Book review: The Honorary Consul by Graham Greene

The Honorary ConsulThe Honorary Consul by Graham Greene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From BBC radio 4 – Drama :(31/01/2016)
In a conversation with Nicholas Shakespeare, Graham Greene once named ‘The Honorary Consul’ as his favourite among all his novels, “..because the characters change and that is very difficult to do.”

In this superbly tense story of political kidnap and sexual betrayal set at the beginning of Argentina’s Dirty War in early 1970s, Greene’s characters find themselves on a switchback ride of love, sacrifice and violence.

Isolated Dr Eduardo Plarr, son of a missing political prisoner, is lured into collaborating with a defrocked priest in a kidnap plot, only to find the lives of two people he doesn’t care for, suddenly in his hands.

Meanwhile Charles Fortnum, the elderly and drunken Honorary Consul in a one-horse town near the Paraguayan border, faces his own terrors, and the loss of the young prostitute he has fallen in love with.

Greene added: “For me the sinner and the saint can meet; there is no discontinuity, no rupture… The basic element I admire in Christianity is its sense of moral failure. That is its very foundation. For once you’re conscious of personal failure, then perhaps in future you become a little less fallible. In ‘The Honorary Consul’ I did suggest this idea, through the guerrilla priest, that God and the devil were actually one and the same person – God had a day-time and a night-time face, but that He evolved, as Christ tended to prove, towards His day-time face – absolute goodness – thanks to each positive act of men.”

In this concluding episode, Plarr’s attempts to help Charley get him death threats from the police. Not only is the state closing in on Plarr, but his own past too.

Produced and directed by Jonquil Panting.

A movie was made based on this book: Beyond the Limit (1983) with Michael Caine, Richard Gere, Bob Hoskins.

3* The Third Man
4* The End of the Affair
4* Our Man in Havana
3* The Captain and the Enemy
3* The Quiet American
4* The Ministry of Fear
4* The Power and the Glory
4* TR The Honorary Consul
TR Brighton Rock
TR Travels With My Aunt
TR The Tenth Man
TR Monsignor Quixote
TR The Heart of the Matter
TR Orient Express

2016 PEN Literary Awards Shortlists

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction ($25,000): To an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2015—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.

JUDGES: Helon Habila, Elizabeth McCracken, Edie Meidav, and Jess Row


In the Country: Stories
Mia Alvar
Alfred A. Knopf
Amazon | Indie Bound
The Turner House
Angela Flournoy
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Amazon | Indie Bound
Mr. and Mrs. Doctor
Julie Iromuanya
Coffee House Press
Amazon | Indie Bound
The Sympathizer: A Novel
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Grove Press
Amazon | Indie Bound
Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness
Jennifer Tseng
Europa Editions
Amazon | Indie Bound

– See more at:

New ebook available @ Project Gutenberg: My Memoirs, Vol VI: 1832-1833 by Alexandre Dumas, E.M. Waller (Translator), Andrew Lang (Introduction)

My Memoirs, Vol VI: 1832-1833My Memoirs, Vol VI: 1832-1833 by Alexandre Dumas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: My Memoirs, Vol. VI, 1832-1833

Author: Alexandre Dumas

Translator: E. M. Waller

Release Date: February 2, 2016 [EBook #51105]

Language: English

Produced by Laura NR and Marc D’Hooghe at (Images generously made
available by the Hathi Trust.)

Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

I made the R2/R3 round for Free Literature and this book will be published by Project Gutenberg.

The original files are provided by InternetArchive.

Page 40:

Tony did as I did; he first of all worked at the rate of six hours a day, then eight, then ten, then twelve, then fifteen: work is like the intoxication of hashish and of opium: it creates a fictitious life inside real life, so full of delicious dreams and adorable hallucinations that one ends by preferring the fictitious life to the real one.

Page 387:

“The history of the July Revolution lay entirely in those words: ‘Nobility is loyalty’s true buckler; so long as she has worn it on her arm, she has driven back foreign warfare and smothered civil war; but, from the day when, in anger, she imprudently breaks it, she is defenceless. Louis XI. had slain the great vassals; Louis XIII. the grand seigneurs and Louis XIV. the aristocrats, so that, when Charles X. called to his aid the d’Armagnacs, the Montmorencys and the Lauzuns, his voice only called up shades and phantoms.’

Page 408:

Towards the end of September, we heard in France of the death of Walter Scott. That death made a certain impression on me; not that I had the honour of knowing the author of Ivanhoe and of Waverley, but the reading of Walter Scott, it will be recollected, had a great influence on my early literary life.

Page 409:

The analysis of Walter Scott had made me understand the novel from another point of view than that of our country. A similar fidelity to manners, costumes and characters, with more lively dialogue and more natural passions, seemed to me to be what we needed. Such was my conviction, but I was far enough yet from suspecting that I should attempt to do for France what Scott had done for Scotland.

Page 518:

“Do not be discouraged, my child. You cannot write an article in ten lines; but, some day, you will write novels in ten volumes. Try, first of all, to rid your mind of imitations; all beginners start by copying others. Don’t be anxious, you will gradually find your own feet, and be the first to forget how it all came to you.”
And, as a matter of fact, during six weeks of the spring of 1832, which she spent in the country, George Sand wrote a novel in two volumes. That novel was Indiana. She returned from the country, went to see Latouche and confessed, trembling, the fresh crime she had just committed.

Page 576:

“Walter Scott has depicted localities, characters, manners; you must take the novel from Walter Scott’s hands, as Raphael took art from Perugino’s, and add the passions.”

Page 586:

Oh, gentlemen! you who are engaged in matters of French dramatic art, ponder this seriously. France, with its powers of assimilation, ought not to restrict itself to National Art. She ought to seize upon European Art -cosmopolitan, universal art—bounded in the North by Shakespeare, in the East by Æschylus, in the South by Calderon and in the West by Corneille. It was thus that Augustus, Charlemagne and Napoleon conceived their Empires.

Book review: Summer Before the Dark: Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth, Ostend 1936 by Volker Weidermann

Summer Before the Dark: Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth, Ostend 1936Summer Before the Dark: Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth, Ostend 1936 by Volker Weidermann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From BBC Radio 4 – Book of the Week
Volker Weidermann’s account of the charming resort of Ostend, and in 1936 it’s a haven for Middle-Europe emigres. Abridged in five episodes by Katrin Williams:

Stefan Zweig strolls the seafront, visits a cafe, and waits for his friend Joseph Roth to arrive. Also in town are other writers, wives and mistresses, as storm clouds gather over the rest of Europe..

2/5: Joseph Roth will be meeting Stefan Zweig here. But first, some background into their need to escape Austria and its encroaching dangers..

3/5: Joseph Roth is off the train at Ostend, about to meet Stefan Zweig for the hotels and bistro life. But his head will soon be turned by another writer, who’s newly arrived herself..

4/5: Joseph Roth is in Ostend to meet his old friend Stefan Zweig. But he’s quickly distracted by another writer, Irmgard Keun. Life is short, so they will move to the Hotel Couronne together..

5/5: Swimming, promenading, drinking.The pleasures of Ostend linger in the face of storm clouds gathering over Europe, but even seasoned vacationers know they have to move on..

Reader Peter Firth

Producer Duncan Minshull.

Even if the city of Ostend have suffered a major destruction during World War II, it remains as a charming Belgian coasted city.

2016 Edgar® Awards nominees announced

From Mystery Writers of America

January 19, 2016, New York, NY – Mystery Writers of America is proud to announce, as we celebrate the 207th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, the Nominees for the 2016 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2015. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 70th Gala Banquet, April 28, 2016 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.


The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons) The Lady From Zagreb by Philip Kerr (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons) Life or Death by Michael Robotham (Hachette Book Group – Mulholland Books) Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy (Penguin Random House – Dutton) Canary by Duane Swierczynski (Hachette Book Group – Mulholland Books) Night Life by David C. Taylor (Forge Books)


Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow) Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons) Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll (Simon & Schuster)
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Atlantic – Grove Press) Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm (Penguin Random House – Viking)


The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow) The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter by Malcolm Mackay
(Hachette Book Group – Mulholland Books
What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow) Woman with a Blue Pencil by Gordon McAlpine (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books) Gun Street Girl by Adrian McKinty (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)
The Daughter by Jane Shemilt (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)

Special Collection: The Works of Hugh Walpole (1884 – 1941)

From Faded Page
Author Bio for Walpole, Hugh

Sir Hugh Seymour Walpole (March 13, 1884 – June 1, 1941) was a British Novelist during the first half of the Twentieth Century. He was one of the most popular authors of his times, until his literary reputation was destroyed by Somerset Maugham.

His most famous novel is perhaps Rogue Herries, the first of four books in his Herries Chronicles series. He wrote thirty-six novels, and five volumes of short stories.


The Blind Man’s House–a Quiet Story

Walpole, Hugh

Walpole’s last novel, written with his customary polish. Julius Cromwell, a blind war veteran, returns to Garth House in Glebeshire, where he had spent his youth. But accompanying him is his new wife, who is fifteen years younger. This is a major event in the peaceful existence of the village of Garth.
The Bright Pavilions (The Herries Chronicles #5)

Walpole, Hugh

This fifth novel in the Herries Chronicle, set against the background of the turmoil and politics of Elizabethan England, tells the tale of one family’s experiences of divided loyalties and thwarted love.
The Captives

Walpole, Hugh

The Dark Forest

Walpole, Hugh

Set in Galicia at the Polish Front during WW I, the protagonist is an Englishman working for the Red Cross on the side of the Russians (a physical disability has kept him out of the armed military). He is a keen observer of human nature, profoundly empathetic and analytical, and although he is nearly always just outside the scenes of actual battle, he is absorbed with the interplay and conflicts among his fellow medics as their personalities alter and evolve under the pressure and strain of war. Walpole’s own experience with the Red Cross in WW I provided him with the background and, perhaps, the substance of his complex of characters. The oppressive maze of the forest is a nod to the dark wood of Dante and an appropriate setting for the conflicted inner self. I found the book a gripping and evocative read.
The Duchess of Wrexe: Her Decline and Death: A Romantic Commentary

Walpole, Hugh

Superficially, this book is very similar to others of its type and time–a spirited girl comes out into society and must choose between her rebellious and outcast cousin or a conventional young man. Rachel chooses the conventional young man, but as their marriage begins to degenerate, she comes into contact with her cousin once more. She falls in love with him–will she leave her husband and run off with her romantic but weak lover? And looming over all of this is the spectre of her grandmother, The Duchess, an old woman whose powers and health are waning but not yet gone.
The Fortress (The Herries Chronicles #3)

Walpole, Hugh

It had been the wish of her whole life to flee from all the Herries, but Walter Herries had challenged her, and she had taken up the challenge’. Judith Paris, now middle aged returns to the Lakes to deal with the bitter feud between the two branches of the family. A feud culminating in the construction by one branch of a huge house known as The Fortress, which will dominate the land of the others. But within this conflict the children of the two families have important roles to play.
The Golden Scarecrow

Walpole, Hugh

Like Jeremy this book is an exercise in entering into the minds/hearts of children, but has little else in common with that book. The premise is that children come into this world with a knowledge of the world they have left behind and a spiritual link to it through a companion just referred to as their Friend. Some adults are able to mature without losing their Friend and some children push him away when they are still small. It needs the heart of a child and a willingness to believe in things we can’t see, but I think that if you are willing to give it a chance, The Golden Scarecrow will repay your effort.
The Green Mirror

Walpole, Hugh

Hans Frost

Walpole, Hugh

Hans Frost is a man who confronts his world from many angles. His relations with his world are multiform and the currents of the world flow into his personality from many sources. He is the point, for his hour, where age must turn its back on youth, where the individual must do battle for its separate soul, where the artist faces disintegration at the hands of adulation, and where love must find new ways of life, new strengths to beat old weaknesses.
The Inquisitor

Walpole, Hugh

Walpole’s fourth and final novel about the cathedral city of Polchester, giving a panorama of the life of various citizens of that city. The author declared in his preface that he was “not afraid of melodrama.”
Jeremy and Hamlet (Jeremy Trilogy #2)

Walpole, Hugh

The book begins: There was a certain window between the kitchen and the pantry that was Hamlet’s favorite. Thirty years ago-these chronicles are of the year 1894-the basements of houses in provincial English towns, even of large houses owned by rich people, were dark, chill, odorful caverns hissing with ill-burning gas and smelling of ill-cooked cabbage. The basement of the Coles’ house in Polchester was as bad as any other, but this little window between the kitchen and the pantry was higher in the wall than the other basement windows, almost on a level with the iron railings beyond it, and offering a view down over Orange Street and, obliquely, sharp to the right and past the Polchester High School, a glimpse of the Cathedral towers themselves.
Jeremy at Crale: His Friends, His Ambitions and His One Great Enemy (Jeremy Trilogy #3)

Walpole, Hugh

The book begins: Young Cole, quivering with pride, surveyed the room. So, at last, was one of his deepest ambitions realized. It was not, when you looked at it, a very large room. If, as was the way with many of the other Studies, it had had a table in the middle of it, there would have been precious little space in which to move. But he and Gauntlet Ma, almost at once after their arrival last night, had come to an agreement about this. They would have their own tables in their own corners, leaving the middle of the room free-and Marlowe could lump it.
Judith Paris (The Herries Chronicles #2)

Walpole, Hugh

An impetuous character, Judith Paris arouses feelings of both tenderness and despair in those around her and excites the passions of two very different men: the sturdy, affectionate Reuben, her half-cousin; and Georges, a Frenchman, whose wilful nature seems to respond to her own.
Katherine Christian (The Herries Chronicles #6)

Walpole, Hugh

This novel is an unfinished addition to the “Herries” series. Hugh Walpole had become attached to the characters of the original four “Herries Chronicles” and revisited them in this book and its predecessor, “The Bright Pavilions”.
Maradick at Forty

Walpole, Hugh

Portrait of a Man with Red Hair

Walpole, Hugh

Stirring and fantastic is this story of an American’s adventures in the mystic town of Treliss. A psychological thriller written with dash as well as beauty. Zestful romance with a touch of allegory.

The most exciting story Walpole has written in years, with descriptions surpassing in colour the unusual character of the events.

Rogue Herries (The Herries Chronicles #1)

Walpole, Hugh

The first in the Herries Chronicle saga by Hugh Walpole.

The tale of Francis Herries, the “rogue” of the title. A violent and impetuous man, a faithless husband and a capricious father, the Borrowdale valley (his home for 40 years) and his unrequited love for gypsy Mirabell Starr are the two forces which drive him.

Vanessa (The Herries Chronicles #4)

Walpole, Hugh

The fourth and final volume of the Herries Chronicles, described as ‘incomparably the best’ in The Daily Telegraph is a love story of ‘effortless brilliance’ (Observer) which starts with the triumph of Judith Paris’s hundredth birthday in the 1870’s and then moves to the tragic disillusionment of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Set, predominantly, as before, amidst the grandeur of the lake district landscape, it tells the passionate and unforgettable story of Vanessa, Judith’s Granddaughter and her n’er-do-well cousin Benjie whom she had sworn in childhood never to betray.

Walpole, Hugh

The story swirls around Janet, a wellbred but poor woman who marries for companionship and security. Most of the book is about the characters around her–the good intentioned Purefoys who own the ancestral estate Wintersmoon, John Beauminster and Tom Seddon from The Duchess of Wrexe and Janet’s younger, breezy sister Rosalind. Half of the book is about love, in its various forms: Janet falls in love with her husband, her husband desperately loves their son, Tom loves Rosalind but Rosalind loves no one but herself. It’s rather histrionic, but the passing of some 80 years has not rendered it a meaningless puzzle.

The other half of the book is unfortunately about Walpole’s favorite subject: the old vs the new. Janet and her new, aristocratic family stand for “Old England,” made of traditions, stiff upper lips and doing ones duty.

The Wooden Horse

Walpole, Hugh

The Wooden Horse is the story of the Trojans, a family which accepted as tranquility the belief that they were the people for whom the world was created. But when Harry Trojan came home after twenty years in New Zealand, with the democracy learned by working his hands, he was the “wooden horse” who boldly carried into the Trojan walls a whole army of alien ideals, which made of that egotistic family a group of human beings content to be human.
The Young Enchanted: A Romantic Story

Walpole, Hugh

An attempt to find romance in the drabness of postwar England.

The Young Enchanged is a book that takes the year 1920 and make it appear enchanged. London in 1920–and youth standing in the center of the present, with extraordinary possibilities whirling about it, ready and eager to grasp at these possibilities, anxious to try conclusions in a world made over.

Stars Henry Trenchad–the Henry who was so very young in The Green Mirror, and who is not so much older now, the years have passed and he has been through the war.

Book review: El Cid by Pierre Corneille, Ranjit Bolt (Translator)

El CidEl Cid by Pierre Corneille
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From BBC Radio 3 – Drama on 3:
The story of the 11th century Spanish hero before his rise to fame. Rodrigo is a charming young courtier who plans to marry Ximene. But when her father, the chief general in the King’s army, insults Rodrigo’s father, he promptly finds himself challenged by Rodrigo to a duel. The young suitor, inexperienced in warfare, knows that if he loses he dies. But also that if he wins he loses Ximene. Pierre Corneille’s famous play examines the complex moral and emotional dilemmas faced by the legendary champion-to-be, and his intended.

Translated and adapted by Ranjit Bolt

Directed by Peter Kavanagh

The star-studded cast included James Purefoy as the Cid, with Indira Varma as Ximene, Gina Mc Kee as the Princess, and featuring Eleanor Bron and David Calder.

Pierre Corneille was one of France’s three outstanding Classical dramatists, alongside Racine and Moliere. The Cid is his most famous – but in Britain too little-performed – play.

The distinguished translator Ranjit Bolt’s refashioning tells the story of the younger Cid, a self-indulgent, love-smitten courtier in 11th century Spain who when duty calls rises to the occasion to become Spain’s greatest hero.

It is a tale of love, honour and might, but in the great tradition of Racine and their other contemporary writers of tragedy, Corneille focuses on romantic dilemma, to show how lovers act under intense duress, and what choices – and perhaps compromises – they then make.

Bolt’s translation is at once daring and faithful. He has observed the conventions of 17th century French Drama (rules imposed on his select group of writers by the infamous Cardinal Richelieu, intent on restoring classical virtues). But Bolt in customary fashion has dynamised the language and style.

Featuring Spanish guitar music by, amongst others, Heitor Villa-Lobos.

A movie was made based on this play: El Cid (1961), directed by Anthony Mann, with Charlton Heston, Sophia Loren, Raf Vallone.

El Cid’s statue may be found in the city of Burgos, in Spain:

The true story of Rodrigo Diaz is told in the epic poem “El cantar de mio Cid” (The Song of my Cid) composed sometime between 1140 and 1207. Date and authorship are still open to debate. More details about this magnificent medieval work (including Rodrigo’s biography) as well as the original Spanish version may be found at Camino Del Cid.

In addition, there is The Route of El Cid which is a cultural and tourist route that crosses Spain from north-west to south-east, following in the steps of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, El Cid, the famous 11th-century mediaeval knight. This route is based on “El Cantar de mio Cid”, the great Hispanic mediaeval epic poem written at the end of the 12th or beginning of the 13th century.

A short note should be mentioned about “El Cofre de El Cid” located at Burgos Cathedral: On one wall of the Chapel of Corpus Christi Cathedral of Burgos you can see a bunker known as “the Cofre del Cid.” The story goes that corresponds to the ark with which Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, El Cid, endorsed requesting money to pay three hundred knights who accompany him in exile decreed by King Alfonso VI, asking for “borrowed” the Jews Raquel and Vidas de Burgos. Arriving home lenders, he convinced them to accept his deal: money in exchange for a chest containing all his family jewels. The Jews thought they would get a lot more capital than left, so accepted. Rodrigo, after receiving the amount, left the city with his men leaving the Jews with the hood. After opening his surprise he was capitalized. There were no treasures, or jewels, only earth and stones, still too late to claim anything. Another version of the legend that tells how Rodrigo really delivered the chest full of jewels but to the greed of the Jews, they became stones, stones they would become jewelry when he returned to Burgos with enough money to pay their treatment . Whether or not real, the truth is that this story is found in the “Cantar de Mio Cid” as a sign of the trickery employed by Christians with Jews, while others think it was just a way to punish greed lenders.

Some related paintings:

1864 Marcos Giráldez de Acosta’s painting depicting the “Santa Gadea Oath”. In the middle of the scene, Alfonso VI (with red cape) is swearing with his right hand on the Bible that he did not take part in the murder of his brother Sancho II, while El Cid stands as a witness in front of him.

“Daughters of the Cid” by Ignacio Pinazo Diputación, Valencia, Spain Oil on canvas, 1879.