Archives de Tag: books

The Mysterious Affair at Styles – Agatha Christie

The first of her books to include the character of Hercule Poirot, this one is written according to a point of view removed from the investigator, and is reminiscent of ‘Dr. Watson’ from the beginning of the work. Poirot’s introduction is delayed slightly, and the first chapter is eerily constructed. She writes detached from this subject, (p. 43), with « … an emotional lack in the atmosphere. » This character, Hastings, is timid in his portrayal of the story. Hercule is no writer, apparently, ‘mon ami’ – his friend, the story’s author, writes an account of this tale at the request of all involved. Mrs. Christie invests these, her primary subjects, with everything they need to know.

Riddles, proverbial twists, macabre wordplay, this book invokes suspicious execution of words. I thus discovered my supposition: The game is a-foot; or, is the dis-membered in contest? Her will is the matter…

Mrs. Christie is the Queen of mental-lists. As such, I offer my kind acknowledgment to ‘bullets’ of insight. All of this mystery’s symbolic participants are present:

  • the embodiment of science (Dr. Bauerstein)
  • the reporter/journalist, keeping the paparazzi at bay (Hastings)
  • the appearance of mortal doom (Nibs), and the weapon of destruction (Cynthia, as dispensary steward)
  • due process, and affability in the face of crises (Poirot)
  • guilt in absentia (the absent widower)
  • accusation/accusal (Dr. Wilkins)
  • all of the herrings in various hues (Chapter 1, the laying out of involvement)
  • the kindred for want of livelihood (Dorcas, and to a lesser degree, Annie)
  • the prospect (Mrs. Cavendish)
  • the absence of family, the heirs apparent (John, and to a lesser extent, Lawrence)
  • the proceeding (Mr. Wells)
  • the love/friendship which has gone unnoticed, in short, the bereavement borne of neglect (Evie Howard)

Mrs. Christie is abundantly equipped to style her writing with grisly detail. In fact, at times she can be morbidly perverse, as on (p.35), in her depiction of the ‘body’s’ tumultuous ending, which leaves me too cold to re-visit this passage.

She teaches with each work. Each book containing elements of concern for life and lives lived. Always she provides a life lesson, she gives an offering of observance to time, she invests a point of view for dealing with some unfortunate incident, and always she gives answers which create the soul’s composure. Fear is not recognized, deference to the departed is an essential quality in her works.

She enlightens readership with context. Pay attention, in this story, everything you need to know is right here in these two characters. Poirot’s method, recognize what’s important; nothing else exists. There is nothing trivial; everything matters, but not everything is important. He is Belgian, he is cordial, he embellishes. Poirot speaks in proverbs, (p. 89), « Imagination is a good servant, and a bad master. The simplest explanation is always the most likely. » While Hastings, the writer, deals with questions through deduction, (p. 37), « … a flock of wild surmises in my mind. »

Her books captivate playful pretense. She has elements within each she writes. In all there is a lesson; in each there is a day, just one day to divine. And, she is the fair and precious purveyor of loss, that we should accept misfortune is her careful assumption. Style is her gift, it is the reader’s ability.


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« Rebecca » by Daphne du Maurier

This is not Rebecca. This book is Mrs. de Winter.

Written with dreary depressive disposition, Daphne du Maurier is the character’s spirit. She is non-existent in these pages, having no person. She is Mrs. de Winter by name. She is not herself, yet is contented in her role as matron of these grounds, (p. 7), « I am a mine of information on the English countryside. » She commits, « I breathe the air of England as I read, and can face this glittering sky with greater courage. » She writes with depth, density of words and rich, fertile qualities, as if the words are loam. The imagination chills…

She is strong in faith, she writes of Christian values being not of moral but familial. We commit, and as women we are there as family decides: marriage, faith, family, in that order. She is the strength of God’s commitment through bonds of sacrament, (p. 9), « I suppose it is his dependence upon me that has made me bold at last… « . She regards frailty of commitment with compassion, (p, 276), « I wondered how many people there were in the world who suffered, and continued to suffer, because they could not break out from their own web of shyness and reserve, and in their blindness and folly built up a great distorted wall in front of them that hid the truth. » Her writing is heartfelt, her attitudes refined.

With every reading of this novel, I feel that Mrs. du Maurier Browning would be one to sit with, she would be a friend. She has much to say, and elegance in her delivery. Not simply its ‘writer,’ she pours her life into her work. Her thoughts are written with philosophical sophistication, « Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind… « , (p. 6). She then continues storyline, plot, and thesis in artful suspense, flawless and faultless in expression. She writes with ease, it reads with fluency. She guides the gentle reader.

It’s no wonder Rebecca is highly acclaimed. This book is rich with earthy mystery, (p. 111), « … and a richer, older scent as well, the smell of deep moss and bitter earth, the stems of bracken, and the twisted roots of trees. » These words are a novel, a mystery, a story, a film, they are easily seen.

Symbolism, she writes in rooted assurance:

  • walls of red rhododendron proclaiming afterlife (they are larger than the lives around them, they die, they are renewed)
  • bowls of autumn roses seek wakeful cognizance (they are ‘as if’ this life was mine)

Her messages are spooky in their obvious conviction. Her writing is not a question of talent. She has that, and her writing is a fact of her life. What else can she do?

This one is not to be shelved. Read it again if it’s escaped you.

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The Help (a novel)

The premise of this book answers to the dilemma of civilization, which is one that is all too complicated to accomplish without some form of acceptance of all that is, along with a devout dedication to understanding, no matter what the barrier may be.

Characters aside (and there are many), the details come across as a series of very touchy subjects:

– civil rights in the deep south,

– children raised by caregivers, not parents,

– women in the workplace rather than volunteerism (or not);

– unhealthy white attitudes of distinction leading to degradation of family values,

– etc.

It’s a funny book, written in a light-hearted, flippant manner… which is good, except that I was then not prepared for the introduction of the classic and devastating blows delivered through hatred. I felt the author was writing from an ‘idea’ of health and healing, reaching toward a place for personal wellness. For me, though, I felt heartsick on occasion, and that the writing was sugar-coating the issues for dramatic-effect and Hollywood attraction.

Still, it was a worthy-read.

I found it interesting that the author provided levity in the character of Celia Foote. She being the sore thumb of the project, the town floozy in pink sequins. She gives the reader relief from the sympathetic guilt of involvement. Celia is the nod to the little white girl’s dream of the enchanted life. The Cinderella, relieved of burden by the much-sought prince. She delivers the message of moral, that this story is the same. Although the fairy tale may exist, the ugly step-sisters continue to ruin your day.

Skeeter (I woulda stuck with Eugenia, myself), is the other questionably moralistic primary character. She wrote the book on integration, and also on self-control. She seems the guilty conscience of this book’s theoretical viewpoint.

Page 325, « …a special round of applause for the help. » Words that resounded, « help » apparently meaning service, not assistance, at least in this instance.

Help, is the question, not a good answer. Help provides support to the needy, indifference to the wicked. (You should learn something from a book.)

Happy reading!

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Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

Written as a legend, I read this story describing lives interwoven and driven to betterment in better conditions in a better place than this.

The author writes as if she is standing in the space between cultural and educational oppression, and the place from within a life that drives us to succeed or to find ambition. This was written from the point of view of the better life a life could seek, a literal point of view, as if she may be standing in the center watching lives as they might change should opportunity be made an option.

Not realizing the significance of difference within cultures, and more to the point, the culture which this book seems to seek to illuminate, I read this with difficulty. Not difficulty in finding the story, but difficulty in depicting relevant images in my head. One description in which, what I would describe as a main character, Aziz returning to his homeland, drove this concept home for me. He returns after five difficult years, and a treacherous journey, to his family, his wife and aging mother. This characterization for me, would involve overwhelming warmth and thankfulness, and this would be easily written and read if I had been able to picture the nuance of these interpersonal signals. The strangeness was obvious in this one scene, since I could feel the author’s suggestion, but could not grasp the visual sensation at all.

This lead me to an awakening of my own, though I have no ability to draw the emotion which springs from this culture’s adversity, we all suffer similar and basic conditions in this life, as lived on this Earth…

– money

– desire or restraint

– acceptance of a faith, guidance, or direction

– art (the creativity allowed by God)

It was a good book. A quick read. A delicate understanding.

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Inside Coca-Cola

I read this book thinking it would be a learning experience. Reading provides a way to know an author. This is a book written as a tribute to a life’s ambition, and also, it is a work providing world’s history through the eyes of an American icon, as led by one man.

CEO. It’s not a word, it’s a position within a company, and it can mean many things to many people. This culture in America tends to trivialize words, especially those which can be translated or understood in differing ways. CEO, surprisingly, is not one our culture allows to be ‘used,’ effectively creating a realm or figurehead for a company’s guidance. It is a company’s corporate seat of authority. This position is an establishment for a term and gives guidance according to the dictates and philosophies of the one individual at this one point in time.

Neville Isdell, the author, is the Irish-born Rugby enthusiast, and the professional realist. Though empathetic to the plight of the socially indifferent, he sees beyond local issues, creating worlds of hope and encouragement through peaceful work environments for those under his authority, and with a no-nonsense approach to consolidation of bottling services and corporate finance, he guides by example.

« When God created the world, he created Coke number one and Pepsi number two, » and God proclaims destiny.

The author’s stories are broad in scope. Taking lessons away from every encounter, he leaves his career and the details to destiny and divine inspiration. Throughout his career as told through these relationship encounters, he steps into every challenge he is asked to acknowledge. His philosophy seeming to be « who better to take this on » and knowing that others saw his potential, progress was instigated through request, « other people saw more in me than I saw in myself. » Every story, every encounter, becomes a life lesson, « never be frightened by conflict, » and in the hope that one should attempt peaceful reconciliation, « find a good, honest solution that is pragmatic, not bullheaded. » He tells his tales with conviction and inherent pride.

I read this book thinking it would be a learning experience. It was epic.

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Mrs. Dalloway

There are no chapters in this book.

Virginia Woolf writes as if she could stand no interruption until she finished penning the words which had to have a place to fall.

Reading this, the first scenes seem like a dream. As if the author creates the stage through character identification in alternating glances as a waltz through the town, and in which the reader becomes a fly on the wall.

The story then moves to Clarissa Dalloway as the life-force, the living – not asleep, but engaged in the realization of some of her life’s interruptions, speculating upon choices proposed, and decisions she’s made. But, since wishing for better prospects won’t create healthier relationships, she’ll just throw a party and wear her favorite dress. Clarissa Dalloway does not mourne.

The story then flashes back to viewing the world as through a dream, seemingly through the eyes of Virginia, herself. Vague images, as if wandering unobservedly through the township until settling on independent thought through individual character. This particular character, Peter Walsh, Clarissa’s lost love, the other voice of concern and reason, offers insight, as he perceives townspeople, the war, his self-worth by way of class and duty. He begins to imagine his place in this society since returning from the war. He recalls Clarissa’s husband, Richard Dalloway, and Peter bestows confidence, allowing that Richard is a « thorough good sort » (wasted on politics, in Peter’s opinion), and Clarissa is absorbed by her husband’s sense of poetic injustice… Richard believes Shakespeare’s sonnets to be indecent, not worthy of noble discretion since they, in Richard’s opinion, degrade privacy, as if « listening through keyholes » (!)

(Interesting that she weaves attitudes with British class perspectives, makes one wonder what she, herself, thought of Shakespeare.)

Depth of character interest.

This book, Mrs. Dalloway, provides every possibility for a personality to exist.

She writes about suicide, « how does one set about killing oneself » … « uglily, » she decides.

Then, a tirade, she rambles over health and wellness through the vague storyline of Septimus and Lucrezia, with her idea seeming as a Shakespearean respite – the tie to the storyline being a literal bloom, with Lucrezia’s roses as an indication of Clarissa’s talent for decorating the lives she touches. Mrs. Dalloway loves flowers and playing mistress of the house.

« Prophetic Christs and Christesses, » Sir William Bradshaw denounces the weak.

She imagines sanity through the sentiments of Sir William, a notable professor of human nature by way of psychiatric remedy. He promotes well-being as « proportion » and imagines proportion as being a rare combination of « family affection; honour, courage, and a brilliant career. » In the absence of this « divine » proportion, his diagnosis is solitude.

« life with its irreticences… »

She writes with currents of ramifications and lives in these pages. Her storyline washes her point, so that the plot remains in its depths. She describes by aquatic metaphor, her position within this world of high society and observance to class propriety.

Her prose is vaguely reminiscent of insanity. Beautiful, yet disturbingly chaotic, and even more disturbing that it is so easily read and followed by the reader. The story meanders and captivates before capturing credible thought. I found it to be almost frightening in the sense that it feels so much as if you’ve ventured too deeply into a lunatic’s mind.

Reading this book sometimes feels as if you’re watching a train wreck.

That said, it’s a must-read.

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