Colombian Holiday Reading

Tripping off to the stunning country of Colombia for ten days taking in: the capital city of Bogotá with it’s historic quarters and emerald jewellery shops, the coffee triangle of Pereira, then moving onto the natural beauty of Tyrona Park and Santa Marta before ending in the colonial Caribbean city of Cartagena  -books had to be carefully selected and packed!

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The third book in the Victor Legris Mysteries, The Montmartre Investigation by Claude Izner was read whilst staying at the stunning Hacienda San Jose in Pereira.

We fortuitously had the place to ourselves so enjoyed the luxury of a private swimming pool where we enjoyed a few too many Ron Coca in the evenings. The service was excellent and the rooms were traditionally decorated, and styled, in dark wood which complimented the lush green surrounding of the coffee region.

The book : 

November 1891. The body of a young woman is discovered at a crossroads on Boulevard Montmartre. Barefoot and dressed in red, she has been strangled and her face disfigured. That same day a single red shoe is delivered to Victor Legris’s Parisian bookshop. Suspecting more than just coincidence, the bookseller sleuth and his assistant Jojo are soon engaged in seeking out the identity of both victim and murderer. In this third investigation set in belle-époque Paris, we are drawn with Victor into the city’s nightlife and the legendary Moulin Rouge immortalised by Toulouse-Lautrec, who features in the story.

The story was stronger and more interesting than the first two I have read in the series. The plot juicer and the setting of the Moulin Rouge and culture of Cabaret was a welcome addition. Don’t get me wrong I really enjoyed it, however my continued niggle is that I just don’t like Victor (seems like it should be quite a big problem seeing as though he is the main character -but it’s not). His jealousies and overbearing attitude to the wonderful Tasha continues unabated which is just an irritating part of his personality and not one I feel is entirely justified.

Rating: 7 out of 10

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Not  a book more a menu … and one which made very interesting, if slightly disconcerting, reading.

 

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Well obviously one of his books was going to make an appearance….

Love in the time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs–yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.

I started reading this in Cartagena and continue to read this back at home in London – in a word (or three) I am hooked. Márquez’s flair for description and attention to detail in each of his characters is a thing of pure beauty. There’s no need to blather on extolling the man’s writing prowess, simply say his name and people will read his book no questions asked. Genius.

WP_20150926_09_46_02_ProAlso a quick shout out to the city itself. In Caratgena we stayed at a wonderfully luxurious hotel called the Anandá which was a perfect way to end the holiday.  The rooftop jacuzzi in particular was an excellent place to cool off, after a hot day exploring, and to watch the sun set, with panoramic views across the  colonial style rooftops and a very good cocktail (gin and cucumber infused vodka!!). The walled-city alone is totally worth the visit, and we spent many a pleasant hour idly walking the narrow streets admiring the colourful architecture. Also the restaurants here are amazing  -if you love seafood- with 5 course tasting menus costing around £25 per person ( heartily recommend Alma Restaurant).

Other books I would take on your travels to Colombia-nwe had these two with us and dipped in a couple of times having read them both before…

  • The Robber of Memories: A River Journey Through Colombia by Michael Jacobs
  • Cocaine Train: Tracing My Bloodline Through Colombia by Stephen Smith

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Finally I leave you with a quote from this guy…

Nowhere is sadder than an empty bed

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