Category Archives: Digital

The Dud Avocado – Elaine Dundy

The Dud Avocado – Elaine Dundy

I had this on my Kindle for a long time. I had a couple of attempts but never got past the first chapter. Then I decided I needed to get it read, so I focused – 30 mins every day.

Here’s the blurb …

The Dud Avocado follows the romantic and comedic adventures of a young American who heads overseas to conquer Paris in the late 1950s. Edith Wharton and Henry James wrote about the American girl abroad, but it was Elaine Dundy’s Sally Jay Gorce who told us what she was really thinking.

Charming, sexy, and hilarious, The Dud Avocado gained instant cult status when it was first published and it remains a timeless portrait of a woman hell-bent on living.

“I had to tell someone how much I enjoyed The Dud Avocado. It made me laugh, scream, and guffaw (which, incidentally, is a great name for a law firm).” —Groucho Marx

“A cheerfully uninhibited…variation on the theme of the Innocents Abroad…Miss Dundy comes up with fresh and spirited comedy….Her novel is enormous fun—sparklingly written, genuinely youthful in spirit.” —The Atlantic

This was at times charming, funny and annoying. The final romance was a bit rushed, but otherwise if was a fun, mostly light-hearted romp (and don’t worry you will eventually learn why it’s called The Dud Avocado)

A review (Rachel Cooke wrote the introduction to the edition that I read – it is similar to this review)

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A Needle in the Right Hand of God – R Howard Block

A Needle in the Right Hand of God – R Howard Block

I am going to Bayeux this year – I was meant to go in 2020, but that wasn’t to be, so this is the year. I am very keen to see the Bayeux Tapestry (and yes I know it’s not a tapestry).

This is the latest of several books on the tapestry that I have read.

Here’s the blurb …

The Bayeux Tapestry is the world’s most famous textile–an exquisite 230-foot-long embroidered panorama depicting the events surrounding the Norman Conquest of 1066. It is also one of history’s most mysterious and compelling works of art. This haunting stitched account of the battle that redrew the map of medieval Europe has inspired dreams of theft, waves of nationalism, visions of limitless power, and esthetic rapture. In his fascinating new book, Yale professor R. Howard Bloch reveals the history, the hidden meaning, the deep beauty, and the enduring allure of this astonishing piece of cloth.

Bloch opens with a gripping account of the event that inspired the Tapestry: the swift, bloody Battle of Hastings, in which the Norman bastard William defeated the Anglo-Saxon king, Harold, and laid claim to England under his new title, William the Conqueror. But to truly understand the connection between battle and embroidery, one must retrace the web of international intrigue and scandal that climaxed at Hastings. Bloch demonstrates how, with astonishing intimacy and immediacy, the artisans who fashioned this work of textile art brought to life a moment that changed the course of British culture and history.

Every age has cherished the Tapestry for different reasons and read new meaning into its enigmatic words and images. French nationalists in the mid-nineteenth century, fired by Tapestry’s evocation of military glory, unearthed the lost French epic “The Song of Roland,” which Norman troops sang as they marched to victory in 1066. As the Nazis tightened their grip on Europe, Hitler
sent a team to France to study the Tapestry, decode its Nordic elements, and, at the end of the war, with Paris under siege, bring the precious cloth to Berlin. The richest horde of buried Anglo-Saxon treasure, the matchless beauty of Byzantine silk, Aesop’s strange fable “The Swallow and the Linseed,” the colony that Anglo-Saxon nobles founded in the Middle East following their defeat at Hastings–all are brilliantly woven into Bloch’s riveting narrative.

Seamlessly integrating Norman, Anglo-Saxon, Viking, and Byzantine elements, the Bayeux Tapestry ranks with Chartres and the Tower of London as a crowning achievement of medieval Europe. And yet, more than a work of art, the Tapestry served as the suture that bound up the wounds of 1066.

Enhanced by a stunning full-color insert that includes reproductions of the complete Tapestry, A Needle in the Right Hand of God will stand with The Professor and the Madman and How the Irish Saved Civilization as a triumph of popular history.

This book covers European history around the time of the conquest, prior to the conquest and up to the First Crusade. The author has a theory that the First Crusade is the second Norman Conquest and that the tapestry looks forward to the Crusade. He writes about the ‘tapestry maker’ and what might have been the sources for the design and motifs. I need to read it with images of the tapestry, so I can gain a better understanding. This had a wider view than the previous books I had read; The Story of the Bayeux Tapestry – Musgrove and Lewis, and The Bayeux Tapestry Carolina Hicks.

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I didn’t do the Thing Today – Madeline Dore

I didn’t do the Thing Today – Madeline Dore

I have had a kindle version of this for a while, I do like a book that encourages taking it easy.

Here’s the blurb …

Any given day brings a never-ending list of things to do. There’s the work thing, the catch-up thing, the laundry thing, the creative thing, the exercise thing, the family thing, the thing we don’t want to do, and the thing we’ve been putting off, despite it being the most important thing. Even on days when we get a lot done, the thing left undone can leave us feeling guilty, anxious, or disappointed.

After five years of searching for the secret to productivity, Madeleine Dore discovered there isn’t one. Instead, we’re being set up to fail. I Didn’t Do the Thing Today is the inspiring call to take productivity off its pedestal—by dismantling our comparison to others, aspirational routines, and the unrealistic notions of what can be done in a day, we can finally embrace the joyful messiness and unpredictability of life.

For anyone who has ever felt the pressure to do more, be more, achieve more, this antidote to our doing-obsession is the permission slip we all need to find our own way.

This book is good for anyone who gets a bit obsessed about their to do list, or their routine (I am guilty of that – although I do need a bit of structure in my day). We all only have 24 hours a day and we need to prioritise them to suit ourselves and not the rest of the world.

A review.

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Once Upon a Prime – Sarah Hart

Once Upon a Prime – Sarah Hart

I saw this book at my local book store and had to read it. In the Venn diagram of maths and literature, I thought I was alone in the intersection.

Here’s the blurb …

We often think of mathematics and literature as polar opposites. But what if, instead, they were fundamentally linked? In this insightful, laugh-out-loud funny book, Once Upon a Prime, Professor Sarah Hart shows us the myriad connections between maths and literature, and how understanding those connections can enhance our enjoyment of both.

Did you know, for instance, that Moby-Dick is full of sophisticated geometry? That James Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness novels are deliberately checkered with mathematical references? That George Eliot was obsessed with statistics? That Jurassic Park is undergirded by fractal patterns? That Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote mathematician characters?

From sonnets to fairytales to experimental French literature, Once Upon a Prime takes us on an unforgettable journey through the books we thought we knew, revealing new layers of beauty and wonder. Professor Hart shows how maths and literature are complementary parts of the same quest, to understand human life and our place in the universe.

It was a great – a lot of food for thought and a list of more books to read.

A review

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