Tuesday Trivia

ceriseLots of bits and pieces happening during the past week or so. The biggest news is that I have taken the rest of  my Penguin Book Collection to auction. It will be auctioned off on Friday. I did keep the vintage Illustrated Classics that comprise the wood prints and I kept the collection of cerise (pink) Penguins. They are the travel and adventure books mainly from the 1940’s to 1960’s. I also still have the 37 boxed sets.  I will probably keep the above lists on this blog as a reference for other people who collect Penguins.

As I drove away from the auction house I was near tears but then remembered the Buddhist principals of impermanence and stopped at McDonalds for a large Orange Juice and an Egg McMuffin.  I then felt okay. I was beginning to worry a lot about who was going to take this house apart if I depart this earth first. I don’t want Mr. Penguin worrying about it. I still have so many adventures on the shelves to keep me happy.Snip20171031_2

I decided to treat the whole collection as the Penguin Journey. As if it had been  a holiday that had to come to an end. I visited England on the book hunt. I made many friends. I learned a great deal about the Penguin Publishing history. I gave several community talks. I visited the Bristol University Archives. I had a great time over almost 10 years and now that holiday is over.

Time to move on. I  have never shied away from moving on in any capacity.  I am getting deeper and deeper into photography and enjoy the new friends I am making in the arena of the Hobart Photo Club and the challenges through the Cannon Collective. Learning Photoshop is exasperating and fun and hopefully will keep dementia at bay. It is really like learning a foreign language which is supposed to be great in fighting off dying brain cells.

My photography equipment doesn’t take up as much space either as 2000 books did. In many way it is true that decluttering helps de-stress a mind. It wasn’t ‘sparking joy’ as it once did.

I still have five rescue pets under my roof to keep me stressed and happy with their worries, recklessness and happiness.

He is all grown up now but I still love this photo.

I might take up Wordless Wednesday with photographs. I picked that up from “O” of On Bookes blog. I enjoy her classics blog, life with rescue hens and budgies as well as her photographs of northern England.  I am in the midst of three books at the moment.

Snip20171031_3A crime book by Robert Crais, The Promise,  is currently on my phone kindle. I have followed his characters of Elvis Cole and Joe Pike for years.  He lives in the hills of Los Angeles and I enjoy his antics.  I read that when I am out of the house waiting for people and appointments.

A wonderful version of Great Expectations is on the car bluetooth speakers through Audible.com. I am loving it. Dickens was wonderful in character descriptions and dialogue and I am loving this story I have not read before. I look forward to driving and listening to another chapter.

Snip20171031_4.pngIn print I am continuing walking The El Camino in Talking with Cats by W. Lee Nichols.  I love the philosophy he thinks about, his experiences in cafes and hostels and his mind is always turning over. Meaning of life stuff and history.

Speaking of long walks. I am still playing with the dogs but thinking I don’t get as much exercise as I need. I have signed up for swimming and senior exercise classes at a local fitness centre. Having grown up within the cornfields of mid Michigan I wasn’t exposed to a lot of swimming. Paddling around a lake or fishing, yes, once in awhile. But the Australian childhood puts growing up in other countries to shame when it comes to swimming.  I am enjoying being in the water and getting out of breath from lap to lap. I do mean lap to lap too.  Swim one lap. Rest. Swim another one. Rest. My goal at the moment is two without the rest. Small steps.

Great Journeys Collection

I forgot to mention I also have hung onto the more modern Penguin smaller books. English Journeys series. Great Journeys series. Great ideas. I am toying with the idea of saving these for weekend reads. Now I need an alliterative title for post on weekend Penguins. Though it may just be called Weekend Penguins. I am planning on making some minor tweaks to my blog’s focus. It is coming up on about 7 years and we all need changes from time to time.

Looking ahead to 2018 I see travel. We have a big trip coming up for the month of March and there will be much walking. I need to be more fit. More on the later. I see more reading of the TBR. I see more Penguin books posted. I see better health (2017 was a wipe out). I see photography. I see food. I am cooking more. I might share one of the Great Foods books Penguin puts out.

More to come.  Are you as ready to finish off 2017 and start a new year as I am?

New Outfit…

A Fuller’s Book Voucher on a Rainy Day

Tassie has been very dry lately. This morning the rains have come and the temperature is high enough to have the window open so we can hear it. A favourite kind of a day. While the cats are doing high speed runs through the house the dogs are a bit quieter. Molly, our terrier has gone back to bed. Odie sits with me every morning. 20171019_102341

This morning is a good time to talk about new books. Fuller’s. An independent book shop.  I talk about this shop a lot. It really is my home away from home with their lovely books, friendly, family like staff and a good cafe to boot.

Whenever I need a gift for someone (or myself) I usually get it here from their wide range of books, beautiful stationery or cards and calendars.  As  a result I get these wonderful book vouchers sent out every so often throu th their rewards program. Yesterday I had a big one and put it to good use.

I generally use it to buy reference books of some sort but since I have been in a book reading slump I thought I would put it towards some novels that might make me curious enough to inspire me to put down internet articles and magazines.

Here is the loot!

Bill Bryson makes me laugh and I have always wanted to read this one. I have read several of his others but somehow this has escaped me over the years. Having done several road trips through the UK I know I will enjoy this.


I have no idea who this is but the cover drew me in. The book blurb states, in part, “Yasmin Abdel-Magied is a young Muslim dynamo offering a bracing breath of fresh air-and hope. As a 21 year old she found herself working on a remote oil and gas rig: the only woman.”  This is her story. It includes being a third culture kid, growing up migrant and Muslim in Australia post 9/11.

It sounds really interesting and comes from an interesting perspective. 20171019_102407

Then there is this. I had a friend who died a couple of years ago. He was a hoarder. Like the ones you see on tv reality shows. It is a psychological illness that I have been fascinated by. I am also a BBC First TV addict of British forensic crime shows. This book might be gruesome but it is a part of our society that does exist and I admit, I am curious. Sometimes we need a change of genre in our reading selections. I think one of these in this subject will be enough.


Last but not least I wanted another bit of non fiction. The Organised Mind by Daniel Levitan supports to help us weed the wheat from the chaff with so much media and internet overload in society. It discusses our daily processing limits and claims to help organise our memory, attention span and improve our memory.  It is supposed to be based on neuro-scientific principles. We will see how evidence based it is.

As it is continues to rain and I have nothing else planned until my photo club meets this evening seems my day is off to a good start.  How do you spend a rainy day?

coffee shop penguin





We love Saturdays…

coffee shop penguinI know it is a holdover from working so many years but Saturday always feels good. There are choices of things to do and often never enough time to do them. The International Photo Walk is happening today. I might join in at the Hobart wharf and participate in that for a couple of hours. The Penguin enjoys travelling around Hobart also. I need a way to attach him to my camera strap or backpack.


I had one of those nights where one goes to bed early, being very tired and wakes at three am ready to start the day.  After rearranging two dogs and two cats on the bed, straightening the covers, and getting a glass of milk; I propped myself up and walked the El Camino trail for a couple of hours with W. Lee Nichols, Walking With Cats. It is one of those books where you read a couple of chapters at a time. One needs to absorb the villages, history of each town he explores and the landscape. I have yet to meet one of the cats the title refers to but feel I am getting close.


Snip20170930_3The thought of walking this trail is very appealing but some of the crowded accommodation not so. Up to 250,000 people a year are now doing this pilgrimage and the thought of that sounds soul destroying. I know though that people do walk in various spots where they find fewer people. I think living in Tasmania, (Australia really) one gets spoiled to enjoying nature without hordes of people at every turn.

Snip20171007_3I also listened to some of the ABC Radio National’s program (repeat of the day) Books and Arts. It comes on week mornings from 10:00 to 11:00 but I often catch the repeat later in the night. I listened to an interview with author Michelle de Kretser about her latest book A Life to Come. The book description really appealed to me and I will be interested to hear what others who read it think of it.  I tried to get into her earlier book A Question of Travel twice but couldn’t swing it. My mood though has shifted a bit towards various authors and I may give both of these a try again but the latest one sounds the most interesting. (At least at this hour in time.)

Today is Snip20171007_2the weekly  Salamanca Market in Hobart. It is a very large market with upscale crafts amongst Asian made trinkets, jewellery, food stores and areas of fresh vegetables from the Hmong people that remain here. Those that didn’t relocate to Queensland. I may have a walk around it today.  I have been in a cooking mood. Something about spring cleaning cabinets, getting rid of old glasses and finally our old set of cheap dishes. I treated us to something nicer and also bought a pressure cooker. I remember the days when pressure cookers exploded and yesterday when it released its steam at the end of cooking the pumpkin, potatoes and leeks for a soup I was making, I jumped three feet across the kitchen.

Snip20171007_6There is a new film at the State Cinema in North Hobart (our local Art theatre that now has seven separate cinemas in it) I would like to see. The description states “At an intimate and sumptuous celebration of her husband’s latest business venture, Beatriz is introduced to Doug Strutt (John Lithgow), a ruthless billionaire real-estate developer. She listens uncomfortably while Doug brags about his aggressive business tactics, but when he boasts about shooting a rhino in Africa, she can no longer hold her tongue. As opposing worldviews collide over a dinner table, Beatriz’s pent up outrage spills out in a way that surprises even herself. The Doug Strutt character is based on Donald Trump, as some believe and current political arguments are infused throughout this film.
Patrons are allowed wine, coffee, tea and ice cream cones but no popcorn is sold). It has a lovely cafe too with a small menu of small meals and wonderful sweets.

It is now time to decide what to do with the day. The sun is up and it is supposed to rise to a spring like 18C (    ) degrees.

Daylight Savings Begins in Tasmania Tonight

Hadley’s Hotel- Hobart, Tas

Life:  So happy winter is over. Although we did some wonderful overseas trips the rest of the winter has had me down and out with illness after illness.  I won’t write about how I lost my lunch at the Hadley’s Hotel where I was trying to attend the Readers and Writers festival. Never mind, there will be another one.

Book Life: I dropped out of my book club for awhile as it was just too much. Too many books I wasn’t enjoying made me rethink the myriad of ones on my shelves I really want to read. I find reading takes more effort lately outside of blog pages, newspapers and magazines. Films are hard competition too. So if I am going to embrace my books then I need to read the ones I have bought over the years or the ones that really hit a note from blogs I read.


Films: Nothing at the theatre but yesterday I sat down and watched To Sir With Love. It was made in 1967. I was in grade 11 at the time. I loved and still love Sidney Poitier.  I cannot believe this is the 50th anniversary of this film and I really enjoyed it. So much time has gone by. When?


And who knew one of the other teachers portrayed in the film was Patricia Routledge. (Hyacinth Bucket of all people amongst other important roles) and James Clavell (The Asian series, Shogun, King Rat, Tai Pan) did the screenplay from the book by E.R. Braithwaite




Books on the Go:   I have two on the go, both very different.  Talking With Cats by W. Lee Nichols. Mr. Nichols was raised and home schooled in Appalachia in the U.S. . Now he is at the pointy end of his life, he has been diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer. He had the operation. Surgeons recommend radiation and maybe chemo. He says, “No, I want to walk the El Camino Trail…all 500 miles of it.” He begins. This is the story. He describes the wonderful food he encounters, the trail he takes, the accommodation, the hip pain. I have just begun it but am enjoying it thoroughly. I assume he will also reflect on his past and talk about other things. Being raised in Appalachia, the other foods and cultures he has studied. He advocates for senior health and the healing power of joy and nature. He wants to be known as “the Poster Boy for Walking”.

Nobody writes about Western Australia like Tim Winton does (in my opinion)

The other book I am almost finished with is one from Audible.com.  Tim Winton’s book of  short stories.  Tim Winton, The Boy Behind the Curtain.  He states, ‘Being a copper’s son, I’ve always got one eye out for trouble. I can’t help it. But I don’t go looking for it anymore.’

Published 2017 by Penguin books. I love the writing of Tim Winton. I feel as though someone has put me into Western Australia during the 1960’s and left me there. This book reflects a great deal on the life of being the son of a copper during this time. Many of the stories reflect his experiences with his dad. His dad’s bad car accident that nearly killed him. Coming across a motorbike accident while in the car one evening with his dad. Growing up in church and his views on that institution. He discusses the conflicted impact those days had on his Sundays, when he loved the memories of community and family but yearned to use those Sundays to go surfing with friends.  Every time I hop in the car and take the 10 to 15 minutes to drive into town or take the dogs to the beach I hear yet another tale of his, narrated by him as I become a Western Australian again.

Both books are full of thoughts, ideas, good writing and in Tim’s case quite a bit of humour.


Travel:   I seem to travel mainly to the dog beach with Odie and Molly. They love it and as tourists flock here from other places  I can always pretend I am on an exotic holiday just by living in Tassie.

Until next time…Snip20170808_1

Time to Catch UP

Sorry I haven’t been around lately. We got home from a wonderful trip to Koh Samuii, Thailand and then a few days in Singapore safely.  It was a very welcome break from winter days though we forget how hot Singapore can be.

I realised the Penguin was getting to be a trifle dirty from travelling the past couple of years. He has been on four different continents without a bath so a bath was in order.Snip20170912_4

As soon as we got home, probably from the airplane trip home, I came down with a whopping case of bronchitis. Coughing spasms making it hard to breathe or sleep. It is now on its way out but this particular bug has really hung on.

It was a time for magazine reading, peppermint tea with honey, catching up on articles cut out of magazines I wanted to get rid of.


I did manage to finish The Group by Mary McCarthy. I thought it was an excellent book as it is the story of several women graduates from Vassar College in the US during the 20’s and 30’s. Our book club discussed it a week or so ago. Most found it average, a couple didn’t care for it and two of us gave it 4 stars. I think the positive side of this book for us ‘older women’ who really enjoyed it was it showed the life women usually took once they graduated from college. (University)

These women were very educated and intelligent but their whole life seemed to involve around getting a husband and the colour of curtains and furnishings for their new house. The men didn’t seem to respect them for the women who they were. It showed a social progression that many women took during this time period.

A criticism of the book was we didn’t think the writing reflected the time period of the 20’s and 30’s. It read as if it was after WWII and the 1950’s. I know as I read it I constantly had the fifties and the life of my own mother in mind. She was a woman that finished two years of university before war broke out. She was a very creative and clever woman but married a man who spent his life in the military. The rest of her life was supporting social activities related to his career development. She developed alcoholism, depression and had many unfinished dreams though I am not sure she ever really knew what they were. This book reminded me a great deal of her life and the expectations on women of the time.

Snip20170912_3Then when I was feeling quite crook and the antibiotics were giving me headaches and nausea I laid in bed one day and checked out the book Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard as an e-Book from the State Library.

Non-fiction. A man with issues from his past who is a long distance runner participates in a race through the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. A small terrier attaches herself to him and runs beside him. A bond grows. When he is finished with the race and has come to know the spirit of this small terrier he is hesitant to just walk away from this homeless dog.

The book is the story of the trials and tribulations of getting Gobi back to Edinburgh, Scotland including Gobi becoming lost in a large Chinese city and being found again. The whole journey these two experienced was at times harrowing, uplifting and I only read the book because I knew it had a happy ending. I always have to know the ending of animal stories before I will commit to reading them.

I understand this book is currently being made into a film by Fox studios.


This week also has me participating in the Tasmanian Reader and Writer’s Festival in Hobart. I am signed up for four sessions and I hope to do a post about each one.

As  I am feeling much better now but still not 100% I need to get back into life again. I have been quite self indulgent in my crabby mood about getting sick, yet again this winter.

Spring is supposedly here in Australia. The Australians celebrate seasonal changes on the first of the month of the equinox and solstice. However as I have come to realise the previous weather is not yet finished I hold out for spring to begin on 22nd of September, not the first. We had snow here a few days ago and in my mind that is not yet spring.

Everything is in bloom though or about to burst into bloom. It has been warming up a bit and the first of October sees us going into Daylight Savings Time with more light in the evenings. I am more than ready for that.

I hope this finds everyone happy and safe.  For those Americans, especially in the southern United States I hope you have found safety through the terrible hurricanes. I know I followed the American news for a couple of days  as Irma swept through my old home of Fort Myers, Florida. I doubt the house we lived in at the time has survived without a great deal of flooding. I remember digging a hole to put in a post for a bird feeder once in the back yard and we hit water. I can’t imagine how it must be now after Irma.

This is our house cat Cousin Eddie. He has a malocclusion that makes him look like a vampire. He is a very funny cat, often in trouble. He is extremely smoochy and loves cuddles.

Stay safe wherever you are and enjoy what you are doing today. Especially if everything gets to you in the world, just focus on today. Do something that makes you laugh. That, to me, is the best cure for everything.

Week I- Robin Dalton at Koh Samuii

Aunts Up the Cross by Robin Dalton- Text Publishing 1965

I must say I am about 100% better than I was a week ago. It is amazing what a week in the heat, sun and light can do for someone when winter is taken away. We are in Koh Samuii, Thailand, eating everything in sight, reading, swimming and resting. Lots of resting. From what I am not sure but we are doing it.

I have just finished the Australian book (Text- first published in 1965) Aunts Up the Cross. This is a bohemian memoir of growing up in the 1920’s and 30’s through to about 1945 in Kings Cross, Sydney. It is the most wonderful read and extremely entertaining.

Sacred in 93 F or 37 C weather


When a book begins as this, one must keep reading:

My great-aunt Juliet was knocked over and killed by a bus when she was eighty-five. The bus was travelling very slowly in the right direction and could hardly have been missed by anyone except Aunt Juliet, who must have been travelling fairly fast in the wrong direction

The introduction to the book is by writer and humorist Clive James. He also does a wonderful job introducing this story. He writes his intro in 1996:

Here at last is the living proof that a civilised, unpretentious, fully evocative prose style had been available in Australia ever since the young Robin Eakin (her maiden name) handed in her first essay. All we had ever needed to do was look in the wrong place. And so often happens, the true art was filed under entertainment.

Robin writes of the eccentrically large house they lived in (though in later life she said it wasn’t as large as she remembered it)

Her father was a doctor in the area and everyone seemed to know him. Her mother entertained anyone who came to the door. They always had relatives, friends and completely unknown people staying with them. She fed the entire community. Her parents had a loving, sometimes volatile relationship and the tricks her father played on people were laugh out loud funny. Her ancestry of all of the aunts plays an important role though she never met half of them. Death came frequently to her house over the years but in such a way it is hard not to read bits out loud to your partner. Is there such a term as “ludicrous deaths?” This book certainly has it in abundance.


I won’t say a lot more as Mr. Penguin is reading this book now and I don’t want to spoil it. If you are Australian and have not read this book then you must remedy the situation.

If you are not Australian you must read it in order to learn we do not all live in the outback with hats and corks on our heads.

The history of Kings Cross from the 1920’s up to the time of WWII is fun and enlightening. It was a very different place to how it is now. I loved it and the people inside this book will be with me forever.

I promise if you leave a towel on a lounge then disappear and want to reserve it for the day I can guarantee it will not be there when you return. I will happily be sipping a mango crush or a lime smoothie in its place. Get over your rudeness and find another spot.

Now for the “travellin’ part of the Penguin.  We were out by the pool the other day. A couple sat reading in the chairs beside us. I could see the woman was nearing the end of her book. I crane my neck around deck chairs and posts to get a glimpse of what people are reading when I am on holiday. Does anyone else do this?

She threw down the book and burst out, “Well!!!  He didn’t make it in the end.”

When she put the book down on the little table beside the chair and headed for the pool I had to get up and follow her lead, also into the pool. By then I HAD to see what the book was. Blast the spoilers.

This guy walks up and down the beach all day. As soon as he sells one floatation device he blows up another.Enter a caption


The Chamber by John Grisham. Popular holiday reading by many people. I quite like the occasional John Grisham courtroom drama.

It turned out they were a couple from Melbourne and we have made ‘Holiday Friends’ with them. We chat to them at breakfast in the morning. Complain about our noisy neighbours and squabbling children. Last night as we walked to dinner the smell of marijuana was very strong down our outside hallway. What fools. Thai authorities do not smile upon drug use in this country. My worst nightmare, outside of being dragged off a campsite by a saltwater crocodile in the Northern Territory, is a long stint in an Asian prison on drug charges. I wouldn’t even pack tobacco for being so paranoid.

The vendors walking home in the evening.

Thursday we leave for Singapore for about 5 or 6 days.  I think I am getting ready to face chilly, windy Tasmania again. I always thank the powers that be for having an Australian life and the blessings that are.


I have scattered a few photos through in case you want to see how hard we all have it this week.

There is always someone trying to hog the sheets.



The Penguin and I hit the Road Again…

20160914_133958 copyI am in the middle of a big winter shake up. WINTER= Beautiful sunny days. But by the end of it I am fed up with the short days with dark coming too early. I am tired of the cold. I am tired of the damp. I think many people who live in the southern regions of Australia feel this way in winter and head for warmer climates if only for a couple of weeks.

We are leaving this afternoon for 8 days or so to Koh Samuii in Thailand. We are going to lie on a chaise lounge between the beach and the swimming pool. Picture me at the bottom of the pool, long snorkel and a drink in hand. I might sit there for 2 or 3 days. The hot sun beats down.

Then we are going to Singapore to  be around people for a week and celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary.

There have been family issues back home,(Michigan)  including my very old mother who is probably in her final year. It all makes me sad and winter is not a good time to be sad.  When I seek refuge in a book I am reminded I am reading War and Peace.

I have finished five parts out of ten. I have enjoyed it for the most part but it dawned on me the other evening I do not care about these people.  I enjoyed the strategy and conversations during the war scenes. Those were the scenes I thought I would dislike the most. They weren’t. It is the domestic part I get so impatient with. The society rules, the silly women who are presented again and again. The men who prance around. They are either silly or weak. I am tired of them. I want to get back into the books with strong women, modern women. Yes, women with smart phones and important jobs.  I can’t take anymore of it. I am, yes, quitting.

I have SO MANY tbr books on my shelves that look like adventure. They look like fun. They have beautiful covers. I don’t care if the stories are new or old, they are books that I want to spend time with.  When one is older, one is conscious of how little time may be left in the scheme of things. Even 20 years is not a great deal of time considering how fast the years go by.

I always wanted to read War and Peace. I wanted to be able to say, “Oh yes, I read that.” Am I comfortable not being able to say it? Yes, Absolutely. I get the gist. I will, however continue to follow the others who are reading and writing about it.   I have partial interest in hearing what might happen. I might pick it up again but when winter depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder has left me. When family issues overseas don’t occupy so many of my thoughts. When politics are better?  Ha!!

I am going to take a couple of copies of ‘real’ books with me. For the poolside. Something interesting or fun. I have many books on my Kindle and I can access the eBooks from the library.  I am going to work on my photography. I am going to take walks along thSnip20170808_1e beach. The camera is packed. The Penguin is ready. Mr. P. has his things ready.  The housesitter comes tonight. The cats are at camp (cattery).  As one person, name unknown, once said.  “Elvis has left the building.”   Out of the way. “We are leaving the building.”

Stay tuned.


Robert Dessaix- Part 2 (Books of)

The week before last I went to an author interview in the city. I posted up Part I and said I would post up the main books of Mr. Dessaix this week. They have been reissued, as some were out of print, by Xoum Publishing.  You can view Part I here.

Be sure to notice the flashy new covers. I quite like them.

When we talk of Robert Dessaix we most commonly think five main novels he wrote. Most are autobiographical or linked to history. In the talk I attended he talked briefly to each one. There are other books one can read that are not mentioned below. I thought I would give you a brief explanation of what he said as he referred to them.


My Mother’s Disgrace-  This is  his most autobiographical book. He talks about growing up in Sydney to adoptive parents. He discusses the relationship he found later on to his biological mother. The difficulties of coming out ‘gay’ during that time period and his family’s reaction to it.


Night Letters – In this novel he writes of his visit to Venice, Italy. He is coming to terms with his recent diagnosis of HIV. The books discusses much history of Venice and how he incorporates his thoughts of his illness into this holiday destination. He writes in his hotel room every night as he comes to terms with where his life is heading.

He mentioned the first two books are often taught in the school curriculums. He told a funny story of a Marist College in New South Wales where these books were on the reading curriculum. He asked the representative at the school how does a book with the content of homosexuality and AIDS make it onto a curriculum in a Marist school? The reply was, “The Brothers don’t know what they are about.”   (More audience laughter)


Corfu – He mentioned he likes this book quite a bit more and thought it a good starting point for those who haven’t read him. Although he stated the critics didn’t seem to appreciate it much and he will always remember some of the cutting remarks he read. He begins to explore in more depth the ordinariness of people around him. He decides what is important to observe whilst travelling. He ties that in with what he also feels about himself.  He discusses how intimacy in all its different forms makes up your life.


Twilight of Love: Travels With Turgenev – This is a non fictional account of his love for Russian literature. He attended Moscow University and taught Russian language. His favourite was Turgenev. He decided to learn more about him and visited his homes in Germany, France and Russia. He was interested in his love life around the married opera singer Pauline Viardot and the triangle of love she lived in. There are themes of love, sex, theology and eventually death. I have read it and think it a book one reads once without asking questions and then needs a re-read to consolidate all that is in it. This is especially true if one is not familiar with Russian literature.


Arabesque – This book was not discussed in quite the detail as the others as we only had one hour and then questions. I have taken the synopsis from Amazon below:

One Sunday afternoon in a secluded valley in Normandy, Robert Dessaix chanced upon the castle where the famous French writer Andre Gide spent his childhood. Recalling the excitement Robert felt when he first read Gide as a teenager, he set off to recapture what it was that once drew him so strongly to this enigmatic figure. On a magic carpet ride from Lisbon to the edge of the Sahara, from Paris to the south of France and Algiers, Robert takes us to the places where the Nobel Prize-winning author, in ways still scandalous to modern sensibilities, lived out his unconventional ideas about love, marriage, sexuality and religion. Featuring meditations and conversations with fellow travellers on such diverse subjects as why we travel, growing old, illicit passions, and the essence of Protestantism – and illustrated with over 100 stunning illustrations and photos – Arabesques is Robert Dessaix and travel memoir at their absolute finest.

He did go on to talk about the different selves people seem to live in. He believes everyone has more than one self and if you live in a small town/city sometimes it is hard to live out all those selves. He enjoys travelling because he can let some of his other selves come to the fore. Being gay and a well known writer he made a funny remark, “How does anyone have an affair in Hobart?”  A woman from the audience called out, “Get a different car!”  The room erupted into laughter.

We covered a great deal of Dessaix territory in this single hour at the bookshop. I have read his books, My Mother’s Disgrace; Night Letters and Twilight of Love. I have Arabesque and Corfu sitting on the shelf.  I think sometime I will have to have a Dessaix month and reread the books I have read as it has been a long time, and get into


the ones I haven’t. I feel I have a better understanding of what he is saying.

It certainly was an evening of enjoyment and our heads swirled afterwards with


so many topics.