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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Lost Swimmer by Ann Turner

Rebecca Wilding, an archeology professor, has an enviable lifestyle at the beginning of this book. She has a happy marriage, successful children, a good career, and she lives in a beautiful country setting near the sea. Here there are wild kangaroos and lots of Australian wildlife.

Soon Rebecca's life begins to change, however. She can't get on with her smooth and good-looking boss, and she starts to suspect that her husband is having an affair. But her life really begins to unravel when she is suddenly accused of fraud.

This is a beautifully written and gripping story. We are caught in Rebecca's story from the beginning. A likeable and interesting character, she is easy to sympathise with. The suspense builds gradually as she attempts to find out what's happening.

I also liked the history and classical and mythical allusions. The descriptions of the countryside and Italy and Greece are also evocative.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Marvellous Italians. The Italians by John Hooper

During the Cold War, the Italians developed a huge imaginary army on its borders that fooled the Russians completely. This was an example of the Italian tradition of Fantasia, the creation of fictional systems or organisations. This has helped the country with defence, but it has also hindered it in several ways.

This is just one of the Italian traditions that John Hooper describes in his fascinating book. Others include the importance of first impressions and the belief in the sanctity of life. Hooper shows how the Italy's violent and divided history influenced the people and discusses the importance of the Roman Catholic religion to the country's character.

I started reading this book in Italy, and it certainly helped me understand the people more. Highly recommended!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Serbian Cooking Popular Recipes from the Balkan Region by Daniela Kracun and Charles McFadden

I am overseas now, but I am eager to try some recipes from this book when I get home. Several recipes seem to be reasonably simple, and most of the the photographs make them look good, although some photos are over the top, I think! Unfortunately, I am not much of a cook, but I should be able to do the French Toast for breakfast.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Elizabeth1 and Her Circle by Susan Doran

This was an excellent study of this great and powerful Queen's relationships with the important people in her life, such as Mary, Queen of Scots and the intriguing Robert Dudley. I especially enjoyed reading about Dudley's long and fraught romance with the Queen and the author's opinion of the reason for his wife's mysterious death.

Doran also captures the splendid atmosphere of the Elizabethan court well. For example, she describes Dudley's entertainments and the special garden that he created for the Queen at Kenilworth vividly.

I have read a lot about Elizabeth 1, but I learned a few new things, and I would highly recommend the book for people interested in this era.