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Consider This Home by Greg Bills

Within the tides by Joseph Conrad

Holland by A. A. M. van der Heyden

British railway operation by T. Bernard Hare

Cold is the grave by Peter Robinson

The first and last of Conrad. Almayer's folly, an outcast of the islands, the arrow of gold and the rover by Joseph Conrad

Seeking Sanctuary: AND The Nature of the Beast by Frances Fyfield

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Member: thorold

CollectionsRead but unowned (163), Ebooks (68), To read (82), Your library (3,037), Currently reading (6), Lent out (2), All collections (3,254)

Reviews727 reviews

Tagsfiction (1,544), poetry (299), queer (213), railways (200), 19th century (199), detective (172), history (146), travel (129), historical fiction (127), literature (109) — see all tags

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Recommendations62 recommendations

About meEnglish expat in the Netherlands, lazy cyclist, P.G. Wodehouse fan...

About my libraryI try to keep it as a balanced mix of random historical accretion and purposive acquisition, which is what any good personal library should be. Contrary to common belief, I do occasionally get rid of books. But not often enough...

Areas of particular interest - not necessarily at the top of my current list of interests - include history, language & linguistics, literary theory, obsolete science & technology books, P.G. Wodehouse, poetry, railway history, travel, trams, and underground railways. And a few very dusty college textbooks.

In the fiction section I have a mix of English, Dutch, French and German, ranging from 18th and 19th century classics to heavy-duty modern literary fiction, but also including substantial chunks of early 20th century adventure stories, classic British detective stories, American LGBT writing from the 70s and 80s, British writers of the 50s and 60s, and even the odd Harry Potter and Terry Pratchett.
Current (early 2014) project is to expand my knowledge of the other Romance languages, so there have been quite a few books in Spanish popping up lately.
In other words, anyone looking for evidence of order and discipline had better avert their gaze.

Groups(BOMBS) Books Off My Book Shelves 2012 Challenge, 18th Century British Literature, Anglophiles, Awful Lit., Barbara Pym, BBC Radio 3 Listeners, Best of British, Bikes and Bicycles, Cycles, Cyclists and Bikers, Books Compared, Books in 2025: The Future of the Book Worldshow all groups

Favorite authorsPatrick Gale, Patricia Highsmith, James Morier, Barbara Pym, Simon Raven, Stevie Smith, P. G. Wodehouse (Shared favorites)


Favorite bookstoresAthenaeum Boekhandel, Boekhandel Vrolijk Gay Lesbian Bookshop, Donner, Minster Gate Bookshop, Studystore Utrecht, The American Book Center, The Barbican Bookshop, York, Van Stockum Boekverkopers

Favorite listsClassic British Humor, Minimalist's bookshelf


Real nameMark Hodson

LocationDen Haag, Netherlands

Account typepublic, lifetime

URLs /profile/thorold (profile)
/catalog/thorold (library)

Member sinceApr 17, 2007

Currently readingThe madwoman in the attic : the woman writer and the nineteenth-century literary imagination by Sandra M. Gilbert
Essays by George Orwell
Die Blendung : Roman by Elias Canetti
El camino by Miguel Delibes
Malena es un nombre de tango by Almudena Grandes
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Haha, well I'm glad (sort of!) that comment about The Rainbow resonated with you. Made me smile, anyway!
Mmmm, less keen on recent Gale than his earlier stuff, apart from Notes from an Exhibition. Thought that was superb, until someone told me he got artistic Cornwall All Wrong.
Just a quick note to say how much I enjoy your reviews: I'm delighted to see that a slew of Jonathan Raban's may be on their way, as he is one of my favourites.
As you say, a shared work environment should lead to a high shared cultural context. I hope that applies to politicians within the EU, but I do wonder if David Cameron and Jean-Claude Juncker will ever speak the same language ;-(
Happy Thingaversay!

I love your profile picture.
You started that list because this year's Diagram Prize has just been announced, right? (If not, the winner was How to Poo on a Date.) Don't know whether it's because the age of 14 is so terribly distant for me or because I've largely managed to avoid Benny Hill and Carry On's but I needed the explanations for several of your choices, so thanks for giving them. Bit of a shame that your Book Handle Frolic Gay Lesbian Bookshop wasn't eligible for list . . .

Enjoyed your review of [Malina] and found that your mention that she didn't seem to be interested in the sound and rhythm of words made me realize that you have read it in the original, while I have only read it in translation. I found it very sad, and difficult to understand, but realized it was considered by many a masterpiece. It rattled my brains.

Miriam in St Petersburg, Florida
Thank you for letting me know! I've deleted the weird addition.
I think you will find that all Scottish policemen wear suspenders.

As far as the Moxford goes, it's worse than you think: I bought it at a bookshop in Kansas (admittedly, next door to Missouri geographically). I'm sad to say that I paid more than a pound for mine (it was $15 in the late 90s), but let's just consider the rest as postage and packing. I bought it because I'd never seen it before, and because I'm a minor devotee (meaning that I don't go to the meetings) of the Quiller-Couch Oxford Book of English Verse, and have been since I was at school. It's not what one might call "good", the Moxford, but it is unusual and interesting. Mine came with some odd little handwritten blue cards in loose in the front, on which someone had done a few lines of research on A. Stoddart-Walker. Most curious. Or "entirely unworthy of attention." I sometimes confuse the two.

Also, I added your library due to your mention of Wodehouse, who I adore. I haven't listed all of mine yet - it's one of those tasks I have yet to get round to. Admittedly, most of my copies are just the Penguins and the Overlook reprints, but I have a few of the old American hardcovers as well. Nothing spectacular. If you're familiar with the Ace Double Novels (my father had a lot of the old science fiction ones from the 1950s when I was younger, but they covered quite a range), I also have what I think is the only Wodehouse issued in that series, The Code of the Woosters backed with Quick Service. Still no idea how to list that one, but possibly I haven't looked assiduously enough yet.

Thanks for the reply. I thought there could be a kind of companion volume which would help. I cannot resolve myself to read the original book with a translation opened at the same time. So I believe I'll take my time and wait till next year when I'll retire...
Hello Mark,
I saw you read Berlin Alexanderplatz. I guess you read the German original. I tried it several years ago, and I had to stop after 30 pages because the Berlin (or Yiddish?) dialect in the dialogues was really too difficult for me. How could you deal with it?
Maps & Atlases; >2 I did git "borders" rite one time and it's possibal that my pursenal issue of the Atlantic actually used the wurd "boarders" in the artical title. That's mi story and I'm stycking to it. :) Happy Nu Yeer!

Munn (not a typo) :)
Bureaucratic: Your communication of 21 June 2009 re: Exercises in Style (Queneau) is in hand and a preliminary assessment followed by a post-preliminary assessment compels us to congratulate you and any other responsible parties for an outstanding contribution.
Yes, thank you. That's what I get for attempting to cut and paste two hundred book reviews in one afternoon. I'm going to get it straight. Love this site - just learning.
Putting your library on my interesting list..and thought I'd say hi :)
You are quite right. I don't know how I missed that lettering. But I just didn't see it. I'm sure it didn't help that I labor through basic Russian phonetics. A huge clue, for sure. Thanks!

I must admit, Ian Allan wouldn't have been my first thought if you'd ever said to me five years ago that I might have a railway book coming out; I agree that they were a 'bread-and-butter' enthusiasts' publisher, and not first choice for serious historical work. OTOH, they did publish a lot of quite essential railway history back in the 1950s and 1960s. And after talking to their art director, I can see that the company has gone down a particular route that others think they ought to be nudged away from.

And yet: they bought my book sight unseen, purely on the basis of a pitch that wasn't even based on an outline or much in the way of sight of my photographs. The commissioning editor might have looked at my website before our first meeting, but the book uses stuff I took 30 - 40 years ago, very different to the sort of photography (even of railways) that I do nowadays.

The "men in suits shaking hands" might have something to do with the company's Masonic orientation!

It's mainly true about Forces personnel not getting access to Eastern Europe in the 1950s, with one exception: Berlin. Personnel stationed in Berlin had relatively free access to the Eastern Sector under the terms of the Four-Power Agreement before the Wall went up; I have this on good authority from a friend of mine who was an Air Force Brat and then joined up and both lived and was stationed in West Berlin for quite some time. His reaction on seeing the film 'Funeral in Berlin', especially the sequences in the east, were "Just how I remember it!"
I've just read your review of Bryan Morgan's 'The End of the Line'; thank you for your kind name-check!

I have it in mind to try to update Morgan's book, at least in the areas that I know reasonably well (Austria and Germany mostly, and to add something on things I've seen that he couldn't (East Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia). I can certainly write the text and provide many more photographs than Morgan was able to get printed; the only problem is interesting a publisher in the project, as although I have quite good relations with Ian Allan these days (they are publishing an book of mine in a couple of months' time, and have indicated that they'd like to do more), their attitude to Continental railways is like so much of the British attitude to Things Foreign these days. Such a shame, as Ian Allan used to do a lot of titles of Continental interest...

(Incidentally, I got the impression that he was with the Forces in Germany and used weekend passes to get away a lot, though I could be wrong..)
Thank-you for your help, I really like Simenon a lot.

HI Thorold, I'm writing to you because you wrote a review a few days ago of Simenon's book
Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets (I read the translation which was called The Crime of Inspector
Maigret), anyways I'm interested in learning where you got your chronology of Maigret books because
I checked three sources and each one gives a different order to the Maigret series. In some I can't
even find this one listed. You say that this is the fourth in the series. If you have the time could
you please share with me where you found your chronological listing of the works by Simeneon?


Alan Scheer

Thanks. I don't have L’homme qui regardait passer les trains in French at the moment. Might have to keep a look out for it.

One thing I find about Simenon: he's entertaining and not overly taxing on my level of French--just enough that I learn a dozen or so new words but can easily follow the story without bothering to look anything up if I choose.

Have you tried the Arsène Lupin novels? That's about the only other French mystery series I've had a go at so far. Not a fan personally, partly because I find the character of Arsène annoying in the extreme.

Your review of Le pendu de Saint-Pholien has raised a question for me. Many years ago I read L’homme qui regardait passer les trains in English translation and enjoyed it very much. On that basis I have picked up a dozen or so French editions over the years and have been reading them in chronological order. I haven't found them terrifically inspiring, so I wonder whether my adherence to chronological order is at fault here and I should give up on it and leap in at a different point. Did Simenon hit his straps at a certain point in his career?


What-ho Mark,

Glad to be here and to stumble across like-minded readers!

Hallo Mark,

I'm not sure wether to write this in Dutch or in English, but I thougth you might want to know that someone posted 2 real strange messages in your ROOT topic.

Bye, Connie
Weatherwise, it's cold and raining in sunny California.

As for Dandolo, I'm reading Jonathan Phillips' history of the Fourth Crusade and Dandolo was indeed a nasty man. He found the means to get rid of the competition, didn't he? Machiavelli should have studied him.
Hi, Mark: Hope this finds you well.

Unless you personally attack me and mine in a review or on a board, you never have anything to fear from your critiques and comments. I believe a writer cannot improve unless he/she takes what the reading public into consideration, even while writing for oneself, as I do.

"Scarborough" is the same story but from Quinn's point of view, and deals with his relationship with his parents and his painful dealings with them, all the while he's trying to come into his own and win Alice's affection, the missteps he takes to lose her. One of my most hypercritical readers (and best friend) suggested the idea.

Sorry if you thought it was historical fiction! I get that a lot. I do write historical fiction - actually I dabble across the board. My last 'historical' piece was [Armor of Light], which is actually a fantasy set in early 13th century England and it is my interpretation of the St. George and the Dragon legend. The saint in question is George, earl of Grasmere from Cumbria, who travels with a band of followers (Hobbit style!)to Arkengarthdale to vanquish an evil presence there. George is a former crusader suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome after witnessing the sack of Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade. Right now I'm doing research on that particular black moment of history because the novel I want to write now is the prequel to AOL and because it will be steeped in historical events, I want to get the facts as accurate as possible. I have the extant chronicles (thank goodness for the internet and libraries that lend digital copies)and my own history and theology degrees to fall back on. Tallis and Scarborough are detours into matters of the heart that came up in conversation with a friend and he dared to me write about them. Never dare a deacon.
Thank you for your candor and helpful criticism. I am glad you enjoyed the story. It would have been helpful to have your insight before the book went to print. The sequel is coming out in two weeks, and I will use what I can to improve the story.

Thank you also for taking the time to read "Tallis."

With regards,

Java fascinated me, both as a visiting seaman and later trips, for business, so thanks for the rec. Looks promising. You read it in the original?

I am glad you liked Jack - cheeky chappy that Aussie - "borrows" the school's Mirror and goes off halfway round the world in it! He wrote another that I'll look out for as I too enjoy his 'voice.
Boy you have been busy - the TBR must still be growing then? (Thanks be!)
Glad you liked (most) of the Newby one, one of my favorite authors and Wanda makes me chuckle - JUST like my own SWMBO. But you are right in your comment ... I think that celephicus got the book or author mixed up!

That Fatal Shore is a bit dry but worth the reading no?

p.s. Had a text message from my eldest son this morning to say they were in Istanbul! (Probably Constantinople still to you and I.)
( : D
I still get Wooden Boat every month even though I had to sell my last boat (Trophy Hard-top fisher 21) three years `ago when I began having "mobility issues" as they call it here (falling over we'd say!) and it must be 27 years since I last owned a wooden one!

I just finished a reproduction book (good too) that you might enjoy ...

What a great review! I had forgotten this old book - but your words brought it all back. A great service to the old curmudgeony tract giver!
I liked your review on The Sword of Honour (4 dogs?) and have just had to buy a new copy of the third volume as my complete trilogy "went south" to Tampa with my youngest son, so I built up the three again in my own library. I now have to tag a surprising number of my books as "Vacationing in Florida", or "Read but from Son's Library' as several of them now appear in my eldest son's catalog in Ukraine!
Ah well, they would have got them fairly soon anyway I guess!
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