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Christmas Book List by Eric Idle - Dec-2016

Here’s what I have selected to send to selected friends. I get them packaged with brown paper and ceiling wax sent from Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights / in Bath.

https://www.facebook.com › Places › Bath, United Kingdom › Book Store

ENDING UP  by Kingsley Amis

DYNASTY  by Tom Holland

MAIGRET GETS ANGRY  by Georges Simenon

MADAME MAIGRET’S FRIEND  by Georges Simenon

THE PIGEON TUNNEL  by John Le Carré

NUTSHELL  by Ian McEwan

THE HOTEL ON PLACE VENDOME  by Tilar J. Mazzeo

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE  by Anthony Doerr

THE ORPHAN MASTERS SON  by Adam Johnson

DEAD IS BEST  by Jo Perry

All That Man Is by David Szalay - Dec-2016

A fine novel, really nine interlinked short stories, about the frustrations of man. From all ages of men, with their disappointments, hopes, dreams and lives exposed as nothing in the stream of time. The book is carefully and cleverly worked, and features many European scenes, which somehow all link with a rather bleak view of man, and men, cars, transport and modern life. I read most of it before I left but read it all again on my return. He really is very good.

The Rival Queens by Nancy Goldstone - Dec-2016

The Queens are Catherine de Medici and her daughter Marguerite de Valois (married to Henri 4).

Amid the madness and the religious and sibling rivalries of a French court, the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris in August 1572, after Marguerite’s forced wedding, here laid very clearly at the door of Catherine, ran the streets of Paris red with Huguenot Blood, and would lead to years of chaos and warfare. Well told narrative of a period I find fascinating.

Red Gold by Alan Furst - Nov-2016

The third of these highly readable novels set in Paris during the Occupation, all with the same protagonist Jean Casson, a film producer, scrabbling to survive under the Nazis. I have enjoyed reading all three, and there are several more, which is good news. Excellent travel reading.

Ending Up by Kingsley Amis - Nov-2016

Wonderful. Cranky old people sharing a house. Remarkable. Simple and funny and true.

When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain by Giles Milton - Nov-2016

Short bits, true stories, odd bites. Quite readable and occasionally quite remarkable.

The World at Night by Alan Furst - Nov-2016

Casson the film producer is blackmailed into working for the Gestapo in occupied Paris. But he escapes to find his love the actress Citrine.

Mission to Paris by Alan Furst - Nov-2016

The beginning of the Occupation of Paris, and fun and games amongst the poor Parisians left to deal with the German Army and the Gestapo. An ex-Austrian American film star shooting in Paris is manipulated by Gestapo agents. With Casson, a film producer, his ex-wife and current loves.

Three Ten to Yuma by Elmore Leonard - Nov-2016

Short stories. Western. Sparse and wonderful. Mostly dialogue and action. Highly readable.

Mister Hire’s Engagement by Georges Simenon - Nov-2016

A non-Maigret brilliant book about a little man suspected of a crime. A small masterpiece.

The Old Man by Thomas Perry - Nov-2016

Thomas very kindly sent me his latest proof as I am such a fan. This one seems a little different from his previous work. More complicated and a bit into the territory of Le Carré. Very readable as usual and highly enjoyable. And I’m sorry to say you can’t get to read it for another month or two. But get it.

In the cafe of Lost Youth by Patrick Modiano - Nov-2016

A four different viewpoint short story about odd customers of a small 50’s Parisian cafe. In 2014 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Prime Suspect 3: Silent Victims by Lynda La Plante - Nov-2016

Third and final Jane Tennison story. They represent a remarkable trilogy. Excellently written. Tense, taut and a quiet masterpiece of the genre.

Dynasty by Tom Holland - Oct-2016

A magnificent history of the Caesars. Very timely reminder of the dangers of supreme power. Thoroughly readable and wonderfully told. From Julius to Nero.

Maigret’s Holiday by Georges Simenon - Oct-2016

Madame Maigret poisoned on holiday mussels. Inside a Nun run hospital. A young woman dies. Nun slips him a note. Who dunnit? Bored Maigret moves in.

The Misty Harbour by Georges Simenon - Oct-2016

Fairly sure I read this before. But it still gripped me. His sense of locale, the details of sea and tide and fog are superb, with Maigret groping around in the dark as usual.

Prime Suspect 2: A Face in the Crowd by Lynda La Plante - Oct-2016

This is Lynda La Plante at her very best. From 1993. With Jane Tennison, by now inseparable from Helen Mirren, this is what she does best; revealing the sexism and the racism in the police and the general hatred of the easily misled public for them, manipulated by both Press and Politicians. Short, sharp sentences, mainly action and dialogue, she tells the tale with great skill. Highly readable.

Wrongful Death by Lynda La Plante - Oct-2016

Nice airplane reading. She is good, although this one is fairly ambitious and contains enough material for two thrillers, especially as her female detective goes off half way through on an FBI course to the States, where another case is solved. I did enjoy it though.

Hunting Eichmann by Neal Bascomb - Oct-2016

It seems weird to me that when I was born there were still two years of Nazi Concentration Camp horrors to go. It is particularly enjoyable to read of the purple-faced fury of Hitler in the final few days of the war as the Russians entered Berlin. Each of the Nazis had an escape plan except him! This other Adolf deviant managed to evade capture for many years after the war and escaped with the help of the Catholic Church and the Red Cross to Argentina. Unfortunately for him not all Germans had forgotten the Nazis, although at least one was now in a high position of power in West Germany. Realising that Germany had lost its drive to capture Nazis Herr Brandt leaned on the at-first-doubtful Israelis to say he did indeed know the whereabouts of the by now sad little arrogant fucker called Eichmann. The book tells of the verifying of the identity and the capture of the man who went to the gallows unrepentant and unconvinced he had done anything wrong. Just obeying orders. I love these books.

The Truth About Lorin Jones by Alison Lurie - Oct-2016

I really like Alison Lurie and this is a particularly fine book from 1988. She is quite critical of her lesbian friend, who is revealed as utterly selfish. A fine read.

Maigret’s Memoirs by Georges Simenon - Sep-2016

Finally the first Maigret I really didn’t finish…
Devilish clever and post-modernist and all. This is the real Parisian detective Maigret writing his memoirs about how he came to meet the Belgian writer Georges Sim, who became Georges Simenon, stealing his character and his name, his shape, his methods, simplifying his cases, and making him available to the public and even available to be played by actors who in no way resemble him. His resentment of this is very clever, very smart, and funny conceptually, but it doesn’t grab like a real Maigret novel. I’m not sure we want to be reminded of the fictional nature of the heroes of our novels. It’s confusing and runs against some vein, as if some character in a play was constantly to remind you he was in a play.

Two cracking Maigret novels. One from the plane and one immediately afterwards…

Maigret Gets Angry by Georges Simenon - Sep-2016

A retired Maigret is drawn into a strange world by an eccentric old lady. Told at great pace and with great drive, it is amazing how much plot he gets out of pure dialogue and character. Unexpected and thrilling.

Madame Maigret’s Friend by Georges Simenon - Sep-2016

Again an unusual Maigret where Madame Maigret is drawn improbably into a puzzling situation.

The Pigeon Tunnel by John Le Carré - Sep-2016

The most marvellous memoirs. Described as “Stories from my life” they reveal a surprising side to David Cornwell. Not just the wonderful people he has met, and the encounters he has had, but many sharp observations about life, secrecy, parental disappointment and what turns us into us. I was fascinated to see the novelist constantly at work, examining character for fictional uses, and almost always playing life back into fiction and vice versa, it’s as if he is more comfortable with fiction than reality.

White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World by Geoff Dyer - Sep-2016

Dyer gets dryer and dryer. His wit and his incredible clear eye looking closely at things, plus the ease with which he slots himself into his own narrative, essay world, makes him unique and very enjoyable.