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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Spark, Muriel: The Finishing School | Main | McNicholl, Damian: A Son Called Gabriel »

Murray, Paul: An Evening of Long Goodbyes

  

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Random House © 2003, 424 pages [amazon]
4 stars

Twenty-four-year-old Charles Hythloday resides at Amaurot, his family's estate some ten miles outside of Dublin, with his sister Bel, an aspiring actress, and their Bosnian housekeeper Mrs. P. Charles wiles away his days in apparent indolence and drunkenness, mourning a love affair gone sour, watching Gene Tierney movies into the night, overseeing the construction of a folly on the property. But to Charles's mind his purpose in life is a serious one: he means to revive "the contemplative life of the country gentleman, in harmony with  his status and history." For the first third of An Evening of Long Goodbyes Charles is thus an amusing anachronism, a Wodehousian character thrust into a less polite modern world. This makes for some wickedly funny writing, both in dialogue and narrative. (Out to a seedy pub with Bel and her Golem of a boyfriend Frank, Charles looks around with some unease at his fellow drinkers. "Was I the only one in evening wear?") But one senses that Charles's retreat from society is motivated by an underlying sadness.

The book, too, loses charm as it moves from the farce of its early pages to the melodrama of Charles's post-Amaurot life.Unfortunately, Charles's idyllic lifestyle cannot last. Events conspire to push him out of Amaurot and into productive society, where he engages in activities--paying work, for example--that were previously unthinkable. Charles grows as a human being, developing empathy, for example, and he is eventually compelled to confront the imperfections of his childhood at Amaurot, which he had long glorified.

While Charles's development is interesting to watch, he becomes a less interesting character as he changes from a wry commentator on a society that is alien to him to a productive participant in that society. The book, too, loses charm as it moves from the farce of its early pages to the melodrama of Charles's post-Amaurot life. Still worth reading, a lighter book that kept Charles in tails and gimlets would surely have garnered five stars.

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Comments

1.

Just ran across this review. I'm afraid I disagree completely with its premise -- that Murray's book is fundamentally a farce, and that the latter part of the book is not as good, if not actually irrelevant. You're not alone in this view, of course; several prominent reviewers agreed.

I admit that it's easy to be misled by its similarities to Wodehouse into thinking its purpose is comic, or even (though this is not, of course, typical of Wodehouse) to comment wryly on society. The book certainly wasn't what I was led to expect by its jacket copy. However, I believe *Evening* is all about loss and how one deals with it -- and that, when viewed in this light, the book is damn near perfect.

If you're interested (so many years later), I have more to say about it here: http://bit.ly/87x01i.




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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.