Sunday, 17 May 2015

Penguin no. 1009: Aphrodite Means Death
by John Appleby

For us in Germany, who had a continent at our feet, the war was a much greater opportunity than it was for you, cooped in your crowded islands. To Hersfield and me Greece, of course, was no strange country, but never before had we been able to work so thoroughly and unhampered. With the co-operation of the German army we had no trouble in acquiring manpower for our digging, and the peasants who worked for us, though unskilled, were not expensive. Nor was there any of that tedious negotiation with the Greek authorities about the ownership of what we discovered. You may say it was an archaeologist's paradise.

Aphrodite Means Death has an unusual structure so that reading it could be likened to watching as a blurred image is brought slowly into focus. Everything begins in disarray and confusion, with none of the three characters introduced in the first section having a clear idea about what is going on or about whom they can trust. They form a triangle of suspicion, each trying to construct an understanding of the complete picture from the small sample of things they have seen and heard, but inevitably misinterpreting the events and reactions to which they have been witness.

We meet these characters through the eyes of Jane Arden, an Englishwoman living and working in Athens a few years after the Occupation. She goes for a walk in a pine wood on the last morning of a quiet holiday on an Aegean island, and in doing so she leaves behind the predictability and safety of a formerly uneventful life. One unanticipated event follows another in quick succession - bullets fly far too close to her for comfort in the morning, she is temporarily taken prisoner in a barricaded house in the afternoon, and in the evening she notices that her hotel room and luggage have been searched during her absence. This series of adventures seems to be triggered by having met a fellow compatriot during her morning walk. She is only slightly perturbed by the unusual events, however, believing that she will leave the excitement behind when she returns to the mainland in the morning.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

A collection of Penguins

I seem to have reached have reached yet another Sunday without managing to find the time to read a vintage Penguin and prepare a review, and so I am instead posting a photo of the project which has been diverting me of late.

I recently bought a house and my first priority was the bookshelves. The greater part of all recent weekends has been spent boxing, sorting and transporting books, shopping at Ikea and assembling flat-pack furniture - particularly bookcases.

Many of these books have been in storage for years, and others have been left in random piles while I waited for the opportunity to sort them properly. My daughter and I are still slowly working through them to make sure they are in order and that my lists of what I own and what I don't are up-to-date.

And there are still more bookcases to be built, as I have quite a few boxes of Pelicans and non-Penguins books which are yet to find a home.

Hopefully, I will be back on track by next weekend and in a position to resume posting on a vintage Penguin each week.

My Penguins in 2011:

My Penguins in 2012:


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