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Changing Readings

Right now, I am a bit relieved from academic affairs, and with some time to read. But I’ll change the reading of The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, for another book, this time in Portuguese, The Physician by Noah Gordon. It’s a much bigger book than the one by Conan Doyle, but it is in Portuguese. And I, who lately have only read books in English, need to read something in my mother tongue.
I also started reading the adventure of Sherlock Holmes a bit against my will… I started reading it because I thought that being a smaller book it would be easy to read, even when I felt like reading another kind of story. Due to lack of time and fatigue, the first 15 pages took a week to read. Therefore, I will now give in to my initial will to read The Physician, that has caught my eye since the last month. I will read Doyle later.

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The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield (read in portuguese)

My rating: 5/6 Awesome!

Synopsis:

“Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once home to the March family – fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, brutal, dangerous Charlie, and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But Angelfield House hides a chilling secret which strikes at the very heart of each of them, tearing their lives apart…Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield’s past – and the mystery of the March family starts to unravel. What has Angelfield been hiding? What is its connection with the enigmatic writer Vida Winter? And what is the secret that strikes at the heart of Margaret’s own, troubled life? As Margaret digs deeper, two parallel stories unfold, and the tale she uncovers sheds a disturbing light on her own life…”

My Opinion:

I cannot speak much more about the plot or I would be revealing some things. You really have to read and find out for yourself!

Margaret Lea receives a letter from Vida Winter, a writer who always remained reluctant to talk about her life. Yet it does so, moreover, inviting someone who apparently has no qualifications to write a biography. But Margaret accepts the challenge.

And from here, we come across a web of secrets, of mysterious events, which will unfold before our eyes. The entire narrative seems suspended, as if awaiting a pivotal event that will change the lives of all characters and that inevitably happens.

The story is also full with ghosts, spatial and emotional ruins. Characters who somehow have been broken from within by a particular event in their lives. We are led down a path, as the events are narrated, and suddenly we are led by other. There are things that seem to be but we inevitably find out that they are not and that is the charm of the book.

I really liked this story. It maintains a rhythm and it really captures the reader from the start keeping him clinging to the curiosity to know what will happen next, what secret will be revealed.

Another attractive aspect is that the whole book is full of literary references, among the most frequent are Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. And for those who read them, some things become clear: the presence of a “mad woman in the attic”, some characters’ obsessions qith each other, a home environment overshadowed by a dark cloud, like Wuthering Heights was.
It is a fantastic book!  Recommended for those who love a good mystery full of beautiful descriptions, suspense and riddles to be solved.

New Books!

This week I was able to buy some more books and add them to my infinite pile of books to read. Here they are:

Dissolution, by C. J. Sansom

The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Lady Elizabeth, by Alison Weir

All in english!

Now that I created this blog in english I can finally take part on some reading challenges! This is one of them: the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

I love to read historical fiction but sometimes I don’t read as much as I want to due to other obligations, namely university compulsory readings. But let’s get to the point.

First, this challenge will last till December 2010. Second, the level I’m aiming for is the Addicted, which means that I must read 12 historical fiction novels this year!

Anyway, for those who also want to take part in this challenge, here are the rules:

1. Anyone can join. You don’t need a blog to participate.

2. There are four levels:

— Curious – Read 3 Historical Fiction novels.

— Fascinated – Read 6 Historical Fiction novels.

— Addicted – Read 12 Historical Fiction novels.

— Obsessed – Read 20 Historical Fiction novels.

3. Any book format counts.

4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.

5. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010.


This post will be updated everytime I read a book for the challenge. These are the ones I plan on reading for the challenge.

1. The Lady Elizabeth – Alison Weir

2. Dissolution – C. J. Sansom

3. The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory

4. Cathedral of the Sea – Ildefonso Falcones

5. The Physician – Noah Gordon

6. Le Morte d’Arthur – Sir Thomas Malory

7. The Winter King – Bernard Cornwell

8. Enemy of God – Bernard Cornwell

9. Excalibur – Bernard Cornwell

10.

11.

12.

Alice I have been, by Melanie Benjamin (read in portuguese)

My ratings: 5/6 – Awesome!

Synopsis (from amazon.com):

“Alice Liddell Hargreaves is an lonely old woman now, but once she was full of passion, fire, and true love. As a child, she was the muse of Mr. Dodgson, a professor at Oxford who used the pen name Lewis Carroll, and inspired the seminal classic that has been read and loved by millions. What Alice doesn’t realize, though, is that her life will be both illuminated and shrouded by just one day in her life, a day when, at eleven years old, her life changes forever.”

My Opinion:

This book is a mixture between fiction and non-fiction. It tell us the story of Alice Lidell, the little girl who inspired Mr. Dodgson to write the classic The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland, and some events of her life are well documented. But there are others which are not, and Melanie Benjamin decided to write about those things that nobody really knows about.

The story starts when Alice is about 80 years-old but, through her memories, we are taken back to her infancy, when she was about 7 years-old living in Oxford. We get to know her personality as a kind, rebel and restless child who loves a certain person: Mr. Dodgson. She loves his stories, the fact that among the three sisters, Ina, Alice and Edith, Dodgson prefers her, and the fact that both of them share this dreamy vision of the world.

But her life comes to a turn when, in an afternoon something happens that will change both lives forever. Though we might guess what it happened, we are only certain of it when, at the end of the book, eighty-year-old Alice remembers the event for the first time, for it remained repressed in her mind throughout her life.

Then we jump to Alice in her twenties, when se falls in love with Prince Leopold, one of Queen Victoria’s sons but, once more, her happiness is stolen due to the fatidic events of that afternoon when she was just a little girl. After that, we learn that eventually she married a decent and loving man, Reginald and had three sons, all battling in the First World War.

This is, obviously a rough sketch of the book. All the characters appeal to our emotional side, we feel sorry for them, angry at them, and even laugh with them. Alice is a lovable creature, passionate and becomes a strong woman, surviving the adversities of her life. She never stopped thinking about the positive and negative impact of Mr. Dodgson in her life, and remembers him with contradictory feelings: they both condemned themselves and stole happiness from each other.

I loved this book from beginning to end. The way Alice tells her story in the first person narrative, takes us through her emotions, her thoughts, her memories in a way that is truly touching. She is strong, inspirational and a true example of a child who just wanted to be happy and saw that happiness taken away. This is a character I think I will remember for a long time.

“[…] I have sometimes dreamt, at least, that when the Day of Judgment dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their rewards–their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble–the Almighty will turn to Peter and will say, not without a certain envy when he sees us coming with our books under our arms, ‘Look, these need no reward.  We have nothing to give them here.  They have loved reading.’ ”

Woolf, Virginia. “How Should One Read a Book?”, The Common Reader (1932)

Last semester this was the essay I liked reading the most. Virginia Woolf truly stayed in my mind and I love to come back to her. This is my favourite part of this short essay in the second volume of The Common Reader.

If you want to know more about her you can visit this site.

Books of 2010

This will be a fixed post where I will be updating the list of books read throughtout the year of 2010. Whenever a book is read in portuguese it will be indicated.

January:

The Forest House, by Marion Zimmer Bradley – 4/6 (544 pages, read in portuguese)

La Alquimia del Unicornio, by Antonio Rodríguez Jiménez – 2/6 (294 pages, read in portuguese)

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde – 6/6 (256 pages)

Tangled Webs, by Anne Bishop – 5/6 (309 pages, read in portuguese)

February:

Between the Assassinations, by Aravind Adiga – 4/6 (312 pages, read in portuguese)

Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino – 5/6 (178 pages, read in portuguese)

March:

If I Stay, by Gayle Forman – 5/6 (216 pages, read in portuguese)

Twilight of Avalon, by Anna Elliott – 4/6 (438 pages, read in portuguese)

The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath – 6/6 (234 pages)

April:

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte – 2/6 (279 pages)

Alice I have been, by Melanie Benjamin – 5/6 (336 pages, read in portuguese)

The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield – 5/6 (368 pages, read in portuguese)