Charlotte Reads Classics

Slowly, slowly, she sipped a sentence.

Trips to Sweden

I’d love to go to Sweden but seeing as that isn’t imminently on the cards I’ll have to content myself with some Swedish books: Before the Frost by Henning Mankell and The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson.

Over the last four years I’ve been working my way through the Wallander series and now I only have one left! Before the Frost is another chilling murder investigation, this time with a focus on religious extremism. The book focuses on Kurt Wallander’s daughter Linda as she joins the police force. It was interesting to see the character I feel like I’ve come to know well from another perspective, although I’ve never been particularly fond of Linda.

I’m really sad that I’ve almost come to the end of this series – I’ve just got The Troubled Man left to read. Having said that, I have heard that Henning Mankell’s non-Wallander novels are just as good and I do own copies of Depths and The Man From Beijing which I could try next.

I got into Wallander because of the BBC series with Kenneth Brannagh. The programme is on its third series, and I was pleased to find out that they are showing Before the Frost on Sunday. So it was a well-timed read! I don’t read crime fiction other than Wallander and the occasional Jo Nesbo, but I’d really recommend these. As I have said MANY times before, Mankell is an amazing writer and a master of human psychology. His criminals are often incredibly dark and disturbing, but never so far removed from humanity that you aren’t completely chilled.

If I wasn’t convinced I wanted to read The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by the title, I certainly was by the sticker that was on the envelope containing my copy:

This wasn’t the book I was expecting it to be – it was much more (and better). This is the story of a man who escapes from his retirement home just before his hundredth birthday party. His escape, despite being at quite a low speed, is classic black comedy as he attracts all sorts of shady and eccentric characters. The story keeps flashing back to earlier parts of his life – the more I found out about the man, the more hooked I was! I don’t want to go into the plot details so much because the surprise is really what made this book for me. All in all, reading this felt like a real adventure.

Nabokov’s Daydreams

The Enchanter is a book that I really like in theory, although not quite so much in practice. In theory it is a reader’s declaration of love for her favourite writer. Lila Azam Zanganeh writes about the man she imagines Nabokov to be: Daydreaming about his marriage, hobbies, and inspirations. She gets to the heart of his writing – the language, and his philosophy – the pursuit of happiness. What let this book down was that it was a little too jumbled, an experiment of different styles is OK but this didn’t quite work. On the other hand, it was great because it is all about a reader’s admiration for their favourite author. About how you can appreciate books  outside your generation, country or even language, because they are beautiful.

What the book did convince me of was that I should read more Nabokov. I loved Lolita when I read it a few years ago, so I think I’ll start by re-reading that. From Zanganeh’s witterings about his other books the one I think I’d pick next is Ada or Ardor. And look how nice the Penguin cover is…

If you were to write a book, a love letter of sorts, to a writer, who would you pick?