Well along with the rainy days at the finca came the book reading.
So, in order of books read:
First, Clive Cussler and Black Wind. I’ve read a number of CC books, initially through a neighbour who does the book passing on thing.
If you like adventure-packed action boy heroics – then these will do it. However this is not one of the best I have read. Apart from anything else, I was totally confused to read about endless Dirk Pitts all looking tall and amazingly attractive/rugged/blah boring blah. Somewhere along the line it seemed a son had transpired and the old man took a back seat while the young one did all the gung-ho, shag the women, usual sort of stuff.
Totally implausible plot. Even more so than normal. And like sawing away metal rings bolted into concrete with a carefully secreted nail file?? Even James Bond wouldn’t have resorted to that crap.
The plot? Well, Koreans, lots of water, getting trapped and escaping plus some chemical gas things. I think that was it anyway. It’s irrelevant really.
So after 600+ pages of light entertainment – that I would NOT recommend – I bounced onto Mr Deighton.
Ah. Such a better class of book. MAMista. Stupid name. Sounds like the Wings track off Band on the Run – Mamunia
Plot – guerillas in Latin America trying to thwart fascist regime. Key characters – rich Latin American communist woman who manages to flit between the status quo and the rebels, young American idealist who wants to join the real Marxist fight, tired, cynical and yet more idealistic than all of them medic, Australian, but anglicised. Sort of. And the CIA guy and the communist leader.
Why was it good? Or rather, why was it brilliant? Believable plot to start with. No nail files involved in this one. Some sad and gruelling deaths. Reality. Taut and excellent writing.
After coming down from a high of reading that, I picked up a Daphne du Maurier short story book. The Birds was prominently advertised and took up a mere 40 pages. Fancy making a film out of 40 pages. Good one Alfred.
But some of the rest of the stories were pretty decent too. Slightly incredible but a good read. Monte Verita was well written – but unless you believe in the supernatural the ending was a disappointment. However the descriptions of the mountains and the search for truth gave it a lift.
The Apple Tree and The Old Man? OK, no more no less. I had to look up The Old Man to even remember what it was about, and The Apple Tree had a pretty obvious ending, dead wife haunts happy widower and causes his death, more or less.
The Little Photographer was an easy and entertaining read. Blackmail. For sex. Naughty scarlet woman finally decides to take a lover. She becomes so bad that naturally she pushes the lover over the cliff and is then held to ransom by the sister of the former lover.
I do dislike these tales of bad women always get their just desserts.
So apart from Monte Verita, the other one I really liked was Kiss Me Again, Stranger. The ending wasn’t obvious, the writing was very tight and the style was different. I’m not saying any more about that one.
Worth a read as a book of short stories. If you read fast like me, it will be finished in less than a day.
The last of my library books was Isabel Allende and Portrait in Sepia.
I like Latin American authors. I tend to read them in translation, but they are still good. They have a lovely narrative style and an other worldly atmosphere.
Anyway, Portrait in Sepia was eminently readable. I had a quick look on wiki and I think to compare Allende with Danielle Steele is grossly unfair. But nor is she Gabriel Gárcia Márquez.
I can’t comment on any of her earlier books. However based on this one book, I wouldn’t describe her as the Latin American dream author for feminists.
In no particular order:
1) The apparent subject of the book – Aurora – is totally weak, and relatively speaking, plays quite a small role
2) An early appearance of a strong character espousing women’s suffrage – Nivea (no not the cream) – ends up endlessly jumping around on her husband, pregnant belly allowing, and dropping kids right left and centre. Instead of the hoped for (on my part) intelligent thinking woman, we get someone who reads soft porn, makes her main role delighting her husband, and palms off the resulting kids to the endless nannies
3) It is basically a book about rich people (that follows from 2)
4) Even the (mostly) English woman who lives with the Chinese hero, manages to go back and live in the UK in some Bohemian part of London courtesy of rich aunt and happily travels the world following the death of her husband
5) Then there is the tragic role of beautiful young woman who is so naive that she models, poses nude, gets shagged, pregnant, and dies in childbirth to rich young man
6) The inevitable prostitute appears with a heart of well, silver if not gold. After all, prostitution is always great for women, right?
7) The dream/trauma Aurora has, is obvious from sentence one. I am possibly the slowest in the world at getting this sort of thing but even I had it pegged
8) The interesting female tutor, rather like Nivea, intellectual and thinking, – is sidelined
9) The syphilitic father who abandoned his daughter – and her mother – finally acknowledges her. Dear me!! That makes it all ok of course.
10) Oh, yes, almost forgot. Young bloke who leaves Chile with his true love waiting for him, naturally falls in love with someone else but that doesn’t matter ‘cos she forgives him and wants to marry him anyway, qv above her jumping around on top of him.
A good and enjoyable read but not great by any stretch of the imagination. Certainly did nothing for women as far as I could read – wherever did Ms Allende win that reputation for being a writer of any remotely feminist aspirations?
After that I ran out of library books and picked up one of my own – Salman Rushdie, The Moor’s Last Sigh. But as I only got to chapter two, and I left it back in Spain, you will have to wait for that review.