of his failing powers and still-powerful memories, he defies his impending death until the last.
The General in His Labyrinth is an unforgettable portrait of a visionary from one of the greatest writers of our time."

Gabriel García Márquez received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982 "for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent's life and conflicts".

I contribute to this page: Read the Nobels and you can find all my blogs about Nobel Prize winning authors and their books here.

I have also read by this author:
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Love in the Time of Cholera   

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Rushdie, Salman "Midnight's Children"

Rushdie, Salman "Midnight's Children" - 1981

I love to read books that challenge my brain. However, I found this one extremely hard to follow. Apparently, this book has been nominated the "Booker of Bookers", it's supposed to be the best Booker prize winner of the first 25 years.

What I really liked about it was that the life of our protagonist mirrored that of the Indian nation since its independence. Even though I have read several books about India and its history, there was still a lot of information in there that I hadn't heard about. The book certainly is a very peculiar mixture of historical fiction and magic realism in a way I haven't seen this before.

It is certainly worth reading but you have to take your time to take it all in. Maybe then you will be able to fully understand this quote: "Who what am I? My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I've gone which would not have happened if I had not come. Nor am I particularly exceptional in this matter; each 'I', everyone of the now-six-hundred-million-plus of us, contains a similar multitude. I repeat for the last time: to understand me, you'll have to swallow a world."

I also think you have to be ready for this book. It is very intense and touches so many subjects, so many parts about yourself, you can't read it in between anything else. I usually read about four or five books at a time, I couldn't with this one and even after that, I wasn't able to read for a while.

A difficult book - but very gripping, it's totally worth picking up.

From the back cover: 
"Born at the stroke of midnight at the exact moment of India's independence, Saleem Sinai is a special child. However, this coincidence of birth has consequences he is not prepared for: telepathic powers connect him with 1,000 other 'midnight's children' all of whom are endowed with unusual gifts. Inextricably linked to his nation, Saleem's story is a whirlwind of disasters and triumphs that mirrors the course of modern India at its most impossible and glorious."

Friday 9 September 2016

Book Quotes of the Week

"Americans like fat books and thin women." Russell Baker

"From my point of view, a book is a literary prescription put up for the benefit of someone who needs it." S.M. Crothers

"To teach is to learn twice." Joseph Joubert

"Seasoned life of man preserved and stored up in books." John Milton

"Books had instant replay long before televised sports." Bern Williams

Find more book quotes here.

Monday 5 September 2016

Happy September!

I know I'm late this month but I have a good excuse. My youngest son is going to Australia for a year and I enjoy spending his last days in Europe with him. I wish you all a happy September picture with this beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch

"Blossoms in the autumn sun" - "Blüten in der Herbstsonne" 

Same as last year, I'd like to share the wonderful watercolour paintings from Hanka and Frank Koebsch with you every month. I have bought their calendar every year for five years now and have loved every single one of their pictures. I hope you enjoy them just as much as I do.  You can find a lot more wonderful pictures on their blog here.