Tag Archives: Choderlos de Laclos

The Mum Booker Longlist

You might possibly have an inkling, can’t think why, that today is the day when the longlist for this years Man Booker Award is announced. I have already had a crack at guessing just what books might make the list which you can have a peek at here. We all love a good list of books don’t we? Well, I do so I am assuming there must be more people like me? I really enjoy seeing people’s top ten or top forty books (which reminds me I need to add mine back onto the blog) and thought that today I would share with you my mother’s top ten books as she is a voracious reader and always has been, but more on her in her ‘Grilling’ later in the week.

I said it would be my Mum’s top ten books which she claimed would be ‘really easy’ however after a few minutes I got the look and a slight moan of ‘ooh its really difficult’. There was also some excuse of needing to be ‘standing in front of all my shelves so I can think more clearly’ but soon enough we didn’t have ten books but twenty, and here they are for you delectation with some snippets of conversation that were sparked by them.

  1. Iliad by Homer – “being a Classics teacher you can’t be surprised”
  2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – which she read when on maternity leave before my sister (another book devourer) was born after which reading went out the window unless it was ‘Spot the Dog’.
  3. Lord of the Rings by J.R. Tolkien
  4. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins – ‘much better than The Woman in White’ something we strongly disagree on.
  5. Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  6. Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos
  7. The L Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks – “I worry it has dated terribly by now so have never re-read, would rather have the memory of it being brilliant.” It’s just arrived at Savidge Reads HQ and I will be reading it soon.
  8. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  9. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
  10. Taking The Devil’s Advice by Anne Fine – “possibly the funniest book I have ever read”
  11. The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck
  12. Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon – “a truly original book”
  13. The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
  14. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
  15. I, Claudius by Robert Graves – “naturally it’s the classic thing again”
  16. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  17. The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  18. Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver – loves the series and got very excited when I said that Paver’s adult book is out in October.
  19. Maps for Lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam
  20. The Adventures of Tintin by Herge – “after all these years I still get huge enjoyment from these”

I was really surprised by this list and in particular the fact there was no Jane Austen, no Bronte’s and shock horror no Margaret Atwood. The latter seemed most bizarre as whenever I think of Atwood I think of my Mum. I asked her about these and she said “they are all great writers just no specific one book of there’s has made the top lot… you didn’t ask me for my top ten authors though did you?” I was also surprised no Shakespeare but apparently that’s because “you can’t choose one best Shakespeare play, it changes daily”.

So there you have it, my mother’s favourite books, don’t forget her Grilling will be up on Thursday. Until then what do you think of her list, was it what you might have expected? Which books have you read and loved on the list? Could any of my mothers top books be found in your list of favourites?

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Les Liaisons Dangereuses – Choderlos de Laclos

For this months Riverside Readers book group choice (which was last night) Polly of Novel Insights had chosen the classic novel ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ by Choderlos de Laclos. Having seen the film quite a few times but not for a few years I was intrigued to see if the book would be as good as the film. I know normally we all worry that a film will not be as good as a book but Dangerous Liaisons is one amazing film. If you haven’t seen it then you really must. Back to the book…

Dangerous Liaisons (or Les Liaisons Dangereuses as my title was) is really a tale of love, hate, and lavish deviousness. From their separate abodes, or indeed the abodes of others, two bored aristocrats use the people they know as pawns in a game of deceit. The Marquis de Merteuil writes to her former lover the Vicomte de Valmont as she has decided to ruin the soon to be bride of Comte de Gercourt. This is a man she has a bone to pick with and so sets up spoiling his future young bride, a fifteen year old by the name of Cecile Volanges, in any way she can and wants Valmont’s help and also you get the feeling she wants him to be in awe of her wickedness which she is no doubt the better at. However Valmont is currently planning his greatest scandal yet the ruin of Presidente de Tourvel, the wife of a judge and a highly religious women. Valmont is decided he will make her fall in love with him, sleep with her and then leave her. There are much more debauched things going on but I wouldn’t want to give to many of these wicked acts away.

As the book continues the lives of these two marvellously cunning scoundrels draw in a whole cast of other characters who become embroiled in their web of plots and lies, from Cecile’s piano teacher Danceny, who she becomes besotted with, to her mother Madame de Volanges a friend and confident of both Merteuil and Tourvel. As the letters fly back and forth between this collection of characters Laclos creates an amazing plot which constantly twists and darkens as the dastardly duo of Valmont and Merteuil try to complicate things for one another and better each other in acts of their cunning.

I don’t know if you can tell yet that I absolutely adored this book. I thought it was wonderful and wish Laclos had written so much more. I did have a small gripe with the book which was that the middle does go on for quite sometime whereas the ending is very sudden and swift and I would have quite liked it to have been more drawn out. I thought the way Laclos wrote women was spectacular particularly the fact that all the women involved are so very different. His characters were all incredibly well constructed, Merteuil in particular is just a marvellously wicked complex woman, I did find Denceny quite wet and irritating but that also makes him slightly amusing. Every single one different even the way they wrote letters you always knew who was corresponding to who even if you had to put the book down mid-letter to make a cup of tea.

I hadn’t noticed until book group that scene setting isn’t really something Laclos does. You never get much description of where you are.But then as readers we all have to use our imaginiation don’t we?  Personally for me it wasn’t an issue as I didn’t notice because this book is very much about the internal mind games of two people. You do also get a real impression of society at that point in the history of France through the actions of the characters and the way they react to certain events as the story goes. It’s a marvellous tale that is wickedly entertaining and delightfully depraved. I urge you to read this book if you haven’t. If you have read it what did you think?

You can find other members of the book groups thoughts at Novel Insights, Reading Matters, Paperback Reader and Farmlanebooks

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Filed under Book Group, Choderlos de Laclos, Oxford University Press, Review