Want to buy or sell something? Check the classifieds
  • The Fedora Lounge is supported in part by commission earning affiliate links sitewide. Please support us by using them. You may learn more here.

What Are You Reading

AmateisGal

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,126
Location
Nebraska
Started this the other night. It's quite good.
hollywoodhitler.jpg
 

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
Messages
1,390
Location
St John's Wood, London UK
LOL. Maybe by Halloween.
I was dumbstruck to see that it is almost 1,500 pages long. I thought I had conquered Everest when I finished War and Peace (1,200 pages). Alas, No.

On the other hand, if you go by the Amazon reviews, the book is a stunningly moving revelation and positively one of the top five ever written. At page 20. So far, so good.
Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame is a whisker thin novel but one of the most important books I've ever read.
Its film adaptation starred Gina Lollabrigida who was the perfect gypsy girl Esmerelda opposite Anthony Quinn's
Quasimodo. I wish I had read this before Cambridge and suggest you do give it a go before Les Miserables.
 

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
Messages
1,390
Location
St John's Wood, London UK
I feel the same way. It's one of the "classics" I've read that I still think about regularly. The "sanctuary" scene is one of the most-powerful scenes I've ever read.

I crashed a bash at King's whence Cambridge because Gina Lollabrigida was rumoured to be there
for an award or sumsuch. She wasn't. But I over indulged libation and woke next morning over at Newsie
next to a comely maiden also hung over....talk about Rouge giving Taffy a shot or two.
 
Messages
16,755
Location
New York City
5271.jpg copy.jpg

The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett, originally published in 1933


The 1934 movie version of the mystery/detective novel The Thin Man is so famous that there is all but no way to read the book itself with a tabula rasa; instead, you read it almost as a view into how Hollywood transforms a novel into a screenplay and then a movie.

Trying though, as one must, to take the book The Thin Man on its own, it holds up well, but it is still in total, a bit of a lesser effort than its movie version.

Hammett's writing has an almost Hemingwayesque sparceness that keeps the story moving along. Plus the charmingly playful relationship between the lead character Nick Charles and his wife Nora makes the novel equal parts detective story and light comedy.

The detective story, however, is the ostensible plot of the book and, just like in the movie, it's confusing as heck with a lot of players, feints, clues and tangles. Good for you if you figure it out, but even if you don't (like I didn't) the ride is the real fun here.

Nick Charles, a handsome and suave former private detective, is married to Nora, a wealthy, pretty and young socialite. They live in San Francisco where Nick looks after Nora's extensive inherited business interests.

In this one, Hammett's first entry in the series, his fun-loving married couple, along with their spirited wire-haired fox terrier, Asta, is currently visiting Nick's former stomping ground, New York City.

Here, some of Nick's old and not-social-register friends - a collection of cops, gangsters, general scammers, a dicey lawyer and some nouveau riche - try to rope Nick into helping solve the murder of the estranged wife of one of Nick's prior acquaintances.

You can try and follow the complex murder mystery, which includes a cat's cradle of lovers, angry offspring, former spouses, a bigamist, swindlers, the mob, an oddball inventor and a few other picaresque characters, or just enjoy the fun personalities.

If you do the latter, front and center will be Nick and Nora. This is a married couple that likes each other, but they also have fun ribbing each other. Nora also loves Nick's Runyonesque circle, a far cry from the social registry world, we assume, she grew up in.

Gangsters, gamblers, gunmols, "speaks," gold diggers, "joints," bounders, "flatfoots," police interrogations and more are all a new circus that Nora looks at with amazement, but without condescension.

Nick equally appreciates that his well-bred wife has a taste for the "colorful" side of life. When the ribbing gets going, she gives as good as she gets. This is a couple in love who doesn't make you want to puke; instead, you want to hang out with them.

It helps that, with Nora's money, they live a very comfortable lifestyle of doormen, Pullman coaches, taxicabs, penthouses, fine attire and, of course, cocktails at all hours, especially since their regular schedule has them waking at midday and going to bed at dawn.

The narrative itself is an equal mix of mystery and fun. Nick and Nora become part of the investigation, but it has a lighthearted romp feel as, with their odd assortment of friends and hanger-oners, they get into harmless and not-harmless scrapes along the way.

The movie and book are both good, but the movie gets the nod. The book doesn't have enough descriptions of the settings, milieu and New York itself to make it come as alive as it does on screen. In the book, it sometimes feels like the story is just "floating" somewhere.

Hammett describes something once in his novel and then is done describing that place or person forever. It asks a lot of the reader to carry all that in his/her head throughout the story, especially as the reader is busy trying to untangle a complex mystery.

Throughout the movie, though, you see Nick and Nora, dressed to the nines, going to atmosphere-rich nightclubs, dives, murder scenes and elsewhere as they interact with Nick's motley collection of "associates."

With on-screen Nick and Nora shooting each other telling looks, while Nora, played wonderfully by Myrna Loy, occasionally wrinkles her cute nose, the movie provides a visual engagement that Hammett's terse descriptions can't match.

The Thin Man story is fun as both a book and movie because Hammett created an irresistible pair of "detectives" who also have one of the best ever fictional marriages. It's just a quirk of media that his literary creation found its fullest expression on the screen and not the page.

fc5ba0eada028c746037b58b9c936e51.gif
 
Messages
12,361
Location
Germany
Finished Stendhal's Lamiel.
Really nice to have an unfinished novel! Blueprints and rewritten capitels are there, but that doesn't count for me.

But you see the reasons, why Stendhal dropped the novel. He was getting tired of the society topic and he probably had no idea what to do with Lamiel in the further plot.

Lamiel is a total natural girl from the deep provence and her mind is so strong, that she can't be really manipulated by anyone.
 
Last edited:

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
851
View attachment 524360
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett, originally published in 1933


The 1934 movie version of the mystery/detective novel The Thin Man is so famous that there is all but no way to read the book itself with a tabula rasa; instead, you read it almost as a view into how Hollywood transforms a novel into a screenplay and then a movie.

Trying though, as one must, to take the book The Thin Man on its own, it holds up well, but it is still in total, a bit of a lesser effort than its movie version.

Hammett's writing has an almost Hemingwayesque sparceness that keeps the story moving along. Plus the charmingly playful relationship between the lead character Nick Charles and his wife Nora makes the novel equal parts detective story and light comedy.

The detective story, however, is the ostensible plot of the book and, just like in the movie, it's confusing as heck with a lot of players, feints, clues and tangles. Good for you if you figure it out, but even if you don't (like I didn't) the ride is the real fun here.

Nick Charles, a handsome and suave former private detective, is married to Nora, a wealthy, pretty and young socialite. They live in San Francisco where Nick looks after Nora's extensive inherited business interests.

In this one, Hammett's first entry in the series, his fun-loving married couple, along with their spirited wire-haired fox terrier, Asta, is currently visiting Nick's former stomping ground, New York City.

Here, some of Nick's old and not-social-register friends - a collection of cops, gangsters, general scammers, a dicey lawyer and some nouveau riche - try to rope Nick into helping solve the murder of the estranged wife of one of Nick's prior acquaintances.

You can try and follow the complex murder mystery, which includes a cat's cradle of lovers, angry offspring, former spouses, a bigamist, swindlers, the mob, an oddball inventor and a few other picaresque characters, or just enjoy the fun personalities.

If you do the latter, front and center will be Nick and Nora. This is a married couple that likes each other, but they also have fun ribbing each other. Nora also loves Nick's Runyonesque circle, a far cry from the social registry world, we assume, she grew up in.

Gangsters, gamblers, gunmols, "speaks," gold diggers, "joints," bounders, "flatfoots," police interrogations and more are all a new circus that Nora looks at with amazement, but without condescension.

Nick equally appreciates that his well-bred wife has a taste for the "colorful" side of life. When the ribbing gets going, she gives as good as she gets. This is a couple in love who doesn't make you want to puke; instead, you want to hang out with them.

It helps that, with Nora's money, they live a very comfortable lifestyle of doormen, Pullman coaches, taxicabs, penthouses, fine attire and, of course, cocktails at all hours, especially since their regular schedule has them waking at midday and going to bed at dawn.

The narrative itself is an equal mix of mystery and fun. Nick and Nora become part of the investigation, but it has a lighthearted romp feel as, with their odd assortment of friends and hanger-oners, they get into harmless and not-harmless scrapes along the way.

The movie and book are both good, but the movie gets the nod. The book doesn't have enough descriptions of the settings, milieu and New York itself to make it come as alive as it does on screen. In the book, it sometimes feels like the story is just "floating" somewhere.

Hammett describes something once in his novel and then is done describing that place or person forever. It asks a lot of the reader to carry all that in his/her head throughout the story, especially as the reader is busy trying to untangle a complex mystery.

Throughout the movie, though, you see Nick and Nora, dressed to the nines, going to atmosphere-rich nightclubs, dives, murder scenes and elsewhere as they interact with Nick's motley collection of "associates."

With on-screen Nick and Nora shooting each other telling looks, while Nora, played wonderfully by Myrna Loy, occasionally wrinkles her cute nose, the movie provides a visual engagement that Hammett's terse descriptions can't match.

The Thin Man story is fun as both a book and movie because Hammett created an irresistible pair of "detectives" who also have one of the best ever fictional marriages. It's just a quirk of media that his literary creation found its fullest expression on the screen and not the page.

View attachment 524384
"The movie and book are both good, but the movie gets the nod." Well-put.
As avid fans of the Powell-Loy film series, the Missus and I decided to read the book. I read it aloud of an evening, and we both found it talky, with a grip-load of people, places, and things to keep track of. My mantra, "the book was better," was deflated by an otherwise fun read.
 
Messages
16,755
Location
New York City
"The movie and book are both good, but the movie gets the nod." Well-put.
As avid fans of the Powell-Loy film series, the Missus and I decided to read the book. I read it aloud of an evening, and we both found it talky, with a grip-load of people, places, and things to keep track of. My mantra, "the book was better," was deflated by an otherwise fun read.

I love that you guys read it out loud; that sounds like a fun way to share a book.
 

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
Messages
1,390
Location
St John's Wood, London UK
Last Christmas got out and about London bookstores for a bit personal shopping and purchased Economics
For Dummies just to refreshen memories of Cambridge and LSE. The paperback edition is authored by somebody
with handle forgot. My new year resolve list included pleasure reading and here it's June alright.
 
Messages
16,755
Location
New York City
9788184305563.jpg

White Banners by Lloyd C. Douglas originally published in 1936


White Banners is an engaging novel that combines a story about a Midwest family's struggles in the early 1900s with a spiritual overlay owing to the family's wise and good-natured housekeeper who preaches an ardent turn-the-other-cheek philosophy.

Father and husband Paul Ward is a professor of literature and a frustrated inventor in his spare time. Marcia, his wife, is overwhelmed by the demands of housekeeping and caring for their three children. The ends of their budget do not meet. The Ward family needs help.

Help arrives one day in the form of Hannah, a middle-aged woman and drifter who lands on their doorstep in a snowstorm. She then all but hires herself as their housekeeper. Hannah's calm and prudent management immediately turns the house around by running it efficiently.

Hannah, though, is much more than a good housekeeper, she has a spiritual quality that allows her to see what people need to do and she helps them to do it. But Hannah isn't operating from instinct, she has a philosophy that even she admits is hard to explain.

It's an extreme version of turn-the-other cheek, but as Hannah explains, the idea is you do it for yourself, not for the person who harmed you. Turning the other cheek, she avers, frees you from effort spent fighting, which allows you to accomplish more over a lifetime.

Effectively, when harmed, you put up the titular white banner - declare defeat - and start over. If someone steals, say, your successful invention, as happens to Paul, Hannah says forget it and invent something superior as you and the world will be better off.

Even though you want to fight back - you want to punch the person who punches you first or hire lawyers to reclaim your stolen patent - you shouldn't as you will accomplish more in life and more for others if you just walk away and accept defeat.

Hannah acknowledges it's a hard philosophy to understand and harder still to practice. We only learn about this outlook as we see the Ward family and Hannah go through life's ups and downs.

Author Lloyd C. Douglas shines at creating characters whose regular-life struggles are engaging. Paying bills, worrying over a sick child, disappointments at work and all the other small and large challenges of life are absorbing dramas in Douglas' hands.

As years pass, we learn about Hannah's complicated background, which includes a divorce and having to give up her baby owing to financial distress. We learn how that led to her unique outlook on life and her arrival at the Ward's doorstep one snowy morning.

White Banners is a long novel that, other than in a few passages, moves quickly as the Ward family and Hannah hold your attention with their ups and downs, loves and losses, and financial setbacks and victories.

When the story progresses to its climax (no spoilers coming), it gets a bit complicated and less believable as Hannah's past and the Ward's present get tangled up with Hannah's pacifist philosophy guiding the way.

Still, White Banners is a rewarding read if you enjoy novels about regular families whose lives are altered by a spiritual change agent.

You'll be asking yourself if Hannah is one of the special people who seems to have been touched from above or if she is just a kind woman with a quirky pacifist philosophy born from her particular life experiences.

For us today, White Banners also serves as time travel to early twentieth century America where we get a chance to see the lifestyle, norms, customs and even technology of that era without any of our modern biases intruding as they do in period novels.


N.B. White Banners was made into a 1938 movie starring Fay Bainter, Claude Rains and Bonita Granville, but the novel's story was both shortened and meaningfully altered to meet the demands of a ninety-minute movie. It's a very good movie, but quite different in many ways from the novel.

My comments on the 1938 movie White Banners here: #30,641
 
Messages
16,755
Location
New York City
81T+YV+JOvL._AC_UF1000,1000_QL80_-2.jpg

The World of Henry Orient by Nora Johnson originally published in 1956


One could read the novel The World of Henry Orient as nothing more than a story about two young, spirited, upper-middle-class thirteen-year-old girls coming of age in 1950s Manhattan, but that would miss author Nora Johnson's keen observations on adulthood and life.

The fun in this one is the two silly, but also insightful-beyond-their-years girls, Marion Gilbert and Valerie Boyd. Boyd, a child prodigy pianist with wealthy globetrotting parents, has been left in another family's care while she attends the progressive Norton Day School for Girls.

There she meets somewhat introverted Gilbert and the two become fast and close friends in the way only kids at that age can. Since these are Manhattan kids who have well-off and liberal parents/guardians, they have an incredible amount of freedom for adventures.

Those adventures include unsupervised bus rides all over the city, plus trips to museums, movies, record stores, etc. They eat in diners and drugstores and stay out alone into the evening. It's a free-spirited kid's picture-postcard ideal of growing up in Manhattan.

After indulging us with the fun details of being teenage girls in the playground of Manhattan, Johnson, knowing just the right details to pick, starts to examine the girls' lives and challenges, where we see it's not all fun and games.

Boyd, despite her nonchalant attitude, is a troubled young girl trying to come to terms with how her high IQ and piano virtuosity makes her different. Her struggles aren't helped by her absentee parents.

Gilbert, being raised by her divorced mom who lives with her "friend" Mrs. Booth - the lesbian angle is only hinted at - has her own "I'm different" and father-abandonment issues.

With two supportive adults at home, though, who provide discipline, while also allowing her to be the kid she wants to be, Gilbert is reasonably well adjusted. Her stable homelife and more-passive personality have her, often, playing wingman to Boyd's adventurous mind.

Their scattershot adventures become a singularly focused one when Boyd develops a crush on Henry Orient, a middle-aged concert pianist the girls see perform at Carnegie Hall. After that, their lives center around investigating Orient's life in a Harriet the Spy way.

Things change, though, when Boyd's parents swoop into town as her mother is an insecure control freak who parents Boyd in bursts of hyperactivity that tosses her daughter mentally and physically all over the place.

The story subtly shifts now as we see that these girls, Boyd, in particular, but Gilbert, too, use their adventures to escape thinking about their insecurities and the failings of their parents that they are now old enough to be aware of.

In a very modern way of thinking, Gilbert, a product of a divorce, at a time when that was a big deal, and of an atypical homelife, is shown as better adjusted than Boyd whose married parents, as we learn, have a distrustful and combative marriage that has scarred Boyd.

Ostensibly a story about two girls playing in Manhattan, The World of Henry Orient is also an insightful look at how hard childhood is, especially for kids who come from "different" homes or simply don't want to fit into the "model" schools and, often, parents want.

Boyd and Gilbert are special girls who are perceptive beyond their years, but they are also real. They might be exceptional kids, but like children in a Muriel Spark's novel, they maintain the essence of childhood.

Johnson wrote a book that works on two levels as you can just enjoy the girls playing in Manhattan, which is a good story by itself. You can also see, though, all the pressure that school, parents, friends and the culture at large put on young girls.

This makes the book dated and not at all dated. While the rarified world of 1950s upper-middle-class girls in Manhattan attending a "progressive" private school is foreign to most of us, the challenges the girls face and their insecurities are nearly universal and timeless.

The World of Henry Orient is a fun, short page-turner that has astute insights into the pressures and insecurities of childhood, especially for smart children from atypical homes who are on the cusp of becoming young women.


N.B. The World of Henry Orient was turned into a 1964 movie of the same name, but the story was changed a bit as it has a greater emphasis on the character of Henry Orient, perhaps because he is played by Peter Sellers. The movie is good; the book is better.
 
Messages
16,755
Location
New York City
41EIUHYBlkL._AC_UF1000,1000_QL80_.jpg

The Young Clementina by D.E. Stevenson, originally published in 1935


D.E. Stevenson wrote engaging romantic English novels from the 1920s to the 1960s that are a bit obvious in their plotting. However, they also capture their time and place well, while creating complex characters that you come to care about.

With Stevenson's good eye for detail, her novels, for us today, are fun page-turners that also serve as little time capsules of England. In The Young Clementina, Stephenson uses the story of a vicar's daughter's bumpy life to capture the between-the-war years in England.

When we meet Charlotte, she's in her early thirties, living in a tiny London flat and working long days in a small private library for a modest salary. Her life, as she describes it, is almost hermit-like, not unhappy, but narrow in scope other than in the books she reads.

Charlotte, the daughter of a vicar, grew up in a pretty parish where she was childhood friends with the heir, Garth, to the nearby manor. They were very close up until Garth went off to fight in WWI, but some life-altering change happened in Garth by the time he returned.

Now cold and aloof toward Charlotte, Garth, in a crushing move for Charlotte, marries Charlotte's younger selfish sister Kitty. Once Charlotte's Dad, the vicar passes, Garth gets Charlotte her modest job in London, but the rift between the two remains.

This brings us back to early middle-aged Charlotte working in obscurity in the library. Garth then shows up one day, now divorced, asking Charlotte to look after his daughter whom he was awarded in the divorce, as he plans to go on a year-long expedition to Africa.

The daughter in question, the titular Clementina, is an introverted child with an almost haunted mien having been raised in a household going through a bitter divorce. Charlotte takes on the monumental task of taking care of Clementina in Garth's absence.

From here, the novel is a story of personal reawakening as Charlotte, now effectively mistress of a large estate, has a big world open up to her versus her insular London world. Aiding her rebirth, Charlotte's efforts to draw Clementina out, perforce, draws Charlotte herself out.

Charlotte, along the way, is also able to unwind the mystery of Garth's WWI's transformation, which involves sisterly betrayal, tremendous misunderstandings, hurt pride, misplaced loyalties and family obligations that distort decisions and perceptions.

It's a good story, but one whose mystery you'll figure out somewhere in the middle. And while the novel is, overall, modern in style, its nineteenth-century Romantic-era view of love, think Charlotte Bronte, is dated even for the 1930s.

What makes the novel enjoyable, despite its flaws, is its ability to place you in the inter-war years in England as seen through the eyes and experiences of several engaging characters.

The Young Clementina isn't great literature, but it is a good story for fans of fiction who read contemporaneous novels to be transported to another time and place free from the biases of modern period novels.
 

Tiki Tom

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,146
Location
Oahu, North Polynesia
Yes, I’m enjoying it. it’s got some of the historic sweep of War and Peace and some of the spiritual insight of Brothers Karamazov. Although, so far BK is deeper in that regard. I enjoyed Hugo’s long digression into a blow-by-blow description of Waterloo, but can see how that might not be for everyone. The writing style is very readable and the characters are compelling. Victor Hugo is definitely a “romantic” writer; sometimes it is a bit melodramatic and some of the plot coincidences are whoppers. But, yes, I’m enjoying it: learning a lot about history, politics, and society in post-Napoleonic France. Also the themes of good and evil and redemption are universal. I can understand why Les Mis is included in many lists of the Best Books Ever Written.
 
Last edited:

Tiki Tom

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,146
Location
Oahu, North Polynesia
I’m finding Marius annoying at the moment. What a nitwit. He has fallen absurdly in love with Cosette, and he hasn’t even said one word to her yet. I guess that in the 1830s, matters of the heart were handled differently if you were of a certain class. Hopefully Marius will become more impressive once the revolution of 1832 starts. Thank goodness for Google. I had to do some quick research to get the background on that particular dust up. Victor Hugo is also very specific about exactly what streets the action is on in Paris. Periodically I’ll get curious and do a quick Google Maps search. Events are mostly in the Latin Quarter and the Marais. Also learned that the Victor Hugo museum is in the Marais in a house where he used to live. Maybe next time. In the future, I’d definitely be up for reading a VH biography. That guy was a bigger than life character; both hero and rake. Son of one of Napoleon’s generals, accomplished Statesman and reformer —lived in exile for many years—, as well as a celebrated poet, dramatist, and novelist. In his private life, he essentially had two households; one with his wife and kids, and one with his decades-long mistress. Not to mention his many affairs on the side. I guess that’s how French aristocrats lived in those days! Ironically, women’s rights was one of his many causes. Anyway, very interesting guy.
 
Last edited:

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
Messages
1,390
Location
St John's Wood, London UK
Tik, when Hugo died all the ladies of the town in Paris took the day and nght off in honour of his swordsmanship.
Swash and buckle and r---for romantic. There are lesson to learn, true wisdom of the heart in Hunchback.
Given his libido and evident lechery the book and Quasimodo feature extreme irony seldom found in literature,
or perhaps not. Q's humility and overall deportment underlies his unrequited love for Esmerelda. I cannot recommend
him enough.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
106,696
Messages
3,019,513
Members
52,282
Latest member
joeydavies
Top