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2 journalists who ended up in England wrote novels together which I think aree some of the funniest things ever written. Their names were Caryl Brahms and SJ (Skid) Simon and many of the books centre on a Russian ballet company run by an impoverished impressario called Vladimir Stroganov, whose main aim is to stay solvent and to bed the dancers without Mrs S finding out. The first is called "A Bullet in the Ballet".

They also wrote No Bed for Bacon and Don't Mr Disraeli. Both are wonderfully funny pastiches of English life and the former - although not credited as far as I know - was quite clearly the inspiration for the film Shakespeare in Love. Recommended.
 

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I haven't read any of the Potters yet, but I have just one book to go in Lemony Snicket's 13 volume A Series of Unfortunate Events -- truly one of the drollest works in the language, and it deepens as a work of art as it goes along. Not just "kid stuff" by any means.
I've read snippets of Snicket, but haven't sat down with an entire book. I really must.

The Potter series needs to be read with three things in mind:

  • The intended audience gets older as the series progresses, so the early books might seem a bit juvenile. Trust me, it gets better.
  • Very little is mentioned for no reason. If a gun appears in Act I, it should be used in Act II, to quote Dostoevsky.
  • People of the intended audience go to school, and their lives are superimposed by the school year, with its start, holidays, exam, and end. The books are set up the same way, so that school events pop up in the story line regularly whether it's convenient or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
I have been toying with picking up "A Sentimental Education" by Flaubert. Does anyone here have a well-considered opinion on this book?
Yes, I do. It is a masterpiece, one of the greatest experiences that French (or any) literature has to offer. But it is a very different sort of experience than the classic English Victorian novels -- harder, cooler, drier. Be open to what you find, and the novel will repay your investment immensely.

The Penguin translation is excellent, and the notes are helpful. Reading a few Wikipedia articles on the French and European political background couldn't hurt.
 

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For this group that seems to admire the British canon and also likes to sink its teeth into something substantial, may I suggest Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time? A 12-volume cycle following a core set of characters from post-WWI Britain through the 1960s. Incredible experience. The writing reads like an incantation.

(Also done as a television series within the last 10 years or so...not bad, but impossible to follow if one hadn't already read the books.)
 

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I did it the other way around .....

I watched the tv dramatization of 'Dance to the Music of Time'; then started on the books. The English book club, The Folio Society" has 'Dance to ... published in four volumes. I'm through the first volume and it is tremendous. Much longer and better than "Brideshead Revisited" although I'm a big fan of Waugh.

I also watched the great dramatizations of Dickens, with 'Bleak House" and "Our Mutual Friend" making the books even more enjoyable to read. "Avengers" fans will love Diana Rigg in "Bleak House".
 

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Yes, I do. It is a masterpiece, one of the greatest experiences that French (or any) literature has to offer. But it is a very different sort of experience than the classic English Victorian novels -- harder, cooler, drier. Be open to what you find, and the novel will repay your investment immensely.

The Penguin translation is excellent, and the notes are helpful. Reading a few Wikipedia articles on the French and European political background couldn't hurt.
Thank you, I am going to pick up the Penquin addition tomorrow with the Gift Certificate I received from Santa today. Thanks again, and Merry Christmas!
 
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