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Posts Tagged ‘Somerset Maugham’

August Book Club

Posted by idetest on August 4, 2011

We’re diving back  into the world of fiction


The Painted Veil, Somerset Maugham.

Predictable,  a tad trite and obviously terribly racist. Yet, still tense and wonderfully evocative of a different time.


The Gate of Angels, Penelope Fitzgerald.

Posh English Edwardians being all posh, Englishy and Edwardianesque. One’s ma mere recommended me this lady, she’s witty and wise (Ms. Fitzgerald that is; my mother is only semi-lucid, and chain smokes herself out of consciousness) and draws a rich tapestry of life and all its foibles without being depressing or annoying.


Innocence, Penelope Fitzgerald.

A twofer! This book was even nicer; set in a rapidly changing Florence in postwar Italy, the books follows the love affair and eventual marriage of a young half-English aristocrat (in the historical sense) and an embittered, chip-on-his-shoulder type doctor from the south, and like the previous it’s witty, wise and dances a highwire between depressingly maudlin and pedantic and beautiful in its languid melodrama.


Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol.

Very long, very Russian. And once again I find one of the classics overhyped. A sprawling essay on the different types of humanity one sees in the world.  Or a sanctimonious, arch piece of drivel that mocks and slanders the fine Russian name. Or something. It was long. I’m still recovering.


The Sacred Book of the Werewolf, Victor Pelevin.

A book about a humanoid 5,000 year old fox prostitute who bangs werewolves and spend 300 pages discussing the meaning of life in increasingly confusing philisophical rants. It’s Russian as well, unsurprisingly.



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Book review of the Month Time (Oprah would be proud)

Posted by idetest on June 5, 2011

As I sit here listening to the rain and listening to Lily Allen (huh. My Indie street cred is diminished, you say? What. Ever. Trevor.) after returning from Pirates of The Caribbean 444678.31357 (AKA The One Even Orlando Bloom Thought He Was Too Good For. Orlando Bloom, people!) I’m reminded that all is not lost for humanity.

Dracula, Bram Stoker

Oh, wait. How wrong I was. Remember how back in my last book review I said how much I was looking forward to reading this? Famous last words. This book is SHITE. Avoid it like the plague. In fact it avoid more than the plague. The plague is like a light sniffle that is annoying but not too bad compared to this piece of. Utter. Shite.

Okay, so technically the first fifty-hundred pages aren’t that bad. But then old Van Helsing arrives. Worst literary character ever. His gushing, cloying, OTT dialogue makes you want to stick razorblades on your eyes and drink a vat of acid. He irritated the living shit out of me.

The rest of it’s shit too.

It’s all shit.

Everything is shit.

I hate everything.



The Girl Who God Only Knows What by that twit Stieg Could-I-Have-A-More-Stereotypical-Scandinavian-Surname-Larsson

The third and final one in the trilogy. Yeah…he should have kept it a twofer. Or even better, a stand alone.

Cos…y’know, it’s alright to have the irritatingly noble and perfect good guys win but when you can tell from the fucking beginning of the book that the bad guys will lose! LOSE! Lose for all they’re worth and have no hope of pulling off their master plan it sort of diminishes the dramatic tension.

Also, why kill the two big baddies who seems to have instigated the grand conspiracy plot that is the whole point of the last two book a hundred pages in and then tell us it’s actually one of their sidekicks who’s a cripple and who only appears in two scenes and barely has a word of dialogue until the last few chapters (Seriously! He just disappears and we don’t know what he’s up to! Despite being the big baddie!)

And, yes, he does this again with the OTHER big baddy who disappears for literally the ENTIRE book up until the last chapter where he once again succumbs to a five foot tall bisexual punk ano. SERIOUSLY!?

Also-middle aged author avatar strikes again and bangs a lesbianalicious seeming government/special services police officer despite the fact that she seems a sensible and strictly professional type of lass who should know that shagging an investigative reporter not to mention one who’s high profile and is coming to you for help to uncover a massive government conspiracy is probably not someone you should be hopping on the good foot and doing the bad thing with after two scenes.

ALSO (I like this word apparently) main man’s bit on the side (remember how all the women are highly sexualised but none of the men. Even the main character who seems to go around with a permanent semi) is all upset and despite that the police officer is instantly smitten with him and declaring herself all Bella Swanesque irrevocably in love with him after two chapters she is all “Well, I drove out his wife and lots of other women so I’ll keep my distance, muhaha. Bitch. Now excuse me I have to go get stalked by a crazed loner and have a conversation with my poor husband who doesn’t mind me shagging everything that moves, consenting or otherwise, and who only has one scene in the book.”


Colour me unimpressed.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Marina Lewycka

Loved this. Well, what’s not to? Bickering Slavic immigrants? Overly embosomed (totes a word.) gold digging blondes, aged geriatrics wearing shoe lace pyjamas and a harrowing tale of how a family escaped Eastern Europe after WWII complete with a flashback to a concentration camp near the end, that made this hard hearted “I Hate everything, especially small children, and I kick bunnies for fun” bastard NEARLY cry on the tube.

S’very funny, too. You should read.

And I know I said I hated him but am going to read The Painted Veil by Somerset Maugham next. It better be good, cause God help me I’ve had a rough time of the literary business lately.




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Bookie Wookies (Without Russell Brand of course)

Posted by idetest on May 7, 2011

Hola, book review time! Here’s what I’ve read over the past couple of months

Of Human Bondage, W. Somerset Maugham.

I’ve loved some of his other stuff that I’ve read-Cakes and Ale is one of my favourite books of all time- but this prolonged vanity exercise in how to depress your reader and infuriate them with your protagonist’s backboneless buffoonery has led me to have to quit good ole Maughy. It’s also supposed to be all but a memoir of his twenties. Ye gads, no wonder he buggered off to the south of France. Wouldn’t you?

Still want to read The Painted Veil though. Not even a movie version with Naomi Watts in it could dampen my enthusiasm for that.

The Girl Who Played With Fire, Stieg Larsson

Oh, those Swedes! I bought the first one in the series last year because it was on cheap, got a little addicted and read it in two days. Then did the same with this one. It’s still a crime thriller but it definitely counts as a good one. Howevs one cannot say one enjoys reading about a protagonist who is loosely based on the author getting his end away with every woman he meets because there’s some sort of animal magnetism about a commitment phobe divorced serial adulterer journalist in his mid forties. Also the female lead character is bisexual and we get never ending scenes with her and her lesbian lover having muff fun in the first half before he remembers to start the action. Also, all other female characters seem to have their sex lives explained to us but not the male characters. Which is odd.

Also, Sweden is commonly regarded as a utopia (Albeit a cold one). And yet apparently it’s corrupt from top to bottom with a completely useless social services and healthcare system that couldn’t get itself out of a wet paper bag. But que sera and all that jazz. This is a crime thriller after all.

Mapp and Lucia, E.F. Benson

Camper than a row of pink tents with a bunch of gay guys on poppers having sex in them while Kylie and Lady Gaga run around outside having a diva-off. Funny, fluffy, fun.

Vile Bodies, Evelyn Waugh.

I hate Stephen Fry. I hate Catholicism. I hate Brideshead Revisited. I hate spoofs and satire when they go overboard and fall into the eye-rolling silliness and farce category.

Put all these things together and you’ll understand why I skimmed several parts of this book. Interesting subject matter. Badly, badly executed.

Have also read some Brontë but words cannot bring themselves to discuss it. Am currently reading the third and final instalment of the Swedish lesbian tale as well. Also about to start on Bram stoker’s Dracula which I’m really looking forward to.

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Posted by idetest on March 23, 2011

I’ve neglected you of late, I know. I die of the shame. So here, in my beloved list form, is some stuff you should think and consider as your drink yourself into unconsciousness on this warm spring eve.

1) I read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I wish I hadn’t a lovely little story about emotional manipulation and hot guys who be packin’s bein’ all rebel with a cause a la nineteenth century ruined by being written by a Brontë sister and their godforsaken love of God and fuckin’ Jesus.

2) Also now reading Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage. Yeah, wish I wasn’t. If you ever desire to read this just skip from about page 250 to 400 otherwise you will find yourself sitting on public transport tutting, rolling your eyes and lobbing it across the train with an exasperated “Oh, for fuck’s sake.” at the pathetic protagonist’s lack of a backbone or any sort of testicles.

3) Saw True Grit. Friend and I did so on a whim after we decided Never Let Me Go looked depressing. Instead we got weirdo southern cowboys and proto teenage lesbians. And Matt Damon doing a Chuck Norris impression. And squickly violence. This was the week after we went and saw Black Swan and were both still “Ew, EWWW!” over the scene with the finger…

3a) I still love you Keira Knightley.

4) I’m on a diet. This is exciting, no?

5) Read this

6) And then pay it no heed, cos girl you FIERCE! (Except you, you’re ugly).

7) I bought new shoes! Hurrah for credit card debt and our generation thinking nothing of spending money we haven’t got!

8 ) Met The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince Richard (Who?) and The Duke of Westminster over’t weekend. And also John Prescott. Google him you ignorant, unwashed hobos.

9) And by met I mean served them food at a 5* hotel.

10) And by served I mean I nearly dropped it in their laps and then got yelled at by my manager.

Wish you were me yet?

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