Friday, 22 August 2014

Giordano Bruno by Alois Riehl / Anne Of Green Gables by L M Montgomery / Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Giordano Bruno: In Memoriam of the 17th February 1600 by Alois Riehl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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This potted biography of the philosopher Giordano Bruno is from 1905 and was the ForgottenBooks book of the day some weeks ago. At just 100 pages, it is a swift read, giving an outline of Bruno's together with an overview of his remarkably accurate insights into the make-up of the universe.

Bruno has turned up in two historical fiction novels - Name Of The Rose and Prophecy - I read last year so this short book helped to fill in factual details for me. I think I now understand the main gist of his discoveries too. The writing is quite formal and old-fashioned, but once I got into its flow, the book was an interesting read and I was amazed at the modernity of the ideas being discussed during the time of Elizabeth!

The great shame is the fear with which Bruno's ideas were widely greeted and the religious intolerance that killed him. What other ground breaking theories might he have developed if allowed to live his full lifetime?

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Books by Alois Riehl / Biographies / Books from Austria


Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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I know I read Anne of Green Gables as a child, but I can’t remember now how I felt about the book at the time. I am sure I must at least have enjoyed discovering so many long words! Revisiting the tale now, thanks to AudioSYNC, I found it a thoroughly enjoyable listen and this Post Hypnotic Press version benefits from the excellent narration skills of Colleen Winton.

Orphan Anne is delightfully infuriating and I also love Rachel Lind whose immense self-belief reminded me of Miss Mapp. We meet many Avonlea characters, all convincingly real people, and the clever portrayal of the changing seasons as Anne grows up makes it easy to picture how life must have been within the community. I do think the story loses some of its spark once Anne reaches Queens. I missed the interplay between her and the Cuthberts and that whole year seemed to go by too fast with hardly any of the detail that makes the earlier chapters so fascinating.

Much like Black Beauty, which I also not so long ago revisited, the writing contains an overwhelming amount of moralising and bold statements about correct behaviour. I suppose, reading some thirty years ago, I would have been so used to being told what to do day to day that this would have seemed normal. However reading as an adult, I was surprised at the sheer volume of rigid demands. I had not remembered Anne Of Green Gables being such a bossy book!

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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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I enjoyed Code Name Verity far more than I expected too and have even been eagerly anticipating my commutes TO work as much as those from, just so I could listen to the next 45 minutes of the story.

I was a little uncertain when the story switches viewpoints in the middle as I felt it had come to a natural close. However, within a few minutes we were swooping off again, surely much like being in Dympna's Puss Moth! The characters are great and brilliantly narrated in the Bolinda audio version I heard - thanks to AudioSYNC yet again. I loved the twisting plot which has its very dark moments, but is a joy as it begins to unravel, and Elizabeth Wein does a great job of making her locations both real and atmospheric. At the end, Elizabeth herself talks briefly about her inspirations and research and, believe me, that research shows through in the authenticity of her tale.

Code Name Verity is feminist historical fiction that manages to entertain and inform without preaching or being dry. Highly recommended to younger and older adult listeners/readers.

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