First Impressions

Title of book: The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett

Reason for reading: This was on the shelf at my grandparents’ house. I picked it out of the line-up because it had a really beautiful spine— Dark blue with shiny gold filagree on the top and bottom.

First impressions: Like I said, I really like the spine. The front of the cover is beautiful in a kind of vintage-looking way: “Voyage” and “Narwhal” are larger than the other words, set before a watercolor picture of a huge iceberg or snowy mountain. I also like how, even though the author’s accolades are on the front, they don’t overpower the title. I never enjoyed when books touted the author and his/her awards more than the title of the book (although I do know that this is a marketing ploy).

Previous reads by this author: None.

Hardcover, paperback, or ebook: Paperback.

GoodReads rating: 3.89 average

First sentences: He was standing on the wharf, peering down at the Delaware River while the sun beat on his shoulders. A mild breeze, the smells of tar and copper. A few yards away the Narwhal loomed, but he was looking instead at the partial reflection trapped between hull and pilings. The way the planks wavered, the railing bent, the boom appeared then disappeared; the way the image filled the surface without concealing the complicated life below. He saw, beneath the transparent shadow, what his father had taught him to see: the schools of minnows, the eels and algae, the mussels burrowing into the silt; the diatoms and desmids and insect larvae sweeping past hydrozoans and infant snails.


First Impressions

Title of book: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach

Reason for reading: I saw the movie a few years ago during a flight to the Caribbean and fell in love. I saw in the credits that it was based on a book, and, against my better judgement, added it to my “to read” list on Goodreads. This might not end well.

First impressions: The cover is the type that I absolutely hate— Pictures from scenes in the movie are pasted all over the front, with “Now A Major Motion Picture” displayed on the top, along with the names of the actors in said movie. This is, however, a library book, and I’m a little less picky when it comes to library books than when I buy one.

Previous reads by this author: None.

Hardcover, paperback, or ebook: Paperback.

GoodReads rating: 3.39 average

First sentences: Muriel Donnelly, an old girl in her seventies, was left in a hospital cubicle for forty-eight hours. She had taken a tumble in Peckham High Street and was admitted with cuts, bruises, and suspected concussion. Two days she lay in A & E, untended, the blood stiffening on her clothes. It made the headlines. TWO DAYS! screamed the tabloids. Two days on a trolley, old, neglected, alone. St. Jude’s was besieged by reporters, waylaying nurses and shouting into their mobiles, didn’t they know the things were forbidden? Photos showed her lolling gray head and black eye. Plucky pensioner, she had survived the Blitz for this?

“I fumbled in my pocket; I held out the ring to him, on my open palm. The man’s large, pallid face went slack. He looked at the ring, and then at me.
‘Where did you get this?’ he said.
‘He gave it to me,’ I said. ‘He told me to bring it here.’
He stood and looked at me, hard. For a moment, I thought he was going to tell me he didn’t know what I was talking about. Then, without a word, he stepped back and opened the door.
‘I’m Hobie,’ he said, when I hesitated. ‘Come in.’” The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, pp120-121

First Impressions

Title of book: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Reason for reading: I first saw this book on the “New Arrivals” shelf at my bookstore, and was intrigued by the cover art. It is also a book that I kept going back to and thinking about so when I saw it was on sale a few weeks ago I just went ahead and bought it. (And the main character shares his name with my husband)

First impressions: I love the cover art for this book. It looks like someone has wrapped the famous painting “The Goldfinch” in plain white paper, written on the wrapper in a charcoal pencil, and ripped part of the paper away to reveal the chained bird’s face. The bird appears to be staring from the book at the reader. The ripped paper looks real, like I would be able to feel it if I touched the cover. The pages are soft and thin, so it doesn’t appear to be a 770 page book from the outside. The binding is colored in such a way to look like yellowed, old tape, seemingly to hold the wrapper closed around the painting.

Previous reads by this author: None.

Hardcover, paperback, or ebook: Hardcover.

GoodReads rating: 4.05 average

First sentences: While I was still in Amsterdam, I dreamed about my mother for the first time in years. I’d been shut up in my hotel for more than a week, afraid to telephone anybody or go out; and my heart scrambled and floundered at even the most innocent noises: elevator bell, rattle of the minibar cart, even church clocks tolling the hour, de Westertoren, Krijtberg, a dark edge to the clangor, an inwrought fairy-tale sense of doom.

“You can have a silence full of words. A lute retains, in its bowl, the notes it has played. The viol, in its strings, holds a concord. A shriveled petal can hold its scent, a prayer can rattle with curses; an empty house, when the owners have gone out, can still be loud with ghosts.” Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, p534
“Here at the close of the year 1533, his spirit is sturdy, his will strong, his front imperturbable. The courtiers see that he can shape events, mold them. He can contain the fears of other men, and give them a sense of solidity in a quaking world: this people, this dynasty, this miserable rainy island at the edge of the world.” Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, p435
“'…all our lives and fortunes depend now on that lady, and as well as being mutable she is mortal, and the whole history of the king’s marriage tells us a child in the womb is not an heir in the cradle.'” Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, p367
“And in an adjacent parish, at the commemoration of the saints, where the priest requires us to remember our fellowship with the holy martyrs, 'cum Joanne, Stephano, Mathia, Barnaba, Ignatio, Alexandro, Marcellino, Petro' some person had shouted out, ‘and don’t forget me and my cousin Kate, and Dick with his cockle-barrel on Leadenhall, and his sister Susan and her little dog Posset.’
He puts his hand over his mouth. ‘If Posset needs a lawyer, you know where I am.’” Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, p323
“At Smithfield in the stand put up for the dignitaries he meets the Venetian ambassador, Carlo Capello. They exchange a bow. ‘In what capacity are you here, Cromwell? As friend of this heretic, or by virtue or your position? In fact, what is your position? The devil alone knows.’
‘And I am sure he will tell Your Excellency, when you next have a private talk.’” Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, p307
“At New Year’s he had given Anne a present of silver forks with handles of rock crystal. He hopes she will use them to eat with, not to stick in people.” Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, p250
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