My top ten winter books. Ah, well, how could I resist this topic? How could I pass up a chance to list all the books I want to read before the end of December and others as well? I can’t. So here I go ….
Christmas at Thompson Hall
Those of you who have read Anthony Trollope’s novels know that he is a master of the art of character creation. Each of the people who populate his novels have distinct personalities that bring them alive to the reader and draw them into his world. With a short story, however, I wondered if Trollope’s fine skills would hold up using a smaller palette. And so I began to read Christmas at Thompson Hall with a somewhat apprehensive curiosity.
I was reading some of Bookstooge’s crazy enlightening posts today and one of his questions to me in the comment section made me realize that I haven’t posted here for ages. So I decided it was time to post something, even though I have no reviews to offer. So here goes …
The Mystery of the Blue Train: “It was close on midnight when a man crossed the Place de la Concorde.”
Detective: Hercule Poirot
Published: March 1928 (9th published book)
Length: 317 pages
Setting: St. Mary Mead, England; Nice, France
Coming off the terribly constructed, overdramatized plot of The Big Four, I was very hesitant to continue my chronological Christie reads, but continue I have with The Mystery of The Blue Train. Fortunately, Christie redeemed herself somewhat in my eyes and I did quite enjoy this mystery.
Well, I couldn’t find the initial quotes I chose for this month so I came up with two others
I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on summer humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives. ―Ann Voskamp
The Big Four: “I have met people who enjoy a channel crossing; men who can sit calmly in their deck chairs and, on arrival, wait until the boat is moored, then gather their belongings together without fuss and disembark.”
Detective: Hercule Poirot
Published: January 1927
Length: 282 pages
Setting: London, Southampton, Devon, Surrey, Paris, Hatton Chase (fictional), Worcestershire, Belgium, South Tyrol (Italy)
Returning from Argentina after an 18-month absence, Hasting finds his old friend, Detective Hercule Poirot ready to depart for South American himself. He has been summoned by a client, Abe Ryland, who is a powerful man and in urgent need of his services. But when Poirot finds a dishevelled, emaciated man in his bedroom with no clue as to how he got there, his departure is delayed. As the man mutters Poirot’s name, while writing the number 4, Hastings speculates on a crime syndicate named The Big Four, whereupon the man reveals the possible players:
I drew The Phoenix and the Turtle, a poem by William Shakespeare, for my Deal Me In Challenge, and after reading it, I’m so confused. Fortunately, I pulled up an article on it which said it is one of the more confusing poems in English literature, so I feel a little better. But only a little. Let’s see what I can discover about it ……
“The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home.”
Like many readers, I read The Wind in the Willows as a child and was completely charmed by the adventures of Ratty and Mole and Badger and Mr. Toad and the other creatures who populated Grahame’s captivating tale. Yet like any children’s book read as an adult, you wonder if it will have the same effect now as then. Would I relate to its characters, be able to vividly imagine its setting, to become part of the story instead of simply experiencing it? Fortunately, I found time had diminished none of its magic. From the moment that Mole discovered the river and began “messing around in boats,” I was there. I could hear the fresh wind rushing through the reeds and the splash of the water as Mole fell out of the boat. I could feel the warmth of Ratty’s snug house and the fear of Mole as he trekked through the Wild Woods. And what became appreciated once again became familiar and what became familiar became loved.
How is everyone doing? Is the going getting easier? Are the characters beginning to stick in your mind? Now we move to more battle scenes with interesting exchanges and the gods are plotting against each other.