"Dost thou think, because thou are virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?" Maugham took this quote from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. The cakes and ale are used as a metaphor for the good life. Or as Maugham points out, what is thought to be the good life.
This is a story of the Victorian era meeting the 20th century, the tastes of popular society contrasting the literary world, and the growth of the first person narrator from a stuffy young man to a world weary adult
This book created controversy when it was published for its thinly disguised portrayals of authors Thomas Hardy (critically acclaimed) and Hugh Walpole (immensely popular at the time but now largely forgotten) and its view of art, critical acclaim, and public popularity.
The dialogue is sharp and engaging and the characters are alive with human emotion, frailties, and desires. Eighty years after publication, Cakes and Ale is still a satisfying and enjoyable novel.
In fairness, I began this book with the thought of how can a biography be written about a person that is almost lost to history. Claire Tomalin presented probably the best possible account of this mysterious figure. Unless some treasure trove of information about Nelly Ternan is found hidden away in a long forgotten vault, this book explains all we will ever know of her life.
Tomalin gives great detail of Ternan's family members who were all actors of some note, contemporaries, customs, and English society and views of the time. Also, a healthy amount of information regarding Dickens himself. Unfortunately, most things about Nelly Ternan are reduced to deduction, speculation, and supposition. One cannot fault Tomalin, as very little is known of Nelly Ternan, especially during the time of her involvement with Charles Dickens. So what is left is a "speculation biography".
Everyone knows the basic story of The Invisible Man. This is a solid telling of the H. G. Wells classic. The pathos, motivations, and constantly escalating violence is what makes this early science fiction story so powerful, even today. Wells masterfully tells the story, allowing us to slowly learn about the title character, first from the point of view of a small group of everyday people and later from the character who serves as the narrator of the tale and the Invisible Man himself.
Set in the prim, proper, and orderly world of late 1890's Victorian England, the events of this book explode against the structured life of the era. This book eerily foreshadows the coming ravages that the early 20th Century will inflict upon English society (and the World at large), exposing the darker side of human nature.
In an age of globalism, free-trade, and instantaneous mass media and social media, Mr Kaplan presents a well researched overview of how geography still impacts world events. All of the major hot spots are addressed: Europe, Iran, the Middle East including Syria, Russia and the former Soviet Union Republics, North and South Korea, and China and Southeast Asia.
The author presents the case that geography, man-made artificial boundaries, and ethnic strife will still determine political outcomes now and into the foreseeable future. Interesting listen, although a little dense at times. The rat-a-tat style employed by the narrator can be a little disconcerting at times. Overall, very informative.
Readers of Historical fiction will enjoy this book. The author portrays mid 19th century New York City as a living, breathing environment. Many details, images, language, slang, and customs create a vivid atmosphere.
This is a tale of a "detective" before there were detectives, or even police departments. The subject matter of the crimes is gruesome, being the murders of child prostitutes. There are a few scenes that are difficult but not gratuitous.
More so, this is a novel of characters that are richly developed as the story progresses. The disfigured "detective" Tim Wilde, his ambivalent brother Valentine, the mysterious girl Bird, the beautiful Mercy Underhill and her father are all characters that inhabit this story and bring it to life.
In addition, for Sherlock Holmes fans, the first novel by this author, Dust and Shadow, is also a great listen for many of the same reasons.
To be fair, my expectations were low after the previous installment of this series, The Pirate King. Again, there is no story here. Without giving too much away, Mary Russell spends three quarters of the novel with full or partial amnesia. She is accompanied in her efforts by a mute boy. So what happened?
After ten hours of listening, we find out that this very laborious plot device is conceived to obscure the hidden political motives of a meeting between two historical figures.
Really? No story, no case. Sherlock Holmes plays a larger part in this novel (He is virtually absent in The Pirate King) but is given nothing to do but follow his wife around. This series has lost its way.
For those of us who followed pro cycling before the Lance Armstrong era, it was great to have another American to root for after Greg LeMond. Everyone who followed cycling knew Lance was a jerk and crybaby but gave him a pass, especially after overcoming cancer.
Something seemed strange when after years and years of result times that were relatively stable across cycling, suddenly result times were being smashed- especially by the U S Postal Service team headed by Armstrong. But most everyone wanted to continue to give him a pass. Now that doping rules are more stringently enforced, result times are going back to more "normal" ranges that existed before the 90's.
Now, with Hamilton's book, we get a glimpse of how Armstrong (and others) managed to pull it off year after year.
This is a weak story that does not feel like a Holmes case. I purchased this book because the narrator, David Ian Davies, is my favorite narrator for Sherlock Holmes. There are a series of Holmes stories by Barry Day that are Audible selections that are narrated by David Ian Davies. These selections are very reasonable in price, have good stories and cases, and the wonderful narration of David Ian Davies.
The author weaves the history of the Mormon Church and the story of a gruesome murder. This book is both fair and unfair as it makes connections between Mormon history and theology with the crimes of the Lafferty brothers. This book may have been fairer to the Mormon religion if the author had spoken more of the effects of religious extremism in all religions. All Christians do not participate in Crusades, all Muslims do not commit acts of terrorism, just as all Mormons do not commit gruesome murders. The author's desire to show a "cause and effect" theory to the murders does not take this fact into account.
This criticism aside, this book is well written, its pacing and structure riveting, and it provides the history of many pivotal events in the history of the Mormon Church.
Interesting and well researched book on the "authorship question" of the works of Wm Shakespeare. The author soundly states the case for the complete lack of evidence, conjecture, and wishful thinking that is used by proponents of the authorship question. Also, great detail is provided as to the motivation of these individuals, such as Frued's use of Hamlet in his work.
Unfortunately, this book is a classic example of the author spending too much time and energy (and detail) to make his argument. So much time is spent describing and discrediting proponents of the authorship question long after his point is made successfully that the desire to continue listening is lost.
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