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AtonementAtonement

by Ian McEwan Synopsis

On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge.
By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever.
Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start,
and will have become victims of the younger girl’s imagination. Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a crime for which she will spend the rest of her life trying to atone.

UK Kirkus review

On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen year-old Briony Tallis,
a girl with a strange mind and a facility with words is preparing to cast, direct and star in her first melodrama. By the end of the day The Trials of Arabella remains unperformed, but Briony’s talent for fantasy starts a chain of events that will dramatically change the lives of many and haunt her for more than sixty years.
Atonement has three distinct parts. The first, making up more than half the novel,
describes the events of that summer’s day in 1935. The Tallises are an affluent family
living in middle class comfort in Surrey. Father is a hazy figure, a senior ministry figure working on plans for the impending war and carrying on a secret affair in London.
Neither he nor his frail and anxious wife are significant influences in their three children’s lives. Cecilia, newly graduated from Cambridge, is restless and uncertain about the path of her future life. Leon, less well defined as a character, is the older brother. Briony is the youngest child, immersed in a fantasy world of her own making, who through a false and careless accusation destroys the life of Cecilia’s lover, Robbie Turner, and her prospects of happiness. In part two, the narrative moves to 1940. Robbie has been released from prison and is one of the thousands of British soldiers serving in France and fleeing to Dunkirk from the German army. Briony and Cecilia, estranged from one another, are suffering in their own purgatory as nurses in London. In the third, shorter (and least successful)
section set in 1999 we discover that Briony, now in her seventies and a celebrated novelist,
is the author of Atonement reminiscing on the terrible consequences of her youthful mistake.
Atonement, McEwan’s first novel since the Booker-winning Amsterdam, is an extraordinary achievement and possibly the finest work he has yet published. It is a engrossing book, full of narrative suspense and wonderfully defined characters.
It is also a consciously literary novel, with allusions to Jane Austen, Elizabeth Bowen and Henry James, but with none of the ponderous self-importance that label often suggests.
Atonement confirms McEwan’s great talents and well deserves its place on the Booker shortlist. (Kirkus UK)

Captain Corelli's mandolin

Captain Corelli’s mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

by Louis de Bernieres

Synopsis – Waterstones.com

It is 1941 and Captain Antonio Corelli, a young Italian officer, is posted to the Greek island of Cephallonia as part of the occupying forces. At first he is ostracised by the locals, but as a conscien-tious but far from fanatical soldier, whose main aim is to have a peaceful war,
he proves in time to be civilised, humorous – and a consumate musician. When the local doctor’s daughter’s letters to her fiance go unanswered, the working of the eternal triangle seems inevitable. But can this fragile love survive as a war of bestial savagery gets closer and the lines are drawn between invader and defender?

UK Kirkus review

Set on the Greek island of Cephalonia, this is a tale of the inhabitants of that island throughout World War II. The story centres on the love between the doctor’s daughter Pelagia and the Italian officer Antonio Corelli, with a pageant of other characters, animals, catastrophes and joys so rich, so funny, so rewarding, that only superlatives can be used to describe this luscious novel.
(Kirkus UK)

Wer bin ich und wenn ja, wie viele? (2008)

Precht, Richard D.

Richard David Precht, Philosoph, Publizist und Autor, wurde 1964 in Solingen geboren.
Er promovierte 1994 an der Universität Köln und arbeitet seitdem für nahezu alle großen deutschen Zeitungen
und Sendeanstalten. Precht war Fellow bei der Chicago Tribune.
Im Jahr 2000 wurde er mit dem Publizistikpreis für Biomedizin ausgezeichnet.

Was ist Wahrheit? Woher weiß ich, wer ich bin? Warum soll ich gut sein?
Bücher über Philosophie gibt es viele. Doch Richard David Prechts Buch
“Wer bin ich?” ist anders als alle anderen Einführungen.
Niemand zuvor hat den Leser so kenntnisreich und kompetent und zugleich so spielerisch
und elegant an die großen philosophischen Fragen des Lebens herangeführt.
Ein einzigartiger Pfad durch die schier unüberschaubare Fülle unseres Wissens über den Menschen.
Von der Hirnforschung über die Psychologie zur Philosophie bringt Precht uns dabei auf den allerneusten Stand.
Wie ein Puzzle setzt sich das erstaunliche Bild zusammen, das die Wissenschaften heute vom Menschen zeichnen.
Eine aufregende Entdeckungsreise zu uns selbst: Klug, humorvoll und unterhaltsam!

Ein gutes Buch: angetrieben von unbändiger Erkenntnislust und ansteckendem Wissensdurst unternimmt
Richard David Precht eine Rundreise ins Reich der Philosophie und Hirnforschung,
verzichtet dabei wohltuend auf Originalität um der Orginalität willen und hat
gerade deshalb etwas sehr seltenes geschaffen: einen kompetenter Ratgeber,
der seine Leser nicht für dümmer verkauft, als sie sind.

“Druckfrisch – Neue Bücher mit Denis Scheck” vom 2. 3. 2008

“Wenn Sie dieses Buch lesen, haben Sie den ersten Schritt auf dem Weg zum Glück schon getan. […]
Dieses Buch ist unverzichtbar.”

Elke Heidenreich (25.01.2008)

„Fragen zu stellen ist eine Fähigkeit, die man nie verlernen sollte.“ (Richard David Precht)

Eine faszinierende Reise in die Welt der Philosophie – Richard David Prechts Buch bietet
Antworten auf die großen Fragen des Lebens.

• Eine ebenso kompetente wie spielerische Annäherung an die großen philosophischen Fragen
• Ein Buch, das die Lust am Denken weckt!

Liebe –  Ein unordentliches Gefühl

RICHARD DAVID PRECHT (2009)

Das unverzichtbare Buch für alle, die Ratgebern misstrauen, aber trotzdem endlich wissen wollen,
was es mit der Liebe auf sich hat!

Unzählige Ratgeber sind über die Liebe geschrieben worden, in allen Facetten wurde das unordentliche Gefühl,
das wir Liebe nennen, beleuchtet. Wir haben erfahren, wie wir unsere Liebe jung halten,
wie wir feurige Liebhaber werden und warum Männer nicht zuhören können.
Hat es uns weitergeholfen? Nicht wirklich, denn in der Tat ist es nicht damit getan,
das richtige Buch zu lesen, und alles wird gut. Warum dies so ist,
erklärt Richard David Precht in seinem neuen Buch auf ebenso fundierte wie anschauliche Weise:
Wie bereits in „Wer bin ich“ unternimmt er eine abenteuerliche Reise in die unterschiedlichsten
Disziplinen der Wissenschaft und lotst den Leser dabei heiter und augenzwinkernd durch den
Parcours der Liebe – an deren Unordentlichkeit wir uns am Ende wohl gewöhnen müssen!

Heiter und augenzwinkernd führt Precht den Leser durch den Parcours der Liebe.

“Ein Buch, das sich an alle richtet, die Liebes-Ratgebern nicht trauen, aber trotzdem wissen wollen,
was es mit der Liebe auf sich hat!”

Richard David Precht

A Spot of Bother

by Mark Haddon (2008)

Synopsis by Waterstone’s

George Hall doesn’t understand the modern obsession with talking about everything.
‘The secret of contentment, George felt, lay in ignoring many things completely.’
Some things in life, however, cannot be ignored. At fifty-seven, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement,
building a shed in his garden, reading historical novels, listening to a bit of light jazz.
Then Katie, his tempestuous daughter, announces that she is getting remarried, to Ray.
Her family is not pleased – as her brother Jamie observes, Ray has ‘strangler’s hands’.
Katie can’t decide if she loves Ray, or loves the wonderful way he has with her son Jacob,
and her mother Jean is a bit put out by all the planning and arguing the wedding has occasioned,
which get in the way of her quite fulfilling late-life affair with one of her husband’s former colleagues.
And the tidy and pleasant life Jamie has created crumbles when he fails to invite his lover,
Tony, to the dreaded nuptials. Unnoticed in the uproar, George discovers a sinister lesion on his hip,
and quietly begins to lose his mind. The way these damaged people fall apart – and come together – as a family
is the true subject of Mark Haddons’ disturbing yet very funny portrait of a dignified man trying to go insane politely.

Customer review
Lance Mitchell

This is the story of Kate’s wedding. That seems straightforward enough, but she has a mother who is having
an affair with her father’s ex work colleague. Her father believes that he has cancer and cracks up with
near disastrous consequences. Her brother is homosexual and worried about inviting his partner to the wedding.
Actually, her brother is probably the most sane character in the whole book; or maybe his partner is.
With all of these nutters around, the wedding may never happen. And if it does, there are bound to be ructions.
This book is just hilarious, Despite seeming to be very far-fetched, there are parts of the lives of each of the
characters with which I am sure any of us can identify.
Once again, Mark Haddon succeeds in writing in a style that imitates him sitting in your front room
telling you the story.
Just a very pleasant and easy read.

DOUBLE FAULT (1997)

by  Lionel Shriver

A cautionary tale of passion and rivalry. Double fault is also a love story set in the high pressure world
of professional tennis. With the unerring scrutiny that is her trademark.
Shriver examines a modern marriage – not a pretty sight.
“her exploration of her characters is so fearless that although readers may not sympathise with her,
they’ll understand why she is driven to destroy what she loves”  metro

Synopsis

‘Love me, love my game’, says twenty-three year-old Willy Novinsky.
Ever since she picked up a racquet at the age of four, tennis has been Willy’s one love,
until the day she meets Eric Oberdorf. She’s a middle-ranked professional tennis player and he’s a Princeton graduate
who took up playing tennis at the age of eighteen. Low-ranked but untested, Eric, too,
aims to make his mark on the international tennis circuit. Willy beholds compatibility spiced with friendly rivalry,
and discovers her first passion outside a tennis court. They marry. Married life starts well,
but animated shop talk and blissful love-making soon give way to full-tilt competition over who can rise to the
top first. Driven and gifted, Willy maintains the lead until she severs her knee ligaments in a devastating spill.
As Willy recuperates, her ranking plummets whilst her husband’s climbs, until he is eventually playing in the US Open.
Anguished at falling short of her lifelong dream and resentful of her husband’s success,
Willy slides irresistibly toward the first quiet tragedy of her young life.
Publisher and industry reviews

Jacket review

“‘An awesomely smart, stylish and pitiless achievement’ Independent ‘

Taps into unspoken fears of maternal ambivalence that are not easily acknowledged
and do not fit neatly into glossy magazine notions of female empowerment’ Guardian Unlimited

‘Harrowing, tense and thought-provoking, this is a vocal challenge to every accepted parenting manual
you’ve ever read’ Daily Mail ‘

An elegant psychological and philosophical investigation of culpability with a brilliant denouement’ Observer”

Embers (1942)

BY Sándor Márai (1900-1989)

Embers is the story of two very old men, both formed by a world that had long disappeared by the time
he wrote it. The General and his long-absent and estranged old army friend are products of the Austro-Hungarian Empire
so marvellously chronicled by Joseph Roth, Robert Musil and others. Márai was six years younger then Roth.
His view was decidedly retrospective and elegiac. It was less the losing of a world, more its loss that concerned him.
The two old men of the story live by a fiercely held code of honour that determines the complex relationship between
them and the woman they had both loved when young, the General’s by now long-dead wife Kristina,
who did not speak a word to her husband in the last eight years of her life and love of whom had broken up their friendship.

Márai was intensely interested in psychology, in the unwrapping of human fears, desires and motives.
He also had a dramatist’s instinct for the timing of confessions and revelations.
Above all he had the poet’s feeling for language and imagery, the way word pictures build expectations,
strip them down and open up the hidden corridors of consciousness.
When the young wife-to-be tells the Emperor Franz-Joseph of her impending marriage to the then
young Hungarian Officer of the Guards the emperor smiles and tells her to beware: “ In the forest where he is taking you there are bears.
He is a bear too.” By the beginning of the book the old bear is alone in his hunting lodge with only
his ninety-one year old wet-nurse from childhood as his companion.

Then, suddenly, the old friend announces his return. Everything must be perfect.
There are so many questions the General wants to ask.
What happened on that July day in 1899 when they went hunting together?
What had been the relationship between his much awaited guest and his wife?
Small but vital items of evidence are tucked away in the house.
The guest arrives half way through the book and the curious conversation begins. ©George Szirtes

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