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After reading Wharton's "The Duchess at Prayer," I looked for more examples of her ghost stories and found this excellent collection.
In the first tale, a young heiress inherits an estate, but before she can settle in to her new life there, she must master the situation involving the caretaker, "Mr. Jones."
In "Kerfol," a man looks at a prospective property in northern France. There he is met with a pack of phantom dogs. Searching for an explanation leads him far into the past where he discovers a tragic love story.
"The Looking Glass," has an aged Mrs. Atlee looking back to her youth when she was a masseuse to wealthy ladies. She is ambivalent as to whether she should regret or excuse "the wrong she did" her benefactor by involving herself in an occult conspiracy.
"The Eyes" finds us in the midst of that old familiar favorite of Wharton and James: gentlemen at brandy and cigars telling tales. The ending is haunting, ambiguous, and likely to stay with one for longer than the rest of these stories.
"The Lady's Maid's Bell," perhaps the best-known of Wharton's ghost stories, revolves around a frail private-duty nurse who finds herself caught up in drama and intrigue during what was expected to be a quiet assignment to care for an affluent, amiable lady patient.
I loved the narrators, music, and selections. I certainly hope we will have more of her ghost stories in the future, presented just as well as these were. May you enjoy them as well.
Many times over the last few years I have heard from another woman, "I have always wanted to...." followed by "...but no, it's too late." The woman in each case was in good health, without great financial worry, and with a reasonable portion of free time. So what makes it "too late" for her? Why are so many women still waiting to answer the soul's need to create and express itself? Why do we insist on perfectionism? Why do we ask, "What will they say?" before we consider, "What do I really want to create?"
As Clarissa Pinkola Estes reminds us, it is not necessarily difficult to say what the things is that whispers, "Help bring me into this world." But it can be quite difficult, even a daily challenge, to find out what makes us tell it, "No."
Through myths and stories, she encourages us to explore these issues, deeply, thoughtfully, and with great compassion. If you've gathered supplies and dreams for what you want to create, but have hesitated to get to work on it, this audiobook might help you to "find an aperture" as the author calls it. It's not a quick fix or a magical recipe book for creativity, but it just might illuminate the path you need to follow.
In my artistic life, no one has been more of an encouraging influence than Marta Becket. In the middle of the desert, when no one was there to see her dance, she painted her own audience in what would become the Amargosa Opera House. Clarissa Pinkola Estes encourages the same spirit: "Play your music even if no one is there to hear it." It is the work and the process that feeds your soul, and that is true even if your audience is only imaginary, for eventually, another heart will come.
The author leaves us with the following wish: "I pray two hopes for us: may we be blessed to find one whenever we have need, and may we all be blessed to be one many times over."
May it be so.
The opening includes a brief discussion of the ancient mythic inspiration for the story, the role of castrati in performances of the time, the vexed questions surrounding "which version," and the desire shared by Gluck and his librettist de'Calzabigi to reform opera seria forever. Then we "plunge straightaway into the burnished splendor of the Baroque."
From the opening scenes of the poet-singer Orfeo mourning at Euridice's grave to the triumphant finale celebrating the glory of love, the opera is nothing less than entrancing. Even if you have no interest in opera and know nothing of the plot, if you are a lover of Baroque music, Orfeo ed Euridice is a must-listen. If you do love opera, you'll marvel at Gluck's ability to express himself with perfect economy, brilliant contrast, emotional intensity, and exquisite orchestration.
As always, much appreciation for David Timson whose narrations are as beautiful as music to my ears.
Franz Waldbaer must solve a murder, ostensibly one with no witnesses, no motive, and no weapon. What he discovers will reveal a dangerous entanglement of past sins and present terrorist agendas in modern Bavaria.
As a 25-year veteran of the CIA, the author has extensive experience he can draw upon to create believable, dramatic scenarios. He can create a realistic sense of suspense and danger. I commend him for limiting his characters to a manageable number, and for setting scenes well. The pacing was a bit slow at first, but it came around. In short, "Collision of Evil" displays some of the tiny faults common to many first novels, but nothing to stand in the way of the story. I would definitely read more from Mr. Le Beau based on this book, and look forward to seeing how his writing and storytelling style develops.
I'm not sure about the narrator. I wish readers would drop what they perceive to be a German accent. I never know whether to laugh or cry.
I don't read a lot in this genre, but selected this book as a compromise for a long trip. I love Bavaria, my companion loves thrillers. Four stars from each of us, and best of luck to Mr. Le Beau.
Another collection of Chinese stories from Audio Connoisseur shows Charlton Griffin at his best. (Vol. 2 is just as good as Vol. 1, and possibly even better). I enjoyed being carried away by these lovely tales with their exotic locales, unusual characters, and beautifully drawn settings and sensory detail. The sound effects were a wonderful addition. My favorite here was the masterful "Madam D." Overall, the stories are somewhat sad, but memorable, beautifully written, and evocative. I highly recommend both collections to those who love short stories.
I have an enormous collection of short stories, but most are European. What I know about Chinese literature would fit in a thimble, so I certainly can't comment intelligently about these stories, nor the pronunciation of Chinese, etc.
But as a lover of perfectly crafted short stories, I enjoyed each one. For me these were exotic, unusual, and fascinating glimpses of another culture. ("The Jade Goddess" was my favorite). Additionally, Charlton Griffin is simply wonderful here, and I enjoyed the sound effects.
I'm starting Vol. 2 tonight.
In this well-researched book, the author goes to great lengths to show how Hitler saw himself, whether or not we agree with or understand that self-concept. Hitler saw himself, first and foremost, as an artist.
So many myths and legends continue to be put about regarding Hitler's artistic impulses, from accusing him of "having no talent" to saying he was a housepainter. (Neither is true).
The author speaks of the great outrage that attends any book speaking about Hitler as possibly having human qualities. This tendency can eclipse a more balanced view of certain areas of his character and motivations, which is in no way to defend his undeniable responsibility for atrocities.
I was fascinated at an experience the author described. Showing prints of Hitler's watercolors (without signature) he described people's reactions to the pieces. Most expressed appreciation for the pleasing if unimaginative renderings of street scenes and architecture. Then he told them who painted them and the surprise was rather dramatic.
Hitler's obsession --- and it was indeed an obsession --- with all the arts is subdivided into several sections:
The Reluctant Dictator
The Artful Leader
The Artist of Destruction
The Failed Painter
The Art Dictator
The Perfect Wagnerite
The Music Master
The Master Builder
The book is a fascinating selection for anyone interested in Hitler's psychology, the Third Reich's policies regarding the arts, and German history. It provides valuable insights into a somewhat neglected area, and while it in no way defends or praises Hitler, it does illuminate aspects of his character which are not found in broader histories.
I've loved Ross King's art history books, so his first novel, set in one of my favorite time periods intrigued me. The characters sounded rather enticing, the plot intricate.
But when I finished it, I felt as if I'd been whirled about in one too many waltzes after an excess of champagne. What on earth really happened in this story? I can't tell you because I don't know.
The best part of this book is the vitality of its imagery. With his visually acute sensibility, King conjures images of beauty, decadence, and sensuality with admirable skill. He brings the reader into intimate contact with life in the late 18th Century. While many historical novels get some details wrong (and this one is no exception) the flaws here are insignificant.
Our narrator confesses within minutes that he is a murderer. This, along with the dazzling milieu, draws one into the story and its characters. But then a sort of madness sets in. It didn't take long before I was utterly confused.
The theme of the masquerade, of nothing being as it seems, is intentional and provides the overriding metaphor for the novel. But did King mean to be so obscure that many readers should have no idea what it was all about? If so, why? I wish I could ask the author!
Perhaps I am not bright enough to comprehend this book. If you feel differently about it, please write a review. As for myself, I can't recommend this, despite the late actor Denis Quilley's magnificent narration.
I have often enjoyed A.S. Byatt's work. Some of it is absolutely breathtaking. Sadly, this book is so bad that had it been the first thing I'd read from Byatt, I would never have read anything else she wrote.
The plot introduction seemed promising, as if there would be an intriguing story question to be worked out. Sadly, the book moves along as slowly as one of Simon's snakes in cool weather. I tried but regrettably failed to care what happened to these characters.
There is a rather unseemly sense of washing the dirty laundry of the family in a public forum. Her sister, novelist Margaret Drabble, called it "a mean-spirited book about sibling rivalry," and it has been blamed for setting the seal on their estrangement.
Whether or not that is the case, my advice would be to enjoy the work of Byatt's maturity and leave this self-indulgent mess alone.
Byatt dazzles us with all the voluptuous warmth, color, and sensuality of Matisse's art in this trio of stories from 1993. How difficult it is to write about the visual arts, and how admirably Byatt transcends that limitation here!
In "Medusa's Ankles," an aging Susannah visits the hair stylist to whom she has "entrusted her disintegration" in his Matisse-decorated salon. Little does she suspect that this will be the venue in which she experiences a dramatic catharsis.
The Matisse painting, "Le silence habité des maisons" provides the visual introduction to the story "Art Work," and its unlikely trio. On the first floor of a house in the Alma Road, a design editor for a magazine writes; upstairs her self-indulgent husband paints. Mrs. Brown, the housekeeper, whom these two look down upon from their lofty eminence, takes care of the dreary realities of childcare and cleaning. But the unregarded Mrs. Brown has talents of her own, as this family will discover.
"The Chinese Lobster" is a disturbing story of two academics who meet in a restaurant to discuss a troubled student who has some serious issues about Matisse, as well as a more distressing problem. The aquarium containing shellfish provides a visual metaphor for our detachment and indifference from those whom we do not wish to know, about those for whom we cannot find a reason to care.
I recommend this brief, intensively sensuous collection to fellow artists and lovers of Matisse's painting. Nadia May is perfect throughout, transposing visual and literary art into a delicious narration.
This is an outstanding title in the "Opera Explained" series, one free from a lot of extraneous detail and unneccessary introduction. We get right into the opera almost at once. And what an opera it is, containing as it does a political message, a paean to the joys of married love, and a score so demanding one wonders at the endurance of its performers. While the plot appears at first glance to be somewhat commonplace, it nonetheless shows the triumph of good over evil, justice over tyrrany, and hope over despair.
Furtwängler praised the opera, saying its political message and music "will always represent an appeal to conscience." But perhaps just as much, it is a monument to its composer's own statement: "Strength is the morality of the man who stands out from the rest, and it is mine."
Even if you're not a great fan of opera, if you love Beethoven, you're likely to enjoy this brief look at the incredible work he swore would win him "a martyr's crown" for his trouble. It is nothing less than a wonder to behold.
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