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What's on in Monaco 30 Nov-6 Dec 2017

Enjoying life in Monaco and Monte Carlo

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November 30th Newsletter

To make a man covet a thing, make it difficult to attain (1)

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Blimey! It's cold! Time to curl up by the fire with a glass of wine, a mince pie, and a good book. There are plenty of bargains at the Ecumenical Kermesse's used book stall on Saturday, and in today's newsletter we're listing a bran-tub selection of tomes we enjoyed in 2017, some found unread on the shelf, others suggested by book club or recommended by friends.

First up, three speculative stories. Chocky (1968) by John Wyndham is a short read about a benevolent alien invader, and touches on environmental issues that are still with us 50 years after it was published. J.G. Ballard's Super-Cannes (2000) is set in a Riviera technology park where the super-intelligent, wealthy workers have a nasty way of de-stressing. In The Road (2006) by Cormac McCarthy there's no work and no relaxation, only survival. It's a story about global destruction and what it does to humanity.

Too depressing? We laughed at the snobbery of upper-middle-class Brits in the 1920s in E.F. Benson's Queen Lucia (1920). And there was plenty of humour and London in-jokes in our most surprising read, Rivers of London (2011) by Ben Aaronovitch. It's part urban fantasy, part police procedural.

Staying with the detectives, Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White (1859) deserves its classic status, while The Skull Beneath the Skin (1982) by P.D. James, set on an isolated Dorset island, contains "locked-room mystery" elements. The most gripping book of the year was Conclave (2016) by Robert Harris, full of twists and turns, and totally unputdownable.

More difficult to categorize were Zoe Heller's Notes on a Scandal (2003), Sarah Waters's The Paying Guests (2014), and Rose Tremain's The Gustav Sonata (2016). All three are character driven and deal with themes such as loneliness, love and self-protection.

Finally the short stories in Wayward Girls and Wicked Women (1986) edited by Angela Carter, portrayed females who don't conform to the norm. And for those traveling to see family, the essays and extracts in Worst Journeys: The Picador Book of Travel (1993) edited by Keath Fraser will leave you relieved to reach your destination.


What's in the diary ....


Thursday: Wanton Bishops live.
Friday: Entrepreneurs throw punches.
Saturday: Hallelujah!.
Sunday: Operatic civil war.

Coming up next week, how to host ChristmasMonteverdi, and gaming.

For lots more suggestions, visit maBoum's 7 day listing and enjoy your weekend.
(1) This week's quote is a reduced version of a sentence from Tom Sawyer, written by Mark Twain, born this day 1835. Tom "discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it - namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain". 

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