Category Archives: Books

“A man called Ove” by Fredrik Backman

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I just finished the book. And I cried. And I laughed. It is so human I wanted to embrace it. The author does so much justice to the roller coaster of the life of this amazing couple at the center of the narrative – Ove and Sonja.

The story line is rich, tender and explosive. It embraces such a diversity of characters throughout the book that at times I thought I am reading two or three novels in parallel. Yet, by a masterly stroke of the pen, they come together as one. It is quite extraordinary.

My favourite quote: “And when she giggled she sounded the way Ove imagined champagne bubbles would have sounded if they were capable of laughter.”

“The salt path” by Raynor Winn

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That’s some tale. I “walked” for miles and miles on the English coast line with this amazing couple – Moth and Ray. The reading made me straighten my back, lower my shoulders and relearn acceptance.

This couple in their 50s lost their home, family business and all income and walked into their next stage with their 8 kg each backpacks. On top of that, Moth was diagnosed with some incurable disease… . They endure, overcome, cry, despair, get up, and move on.

I read some of the reviews after I read the book. Some saw it as a diary, others as a coast guide and national geographic type of writing. Some focused on the homeliness side of the story only. Others on the iterations… It has it, indeed, a little bit of each. As with any reading, we will find there only what we have inside already…

My favourite quote from the book: “A new season had crept into me, a softer season of acceptance.”

“My life in France: the life story of Julia Child” by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme

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If you wonder about life in Paris in late 40s seen through the eyes of an American, this book might be of interest. Narrated by the main character – Julia Child – the book is a very personal take on life in Paris at that time, French cuisine being at the center of it. And it’s natural – it is that Julia Child, the legendary self-made cook, author, teacher and media presence in the times of those ugly boxes entering the Americans’ homes.

You’ll find here the history of Child’s first 728 page long cooking book, which she wrote and re-wrote with two of her French friends – “Mastering the art of French cooking”. It takes you literally through its notes, side notes, authors’ arguments, endless trials, tests and failures of recipes. And that’s important as at that time, “editors seemed to consider the French preoccupation with detail a waste of time, if not a form of insanity”.

Child pays tribute to all great chefs she met and learned from as well as to all who taught her tricks of the trade, ranging from bakers to meat, fruit and vegetables stands sellers from the regions of France.

I found the last chapters on Julia entering the TV world less interesting, yet those years were important for the effect she had on households and cooking people. Some stories there are funny too. Filming with a Dutch cameraman in a French open air market, for instance.

“One Day“ by David Nicholls

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“One Day” is reminder of living in the now. Not “when I’ll … then I will” kind of thinking. The novel is a story of two people in love with each other who lived their lives in parallel for almost two decades, until they married and lived ever happy until her life was abruptly interrupted by an accident only couple of years into their marriage.

The story line is braided in different years in different location, so I would not describe the reading as relaxing. You’ll have to make a bit of an effort to follow back and forth. It is absolutely worth it. You’ll see.

“A return to love” by Marianne Williamson

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This book left unequivocal impressions and it can foster a number of inner reflections at some deep personal level. I guess it requires a personal preparedness for some of its parts.

The author calls for a return to the basic instinct – love – in the spiritual sense. It explains some of the principles of “A course in miracles” and offers tips to practice it. Even more valid in trying times we go through individually or collectively.

The writing is largely based on Christian beliefs and the author appeals to some other religious values to make the point heard by readers who share other different values.

Marianne Williamson is an author and she lectures internationally in the fields of spirituality and new thought. At present her lectures take place once a month to standing room audiences at Town Hall in New York and twice a week to filled auditoriums in southern California.

“The Confessions of Catherine de Medici” by C.W. Gortner

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Do you ever wonder how things really happened down the history path? As stories were told and told, written and re-written, translated and interpreted, which parts are really true? We will only know it to some extent and that only if we really want to.

I picked up the novel because the author made an effort to find out more than just what remained in the “official” history. He researched the correspondence of those times and letters written by this amazing women, a mother of nine, who survived her husband and 7 of her children, while reigning a country torn apart by bloody religious wars between men who called themselves “Christians”.

Historians chose to depict her as a cold-blooded poisoner and author of the infamous St Bartholomew night in Paris. If you want to learn more and debunk some myths surrounding this famous historical figure, then this novel will take you through Catherine’s tough childhood as an orphan, her ascend to the French throne, her international diplomatic skills, her sacrifices as a mother to save her children and the Valois dynasty, her titanic efforts to bring peace by promoting religious tolerance, her contributions to the French art and architecture, among many many more.

“A gift in December” by Jenny Gladwell

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Cheesy romance are not my thing. Unless they are cheesy-Roquefort-ian.

This novel was perfect for December evenings: a wartime love story of two spies, a journalist investigation, a group of bloggers, journalists and a TV star on a Christmas tree cutting trip to Norway, sharp English humour, a bit of deception and advantage taking, all with a masterly stroke of the pen.