A Whole Life

The Dolomites - near selva

Pandemic Travels From My Sofa: Walking in the Mountains of Italy, Switzerland and Austria,

Walking is the thing that’s helped keep me sane – so far – throughout the pandemic. That and blogging with its virtual community, still there when I can’t see my other friends. I’ve resisted using the term ‘lockdown’ because, for me, that would have meant the end of the permitted daily exercise outside the house …

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Five Novellas I’ve Read

I’m sure there’s going to be more than one of these posts, particularly  given Madame Bibliophile Recommends’ novella a day back in May 2018 , then this year’s selection lengthened my tbr list. The first task is to define a novella, something which varies from reader to reader, but for the purposes of this post …

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Madame Bovary of the Suburbs by Sophie Divry (transl. Alison Anderson): A Flaubert homage

It’s been a very long time since I read Flaubert’s tale of a doctor’s wife, bored to tears by provincial life and seeking diversion in adultery, but not so long since I read Sophie Divry’s slightly eccentric debut, The Library of Unrequited Love which I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s always a risky business when an author …

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Books of the Year 2016: Part Four

This final books of the year post leapfrogs from August to October. Not sure what happened in September but I suspect it may have something to do with riding the Central European railways for several weeks. October’s reading made up for it starting with Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth, to which I had been looking forward a …

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The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler (transl. Charlotte Collins): Dark days in Vienna

It’s a both a joy and a worry when a second novel appears on the horizon following one quite so spectacularly good as Robert Seethaler’s A Whole Life. Will it measure up or be a disappointment? What I hadn’t considered was that The Tobacconist would exceed my expectations. Very much darker than the A Whole …

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Wilful Disregard by Lena Andersson (transl. Sarah Death): None so blind as those who will not see

I already had Lena Andersson’s Wilful Disregard in my sights but when Charlotte Collins, translator of the excellent A Whole Life, left a comment praising it to the skies on my January paperback preview it zoomed up my list. She called it ‘the cleverest dissection of misguided obsession that I’ve ever read’, a spot on …

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A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler (transl. Charlotte Collins): Being greater that its parts

There’s something very attractive about a slim novel which encapsulates the life of an ordinary person, someone whose life might well be judged narrow by those who stride across the world’s stage. Mary Costello’s very fine Academy Street springs to mind – I’m still trying to work out why it failed to appear on the …

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