Monday, 9 February 2009

I am a Hemingway convert

... at least to For Whom the Bell Tolls. I have to admit that I think it's a masterpiece. It's a tragic story but one with flashes of humour. The different characters are skillfully drawn and although the action takes place over only 3 days, the scope is much wider with individuals giving their own histories or thinking about things that have happened in their lives. I definitely recommend this book. It wasn't a book-a-day for me, as it took more like 2 and a half days to read - but it's worth taking the time to read it.

My next book was Robert Capa: the Definitive Collection by Richard Whelan. This was a huge tome featuring all of Robert Capa's best and most well-known works, from the early 1930s to just before his death in Indochina after stepping on a landmine. He took the famous "Falling Soldier" photograph of a Spanish loyalist militiaman. I love photography books - but I have to say I prefer photojournalism to anything more "arty".

Next I read Tobin: Evil Beyond Belief by Annabelle Love. This was a 100-page publication given away by a daily newspaper. It was well-constructed, bringing together Peter Tobin's life, terrible crimes and ultimate capture and imprisonment. However I felt the victims deserved a better-quality book. The tone in parts was sensationalist, and could not compare in any way with the works of such true-crime writers as Ann Rule or Jerry Bledsoe, with their psychological analysis and evident empathy for the victims. The breaking-down of the text into a paragraph for each sentence made it seem very "jerky" to read.

Finally I read a children's book, Mistress Masham's Repose by T H White. T H White is the author of The Once and Future King, which retells the Arthurian legends. Mistress Masham's Repose is one of those children's books with plenty for adults as well. I am sure there are very bright children who would pick up on White's use of language and historical and cultural references in this book, but I would imagine that these aspects would mainly appeal to adults, while the little people, a cruel governess, the spirited little heroine and her nocturnal adventures would be enthralling for children. There are humorous aspects for both age groups however. White's story of the Lilliputians who came to England is original (Mary Norton's The Borrowers was not published for another 5 years). I wonder if this has ever been a film?

Day 124; Book 122