Letters to Camondo – Edmund de Waal

In 2010 Ecover Letters to Camondodmund de Waal’s book “The Hare With Amber Eyes” was published. De Waal tells the story of his family, once a very wealthy European Jewish banking dynasty, peers of the Rothschild family. This year De Waal published “Letters to Camondo”.

This new book is a collection of 58 imaginary letters from Edmund de Waal to count Moise the Camondo, banker and art collector.
In the 1870’s the Jewish banking family Camondo settled down in Paris in a spectacular palace at the Parc Monceau, a few doors from the house of the family Ephrussi, well known from “The Hare With Amber Eyes”. The family Camondo moves in the higher cultural circles, the world of Proust and the freres Goncourt, but also the world of antisemitism and the Dreyfus affair.

Click here to read the full review, written by Hans van der Weide

Marc Kalf joined the English Literature group a year ago and he also likes to write about his favourite books. This is his first review for the Senia website:

cover The Mirror and the LightHillary Mantel writes history

The English novelist Hillary Mantel has taken what you might describe as a “small footnote” from the compelling history of King Henry VIII and turned it into a major event. She wrote three novels on the life of Thomas Cromwell, the chief minister until his beheading after his fall from grace. The first two (Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies) have won the Booker Prize. This is a great achievement, becoming the first woman and the first British writer to win this literary award twice. She has triumphed as a historical novelist, and now “writes history” herself.
The trilogy on Thomas Cromwell concludes with The Mirror and the Light, a majestic book of over 900 pages. You will need a long hot summer to finish reading this book!

The story of part 3 starts with the beheading of Anne Boleyn, the first of Henry’s wives to be executed. “Once the queens’s head is severed, he walks away. A sharp pang of appetite reminds him that it is time for a second breakfast”. Who is this man, you might wonder? Well, this is what the final book is all about. We get closer to this “footnote” in history, the son of a blacksmith who rises way above his humble origins. He becomes maybe even more human than in the previous books. There he was the mastermind of King Henry and although he now rises to his ultimate height, becoming Earl of Essex, he also faces increasing opposition from his enemies. They persuade King Henry to arrest him despite the close relation and understanding between the two men apparent in the previous books. And Henry does not even prevent his execution, making Cromwell a victim to his own deadly reputation.

Click here to read Marc's full review

Below you'll find the books reviewed
in the previous months by Elise Prins-Kleuskens


Where Madness Lies – Sylvia True

cover Where Madness LiesIt is the year 1934 in Germany. Inga’s sister Rigmor is suffering from depression and psychosis. It’s a time in which people suffering from mental illnesses are frowned upon. Inga and her mother Frieda have tried several doctors and treatments, but to no avail. Then Inga comes up with a new plan. They have to find Rigmor a friend, someone she can talk to and perhaps even fall in love with. Inga chooses psychiatrist Arnold for this. Hesitant at first he accepts and gets involved in Rigmors life, leading up to her being institutionalized at Sonnenstein Castle in Pirna. Will Rigmor be okay?

Click here to read Elise's full review


The Girl at the Back of the Bus – Suzette D. Harrisoncover The Girl at the Back of the Bus

It's 1955. Mattie Banks is boarding a bus that will take her to Miss Celestine's. Mattie is only sixteen, but finds herself in a difficult position. She's pregnant and on her way to secretly get rid of the unwanted child. But there with her in the "Colored" section of the bus is Miss Rosa Parks, who refuses to give up her seat to a white person and is taken off the bus. Unknowingly, Rosa Parks changes Mattie's life for good, as she decides to keep her baby. Mattie tries to hide her changing body, until her mother finds out. An unmarried black girl who's having a baby! What would everybody think of her?

Click here to read Elise's full review


The Age of Miracles – Karen Thompson Walker


Julia lives with her parents in a coastal town in California. Petrified, they sit in front of the television and take in the news of the rotation of the earth that’s slowing down. Days are getting longer. What would be the long-term consequences? What would happen to gravity? Governments all over the world are desperately trying to keep control over a phenomenon they cannot control at all. A clock time of 24 hours is set. Soon, sunrise and sunset no longer coincide with time. At a certain moment, days are sometimes completely enveloped in darkness or, on the contrary, overflowing with sunshine.

Click here to read Elise's full review

A Dangerous Goodbye – Fliss Chester


“If you are reading this, then in all likelihood I am dead.”

This is how A Dangerous Goodbye begins. It is written in a letter to Fen Churche from her fiancé Arthur. It is 1944 and soldiers are sent all over Europe to fight in World War 2. Fen does not know where Arthur is stationed or even what his job is, she only knows he is in danger. About a year later when the war has finally ended, Fen decides to set out on a quest to find Arthur, from whom she hasn't heard anymore after his alarming letter. Might he really be dead?
Arthur and Fen used to enjoy solving cryptic crosswords together. Their letters were always full of riddles and clues. This is also the case with Arthur's last letter, leading Fen to France. In France she finds work and lodging at a local winery, not knowing she would soon be busying herself with solving three murders. Would solving these murders lead to Fen finding her fiancé?

Click here to read Elise's full review