According to Colin Thubron, ancient Romans, even while wearing silk garments from the East, imagined silk was harvested from a plant, and Easterners lived in an unreachable paradise. Meanwhile, the Chinese suspected Rome was a land without wars. Trade along the Silk Road had the aspect of a relay race. No one merchant traveled from one end to the other. Author Thubron decides to make the entire journey (east to west) and take us along for the ride. The Silk Road, we discover, wasn't just an extensive trade route but an elaborate conduit allowing for an interchange of cultures and religions along with material goods. I intend to read this a second time. Magnificent book!
To say that the ending is disappointing is to miss the point of the book. This book is a first person, stream of consciousness narrative about the impact a person's life adventures have had on him. Characters like
Richard Poe WAS Trond, and he made me care about Trond from Minute One. His narration was understated and perfect for the book.
Like many Americans, I grew up with such British childhood classics as "House at Pooh Corner." Yet one forgets how veddy British they are, till one hears one's favorite characters, from Christopher Robin to Eeyore, speaking with gorgeous accents, and Rabbit sporting a Scottish brogue, all provided by the glorious Jim Dale. David Benedictus does a fine job bringing Pooh and his pals to life, updating the original ever so gently here and there. The premise of "Return to the Hundred Acre Wood" is Christopher Robin's return from prep school for summer vacation. And then, in addition to Owl, Piglet, and the rest, there's a new character, Lotte the Otter, who adds her own feminine (and hilarious) touch to the forest. I hope Benedictus and Dale team up again to bring us more pleasure. And more HUUUUMMMMMMS! I've never heard a hum before, and, yes, this is exactly how they should sound! :-)
Lorna Doone is a classic romance, penned in Victorian times and set around the time of England's Restoration in the 1600s. Charlton Griffin does beautifully breathing life into the humble, romantic, yet formidable yeoman farmer John Ridd, as well as his heart's desire, Lorna Doone, the hills and dales of Exmoor, and various villagers, villains, and animals who populate this rural region by the Severn Sea. Though initially meant to be read by a blazing fire on a snowy London evening, this book is even better enjoyed while strolling through leafy countryside. Charlton Griffin's lively characterizations, performed with a very real West Country accent, will make you want to keep walking for hours.
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