Book review: Answer as a Man by Taylor Caldwell


Answer as a ManAnswer as a Man by Taylor Caldwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like in Captains and the Kings published in 1972, (see my review here), Taylor Cadwell wrote another magnificent novel on the “American Dream.”

By telling the story of Jason Garrity’s family, showing how a poor Irish community who emigrated to America managed to become healthy and rich people.

However, some family and hidden secrets combined with financial troubles due to the approach of World War I, makes Jason to revise his moral convictions since his dreams will be shortly destroyed by a destiny’s faith.

4* The Arm and the Darkness (see my review here)
5* A Pillar of Iron (see my review here)
4* Dear and Glorious Physician
4* The Earth Is the Lord’s: A Tale of the Rise of Genghis Khan (see my review here)
4* The Final Hour (see my review here)
5* Captains And The Kings
2* The Romance of Atlantis
3* The Late Clara Beame
3* Ceremony of the Innocent
4* Answer as a Man
TR Dynasty Of Death (The Eagles Gather, The Final Hour)
TR The Wide House
TR Testimony of Two Men
TR This Side of Innocence
TR Glory and the Lightning
TR Never Victorious, Never Defeated

Book review: The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk


The Museum of InnocenceThe Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk

My rating: 3,5 of 5 stars

This is a story of a love triangle involving Kemal – son of a wealthy Turkish family, his fiancée Sibel – daughter of another rich family and Füsun, a young shop girl by who Kemal is obsessively attracted to.

By telling the story of these three young people, the author describes the behavior of Istanbul bourgeoisie in the 1970s.

Once Kemal breaks their marriage engagement, Sibel decides to move on and marries another man. Kemal and Sibel will only re-encounter each other 31 years later.

Throughout his obsession and fantasy, Kemal starts to collect small Füsun’s personal objects in order to remind him of the great moments of love shared with Füsun. On the other hand, his beloved decides to marry a future film maker instead of saying with Kemal.

When Kemal’s life turns upside down (no spoilers here), he decides to build “the museum of innocence” which gives the tittle to this book.

This museum is based on several personal museums built in honor of famous writers and artists, such as:

The F.M.Dostoevsky Museum

Saint Petersburg’s Vladimir Nabokov House Museum

Musée Marcel Proust

The Spinozahuis museum

Luigi Pirandello’s House Museum

The Baltimore Poe House and Museum

Casa Museo Mario Praz – one of the author’s favorite.

Musée Flaubert d’histoire de la médecine

Even if this book is excessively long, the author manages to keep the reader’s attention since this book is written with several hints of poetry and humor as well.

4* Snow
2* My Name is Red
3,5 The Museum of Innocence
TR Silent House

Book review: Ninety-Three by Victor Hugo, Aline Delano (Translator)


Ninety-ThreeNinety-Three by Victor Hugo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I made the proofreading this book in English for Free Literature, published by Little, Brown and Company, in 1888.

It will be available pretty soon at Project Gutenberg.

This book has several translations but we found only this one, made by Aline Delano, to be more closer to the original French text. She also translated from the Russian the following books: “The Blind Musician” by Vladimir Korolenko; “The Kingdom of God is Within You, What is Art,” by Leo Tolstoy.

The original file was provided by Hathi Trust Digital Library.

Critical Note by Robert L. Stevenson (from “The Works of Victor Hugo, Vol. VII, Jefferson Press, 190-?)

In Notre Dame, Les Miserables, The Toilers of the Sea and The Man Who Laughs, one after another, there has been some departure from the traditional canons of romance; but taking each separately, one would have feared to make too much of these departures, or to found any theory upon what was perhaps purely accidental. The appearance of Ninety-Three has put us out of the region of such doubt. Like a doctor who has long been hesitating how to classify an epidemic malady, we have come at last upon a case so well marked that our uncertainty is at an end. It is a novel built upon a sort of enigma,” which was at that date laid before revolutionary France, and which is presented by Hugo to Tellmarch, to Lantenac, to Gauvain, and very terribly to Cimourdain, each of whom gives his own solution of the question, clement or stern, according to the temper of his spirit. That enigma was this: “Can a good action be a bad action? Does not he who spares the wolf kill the sheep?” This question as I say, meets with one answer after another during the course of the book, and yet seems to remain undecided to the end. And something in the same way, although one character, or one set of characters, after another comes to the front and occupies our attention for the moment, we never identify our interest with any of these temporary heroes nor regret them after they are withdrawn.

Page 12:

I was in Paris on the 10th of August. I gave Westerman a drink. Everything went with a rush in those days! I saw Louis XVI. guillotined,–Louis Capet, as they call him. I tell you he did*n’t like it. You just listen now. To think that on the 13th of January he was roasting chestnuts and enjoying himself with his family! When he was made to lie down on what is called the see-saw, he wore neither coat nor shoes; only a shirt, a quilted waistcoat, gray cloth breeches, and gray silk stockings. I saw all that with my own eyes.

Page 60:

“This man who is among us represents the king. He has been intrusted to our care; we must save him. He is needed for the throne of France. As we have no prince, he is to be,–at least we hope so,–the leader of the Vendėe. He is a great general. He was to land with us in France; now he must land without us. If we save the head we save all.”

Page 135-136:

’93 is the war of Europe against France, and of France against Paris. What then is Revolution? It is the victory of France over Europe, and of Paris over France. Hence the immensity of that terrible moment ’93, grander than all the rest of the century. Nothing could be more tragic. Europe attacking France, and France attacking Paris,–a drama with the proportions of an epic.

Page 139:

The Gironde, speaking in the person of Isnard, temporary president of the Convention, had uttered this appalling prophecy: “Parisians, beware! for in your city not one stone shall be left resting upon another, and the day will come when men will search for the place where Paris once stood.” This speech had given Birth to the Évêché.

Page 209:

At the time when the death-sentence of Louis XVI. was passed, Robespierre had eighteen months to live, Danton fifteen, Vergniaud nine, Marat five months and three weeks, and Lepelletier-Saint-Fargeau one day! Brief and terrible was the breath of life in those days.

Page 218:

Revolution is a manifestation of the unknown. You may call it good or evil, according as you aspire to the future or cling to the past; but leave it to its authors. It would seem to be the joint product of great events and great individualities, but is in reality the result of events alone. Events plan the expenditures for which men pay the bills. Events dictate, men sign. The 14th of July was signed by Camille Desmoulins, the 10th of August by Danton, the 2d September by Marat, the 21st of September by Grégoire, and the 21st of January by Robespierre; but Desmoulins, Danton, Marat, Grégoire, and Robespierre are merely clerks.

Page 305:

“Liberty, equality, fraternity,–these are the dogmas of peace and harmony. Why give them so terrible an aspect? What are we striving to accomplish? To bring all nations under one universal republic. Well, then, let us not terrify them. Of what use is intimidation? Neither nations nor birds can be attracted by fear. We must not do evil that good may come. We have not overturned the throne to leave the scaffold standing. Death to the king, and life to the nations. Let us strike off the crowns, but spare the heads. Revolution means concord, and not terror. Schemes of benevolence arc but poorly served by merciless men. Amnesty is to me the grandest word in human language. I am opposed to the shedding of blood, save as I risk my own. Still, I am but a soldier; I can do no more than fight. Yet if we are to lose the privilege of pardoning, of what use is it
to conquer? Let us be enemies, if you will, in battle; but when victory is ours, then is the time to be
brothers.”

Page 467:

Was it then the object of Revolution to destroy the natural affections, to sever all family ties, and to stifle every sense of humanity? Far from it. The dawn of ’89 came to affirm those higher truths, and not to deny them. The destruction of bastiles signified the deliverance of humanity; the overthrow of feudalism was the signal for the building up of the family.

Page 486:

The genius of France was made up from that of the entire continent, and each of its provinces represents a
special virtue of Europe; the frankness of Germany is to be found in Picardy, the generosity of Sweden
in Champagne, the industry of Holland in Burgundy, the activity of Poland in Languedoc, the grave dignity
of Spain in Gascony, the wisdom of Italy in Provence, the subtlety of Greece in Normandy, the fidelity of Switzerland in Dauphiny.

Page 505:

“Grand events are taking form. No one can comprehend the mysterious workings of revolution at the present time. Behind the visible achievement rests the invisible, the one concealing the other. The visible work seems cruel; the invisible is sublime. At this moment I can see it all very clearly. It is strange and beautiful. We have been forced to use the materials of the Past. Hence this wonderful ’93. Beneath a scaffolding of barbarism we
are building the temple of civilization.

Book review: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed


Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest TrailWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is the story of a young woman 26 years old who decides to make Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State after her mother’s death and her divorce.

The idea behind the plot is quite interesting but not the way the author faced so many complications inherent of this kind of adventure, such as: how to avoid snakes; how to avoid “black” bears; the large amount of snow in Sierra Nevada in that particular year and so on.

The easiest way was to go away or make a detour from the trail in order to met the established goal of this great adventure.

Certainly the readers will find better books on this subject, specially the ones written by real pioneers and explorers:

Walking by Henry David Thoreau

All Gold Canyon by Jack London

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee

A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor

No Ordinary Woman: The Story of Mary Schäffer Warren by Janice Sanford Beck

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

The Mountains of California by John Muir

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

In addition, their real interest was not to make a Hollywood movie based on their true story of life, on the contrary.

Book review: The Citadel by A.J. Cronin


The CitadelThe Citadel by A.J. Cronin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the story of a young country doctor life and how he struggled to become a successful doctor in a big city.

Andrew Manson, a young Scotsman man, started his professional life in the mines of Wales where he worked in a tough condition by paying part of his salary to a senior and reputed local doctor. He dedicated part of his life studying lung diseases which was the primary disease found in most of the local miners.

In order to improve his career, he moves to London with his wife – a school teacher. There he pursuit to become a prestigious doctor by submitting to a board examination. This fact will bring a lot of prestige, money and all kind of human ambition.

However, the death of a patient will roll his life upside down, making him to revise his moral obligations against his family, friends and to the society as well.

By telling this magnificent story, the author built a great fiction masterpiece. That’s why he is considered with great justice as one most great writers of the 20th century fiction.

Several other books have this kind of storyline but in different scenarios and covering different heath issues, such as:

The Spanish Gardener by A.J. Cronin, see my review here.

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham, see my review here.

Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham, see my review here.

A non-fiction book is worthing mention here:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, see my review here.

And another book that should not be forgotten is The Physician by Noah Gordon, which is already in my TBR list for quite some time already.

4* The Spanish Gardener
3* Lady with Carnations
5* The Citadel
TR Hatter’s Castle
TR The Keys of the Kingdom
TR The Stars Look Down
TR The Green Years

Book review: The Spanish Gardener by A.J. Cronin


The Spanish GardenerThe Spanish Gardener by A.J. Cronin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just arrived from Russian Federation through Bookmooch.

I cannot believe that this is the first book written by Cronin I’ve ever read.

The description of the relationship between father and son is dramatically told where the character of a Spanish gardener plays an important role into the story.

There is a movie version The Spanish Gardener (1956) based on this book, where Dick Bogarde plays the role of the gardener.

4* The Spanish Gardener
TR The Citadel
TR The Passage
TR The Keys of the Kingdom

New ebook available @ Project Gutenberg: Mademoiselle de Maupin v. 2 by Théophile Gautier


Mademoiselle de Maupin v. 2Mademoiselle de Maupin v. 2 by Théophile Gautier

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Illustrator: Francois-Xavier Le Sueur
Édouard Toudouze

Translator: I. G. Burham

Release Date: May 8, 2015 [EBook #48893]

Language: English

Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

Produced by Laura Natal & Marc D’Hooghe at http://www.freeliterature.org (Images generously made
available by the Hathi Trust.)


Chapter XIII — How many times you have appeared to me—at the window of the mysterious chateau, leaning in melancholy mood on the balcony and throwing to the wind the petals of some flower. * * * There were your proud yet gentle eyes, your transparent hands, your lovely, waving hair and your adorably disdainful half smile.

Free download in French available at Project Gutenberg.

The original file is available at Internet Archive.