Still Life by Louise Penny

29 October, 2012

The first volume in the Inspector Gamache series, Louise Penny’s Still Life is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a long time. Winner of the Crime Writers Association’s New Blood Dagger in 2006, Still Life introduces the Chief Inspector at the Sûréte de Québec but also to a part of the world of which I’m unfamiliar, French Canada.

Inspector Armand Gamache is called to Three Pines, a small village in the heart of Quebec when retired local teacher Jane Neal is found dead in the woods. It is the beginning of deer hunting season and it looks as though a stray arrow has found its way into her heart. Three Pines is a sleepy village where everyone knows each other. But soon, Gamache and his deputy Jean-Guy Beauvoir (don’t you just love that name?) begin to sense that not all is as it seems in Three Pines. Jane has recently submitted a piece of artwork to the annual Art Exhibition curated by her friends Clara and Peter Morrow. At the celebratory Thanksgiving dinner that same evening, Jane had also invited her friends over to her house for the first time. But a few days after her artwork was accepted, she is found dead. Was there something about her painting or her house that needed to stay hidden? Can Gamache tease out the murderer in what looks like an inside job?

I initially found Still Life a little slow. But it’s a slow burning book and by the end, I was racing through to find out exactly whodunnit. Armand Gamache is a happily married policeman setting out to do his job and teaching his deputies along the way. Beavoir is his deputy, independant, strong and loyal. And togther with their team, they burrow into the daily lives of the villages, leaving no stone unturned. Three Pines has a mixture of eccentric folk but what they do have in common is their shared history, one which Jane Neal had faithfully rendered onto her painting.

As a city person, I’ve always been fascinated by small town lives ever since reading Anne of Green Gables as a child. The intense friendships, the long histories, even the claustrophobia. As Miss Marple would say, it’s a microcosm of human society everywhere.

There are now eight books in the series and I’m looking forward to catching up starting with the next book in the series, Dead Cold.

And thank you Carl for urging me to read this one and do check out his review. You were right!

I read this as part of R.I.P. VII.


AD1311.
A Templer in disguise.
A dangerous scientist.
A killer who turns hearts to iron…

Since I first read Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum as a school kid, I’ve been partial to stories about the Knights Templars. So how could I turn away from this premise? Especially when the book is titled Inquisition by Alfredo Colitto (originally Cuore di Ferro or Heart of Iron in Italian and translated by Sophie Henderson). There’s been a plethora of historical conspiracy books since The Da Vinci Code hit big time, many disappointing. I love historical mysteries and when the history and mystery are balanced just right, it can be an exquisitely thrilling and informative read.

Colitto’s novel featuring the fourteenth century physician and anatomist, Mondino de Liuzzi, does just that. Set in Bologna, Europe’s oldest university town, it’s a refreshing change from the usual geographical culprits in historical crime fiction. Mondino is also an intriguing figure, a political and religious dissenter, a visionary in the ever-changing field of medieval medicine and an exile returned. As much as he is a thinking man, he is also a fighter who can look out for himself.

When one of Mondino’s students asks for his help after a suspicious fire sweeps through his university neighbourhood and a Knight Templar lies dead, Mondino is swept into the path of a frightening killer who has the ability to turn living tissue into iron. Amidst the alchemists and the current persecution of the Templars by Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V, he discovers that his student Gerardo is a clandestine Templar sought after by the Inquisition. With the threat of arrest hanging over them, they must uncover the killer who seems to be targeting rogue Templars before all hell breaks loose.

Colitto’s Bologna is rich in detail, a bustling city with busy academics, strutting politicians, discreet bankers and suspicious monks. There is a lot of historical detail but Colitto blends this effortlessly into the tale. Mondino is an experienced and well-travelled physician, a widower with a young family but unable to shake off his roguish ways. Gerardo is a young Templar monk, just ordained, only to find his order besmirched, ruined and hunted by the Inquisition. Together they make an interesting pair. Add to this a sinister Templar with a secret, a banker who caters to the Templars with a beautiful, disfigured daughter, an Arabic alchemist with a reputation as a witch and you have a very colourful mystery.

I think one of the things I really liked about this book was that there was just enough historical depth to it, no dumbing down and with some interesting discussions on medicine, philosophy and religion. Mondino and his family are Ghibellines who are looked upon with suspicion by the Pope’s supporters and have to navigate the political and religious minefield of fourteenth century Bologna while still maintaining their status and livelihood as physicians. Also, fourteenth century Italy seemed to have been a hub of travel and information exchange. In a period when Arabic texts were being rediscovered and translated into Latin (albeit with a Christian twist) leading up to the Renaissance, there also seemed to be a lot of mingling of travellers from around the world. The Arabic alchemist Adia, apart from being a woman, is also a fascinating figure, one who is always poised for flight should the tide turn against her.

I really enjoyed Inquisition and hope to meet Mondino and Gerardo in further adventures.

You can read an interview of Colitto by Hersilia Press here.

I read this as part of R.I.P. VII.

You may recall I was pretty impressed with Deborah Harkness’ debut novel, A Discovery of Witches about the search of a mysterious manuscript and the romance between a witch and a vampire. Yes, I had a few qualms about Diana and Matthew’s relationship but what relationship is perfect? Knowing that it was the first volume in a trilogy, I was even more thrilled to find out that Diana and Matthew would be travelling back in time to Elizabethan England and would be meeting Kit Marlowe amongst other famed historical characters. I couldn’t wait for the sequel. So imagine my frothing delight when Shadow of Night arrived on my doorstep.

Diana Bishop and Matthew de Clermont have traversed across time to Elizabethan England in pursuit of Ashmole 782, the legendary manuscript that propelled Diana towards this journey into her hidden heritage and the vampire’s arms. As a historian, Diana must use her knowledge to survive in a time and place where a woman’s role was fixed and bound by her relationship with men and where knowledge is a powerful weapon that can save her or break her. It helps that the 16th century Matthew kept a permissive household that also doubled as the headquarters of the School of Night amongst whose illustrious members were the playwright and spy, Christopher Marlowe; courtier and explorer, Sir Walter Raleigh; Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland; Thomas Herriot and George Chapman. It is also a time when the Witchfinder General is flexing his muscles and witch burnings are becoming common. As Diana and Matthew negotiate the dangers, they must confront Matthew’s father Phillipe in France, lecherous Prince Rudolph of Prague, John Dee who used to own the manuscript and Elizabeth Regina herself. Can they do so without altering the strands of time themselves? And how will they deal with Diana’s awakening and changing talents as a daughter of two powerful witches?

I really enjoyed reading Shadow of Night, even more so than A Discovery of Witches. This is partly due to it being set in an era in which we have grown familiar due to all the novels, films and tv adaptations which abound and yet with enough mystery and danger to keep us on our toes. Harkness really knows her stuff. And what I found incredible and what I loved about her novel is how seamlessly she folds her historical knowledge into her story without dumbing down, overloading her story or jeopardising her writing style. I loved all the bits about alchemy, Diana’s specialist subject, and the historical characters seemed both alive and yet accessible.

One of the things I enjoyed most was how frightening Elizabethan England could be, even for a historian specialising in that era. Because however much of an expert you are, in the end, you are extrapolating from the primary material using secondary sources and there is no real way of knowing how people lived in detail. Who hasn’t thought about going back in time, just for a little bit? It’s made me rethink it.

I am, however, a little heartbroken by the characterisation of Christopher Marlowe although what else can he be but a daemon? He is one of my favourite historical figures probably because there is so much mystery surrounding him. I wish he could have been friends with Diana. But I loved that Mary Sidney, the Countess of Pembroke, made an appearance and that Walter Raleigh cut such a dashing figure in a Three Musketeers sort of way.

Oh, and how can I not mention Matthew’s vampiric nephew Galloglass? He’s probably my favourite character in this book.

My one quibble is as before: the romance between Diana and Matthew, more specifically the character of Diana. For an independant woman in her thirties with a career and history of relationships, her vulnerability and girlishness around Matthew is disconcerting. I have no issues with her relationship with Matthew and yet I find it infuriating. And yet, this is a very small quibble in what is a brilliant second volume. Usually second volumes in a trilogy are often iffy but this was even better than the first.

I cannot wait until the final volume and am looking forward to the film adaptation. I know it’s going to be amazing but may have a few things to say about the casting. I was lucky enough to go to an event with Deborah Harkness and Christopher Fowler and she was as lovely, friendly and witty as I had imagined and had such enthusiasm for her subject it was almost infectious. And she knew my name!

Do also check out Harriet and Iris’s thoughts on the book.

I would like to thank Headline for kindly sending me a copy of this book to review.

I read this as part of R.I.P. VII.

Maintaining the fragile contact between my finger and the wallet, I sandwiched it in the folded newspaper. Then I transferred the paper to my right hand and put it in the inside pocket of my own coat. Little by little I breathed out, conscious of my temperature rising even more. I checked my surroundings, only my eyes moving. My fingers still held the tension of touching a forbidden object, the numbness of entering someone’s personal space. A trickle of sweat ran down my back.

Winner of the Kenzaburo Oe Prize in 2010, Fuminori Nakamura’s The Thief is a sublime reflection on the nature of crime rather than a thrilling mystery. Nevertheless, it kept me turning the pages as I sought the conclusion to the protagonist’s dilemma.

The Thief (Suri or Pickpocket in Japanese) is the tale of a Nishimura, a loner whose sole purpose of existance is the thrill of stealing from another person without them noticing. Nishimura has perfected pickpocketing to an artform and this talent, together with his friendship with Ishikawa ulitmately leads him into a vortex of crime from which he cannot escape.

Nishimura himself isn’t a violent man. And yet his association with Ishikawa, a genius thief, brings him into contact with a sinister backroom figure who enjoys manipulating events behind the scenes and who orchestrated their last job which resulted in them going on the run. With no family ties or close friendships, Nishimura is able to escape but unable to stay away from Tokyo for long. Upon his return he is sought after by his ex-colleagues and also strikes up a tenuous friendship with a lonely and neglected boy which ultimately leads him to his present dilemma. Do one more job, or else.

There’s a sense of stillness in Nakamura’s novel. Like something happening in slow motion where sound ceases and you can only watch as a collision occurs, slowly, inevitably. The protagonist, Nishimura, is a social outcast. Someone who, from a young age, felt he was outside normal, noisy society. Although he is solitary, he isn’t necessarily lonely. He doesn’t have a grudge against society or want revenge. He’s happy doing what he’s good at doing, stealing. And he could have gone on this way if he hadn’t interacted with anyone else. First, his friend Ishikawa. Then the little boy. In a sense, it’s chilling to see that you can never escape from your interactions with people. As long as someone remembers you, they’ll find you. Nothing too exciting happens in this novel, but you will close the book feeling like you’ve tapped into Nishimura’s existential rabbit hole. It’s as though he is Alice, falling, falling, falling and unable to stop. It’s sparsely written, just like its narrator, and it’s rather beautiful.

One of the things I felt when reading The Thief was a sense of paranoia everytime I stepped outside because you learn a whole lot about pickpocketing. Basically, if you’ve been targeted by a pro, you have NO chance!

I would like to thank Corsair for kindly sending me this book to review.

I read this as part of Japanese Literature Challenge 6 and R.I.P. VII.

Ash by James Herbert

1 October, 2012

Many years ago I read James Herbert’s Haunted and later watched the film. I don’t remember much of the book but I did think the film was pretty scary. Well, horror films never fail to terrify me. So when I was offered the chance to review Ash, the latest novel by James Herbert, I was intrigued to see what had become of David Ash, the parapsychologist whom I first met in Haunted. BBC is about to show a dramatisation of Herbert’s The Secret of Crickley Hall and the nights are drawing closer. I was in the mind for something spookay!

In David Ash’s third case (the second is The Ghosts of Sleath which I haven’t read), we find him battered but almost recovered from his previous two encounters with the paranormal. A powerful, secretive organisation called the Inner Sanctum has requested his expertise in uncovering some sinister events that have taken place in a hidden castle in the middle of the Highlands, a place of refuge for the world’s wealthiest recluses. Or so they claim. With some misgivings regarding the secrecy surrounding Comraich Castle, Ash is soon on his way to the secluded castle where he comes face to face with some of history’s most notorious faces whom the world believes dead. With so much evil concentrated in one place, it is only a matter of time before a malevolent presence finds a conduit through which it can materialise and Ash must somehow convince the owners to evacuate the place in order to save lives.

To complicate matters, he has fallen for the resident psychologist Dr. Delphine Wyatt and so he must not only protect himself but other innocent people from the evil that is growing beneath the castle.

The premise sounded extremely intriguing and my memories of Haunted were pleasant enough for me to anticipate reading this novel. Unfortunately there were too many things that irked me for this to be an enjoyable experience. The writing style was fine but occasionally veered between being condescending to pedantic. There was too much information that sometimes I felt as though I was consulting wikipedia. I’m sure half of the explanations could have been cut without hindering the story in any way. The writing style was somewhat crude in places which I thought was unnecessary although I guess it scores on the shock factor. But I always assumed David Ash would be a conflicted, agonised man, but one with style. There was a lot of brand name dropping which annoyed me. Do I really need to know that Ash’s mobile was a Samsung? I don’t think so. And lots and lots of names of medical drugs and product descriptions which could have been edited out.

Herbert’s characterisation also leaves a lot to be desired. Apart from the stereotypes you would expect to find in mainstream horror, they often didn’t have continuity or acted out of character. Take Ash. For someone so jaded, he was pretty naïve at times. And he hovered over Delphine so protectively as though she was some kind of innocent lamb. Which didn’t make much sense since she had been working for the Inner Sanctum for 3 years administering sedatives to patients and conducting experiments which weren’t exactly legal. For a grown woman with a career, Delphine was a little too ‘wan’ and fragile.

There was also a bewildering number of urban legends from the Nazis to Princess Diana which were really interesting and I do think Herbert makes you ponder the consequences of evil and its many facets although with a rather simplistic view of redemption. Ultimately, Herbert tries to put too much into the story without providing a satisfactory explanation to the hauntings that are so central to the tale.

I’m sure this would make a great horror film and a perfectly good holiday read but it’s not one to read too closely. I’m probably being harsh but I think my exasperation stems from my expectations which were rather high. Although there were certain things that were chilling and lots of blood and gore, it didn’t really scare the pants off me (but even The Woman in Black, everyone’s favourite ghost story, didn’t do the trick). Maybe books just don’t scare me? Do also check out the reviews at Gaskella and SFX.

Have you read any books by James Herbert? And what’s your scariest read? Spill!

A review copy of Ash was kindly provided by the publisher.

I read this as part of R.I.P. VII.

Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany

25 September, 2012

They call it Babel-17, this mind-twisting, multi-dimensional language – and it frightened Rydra Wong. For Babel-17 was not just a system of words, Babel-17 was a whole new way ot thinking. Lightning-swift and horrifyingly effective, it was the Invaders’ subtlest weapon, clawing constantly at the Alliance’s Imperial outposts. Only Captain Wong could comprehend it, but could even she, the Alliance’s most brilliant poet, hope to control the corrupting power of its words?

My friend H first introduced me to Samuel R. Delany over a year ago. She has been slowly going through his novels and spoke about him every time we met. I was intrigued for Delany sounded different to the conventional sf writer; visionary, intellectual, radical. I was a little afraid to try him but then I came across a copy of his book at my local charity shop and snap it up I did. And then I got an e-mail from Aarti inviting me to participate in her blog tour for A More Diverse Universe and I thought Babel-17 would be perfect. For Delany is African-American and gay (although his sexuality and relationship status is rather complicated).

And you know what? I was totally. blown. away. Babel-17 is a slim book and yet it is a substantial one in thought and idea. Delany’s writing style is sophisticated and you immediately sense that here is someone who knows how to write. You know when you get that tingling feeling that you’ve stumbled upon a masterpiece? Yes, that.

Set several centuries in the future where life has spread out far from Earth, there have been several incidents of sabotage and terrorist bombs against the ruling hegemony, the Alliance. In this technologically advanced, decadent and deteriorating society, someone has been sending signals that no one can decipher. Except for one person. Rydra Wong is a celebrated poet with a gift for languages. She is given the commission of decoding this mysterious cypher known as Babel-17. She soon discovers that it’s not actually a code but a language like no other and her interest is peaked. Gathering herself a handpicked crew, she embarks on a journey to deconstruct this language and in doing so, come to terms with her traumatic past.

But Rydra’s ship is soon captured by a vessel situated in the region between the two warring factions, just out of the jurisdiction of Rydra’s society. Full of societal misfits, Rydra soon gets to know the captain and his comrades including the mysterious convict named The Butcher. After gaining their trust, the captain agrees to escort Rydra to the next suspected destination of planned attack. And it isn’t long before Rydra realises the full extent of their enemy’s power and treachery.

This sounds like a conventional quest for the self but it is so much more. Considering Delany published Babel-17 in the late 60s, it has worn its age extremely well. He could have published it this year and no one would blink an eye. The ideas, projected advances in technology and culture seem contemporary in a Blade Runner and Neuromancer kind of way with hints of Michael Moorcock’s The Dancers at the End of Time. But what makes Babel-17 so special is the language and the thought processes behind it which reminds me strongly of Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels. Delany’s gift is that he holds back rather than overwhelm you with too much information, making you want to delve further into his world. There is a sparse beauty to his writing and since Rydra is a poet, she explores the complex beauty and power of language. And in this instance, the power that the language holds is immense. For Babel-17 will take over your thoughts, your memories and your actions. It’s a weapon like no other.

Like the language Babel-17, Delany’s story and style is subtle. You realise it while you are reading the book and it hits you again when you finish, as you try and work your mind around it. It’s certainly one that I would like to re-read. It’s been a while since I’ve read an sf book that has stunned me with it’s complexity and readability and I urge you all to try it. I’ll definitely be seeking out more of Delany’s books, although I have heard that some, such as Dhalgren, are rather extreme.

I read Babel-17 as part of A More Diverse Universe reading tour. If you are interested in more diverse sff, do check out the link where you’ll find lots of titles!

R.I.P. VII

11 September, 2012

Hurray! The only good thing about the descending cold and darkness is that Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings will be hosting R.I.P. VII! This is one of two events in which I have to participate and I look forward to it every year.

Between Sept 1st – Oct 31st, I’ll be participating in Peril the 1st where I aim to read four books in the following genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, Supernatural or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.

Below are some of the titles I’m hoping to look at, although it’ll probably change:

Twelve by Jasper Kent – I’m cheating as I’ve chosen this for this month’s book group but it’s perfect for R.I.P.! And I also have the sequal, Thirteen Years Later.
Ash by James Herbert – I just received this for review. The timing is perfect especially since there will be an adaptation of Herbert’s The Secret of Crickly Hall on telly this Autumn.
Still Life by Louise Penny – I keep saying I’m going to read this every time R.I.P. swings by. This year I really must.
The Murder of Halland by Pia Juul – any book published by Peirene is a delight and this is a good opportunity to get to grips with what promises to be a different kind of murder book.
Silver Wolf by Alice Borchardt – by Anne Rice’s sister no less! I only discovered this series this year so am rather excited about this. And also the other two titles in her trilogy, Night of the Wolf and The Wolf King.

Carl will also be doing a group readalong of Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger and Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, both brilliant novels. I’ve already read them and they are both brilliant so I do urge you to give them a try.

So, what will you be reading as the nights grow longer?

One of my favourite reading challenges has commenced again. Although I am drawn to Japanese literature anyway, Dolce Bellezza‘s Japanese Literature Challenge always makes me focus on why I read Japanese literature and the connections it has with my other choices over the year. I’m also nosy about what others are reading which often leads to some exciting new discoveries.

So, this year, I am planning to read the following:

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – Er, I’ve had this since it was published and have only dipped into the first chapter. What is wrong with me?

Silence by Shusaku Endo – I’ve read so much about this book and have finally got a copy of my own (well, I got my friend to buy it for me for my birthday last year, heh.) Endo is one of my favourite Japanese writers (both The Samurai and The Volcano are beautifully written) and I can’t wait to read this.

I also have a growing stack of fiction in Japanese. Apparently I have no problems buying and hoarding books in other languages even though I don’t read them. I may want to try one of them although most of them haven’t been translated into English. However, it’s good to know and keep an eye out for interesting authors that may get translated one day, right? I try to keep abreast with the literary world in Japan but like in the UK, there are SO many books being published every year. So what I normally do is look at the prize lists such as the Naoki and Akutagawa Awards and check out recommendations in the Japanese magazines I do read.

And then maybe I might also choose something from my perennial list of Mishima, Kawabata and Banana. What do you think? Should I branch out more? And more importantly, what are YOU going to read?

I have heard so much about this book ever since I started blogging and was eager to get my hands on it as it had my favourite combination of fiction with science, in this case mathematics. But as usual, I’m always about a year behind everyone else but someone has to keep the fire burning, right? I haven’t read anything else by Yoko Ogawa and wanted to start with this title because the subject matter seemed a little less extreme.

The Housekeeper and The Professor is a tale of two strangers who form a tenuous bond of friendship and love in what can only be described as difficult circumstances. The Professor who had trained at Cambridge and was once the shining beacon of the mathematical world now lives in a memory loop that lasts only 80 minutes after a devastating car crash. His glittering career in ruin, he is looked after by his sister-in-law who hires a housekeeper for his daily needs. And so the Housekeeper arrives. But something changes when the Professor meets her son, whom he names Root, and soon a bond forms between the three of them cemented by their love of baseball and numbers.

I know there’s a film adaptation in Japanese which I haven’t seen yet, but the book was just how I imagined it to be. Soft, gentle and poignant. It is reminiscent of a slower era, the frantic pace of life slowed right down so that you can focus on the minutiae of daily life. And these particular details themselves are like little droplets of life condensed. The food we eat, the daily rituals, the small celebrations. When it comes down to it, it is these things and the people we do them with that are important.

Although I was looking forward to the scientific bits in the novel, I surprisingly found it to be a little superfluous. I guess for a novel to work, the story needs to move forward without it being too bogged down by theory. Somehow I found myself skipping the mathematical bits to continue with the story. Ogawa is good at showing the importance of mathematics to the Professor who lives solely in his head until he meets the Housekeeper and her son, but the beauty of mathematics somehow surpassed me.

The Housekeeper and The Professor is a short, sweet snapshot of friendship and family that can be found in unexpected places and I enjoyed reading this tale.

I read this as part of the Japanese Literature Challenge 5.

After I read Millions Like Us by Virginia Nicholson, I knew I had to read A Woman by Berlin which she discussed in a talk I attended. And by chance, I came across a copy in my local charity shop and snapped it up. I found reading about the rapes by Russian soldiers after the fall of Berlin very disturbing, partly because it was something I knew nothing about even though I’ve read my fair share of history books. It really hits home how things, usually that to do with violence against women, are systematically brushed under the carpet and not spoken of. It’s a disgusting and disappointing habit.

A Woman in Berlin chronicles life in Berlin from April 24th to June 22nd 1946 just as Berlin fell to the Red Army. The narrator is a female journalist, well read, well traveled, alone who tries, together with the remaining people in her block of flats, to get through the terrifying days as the war draws to a close and the encroaching dangers of the Russian army.

What really surprised me about this account was how matter of fact the narrator is in her rendition of these fraught days. Not only is she discussing her own experiences but she is a witness to the experiences of everyone around her. They are her neighbours, colleagues, not necessarily friends. Yet what they all experience is collective trauma, and this makes them strong. Because of this, they are able to talk about the terrible things that have happened to them. She notes down how conversation has broken down, how propriety is no longer observed, how the women greet each other with the questions, ‘How many times were you raped?‘ I cannot think of anything more shocking. And what is most disturbing is that she is aware how in times of peace, a rape would tear a community apart, bring down swift justice and scar the women. But in times of war, where every woman has experienced rape, there is no other choice but to get on with it. Of course, many did not get over it and some even committed suicide so as not to get raped, but the sad thing is that many women had to go through such trauma, get on with their lives and later have to deal with the inability of their men to deal with it. And this naturally leads to a change in how they viewed their men.

I think the thing that is so impressive about this book is that it is written so well, and deals with such a traumatic subject with a light and manageable touch that when you do take pause to think about all that she has discussed, it hits you doubly hard. I don’t think I’ve read an account of rapes quite like this one. It’s unsentimental, matter of fact, the narrator is someone you can’t help but admire, someone with verve, vitality and a will to carry on but one who doesn’t let herself feel sorry for herself.

Of course, I’m aware this has been edited to allow for flow, but it’s an admirable piece of written history that really needs to be read more widely. And by that, I do not mean just by women.

There is also a film adaptation of this book, The Downfall of Berlin – Anonyma, which I’m hoping to watch soon.

Although this isn’t strictly literature, I read this as part of Caroline and Lizzys German Literature Month.