Quote from Tolstoy on Ultimate Purpose

A bee settling on a flower has stung a child. And the child is afraid of bees and declares that bees exist to sting people. A poet admires the bee sucking from the chalice of a flower, and says it exists to suck the fragrance of flowers. A bee-keeper, seeing the bee collect pollen from … Continue reading Quote from Tolstoy on Ultimate Purpose

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

Novels – I spent a lot of the year reading Les Miserables, Victor Hugo’s long, in-depth epic set in the days of revolutionary France. His description of how the French lost at Waterloo reminded me of Tolstoy’s description of the battle of Borodino, another Napoleonic battle just outside Moscow. Hugo suggested that in addition to … Continue reading What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

So Much For That, Lionel Schriver

The most recent novel in our book club is from Lionel Schriver, the bestselling author of We Need to Talk about Kevin. I haven’t read that one, and after So Much for That! I don’t think I will. Shep Knacker is the unlikely hero, who always dreamed of an early retirement with his wife Glynis … Continue reading So Much For That, Lionel Schriver

Notes on Death: The Death of Ivan Ilyich

This short story is usually published alongside other short stories of Tolstoy’s that deal with issues of marriage, happiness, life and death. At about 70 pages (roughly the same length as some contemporary novels such as Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach), it is minute compared to Tolstoy’s other epics, but is certainly long enough to … Continue reading Notes on Death: The Death of Ivan Ilyich

My Recommended Novels of 2010

It’s that time again were we often review what has gone on over the previous year. Here are some books I enjoyed reading. This year I have read a lot of John Grisham. I only discovered him a couple of years ago when I won The Broker in a book competition and I’ve been reading … Continue reading My Recommended Novels of 2010

Marriage and self-giving (Anna Karenina)

I finished reading Anna Karenina a week or so ago. It is a big classic Russian novel (translated into English) written by Leo Tolstoy in the late 19th century – pre communist Russia. The novel follows the lives and loves of two families, Levin and his wife Kitty, and Anna Karinina, her husband Alexey, and … Continue reading Marriage and self-giving (Anna Karenina)