The Princess Of Mantua and this weeks other books

The three books I am reading this week are proving really good. I started Collapse by Jared Diamond first. I'd been reading a blog at work by a scientist visiting Antarctica and he had referred to some examples from this book that had interested me. It is basically about what has caused civilizations to vanish in the past. The major examples it uses are Easter Island and the Norse societies in Greenland and Iceland. A lot of it comes down to sustainable living, which anyone who works in government will know is the concept of the moment. I would recommend this book because it is very readable and contains enough anecdotes to make the societies come alive in your mind. It will also make you think about where our societies are currently heading and what we should be doing to change this.

Book two is The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. I got this as one of the Booker prize job-lots from the Book People. They do them every year for the short list. I don't know why I haven't got round to reading this until now. I guess that the subject matter didn't interest me immediately (gay youth in rich 80's political society...), however, now I've started reading it really is interesting. I particularly like Catherine or "The cat who walks alone", she reminds me of a lot of girls I have met in the past; uncertain, insecure and making all the usual mistakes.

The third book is by a French author, Marie Ferranti and it is based on the story of the life of Barbara von Brandenburg (see picture above lady looking to the right standing behind the dwarf). The Princess of Mantua is beautifully written in a very sparse style. Marie Ferranti lets you see the more emotional and everyday life of a fifteenth century family of high standing. I especially like the excerpts of letters included in the book which show Barbara to be a mischievous woman with a good deal of wisdom.

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