Holiday reading

Whilst cruising on the lovely Marina, I’ve managed to find the time to read a couple of books out of the ship’s library

The first was The Paris Vendetta by Steve Barry. I thought this was a fitting choice as I had just enjoyed that lovely week in Paris and I knew exactly where the characters were as they moved through Paris in the story. The book reminded me of The DaVinci Affair by Dan Brown as there were ancient mysteries to be solved, clues to be followed and places to visit. I learnt about the life of Napoléon and his battles through Europe. I wondered if he did really leave a secret legacy and followed the characters as they tried to prevent The Paris Club from triggering a global financial meltdown. It was a little difficult to grasp all the different characters at the beginning but once I did, I really enjoyed this novel. It was full of suspense and twists and turns and it got me in.

The second was The Girl in the Spider’s Web, a Lisbeth Salander novel by David Lagercrantz and continuing Stieglitz Larsson’s Millenium Series. I loved the series by Larsson and was very sad to hear he had died. Lagercrantz has done a great job of continuing these exciting stories and I really enjoyed spending more time with Lisbeth Salander, genius hacker and uncompromising misfit, and the journalist, Mikael Blomkvist. The characterisation fits with that in the original novels and the battle between right and wrong, between Lisbeth and her twin sister, was absorbing. I loved it. Didn’t want to put it down!

No potato peel pie – just Cornish Pasties!

I was really excited to visit the home of that lovely book and film about Guernsey during the Nazi occupation in WWII. We were disappointed to hear from some of the shopkeepers that the movie was actually filmed in Cornwall and even the shoreline shots were not actually Guernsey. If you haven’t read the book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, I recommend it.

David started the day with his typical Oceania breakfast of lamb chops, bacon, tomato, hash brown followed by toast and marmalade. At home he has just toast and tomato.

We then rode the tender across and wandered through the streets of Guernsey. It was a lovely place to explore. David saw The Cornish Pasty Company shop so in we went for pasties and coffee (flat whites even with soy milk). We certainly didn’t need any lunch back on board.

I bought a lovely shirt in one of the many interesting little boutiques and they don’t have any VAT so the price was right.

The entertainer tonight was Chris Hamilton, an English piano showman and he could certainly tickle the ivories. He even played The Entertainer, my favourite piece of music.

Another great day!

Pachinko and Pompey

How are these two words connected? How can a Japanese recreational arcade game and a famous Australian general be linked? Is it merely alliteration? No – it’s because they are the key words to remind me of my favourite books from 2018.

I spent some time in hospital early in the year and a very kind friend brought me Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. It’s a delightful, sad family saga set in Korea and Japan during the 20th century. I had next to no knowledge of the history between Korea and Japan in that time frame but I learnt much whilst reading Pachinko. I absolutely loved the book and passed it around amongst my family and friends who all reviewed it favourably. Some members of my book club were not so impressed saying that it lost focus in the second half of the story. I reread it prior to our discussion at book club and I found it to be just as enjoyable the second time.

Pompey Elliott In His Own Words by Ross McMullin is also historical but it is the story of Pompey Elliott, one of Australia’s great fighting generals during World War I. Ross McMullin has researched Pompey’s life through his own writings; his diaries, his letters and his wartime correspondence and has published his writings in chronological order. We went to a talk by Ross at the 2018 Brisbane Writer’s Festival about this book and were hooked. We had to buy it. It’s a gripping read. We see inside the thoughts and feelings of this compassionate man who fought for his men through numerous controversies even though it affected his opportunities for promotion. He grieved when his men were sacrificed and we see that particularly in letters to his wife. (She kept and preserved all his letters to her and their two children.) He tried to be a father to his children even though he was thousands of miles away in horrific situations. The letters to the kids are poignant.

Two great books! I recommend them to you.

PS I’m doing a WordPress free online course at the moment and it gives a daily challenge. I haven’t managed them all but this one is to post a regular monthly or weekly post. So I reckon I’ll write about the best books I’ve read each month but I thought I had to start with these two great books I read last year. I hope you enjoy reading about what I’ve been reading.