Tag Archives: translation

The Dream Room by Marcel Moring

DATE FINISHED: May 24th, 2012

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  Narrated by a 12 year old boy, in a period following WW2, David and his family spend a summer constructing model aeroplanes for their landlord, a toy shop owner.  After hearing stories about his father’s exploits during the war, leading up to how his parents met, the visit of an old friend, Humbert Coe, presents the key to previously unspoken family secrets.

THOUGHTS: This short but poignant novel has the feeling of a fable, Read more of this post

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The Manual of Darkness by Enrique de Heriz

DATE FINISHED: April 9th, 2012

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Victor Losa spends his life living up to his mentor’s accidentally overheard prediction that one day he will be “one hell of a magician”. When he quite suddenly loses his eyesight upon winning a lifetime achievement award Victor must learn to live a much different life than he has known. Victor’s journey is interwoven with the stories of various fictional and historical magicians, followed by the intervention of two very real women.

THOUGHTS:   A game of two halves, the first half of The Manual of Darkness describes the defining moments of Victor’s childhood and beyond: the death of his father, his training and learning curve as a magician, and the history of the magician’s trade via his mentor and substitute father-figure, Galvan. Read more of this post

The Girl from the Chartreuse by Pierre Peju

DATE FINISHED: March 28th, 2012

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  A bookseller driving his van through the crowded streets of a small French town knocks down a young girl whose mother has failed to collect her from school.  While the girl is in a coma, Vollard tells her stories from his immense memory; and Eva’s mother drifts in and out of the hospital, more trapped than ever.  Both must live with their guilt over the child’s situation, and what will happen if & when the child wakes up?

THOUGHTS:  Despite the appealing jacket and the emotionally drama-wrought potential of the synopsis above, this is a very quiet novel, about two adults who are lost in different ways, for different reasons.   Read more of this post

The Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende

DATE FINISHED: September 15th, 2011             

RATED: ***(3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Tete is sold to plantation owner Valmorain when she is a child, as a gift for his new bride.  However as his wife succumbs to illness in the suffocating tropical atmosphere of Saint-Domingue (later Haiti), Valmorain finds additional uses for Tete.  The children she bears & raises for him change the course of both of their lives irrevocably, but Tete waits only for her freedom.  When Valmorain moves to New Orleans to escape the slaves rebellion and danger of Saint-Domingue, Tete’s situation changes again as Valmorain takes a new wife.  But in a new country & a new city, where interactions between the free and slaves, between whites and those of colour are even more complex, Tete and her children have all new challenges and relationships to face.

THOUGHTS:  I was initially taken aback by Allende’s sprawling prose, descriptive and decadent as the tropical climes represented, Read more of this post

No and Me by Delphine de Vigan

DATE FINISHED: August 19th, 2011

RATED: ***

SYNOPSIS:  A schoolgirl with a high IQ and a mother in deep depression, befriends a homeless girl for a school project, but soon finds she is out of her depth.

THOUGHTS:  I think if I had read this book as a teenager I would have loved it.   Read more of this post

Sulphuric Acid by Amelie Nothomb

DATE FINISHED: April 18th, 2011

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS: A large number of people are randomly incarcerated and their lives in a specially created death camp are televised for the viewing public in the latest reality TV project: working all day long, surviving on gruel and stale bread, prisoners are daily condemned to death. Inmate Pannonique captures the imagination of the public and camp alike but does she have the power to put an end to the insane project?

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post