BOOK REVIEW: A Matter Of Honour – by Jeffrey Archer

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Title: A Matter Of Honour
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Spy Thriller
First published: December 31st 1985
Finished reading: October 21st 2014
Pages: 439
Rating 3

“Adam took one hand off the handlebars and fingered the envelope in his inside pocket like a schoolboy the day before his birthday feeling the shape of a present in the hope of discovering some clue as to its contents.”

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This book was recommended to me by a friend who knows I like historical fiction and the thriller/mystery genre. And he was right: I always enjoy reading books set in the Europe of the last century, especially when they are related to WWI, WWII or the Cold War. In this case, A Matter of Honour is set during the Cold War and tells us about a lost Soviet treasure that can possibly give the Soviets the right to claim back one of the US states. Jeffrey Archer takes us on a journey through various European countries where the Soviets chase the man that supposedly is in the possession of the painting that holds the document. An interesting read and recommended to those who enjoy historical fiction and spy thrillers in general.

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When the Soviets find out the original painting wasn’t destroyed in a plane crash, all hell breaks loose. The document that is hidden inside that painting can force the Americans to sell one of their states, but the document is only valid for one more month… And they start a frantic search in order to find the painting that has been considered ‘lost’ since the Revolution. In the mean time in the UK, Adam Scott inherited an old envelope from his father. Inside, he finds a letter from the German Goering, promising his father something that has been deposited in a Swiss bank for him to pick up. As you can guess, it involves the exact same painting the Russians are looking for. As soon as he picks up his package, the KGB murder his girlfriend and start a manhunt to catch Adam… And soon everybody is looking for him in order to obtain the precious painting. Will Adam be able to escape death and finally restore his father’s honor?

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Even though it was an interesting read, I felt there was something missing to consider it as a pageturner. It was hard to stay focused at some points in the story and not every plot detail was as convincing as I would have hoped… The fact that Adam was able to continue the way he did, and that he had a lot of ‘luck’ in meeting just the right people seemed a bit unbelievable to me. Still, it is a nice read and I will try to read more of Archer‘s work in the future.

BOOK REVIEW: Animal Farm – by George Orwell

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Title: Animal Farm
Author: George Orwell
Genre: Classics, Fantasy, Politics
First published: August 17th 1945
Finished reading: January 27th 2014
Pages: 112

Rating 4,5

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

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Ok, so this book was completely NOT what I expected. In a good way. When I got my hands on this one, I only knew it was a classic and supposedly a must read. Wanting to take a break from the book I’m currently reading, I decided to squeeze in this short novel into my schedule. To be honest, the first pages had a huge WTF factor, and made me wonder if I grabbed the book the movie Babe The Pig was based on. (And later found out that that movie actually was based on a different book by Dick King-Smith…) I soon found out this book has a completely different meaning. George Orwell meant it as a satire, questioning the philosophy of Stalin in the Soviet Union. Animal Farm was published in 1945, the year where the Second World War ended and just before the time the Cold War made its introduction. The world represented in Animal Farm actually is a representation of the society in Soviet Union round that time.

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Orwell describes a group of farm animals tired of having to serve men, and they decided to start a revolution. Once they scare the men away, they start their own new society. All things seem to go better then before the revolution, until Snowball (who represents Trotsky) is chased away. Napoleon (the infamous Stalin) starts to create his own world and piece by piece converts the new world in one similar to the human world again… By introducing communism to the Animal Farm.

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Animal Farm is a great satire and it would definitely be interesting to read this one again after refreshing the facts of the Russian history of the 20th century. It’s short, quite easy to read, and without doubt recommendable.