A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


What I like about this book is that it’s like a big thick juicy steak. That you can chew and chew on. With some sauce. Maybe even some mashed potatoes on the side.
I don’t think it’s a book everyone would like (and not just because things like that don’t exist). This is not an action-packed book. In fact, a remarkably small percentage of these 690 pages is devolved to ‘exciting action’, as one may call it. And, admittingly, when it is, it tends to be of a somewhat frustrating/irritating variety, the kind where very strong people suddenly lose fights for no logical reason, or just make careless mistakes you would expect them to avoid.
Don’t get me wrong, there is enough of action and intrigues in here, but I don’t think this book will appeal to anyone who likes their fiction fast-paced or jaw-gripping.
This book will only appear to readers who will find themselves quite content to read through looong looong discussions of books, history, science, magic, wine, food, and a very slowly developing relationship on top of it all, with some more sinister events unfolding from time to time.
I’m also a bit biased because this book took me back to missing the good things about my days in Oxford.
I think a great deal of thought and effort went into creating this, and I think that the result turned out as big and delicious meal for the brain.
I can’t say there were’t any things I questioned in terms or believability and logic (or necessity), but I can say that they weren’t significant enough to spoil the experience or leave as lasting of an impression as the good things did.
It’s an ideal book to hide behind to have yourself a couple of long quite evenings of reading and tea. It’s also a perfect ‘first book’, a book where all the good stuff before the ‘shit hits the fan’ is, to re-read multiple times, regardless of how the rest of the series will unfold.



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Sometimes I forget how English humor tends to be, but then I catch something like ‘Vexed’ on Netflix by accident and can’t believe I could’ve forgotten…

There was a point in my college life (a point that lasted for 1,5 years, with breaks for going home on holidays), when I was in Oxford and, after a certain incident had left me rather butthurt disappointed in human relations, I was so comfortably left to my own devices…. that somewhere inside me I just can’t stop missing that time.
I could refuse going outside more than 2-3 short times in a week, and do so only if absolutely necessary or for things I enjoyed. Once a few weeks I would go to London, usually just to buy essential stuff in JapanShop and the big book store next to it, and visit Portobello and Electric Cinema (seriously, I’d fly to London once a few months just to visit it, if I could) and come back happy and content. Even if it was lonenly and I wished I could do it with someone who would enjoy doing it with me, I still enjoyed it very much, all the quiet walks in strange places and long rides on the OxfordTube bus. Most of the time though, I would spend most of my days at my desk from morning to evening, studying while watching recorded dramas and tv shows non-stop – which worked fantastically well with my brain for some reason. I didn’t eat much, and drunk delicious teas all day long, and lost 10kg I can’t lose now, and my bones felt so much better for it. And on some evenings I’d get some delicious dinner and watch heart-healing asian movies while drinking sweet wines. And the stories I watched every day made my soul fuller and more balanced. I could spend weeks not speaking to other human beings more then hello/thank you to a cashier in a supermarket, but I became fluent in another language in less than 6 months.

I’m coming back to these memories often now because right now I can’t even get my mind balanced enough to feel like starting to watch a movie without feeling too tired or anxious about something to concentrate… let alone actually getting through one.

(an old selfie from that time)

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I hated a lot of things about UK when I was living there… like how impossible it was to get anyone to work, whether it was to fix something in your apt, or in banks (I left 6 years ago and they still refuse to close my bank account over there, because they don’t understand the concept of not being able to come in and do it in person because I live on the other side of the globe and don’t remember 9 year old passwords anyway), or real estate agencies who refused to work with you just because you are a foreigner (turned you away the second you walked in), or the London tube that never worked properly… or the drunk crowds destroying everything in their sight every Friday night, … and all the other instances portraying the lack of earnestness and proficiency…
… but I still miss it a lot sometimes. Living in UK. The other things about living in UK.

Among all of the ‘seasonal hot beverage flavors’, I still liked the Eggnoog Latte I used to buy in Oxford Starbucks before morning classes on chilly late-autumn and winter mornings the most…

So why can’t I find it or anything similar in any of the coffee shops on this part of the world, is beyond me 😦

Well they still have all the same pumpkin/gingerbread stuff, why not Eggnog?

Not a well known fact:

 

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for 2 years of my life I lived right across that Internet-famous house that has a shark sticking out (in?) of its roof

 

I saw a weird dream… about me going to an international summer school in England, like the one I used to go, … and trying to explain to them (they usually take only 10-14yo foreign kids) what I was doing there if I’ve already graduated with first-class honours from a UK university. :expressionless:

I think it was me wanting to spend few months just ‘learning languages, going cross-country horse riding 4 days a week and going on excursions around UK the other 3.”
Talk about the stuff kids can have that you could enjoy (and need) so much more when you’re an adult…

Tokyo in December is embedded so strongly and deeply in my memory, I can feel it all on my skin and in my lungs by just thinking about it.

Like Oxford in October.

Or Prague in April.