Ghosts of K2 – Mick Conefrey

Ghosts of K2 - Mick Conefrey
Ghosts of K2 – Mick Conefrey

Another history of the 20th century’s attempts to ascend, and descend, the world’s second highest mountain – K2.

K is for Karakoram, and “The Savage Mountain” as it’s sometimes called, lies on the border between Pakistan and China, in the former’s far north west, an area I visited back in 2006, and fell in love with.

So, yes, trekking to Concordia is on my wish list.

Climbing K2 is not!

Conefrey’s 2015 book culminates with the ultimately successful 1954 attempt by the Italian team organised and run by Ardito Desio, although – in my view – not truly led by him as Professor Desio spent most of the time at Base Camp, leaving the mountaineering to the mountaineers – including Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli who made it to the top. The book also discusses the long term fall out, and falling out, that ensued.

I don’t recall Conefrey describing Desio as a Count, but that may account for his management style and insistence on hierarchy – and travelling by plane whilst leaving his lowlier mountaineering companion, Riccardo Cassin, to travel by train on their 1953 reconnaissance.

Author page: Ghosts of K2 – Mick Conefrey

Enemies at Home – Lindsey Davis

Enemies at Home - Lindsey Davis
Enemies at Home – Lindsey Davis

The second on the Flavia Albia series looks at the life of the household slave in Domitian’s Rome, when newlyweds Valerius Aviola and Mucia Lucilia are discovered dead – strangled in their bed – with the family slaves having taken refuge in the Temple of Ceres.

Albia’s uncles, Quintus and Aulus, and their families put in an appearance and I’m pretty sure we’re destined for a replay of the “Will they? Won’t they?” plot line of the early Falco novels. No Complaints There!

I also like the, to me, Brummie words that materialise every now and again – mithered and scrage resonated in this read.

Author page: Enemies at Home – Lindsey Davis

The Ides of April – Lindsey Davis

The Ides of April - Lindsey Davis
The Ides of April – Lindsey Davis

Back to my normal speedy reading standard with the start of what looks to be a smashing  new (to me) series from Lindsey Davis.

More Roman Crime Fiction, but this time featuring Falco’s adopted Briton daughter, Flavia Albia. She’s as hardnosed and sassy as her dear old dad, and as self aware as her Patrician mama.

BRILLIANT!

Very pleased I’ve got the next two in the series ready and waiting on my bookshelves… Thank you, AbeBooks.

Can’t wait to meet some of the old crowd again 🙂

Author page: The Ides of April – Lindsey Davis

The Mirror & The Light – Hilary Mantel

The Mirror & The Light - Hilary MantelEnfin, Fin.

A long read, this one. Partly due to size – at over 900 pages it’s a long read (and the hardback, which is the version I was reading, was that bit too unwieldy to read in bed) plus it’s a dense read.

The chapters are long, functioning more like sections to designate key timespans, which made it all too easy to stop after a short chunk rather than getting to the end of a chapter which I find sometimes helps me get properly into a longer book.

I’m sure the general weirdness of the (first) year of COVID-19, and the long days of “working from home”, haven’t helped my powers of concentration either.

In particular I found the early/middle sections harder to get through than the other two books, but once I got to Anne of Cleves I was back in the zone.

Goodbye Cremuel.

Author page: The Mirror & The Light – Hilary Mantel


Once I’d finished, I looked up some of the names on Wikipedia. Close this review now if you don’t know how Cromwell’s story ends.

Henry VIII was shown portraits of both Anne of Cleves and her younger sister, Amalia of Cleves, as possible post-Jane Seymour brides. Amalia does not look like a docile damsel in the slightest.  In fact she looks like a young woman who has a mind of her own, and determination to match. Perhaps that’s why she never married.

An unidentified woman by Hans Holbein the Younger.jpg
An unidentified woman by Hans Holbein the Younger (but possibly Amalia of Cleves)

By Hans Holbeinhttps://www.rct.uk/collection/912190/an-unidentified-woman, Public Domain, Link

And “Call-Me” (aka Thomas Wriothesley) looks decidedly duplicitous in this portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger:

Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton by Hans Holbein the Younger.jpg
Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton by Hans Holbein the Younger

By Hans Holbein – Metropolitan Museum of Art [1], Public Domain, Link

Small Wars Permitting – Christina Lamb

Small Wars Permitting - Christina Lamb
Small Wars Permitting – Christina Lamb

Twenty years in life of female foreign correspondent, Christina Lamb, told through a series of articles and circumstances in which they came to be written.

It helps that you go to Oxford University and become friends with Benazir Bhutto, but Christina Lamb’s bravery, quick wittedness and insights are all her own. And whilst there’s a dollop of envy too,  I am not that brave.

How heartbreaking to see the book that starts and finishes with your friendship with Benazir published after her assassination.

Author page: Small Wars Permitting: Dispatches from Foreign Lands – Christina Lamb