Cushla's adventures in Europe

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Cushla's adventures in Europe

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Editado: Abr 29, 2010, 4:02 am

I'd forgotten about this group till I found myself reading a string of books set in Europe, so I'm going to start a thread and see how much colouring in I can do. I'm going to count books read so far in 2010, but nothing before then.

We are living in Switzerland at the moment but I haven't read a Swiss novel yet! (I have one waiting though.) Reviews for everything are on my 75 Book Challenge thread over here:

I'm going to include non-fiction where it focuses on one country, e.g. I've included Testament of Youth for England, because it gives such great insight into England at the time of World War 1.

And now for the map...looking pretty thin still but I should be able to colour in Spain and Germany in the next couple of weeks!

Editado: Nov 1, 2011, 9:42 am

England :
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym - Feb 2010
Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain - April 2010
Provincial Daughter by R.M. Dashwood - April 2010

France :
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery - Feb 2010

Germany :
March Violets by Philip Kerr - May 2010
Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada - 5 stars - July 2010
Der Ministerpraesident by Joachim Zelter - 5 stars November 2010

Ireland :
The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen - March 2010 - 2 stars
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin - 4 1/2 stars - August 2010
The Heather Blazing by Colm Toibin - 5 stars - Oct 2010
Troubles by J.G. Farrell - 4 stars (just) - July 2011

Italy :
Sicily - The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri - April 2010
Sicily - The Terracotta Dog by Andrea Camilleri - May 2011
Sicily - The Snack Thief by Andrea Camilleri - July 2011

Lisbon - Pereira Maintains by Antonio Tabucchi - November 2011

create your personalized map of europe

Maio 2, 2010, 5:33 pm

Drawing a nice diagonal thorugh Europe there :). Welcome!

Maio 3, 2010, 2:30 am


I just ruined the diagonal by adding Germany, because I've finished March Violets by Philip Kerr.

If you like gritty - very gritty - crime fiction, you'll probably like this. It's set in Berlin in 1933, and Kerr does a terrific job at describing the politics and the atmosphere. It's a very tense book. Bernie Gunther is a private investigator and has to find a necklace, but ends up finding a lot more. I gave it 4 stars, because it was just a bit too nasty in places for my taste, but I want to read the rest of the series soon.

Maio 4, 2010, 12:03 pm

Bernie Gunther has a quick wit and usually says something that gets him beat up. The series is very good and I'm always happy to see that another installment has been published.

Have you read any Alan Furst? His novels have a similar feel and are set in Europe around WWII.

Maio 4, 2010, 12:42 pm

RG, I bought 6 of the Bernie Gunther books because of Chatterbox's recommendation about one of the latest ones. Yes I've read one Alan Furst and I really liked it - The World at Night. Must look for more...but not yet!

Ago 9, 2010, 5:59 am

I'm not doing very well at knocking off new countries, but I wanted to add another book to Germany because it's the best novel I've read this year - Every Man Dies Alone. I've copied over the review from my 75BC page:

Hans Fallada wrote Every Man Dies Alone in 1947, but it was translated into English only last year. The novel is based on a true story of a couple, Otto and Elise Hampel, who resisted the Nazi party. There's a really interesting afterword about Hans Fallada (Rudolf Ditzen) and the Hampels. Fallada was an alcoholic and a drug addict who ended up in an insane asylum near the end of WW2 after threatening his wife with a gun (and drinking 12 bottles of wine in 3 days). His own behaviour during the Nazi Party's time in power was a mix of collaboration and resistance.

The book opens with Eva Kluge, the postie, delivering a letter to Otto and Anna Quangel, quiet, frugal working-class Berliners whose son Otto is away fighting in France. This is a book with tons of characters, all vividly showing different ways of surviving in Nazi Berlin. There's a retired judge on the ground floor of their apartment building, the Persicke family - a thoroughly nasty bunch, especially their son Baldur - on the 2nd, the Quangels on the 3rd, and Mrs Rosenthal, who's Jewish, on the 4th. The postie's scumbag husband plays a big part too. There are subplots and many more characters all over the place, but the main story is about the Quangels.

Otto is a foreman in a carpentry factory that, by the end of the book, is making coffins. He's very shy and not particularly political - he and Anna thought Hitler wasn't too bad in the 1930s - but a comment she makes to him after she reads the letter that's delivered in Chapter 1 makes him come up with a scheme to resist the Nazis. He decides to drop postcards around Berlin with anti-Hitler messages, and he quickly convinces Anna that this is worthwhile. They imagine that their postcards will cause others to resist the regime. This isn't what happens at all.

The book is extremely tense from the first page, and very easy to read. Occasionally, for a couple of sentences, I'd forget that the police are evil here, then I'd remember that this wasn't a normal crime novel. It's fascinating watching them try to figure out who's dropping the postcards - then it's just horrible knowing that they are getting closer. It really makes you wonder what you would have done if you'd been alive when Hitler was in power, because a normal life with moral integrity came at such huge risk - keeping out of trouble without supporting the regime was enough to put you in danger. Highly recommended if you want to read a book about survival in Germany in WW2, and the best fiction I've read this year (number 2 is still A Dry White Season, which has similar grim themes!). 5 stars.

Ago 9, 2010, 8:44 am

I recognised the premise but didn't recognise the title until I checked the book page out and realised it's released under the name Alone in Berlin over here. I've been thinking of picking it up at some point and your review convinces me. Thanks.

Ago 10, 2010, 11:03 am

I received Every Man Dies Alone for my birthday this year and since then have only heard fantastic things about it.

Editado: Dez 4, 2010, 6:46 am

I keep forgetting to add books over here. I'm not doing very well at adding new countries, but I am reading a few European books. But I would like to be colouring in new parts of the map, so I will try harder in 2011!

For Ireland, I've read and loved two by Colm Toibin - The Heather Blazing and Brooklyn. And I've added an excellent novel in German, my first, and the touchstone's not working - Der Ministerpraesident by Joachim Zelter. I've reviewed them all over at my 75 Book Challenge thread.

Edited to add that I'm usually looking for a book that is by an author of that country, so I'm not counting Donna Leon for Italy or Martin Walker for France. (But I reserve the right to be inconsistent on this! For some reason, I feel like I want to count Philip Kerr's book for Germany, which says how good I think his writing is.)

Dez 6, 2010, 12:49 pm

I'm also making it a priority to read books written by authors of the countries. But I am beginning to think that it may be difficult for me to fill this requirement for some of the countries, so I may have to relax this stance as I get closer to those countries. One of the biggest letdowns in this challenge is to find a great review of a book, only to find out that the author is not a native!

Dez 7, 2010, 5:13 am

I'm going for natives when I can too. But for many countries - let's face it, I'm just happy if I can find something in a language I can read.

I'm devoting a category in my "11 in 11 challenge" to this challenge, so I expect to make some progress next year.

Jul 10, 2011, 2:26 am

Ow, I've ignored this thread for 7 months!

Nans and Gingerbreadman, thanks for visiting - I have a lot of catching up to do on threads in this group and am looking forward to seeing what you've been reading.

I'm not doing very well at colouring in the map, but I wanted to add another Ireland book not written by an Irish author: Troubles by J. G. Farrell . This felt like it crossed some line in my head for having enough content about Ireland to be included here.

It's the first of Farrell's Empire trilogy (the other 2 cover Singapore and India) and I'm glad I read it, but it wasn't a 5 star read for me. Over in my 75 Challenge thread there was a bit of discussion about other LTers' reactions to the book - opinions vary!