Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Back on topic : A J Cronin's The Citadel

It might have been on Christmas Day, spent contentedly à deux, that Mr Bookworm and I had a discussion about the medical profession. At the time neither of us could remember the author or title of a book we had both read years ago. [Although not as far back as 1937 when its publication caused a bit of a sensation.] But we knew that, if we stopped racking our brains, the details would retrieve themselves from the crowded, disorganised cupboards of our memories.

As they did. Within the hour, we had both remembered the author was A J Cronin and the book was The Citadel, one of his two most famous titles, the other being The Keys of the Kingdom.

Reading Cronin's page at Wikipedia, I was surprised to discover that he didn't die until 1981, and that the Dr Finlay character, made famous by a series on UK radio and TV, originated in a Cronin short story, Country Doctor, published in 1935.

At Amazon UK, I picked up some
enthusiastic reviews
of The Citadel, including -

"A great book for all doctor-to-be and everyone living with a doctor! Difficult cases, lovelife, exams, trials...follow the clumsy lad reach the top of the medical profession, only to discover that..."
"This book is fantastic. It is extremely well written, but more than that it is captivatingly human, heart and soul. So real that you get swept along with the story from the very first page, the characters are flawed yet you love them for it. This book has everything: originality, character, humour, an interesting and accessible insight into the medical profession, love, heart-rending tragedy, but ultimately, hope. It's definitely going up on my top shelf with my other favourites! I really recommend it and am surprised so few people seem to have heard of it - everyone should read this book!"

Although I have a friend with a stall on a Spanish rastro who sometimes has interesting books for sale, the chances of finding a copy of The Citadel are slim.
However the online catalogue of the Guille-Allès public library shows they have three copies of it, one being a large print edition and another part of a Cronin omnibus. So before our return to the island in the spring, I shall put in a request for the standard edition.

Blogging dilemma

This blog started out in May 2005 as Sundays-only. After May 2006, I took two months off before changing the timing to monthly. That lasted from September to December last year.

Now I'm not sure how to proceed. Unlike one of my favourite bloggers, Grumpy Old Bookman, who blogs from Monday to Friday, I am not yet retired. On the other hand, two other favourite bloggers, Richard Charkin and Susan Hill, are ten times busier than I yet they blog every day. How they do it is one of life's mysteries.

Being committed to blog every Sunday fidgets me. Yet once a month is not enough to build up a readership. Despite my stated view that regularity is important, I'm coming to the conclusion that blogging as and when my other commitments allow is the best option. Anyway I'll try it for a bit and see how it goes.

Places to lunch/dine with publishers

Yesterday Richard Charkin, CEO of Macmillan, blogged about Michelin House in London and the restaurant Bibendum "opened in 1987 by Sir Terence Conran and Paul Hamlyn."

I left the following comment. "In the days when I was into clothes shopping, Beauchamp Place, Walton Street and Fulham Road was a favourite route, so I often passed the Michelin Building. Strangely, although I’ve enjoyed 50 years of delicious meals [paid for by publishers and magazine editors] at pretty well every notable restaurant in London, none of my hosts fancied Bibendum. I wonder why not? The picture at the website does make it look a bit ordinary with the guy in the foreground in a tee shirt. But I guess that’s 21st century London."

To which Mr Charkin replied, "Bibendum is very expensive but can be absolutely excellent."

A case of whatever turns you on, I guess. Take a 360 degree
virtual tour of the restaurant and see what you think. Not my idea of heaven, partly because I don't think blue and white are good restaurant colours. The décor at Le Gavroche is cosier.

Prices at Bibendum are given as £55.00 for a meal, wine £17.95, champagne £39.50. Doesn't sound wildly expensive by publishers' standards to me. But then, as I blogged in June 2005 -

"Over the years I've had many memorable lunches with publishers. The Ritz…

...Le Gavroche… Inigo Jones…Le Caprice. I've lost count of the visits to London restaurants and the snippets of book world gossip. One of the most amusing lunches was with the late Desmond Elliott who died in New York in August 2003 when he was 73. It was Desmond who introduced Tim Rice to Andrew Lloyd Webber. Desmond who, 30 years ago, encouraged Jilly Cooper to write her best-selling novels."

More about Desmond here


At 11 January, 2007, Blogger Adrian Weston said...

Whatever you decide, Anne, DO keep blogging. Yours is one of the few blogs that consistently brings up so many books (and issues) of interest to me that I might not otherwise have come across.

It is difficult, though, I have spurts of blogging energy and then dwindle again. I really don't know how the daily bloggers do it - I've never really even managed a diary. And I mean an appointment diary!

At 12 January, 2007, Blogger Anne Weale said...

Adrian, how nice to hear from you, and thanks for your encouraging comment.

I am currently grappling with the problem of why the info in the right hand sidebar has dropped to the bottom of the main area. I'm hoping the Blogger Help Group will supply the answer.

Re diaries, I do a one-liner every morning at breakfast just to remind me of life's main events.

Cordial regards - Anne

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