I got in some interesting reading over the holidays:
Flashman – George MacDonald Fraser
A wild romp of a book features Flashman, a swashbuckling, womanizing, scoundrel in Victorian England’s Army, on assignment to a cantonment in Kabul. A raunchy coward, he bumbles his way miraculously through thick and thin. This is the first of a series. I just started another book in the series (Flashman in the Great Game) where Flashman gets caught up in the middle of the Sepoy Revolt.
The Last Moriarty - Charles Veley
We were at my next-door neighbor’s house for a pre-Holiday soiree and got to talking with this couple who live across the street. The conversation somehow got to Benedict Cumberbatch and the BBC’s Sherlock series.
I’m a big fan of the canon, and recalled a recent A.C. Doyle story I had just downloaded from Project Gutenberg and read on my newly purchased Kindle. The main jist of my observation was about what an a**hole Holmes could be to Watson.
So this couple both start to smile broadly, and it turns out he is a UTC engineer by day, but a fiction writer by night, and a big Doyle fan. He had also recently written (and had published) a Sherlock Holmes ‘continuation’ story which fits into the canon with historical precision.
The Last Moriarty picks up after Reichenbach Falls, when Holmes finally comes out of hiding, and gets involved in an intrigue involving several industrial magnates from America, some Connecticut connections, and even a reference to Farmington’s Miss Porter’s school.
The Noise of Time - Julian Barnes
I’d read Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending after a positive review in the Economist (+ Man Booker Prize winner) and really enjoyed it. I’m also a Dimitri Shostokovich fan, so when I saw this book reviewed, I immediately ordered it and devoured it.
The book starts with Shostakovich in a panic as he has just had his first opera performed (Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District) and the three figures in Stalin’s box seats walk out after the first act (including Stalin). Shostakovich' music is soon after denounced in Pravda.
He proceeds to dress up every night and sit in a chair next to the elevator with his kit and toothbrush, because he expects to be taken away by the secret police at night, and doesn’t want to be embarrassed in front of his wife. A lot of Soviet history mixed in with the musician's life and music.
A Whole Life - R. Seethaler
A tender read about a simple man who lives a simple life in the Austrian Alps, overcoming adversity, and yet persevering. Well written - a sad story but not a bummer.
So Nation - what have you been reading?