Saturday, August 28, 2021

Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie

Dumb Witness is probably, if not one of my favorites, certainly one of the most memorable Christie's novels for me. As a crime novel, its plot is mediocre. Indeed, there are some flaws, which is not of Christie's usual quality. But maybe, she has intended to write it rather casually, and out of her love of her family.

I loved it mostly because of one character: Bob, the dog. Yes, he is the fox terrier you usually see on the cover (at least I noticed that some editions use the dog's image on their covers). Does it mean Bob IS the dumb witness in this story? I wish!! Imagine, if only Bob did see the murderer did something, and unwittingly, when he asks Hastings to play, eventually leads Poirot to a clue - it would have been wonderful! But unfortunately, no. Bob just lends his careless habit of putting his toy ball on the top stair to inspire an accident.

Bob's owner is Miss Emily Arundell, a wealthy but prudish spinster. She makes it clear that after her death, her wealth would be divided equally to her nephew and nieces: Thomas, Theresa, and Bella - whom, in a way or other - need the money badly. One night during the stay of the nephew and nieces, Emily Arundell fell from the stairs after tripping over something. They found Bob's ball laid on the top stair in the morning, but is it really the cause? Later on Hercule Poirot found a nail covered with varnish on the top stairs (on which, deduced Poirot, the murderer tied a string that has tripped Emily Arundell). So, it's a murder attempt after all! - and poor Bob has been wrongly accused!!

There'd be a real murder at some point, but the one stuck in my memory is always the stairs accident, for two reasons. First, since it's the only incident which linked Bob with the case. And then, the incident itself seems to be rather forced. How can someone think of hammering and varnishing a nail in the middle of the night, while the nearest bedroom door is slightly opened?

As I said, it's a weak crime story; not one of Christie's brilliant works, I admit, but memorable and heartwarming nevertheless. Far from disappointed, I admired Christie more for writing variable crime novels which are are always entertaining!

Rating: 4 / 5

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

My writing mood still hasn't returned yet, but I need to get these thoughts out of my mind soon, so for the next couple of months (perhaps, hopefully shorter!) I would only jot down my random thoughts in a post after each reading. It might not be a proper review, but at least it summarizes the book/reading.

Here's my take on The Beautiful and Damned, which I've read in June (more to follow).

🔅 Anthony Patch is a self indulgent young man, an heir to a wealthy grandfather.
🔅 Irresponsible, lazy, and drunkard.
🔅 Gloria Gilbert is a self absorbed beauty.
🔅 Imagine the two combined in a marriage. The most unlikely couple who bring their own ego to the marriage.
🔅 Their only similarity is their decadent life of partying and excessive alcoholisn, seeking pleasures while waiting with assurances for Anthony's upcoming inheritance.
🔅 The story takes place before, during, and after the Great War in the early 1920s. Anthony even served briefly in the army during WWI.
🔅 It is considered to be based on Fitzgerald's marriage to Zelda.
🔅 Anthony has no idea what to do (all the time!) besides spending money.
🔅 Gloria's only concern was her own beauty (and spending money too).
🔅 In the midst of one of their craziest parties, the rigid-almost-puritant old Mr. Patch crashed the party, and the next morning disinherited Anthony.
🔅 The couple hired a lawyer to appeal against the testament for years, and meanwhile seemed to be paralyzed. Anthony only live for the future (with the money), and Gloria can't see a future when her beauty is fading.

A quite difficult reading, and not at all my favorite, though you'll get to see glimpses of Fitzgerald's beautiful narration here and there. If you feel like giving up mid story, just hang on patiently, for the final twist is worth the waiting!!

Rating: 3,5 / 5

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Paris in July 2021: A Blessing in Tough Moments

Paris in July this year isn't just about fun for me, it helped me to stay sane during Covid-19 surge in July. That was perhaps the scariest moments in my life. Some of our acquaintances died from it, and many more were positive, even one of my colleagues. Now it all feels like a dream (it's not over yet, but I am much calmer now). Reading books and watching movies about Paris are my only consolations. It helps me to forget the scary world out there for a moment. And these are what I did for Paris in July:


Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co. by Jeremy Mercer

A memoir of a runaway journalist who arrived in Paris at the turn of the 20th century, without hope or job, and accidentally found sanctuary at a bookstore in front of Notre Dame: Shakespeare & Co. If you love books, Paris - particularly stories about the American writers and bohemian life style of 1920s Paris - well... this book is absolutely for you!

Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico

A light and heart-warming story about a London char woman in the 1950s who pursued her dream to go to Paris and buy herself a Dior dress. Along the way she unconsciously touched so many hearts and changed so many lives! Loved this book so much ❤.

I stopped reading The Hunchback of Notre Dame for a while, because who would read about Gothic cathedral of 15th century when death and tragedy are around you? But now I'm back for the readalong, ready to catch up!


Chef's Table: France (TV Series - 4 episodes)
Loved to see these passionate chefs who cook from what the experience in life. A beautiful documentary in French!

Julie & Julia (rewatch)
There... a movie about food too! A young woman who cooks and blogs through Julia Child's cookbook, and in the end finds her self-esteem.

French Toast
A South African woman who found in a diary and locket of her late mother, and goes to Paris to find her long-lost sibling. Some foods are involved too! :)

He Even Has Your Eyes
A french comedy about a Senegalese couple who adopted a white baby. Moving and funny!

That's all for now. Goodbye Paris in July, see you again next year!