The furies of family: Julietta Harvey, Fear of Light.
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
1w ago
Julietta Harvey, Fear of Light. Starhaven Press, 2022. Seven years ago, I posted on Julietta Harvey’s first two novels. Familiar Wars portrays abrasive family dynamics in a Greek society (Dr Harvey was born in Greece) that is fiercely partriarchal – its men display ‘casual misogyny and [a] swaggeringly patronising attitude’ to their wives and daughters. Women were denied agency and autonomy. In its sequel, One Third of Paradise, the youngest sister, Eleni, is appalled by her father’s erratic, tyrannical behaviour – he’s a King Lear type – but she’s unable to join her ‘vulture’ sisters in teari ..read more
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Ireland, Sir John and Hazel Lavery
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
1M ago
Mrs TD’s father was Irish and she has quite a few relatives living in the Republic of Ireland. My ancestry is also Irish, though mostly from N. Ireland. We recently went to visit some of her cousins and other extended family there. He took us to some of our favourite places in the area, and several we’d not seen before. There was a magical drive across the Wicklow mountains to the village where some of Mrs TD’s ancestors are buried. Several pints of Guinness were involved in some delightful rural pubs. At one, high in the hills above Dublin city, we asked an old chap sitting at a table if it w ..read more
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Bridge of names: Shaf and the Remington, by Rana Bose
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
2M ago
Rana Bose, Shaf and the Remington. Baraka Books, Montreal, 2022. The Remington in the title is a shotgun, and it plays a central part in the plot. Shaf is the brilliant, enigmatic maths and physics genius employed to home tutor young Ben, who’s falling behind at school. Ben quickly grows to revere this eccentric philosopher-scientist; his sister Nika falls in love with him.  But this is the Balkans at the start of WWII, so we know all will not turn out well. The setting is the fictional town of Sabzic, with an iconic centuries-old arched bridge spanning the divide between the ethnic and r ..read more
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Foxes and masks
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
3M ago
Vincent Brault, The Ghost of Suzuko. Translated from the French by Benjamin Hedley. QC Fiction, 2022 Québec-based QC Fiction continues to put out an impressive range of stimulating fiction translated from its creative local Francophone pool of writers. I’m lucky enough to be sent copies of ARCs of most of their new titles, so have developed a bit of a backlog of TBRs.  The Ghost of Suzuko is Vincent Brault’s third novel, but the first to be translated into English. Benjamin Hedley has done a good job – the prose is never stilted or awkward, as translations can be. It’s a haunting love sto ..read more
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Boogie-toed prankster: Paul Auster, Mr Vertigo
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
4M ago
Paul Auster, Mr Vertigo. Faber and Faber, 2006. First published 1994 I took this novel with me on a long journey recently. I nearly gave up after 30 pages, because the style and subject-matter were so implausible and grating. I had no other reading matter to hand, so persevered. Although the later parts of the novel showed sporadic signs of improvement, I was still left unimpressed by the end.  The central character is the whimsically named orphan Walter Rawley, just nine years old at the start of the narrative, and a wise-cracking street-smart hustler in St Louis in the 1920s. He’s taken ..read more
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Dalmatian adventure
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
4M ago
In my previous post I mentioned that I’d been on holiday in Croatia at the start of this month. Mrs TD’s sister and her husband have a yacht and had invited us to join them for eight days’ sailing down part of the Dalmatian coast. That’s the boat we lived in for over a week They’d been sailing for some time up and across the Adriatic before we arrived. We joined them at a marina just outside Split (we’d flown to Split airport). It was my first visit to Croatia, but Mrs TD had been many years ago in the days of Yugoslavia. It was also our first experience of sailing, so we were a bit apprehen ..read more
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Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
4M ago
Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A history of walking. Granta, 2014. First published 2001 This is a scholarly, well-researched and readable account of walking – its history, and how and why humans go for walks, often with no particular goal in mind.  She explores the archaeology and anthropology of bipedalism, and the consequences of our ancient ancestors’ rising from all fours to an upright position that enabled perambulation, and the evolutionary and cultural developments that followed. Then she has a section on that particularly focused kind of walking: pilgrimages, from those in the Americ ..read more
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Colm Toíbín, The Magician
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
5M ago
Colm Tóibín, The Magician. Viking, 2021. In Patrick Gale’s novel Mother’s Boy, which I posted about recently, the subject was the real-life Cornish poet Charles Causley, and his growth as an artist and as a gay man at a time of intolerant and legally punitive attitudes to homosexuality. In The Magician Colm Tóibín also takes as his central character a writer: the German novelist Thomas Mann (1875-1955).  Born in the mercantile Hanseatic city of Lübeck to a prosperous business family, young Thomas, like Causley, realises he’s attracted more to men than to women. He too tries to persuade hi ..read more
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Recent reading: Mann, Bulgakov, etc.
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
5M ago
It’s been a busy month. Two trips to London to visit friends (went to see My Fair Lady at the ENO – terrific) and in Worthing (saw Gershwin’s Crazy For You at the Chichester Festival theatre -also good). I’ve also had a big work project with an improbably close deadline. So this will be a very quick round-up of recent reading. Alison Moore, The Lighthouse Salt Publishing, 2012. I’d expected a novel about lighthouses, but this isn’t that novel. The timid protagonist does stay in a German pension called Hellhaus, which apparently translates as lighthouse, and his most treasured possession i ..read more
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Edith Wharton, Madame de Trey’s
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
6M ago
Edith Wharton, Madame de Treymes. VMC 1984  Madame de Treymes is in fact the third of three novellas or long short stories in this handsome VMC edition that I found in a second-hand bookshop recently. There’s a strong theme connecting all four stories: a difficult moral choice that a character makes that can – and does – change not only their own life, but those of others they’re connected with. The cover shows a detail of a typically lovely ‘Portrait’ by James Tissot In The Touchstone (1900) a hard-up, not very bright young man needs to find cash quickly if he’s to be able to marry the ..read more
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