Scènes de la Vie Americaine (en Paris) – Victoria Leigh Bennett

“Paris was glorious in the summer mornings! The air was as fresh as a grackle’s wing…”

In Scènes de la Vie Americaine (en Paris), Victoria Leigh Bennett takes us back to her teenage years, as a first trip abroad opens her eyes to the possibilities of the French metropolis, and of the first buds of romance. This playful, tender memoir shows us the wonder of the city of love seen through fresh eyes. It is ripe with youthful adventure, and as bitter-sweet as a coffee and croissant.”

Scènes de la Vie Americaine (en Paris) is a playful riff off of Honoré de Balzac‘s work Scènes de la Vie Parisienne, and sets the mood for a thoughtful memoir of youthful experiences abroad in the French capital.  A city that has inspired so much literature, now has another view, which is a pleasantly nostalgic one.

It is difficult to talk too much about the book without giving away spoilers, so please forgive me if I am somewhat vague on the content and don’t expand on the blurb too much hereafter.

The reader is treated to three vignettes which give a wonderful sense of not only place and time, but also of self. Vicki’s introspective reminiscences make for a wonderful read and not only brings out the misty-eyed ememberance of travels in past days but also a yearning for more of her words. Continue reading “Scènes de la Vie Americaine (en Paris) – Victoria Leigh Bennett”

What the…?

Being given some cash for my birthday (last December, this was) my eyes lit up at all the infinite options of what to spend it on.  It just so happened we had decided to take a Christmas Eve jaunt to Newstead Abbey, home of Lord Byron, so we were guaranteed a book section in the gift shop.

From previous visits I knew all the Wordsworth classics would be £2.50 so I blew some of the money on the below books, completely ignoring Byron in favour of a massive chunk of Charles Dickens, on a whim.

Fancy arrangement and photograph done by Crissy as my photos have a long history of looking awful.

As I was sorting which ones I wanted, it called to mind that episode of Doctor Who, where they meet Dickens and he ends up exclaiming, ‘What the Shakespeare!’, ending all the speculation on what people used to say before the well known phrase, ‘what the dickens?’.

I did get more books at a later date – and by other authors – but will leave that for the next post as I haven’t gotten around to badgering the wife to take an arty photo yet.

BadBookthief, Good Youtube Channel

It is rare that I venture into Booktube, mainly because it seems – at least on the surface – obsessed with YA, reading books as fast as possible – which often doesn’t help the actual review – and having pristine matching sets of books behind the vlogger.

Thankfully there are those breaking from the norm, and this particualar lady is  also a fellow blogger who you will hopefully be familiar with. Asha over at badbookthief is back with an update to her youtube channel which offers a catch up, insight into the life of, and also a chance to vote for an upcoming book review.

If you have time, please show your support as Asha puts lots of time into the videos and they are a tonic from other Youtubers, and also supporting smaller channels helps send a message that viewers don’t want to watch the inane stuff that is so achingly dull yet still bewilderingly popular with the watching masses.

There are also a number of other videos to check out, with book reviews and carefully selected backgrounds to mirror the feel of the book in question, which are well worth the watch.

Bookending (the left one)

As I am always slightly behind with my posting schedule – and I was out the other week in a bookshop for the first time – it makes sense to mention the last haul from October before I mention that one.

There is a wonderful OXFAM shop devoted to books in Belper, if ever you are that way on in Derbyshire it’s worth checking out.  I haven’t come away disappointed yet, except for how this photo turned out but I have no time to take a new one.

The quality of the authors speaks for itself, any quibbles with that statement, please let me know.  Having finished La Bête Humaine already, with a review in the process, my quest continues with this and Nana to read all twenty books in the Rougon-Macquart series.

I picked up Márquez because it’s Márquez and I’ve gone into numerous reviews of his quality works, with a few more to come.  I’ve read most of his output so anything outstanding is really a must. Continue reading “Bookending (the left one)”

Channel Islands Water-Colours – Henry B. Wimbush

Recently I decided that I needed to know more about the Channel Islands, why?  Why not, is my default answer and there are probably few better reasons than that.  Having since hunted down a couple of books – as well as finding some obscure titles about other subjects in the process, more of which in the future – this is the first of two books I have to share with you.

Rather than concentrating on the stories and histories thereof first, this offering is a simply a series of watercolour scenes from the islands.  These are mainly from Jersey and Guernsey, as well as a token one each from both Alderney and Sark.

Strangely the cover doesn’t really give the inquisitive viewer any clue to the quality or style of the work, so throwing myself into the subjective world of art, I couldn’t help but be taken by this collection. Not only does it inspire travel with its attention to nature, but it also adds in a touch of the human encroachment and how this can be pleasant but also less palatable.

There is much to appreciate with these watercolours, whether it be a ferocious sea, a peaceful scene of boats around a harbour, or the impressive towering cliffs that adorn a few of the pieces.  The sea features in all of the photos, which makes sense for the subject of islands but the scope for the interiors now interests me and leaves me seeking art that is more inward looking. Continue reading “Channel Islands Water-Colours – Henry B. Wimbush”

Circus Bewitchery

It’s always enjoyable when, on occasion, reading a book can recall other books and times since past.  This afternoon I’ve been getting close to the finale of Something Wicked This Way Comes, which I stopped my race to the conclusion specially to write this.

The sun is shining here, and this together with the carnival setting, took me back to a time in 2016, when I spent some time, with Tom and fellow blogger Morgan, in which we wandered around Boston and stared at things.

This particular time we headed out to Salem by boat, appreciating the planes coming into land as they passed over, the island where Shutter Island was filmed, and then passed into the sometimes creepy, sometimes tacky Salem.

At one point, we three sat on the park for a bit of a rest.  The sun – coincidentally the same one as today –  was shining down on us, Tom had fallen asleep in the faintly sinister way that some people have of sleeping with their eyes partially open, and I was engaged in The Book of Speculation, picked up, speculatively enough from the Barnes & Noble near the hostel. Continue reading “Circus Bewitchery”

In Which Gods, Hairy Feet, Mortality, The Art of Queueing, and Vampires Are Alluded

We love mountains and hiking in our house,   and in the days when we can’t do much more than potter around the local field, we miss those adventures the most. It was this yearning which drove us to discover new perspectives and stunning scenery via YouTube.

Whilst searching YT, I began reminiscing about the wonderful book, Mountains of the Mind, which dealt with so many facets of mountains from art, geology, and exploration. I also remembered the mountain scenes from books such as, The Hobbit, Dracula, and James Hilton’s Lost Horizon.

Somewhat disconcertingly Crissy was telling me how she would love to end her days on Everest, which given the queues for the top in recent years is a distinct possibility. Slightly more worryingly was her insistence that I join her in this endeavour of finality were her dream of going there ever to become a reality.

This short documentary that we found, shared below, is beautifully filmed, perfectly capturing the epic panoramas, whilst delving onto the lives of the Sherpas, porters, and their families, those so often forgotten but who are the real climbers, teachers and pack carriers.

The harshness of their way of life, and that of their families left at home makes for powerful viewing, the appalling risk of the work done through necessity –  and the whims of foreign climbers – as well as their need to survive and make a better life for their children, is extremely impactful.

The mountains of the Himalayas may overshadow its inhabitants, but it is important to be reminded how much is given by those whose relationship with the mountain is more akin to that of deity and worshipper, than the I’ll climb it ‘because its there’ attitude of so many abroad. This is well worth its fifteen minute runtime.

Less Thrilla, More Manila

This is not the post I had in mind for today, but it is timely and as many of you have asked after our little family and about keeping safe (as there is some virus hanging about or something), so I thought I would just let you know that we are all fine and still planning on heading back to the Philippines in April.

I took this at a posh do, last year, happy to clock the football stadium for a future visit.

However, yesterday it was announced by the Filipino government that Manila will be locked down from 15th March to the 14th April, severely restricting travel in and out of the capital by land, sea and air.

Thankfully a friend of ours has kindly offered to put us up when we land, so although we will miss the Easter family get together, we will be able to avoid what I expect will be sky rocketing hotel prices. Continue reading “Less Thrilla, More Manila”

Changing Places

On Sunday, we took the last-minute decision to put off our imminent return to the Philippines. The news from South East Asia was all about the Corona virus being rife nearby, and a baby with little immune system made it easy to delay until the beginning of April.

A death in the Philippines coupled with a government that had, until then, refused to shut the border to mainland China, Macau, and Hong Kong, due to ‘diplomacy’ issues was also deeply concerning.  Since we changed the tickets this has thankfully been rectified but it remains a worrying time for all over there.

We still took our planned trip to London to do a bit of exploring.  It was good to visit a new place, although London doesn’t interest me particularly, it is Instagram heaven for Filipinos.  It was enjoyable seeing new scenery and and eye opening to compare Londoners to dwellers from other cities. Continue reading “Changing Places”

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