Monday, 5 December 2011

'Tis the season...

It's always about this time that I read books I normally don't have the time or the inclination to read.  
This time round,  I came across Swell Holiday, by Ilene Rosenzweig and Cynthia Rowley.  The first impression was that this book is a combination of chick-lit (certainly the format of the book!) and a guide to stress-free holidays. I know, there are plenty of books on how to organise for the holidays, I just find them too "stiff" for my taste.  However much I enjoy the preparations, the cooking, the decorating and the giving and receiving of gifts, I do want to relax at the same time and just go with the flow...  This is the main reason, I suppose, why I just loved this book.  Part of the Swell series of books, it's addressed to everyday women who know how to live "swell", i.e. with a certain finesse... The book can be read within an afternoon, preferably with tea and scones, and manages to include within its pages tons of innovative ideas, without ever getting tiring.  I absolute loved the tone in which the whole book is written, which made me feel as if I were in a conversation with friends.  For gifts, for example, of the proposals were well thought out - things that do not need to cost much, but which would trigger a "wow" effect.  At a time where everyone I know has everything, it really opened my eyes to the possibilities I still have to offer a special something to those I love. 
This book also made me realise that living the good life is not about the tangible goods one can have, but rather about paying attention to the little details in otherwise perfectly ordinary things in our lives.  Our society has provided us with some much "clutter", that we sometimes accumulate quantities without ever thinking about quality.  Quality that would demonstrate our individual taste and give that "va-va-voom" part to enrich our lives.
Another point I found very interesting in this book, was how uncommon the proposals were, be it for gifts, for preparing for the holidays or organising parties.  So little is required to make an event unforgetful, that I found myself reading in disbelief at how easily we can go beyong the bare minimum.  At times of cautious living, I believe this book has served its purpose:  providing "swell" advice, within budget, for an extraordinary time during the holidays.

The other book I read was Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie.  Now, I first have to admit that I have never read any of Christie's books.  Ever.  I simply enjoy the films so much, where apart from the mystery plot and my favourite heroes, I can also enjoy the scenery, the costumes, the houses and all the other details that, that I had never thought up to now to actually read how Christie had envisaged the story.  But I recently watched the adaptation of the book with my favourite Poirot, David Suchet.  And I was perplexed.  I know that the production is one of the best ones to date, but why was it so different from the previous one with Albert Finney?  I had enjoyed that film so much, that I could not believe that one of the two makes was unfaithful to the book. But which one was it?  To answer it, I would need to read the book. 
So I started, and was impressed after only a few pages:  The book reads very easily, making it ideal for tired, late-night escapades, or again for commute or vacation.  The plot is very clever in its conception and the twists are unsurpassable (of course, I knew whodunnit, but I could still  find little unknown details that kept me alert).  It took me a whole two days to finish (...) but I never felt that the book was missing in substance or character.  A great lady of mystery writing certainly does not need to go up to 700 pages to intrigue us.  So, all in all I'm happy I found a new genre to read.  I've the whole list now of her books and I can't wait to start reading those books I haven't seen in film.  As to which adaptation of Murder is closer to the book?  Both!

1 comment:

  1. I've seen the adaptations for "Murder on the Orient Express" countless time but somehow never got around to reading it. One of my dream trip is doing the Express from Paris to Istanbul (I'm trying to persuade Andre to do it on our honeymoon) - that might be a good opportunity to read it!




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