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.
A few days ago, I grabbed my mask and left the house for a walk. Specifically, a walk through a garden because I wanted (needed) to be surrounded by greenery and flowers.
I paid a visit to the garden of the Lee-Fendall House. Luckily, I was the only visitor, so it was an extra special treat. The Lee-Fendall House was, for several generations, the home of the Lee Family. If you haven’t heard of them, they were (are) an old Virginia family.
Some family members were signers of the American Declaration of Independence. Later some members (Confederate General Robert E. Lee) fought on the losing side of the American Civil War.
The Union Army turned their property into a hospital for wounded soldiers. By 1904, the home left the possession of the Lee Family. Today, the house is a testament to 19th century and early 20th century history.
It was calming and peaceful to be there. I kept thinking of Miss Bingley telling Lizzie Bennet, “Let us take a turn about the room.” I also thought of Lizzie and how enamored she was of the gardens at Pemberley.
It was nice to “take a turn” about the garden and to enjoy everything without feeling rushed.
There were benches throughout the garden. Next time, I’m returning with a book.
The social injustice in our country (and actually in the whole world) is making my heart heavy with sorrow. I feel helpless. I vote in every election and I hope you do too. I have also donated to Black Lives Matter and to the Equal Justice Initiative. I will continue to make donations to them and to other causes that work on ending white supremacy in the United States.
As you can image, I am not in the mood to blog about books and such. It seems trivial compared to what is happening right now. I’m going to continue working on my own book while the blog stays quiet for just a little while longer. Thank you for bearing with me.
I leave you with this poem by German pastor, Martin Niemöller, who survived the Nazis. Unfortunately, this poem is as timely as ever.
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
As you can image, things are awful. I’m upset, horrified and angered that people in the United States of America continue to be murdered every day (yes, every day) because of systematic racism and police brutality.
If you want to join me in putting a stop to systematic racism and police brutality, please visit the links below and make a donation. If you are not able to make a donation, keep reading. There are other ways you can fight this fight.
With a pandemic firmly settled in our lives and not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, I tried to make the most of May, one of my favorite months of the year. However, I must admit that I feel silly writing about happiness when the world is on fire so I’ll keep it short and sweet.
May was about fresh air and springtime walks, enjoying flowers at home and spying them in gardens on my walks. I even bought my first bouquet of peonies to bring home and they’ve bloomed beautifully. I enjoyed the quieter pace of life while working from home. I hope it’s been a peaceful, healthy month for you too.