2021-05-26

Brian WILKS : The illustrated Brontës of Haworth

This book is a celebration of the lives of one of the most famous families in English literature - Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte, who lived in Haworth, Yorkshire during the first half of the nineteenth century. The author has included a selection of the prose and poetry of all the sisters, which reflect their own experiences to give a vivid picture of their lives. This book is a fascinating introduction to the family and is well illustrated throughout, with paintings, drawings, memorabilia of Haworth and photographs of the surrounding landscape.



A very agreeable book, illustrated by "old" pictures - this was edited in 1986 - about... the Brontës and Haworth or the places nearby. I didn't learn anything particularly new (but I've been living with this family for decades, so it's no surprise) and it wasn't as much about the Brontës *and* Haworth as I expected, somehow I perused it with much pleasure. That said, it's not like they lived a hectic life all over the world !

This book is mostly for fans, I think 2021 readers would love something shinier and more colourful, and it comprises the following chapters :
- first a summary of the Brontës' lives,
- then each chapter is about the books they have written (poetry, novels), starting with Emily, then Charlotte and finally Anne. For each novel, you see the pictures of places that inspired the Brontës, or might have inspired them, and there are large excerpts - so if you haven't read any, don't read this book until you have completed them all !

There are pictures, photos, engravings on almost every page and the die-hard Brontë fan that I am loved reading it all. A nice change from Covid, but I think most people can do without it.

2021-05-25

BU Hui-ryeong : Féline (review in French and English)

Voici un chat errant, qui doit affronter les difficultés de la vie après la disparition de sa mère. Voici une adolescente solitaire et renfermée qui vit seule avec sa grand-mère.  Tous deux se rencontrent dans un parc, et aussitôt, le chat croît reconnaître en elle un des ces êtres de légende qui comprennent le langage des chats. C'est sûr, ils sont faits l'un pour l'autre !

Here is a stray cat, who must face the difficulties of life after the disappearance of his mother. Here is a teenager, lonely and closed off, who lives alone with her grand-mother. They both meet in a park and, intantly, the cat thinks she's one of those legendary beings who understand the language of cats. Certainly, they were made for each other !



Une jolie petite histoire toute simple, je me sens d'humeur à lui donner un 4/5.
Pas révolutionnaire mais sympathique, racontée par un chat qui apprend l'indépendance malgré les difficultés de la vie dans la rue, parallèlement à des adolescents qui eux apprennent à faire face à leurs propres problèmes.
Mention spéciale pour la couverture, qui donne envie de s'allonger dans l'herbe en profitant de l'instant présent...

A simple yet lovely little novella, I'm in the mood to give it 4 stars.
Not revolutionary, but engaging, this story is told by a cat who learns what independance is in spite of the difficulties of living in the street, with a parallel of two teenagers who learn to face their own problems.
A special thumbs up for the French cover (this novella is, at least now, not published in English), who made me want to lie down on the grass and enjoy the time being...

2021-05-20

Elizabeth HOYT : Not the duke's darling - Greycourt #1

Freya de Moray is many things : a member of the secret order of Wise Women, the daughter of disgraced nobility, and a chaperone living under an assumed name. What she is not is forgiving. So when the Duke of Harlowe, the man who destroyed her brother and led to the downfall of her family, appears at the country house party she's attending, she does what any Wise Woman would do: she starts planning her revenge. 

Christopher Renshaw, the Duke of Harlowe, is being blackmailed. Intent on keeping his secrets safe, he agrees to attend a house party where he will put an end to this coercion once and for all. Until he recognizes Freya, masquerading amongst the party revelers, and realizes his troubles have just begun. Freya knows all about his sins—sins he'd much rather forget. But she's also fiery, bold, and sensuous—a temptation he can't resist. When it becomes clear Freya is in grave danger, he'll risk everything to keep her safe. But first, Harlowe will have to earn Freya's trust-by whatever means necessary.


Mmmph, I usually like this author, her books are perfect for escapism with well written, sensible characters, but the magic didn't work here : I didn't really buy the story, yet mostly, the problem was the writing style.
One sentence, one paragraph.
Often.
Even for just a few words.
To stress the importance of what was being said.
See what I mean ?
But the worst was the amount of words in italic.
For the same purpose.
This surprised me, because Hoyt previously stood out for me among the legion of historical romance writers, so I was really disappointed.
I may read the next in the series, later, but this time, I'll make sure to count the words in italic from the start.

2021-05-18

Guillaume MEURICE : Le roi n'avait pas ri (chronique en français)

Triboulet fut le difforme et volubile bouffon de Louis XII et François Ier. À travers sa vie de frasques et de facéties, il testa chaque instant les limites de sa liberté. Jusqu’à… la blague de trop. Le pouvoir tolère-t-il vraiment le rire ? Lorsqu’elle est permise par un roi, l’irrévérence fait-elle révérence ? L’ascension et la chute de Triboulet, racontée par un bouffon du XXIe siècle.


Que les choses soient claires : j'adore Guillaume Meurice. Je guette ses chroniques sur France Inter avec impatience - j'y ai converti toute ma famille (même si les échantillons de la population qu'il interviewe me font désespérer de l'humanité), j'ai adoré son premier roman, Côme, j'ai une BD de lui, un cahier de vacances spécial Manu co-écrit avec Charline que mes ados adorent également, bref, je suis fan. Ce qui ne gâche rien, je le trouve plutôt beau mec.

Ce qui fait que je suis d'autant plus déçue par ce roman, j'en attendais certainement trop. Ce n'était pas un roman désagréable ou quelque chose du genre, il se lit très bien, il est bien documenté, François Ier en a pris plein la figure, le bouffon était attachant, Triboulet en a bavé même après être devenu le copain du roi, chaque incursion de la reine-mère me faisait rire même si Triboulet, non. C'est juste que j'attendais quelque chose de plus mordant, de plus incisif, même si j'ai bien reconnu ses réparties ici et là. Sympathique, mais une déception quand même. Ou alors, c'est que je lis trop de classiques ces temps-ci et que je ne suis plus habituée au style contemporain !  

2021-05-16

Emile ZOLA : Au bonheur des dames (The ladies' paradise) - Rougon-Macquart #11 - reviews in French and English

Le Second Empire vise à faire de Paris la capitale de la mode et du luxe. La ville se modernise. Les boutiques du Paris ancien laissent place peu à peu aux grands magasins, dans le voisinage des boulevards et de la gare Saint-Lazare. La nouvelle architecture illustre l'évolution des goûts : on entre dans le royaume de l'illusion. Octave Mouret, directeur du Bonheur des Dames, se lance dans le nouveau commerce.
 
The Ladies Paradise (Au Bonheur des Dames) recounts the rise of the modern department store in late nineteenth-century Paris. The store is a symbol of capitalism, of the modern city, and of the bourgeois family : it is emblematic of changes in consumer culture, and the changes in sexual attitudes and class relations taking place at the end of the century.



Lu dans le cadre d'un groupe instiguée par Pauline de la chaîne Youtube Dancing Lawn, avec laquelle j'avais déjà relu Germinal.

Suite à une panne de lecture prolongée ce mois dernier, accompagnée d'une flemme marquée à l'idée d'écrire des chroniques, je n'ai plus en tête tous les détails qui m'ont fait aimer Au bonheur des dames.

Ce qui m'a marquée, bien sûr, c'est la comparaison entre les petits commerçants entourant le grand magasin, vieux, pâles, habitant des logements sans soleil, voire moisis, engoncés dans leurs habitudes, et ce grand magasin flambant neuf, énorme, brassant trop de clients, avec trop de vendeurs, une espèce de corne d'abondance déréglée qui vomit de la marchandise et corrompt les femmes au point de leur faire acheter trop et n'importe comment, leur inspirant une avidité pouvant les mener jusqu'au vol. Décrivant deux mondes totalement opposés, ce livre est à la fois une critique du capitalisme et un enterrement du commerce à l'ancienne qui n'a plus aucune possibilité de survivre. Denise, la jeune fille qui vient du "vieux" commerce et rejoint le nouveau par obligation, fait la passation entre les deux tout en essayant d'insuffler à cette machine infernale une once d'humanité. Il montre sa progression, partie du stade d'employée jeune et  bizutée à une jeune femme qui sait ce qu'elle veut et cherche à l'obtenir sans perdre son âme.
C'est un roman que j'ai dévoré et adoré. La fin m'a surprise (je m'attendais à ce que ce soit pire !) mais elle est apparemment le reflet d'une expérience réellement arrivée. 

*****

I read this novel for a group read initiated by Pauline from the Youtube channel Dancing Lawn, with whom I had already re-read Germinal.

I had trouble reading and writing reviews since last March, so as I didn't write a review earlier, many details I wanted to talk to you about slipped my mind. However, I remember the main points.

What struck me, obviously, was the comparison between the small shops surrounding the giant department store. The shopkeepers were mostly old, pale, sick, lived mostly without sun and sometimes with... mold. They were stuck in their ways, ready to expire while the department store exploded with clients, too many, too many shop assistants, some kind of mad cornucopia vomiting all sorts of goods that drove women mad with the need to buy and even to steal. Describing two opposite worlds, this novel is at the same time a critic of capitalism while showing how the old trade is bound to die, without any possibility of surviving. Denise, the young girl who comes from the "old" trade is the link with the new one : she starts by obligation, having two brothers to support, but is drawn to it and tries to insert some humanity into it. It shows the progression of the young girl, a basic, bullied shop assistant, who becomes her own self, finds her way and sticks to it without losing her soul. 
This is a novel that I inhaled and adored. I found the end surprising (I expected something worse !) but it seems to have reflected a real life situation.

2021-05-14

Martha WELLS : Network effect - The murderbot diaries #5

Murderbot returns in its highly-anticipated, first, full-length standalone novel.
You know that feeling when you’re at work, and you’ve had enough of people, and then the boss walks in with yet another job that needs to be done right this second or the world will end, but all you want to do is go home and binge your favorite shows? And you're a sentient murder machine programmed for destruction? Congratulations, you're Murderbot.
Come for the pew-pew space battles, stay for the most relatable A.I. you’ll read this century.



Finished last month, I'm writing the review now, so you will get a short but very, very enthusiastic review from me !
You are aware, if you're a fan of the series, that all previous instalments were novellas and short stories, but this one is a full length novel. I was just a little bit anxious about it, wondering if it would be as great as before, but what a fool I was. Of course, it's excellent ! More grumpy Murderbot, more pleasure ! And this universe is beginning to expand, there are more AIs coming up and Murderbot is beginning to realize that this particular personality is probably just his ^^
There is something in this story that I loved to pieces, but how can I tell you about it without spoiling ?! It's impossible ! Just know that it's great, really great, and I'm happy with how everything turned out and I'm absolutely, completely ready for more !
Really, are there people out there who haven't read this series ? Even if you don't like science-fiction, you should really try because you're missing out on something gooooooood ! 

2021-05-13

Blog break...

Hi everyone,

I had a bit of a reading slump lately, an everything slump actually, so I haven't been posting, visiting or even watching youtube, no sirrah, but gorging on kdramas. Maybe more sun and heat would have done the trick, but April has been rather cloudy and rather cold, May is not as pretty as it's supposed to be in France so far, so I've been kicking myself to read today as it's a day off and I managed to write all my late reviews - save one that I just remembered now.

I think I'll be back to a normal activity next month, I'll be posting/answering the comments on my blog I think next week, but I have to catch up on work too and spruce up my kitchen. So I'll do my best. 

Until then, I hope you are all well and safe and that you're enjoying life !

See you soon !

(little sister is watching you)