Hi, there! So, I bought the audio book for The Heir Affair from Audible. It’s the sequel to The Royal We. Have you read it? It is partially inspired by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but completely fiction. I enjoyed the first book so much. Apparently the whole world did as well, which is why there is a sequel. Hooray for fun sequels!
I’m currently reading The Grimaldis of Monaco. It is so good!! It reads like historical fiction, except it’s all real. Those Princes of Monaco were bad boys. I’m simultaneously reading Paris to the Moon, a collection of essays inspired by the author’s time of living in Paris.
Just for fun, we are changing things up today. Instead of tea, today’s book is paired with a cup of coffee. I am pairing a cup of my husband’s dark roast blend with Square Haunting by Francesca Wade. I’ve talked about this book before and how much the women mentioned in the pages of Square Haunting and their struggles touched me.
I can imagine any of the five women (H.D., Dorothy L. Sayers, Jane Ellen Harrison, Eileen Power and Virginia Wolf) fueling up on many cups of coffee as they pen their works. After all, coffee and writing go hand in hand.
How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for eve with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.” – Virginia Woolf, The Waves
Which beverage would you pair with Square Haunting?
I don’t have any bookish updates to share except that, oops, I did it again. I bought another book in the Penguin Clothbound Classics collection. Sanditon, the unfinished novel by Jane Austen, is en route to moi from a little town called London.
If you need a break from the crappy news on either side of the pond, and really who doesn’t, then allow me to persuade you to get lost within the pages of my bookish blog. Below are this week’s posts.
Hello, there. Welcome to the second portion of my quarterly wrap-up. You can read the first part here.
I listened to To Tempt a Sheikh by Olivia Gates. This was my first time reading Olivia Gates and what I liked the best is that the hero (sheikh) wasn’t an archaic caveman. I plan to read/listen to more of her books.
In a previous post, I wrote about Square Haunting by Francesca Wade. The story of the five women covered in this non-fiction book made an impact on me. If you’re searching for a book about women, feminism and London between the two world wars, then this book is for you. I wrote about my thoughts in a previous blog post. Please consider reading it if you are curious about Square Haunting.
Faberge Treasures from the Kremlin is a small museum guide book I bought at my local library sale for $1.00. The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art in Las Vegas hosted an exhibit titled “Faberge: Treasures from the Kremlin.” The treasures traveled to Las Vegas from the Kremlin and were (mostly) Faberge creations of royal provenance. They were discovered in 1990 during the renovation of a house in Moscow. Though the book features exquisite photography of the jewels and decorative art pieces, what piqued my curiosity is the person who hid them. Did they plan to sell the treasures once the revolution was over? But since freedom never really came, did it dawn on that person that a sale would never be possible? Was the hiding spot forgotten after the jewel-taker’s death? I’ll never know the truth, but I have already concocted a story in my writer’s mind which I will share with you someday soon.
Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey is a novella easily read over a weekend. The story takes place during the course of a wedding day and focuses on the bride. Unfortunately the bride is not marrying the man she loves (not a spoiler). I found it poignant and somewhat funny. The insightful dialogue kept me gripped from the first page to the last. Admittedly, the story left me feeling sad.
Waiting by Jane Odiwe is a short story inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion. In a previous blog post I described it like eating chocolate, short and sweet. The story takes place right after the end of Persuasion where we find a nervous Captain Wentworth and Anne awaiting permission for their marriage from Anne’s father.
A Woman of Two Worlds: Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte by Alexandra Deutsch and Betsy Bonaparte by Helen Jean Burn are two well-researched, well-written biographies of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte. Madame Bonaparte of Baltimore was the spouse of Jerome Bonaparte, youngest brother to Napoleon Bonaparte. Unfortunately for the young couple, who were madly in love with each other, Napoleon had their marriage annulled. Jerome, being accustomed to the finer things in life, didn’t want to be cut off by his brother so he caved and married Princess Catherine of Württemberg. Napoleon made Jerome the King of Westphalia. Elizabeth Bonaparte spent the rest of her life seeking recognization and a title for their son, Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte. Fascinating woman, fascinating story, sad ending depending on who you are or whose side you are on.
It is difficult to sit down and write about what made me happy in June. It’s selfish and out of touch because June was an awful month for most of us. We are grappling with a deadly pandemic and systematic racism. Among a thousand other problems. And I won’t lie, I’m feeling a touch of depression because I feel helpless. Nothing seems to ever change…but I’ll try to remain hopeful. Don’t worry, I’ll do more than keep hope alive. I’ll vote. And I’ll continue to be vocal. And I’ll continue to donate to the causes that fight injustice.
I do feel it’s healthy to try to focus on a few good things, but out of respect for what our country is going through, I won’t wax poetic about it. I’ll be brief. Here we go: in June, I bought new books, went on several garden walks, listened to The Great Courses (highly recommend) via Audible and my library app, picked up library books and of course enjoyed every cup of steaming morning tea. So I think the moral here is that it’s the little things in life, the small moments of happiness.
I very much hope you had a few small moments of happiness too and I’d love to read them, if you’d like to share in the comments. I hope you have a great Friday and a wonderful new month.
I’m not sure how good June was to you, but I sure hope July will treat you better. Remember, wear a mask, wash your hands and stay safe! Here is a mix of reading links, not all are related to one or the other, but interesting nonetheless.
What Is Owed. “As we focus on police violence, we cannot ignore an even starker indication of our societal failures: Racial income disparities today look no different than they did the decade before King’s March on Washington.” A very powerful essay by Nikole Hannah-Jones for The New York Times.
Happy Canada Day to my Canadian friends. Canada and Canada Day will always have a special place in my heart because once upon a time after returning home to the US from Montreal (during Canada Day weekend) I met my husband. Le sigh.
This year is quickly becoming the year I bought the most books. Let’s start with Mrs Harris Goes to Paris. I won’t lie, I bought it because of the adorable title. Luckily, the plot is just as cute. This edition contains two novellas, Mrs Harris Goes to Paris and Mrs Harris Goes to New York. Mrs. Harris is a Londoner and senior citizen who travels to Paris simply to buy a Dior dress. I’d love to own a vintage Dior dress myself, so I can sympathize with Mrs. Harris. It’ll make for a fun summer read.
I also received in the mail the latest book in my Persephone Books subscription, The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. It was written in 1924 and takes place in a small town in America. The premise of the story is that after the husband and father of the family hurts himself and becomes wheel-chair bound, his wife takes a position at a department store to support the family. The father then becomes the home-maker. It was written in a period where it wasn’t normal for men to stay home and raise children. I also learned that the term “home-maker” is an American term not used in the UK. Persephone Books lists it as a feminist book but is quick to note that Dorothy Canfield Fisher did not consider herself a feminist. I’m grateful that I learned about her through Persephone Books. Even though she was a prolific writer in her day, I had never heard of her, nor did we study her in school and college.
After hearing Miranda Mills of Miranda’s Notebook review The Almanac Journal by Lia Leendertz, I had to buy it. It’s a journal where you record your thoughts and notes on the firsts of every season. Such as when you notice the first rose, the first snow, the first anything. The idea of the journal is to help you enjoy and appreciate nature.
The last book on my list is not a book. It’s a book of stickers, The Antiquarian Sticker Book. It was definitely a splurge (for me) and I could easily live without it, but I really wanted it. The stickers are gorgeous. I plan to use them on letters, cards and in my planner.
The book itself is a beautiful hardback. It contains over 1000 stickers, all themed in the Victorian era style. I’m very happy with it.
My local library is not yet open to the public, but they are letting us borrow books with curbside pick-up. I borrowed one book of essays and two royal history books.
You may have heard of Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik, a writer for the New Yorker. In 1995, he moved to Paris with his wife and young child. This book is a collection of essays inspired by his time living in Paris.
The Grimaldis of Monaco by Anne Edwards was published in 1992. I don’t know anything about Anne Edwards or whether this book was well-received. However, it sounds like an interesting read and a good introduction to the history of the Grimaldis.
Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown is just as the title says. It’s not a traditional biography of Princess Margaret. The front flap reads: “Craig Brown’s Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret is a kaleidoscopic experiment in biography and a witty, moving meditation on fame and art, snobbery and deference, bohemia and high society.” Sounds like a good escape to me.
I’m feeling overwhelmed and don’t know with which book to start. I suppose this is not a bad problem to have.
Waiting by Jane Odiwe is a short story inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion. The story is part of the anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It. It imagines the uncertainty Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot endure as they await Sir Walter’s approval for their marriage.
I first bought and read this anthology years ago. I decided to reread the stories since it’s been a while. I started with Waiting because Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel.
Reading this story was like eating a sweet treat, it made me happy. It’s a bite-sized epilogue to Persuasion. It was nice to meet up with my favorite characters again. Bath was its own character and the bustling streets were brought to life for me, more so than in Persuasion.
My favorite part was the “flashback” to their initial meeting and when they fell in love with each other. It was nice to have a snippet from their shared past that wasn’t a part of Persuasion. Also, the story is told from both of their POVs, which is nice because their inner monologues show their worries and their love for each other.
I thought the author stayed true to Jane Austen’s writing style and to the original story itself. There was no deviation and it was a charming read. A perfect little story for an afternoon of light reading.
I have to admit, I’m surprised at how many confederate statues there are. Every day there is yet another story of protestors tearing down a statue. I say, good for them. Tear them down faster.
I don’t understand people who say you can’t learn about history (and the Civil War) without the racist statues. To them, I say: I’ve learned so much about so many countries and world events without ever setting foot in those countries. It’s called reading.
I’m writing a book where Nikita Khrushchev loiters in the background. I’ve never seen a statue of him (nor was I able to invent a time machine and travel to the USSR circa 1959) yet I know who he was and what he stood for.
Have you learned anything about something without visiting the country where the event took place?
DW has a really cool series of short videos called Meet the Germans. It’s all about German culture as discovered by a British woman living in Germany with her German husband. Super fun and interesting!
Each chapter is dedicated to a particular subject that plays a role in a woman’s life, such as love, food, career, health and men (and lots of other topics). What I love best is that the authors fiercely and unapologetically state that the woman must put herself first. I completely agree.
This book is not a guide to life, by any stretch of the imagination. But it’s a fun read with tips, thoughtful anecdotes and encouragement to live your best life.
Which tea shall we pair with it? As a feminist, I’ll just say that you can drink whatever you please while reading this book. My choice is a cup of milky tea.
Another week is drawing to a close, though each week seems to melt into the next. This weekend is the official start of summer and I plan to celebrate it. I don’t know how quite yet (maybe a scenic drive) but I will do something to commemorate it. Also, I have a new thing I’m doing. I listen to the ocean sounds while I work. Sometimes it’s the rainforest or a waterfall. It helps with stress and makes for a nicer work day.