A Week With Words (7)

On the one hand it was a good week of reading with one book being finished, two started and one picked up again after several months.

On the other, it was unsatisfactory in that I didn’t manage to keep to my daily schedule.

I am putting this down to the after-holiday effect. A Lack of will-power is probably also to blame.

I mustn’t be too hard on myself, though, as my mind has been elsewhere for the last few days: last Monday I was offered a position at Company X. I accepted it and have spent the last few days collecting the necessary documents to begin the work and fretting over when confirmation of the position would arrive. The position is a temp (6 month) one – just what I wanted – and brings to an end an extended period of job hunting and, I hope, penury.


But, back to books.

This week, I finished Paula Byrne’ Mad World. I’m not going to call it a ‘must read’ as no book is that but ahead of a proper review I will say that if you are interested in Evelyn Waugh’s literary output, specifically Brideshead Revisited, you will find Mad World an ideal read. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The two books that take its place are The Ariadne Objective by Wes Davis and Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome.

The Ariadne Objective
Having got the inside view on the kidnapping of General Kreipe from Patrick Leigh Fermor in Abducting a General, I now turn to that of an outsider. This doesn’t sound very promising, but what Wes Davis lacks by not having been there when it happened I hope he will make up with good research and a flowing narrative that captures the fast paced events of May 1944.

Three Men in a Boat
I’m reading this Victorian classic for the May meeting of my book club. I’ve only just started it but if it carries on in the same whimsical fashion that it begins, I’m sure it will be a most relaxing read!


The book that I am picking up again after a gap of several months is Nicholas Roe’s biography of John Keats. I can’t actually remember when I started it. I think it was last summer as I bought it on the day my father and I visited Keat’s House in Hampstead. Whenever it was, I have been happy to dip in and out of the book. Now, though, I am going to try and read it more regularly.


On going books.

The Lord of the Rings
J R R Tolkien

Strider, Frodo et al are still on their way to Rivendell. The attack on Weathertop was a wonderfully dramatic moment.

In the lead up to the Ringwraith’s ambush, I started wondering to myself why on earth the hobbits would take refuge on the top of Amon Sûl as that would surely make them easier to see and limit the number of possible escape routes.

However, while Strider, Frodo and Merry do indeed visit the top of the hill, they then secret themselves away in a dell, and that is where the attack takes place. It is only in the Jackson film that they remain at the summit.

E M Forster

Sometimes I like Maurice, sometimes I don’t. He can be very sensible one moment and silly the next. This is frustrating but also makes him very human and his story, therefore, more touching.

This week, he visited a doctor to undergo hypnosis in order to cure him of his homosexuality. One treatment later, however, he is sleeping with a servant in his best friend’s house! So much for that.

I have no idea how Maurice will end. I fear, badly, but I do hope not.

As I Walked Out Through Spain in Search of Laurie Lee
P D Murphy

Murphy is confusing me a little. I am sure he is travelling with a St Christopher’s medal (I haven’t double checked yet) but has made a number of statements which indicate he has no time for religion at all.

On the matter of religion – I wish everyone who disliked it could read this book. I am on the opposite side to P D Murphy in respect of the religious question. I respect his views, however, because he expresses them in a respectful and thoughtful way. There’s no bigotry there at all. If only the likes of Dawkins, Fry et al could take note.

Actually, I am sure this book would be beneficial to some religious people as well as they can be equally spiteful to non-believers.

The ghost of General Franco has come to dominate the book in the last few chapters. Murphy has much to say about what a nasty piece of work Franco was. He has commented less, however, on the Republican side in the civil war. I am open to correction on this but I believe they also committed atrocities during that time. Although it may not be accurate, my impression is that Murphy is avoiding this because he is on their side. I hope I’m wrong.

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

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