I was able to finish another book, yesterday, that being The Templar by P. C. Doherty. I've read a lot of the author's works, and he's generally very good at setting the scene, and good at setting up a mystery, but not as good at defining his characters. In this one, the milieu is well-laid-out, but the mystery is nearly ignored, and the characters are nearly interchangeable. Not horrible, not his best.
Oh, and it's about the First Crusade, and the assault on Jerusalem.
Hard Times by Charles Dickens, 1854, 328 pages.
To sum it all up beforehand, this book was wonderful.
It's the story of Thomas Gradgrind and Josiah Bounderby, both of whom are strong proponents of FACT. If it's not fact, it doesn't matter. Knowing the principal imports and exports and being able to describe a horse in every detail to show a knowledge of equine anatomy is fine; liking flowers and falling in love, and wanting pictures on the wall is most certainly not. The story tells of Thomas Gradgrind's eldest and favourite daughter, who is mired in the despair that such an upbringing engenders, and his marriage to her father's friend, the much-older Josiah Bounderby.
The book is deliciously satiric, and rendered perfectly with human interest and social welfare jostling for first position in the book. Dickens' choice of names, the bleak descriptions he paints, and the underhanded individuals who populate this book make it a fine book and my favourite by Dickens so far.
I have a copy of Bleak House, also by Dickens, on my night stand with the intention of reading it very soon. Right now I am just beginning Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves, which is frightening enough that the introduction gave me goose pimples on my arms. It looks really good, and very odd besides.
Cross-posted to my journal.