Monday, December 13, 2010

The Tower, The Zoo and the Tortoise

After the almost constant drama and "history-witnessing" events of Fall of Giants, it was refreshing to read this whimsical little book by Julia Stuart. The central characters are a Beefeater and his wife - you know, the guys who wear the red suits and guard (and live in, and act as tourist guides for) the Tower of London. The interplay between them and their neighbors/co-workers is hilarious at times, but there is solemnity too. An underlying theme is the mourning the couple are in for their only son who died at the age of 11.

But on the whole, it's quite an entertaining little book. It's great for a history nut like me, who can only imagine what it would be like to live in a place like that literally surrounded by it.

I've already taken it back to the library but I think the dust jacket notes said it's only Stuart's second novel; I look forward to seeing more from her.

Fall of Giants

When I saw that Ken Follett was coming out with a new book, I reserved it at the library right away.

In typical Follett fashion, the story takes place before, during and after World War I, on three different continents, involving several different families who all somehow become intertwined.

It is rather a gloomy book, but I guess it was a gloomy period of history. Even when the war ended there was still poverty and disruption, especially in the defeated countries. There is love and hope too though.

Over and over again the theme recurs about how "upper class" men were automatically given leadership in the army, with sometimes not so spectacular results. One can see how World War I was the catalyst for the end of some of the European autocracies.

It's the first of a trilogy; I intend to read the others, whenever they come out some years down the road.