— Love @ 15:02 Comments (5)
Filed under: General booktalk
I have tallied the scores and here are the contest winners:
(They were, I might add, the only two people to enter.)
So, Banquo and Kim L, comment on this entry or e-mail me at love DOT esbjorn AT gmail DOT com to let me know whether you want the Amazon .com or .co.uk gift card.
And now, for the correct answers:
1. Now & Then by William Corlett
‘I have to speak to you’, he says.
I look at him, waiting. He is wearing the school uniform of grey flannels and a grey V-necked sweater. But, instead of the striped school tie, he wears the cricket XI cravat, tucked into an open-necked shirt. His black hair is longer than I am allowed to have mine. He wears it with a side parting and it falls forward over one eye like a crow’s wing. As he looks at me he runs a hand nervously through this lock of hair, pushing it back away from his brow. He has dark blue eyes, and very black eyebrows, and his clear, unlined face has a dark shadow of stubble on the top lip and round the beard line.
He is still holding on to my arm and his nails are digging into the flesh just below the elbow.
‘You’re hurting,’ I say.
He lets go at once. He is extremely agitated. He pushes the hair back with his hand again and walks over to the window so that he has his back to me.
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
‘I have not the smallest objection to explaining them,’ said he, as soon as she allowed him to speak. ‘You either chuse this method of passing the evening because you are in each other’s confidence and have secret affairs to discuss, or because you are conscious that your figures appear to the greatest advantage in walking; — if the first, I should be completely in your way; — and if the second, I can admire you much better as I sit by the fire.’
3. The Wrong Boy by Willy Russell
So I told my Gran. I told her about the row I’d had with my Mam. And I told her about Malcolm. I said, ‘I’ve made up this boy, Gran. And it was all right at first but it’s all sort of gone wrong now because my Mam won’t talk about anything else; it’s Malcolm this and Malcolm that and Malcolm morning noon and night. And my Mam loves Malcolm now and it’s made me dead jealous and I know that’s stupid because Malcolm’s just an invention. He’s just a figment of my imagination. He’s sort of … apart from the American accent, he’s sort of … the boy that I used to be, before the canal. And before everything happened to the little girl.’
4. A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson (this is sometimes known as The Secret Countess, so I awarded a point for that answer as well)
Panic gripped Rupert. Even Proom, immuned as he was to the devastating effect of Anna’s curtsies, stepped back a pace. For here was homage made flesh; here, between the bust of an obese Roman emperor and a small, potted palm, Rupert, Seventh Earl of Westerholme, was being offered commitment, servitude, another human being’s all.
5. Mister Midshipman Hornblower by CS Forester
On the deck he forced himself to lounge nonchalantly against the rail, putting his shaking hands into his pockets. His excitement made him weak, nor was it lessened as he waited. Every minute before the fire cold be discovered was important. A French officer said something to him with a triumphant laugh and pointed aft over the taffrail, presumably speaking about leaving the Indefatigable behind. Hornblower smiled bleakly at him; that was the first gesture that occurred to him, and then he thought that a smile was out of place, and he tried to assume a sullen scowl.
6. Making History by Stephen Fry
‘I need you Steve. You have to help me find a library.’
Steve dropped some dollar bills onto the beer-sodden table and hurried after me.
‘Jesus man, what has gotten into you?’
‘Where’s the nearest?’
‘Library? God’s sake, this is Princeton.’
‘Any good one will do. Please!’
7. At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O’Neill
Doyler had been right: the rain came in the evening, and it was still pouring when Jim pushed with the shop bike up Ballygihen hill. The shiny asphalt, the mop of trees, the chimney teeth with a chip off the middle, the squeaks of the wheels which seemed to complain of piles and the falling damps, the mudguard spitting wet: the world conspired with his thoughts and everywhere he looked was Doyler’s presence. Ahead lay Killiney Hill, it’s obelisk stark against the last cloudy light.
8. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Our inquiries at Limmeridge were patiently pursued in all directions, and among all sorts and conditions of people. But nothing came of them. Three of the villagers did certainly assure us that they had seen the woman, but as they were quite unable to describe her, and quite incapable of agreeing about the exact direction in which she was proceeding when they last saw her, these three bright exceptions to the general rule of total ignorance afforded no more real assistance to us than the mass of their unhelpful and unobservant neighbours.
9. As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann
We camped that night at Alresford, where Cromwell’s old comrade, Richard Norton, kept the manor. The talk was all of sieges. They said we might be over the walls of Basings-House the next day, and spirits were high. There was even the odd bawdy song, which one of the officers stopped to reprove. He was not a stern reprover. The young man pleading that he sang for the music only, he was given leave to hum the tune without the words.
I had no heart to sing. My sole thought was how to soften and win round my friend. He kept away from me, his face averted, and looked so unhappy I would almost rather he had hit me. Going to where he sat cross-legged tearing at a bit of cheat, I seated myself opposite him and put my beef, the best part of the ration, into his lap.
10. Standish by Erastes
The days gradually settled into a routine. Every morning, Trent appeared with the little trap and took Ambrose to the house. Sebastien would meet him, either on the steps or in the hall, and together they would go to the schoolroom. For three hours they would study languages, literature, and mathematics, then stop to eat luncheon. In the afternoon they would explore the grounds, concentrating on botany, geology, and natural history.
The other thing that swiftly became a routine was letters from Goshawk. After the first day at the house, Goshawk was absent. When questioned, Sebastien simply shrugged in his pretty Gallic way and said, ‘Papa is away.’
11. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Beyond the first smile of recognition—and even that was an hypocrisy, for she thought his arrival rather provoking—Miss Sedley did not once notice Dobbin during his visit. But he was content, so that he saw her happy; and thankful to have been the means of making her so.
12. Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Clare continued to observe her. She soon finished her eating, and having a consciousness that Clare was regarding her, began to trace imaginary patterns on the tablecloth with her forefinger with the constraint of a domestic animal that perceives itself to be watched.
‘What a fresh and virginal daughter of Nature that milkmaid is!’ he said to himself.
13. The Giver by Lois Lowry
Now, for the first time in his twelve years of life, Jonas felt separate, different. He remembered what the Chief Elder had said: that his training would be alone and apart.
But his training had not yet begun and already, upon leaving the Auditorium, he felt the apartness.
14. Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L Sayers
The day begun badly with Mr. Tallboy’s having lost his lucky half-crown and with Mr. Copley’s observing, offensively, that perhaps Mr. Tallboy would prefer to toss with a pound-note. This flustered Mr. Tallboy. Brotherhood’s won the toss and elected to go in first. Mr. Tallboy, still flustered, arranged his field, forgetting in his agitation Mr. Hankin’s preference for mid-on and placing him at cover-point. By the time this error was remedied, it was discovered that Mr. Haagedorn had omitted to bring his wicket-keeper’s gloves, and a pair had to be borrowed from the pavilion. Mr. Tallboy then realized that he had put on his two fast bowlers together. He remedied this by recalling Mr. Wedderburn from the deep field to bowl his slow “spinners,” and dismissing Mr. Barrow in favour of Mr. Beeseley. This offended Mr. Barrow, who retired in dudgeon to the remotest part of the field and appeared to go to sleep.
15. Fool’s Fate by Robin Hobb
He looked battered by my onslaught of questions. ‘Can you be quiet, Fitz?’ he asked me earnestly, and after a moment’s notice, I shook my head.
‘I don’t think so.’ I shifted restively as I spoke. I was suddenly miserable. I could not find a comfortable position in which to be still. I was aware that I was sleepy but could not recall how to let go of wakefulness. I suddenly wanted all of it to go away and leave me in peace. I dropped my head into my hands and covered my eyes. ‘All my life, I’ve done everything wrong.’
‘It’s going to be a long night,’ the Fool observed woefully.
16. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
“Ow!” she exclaimed. “I ache all over!” The voice that exclaimed was a weak, cracked piping. She put her knobby hands to her face and felt wrinkles. At that, she discovered that she had been in a state of shock all of yesterday. She was very angry indeed with the Witch of the Waste for doing this to her, hugely, enormously angry. “Sailing into shops and turning people old!” she exclaimed. “Oh, what I won’t do to her!”
17. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Newt had never actually seen another one on the road, despite his best efforts. For years, and without much conviction, he’d enthused to his friends about its economy and efficiency in the desperate hope that one of them might buy one, because misery loves company.
In vain did he point out its 823cc engine, it’s three-speed-gearbox, its incredible safety devices like the balloons which inflated on dangerous occasions such as when you were doing 45 mph on a straight dry road but were about to crash because a huge safety balloon had just obscured the view. He’d also wax slightly lyrical about the Korean-made radio, which picked up Radio Pyongyang incredibly well, and the simulated electronic voice which warned about not wearing a seatbelt even when you were; it had been programmed by someone who not only didn’t understand English, but didn’t understand Japanese either. It was state of the art, he said.
The art in this case was probably pottery.
18. Mélusine by Sarah Monette
I sit up.
The darkness has been full of pain and screaming; I am still shaking, and I cannot hide it. Monsters booming at each other. I hope they are not angry at me, but I know they are. They always are.
They open the cell door. I scramble backwards on the cot, pressing myself against the wall. If I could become part of the wall, I would be safe. One monster comes nearer. I am shaking. I put my hands over my ears, but I cannot block out the assault of noise.
It stands in front of me. I think there are fragments of words in its roaring, but they make no sense: “here … feel … use … in.” I dare to glance up, but the monster looks back at me with the gleaming eyes of a hawk.
19. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
I knew Sebastian by sight before I met him. That was unavoidable for, from his first week, he was the most conspicuous man of his year by reason of his beauty, which was arresting, and his eccentricities of behaviour, which seemed to know no bounds. My first sight of him was in the door of Germer’s, and, on that occasion, I was struck less by his looks than by the fact that he was carrying a large teddy-bear.
20. Maurice by EM Forster
He chose a college patronized by his chief school friend Chapman and by other old Sunningtonians, and during his first year managed to experience little in university life that was unfamiliar. He belonged to an Old Boys’ Club, and they played games together, tea’d and lunched together, kept up their provincialisms and slang, sat elbow to elbow in hall and walked arm in arm about the streets. Now and then they got drunk and boasted mysteriously of women, but their outlook remained that of the upper fifth, and some of them kept it through life.
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling
Snow was swirling against the icy windows once more; Christmas was approaching fast. Hagrid had already single-handedly delivered the usual twelve Christmas trees for the Great Hall; garlands of holly and tinsel had been twisted around the banisters of the stairs; everlasting candles glowed from the insides of helmets of suits of armour and great bunches of mistletoe had been hung at intervals along the corridors. Large groups of girls tended to converge underneath the mistletoe bunches every time Harry went past, which caused blockages in the corridors; fortunately, however, Harry’s frequent night-time wanderings had given him an unusually good knowledge of the castle’s passageways, so that he was able, without too much difficulty, to navigate mistletoe-free routes between classes.
Ron, who might once have found the necessity of these detours a cause for jealousy rather than hilarity, simply roared with laughter about it all.
Bonus question #1 (which of these I’ve read the most times in the shortest period of time): 21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Bonus question #2 (which of these is not a favourite): 10. Standish by Erastes