In my spare time I enjoy reading. Here are some of those books, and my thoughts on them.
|name||author||publisher||translator||first published||date finished|
|Kiki's Delivery Service||Eiko Kadono||Puffin||see below||1985||August 2020||↓|
Kiki is a thirteen year old witch who leaves home on the night of a full moon, to live independently for one year in a town in need of magic. Her companion is a black cat called Jiji. The book spans her first full year away from home, as she finds her place in the world and learns what being a witch means to her.
Remarkably, nowhere in my copy does it give the name of the translator. It's mostly likely to be Emily Balistrieri, who translated the edition published in the US in 2019 by Penguin Random House. The language is a strange mix of American and British: for example pacifiers appear, but Kiki uses the spelling mum rather than mom.
A stone-cold classic from Studio Ghibli. It differs a little from the book, but the tone is very much preserved.
|The Picture of Dorian Gray||Oscar Wilde||Penguin Classics||-||1890||May 2020||↓|
Dorian Gray begins the book as a stupendously handsome man with a heart of gold. A portrait is made of him which he soon realises absorbs all blemishes, injuries, and signs of aging, leaving his body perfect. Dorian reacts to this gift by partying for two straight decades, which catches up with him in a dramatic scene in which he stabs himself.
|for fans of:||Characters causing major drama for themselves, descriptions of handsome men.|
|Tove Jansson: Work and Love||Tuula Karjalainen||Penguin Books||David McDuff||2013||April 2020||↓|
A biography of Tove Jansson, whose writing I very much enjoy, and whose art I knew little about. Karjalainen focuses far more on the latter, presumably because Tove herself saw art as her vocation and writing as more of a side-project. A wonderful and comprehensive study of a remarkable and inspirational life. There were many high-quality pictures.
|for fans of:||Self-portraits, Finnish art, people falling in love, moomintrolls.|
|pictures of snufkin:||Eleven.|
|Doctor Zhivago||Boris Pasternak||Vintage||Max Hayward and Manya Harari||1957||April 2020||↓|
The book is the story of the life of Yuri Zhivago, a doctor and (very) hopeless romantic, and is set in Russia during the first half of the twentieth century. It opens with the funeral of Yuri's mother, which pretty much sets the tone. Yuri lives through a revolution, a couple of wars, a kidnapping, and an inexplicably happy marriage.
|film and stage adaptations:||
There are at least eight. The 1965 film starring Omar Sharif is one of the top ten highest-grossing films of all time, and contains significantly more balalaikas than the book. This reviewer first watched it as a teenager with his mother.
|best character description:||
"Because of his limitless good nature and colossal size which kept him from noticing anything smaller than himself, he failed to give sufficient attention to what was going on, misunderstood all that was said and, mistaking the views of his opponents for his own, agreed with everything."
|tragedy to comedy ratio:||High.|