Monday, 26 September 2022

Keller, Gottfried "Novellas"


Keller, Gottfried "Novellas" (German: Novellen) - 1855/56

"Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe" (Goodreads) (A Village Romeo and Juliet) - 1855/56 (Goodreads)
"Die drei gerechten Kammacher" (Goodreads) (The Three Decent Combmakers) - 1856 (Goodreads)
"Kleider machen Leute" (Goodreads) (Clothes Make the Man) - 1874 (Goodreads)
"Dietegen" (Goodreads) (Dietegen) - 1874 (Goodreads)
"Das Fähnlein der sieben Aufrechten"(Goodreads) (The Banner of the Upright Seven) - 1860 (Goodreads)
"Die Berlocken" - 1881 (in "Sinngedicht") (Goodreads)
"Der schlimm-heilige Vitalis" - 1872 (Goodreads)
"Das Tanzlegendchen" - 1872 (Booklooker)

Only a few of them have been translated into English:

This was a collection of stories by Gottfried Keller, a Swiss writer of novellas and his literary realism in the 19th century.

This book has been on my TBR pile for a while. After reading it, I also understand why. It's just outdated. Not just the writing, the views, as well. In addition, many stories are "copied". "Romeo and Juliet in the Village" already says it in the title, "Clothes Make the Man", one might also guess, is based on the fairy tale "Puss in Boots", only this time there is no cat involved. It took me a while to read the tome, but I didn't really enjoy any of the stories, even though they are supposedly humorous.

Here are the descriptions of the four novellas that have been translated:

"Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe" (Goodreads) (A Village Romeo and Juliet) - 1855/56 (Goodreads)

"Love is necessarily an important element in all imaginative literature, but with Gottfried Keller it does not overshadow all other aspects of life. Great passion we do not find in his works. In 'A Village Romeo and Juliet,' it is not ill-consuming love that makes the two young people seek death, but the bitter realization of life's law, as they understood it, which made it impossible for them ever to be united. The story is a fine illustration of what a great artist may make out of his raw material. Keller had read in a newspaper a report of the suicide of two young people, the sort of tragedy that we may read almost daily in newspapers; he seized upon the possibilities of the situation and the result was this story, perhaps the best he ever wrote.

Gottfried Keller (1819-1890) was one of the foremost Swiss novelists and one of the most original figures of German literature since Goethe, a master of style worthy to be classed with the great names of all ages.
(John Albrecht Walz)"

"Kleider machen Leute" (Goodreads) (Clothes Make the Man) - 1874 (Goodreads)

"Wenzel is a penniless tailor of Seldwyla who - because of the luxurious suit he has made for himself - is mistaken for a young lord when arriving in a Swiss town. The tailor is feted by the townsfolk and attracts the attention of a high-born young woman."

"Das Fähnlein der sieben Aufrechten"(Goodreads) (The Banner of the Upright Seven) - 1860 (Goodreads)

"The seventeen-year-old beauty delivered this speech in an apparently cold and matter-of-fact tone, at the same time picking up her oars and heading for the shore. Karl rowed beside her full of anxiety and apprehension, and no less full of vexation at Hermine's words. She was half glad to know that the hot-headed fellow had something to worry about."

"Die drei gerechten Kammacher" (Goodreads) (The Three Decent Combmakers) - 1856 (Goodreads)

"Story of the three journeyman carpenters, who all did the right thing and therefore could not exist side by side."

Friday, 23 September 2022

Book Quotes of the Week

   

"I’m a smeller of books and a marker-upper of books." Matthew Norman, We're All Damaged

That's not a bad hobby.

"There is nothing that I enjoy more or I think is more nourishing than being able to just walk into a bookstore run by people who love books and love reading." Barack Obama

Don't you just have to love someone like that? One of the many reasons I am a fan of this guy.

"Simple tips to gain my friendship:
Have books.
Tell me about your books.
Invite me over to see your books.
Be a Book.
Books." N.N.

All brilliant reasons.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 22 September 2022

#ThrowbackThursday. My Ántonia

 

Cather, Willa "My Ántonia" - 1918 

This was a great book, the description of the characters and the landscape are so wonderful, it shows great writing.

New settlers in America, about a hard life a hundred years ago but I think it still has a lot to teach us.

Read my original review here.

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Dürrenmatt, Friedrich "The Judge and his Hangman"

Dürrenmatt, Friedrich "The Judge and his Hangman" (GE: Der Richter und sein Henker) - 1950

I read this story at school, one of our required readings in German class.
But I've enjoyed all of our readings, well, except for very, very few.

This is no ordinary crime thriller.
Inspector Bärlach is dying. Forty years earlier he had bet with the criminal Gastmann that he could commit murder without being able to prove Bärlach. Now Bärlach is facing his last case and is trying to convict Gastmann.

In this novel we don't just find a classic crime thriller, we also find an attempt to come to terms with the past.
The book was written by a Swiss auhtor shortly after World War II.

The book was filmed several times, which probably speaks for the story.
And while I'm not a big fan of crime fiction, this is a very readable book.


From the back cover:

"Inspector Bärlach is dying. But not fast enough for his arch-enemy.

When a member of the Bern police force is shot dead on a Swiss country road, the enigmatic Inspector Bärlach and his colleague Tschanz are intent on tracking down the killer. But the ailing Inspector doesn't have time to lose. Soon the pair discover that the victim was murdered on his way to a clandestine party at the home of a wealthy power broker - so why was a local policeman socialising with some of Switzerland's most influential men? Who was his shadowy host? And why has Bärlach's past returned to haunt him in his final hours?

The Judge and His Hangman is a thrilling tale of lifelong rivalry, and of two men chained together by a wager that would destroy them both.

Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921-1990) was a Swiss author and dramatist, most famous for his plays
The Visit and The Physicists, which earned him a reputation as one of the greatest playwrights in the German language. He also wrote four highly regarded crime novels: The Pledge (adapted for a 2001 film starring Jack Nicholson), Suspicion and The Execution of Justice, are also published by Pushkin Vertigo.

Inspector Bärlach forgoes the arrest of a murderer in order to manipulate him into killing another, more elusive criminal. This is a thriller that brings existential philosophy and the detective genre into dazzling convergence.
"

They spell it Barlach in the translation though it is spelled Bärlach in the original edition.

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

The Book Blogger Memory Challenge Book Tag

The Book Blogger Memory Challenge Book Tag

I know it's Top Ten Tuesday today but it's another reading list and I have done one recently which you can find here.

Instead of putting together a new list, I take the opportunity to do a completely different tag.

I was tagged to do the Book Blogger Memory Challenge Book Tag by the lovely Carol @ Reading Ladies in this post.

Thank you for the tag, Carol! I tried to find the originator of the tag but all I got was a name: Lauralovelockbookreviews but the link doesn't lead anywhere. Look here.


The Rules

Answer the prompts without using the internet or looking at your bookshelves. Your answers have to come from MEMORY! Make sure to link to the person who originally tagged you and tag five other people if you’d like.

The Tag

1.
Name a book by an author named Michael.
Ende, Michael "The Never Ending Story" (GE: Die unendliche Geschichte) - 1979

2.
Name a book with a dragon on the cover.
Sendker, Jan-Philipp "The Far Side of the Night" (The Rising Dragon #3) (GE: Am anderen Ende der Nacht) - 2016

3.
Name a book about a character called George
Steinbeck, John "Of Mice and Men" - 1937

4.
Name a book written by an author with the surname Smith.
Smith, Zadie "White Teeth" - 1999

5.
Name a book set in Australia.
Grenville, Kate "The Secret River" - 2005

6.
Name a book with a month in the title.
Brooks, Geraldine "March" - 2006

7.
Name a book with a knife on the cover.
Koch, Herman "The Dinner" (NL: Het Diner) - 2009

8.
Name a book with the word "One" in the title.
García Márquez, Gabriel "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (E: Cien años de soledad) - 1967

9.
Name a book with an eponymous title.
Austen, Jane "Emma" - 1816

10.
Name a book turned into a movie.
Mitchell, Margaret "Gone With the Wind" - 1936

*** Carol discovered that there were only nine books to be named. She was right, of course. I went back through several posts and found that someone left out the third task, they probably couldn't find another book than the one most others had mentioned, "Curious George". ***

I’m tagging anyone who reads this post and would like to do the Book Blogger Memory Challenge!

If you do the tag, please link to my post so that I can comment on yours! Thanks. And have fun!

Monday, 19 September 2022

Schiller, Friedrich "Intrigue and Love"

Schiller, Friedrich "Intrigue and Love" (German: Kabale und Liebe) - 1784

This is one of the books on the reading lists in German Gymnasiums which is more or less the equivalent for high school. That is when I read it first. Since I'm not too keen on plays and never was, it wasn't my most favourite book but I did like the story in which Schiller describes the love of the son of a nobleman and the daughter of a musician. A modern tale "Romeo and Juliet", well, modern back in the 18th century.

So, yes. It is an interesting story that hasn't really lost much today. In our part of the world, this might not exist as much anymore but we can always change the background of the two lovers, imagine they are from different races, cultures, religions … Then, all of a sudden, the play isn't that outdated. And the writing has survived the test of time anyway.

A great classic.

Book Description:

"Intrigue and Love, sometimes Love and Intrigue, Love and Politics or Luise Miller (German: Kabale und Liebe, literally "Cabal and Love") is a five-act play written by the German dramatist Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805). It was his third play. It shows how cabals and their intrigue destroy the love between Ferdinand von Walter, a nobleman's son, and Luise Miller, daughter of a middle-class musician."

Friday, 16 September 2022

Kingsolver, Barbara "Pigs in Heaven"


Kingsolver, Barbara "Pigs in Heaven" - 1993

This is a follow-up of the novel "The Bean Trees", not necessarily my favourite by Barbara Kingsolver, whose stories I usually really like. But I think the main reason that was not my favourite, and this one won't be either, is what happens to the protagonists.

First, a baby is left with a young woman who then tries to bring her up without much help from outside. A couple of years later, someone finds she shouldn't have been able to adopt the child after all because the little girl is Cherokee. Well, I understand the native Americans but I really feel for the mother who fears having to give up her child. Such an impossible dilemna which doesn't seem to be so rare, after all, the story is based on true-life stories.

I like to read about different cultures, I like to read about problematic scenarios, maybe this was just a little too much for me, I don't know. I still liked the writing and will read more books by Barbara Kingsolver.

From the back cover:

"When six-year-old Turtle witnesses a freak accident at the Hoover Dam, her insistence, and her mother's belief in her, leads to a man's dramatic rescue. But Turtle's moment of celebrity quickly draws her into a conflict of historic proportions that will envelop not only Turtle and her mother but everyone else who touches their lives."

I have also read other books by Barbara Kingsolver, you can find my reviews here.  She remains one of my favourite authors.

Thursday, 15 September 2022

#ThrowbackThursday. The Help

 

Stockett, Kathryn "The Help" - 2009

A good story about three women in Jackson, Mississippi, 1962, slaves and slaveholders. The relationship between them. A gripping story mixed with humour.

Partly written about her own life, the author is the writer of the book about the maids.

Read my original review here.

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

The Classics Club: The Classics Spin #31

   

"Words and Peace" is a blog I've been following for a couple of years and I have always found some interesting new (or olde) books there, especially French ones.

On her page, I found the posts by "The Classics Club" asking us to create a post, this time before next Sunday 18th September 2022, and list our choice of any twenty books that remain "to be read" on our Classics Club list. They'll then post a number from 1 through 20 and we have time until Sunday 30th of October 2022 to read it.

In the meantime, I read three more books from my old list (Classics Spin #30) which I usually replace by some new ones. Since I want to finish my oldest classic novels first (as published in my Classics Club list) before buying new ones, I simply added those that are still on that list at the end of the list (only three left). They are all in chronological order.

1.    Voltaire "Candide, ou l'Optimism" (Candid, or Optimism/Candide oder der Optimismus) - 1759
2.    Brontë, Charlotte "Shirley" - 1849
3.    Keller, Gottfried "Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe" (A Village Romeo and Juliet) - 1855/56
4.    Brontë, Charlotte "The Professor" - 1857
5.    Faulkner, William "The Sound and the Fury" - 1929
6.    Hamilton, Cicely "William - an Englishman" - 1920
7.    Mandelstam, Ossip "The Din of Time" (Шум времени/Shum vremeni) - 1925
8.    Hesse, Hermann "Wir nehmen die Welt nur zu ernst" [We just take the world too seriously] - 1928
9.    Hemingway, Ernest "A Farewell to Arms" - 1929
10.  Kästner, Erich "Emil und die Detektive" (Emil and the Detectives) - 1929
11.  Meigs, Cornelia "Invincible Louisa" - 1933
12.  Orwell, George "Down and Out in Paris and London: A Gritty Memoir on Life & Poverty in Two Cities" - 1933
13. Canetti, Elias "Die Blendung" (Auto-da-Fé) - 1935
14. Orwell, George "The Road to Wigan Pier" - 1937
15.    Zweig, Stefan "Schachnovelle" (The Royal Game/Chess) - 1942
16.    Mahfouz, Naguib "Midaq Alley " (Zuqaq El Midaq/زقاق المدق) - 1947
17.    Kazantzakis, Nikos "The Last Temptation of Christ" (Ο τελευταίος πειρασμός/O telefteos pirasmos) - 1951
18.    Keller, Gottfried "Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe" (A Village Romeo and Juliet) - 1855/56
19.    Mandelstam, Ossip "The Din of Time" (Шум времени/Shum vremeni) - 1925
20.    Kazantzakis, Nikos "The Last Temptation of Christ" (Ο τελευταίος πειρασμός/O telefteos pirasmos) - 1951

If you want to take up the challenge, here is the post: The Classics Spin #31 

This time, it's #2, so my novel is:
Brontë, Charlotte "Shirley" - 1849

Here are all the books on my original Classics Club list.
And here is a list of all the books I read with the Classics Spin.

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Mountains and Hills all over the World

 

"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish". It is now hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl.

Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

This week, our topic is Books with Geographical Terms in the Title (for example: mountain, island, latitude/longitude, ash, bay, beach, border, canyon, capes, city, cliff, coast, country, desert, epicenter, hamlet, highway, jungle, ocean, park, sea, shore, tide, valley, etc.)  

I love geography, so I started looking for titles with something geographical in them and I found lots of books about mountains and hills. So, mountains and hills it is.

Ansay, A. Manette "Vinegar Hill" - 1995
Cognetti, Paolo "The Eight Mountains" (I: Le otto montagne) - 2016
Elderkin, Susan "Sunset Over Chocolate Mountains" - 2000
Frazier, Charles "Cold Mountain" - 1997
Guterson, David "East of the Mountains" - 1999
Hosseini, Khaled "And the Mountains Echoed" - 2013
Mann, Thomas "The Magic Mountain" (GE: Der Zauberberg) - 1924
Spufford, Francis "Golden Hill: A Novel of Old New York" - 2016
Tucholsky, Kurt "Rheinsberg - a Storybook for Lovers" (GE: Rheinsberg - ein Bilderbuch für Verliebte) - 1912
Gao, Xingjian "Soul Mountain" (CHN: 灵山, língshān) - 1989
7

I wonder how many books about mountains other readers found.

📚 Happy Reading! 📚

Monday, 12 September 2022

Bowman, W.E. "The Ascent of Rum Doodle"

 

Bowman, W.E. (William Ernest) "The Ascent of Rum Doodle" - 1956

I would have loved to tag this review with "Yogistan", the country where the mountain Rum Doodle is situated. Apparently, it is higher than Mount Everest (>40,000 as opposed to 29,031.7 ft, that's quite a bit).

Mind you, the highest elevation in our district measures 479 ft and I would have been astonished if they had reached the peak of that little molehill or the highest elevation in the Netherlands at 1,058 ft.

This persiflage of a travel report is just hilarious. Seven people set out to conquer Rum Doodle. Not seven experienced mountaineers, just seven men who all are supposed to have a certain expertise but end up knowing nothing about their field. Because the translator doesn't speak Yogistani, they hire 30,000 instead of 3,000 porters and they are all as unreliable as the mountaineers themselves - no wonder if they can't communicate with them.

This is just a small book, only 182 pages, so it is a lovely one to take on a short trip. Always fits in your handbag. I am sure I will read it again.

I have no idea how I found this, maybe someone mentioned it, maybe it was because Bill Bryson recommended it so highly. Honestly, if an author you love praises a book, go ahead and read it, I was so happy I did this time. It was definitely worth it.

Needless to say, mountaineers love this book and there is even a bar in Kathmandu that is called Rum Doodle.

From the back cover:

"An outrageously funny spoof about the ascent of a 40,000-and-a-half-foot peak, The Ascent of Rum Doodle has been a cult favourite since its publication in 1956. Led by the reliably under-insightful Binder, a team of seven British men - including Dr Prone (constantly ill), Jungle the route finder (constantly lost), Constant the diplomat (constantly arguing) - and 3,000 Yogistani porters sets out to conquer the highest peak in the Himalayas."

Friday, 9 September 2022

Book Quotes of the Week

  

"A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read." Terry Pratchett

A good bookshop can be so much.

"Literature is frightening when it reaches the heart, gut and mind of the reader." Roberto Saviano


Frightening but comforting at the same time.

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." William Wordsworth


That's the best kind of literature.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 8 September 2022

#ThrowbackThursday. The Kite Runner

 

Hosseini, Khaled "The Kite Runner" - 2003

A very informative book about Afghanistan and life for the people in it. Definitely worth reading.

We discussed this in our international book club in October 2007.

Read my original review here.

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Saviano, Roberto "Gomorrha"

Saviano, Roberto "Gomorrah: A Personal Journey Into the Violent International Empire of Naples' Organized Crime System" (Italian: Gomorra: Viaggio Nell’impero Economico E Nel Sogno Di Dominio Della Camorra) - 2006

For most of us it's just "the" mafia, but there are so many sub-groups and they go by many other names. The Camorra is an organization made up of different families from Naples and Campania.

The author received death threats after the book's publication. A quote from Winston Churchill goes well with this: "You have enemies? Good. That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." It's good that we have people like that.

We learn so much about the machinations of these people, it's hard to believe. I read this book ages ago, but it still has an impact. The author describes how the fashion and clothing industry is infiltrated, how the drug trade arises from this, how banks are also influenced, arms trade, they don't even stop at construction and disposal. There is hardly an area in which there is no criminal involvement. If it's lucrative, the Camorra is involved.

Quote from the author from an interview:

"Whatever I would like my life to be, the fact is, I wrote Gomorrah, and I pay the price every day. (…)
I’m attacked not just by the Camorra, but also by parts of civil society and even by journalists who are ashamed that they’ve never spoken out against the mafia, and that their silence makes them complicit
."

Also: "You only do good if you can also do bad things. A failed existence on the other hand, a joke, a do-nothing person can only do good things, but that's a gift, it's worth nothing. Something is good when you consciously decides to do so, because one could also do the bad." That applies to many areas, or actually to all.

From the back cover:

"A groundbreaking major bestseller in Italy, Gomorrah is Roberto Saviano's gripping nonfiction account of the decline of Naples under the rule of the Camorra, an organized crime network with a large international reach and stakes in construction, high fashion, illicit drugs, and toxic-waste disposal. Known by insiders as "the System," the Camorra affects cities and villages along the Neapolitan coast, and is the deciding factor in why Campania, for instance, has the highest murder rate in all of Europe and whycancer levels there have skyrocketed in recent years.

Saviano tells of huge cargoes of Chinese goods that are shipped to Naples and then quickly distributed unchecked across Europe. He investigates the Camorra's control of thousands of Chinese factories contracted to manufacture fashion goods, legally and illegally, for distribution around the world, and relates the chilling details of how the abusive handling of toxic waste is causing devastating pollution not only for Naples but also China and Somalia. In pursuit of his subject, Saviano worked as an assistant at a Chinese textile manufacturer, a waiter at a Camorra wedding, and on a construction site. A native of the region, he recalls seeing his first murder at the age of fourteen, and how his own father, a doctor, suffered a brutal beating for trying to aid an eighteen-year-old victim who had been left for dead in the street.

Gomorrah is a bold and important work of investigative writing that holds global significance, one heroic young man's impassioned story of a place under the rule of a murderous organization.
"

Tuesday, 6 September 2022

Top Ten ... Twenty Tuesday ~ Books I Found Through Other Bloggers

  

"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish". It is now hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl.

Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

This week, our topic is Books I Loved So Much I Had to Get a Copy for My Personal Library (Maybe you received an ARC or borrowed from a friend/the library and loved it so much you wanted your own! Or maybe you read it in one format and wanted another format, like you read it in ebook and wanted a physical copy to display on your shelves or you read it the paperback and would love to re-read it on audio. Change this TTT title to fit your post best!)

I have a lot of books that I bought in order to read them, not many that I borrowed first from the library. I've lived abroad most of my life and it wasn't easy for a long time to get foreign books, either English ones in Germany or German ones in Britain, definitely not in the library. So, I often had no choice but buying the books if I wanted to read them.

Therefore, I have to twist the topic again. Lory from Entering the Enchanted Castle had a post the other day that I thought would fit this one. So, here we go:

Books I Found Through Other Book Bloggers

Adams, Sara Nisha "The Reading List" - 2021
Bivald, Katarina "The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend" (SWE: Läsarna i Broken Wheel rekommenderar) - 2013
Carey, Peter "A Long Way From Home" - 2017
Hay, Ashley "The Railwayman's Wife" - 2013
Hustvedt, Siri "The Summer without Men" - 2011
Kohler, Sheila "Becoming Jane Eyre" - 2009
Konar, Affinity "Mischling" - 2016
Levithan, David "Every Day" - 2012
Lundberg, Sofia "The Red Address Book" (SW: Den röda adressboken) - 2015
Malouf, David "Fly Away Peter" - 1979
McCullough, Colleen "The Ladies of Missalonghi" - 1987
McLain, Paula "The Paris Wife" - 2012
Meier, Peg/Wood, Dave "The Pie Lady of Winthrop: And Other Minnesota Tales" - 1985
Metalious, Grace "Peyton Place" - 1957
Morton, Kate "The Clockmaker's Daughter" - 2018
Patchett, Ann "The Dutch House" - 2019
Setterfield, Diane "The Thirteenth Tale" - 2006
Shaw, Karl "Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty" - 1999
Towles, Amor "A Gentleman in Moscow" - 2016
Weir, Andy "The Martian" - 2011

Of course, I didn't like all of the books recommended through blogs, after all, we all have different tastes. But I am always grateful to try different kinds of literature. If you want to know whether I liked it or not, click on the link.

And then there are hundreds of books that I found through internet friends, internet book clubs, chat groups, none of them I would have found without the internet.

I already have a list of books that I found through friends (see here).

Now, I have read many more books that I found through discussing them online but these were the first I could identify.

Did you find any interesting books on the internet? Have you found some through my blog?

📚 Happy Reading! 📚

Monday, 5 September 2022

Vargas Llosa, Mario "The Feast of the Goat"

Vargas Llosa, Mario "The Feast of the Goat" (Spanish: La fiesta del chivo) - 2000

We read this in our international online book club in August 2022.

This was one of the toughest books I ever read. The descriptions of the torture are quite vivid and detailed. I wouldn't recommend it to someone who has a weak heart.

Rafael Trujillo was the dictator of the Dominican Republic from 1930 until his assassination in 1961. Of course, I had heard about the dictatorship and recently read "In the Time of the Butterflies" by Julia Alvarez, so I should have been forewarned enough. But I wasn't. The way, this dictator ruined almost everybody's life and what people can do to other human beings, it's just unbelievable.

The story is told by Trujillo himself, by Urania Cabral who is the daughter of one of his followers, and by his assassinators taking turns and making the story even more suspenseful than it is already. We see the different points of view - not that it makes us understand the dictator any better, I wouldn't want to anyway. Supposedly, he loved his country and its people but how can you treat someone like that if you love them.

It is unbelievable how the author managed to put this remarkable story on paper, I guess you have to be a Nobel Prize winning writer for that.

Comment from one of our book club members.
"This book provides wonderful insights into Rafael Trujillo, once dictator of the Dominican Republic. The reader can see his strength, his discipline, his idealism and the corruption of all that into a hideous corrosive force degrading himself, his collaborators and the innocent alike. The writing and storytelling are compelling. This is the best book I have read in a long time."

She is right. Unfortunately, her description fits many dictators.

Another comment:
"Reading the book started out quite slow for me, because of the different time and point of view changes, but after about half the book I could not put it down again until I finished it. It was really horrifying and revealing about history and places I had no idea about. And I dont understand at all how people can be so evil, cruel, manipulative. I absolutely also can recommend this book!"

I totally agree. It is unbelievable what people can do to each other.

"One of the most valuable things about this superb piece of literature is that it gives us a close-up, vivid, and personal view, partly factual and partly imagined, of the perpetrators of gross injustice so we can begin to understand how people can be so evil, cruel and manipulative. It worked for me."

Book Description:

"Haunted all her life by feelings of terror and emptiness, forty-nine-year-old Urania Cabral returns to her native Dominican Republic - and finds herself reliving the events of 1961, when the capital was still called Trujillo City and one old man terrorized a nation of three million people. Rafael Trujillo, the depraved ailing dictator whom Dominicans call the Goat, controls his inner circle with a combination of violence and blackmail. In Trujillo's gaudy palace, treachery and cowardice have become the way of life. But Trujillo's grasp is slipping away. There is a conspiracy against him, and a Machiavellian revolution already underway that will have bloody consequences of its own. In this 'masterpiece of Latin American and world literature, and one of the finest political novels ever written' ('Bookforum'), Mario Vargas Llosa recounts the end of a regime and the birth of a terrible democracy, giving voice to the historical Trujillo and the victims, both innocent and complicit, drawn into his deadly orbit."

Mario Vargas Llosa received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2010 "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat".

Mario Vargas Llosa received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Friedenspreis) in 1996.

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

Saturday, 3 September 2022

Six Degrees of Separation ~ From The Pillars of the Earth to The Island

 The Pillars of the Earth
Follett, Ken "The Pillars of the Earth" (Kingsbridge #1) - 1989

#6Degrees of Separation:
from The The Pillars of the Earth to The Island

#6Degrees is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. I love the idea. Thank you, Kate. See more about this challenge, its history, further books and how I found this here.

This month's prompt starts with the book we finished with last month, so in my case The Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge #1) - 1989 by Ken Follett

I was very pleased with this because I had another book in mind right away. They build a cathedral in "The Pillars of the Earth" and if you haven't read it, yet, I recommend you read the whole Kingsbridge series.

Falcones, Ildefonso "Cathedral of the Sea" (E: La catedral del mar) - 2008

The cathedral in Ken Follett's story was built in the 12th century in England, Ildefonso Falcones describes one built in Barcelona in the
14th th century but they both have in common that they build a cathedral and that they show the lives of the builders and the rich people in those times. There is also a follow-up novel to this one but, unfortunately, hasn't been translated into English, yet,  I hope. Because it is just as great.

Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Shadow of the Wind" (E: La sombra del viento - El cementerio de los libros olvidados #1) - 2001

When I think Barcelona, I can't help but think about another favourite author of mine, Carlos Ruiz Zafón who wrote not about a cathedral but about books, a library and the time of the Spanish Civil War. He had this book follwed by three more books that can all be read in any order but give you a great story altogether.

Sendker, Jan-Philipp "Whispering Shadows" (The Rising Dragon #1) (GE: Das Flüstern der Schatten) - 2007

I love reading about different countries and different times, especially if there are great sequels, as well, and the word "shadow" led me to another book by a German author who has written quite a few books about China after having worked there as an Asia correspondent. Both his fiction and non-fiction books are very informative.

Orth, Stephan "Couchsurfing in China: Encounters and Escapades Beyond the Great Wall" aka "High Tech and Hot Pot: Revealing Encounters Inside the Real China" (GE: Couchsurfing in China. Durch die Wohnzimmer der neuen Supermacht) - 2019

Just as informative as the couchsurfing books by another German journalist who has travelled to quite a few countries that most of us will never be able to visit. But with his stories, it's almost as if we'd gone there ourselves.

Bryson, Bill "Notes from a Small Island" - 1995

Travel books always make me think about another favourite author: Bill Bryson. He has written so many great books about all sorts of countries, about language, about science etc. But this one is about his second home country where I also lived for a while and it still is my favourite book by him.

Hislop, Victoria "The Island" - 2005

I will finish with another book about an island, one of my favourites by another favourite author. Victoria Hislop is a wonderful writer who has written such vivid and great books about Greece that they awarded her honorary citizenship. Well done, Victoria, and congratulations.


This was a fun challenge because we started with a book close to our hearts. I'm really looking forward to seeing what others came up with.

Look for further monthly separation posts here