Saturday, April 28, 2012

march/april books

The Poetry of Wilfred Owen (Wordsworth Poetry Library): Although I vaguely came across some of Owen’s poetry whilst researching my grandfather’s WW1 exploits, this book gave me the opportunity to read all his best-known poems (only four of which were published in his lifetime – he was killed a week before the Armistice in November 1918). Wonderful, powerful poetry that reflects the horror and waste of the First World War.
Lent for Everyone: Mark (Tom Wright): I’ve been using this as my Lenten study book (we used Wright’s book on Matthew’s gospel last year). Although I’m not a huge lover of Wright’s style, the book proved to be a good daily discipline and provided some useful and helpful insights/ reflections. 
The Tiger’s Wife (Tea Obreht): This is our Book Group’s latest book (winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2011). It tells the story of a young doctor, Natalie, as she attempts to unravel the mysterious death of her beloved grandfather, set against the backdrop the Balkan war of the 1990s. It tracks back to the former Yugoslavia of the 1940s, when the Nazis bomb Belgrade zoo – causing, amongst other animals, a tiger to escape to the hills above the fictional village of Galina (where her grandfather lived as a child). In addition to Natalie’s search for clues about her grandfather’s death, the book weaves together various episodes of folklore, including the tale of the “deathless man” and about the Tiger’s Wife herself (a deaf-mute Muslim girl who falls in love with a tiger).
Although I felt it lost its way at times as the story(ies) developed, I very much enjoyed the book. Obreht is a compelling and eloquent storyteller.
Kissinger: 1973, A Critical Year (Alistair Horne): Absolutely fascinating account of a truly significant year of knife-edge global politics. So many things happened: the end of the Vietnam war; Nixon’s visit to China; the Yon Kippur War in the Middle East; the Energy Crisis… and, of course, Watergate! All this mixed in with his reputation as a womaniser, his globe-trotting role of shuttle (and often secret) diplomacy, Nixon’s jealousy of Kissinger’s growing reputation and much more … quite a book!
The Bellini Code (Jason Goodwin): Moira had enjoyed this book – a detective story set in Venice in the 1840s – so I thought I’d give it a go. I loved some of the historical detail and the descriptions of Venice, but found it somewhat difficult to follow the intricate storyline at times and also the wealth of characters (felt I needed a reference sheet throughout!). Clever writing – pity it was probably just a little bit too clever for me!

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