Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Recently Read

Kim by Rudyard Kipling
Now, of course, this book would most likely never even make it into print because of its lack of politicial correctness, but I found it to be a delightful voyage of discovery through colonial India as Kim disovers the facts behind his parentage and is carefully groomed for work as an undercover British spy in the Great Game between the nations competing to use India for their own ends and gains. Fascinating, absorbing, hilarious and sad in turn, it is well worth a read to gain a picture of life in colonial India..

     The Sheen on the SilkThis almost 600 page novel starts in 1273 when Anna Zarides disguises herself as a male physician in order to try to discover the truth behind the murder of Bessarion, a nobleman involved in politicial intrigue and religious controversy in an attempt to secure the future of the Byzantine empire against the encroachments of Islam and the political scheming of Catholic Europe.  Her twin brother is in exile, having been accused of the murder of  Bessarion, his best friend and Anna -or Anastasios, as she now styles herself, is determined to infiltrate the ranks of the great and the good in her dangerous search for the truth.  With the caveat that both the Orthodox and Catholic characters involved in intrigue and assassinations appeared to have very lax confessors to allow them to systematically decimate their political and religious opponents, the book appeared to be well-researched till the fateful page 398: "She never stopped muttering the names of all the holy places she had been to, like an incantation. Canterbury, Walsingham, Lourdes, Compostela....."
I cannot believe that an author researching this period did not check her facts; Bernadette Soubirous did not claim to have had her visions of the Virgin at the Massabieille grotto, Lourdes,  till the year 1858. This really took the edge off my enjoyment of the story and does cast into doubt the veracity of other facts in the book, which is a shame.

The Politics of Hope by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Rabbi Sacks examines the political changes which have tansformed modern British and European society particularly from the immediate pre-WW2 period  and looks at the theories underpinning many social and political thinkers of note of this period, some well-known and some very much less well-known, but all of whom have been influential for good or bad. The morality and politics of responsibility are examined in depth, and Rabbi Sacks postulates that although there has been much change for the worse, causing society to lose its social cohesion, there is still a way to find our path back by identifying, examining and upholding our basic and God-given responsibilities and obligations to our family, friends, neighbours and those with whom we have dealings  whether on a regular or irregular basis.  Not everyone will agree with his politics, but all will agree that protecting liberal values whilst protecting the fabric of society itself is worthwhile and truly essential. Not an easy read, I grant you, but an interesting one which makes me question my own political views and social values.

The Daughters of the Promise series by Beth Wiseman
Plain Perfect
Plain Pursuit
Plain Promise
Plain Paradise
Plain Proposal

 I bought all five of the Daughters of the Promise series on the strength of having recently enjoyed reading her book The Wonder Of Your Love. It is fascinating to see how the characters have developed and how Beth Wiseman's writing style has changed over over the five books, and I have actually read the first three books twice over, I enjoyed them so much. The last two I read in a slight post-anaesthetic haze, and will read them again soon to assess them properly.

Georgette Heyer - Biography of a bestseller by Jennifer Kloester
 I savoured each and veery page of this book, and was so sad to get to the end of it! It was a mine of information, though not as tightly written as Joan Aiken Hodge's biography of Georgette Heyer. Informative and absorbing, nonetheless.

Amish Grace - how forgiveness transcended tragedy by Donald B Kraybill et al
This was a heart-breaking yet inspiring book about the tragic school shooting of ten Amish girls at Nickel Mines, Pa. and how the Amish and English communities dealt with the tragedy and the struggle to seek and extend forgiveness.Further details here

Silverfin (Young Bond series) by Charlie Higson
This was an extremly good book aimed for children aged 11+. It tells the story of a young James Bond when he starts school at Eton and finds himself drawn into a web of intrigue and terror that lies behind the behaviour of one of his school enemies as they both find themselves in Scotland visiting their individual relatives during the holidays. Fast-paced and well-written, this will appeal to those who enjoy action packed stories with a serious amount of creepy factor.

The Narrow Path by Gail Satler
I read this an free ebook from Kindle, and I enjoyed every page of it :-)  Ted belongs to an Old Order Mennonite community and church, and when the church hire a Mennonite composer from out of state to design  a Church special outreach for them, he is not prepared for her to be a very modern woman indeed who in turn feels as if she has been dropped into Pioneer times:-)
You can read Chapter 1 here !
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