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HORAK (Zug, Switzerland)
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The Prisoner of Zenda (Penguin Popular Classics)
The Prisoner of Zenda (Penguin Popular Classics)
by Anthony Hope
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic adventure story, 27 Jan 2008
Wealthy and young Rudolph Rassendyll visits Ruritania looking for adventure and amusement and he is suddenly involved in action beyond his wildest dreams. Indeed Rassendyll is the image of the young king, whom Black Michael plans to destroy unless a daring deception can rescue him...
The novel is very well read by Andy Minter for librivox.org


The Wind in the Willows (Penguin Popular Classics)
The Wind in the Willows (Penguin Popular Classics)
by Kenneth Grahame
Edition: Paperback

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great classic, 27 Jan 2008
Mr. Toad, Ratty, Mr. Badger, and Mole are among the many creatures and characters who inhabit Grahame's version of Victorian era England. He weaves their riverbank life and many adventures in magical yet universally appealing style. A great literary classic who will appeal to children and adults alike.
Adrian Praetzellis offers an excellent reading of the novel for librivox.org


A Closed Eye (Vintage Contemporaries)
A Closed Eye (Vintage Contemporaries)
by Anita Brookner
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sharp portrait of loneliness, 27 Jan 2008
Harriet Lytton is a nave and undemanding woman who expects very little of life and that is what she receives. Married to a respectable man old enough to be her father, Harriet's only taste for passion comes when she meets television journalist Jack Peckham, the unruly and attractive husband of her friend Tessa.
Tessa and Harriet have for many years been bound together by their childhood friendship and the imposed alliance of their two daughters, Imogen and Lizzie. But events conspire to shatter the gentle rhythm of Harriet's settled life. Sadly constrained by her own cautious decisions, she faces the cruellest losses of all: those of hope and desire.
An altogether convincing portrait of failed love and solitude, reminiscent of so many of Anita Brookner's protagonists.


Look at Me
Look at Me
by Anita Brookner
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sharp and moving novel, 27 Jan 2008
This review is from: Look at Me (Paperback)
The novel tells in dramatic detail how Nick and Alix Fraser casually break the heart of Frances Hinton, a well-behaved and observant young woman who works in the reference library of a medical research laboratory dedicated to the study of problems of human behaviour and who longs, in her subdued way, for love. She is an orderly young woman and Spartan in her habits. If she suffers loneliness it is because she has settled for the harsh habit of dealing with all matters by herself.
And soon Frances is disappointed in love. "I knew about love and its traps ... I never speak of it" and turns to writing as a form of therapy and escape, as a way to reorder her world. She writes when she feels swamped in her solitude and hidden by it, physically obscured by it and rendered invisible. Writing is her way of piping up, of reminding people that she is here. We may well guess how much of her own personality the author put in her heroine's character.
An altogether convincing portrait of failed love and solitude, reminiscent of so many of Anita Brookner's protagonists.


The Architecture of Happiness
The Architecture of Happiness
by Alain de Botton
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The author reflects on architecture, 13 Jan 2008
Considering the significance of architecture, the author remarks that beautiful houses falter as guarantors of happiness and can also be accused of failing to improve the characters of those who live in them and proceeds by explaining why this is so. Karl Friedrich Schinkel for example stated that to turn something useful, practical, and functional into something beautiful is the architect's duty. Architecture should thus be the decoration of construction as distinguished from mere building. The architects of the Modernist movement, like all their predecessors, wanted their houses to speak and express emotions. Indeed buildings speak. They speak of democracy or aristocracy, openness or arrogance, welcome or threat, sympathy for the future or a hankering for the past.
Interestingly enough what we search for in a work of architecture is not so far from what we search for in a friend because the objects we describe as beautiful art versions of the people we love. The buildings we admire are those which extol values we think are worthwhile: through their materials, shapes and colours they express qualities such as friendliness, kindness, subtlety, strength and intelligence. As Stendhal wrote, "Beauty is the promise of happiness."
We are vulnerable to what the spaces we inhabit are saying. In a drab hotel room our optimism and sense of purpose are liable to drain away. We look to our buildings to hold us, like a kind of psychological mould, to a helpful vision of ourselves. We need a home in the psychological sense as much as we need a home in the physical sense: to compensate for vulnerability, we need a refuge.
We may feel joy at the architectural perfection we see before us and at the same time melancholy at an awareness of how seldom we are sufficiently blessed to encounter anything of its kind. And sadness is conducive to receptivity: our downhearted moments provide architecture and art with their best openings because it is at such times that our hunger for their ideal qualities is at its height.
Such thoughts and many other are contained in this study of architecture and make for a valuable and interesting read.


The Days of Abandonment
The Days of Abandonment
by Elena Ferrante
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.91

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A harrowing tale of dementia, 13 Jan 2008
"The Days of Abandonment" begins with Mario walking out on Olga, his wife of fifteen years, and their two children. It's an act which devastates Olga, who narrates this account of her 'days of abandonment.' At first the absurdity of the situation is something to preoccupy her, the question of 'Why?' It's not the first time that Mario has been tempted to leave Olga but this time there is another woman, and it's not quite as out of nowhere as she had first thought.
"The Days of Abandonment" is a detailed, personal account of Olga's now shattered life. Her mind wanders, she snaps at her children and at the people she encounters and her life becomes a mess.
The author uses a number of devices, such as the difficulty of establishing communication but the story is presented convincingly: it reads as thoroughly authentic. "The Days of Abandonment" is harrowing because Olga is not a very good mother, she does not act very nicely to almost anyone she deals with. In particular, the ups and downs Olga experiences show that the author has a sound knowledge of the human psyche.


The Confidential Agent: An Entertainment (Vintage Classics)
The Confidential Agent: An Entertainment (Vintage Classics)
by Graham Greene
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.20

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A highbrow thriller and classic Greene, 13 Jan 2008
Here is what the author says about his novel:
"`The Confidential Agent' was written in six weeks in 1938 after my return from Mexico. The Spanish Civil War furnished the background...I was struggling then through `The Power and the Glory', but there was no money in the book as far as I could foresee. Certainly my wife and two children would not be able to live on one unsaleable book...so I determined to write another "entertainment" as quickly as possible in the mornings, while I ground on slowly with `The Power and the Glory' in the afternoons.
The opening scene between two rival agents on the cross-channel steamer--I called them D. and L. because I did not wish to localize their conflict--was all I had in mind, and a certain vague ambition to create something legendary out of a contemporary thriller: the hunted man who becomes in turn the hunter, the peaceful man who turns at bay, the man who has learned to love justice by suffering injustice. But what the legend was to be about in modern terms I had no idea.
I fell back for the first and last time in my life on Benzedrine. For six weeks I started each day with a tablet, and renewed the dose at midday. Each day I sat down to work with no idea of what turn the plot might take and each morning I wrote, with the automatism of a planchette, two thousand words instead of my usual stint of five hundred words. In the afternoons `The Power and the Glory' proceeded towards its end at the same leaden pace, unaffected by the sprightly young thing who was so quickly overtaking it.
`The Confidential Agent' is one of the few books of mine which I have cared to reread--perhaps because it is not really one of mine. It was as though I were ghosting for another man. D., the chivalrous agent and professor of Romance literature, is not really one of my characters, nor is Forbes, born Furtstein, the equally chivalrous lover. The book moved rapidly because I was not struggling with my own technical problems: I was to all intents ghosting a novel by an old writer who was to die a little before the studio in which I had worked was blown out of existence. All I can say as excuse, and in gratitude to an honoured shade, is that `The Confidential Agent' is a better than Ford Madox Ford wrote himself when he attempted the genre in `Vive Le Roy'".
From `Ways of Escape', pp.69-71


Mr Wakefield's Crusade (Abacus Books)
Mr Wakefield's Crusade (Abacus Books)
by Bernice Rubens
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent novel, 13 Jan 2008
Luke Wakefield is a failure. He has been a loser all his life. Even his failure is a failure. One day is queuing at the post office when the man in front of him simply falls dead. Luke decides to pocket the dead man's final epistle and leave the post office. Back at home he discovers that the letter was written by a Sebastian Firbank to his wife Marian Firbank in which he unmistakably states that he killed her. This event takes Luke on his mission to trace Marion's relatives, a long and patient investigation and a search which will in itself enrich his otherwise empty life.
In this entertaining and very well written novel we see a man bewitched by the death of a woman he has never met. His `crusade' to find her body is fuelled by the bleakness of his personal life and takes the form of a bizarre chase leading to an astonishing conclusion and unexpected happiness. Unusual and intriguing. Definitely worth reading.


The Elephant Vanishes
The Elephant Vanishes
by Haruki Murakami
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seventeen original stories, 13 Jan 2008
This review is from: The Elephant Vanishes (Paperback)
There are 17 charming, funny and frequently puzzling short stories in "The Elephant Vanishes". Nearly all bear the author's particular style: a mixture of magical realism, feckless wandering and clean writing, often ending at a blank wall.
The 17 stories, very well translated by Alfred Birnbaum and Jay Rubin, show the author's wide range of reading and interests. The stories are set in Japan but they include references to Allen Ginsberg, Clarence Darrow, Candice Bergen, the "Colonel Bogey" March, Meryl Streep, W. Harper, Robert De Niro, "Anna Karenina," Sly and the Family Stone, Dustin Hoffman, and Katherine Mansfield.
A nice collection of stories which will charm all readers fond of the author's particular literary style.


Enemy Within
Enemy Within
by Paul Adam
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.68

3.0 out of 5 stars A well designed mystery, 16 Dec 2007
This review is from: Enemy Within (Paperback)
Tom Whitehead had never heard of Operation Gold Dust. Why would he? No reason for respected middle-class academic, loving husband and father of two to be aware of an international investigation into internet paedophilia. Until he finds himself at the centre of it. Raided by the police at dawn, and in the full glare of the paparazzi, Tom is hauled away for questioning - about the pornography found on his computer that it was paid for with his credit card and about the overwhelming, conclusive evidence against him. As he is questioned, he discovers that this was no random search, that he has been under investigation for some time. The police acquired his details from the National Criminal Intelligence Service - via the FBI. But why? And how?
An innocent man, Tom needs to know urgently why he has been framed. Because there is something sinister going on - something that threatens to strike at everything he holds dear...
The book provides good entertainment. It is very well read by Daniel Philpott for ISIS Audiobooks.


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