Olsson's Book Bits

by Greta Olsson

The Romanov Prophecy by Steve Berry
Paperback. 387 Pages
ISBN O-345-46O06-5

Back cover explanation: "Atlanta lawyer Miles Lord is thrilled to be in Moscow for such a momentous event: After the fall of communism and a succession of weak governments, the Russian people have voted to bring back the tsar, who will be chosen from the distant relatives or Nicholas II."

The author claims that his novel is half fact and half fiction. I found it satisfying that Berry's ending note indicated which parts were true and which were invented.

"Ever since 1991, when the royal remains were exhumed from their anonymous grave, there has existed a great debate as to which two children's bodies are actually missing." One expert voted Maria and Alexei, and another chose Anastasia and Alexei. Berry reveals, "I chose Anastasia simply because of the fascination that has developed around her."

The prophecy is Rasputin's. "Whether the predictions were Rasputin's voice during his life, or manufactured by his daughter after his death, remains a matter of debate."

Berry's history-based thriller is fascinating. I can certainly recommend it as a good read. He is almost on a par with Dan Brown.

The Broker by John Grisham
New York Times Bestseller
Paperback. 422 pages.
ISBN O-44O-24158-8

If you love three things: 1) a good thriller, 2) Italy, and 3) studying a foreign language, this book is for you. The story line didn't come across as probable to me, but I was intrigued with Grisham's_ weaving lessons in basic Italian throughout his novel, a book that USA Today says is one of Grisham's best.

The CIA pressures an outgoing president to give Joel Backman, who is in a federal prison, a pardon 14 years before his term is up. Backman, a notorious Washington power broker, is wanted dead by many people.

"Backman is quietly smuggled out of the country in a military cargo plane, given a new name, a new identity, and a new home in Italy." Backman begs to be sent to England or another English speaking country. It makes no sense to him that the government is spending so much money and effort to get him to speak Italian fluently. I also couldn't understand the trip to Italy, but one gets a great travel tour - especially in Bologna. "Eventually, after he has settled into his new life, the CIA will leak his whereabouts to the Israelis, the Russians, the Chinese, and the Saudis. Then the CIA will do what it does best: sit back and watch. The question is not whether Backman will survive - there is no chance of that. The question the CIA needs answered is, who will kill him?"

Through The Narrow Gate by Karen Armstrong
A Memoir of Spiritual Discovery
Paperback. 281 pages.
ISDN O-312-34O95-8

If you loved the books or movies of these six Catholic nuns stories: 1) B1ack Narcissus, 2) Agnes of God, 3) The Nun's Story, 4) Song of Bernadette, 5) Sound of Music, 6) Bells of St. Mary's, you will no doubt find Through The Narrow Gate as more revealing and gripping than the other six stories. I have never stayed up all night to read anything in my 76 years until Karen Armstrong's memoir. I couldn't put the book down because of her open style, honesty, and intel1igence. She is Intertel quality - and possibly above the 99th percentile I.Q. wise. She studied and eventually taught at Oxford University.

"She has become one of the world's foremost commentators on religious affairs. A frequent contributor to conferences, panels, newspapers, and throughout the media. She is also the author of The Spiral Staircase (I believe a continuation of her memoir after she leaves her order), A History of God, The Battle for God, Islam and Buddha. She lives in London."

I am neither a Catholic nor a Christian. I find Buddhism and agnosticism far more intelligent than other religions, yet I enjoyed these seven nuns' accounts, with the second most interesting and the fifth and sixth most entertaining. I recommend Through the Narrow Gate as the best of the lot, certainly the most realistic of the seven.

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