So now on to some more current, contemporary reads ….
THE 100 YEAR OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW & DISAPPEARED by Jonas Jonasson
A quick read and ideal gift for anyone interested in history, this is a sort of Scandi Forrest Gump, totally implausible but a ripping yarn nevertheless. The book traces the life of 100 year old Alan Karlsson, as you journey through the old man’s century on Earth you cross paths with Stalin, Franco, Mao Tse Tung and Truman, oh and an elephant. An offbeat funny book, not really laugh out loud but it has that humour peculiar to the Scandinavians, that sort of Nordic Nuttiness that is a little dour but still funny, death through hypothermia, decapitation and firing squad and told in the voice of Karlsson who is a-political but veers from one Socialist leader to the next tyrant. So although it’s not a new book it’s definitely a good one for the guys. As luck would have it the World Cinema choice on our flight home was Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann (The 100 year old man etc etc ….) now what are the chances of that? The film is fun too but you don’t get the back stories of each of the building group of oddballs that join Karlsson’s travelling troupe but a great Christmas pressie ensemble if you are wanting to give the full 100 Year Old Man …. experience!
THE GUERNSEY LITERARY & POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
(be assured I did not look for two books with the longest titles on purpose)
One of the most charming books I have ever read has to be this one, published in 2008. This is a novel in letters of a love story emerging between two of the main characters, Juliet Ashton in London and Dawsey Adams on the island of Guernsey. Dawsey regales Juliet with stories through his letters of how the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society came about. When German soldiers controlled Guernsey during the occupation of the Channel Islands from 1940 to 1945, the islanders were held to a strict curfew and severely oppressed. They were not even allowed to eat their own livestock and the island became a sort of Nazi holiday camp. Several islanders thought of a clever scheme that could save a pig from their own livestock for them to enjoy themselves: When one farmer’s pig died, several farmers would pass around its carcass, each reporting the death of their own personal pig to German officials. Farmers could then stow away one of their pigs to slaughter in secrecy and eat with neighbours. When one group of islanders is caught they devise the Literary Society, something akin to a modern-day book club and to uphold the story they continue to meet throughout the occupation while they develop not only a love for literature but also create a strong bond as friends. There are some laugh out loud moments, some moments of lump-in-the-throat sadness, this is a book that I could read time and time again and would make for a great gift.
And the one that got away ….
LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov,
I rarely don’t finish a book, even if I don’t like it I persevere but this was such an uncomfortable read I actually couldn’t finish it. From the beginning of the book you have an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach and whilst with most books you want to go on a journey with the central characters, with this there is that awful sense of foreboding that somewhere in his head this paedophile, Humbert Humbert is justifying that this is a pure and natural love and somehow right. There is no denying that Lolita herself is a little minx but Humbert knows he is wrong but continues to manipulate and impress upon the young girl and her mother, whilst horrifyingly recognising that there will be a time in the not too distant future where the young Lo’ will fall out of favour with him to be replaced by a younger more nubile model. Somewhere on the internet I found a description that Lolita is a metaphor for the Old World of Europe (Humbert Humbert) and the changing new land of plenty, America (Lolita) …. that may be but not a comfortable read for me … I am sure I will revisit it at some time but it was my final choice while away and was definitely bringing the mood down.
Read yesterday’s post on my
What books do you like to give as gifts … the classics or new releases?