December 24th, 2011

book and cup

#125 Ten Days of Christmas - G.B Stern (1950)

Set at Christmas 1946 in a country house. Two sides of a complicated family are gathered for ten days over Christmas. The children: Roddy, Lal, Erica, Terry (a girl) and Clare visiting from America decide to produce a play. They are helped by aspiring theatrical producer Jonathon the 19 year old Son of the local doctor - who's sister Judy is also one of the gang rehearsing the play. The play is to be performed especially for Clare and Lal's uncle Ted, an actor who unable to get away from his commitments any earlier will be arriving the Sunday after Christmas, the day chosen to hold the play. 17 year old Rosalind decides she is too old now to join the children, and so descends to the drawing room instead. The adults meanwhile are comfortably ensconced downstairs, preparing for christmas, and thinking about times gone by.
However in the those few short days - all sorts of things change. Enormous arguments erupt - sparked by a duplicated gift - among the children, and the play begins to seem as if it will never happen. Old wounds are reopened downstairs amongst the adults too again over a seemingly small thing. Then Ted arrives - and gently starts to smooth out some of the hurts just with his presence and enthusiasm.
It is in the minutiae of how people think, act, react and suffer over small invisible hurts, that makes this lovely novel. The characters are faithfully drawn, their resentments and secrets laid bare with brilliant accuracy - was all too believable. It is a rare thing - to discover a well written, deeply charming, Christmas novel, that is not overly sentimental. So glad I chose to read it over the Christmas period. It would certainly be a novel that I can imagine being re-published by Persephone books. I do think those characters would rest nicely between soft dove grey covers.
  • cat63

Book 67 for 2011

Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson. 335 pages
True story of two divers' determination to identify the wreck of a U-Boat found off the New Jersey coast.
This book is very nicely written and gives a marvellous insight into the world of deep wreck diving and its dangers (to the extent that I began to wonder why anybody was mad enough to try it in the first place!) and into the lives of U-Boat crewmen toward the end of World War II. It also delves quite deeply into the lives of the two divers, which is necessary to an extent, to demonstrate the aspects of their characters that made them so determined to identify the U-Boat. Sometimes it seemed as if there was a bit too much biography (interesting though it was) and not quite enough diving, but it was still an immensely interesting book , from which I learned a lot.
Thanks to trishtrash for the recommendation!
  • krinek

46. The Minds of Billy Milligan by Daniel Keyes [2010 list]

Title: The Minds of Billy Milligan
Author: Daniel Keyes
Publisher: Bantam Books
Year: 1981
# of pages: 426
Date read: 8/30/2010
Rating: 3*/5 = good


"Billy Milligan came be anyone he wants to be. . .except himself.

Out of control of his own actions, Billy Milligan was a man tormented by twenty-four distinct personalities battling or supremacy over his body.--a battle which culminated in late 1977 when he awoke in jail, arrested for the kidnap and rape of three women. In a landmark trial, Billy was acquitted of his crimes by reason of insanity caused by multiple personality--the first such court decision in history--bringing to public light the most remarkable and harrowing case of multiple personality ever recorded.

Twenty-four people live inside Billy Milligan.

Philip, a petty criminal, Kevin, who dealt drugs and masterminded a drug store robbery; April, whose only ambition was to kill Billy's stepfather; Adalana, the shy, lonely, affection-starved lesbian who 'used' Billy's body in the rapes which led to his arrest; David, the eight-year-old 'keeper of the pain'; and all the others, including men, women, several children, both boys and girls, and the Teacher, the only one who can put them all together. You will meet each in this often shocking true story. And you will be drawn deeply into the mind of this tortured young man and his splintered, terrifying world." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was an interesting book about someone who learned that he was rarely in charge of his actions. One scene that stuck in my mind was when "Phillip" decided to go to New York and "David" came forward and couldn't carry the weight of the duffel bag.
  • krinek

47. Psi Hunt by Michael Kurland [2010 list]

Title: Psi Hunt
Author: Michael Kurland
Publisher: Berkley
Year: 1980
Date read: 9/1/2010


"Astral Emprise sold metaphysics, mysticism, paranormal phenomena, astrology lessons--and anything else that Believers were willing to spend a dollar on.

Not the kind of operation the U.S. Navy was used to dealing with.

Until the People's Republic of China decided that it could blow up half the United States with five telepathic kids who spent their days watching grade-B war movies in an L.A. theater.

And Lieutenant Junior Grade Robert Burrows was assigned to call their bluff. . ." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a good mix of science fiction and adventure. I liked how Burrows and Friendly bluffed their way into the enemy's headquarters.