Two classic post-war novels, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre and The Human Factor by Graham Greene and two contrasting judgments of the British establishment’s nemesis, Kim Philby. Suave, sophisticated, and a Soviet spy: Philby was hero-worshipped by his contemporaries in the pubs and clubs frequented by the British Intelligence Service and the ‘Old Boy’s Network’.The betrayal of the British ruling class, the class that had once ruled an Empire was most keenly felt by his friends to such an extent that they refused to believe him to be a traitor even after Philby tipped off Burgess and Maclean that they’d been rumbled (the more petit bourgeois MI5 believed he was a traitor in 1951). Despite all the evidence, Philby remained in situ within the Intelligence Service where his effortless charm and perfect Establishment credentials laid bare the dogmatic Imperial assumptions that bedevilled the British ruling classes and its new geo-political role. Explanations regarding Philby’s betrayal can be divided into two camps: the first and more prevailing view is that Philby’s treachery was borne from selfishness - Philby enjoyed the thrill of playing both sides - spying as sport. The second view is that Philby was a committed Marxist-Leninist and was exercising politically sound praxis - his was an honourable act.It is the sense of Philby’s selfishness that informs John le Carre’s Tinker, Tailor Soldier, Spy (1974). The novel’s main protagonist, George Smiley is summoned back to ‘The Circus’ to root out a Soviet spy lurking at the heart of the British Establishment. Smiley is the opposite of Philby in almost every sense. Whereas Philby was clubbable, Smiley is shy and introverted - Philby was dashing and handsome, Smiley is donnish, cuckolded, small and fat. The traitor, ‘Gerald the Mole’ is portrayed as prideful and arrogant, an opportunist whose treatment of friends is the opposite of the mores of a ‘British gentleman’. Le Carre’s view of Philby is well documented - he considered him to be traitor and a murderer, a loathsome creature- the antithesis of the compassionate and reserved George Smiley, the true ‘British Gentleman’.Philby’s double-life can be seen in Graham Greene’s own cleaved ideology: at once he was England’s most famous converted Catholic (until Tony Blair) at another he was a Communist sympathiser. This duality of conscience and ideologies perhaps imbues Greene’s The Human Factor (1979) with a more empathetic view of Philby’s perceived treason. The great betrayal in Greene’s novel lies with less with Maurice Castle’s ‘honourable’ spying on the Soviet Union’s behalf but in the British Establishment’s covert support of the South African apartheid regime. Castle longs for retirement and the quiet life, however his antipathy for the racist policies and Afikaner Nationalism of the South African government lead the novel’s protagonist to a principled and moral judgement to betray the British establishment.Greene, who was an acquaintance of Philby’s and wrote the foreword to Philby’s autobiography My Silent War questions the moral certainties associated with treason. Consider Sir Robert Casement: to many he was in the vanguard of fighting to bring to heel the wickedness British Imperialism, to others he was a traitor who stabbed his country in the back at the time of its gravest need. A square in the Yasnevo district in Moscow was renamed in Kim Philby’s honour in 2018, close to the old KGB headquarters.Access eBooks/eAudiobooks on your phone, tablet or reader. Once you have installed the app, search for Dublin in the ‘Library’ field provided and then sign in using your library membership card number and PIN. Watch our how to video on Borrowbox. Members of other library authorities will need to log in using a different link.Submitted by Tom in Drumcondra Library.
Charles Dickens, one of the most popular and accessible novelists died 150 years ago in June 1870. His novels are still popular and they have been adapted for television and cinema. They have been turned into popular musicals on stage and screen. Many novelists have acknowledged his influence and expressed admiration for his novels.At the age of twelve he was sent to work in a blacking factory by his affectionate but feckless parents. From these unpromising beginnings, he rose to scale all the social and literary heights, entirely through his own efforts. When he died, the world mourned, and he was buried - against his wishes - in Westminster Abbey. Yet the brilliance concealed a divided character: a republican, he disliked America; sentimental about the family in his writings, he took up passionately with a young actress; usually generous, he cut off his impecunious children.Dickens created an array of memorable characters - Miss Havisham dressed in her wedding finery every day since she was jilted at the altar in Great Expectations. The contrasting characters Mr. Micawber and Uriah Heep in David Copperfield. In David Copperfield, the novel he described as his favorite child, Dickens drew revealingly on his own experiences to create one of his most exuberant and enduringly popular works, filled with tragedy and comedy in equal measure. One of the most swiftly moving and unified of Charles Dickens’s great novels, Oliver Twist is also famous for its re-creation through the splendidly realized figures of Fagin, Nancy, the Artful Dodger, and the evil Bill Sikes of the vast London underworld of pickpockets, thieves, prostitutes, and abandoned children. Victorian critics took Dickens to task for rendering this world in such a compelling, believable way, but readers over the last 150 years have delivered an alternative judgment by making this story of the orphaned Oliver Twist one of its author’s most loved works.His novels were originally published in instalments in weekly or monthly magazines. This is the reason there are some dramatic “cliffhanger” scenes which made the reader want to know what happened in the next instalment. This helps to make them “pageturners” for modern readers. (It also allowed Dickens to get feedback from his readers about what they thought of his stories and characters before he had finished his novel!)There are 24 ebook and eaudiobook copies of Dickens’ novels available on Borrowbox and you will also find there an excellent biography of the author by Claire Tomalin.Claire Tomalin is the award-winning author of eight highly acclaimed biographies, including: The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft; Shelley and His World; Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life; The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens; Mrs Jordan's Profession; Jane Austen: A Life; Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self; Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man and, most recently, Charles Dickens: A Life. A former literary editor of the New Statesman and the Sunday Times, she is married to the playwright and novelist Michael Frayn.Submitted by Philip in Finglas Library.Access eBooks/eAudiobooks on your phone, tablet or reader. Once you have installed the app, search for Dublin in the ‘Library’ field provided and then sign in using your library membership card number and PIN. Watch our how to video on Borrowbox. Members of other library authorities will need to log in using a different link.
If you’ve ever been trapped reading a boring book to a young person, I feel your pain. These books are NOT boring. They’re really well written, beautiful and interesting. Even better, they’re about magic, strange happenings, special powers, and mysterious characters. What’s not to love?Cream Buns and Crime is the perfect collection of short stories for buddying young detectives. Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are famous for solving murder cases, but there are many other mysteries in the pages of their casebooks. Join them as they solve two new, never-before-seen cases and pick up some helpful tips along the way. The perfect story for Nancy Drew’s everywhere.A Question of Magic. Serafina’s life takes an unexpected turn when she receives a letter from her great-aunt Baba Yaga, who by the way is a powerful witch! Summoned to her great-aunt’s cottage to begin her new life, Serafina finds it difficult to leave her family and the boy she loves behind. As she gets familiar with her new role, Serafina learns that strangers can ask her one question and she must tell the truth… but telling the future doesn’t necessarily mean knowing the right answers. E.D Baker’s re-imaging of Slavic folklore captures its readers from the first page and reminds us to be careful with what you wish for! I loved that Baker was able draw from Slavic folklore. Baba Yaga is such a famous character and it is nice to see her being written about in the 21st century. In her own unique way, bestselling author E.D. Baker has crafted a funny and romantic story that combines some fabulous details from the original Slavic tale, with a wonderful new twist!Strange Star. Villa Diodati. Switzerland, 1816. It’s a dark and stormy night. Four freethinkers join their host Lord Byron at his estate for a night of chilling tales. Felix, Byron’s serving boy, cannot wait for the night’s festivities to begin. He plans to hang onto every morbid word! Frantic banging at the door quickly brings the night’s festivities to a halt. A young girl is at the door and she needs help.Her clothes are in tatters and a strange scar is clearly visible on her neck. The story is far from over because a monster rides in her wake! Strange Star is another great hit from author Emma Carroll. Beautifully written, haunting and sinister. I couldn’t put in down.Submitted by Eimear from the Relief Staff Panel.Access eBooks/eAudiobooks on your phone, tablet or reader. Once you have installed the app, search for Dublin in the ‘Library’ field provided and then sign in using your library membership card number and PIN. Watch our how to video on Borrowbox. Members of other library authorities will need to log in using a different link.
‘Alone in Berlin’ and ‘A Whole Life’ - books by German authors.
Our colleague Charlotte is sharing her views on two books by German authors. I always try to get keep in touch with literary developments in Germany which is where I am from. Lately, I have come across two wonderful German novels, one originally published in 1947, the other in 2014. Both celebrate the lives of ordinary people but in very different ways.Hans Fallada (1893 – 1947) was a bestselling German writer during the early 1930s. He published a number of well-known novels about ordinary people trying to get on with life. Eventually, he fell foul of the Nazis and, despite trying to keep a low profile, was under constant threat of persecution. Fallada died in 1947, two years after the end of the Nazi rule. Alone in Berlin, his last novel, was published posthumously. It is one of the first anti-Nazi novels published after World War II. Largely forgotten until re-discovered and translated into English in 2009, it became an international bestseller more than 60 years after its publication.Inspired by the real-life story of a Berlin couple who were executed in 1943 for treason, the novel describes life under the Nazi regime in Germany and the resistance of ordinary people. When Anna and Otto Quangel’s son is killed in World War II, the quiet and unassuming couple decide to call on others to resist the tyranny of the Nazi regime. They distribute postcards with anti-Hitler messages around Berlin. Soon they are being tracked by the Gestapo. Fallada’s novel paints a haunting picture of the atmosphere of fear, suspicion and intimidation in 1940 Berlin and Fallada leaves no doubt what his view of the Nazi regime is. An unforgettable book.In contrast to Fallada’s book, Robert Seethaler’s novel A Whole Life is the work of a contemporary artist. Robert Seethaler is an Austrian writer and well-known actor who has published several books, ‘A Whole Life’ being his best-known work outside of German-speaking countries. It was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize 2016 and The International Dublin Literary Award 2017. Like Fallada, Seethaler writes about the life of an ordinary person, Andreas Egger. Egger lives most of his life in a remote valley in the Austrian Alps. He is an outsider, barely tolerated by the farming family who take him in as an orphan and make him work for his keep. His life is hard and without comforts. Events outside the valley (the book spans the time from 1902 until 1977) are barely mentioned. Egger only ever leaves his valley as a soldier during World War II and on short working trips. Egger’s happiest time is his short, ill-fated marriage to Marie and yet, this is not a sad book. It is a gentle, wistful reflection on life in its simplest form and on the happiness that can be found in acceptance and solitude. A wonderful, tender novel.Access eBooks/eAudiobooks on your phone, tablet or reader. Once you have installed the app, search for Dublin in the ‘Library’ field provided and then sign in using your library membership card number and PIN.Members of other library authorities will need to access BorrowBox using a different link.
Although I am way past reading young adult fiction (agewise, that is), I do love it. I devoured ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins and ‘The Divergent Trilogy’ by Veronica Roth. So when a borrower recommended the ‘Tearling Trilogy’ by Erika Johansen, I gave it a try and I was hooked.The ‘Tearling Trilogy’ is a dystopian novel with elements of fairy tales and dark magic. The first book, The Queen of the Tearling, is set in an area called the Tearling somewhere in the middle of a mystical ocean around three hundred years after the 9/11 events in the United States. Time is counted as before and after ‘the Crossing’ when a small group of citizens fled a dictatorial United States to set up their own utopian territory. The main character, Kelsea Glynn, is a feisty young woman who had been hidden away and brought up in secret after her queen mother had mysteriously disappeared and thought to have been murdered.Kelsea has been prepared for her future role from childhood onwards and yet she has been kept in the dark about the kingdom’s dark past and present. When she turns nineteen, she inherits a deeply divided country full of corruption and dark powers that is subjugated by the Red Queen of rivalling kingdom, Mortesme. Kelsea sets out to win the support of her people and to defend the Tearling with the help of the Royal Guard who are sworn to defend the Queen to the death.In the subsequent books, The Invasion of the Tearling and The Fate of the Tearling, as Kelsea fights the Red Queen and her army, she develops a mysterious connection to the pre-Crossing United States and to a woman called Lily Mayhew. Through Lily she learns about the time before the Crossing which might hold the key to her own and the Tearling’s survival. This trilogy is a crossover between adult and older young adult fiction. Judging by the reviews on Goodreads, it seems that this is one of those novels that you either love or hate. I loved it.Access eBooks/eAudiobooks on your phone, tablet or reader. Once you have installed the app, search for Dublin in the ‘Library’ field provided and then sign in using your library membership card number and PIN. Members of other library authorities will need to access BorrowBox using a different link.Submitted by Charlotte from Donaghmede Library.
It's almost a cliche at this point to say that teen fiction isn't just for teens anymore. Young adult fiction is a category of fiction written for readers from 12 to 18 years of age. While the genre is targeted to teenagers, approximately half of YA readers are adults. Summer, like youth, is fleeting. But the books we read when we're young can stay with us for a lifetime. Both these titles come highly recommended for our teen readers by our colleague Eimear from the relief staff panel.Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly. It’s the moment she’s waited for – Isabelle is about to win the handsome prince. There is only one problem, Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and stole the prince’s heart. No, Isabelle’s the ugly stepsister, who decided to cut off her toes in order to fit into Cinderella’s glass slipper…. which by the way is now filling with blood.When the Prince discovers the truth, Isabelle is banished, cast out in shame. But after all it’s no more that Isabelle deserves: Isabelle’s a plain girl in a world that values beauty, a feisty gir, in a kingdom that expects women to be seen but not heard. Isabelle has tried to fit in, to be just like Cinderella, but she’s not.Instead, Isabelle cuts off her toes in order to fit into a world that doesn’t accept a girl like her. A world that has made her jealous, empty and mean spirited. The is what she has been told and that is what Isabelle believes, until she gets a chance to change her destiny and prove to the world that it will take much more than heartache to break a girl. Evoking a darker, earlier version of the Cinderella story, bestselling author Jennifer Donnelly brings us a tale of empowerment, that challenges gender roles and reminds us that we all have a say in our destiny.The Red Scrolls of Magic (a Shadowhunter’s novel) New York Times bestselling author Cassandra Clare and award-winner Wesley Chu team up to bring you the first installment in this new series. It follows High Warlock Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood as they tour the world together after the Mortal War.Magnus Bane wants a holiday — more like a lavish trip around Europe, with his boyfriend Alec Lightwood of course! No sooner have the two settled in Paris when news arrives that a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand has begun causing chaos all over the world. Now Magnus and Alec must race against time to track down the Crimson hand and its new leader, before it’s too late!Watch our how-to video on Borrowbox.Access eBooks/eAudiobooks on your phone, tablet or reader. Once you have installed the app, search for Dublin in the ‘Library’ field provided and then sign in using your library membership card number and PIN.Members of other library authorities will need to access BorrowBox using a different link.