Friday, February 4, 2011
The initial part of this, the sixth volume is told in retrospect by the narrator. It concerns his childhood prior to the Great War.
For the first time in the novel we meet his parents. There is sadness and humour in this section, as there has been throughout.
When the scene returns to a contemporary setting the world has now realized that war is again inevitable and it is only when this will occur.
More early characters die off with new and interesting ones being introduced. The core still remain however and we are treated to the arch bore, Widmerpool, dressed up in a farcical looking uniform.
There is a touch of the mystical about this volume with several discussions on the spirit world, after life.
This volume is comparable to volume three as the two best in my view thus far.
The book ends with the world at war.
This volume starts on a completely different tack than previous volumes in this sequence. Our narrator Nicholas Jenkins is now married and is involved in the arts scene as he is a writer for the British motion picture industry.
We have some of the earlier characters introduced early in the novel starting to die off and many new ones being introduced.
There is the suicide of a main character and the usual seemingly endless swapping of women amongst them.
The world politically is coming to grips with the fact that there is to be another war and this is apparent in the behaviour of many of the characters.
Volume 4 starts with a party at the Jeavons's.
The narrators first romance has broken up as she has gone back to her husband.
We are now in the mid 1930's with Hitler and Russia beginning to feature in the story lines.
There are several new characters introduced here , the main one being Erridge who is associated with Quiggen and the political left.
Others waltz in and out of the story from previous volumes. Widmerpool has a romance.
Not as good as volume three, only because it doesn't seem to me to flow as well but still super enjoyable.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
As the reviewer in the Literary Review said Haslam can name drop for the Olympics.
Haslam is a British socialite and interior designer who is of that time and place,upper class, someone who has met lots of people.
Unfortunately we are treated to page after page of names he met here there and every where, it just gets tedious.
Gore Vidal is someone similar who has met everyone, but Vidal can write and gives some insight to those he has cross paths with, that makes a difference.
There is no real salacious gossip, Haslam says he had a brief affair with Anthony Armstrong-Jones (denied) ,well, really who cares to be honest.
This had the chance to really give us a 'slice of time; piece here - the 60's especially - but instead its more name after name and though his sexuality has nothing to do with things the entire thing come across very 'queenie'.
Bill's back with another tomb of fascinating facts to intrigue.
This volume is rather tenuously held together by following him through his English country home and having explained the history of how everyday things have a history.
Tenuous it is, this is really a potted history of the 18th and 19th century, and like all Bryson writes it is excellent.
We are just absolutely bombarded with facts, swamped i.e the great fire of London only resulted in 5 deaths but the first great fire of London in 1212 resulted in 12,000 deaths, I didn't know but Bill and his researches did. Jim Atkinson invented the mouse trap and sold the patent for 1000 pound, cheap even then.
You can literally open this book on any page and find some useful information and there are 483 pages.
Like his previous A Short History of Nearly Everything, you will pick this up and dip into it over and over.