Friday, April 24th, 2009
11:03 am - More Books  
The Yiddish Policemen's Union — Michael Chabon

Forget it, Meyer. It's Sitka.

Chabon carves an alternate history noir out of the notion that parts of Alaska might have been used to resettle Jewish refugees during WWII. It took awhile for me to get into the story, although much of that is probably that a lot of the Jewish text and subtext flew right over the head of this goy. But eventually the pages started turning. The mystery is a good one, although, as with much noir, the resolution is unsatisfying. Well worth reading.

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Lieutenant Hornblower — C.S.Forester

I've read most of the Sharpes, all of the Harringtons, the first Aubrey/Maturin, and most of the Leary/Mundy books, but this is the first time I've gone back and read one of the Hornblowers that inspired them all. I had read Forester's The Last Nine Days of the Bismarck when I was a kid, but nothing else. I had watched much of the Ioan Gruffudd series, as well as the Gregory Peck movie, but not at all recently.

It's an odd book. For one thing, it's told entirely from the point of view of Hornblower's friend Lieutenant Bush. This leads to there being occasional sections of the book, including one long section where Hornblower is given command of a prize and sent back to England, where the title character is hardly mentioned, much less seen. Then about three quarters of the way through the war ends (the Treaty of Amiens), and both Bush and Hornblower wind up on the beach at half pay. The rest of the book follows their adventures in peace time, to wit, Hornblower hustling whist while Bush looks on. Riveting stuff.

Still, it's an enjoyable read, and there's plenty of action in the first three quarters. After reading it, I mainlined Hornblower episodes, two of which are based on the book. The adaptations are mostly faithful to the book, with one big exception. What is a three page court of inquiry in the book turns into an episode length court martial for mutiny in the adaptation. That certainly added some tension that was lacking in the book, although I suppose the book version was more realistic. The producers also had the good sense to cut the last quarter of the book, and paste into into the first part of the Hornblower and Hotspur episodes.
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(no subject) - susanw on April 24th, 2009 - 04:57 pm
Ellen S.ellenbs on April 24th, 2009 - 10:51 pm
I love the Hornblower books! My uncle told me to read them when I was maybe 10 or 11, and I did because I was flattered to be recommended something besides young adult books. (Of course, he also told me I should read Thomas Hardy, and that never took.)

I used to read through the whole series (as well as every Jane Austen) once a year, starting at the beginning of the school year. I remember being in Nevers when I was in my teens and realizing that Forester put the city on the wrong side of the Loire in the book where Hornblower has to escape from France - I was so shocked!
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