A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor: This is part of my non-fiction November reading, and has been on my TBR for at least a couple of years I have the NYRB edition that is pictured, and I’m at 30%, enjoying a rather leisurely trek across a snowbound Europe with the author. I’m taking my time with this one, so it may reappear next week as well.
Since the festive season is just around the corner, I thought I would share this rather lovely description of Fermor’s Christmas holiday early in his travels, as he is crossing Germany:
The only customer, I unslung my rucksack in a little Gasthof. Standing on chairs, the innkeeper’s pretty daughters, who were aged from five to fifteen, were helping their father decorate a Christmas tree; hanging witch-balls, looping tinsel, fixing candles to the branches, and crowning the tip with a wonderful star. They asked me to help and when it was almost done, their father, a tall, thoughtful-looking man, uncorked a slim bottle from the Rüdesheim vineyard just over the river. We drank it together and had nearly finished a second by the time the last touches to the tree were complete. Then the family assembled round it and sang. The candles were the only light and the solemn and charming ceremony was made memorable by the candle-lit faces of the girls—and by their beautiful and clear voices. I was rather surprised that they didn’t sing Stille Nacht: it had been much in the air the last few days; but it is a Lutheran hymn and I think this bank of the Rhine was mostly Catholic.
In the inn where I halted at midday—where was it? Geisenheim? Winkel? Östrich? Hattenheim?—a long table was splendidly spread for a feast and a lit Christmas tree twinkled at one end. About thirty people were settling down with a lot of jovial noise when some soft-hearted soul must have spotted the solitary figure in the empty bar. Unreluctantly, I was drawn into the feast; and here, in my memory, as the bottles of Johannisberger and Markobrunner mount up, things begin to grow blurred.
Nothing Can Rescue Me by Elizabeth Daly: I have just barely started this one by reading the first three pages or so. This is a Felony & Mayhem reissue, originally published in 1943, and I checked it out of my library. A number of Daly’s mysteries were republished, and I just randomly picked this one because of the publication date – it fits with my current obsession with all literature WWII related.
The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman: I put a hold on this as soon as I finished the first in series, The Thursday Murder Club, before it was even published. My library has 37 copies, and it still took about 6 weeks for my hold to come up. My mom absolutely loved the first book as well, and we share a kindle account, so we will both be reading this one over the weekend! Reviews suggest that it may even be better than the first book, and I for one can’t wait to spend more time with the Thursday Murder Club.