Story # 6, The Big Book of Classic Fantasy

I arrived in Genoa. I trod the pavement of my ancestral palace. My proud step was no interpreter of my heart, for I deeply felt that, though surrounded by every luxury, I was a beggar . . . We kept nightly orgies in Palazzo Carega. To sleepless, riotous nights, followed listless, supine mornings.

Transformation, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797 – 1851)

This is one Mary Shelley story self is not familiar with. Interesting that she chose to write it from a man’s point of view (Oh wait, isn’t Frankenstein also written from a man’s point of view? It is! So are all Shelley’s stories written from a man’s point of view? What’s up with that?)

This is an extremely long story. Self has been reading it the whole day, and she’s still not done.

Oh, hello, what have we here? The MC encounters a dwarf squatting on top of a treasure chest, on a wild and lonely stretch of beach. All the dwarf wants is the loan of the MC’s “fit and handsome” form for three days. Then he will grant the MC his dearest wish (which is to abduct his fiancée and murder her father?)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Midnight Library, p. 91

London. Canary Wharf. About twenty storeys up.

The memories. Oh, the memories.

Canary Wharf is a fascinating place, a different London. Self’s pictures are from her last trip to London, November 2019:

Summer Reading: July

During the month of July, self read seven books.

The seventh is The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig, which she began yesterday (Enjoying it hugely. Has Bridget Jones Diary feelz, at least the opening pages do, but darker)

She read two self-help psychology books, two histories (Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II, by Keith Lowe, and The Reason Why, by Cecil Woodham-Smith, about the mistakes that led to the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava), a murder mystery (The Thursday Murder Club, by Richard Osman, which she hugely enjoyed), and her second Elizabeth Kolbert: Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future.

Onward!

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

The Reason Why, pp. 183 – 184

Under terrific fire — forty guns were trained on the river, and the bullets whipped the surface of the water into a bloody foam — the first British troops began to struggle across the Alma, the men so parched with thirst that even at this moment they stopped to drink. Everything was confusion: the advance on the two-mile front was obscured by dense clouds of smoke, the Russians had fired a village on the British left after stuffing it with straw, and on the slopes before the Great Redoubt piles of brushwood were set alight. Men could not see each other, could not see their officers . . . It seemed impossible that the slender, straggling line could survive — huge columns of Russian infantry raked it with fire, heavy guns in the Great Redoubt poured round shot, grape, and canister into it at a distance of a few hundred yards. Again and again large gaps were torn in the line, the slopes became littered with bodies and sloppy with blood, but the survivors closed up and pressed on, their officers urging, swearing, yelling like demons.

Oh, good job, Cecil Woodham-Smith. The battle is so vividly described that self almost felt sure you were a man.

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

The Incredible Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava

We are not there yet, dear blog readers.

In fact, up to this point in The Reason Why — self is at p. 142, a little over halfway — self has read pages and pages about the English class sytem and the Irish potato famine, but precious little about battles.

She read the backstory of stupid Lord Brudenelle. And now is reading the backstory of (marginally less stupid) Lord Lucan.

. . . he was leading his staff “a terrible life,” rising every morning at four, never pausing for a moment during the day or allowing anyone else to pause. Kinglake, who accompanied the Army, found it impossible to believe that “this tall, lithe, slender, young-looking officer was fifty-four years of age. He enjoyed perfect health, saw like a hawk, and pursued his duties as commander with a fierce, tearing energy and a dramatic intensity rare among English men. When issuing orders, his face would all at once light up with a glittering, panther-like aspect, resulting from the sudden fire of the eyes, and the sudden disclosure of the teeth, white, even and clenched. Orders poured from him in a stream; no detail was too small to escape his all-seeing eye, no trifle too insignificant to receive his meticulous attention.

The Reason Why, by Cecil Woodham-Smith

Skibbereen During the Potato Famine

  • When the Duke of Wellington visited Skibbereen. . . he discovered “six famished and ghastly skeletons, to all appearances dead, huddled in a corner, their sole covering what seemed to be a ragged horse cloth, and their wretched legs hanging about, naked above the knees. I approached in horror and found by a low moaning that they were alive, they were in fever — four children, a woman and what had once been a man . . . In a few minutes I was surrounded by at least 200 of such phantoms, such frightful spectres as no words can describe. By far the greater number were delirious either from famine or fever . . . Within 500 yards of the Calvary Station at Skibbereen, the dispensary doctor found seven wretches lying, unable to move, under the same cloak — one had been dead many hours, but the others were unable to move, either themselves or the corpse.” — p. 112, The Reason Why

Question of the Day

How do the pensioners in The Thursday Murder Club know about the Dark Web when self only heard about it a month ago?

She’s on p. 181.

Also, it turns out, the DCI likes Oasis. OASIS.

Normally, she would just barrel through to the end (especially as it’s getting pretty exciting), but today has had all sorts of appointments, and she’s meeting someone for dinner — DINNER! — at the Beach Chalet. Her cousin from Manila, who’s only here for a few days.

Stay cool (it’s hard, that sun’s like a laser), dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Seducing the DCI

Detective Chief Inspector Chris Hudson is not a bad man. He opens doors for his (female) partner and doesn’t act like he expects to be thanked for it. But he tried to ignore the four octogenarian pensioners of the Thursday Murders Club, and they punished him by giving his partner a couch all to herself — a couch big enough for her to sit with legs folded up beneath her! — while he has to sit on a couch big enough for “two and a half”, a pensioner boxing him in on either side while they pepper him with questions about an ongoing investigation.

“So you do have a suspect? How wonderful. What do you make of the coffee and walnut?” says Joyce.

Chris lifts a slice of coffee and walnut cake to his mouth and takes a bite. Also better than M&S. Joyce, you wizard. Also, it was a well-known fact that there were no calories in homemade cakes.

The Thursday Murder Club, p. 108

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Sentence of the Day! Definitely, the Sentence of the Day

  • It brought back all the things she loved about South London: murder, drugs, someone who carried off a “no comment” with a bit of panache. — The Thursday Murder Club, p. 90

Early Warning System

So every day Elizabeth opens her diary to a date two weeks ahead and writes herself a question. And every day she answers a question she set herself two weeks ago.

The Thursday Murder Club, p. 87

Dearest Mum had her own strategy: she had a huge calendar, and different colored marking pens. Gradually, self noticed that she began spending more and more time poring over it. Could have been as far back as 15 years ago. That must have been when she was just in her late 60s.

Dearest Mum came to visit self in California and started talking about this wonderful restaurant in Half Moon Bay called Gibraltar, a place she said she had just discovered. Self was quiet. Dearest Mum looked over. “What? I’ve told you this story before,” she said, looking for the first time in her life very unnerved.

“No. I was the one who took you to that restaurant. A friend in Half Moon Bay told me about it.”

So, the dementia started a long time ago. Could even have been as far back as 20 years ago. But Dearest Mum had this habit of being very gay and charming. If anyone noticed, they didn’t say a word.

Self is hugely enjoying The Thursday Murder Club.

Most of the mysteries she has read this year have been ace:

  • Find You First, by Linwood Barclay
  • One Fatal Flaw, by Anne Perry
  • All the Devils are Here, by Louise Penny
  • Eddie’s Boy, by Thomas Perry

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

« Older entries Newer entries »

The life of B

Mainly through the lens of a Nikon

myguiltypleasures

welcome to my past, present and future mixed with whatever pops up right now

Iain Kelly

Fiction Writing

John's Space .....

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost

nancy merrill photography

capturing memories one moment at a time

Rantings Of A Third Kind

The Blog about everything and nothing and it's all done in the best possible taste!

Sauce Box

Never get lost in the Sauce

GK Dutta

Be One... Make One...

Cee's Photo Challenges

Teaching the art of composition for photography.

Fashion Not Fear

Fueling fearlessness through style and inspiration.

Wanderlust and Wonderment

My writing and photo journey of inspiration and discovery

transcribingmemory

Decades of her words.

John Oliver Mason

Observations about my life and the world around me.

InMyDirection

fiction, short story, writing, creative content

Insanity at its best!

Yousuf Bawany's Blog

lita doolan productions

Any old world uncovered by new writing

unbolt me

the literary asylum

CSP Archives

Archive of the CSP

The 100 Greatest Books Challenge

A journey from one end of the bookshelf to the other