Very short, but quite jolly all the same. The Kindle version I downloaded had a typo on the cover, which didn't bode well, but the story is fine.
Andrew Ives’s book reviews
Slightly dry and disappointingly short book on Cambridge, written rather like a tourist guide. This book briefly covers Cambridge's origins, then the majority of the book is dedicated to the various colleges, with a brief mention of two churches at the end. There is nothing whatsoever about any other aspect of Cambridge, which is something of a shame. The omitted pictures are also rather necessary to understand some of the text.
Quite a clever sci-fi story, but not one I enjoyed much as it was rather too crazy for my liking.
Very poetic and artistic, which is unfortunately its biggest downfall. The daily lives of several Parisians are described in such a vague, prosaic way, making sweeping generalisations of every nature, that the whole blustering thrust of the story soon strikes the reader as utter claptrap. The Parisians lives are on the one hand, depicted as rushed, shallow, all hustle and bustle in their quest for gold. Then a Mairie's clerk is said to work from 9:45am - 4pm (and I assume the usual French 2hrs for lunch). To any modern Londoner, that isn't a hectic lifestyle! After about 15%, I gave up.
In the Year 2889 takes place in a distant future rather badly predicted - far less accurately than in Verne's Paris In The 20th Century. Almost everything herein has either been invented already, mostly in the 1930s-50s or is briefly mentioned such as flying coaches or new national borders. The story is slight and, though short, I still found it less than exciting.
Very short and perfectly readable 1950s story which predicted fairly accurately 'futuristic' 1970s aviation technology. As a story though, there's not much to it.
A short anthology of real-life stories such as William Tell or Handel, told in a very brief Ladybird Book style. Great for children, but alas, so short!
Vol 2 is very slightly less gripping than Vol 1, starting off as it does on a very ecclesiastic 'road trip' to Rome, Naples and back again. I'm not sure I fully appreciated the whole circumstances or seriousness surrounding Casanova's need to depart for Constantinople, but the escapades regarding Lucrezia, the mercury, the monk, the Greek girl, the Marchioness, Bellino, his first horse ride, all told in Casanova's very agreeable style throughout held my interest enough to make me want to read Vol 3. Enjoyable.
"Childhood" spans the era when Casanova was aged 8-18yrs and is mostly set in Venice and Padova. The Kindle version I read contained a long, but still rather interesting, translator's notes and preface. The memoirs themselves, start off very well and never really let up, with this volume ending on the very enjoyable 'dislocated ankle' escapade and the poignant 'box of chalks' scene. The language used is never crass and always quite poetic, bringing a faint smile to the reader on many an occasion. Very good indeed.
Famous though this book somehow is, the whole idea, premise and subtext is as facile as it is absurd. Even though this novella is fairly short, it could still have been achieved in half the time, and probably been more powerful for it. Kafka's writing style is merely mediocre, lacking in any real art, flair or even wit. There were many parts where Gregor wishes he had food or a proper mouth, as if the fact he's suddenly turned into a giant cockroach didn't bother him quite so much? For goodness sake! The subtext about self-righteousness and feeling distanced from the family is hardly earth-shattering and may not even be quite as intentional as art critics make it out to be. The idea that the family manage to get by afterwards without Gregor supporting them, and quickly forget him as some kind of burden, is as facile a denoument as I've ever seen in an allegedly high-brow book. A real disappointment.