At night when the wind roars and the child sleeps quietly in its wooden cot by the echoing chimney-piece I light a lamp and limp about, thinking of my friends–of Justine and Nessim, of Melissa and Balthazar. I return link by link along the iron chains of memory to the city which we inhabited so briefly together: the city which used us as its flora–precipitated in us conflicts which were hers and which we mistook for our own: beloved Alexandria!
I had to come so far away from it in order to understand it all! Living on this bare promontory, snatched every night from darkness by Arcturus, far from the lime-laden dust of those summer afternoons, I see at last that none of us is properly to be judged for what happened in the past. It is the city which should be judged though we, its children, must pay the price.
Justine (The Alexandria Quartet #1) by Lawrence Durrell
… on the shelves and on the tables, on the floor and on the broad window-sills, were books; they reached the ceiling on the shelves; they wainscoted the walls to the height of several feet all round the room; small volumes were piled on the narrow mantel as far up as they could go without toppling over, and the tables were loaded also. Aisles were kept open leading to the door, to the windows, and to the hearth, where the ragged arm-chair stood, and where there was a small parade-ground of open floor; but everywhere else the printed thoughts held sway.
In the end she turned the key but left it in the lock, and stepped cautiously through the door she had opened into what had probably been a dining room but was as large as the ballroom of her aunt’s house in Mayfair. It was lined floor to ceiling with books: goods boxes had been stacked on top of the original ten-foot bookshelves, and planks stretched over windows and doors so that no one square foot of the original paneling showed and the tops of the highest ranks brushed the coffered ceiling. Yellow-backed adventure novels by Conan Doyle and Clifford Ashdown shouldered worn calf saints’ lives, antiquated chemistry texts, Carlyle, Gibbon, de Sade, Balzac, cheap modern reprints of Aeschylus and Plato, Galsworthy, Wilde, Shaw.
Traveling with the Dead (James Asher #2) by Barbara Hambly
Need I say that the name Balzac grabbed my attention! There is another great quote from later in the book when one of the vampires says, “We follow families, names, neighborhoods for years, sometimes decades. To us, chains of events are like the lives of Balzac’s characters, or Dickens’. The nights are long.”
I was unfamiliar with the name Clifford Ashdown. Research showed that it is a nom de plume used by Richard Austin Freeman and John James Pitcairn for books on which they collaborated.
I woke up on a floor, a cold concrete floor. It was in a windowless room lit by a bulb hanging from a cord in the middle of the ceiling.
My mouth was dry as cotton and my head hurt like hell. I tried to lift it, and the effort left me shaken and nauseated. I satisfied myself with just shifting my eyes around. I thought of all the books I’d read, all the mysteries. Spenser wouldn’t have ended up this way. Neither would Kinsey Millhone. Or Henrie O. Or Stephanie Plum. Well, yeah, maybe Stephanie Plum.
A Fool and His Honey (Aurora Teagarden #6) by Charlaine Harris
When something is bothering me, I seek refuge. No need to travel far; a trip to the realm of literary memory will suffice. For where can one find more noble distraction, more entertaining company, more delightful enchantment than in literature.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog (L’elegance du herisson) by Muriel Barbery