magisterium37 (magisterium37) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 1 & 2: Teleny, and A Murder Most Foul

Book 1: Teleny, or the Reverse of the Medal - by Anonymous (often mistakenly attributed to Oscar Wilde)

This was a fascinating read, to say the least. Initially, my interest was piqued by the possibility it was some long, lost Wilde gem, although it's blatantly obvious that whilst 'Teleny' may have had two or more co-authors, he was certainly not amongst that number. I confess my final opinion on both book and its subject matter to be somewhat divided. Having read it to gain insight, I can say with honesty it did provide that in spades, and the initial half of the story does convey a deep love between Teleny and Camille with such a lyrical prose, I had to put it aside at intervals just to recover.

Then comes the latter half, wherein after a symbolic "marriage" takes place, Teleny brings Camille to some pseudo-bacchanalian orgy, where the only reason, it is explained, they do not take part is because they are still "honeymooning". Implying very strongly the next time around, they would, despite having pledged themselves to one another.

Along those lines is the tragedy of the ending, whereupon, to relieve himself of debts, Teleny sleeps with Camille's own mother. Thereby, what the author shows us directly contradicts that which he has been telling us throughout the story, and unintentionally undermines his own message. In the end, Teleny commits suicide due to Camille's learning of this incident, and whilst it began well, Romeo and Juliet this was not, regardless of the denouement's tragedy.

Nonetheless, this was an interesting and really most insightful book.


Book 2: The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie

Being such a voracious mystery enthusiast, it was high time I rectified having never read Dame Christie's first novel, and our introduction to that Belgian Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot. Admittedly, I have my gripes with Christie's method of storytelling, but here she proved beyond a doubt what a plot she could weave! I actually found this to be stronger than other of her more lauded works.

A veritable puzzle-box of a mystery, this book was crafted with mathematical precision, if, at times, it suffered from stilted characterizations and read not unlike a rough draft. The latter has been my major complaint of Christie - that her work suffers from so much attention to the plot she neglects all other aspects to a fault. But here, the mystery is so convoluted that particular problem becomes more easily overlookable. She pulled the reader along by the nose at every turn and made an art form out of planting red herrings.

She certainly managed to pull the wool over my eyes, and as a seasoned mystery reader who more frequently than not is able to guess the "whodunit", it was wonderful to have been so thoroughly hoodwinked at every turn.

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