Home > Abandoned books, Personal Posts > Two abandoned books, a bookstore and mimosa trees

Two abandoned books, a bookstore and mimosa trees

February 27, 2021 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’ve been traveling the two last weekends and didn’t post anything. Before my billet about The Cut by Anthony Cartwright, a quick post about two books I couldn’t finish, a visit to a bookstore and a sunny picture of mimosa trees.

The first book I couldn’t finish is Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads.

In the heart of a civil war-torn African nation, primate researcher Hope Clearwater made a shocking discovery about apes and man. Young, alone, and far from her family in Britain, Hope Clearwater contemplates the extraordinary events that left her washed up like driftwood on Brazzaville Beach. It is here, on the distant, lonely outskirts of Africa, where she must come to terms with the perplexing and troubling circumstances of her recent past. For Hope is a survivor of the devastating cruelities of apes and humans alike. And to move forward, she must first grasp some hard and elusive truths: about marriage and madness, about the greed and savagery of charlatan science . . . and about what compels seemingly benign creatures to kill for pleasure alone.

I couldn’t make myself care about Hope, her failed marriage to mathematician John Clearwater and her research about apes. I persevered until page 77 and opted out. I know it was a successful book when it was published but it wasn’t for me and I don’t think it’s a question of timing.

The second book I abandoned is Arsène Lupin in the Secret of Sarek by Maurice Leblanc. After the series Lupin went out (and no, I haven’t watched it yet) I picked the Arsène Lupin episode I had on the shelf, determined to read it and have fun. How disappointing!

Imagine a woman, Véronique d’Hergemont, who was kidnapped as a young woman, married to a cruel Count Vronski. She had a son with him and lost him.

Imagine an island in Brittany, called the “island of the thirty coffins”. A legend says that thirty people will die, among which four women on a cross. Véronique d’Hergemont arrives there to find the son she lost fourteen years ago and finds her face as one of the four crucified women.

I couldn’t get into the story and I found the premises quite farfetched. It felt like reading an episode of Scooby Doo, without the humor. I’m not into ghost stories, stuff about superstition and supernatural. And Leblanc’s style was a real disappointment. I thought it was flat. I lasted until page 82 and since I wasn’t into the story, I moved on to another book.

Feel free to tell me whether you liked either Brazzaville Beach or Arsène Lupin in the Secret of Sarek. I expected better from both.

Last weekend I was in Paris and let me tell you, Paris without its museums and its cafés and restaurants is not the same. It feels empty. I walked around in the Latin Quarter and stumbled upon San Francisco  Books and Co, a bookstore that sells used books in English. Sorry the picture is askew, I didn’t want to take the car parked in front of the entrance.

Isn’t that ironic that you have City Light Bookstore in San Francisco and San Franscico Books Co in the City of Lights? Anyway, the libraire in San Francisco Books Co was British, couldn’t or wouldn’t utter a word in French when I said Bonjour and was listening to the BBC. The store is small but packed with books in English from the floor to the ceiling. I got Card on the Table by Agatha Christie for the #1936Club and found a copy of Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym.

I hope all is fine with you in your corner of the world. I leave you with a picture of mimosa in bloom in the South of France.  Sending a friendly hello to Australian readers: I learnt these trees were brought to the South of France from Australia by James Cook.

  1. February 28, 2021 at 12:40 am

    I read Brazzaville Beach so long ago I can’t remember much about it – but I’m sure I finished it. Lovely picture of mimosa – not seen much here in the UK. I think


    • February 28, 2021 at 8:35 am

      I imagine most readers read it when it was published.

      I’m not sure mimosa would survive the British climate, except in a conservatory. In France, there are some on the French Riviera but I’ve never seen any elsewhere.


  2. February 28, 2021 at 2:21 am

    I’ve ditched a Boyd before.


    • February 28, 2021 at 2:55 am

      Me too…


      • February 28, 2021 at 8:37 am

        First Guy, then you.
        Maybe it’s the science stuff, I’m not much into books with a science theme. (math and apes here.)

        Liked by 1 person

    • February 28, 2021 at 8:36 am

      The Lupin was an unlucky pick, I think.


  3. February 28, 2021 at 4:06 am

    Have you read book 1st of Arsène Lupin? I really enjoyed it, a few years ago. Merci pour le mimosa, you brightened my day


    • February 28, 2021 at 8:41 am

      I think I should try another Lupin. The Brittany island curse and the kidnapping story didn’t do it for me.

      Mimosa are cheerful, aren’t they? This bright yellow fluffy balls against the azure blue of the sky are beautiful. The picture was taken in the massif des Maures. Hiking is one of the activities that remain possible.


  4. February 28, 2021 at 10:42 am

    Beautiful pic of the mimosa in bloom – it’s heartening to see signs of spring everywhere, especially given the difficulties of recent months. We’ve had some relatively mild weather here in the last week, so it’s feels as if the season is getting a head start.


    • February 28, 2021 at 11:58 am

      We long for spring, don’t we?

      The light in the South East of France is really something special. It has joy in it and painters saw it too.


  5. February 28, 2021 at 2:54 pm

    Sometimes books don’t work for us, do they? I have a Lupin omnibus, and I’m sure i’ve read some of his work in the past, but I can’t remember the ones you tried to read.

    The mimosa is beautiful – thank you for sharing it!


    • February 28, 2021 at 7:53 pm

      Yes, these two books weren’t for me.

      And yes, this cheerful mimosa was exactly what I needed. We did a wonderful hike.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. February 28, 2021 at 10:28 pm

    Lol you made me smile when you compared Arsene Lupin’s story with Scooby Doo. 🤣 To be honest I went on multiple occasions to the museum dedicated to Maurice Leblanc in Etretat and I never managed to read one of his books. I never understood the fuss around him… Nice pics anyway. 😊😉


    • March 1, 2021 at 8:25 pm

      It felt like Scooby-Doo to me. 🙂
      I’d like to visit that museum one day

      Liked by 1 person

  7. March 1, 2021 at 2:34 am

    I liked Boyd’s ‘Any Human Heart’ when I read it long ago, but ‘Brazzaville Beach’ never really appealed to me. I’ve been picking up Lupin’s first collection now and again and enjoying it, though it is very much of its time.

    Such a happiness creating photo of the mimosa with the yellow against that blue – gorgeous!


    • March 1, 2021 at 8:39 pm

      I think I picked a wrong-for-me Lupin, that’s all.
      Mimosa are cheerful flowers and coming so early in the year they are even more appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Dorothy Willis
    March 1, 2021 at 4:28 am

    I was suprised to see the yellow mimosa as in the American south the mimosas have pink blossoms and the leaves close at night and in the rain. They came from Japan and are considered invasive. Still, they are quite beautiful in full bloom.


    • March 1, 2021 at 8:43 pm

      But mimosa are yellow, no?
      That’s why you have eggs mimosa and the drink mimosa with orange juice and champagne.
      None of them are pink.


  9. March 12, 2021 at 8:57 pm

    It’s decades since I read Brazzaville Beach but I remember enjoying it. It was at a time when I was happy to read anything by Boyd but that’s no longer the case. The last three books by him that I read were just awful so he’s now off my “go to authors” list. By far his best book by the way I think is Any Human Heart.


    • March 12, 2021 at 9:29 pm

      I don’t think Brazzaville Beach is a bad book per se. I’m just not good at reading books with scientific stuff in the plot. Between the apes and the mathematics, that was too much for my tastes.

      I’ve only read The New Confessions.


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