...never judge a book by its movie

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Just For Fun Reading Challenge - October, 2011




Just For Fun Reading Challenge 2011 


This fun challenge is being hosted at Dollycas's Thoughts.  Simply pull out one of the books from your TBR shelf and read it "just for fun".  No need to review; just read and enjoy - one book each month.

For October, I chose:
The Bells by Richard Harvell

Goodreads description:

 I grew up as the son of a man who could not possibly have been my father. Though there was never any doubt that my seed had come from another man, Moses Froben, Lo Svizzero, called me “son.” And I called him “father.” On the rare occasions when someone dared to ask for clarification, he simply laughed as though the questioner were obtuse. “Of course he’s not my son!” he would say. “Don’t be ridiculous.” 

But whenever I myself gained the courage to ask him further of our past, he just looked sadly at me. “Please, Nicolai,” he would say after a moment, as though we had made a pact I had forgotten. With time, I came to understand I would never know the secrets of my birth, for my father was the only one who knew these secrets, and he would take them to his grave. 


The celebrated opera singer Lo Svizzero was born in a belfry high in the Swiss Alps where his mother served as the keeper of the loudest and most beautiful bells in the land. Shaped by the bells’ glorious music, as a boy he possessed an extraordinary gift for sound. But when his preternatural hearing was discovered—along with its power to expose the sins of the church—young Moses Froben was cast out of his village with only his ears to guide him in a world fraught with danger. 


Rescued from certain death by two traveling monks, he finds refuge at the vast and powerful Abbey of St. Gall. There, his ears lead him through the ancient stone hallways and past the monks’ cells into the choir, where he aches to join the singers in their strange and enchanting song. Suddenly Moses knows his true gift, his purpose. Like his mother’s bells, he rings with sound and soon, he becomes the protégé of the Abbey’s brilliant yet repulsive choirmaster, Ulrich. 


But it is this gift that will cause Moses’ greatest misfortune: determined to preserve his brilliant pupil’s voice, Ulrich has Moses castrated. Now a young man, he will forever sing with the exquisite voice of an angel — a musico — yet castration is an abomination in the Swiss Confederation, and so he must hide his shameful condition from his friends and even from the girl he has come to love. When his saviors are exiled and his beloved leaves St. Gall for an arranged marriage in Vienna, he decides he can deny the truth no longer and he follows her—to sumptuous Vienna, to the former monks who saved his life, to an apprenticeship at one of Europe’s greatest theaters, and to the premiere of one of history’s most beloved operas.

In this confessional letter to his son, Moses recounts how his gift for sound led him on an astonishing journey to Europe’s celebrated opera houses and reveals the secret that has long shadowed his fame: How did Moses Froben, world renowned musico, come to raise a son who by all rights he never could have sired? 


Like the voice of Lo Svizzero, The Bells is a sublime debut novel that rings with passion, courage, and beauty.


I wanted this as a result of reading a review by Mary at Book FanOur tastes are very similar, and this was one of her 2010 favorites 

Book Fan's review

This one was a Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction in 2010, and with good cause.  I was reading a book that couldn't hold my interest, and I turned to this one to break up the monotony, and, well, I didn't put it down until I was finished (well, except when I had to, for things like work and sleep and such).  The description provides all of the necessary synopsis, so I will simply say this:  The writing is brilliant; the characters are intense and believable, and the story is utterly absorbing!  What a wonderful read!

Definitely a 5-star book!

THE THREE R'S
This is one of my listed titles for the 2011 3 R's Challenge

This month I sent Bebe Boy James off to the shelves, and here's what he came out with:

  Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

Goodreads description:
  
A mysterious jewel holds the key to a life-changing secret, in this breathtaking tale of love and art, betrayal and redemption.

When she decides to auction her remarkable jewelry collection, Nina Revskaya, once a great star of the Bolshoi Ballet, believes she has finally drawn a curtain on her past. Instead, the former ballerina finds herself overwhelmed by memories of her homeland and of the events, both glorious and heartbreaking, that changed the course of her life half a century ago.

It was in Russia that she discovered the magic of the theater; that she fell in love with the poet Viktor Elsin; that she and her dearest companions—Gersh, a brilliant composer, and the exquisite Vera, Nina’s closest friend—became victims of Stalinist aggression. And it was in Russia that a terrible discovery incited a deadly act of betrayal—and an ingenious escape that led Nina to the West and eventually to Boston.

Nina has kept her secrets for half a lifetime. But two people will not let the past rest: Drew Brooks, an inquisitive young associate at a Boston auction house, and Grigori Solodin, a professor of Russian who believes that a unique set of jewels may hold the key to his own ambiguous past. Together these unlikely partners begin to unravel a mystery surrounding a love letter, a poem, and a necklace of unknown provenance, setting in motion a series of revelations that will have life-altering consequences for them all.

Interweaving past and present, Moscow and New England, the backstage tumult of the dance world and the transformative power of art, Daphne Kalotay’s luminous first novel—a literary page-turner of the highest order—captures the uncertainty and terror of individuals powerless to withstand the forces of history, while affirming that even in times of great strife, the human spirit reaches for beauty and grace, forgiveness and transcendence.
This one has a mix of middling-to-good reviews, so I'm hoping that it will be fun to read!

Julie

3 comments:

  1. I too like to break up my review reading with books read just for fun. I saw The Bells at Costco and debated buying it. Thanks for highlighting it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Laura Fabiani

    This one was a really good, can't-put-down sort of book. If you see it again, you should snatch it up! :)

    ReplyDelete

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