A Week With Words (3)

I have had a good reading week, finally catching up with Pfangirl’s on-going saga Easier to Run and finishing not one but two books – Spanish Steps by Tim Moore and Mad About The Boy by Helen Fielding. Both had their flaws but were enjoyable to read. I shall speak more about them in separate posts today (for Spanish Steps) and next Saturday (for Mad About The Boy).

Catching up with Lara Croft, arriving at Santiago de Compostela and reaching the end of Bridget Jones’ diary means my current reading list was reduced to four books :-

  • Maurice (E. M. Forster)
  • Accidents of an Antiquary’s Life (David Hogarth)
  • The Hunt for Zerzura (Saul Kelly)
  • The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien)

Four is really enough to be going on with but why be the sensible when you can read silly? As a result, I have added the following to my book roll:-

  • Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead (Paula Byrne)
  • Abducting a General: The Kreipe Operation and SOE in Crete (Patrick Leigh Fermor)
  • As I Walked Out Through Spain in Search of Laurie Lee (P. D. Murphy)

There is a story behind the story of each of these books so let’s take a quick look at each.

Mad World 

I didn’t mean to begin Paula Byrne’s biography this week but I kept seeing it on the headboard of my bed (where live several other books placed for want of space on my bookshelves and cases) and it was saying ‘Now is the time! Read me!’.

Evelyn Waugh is one of my most favourite authors and Brideshead Revisited a brilliant book so heeding Mad World‘s call was no problem at all. Interestingly, Byrne describes A Handful of Dust as Waugh’s best book; I haven’t read it yet, so I am already thinking that it will be Mad World‘s successor as and when I finish it.

Abducting a General

This book is Leigh Fermor’s account of the kidnap of General Kreipe during WWII. I already know which book will follow on from this one: The Ariadne Objective: Patrick Leigh Fermor and the Underground War to Rescue Crete from the Nazis by Wes Davis. From first person to third, as it were. It will be very interesting to see how the historian’s account of the Kreipe kidnap differs (if indeed it does) from Leigh Fermor’s.

There is actually a third book that I probably ought to read if I want to complete my reading on Kreipe’s kidnap – Ill Met by Moonlight by W. Stanley ‘Billy’ Moss, who was Leigh Fermor’s junior in the operation.

As I Walked Out Through Spain in Search of Laurie Lee

I first ‘met’ Laurie Lee in 1997 when I read about his death in the paper. Doing so put me onto his famous autobiography Cider with Rosie (every bit as a good as its reputation). Following the end of my last term at university, I took a trip to the Slad Valley in Gloucestershire, where Lee grew up following the Great War.

Lee went from Gloucestershire to London to Spain where he fought with the Republican army in the Spanish civil war. All before he was thirty. As I Walked Out begins in the fifty-sixth year of P. D. Murphy’s life. This, for me, is what makes it it an intriguing prospect – how will an old man (or is he, these days, simply an older man?) cope with the pressures of a long walk? What will his more mature perspective be?

Murphy’s circumstances also make for an intriguing read – one of the reasons for his walk is that his wife left him resulting in him having to leave the family home. He ended up living with his mother again and becoming rather lost. Will following in Laurie Lee’s footsteps help him to find and renew his life?


I can’t finish this post without mentioning one more thing. Last night, I read a few more chapters of Maurice. It got brilliantly intense. Maurice’s friend Durham told him ‘I love you’ only for Maurice to spurn him. Afterwards, however, Maurice realised that he had spoken against his heart. After a very difficult exchange the two were finally united.

What made this sequence so intense was a. the fact that love was at stake b. the potential consequences for Durham of his admission. As he admits, Maurice could not only have spurned him but informed the university authorities and police what happened. Fortunate didn’t. I know wait with baited breath to see how their relationship develops.

This entry was posted in Twentieth Century Literature, Twenty First Century Literature and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Week With Words (3)

  1. Kevin says:

    Yeah, if you don’t mind, I’m scouring every inch of your site to find good books to read! Not that I can buy anything at the moment. I’m more of a Fantasy guy, I like big strange new worlds to lose myself in, but lately I’ve been craving other genres and your eclectic selection sounds perfect for what I need right now!!!

    Let me know how good those books are!


    • M J Mann says:

      Hallo Kevin,

      I don’t mind at all – I only regret that this blog is still very young (to date I’ve written just 41 posts). I hope you find something interesting to read. If you like, Do let me know how you get on!


      Liked by 1 person

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