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The CallingI sometimes worry that in the highly unlikely event that I became a suspect in a murder case the police would turn up chez Bride, look at the number of books (both fiction and non-fiction) that I have about serial killers and huckle me off immediately, convinced they had me bang to rights.

And The Calling is another one of those. Set in Canada, a country for which I have had a fascination bordering on obsession since I was quite small (I may have mentioned this before), its the story of a series of murders which are only connected when our heroine, for it is a she, DI Hazel Micallef, spots a link and there’s a race against time (as always) to catch the killer before he strikes again.

I’m a bit ambivalent about this one, and not entirely sure why. I read it on holiday and the setting and all-round grimness jarred a bit with the warm Italian sunshine – though it didn’t stop me cracking through the story. I thought the conceit behind the murders was quite clever, and the killer himself interesting in his motivations, I like Hazel in many ways, sympathising with her back pain and her having to share a home with her mother, but she was also pretty irritating at times – the thing with her ex-husband I could understand I suppose but if I’d been the second wife I would probably have been unable to resist smacking her one.

It is not at all bad but I will admit after a a couple of months that I struggled a bit to remember the details but it was good to read at the time. I may give the next one in the series a try, but not just yet.

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About The Telling of Lies:

On a  beautiful hot day off the coast of maine an iceberg looms on the horizon and Calder Maddox, and aged and unprepossessing pharmaceuticals millionnaire is found dead on the beach. Nessa van Horne has photographed the day’s events and as she studies the pictures she draws parallels between her own experience of evil when she was imprisoned in a Japanese concentration camp and the increasingly chilling evidence of Maddox’s murder and a political cover-up

When did I first read this? February 1993

What age was I? 31

How many times since then? This is my first re-read.

Thoughts about the book:

I can’t remember when I first realised I had a thing for all matters Canadian. I think I must actually have been quite small and it may have been because of a visit from some of Dad’s relatives who had emigrated from Scotland to Ontario in the 1920s. Anyhow, it is a real thing for me and although I haven’t yet made it there (I was insanely jealous of the Book God when he went to Vancouver on business and I couldn’t go with him because I had just started a new job, but I will get my revenge, oh yes) I seek out the books and films and music and of course lovely blogging people like Susan. But I digress. In my twenties I worked my way through Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Robertson Davies etc and was looking to widen my horizons a bit, and someone recommended Timothy Findley to me. The Telling of Lies wasn’t the first of his books that I read (that honour probably goes to Famous Last Words or The Butterfly Plague) but it is the one that has stayed with me the longest. It pops into my head every so often and I was completely astonished to find that I had only read it that one time.

I love this book but I’m not really sure that I have got to the bottom of what it’s actually about. On the surface it’s exactly what it says on the cover, murder and cover-ups and so on, but I can’t help feeling that there is something more that I’m just not getting and that’s perhaps why it stays with me. And of course I just love Nessa; I see her as being a sort of Vanessa Redgrave figure (as she was when I was lucky enough to see her in The Year of Magical Thinking, tall and dignified and white-haired), and she is a remarkable character.

Favourite bits:

Everyone has always known that Lily has a heart of gold; but we have also known it’s a chocolate heart and the gold is only a wrapper made of foil

I asked him if, there being so many more, he intended to read them all. And he said “I’ve read them all before, Miss Van Horne. This time, I’m reading them just for pleasure.” I had no reply for this, not having known there could be pleasure in Henry James.

Memory is like that. It buffets you with stories out of sequence. It harries you with the past and it blinds you to the present. It seems to take all its cues at random – failing to deliver what you want to know, while it offers up data that seems to have no bearing on the moment.

As for me – I saw them both as beautiful and exceptional, until he died. It was only then that I encountered Mother as she really was: a reflection stranded in an abandoned mirror.

If I could only learn to be at peace with the wonderfully simple, scientific fact of life: we die. Surely, how we die is all that matters, when it comes to that.

If online comments are to be believed (and I haven’t been exhaustive in my search for the views of others), I’m one of the few out there who seems to rate this novel.  One thing is certain; I’m not going to leave it for another almost twenty years before I pick this up again.

This is the first book in my Big Re-read Project

Despite quite a bit of travelling this week I only managed to finish one book: The Telling of Lies by Timothy Findley which is one of my big re-reads.

But the opportunity to go book shopping in Glasgow plus some temptations via the internet meant that the following new books arrived in the Bride’s home this week:

  • The Storyteller by Antonia Michaels – “a spellbinding tale of suspense, danger and transformative love”
  • Mudwoman by Joyce Carol Oates – “extraordinarily intense, racking and resonant”
  • HP Lovecraft by Michel Houellebecq – “indispensable reading for anyone interested in Lovecraft”
  • Fated by Benedict Jacka – Camden. Mysterious relics in the British Museum. Probability Mages
  • Spitalfields Life by The Gentle Author – the book of the blog, a lovely thing in itself

I am currently thinking of signing up to Carl’s Once Upon a Time challenge, and also the 24 Hour readathon in April. I’ll post on those separately once I’ve (a) made my mind up and (b) started the appropriate book piles.

And at least the sun has been shining; spring is just around the corner.

This is going to be a tiny wee review of Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life which I read because (a) I heard it was really good and (b) I was going to see the movie this weekend based solely on a mixture of stuff I’d picked up from the internet and stuff I’d seen in movie magazines and had a sudden panic that I should probably try to find out a little bit more before I parted with my hard-earned cash.

So loving comic books, all things Canadian and pretending that I am at least 25 years younger than I actually am, this was just up my street being a comic book set in Toronto about a 22 year-old who has to fight the evil exes of the girl he’s fallen in love with.

And it’s really good, and even though I have now seen the movie I expect I will get the rest of the comic book series because I can be a bit of a completist if I don’t watch myself. Not that that’s a bad thing.

AliceMunro

Just a few little bits and pieces that have grabbed my attention over the last couple of days. First things first, the good news that Alice Munro won the International Man Booker Prize. I love Alice Munro; the first of her books I read was The Moons of Jupiter back in (can you believe it) January 1986 and I’ve kept more or less up-to-date since (there may be a couple lurking somewhere that I haven’t quite got around to yet) But it’s great to see someone you admire win a prestigious prize like this, isn’t it?

Pandering to my geekery is news of the new companion for the next Dr Who. She is Karen Gillan and has been in the show before as a soothsayer in the Pompeii episode (and I’m going to have to go and look at my boxed set to see if I can find her….) The best thing in this BBC storyis the quote from The Great Steven Moffat who says she is “funny, and clever, and gorgeous, and sexy. Or Scottish, which is the quick way of saying it”. I will be using that one a lot over the coming weeks, I’m sure….. I know there’s (thankfully)  a lot of Mr Tennant still to come but I am beginning to get very interested in the possibilities for the 2010 series.

It was my wedding anniversary this weekend, and the Book God and I went out shopping. Various  purchases were made and it wouldn’t have been a proper day out without a visit to a book shop. The following additions to the library were obtained:

  • The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt – all about Nikola Tesla; I’ve been interested in him for years, long before David Bowie played him in The Prestige….
  • Mr Toppit by Charles Elton – one or two favourable reviews of this on book blogs, plus I’m pretty sure I heard him being interviewed on Radio 5 at some point
  • Snoop by Sam Gosling – or What Your Stuff Says About You; whenever I go to visit anyone in their home I immediately head to the bookshelves for scout around, and this is going to reinforce my nosy parker tendencies

Now all I have to do is find the time to read them….

I started to write this post in July and promptly forgot all about it while I dithered over the book pool for this challenge – but never mind, got there in the end!

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So I’ve already mentioned elsewhere that I signed up for this challenge, which I have to say I’m really looking forward to as I have been fascinated by Canada and things Canadian since I was quite young; I’ve no idea why, but there you are. Some of my favourite bands are Canadian (Rush, Barenaked Ladies) and I’ve read quite a few authors, most of whom will be represented on my reading list.

The challenge is – starting (well, started) July 1st, 2008 and running to July 1st, 2009 – to read (and write about) 13 Canadian books (by Canadians and/or about Canadians).

I’ve been pondering my booklist, and have come up with the following:

1. A Celibate Season by Carol Shields and Blanche Howard

2. Pilgrim by Timothy Findley

3. Garbo Laughs by Elizabeth Hay

4. The Onion Girl by Charles de Lint

5. Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood

6. For Your Eye Alone: The Letters of Robertson Davies

7. The Glenn Gould Reader

8. After Edgar by Joan Barfoot

9. The Diviners by Margaret Laurence

10. Runaway by Alice Munro

11. Neuromancer by William Gibson

12. Hey Nostradamus by Douglas Coupland

13. Strange Things by Margaret Atwood

These are all books that were kicking around the house, it was just a question of gathering them up. Now all I have to do is start to read!

Bride of the Book God

Follow brideofthebook on Twitter

Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

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