Wow. So the second half of 2019 kind of happened. At hurricane velocity. The last few months left me not knowing which way was up, but now the dust is settling. January is busy, but I think I’m slowly finding a routine again.
I finished a marvelous old classic, Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Written in 1916 and published in 1920 (exactly 100 years ago!), this book could understandably take a couple chapters to “hook” the reader. But it’s a light and easy read once you’re acquainted with the cast of eccentric characters. I feel like mystery novels are often set up so that really anyone could be the murderer/perpetrator, but it’s still fun to speculate before the big reveal. Brought back memories of enjoying the wonderful world of Poirot as a teen.
If you know me, you’re probably aware that WWII fiction is a favorite genre of mine. So I was excited to receive the Pulitzer prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See as a Christmas gift. From a writing standpoint, I was initially frustrated that the book was authored in present tense and contained various run-ons, fragments, and punctuation errors. However, Anthony Doerr very clearly knows grammar rules, and yet it seems that he purposely chooses to break them to aid his storytelling. I finished this book just pondering the far-reaching effects of war. So many people on both sides of WWII experienced incredible death and pain and loss, but they often had to bury atrocities and somehow figure out how to move on with life. And even though these characters weren’t real, I really just wanted them all to love Jesus, which they clearly didn’t. Heh. (One other note: I was glad to be able to read a physical copy of this book because of the jumps in time and space – I had to frequently turn back and forth to see which year or place we were in.)
While I don’t agree with all the underlying perspectives/worldviews in each book, many of these passages certainly made me think. So here are some good quotes I found this month:
The despair doesn't last. Marie-Laure is too young and her father is too patient. 2 Open your eyes, concludes the man, and see what you can with them before they close forever. 2 “Your problem, Werner,” says Frederick, “is that you still believe you own your life.” 2 “Every rumor carries a seed of truth, Etienne.” 2 He thinks of the old broken miners.... To men like that, time was a surfeit, a barrel they watched slowly drain. When really, he thinks, it's a glowing puddle you can carry in your hands; you should spend all your energy protecting it. Fighting for it. Working so hard not to spill one single drop. 2 With Germany arming at breakneck speed, England lost in a pacifist dream, France corrupt and torn by dissension, America remote and indifferent - Madame, my dear lady, do you not tremble for your children? 3 No doubt it is not popular to say these things, but I am accustomed to abuse and I expect to have a great deal more of it before I have finished. Somebody has to state the truth.... 3
1 The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie
2 All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
3 Churchill: The Power of Words, edited by Martin Gilbert