What to read when you need an escape

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When I need a distraction I turn to my bookshelves. I’ve always loved books and reading. I grew up in a family of six in a one-bedroom apartment (!!!) and I still remember searching for quiet corners to escape with my library books.

Once again, I feel the need to escape with my books, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite novels with you.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

I love Persuasion! You probably know that the plot focuses on Anne Elliott, the 27-year old heroine. Anne was persuaded to end her relationship with Wentworth, the man she loves, because he didn’t have any future prospects. Well, it turns out he made quite a killing (pun intended) in the Napoleonic Wars and is now very rich indeed. Captain Wentworth (the name alone makes me swoon) re-enters Anne’s life and causes havoc in her heart. My favorite movie adaptation is the one with Ciarán Hinds.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I admit this is the only book I’ve ever read by Charlotte Brontë (or any of the Brontë sisters). I’m not an expert on Brontë literature, but Jane Eyre has my heart. Clearly, I am under-explaining the plot here, but it’s about a young lady, Jane Eyre, who, after a violent and unloved childhood, decides to forge her own path in life with nothing but her spirited independence and her brilliant mind. She leaves behind the elusive Mr. Rochester when she finds out he is married, but at the end gets her happily ever after. “Reader, I married him.”

Thornyhold by Mary Stewart

Thornyhold is a must-read tale. It has everything you’d need for a magical time: an enchanted cottage nestled in a forest, a reclusive, handsome hero and an intelligent, kind heroine. I’d give this book a read if you really want to forget about the outside world for a few hours.

Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson

In times of troubles, read Miss Buncle’s Book. It will make you laugh. Set in an idyllic, sleepy English village, Miss Buncle decides to take pen to paper. The book she writes becomes a hit, but the problem is that she doesn’t do a very good job of camouflaging the actual village people she writes about. Chaos ensues. Laughter will be in abundance.

Happy reading and stay safe!

xoxo, Jane

Pairing books with tea (Let’s Bring Back)

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Descriptions: The Huffington Post’s “Let’s Bring Back…” columnist, Lesley M. M. Blume, invites you to consider whatever happened to cuckoo clocks? Or bed curtains? Why do we have so many “friends” but have done away with the much more useful word “acquaintance”? All of these things, plus hot toddies, riddles, proverbs, corsets, calling cards, and many more, are due for a revival. Throughout this whimsical, beautifully illustrated encyclopedia of nostalgia, Blume breathes new life into the elegant, mysterious, and delightful trappings of bygone eras, honoring the timeless tradition of artful living along the way. Inspired by her much loved column of the same name and featuring entries from famous icons of style and culture, Let’s Bring Back leads readers to rediscover the things that entertained, awed, beautified, satiated, and fascinated in eras past.

Let’s Bring Back: An Encyclopedia of Forgotten-Yet-Delightful, Chic, Useful, Curious, and Otherwise Commendable Things from Times Gone By written by Lesley M. M. Blume is a charming encyclopedia of things that should come back in style. Such as bows and curtsies or town criers. I wholeheartedly agree!

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With 240+ pages and clever illustrations of forgotten things, this book is a fun, leisurely read. I recommend reading a few pages over breakfast every day. As such, the tea to pair with this book might be a breakfast tea. I recommend Tokyo Breakfast Tea by Mariage Frères.

Coincidently, one of the things that should come back in style is Tea Time. The author quotes Henry James, “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” Ms. Blume ends this entry with a thought, “And yet we’ve swapped it out for dreary Starbucks runs.”

I hope you’ve been well!

xoxo, Jane

 

 

Favorite Book Series: Clara Vine

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Clara Vine is a brilliant series written by author Jane Thynne. Clara Vine is a British out-of-work actress who, upon the advice of an acquaintance, relocates to pre-war Germany to find work at the Babelsberg Studio in Berlin.

However once there, she finds herself entangled with the wives of high-ranking Nazis. This comes to the attention of British intelligence who persuade her to spy for them. This series has it all: romance, suspense and espionage. It will grip you from beginning to end.

Clara Vine is a very nice woman: intelligent, kind, and thoughtful. Caught in a web of espionage, she tries to keep secret that she is partly Jewish. But to stay alive as a non-Aryan in Nazi Germany is not easy. There is a very good reason why, after five novels, she doesn’t return to Britain. I don’t want to spoil it for you so I won’t say the reason, but as a woman I completely understand Clara’s reasoning.

If you need to lose yourself in a new series, especially now in our troubled, sad and uncertain times, I highly recommend the Clara Vine books.

You can learn more about Jane Thynne here. Also, there is a very good Q&A about the Nazi wives on the author’s website that I recommend giving a read.

Have a wonderful day and stay safe!

xoxo, Jane

New book: The Little(r) Museums of Paris by Emma Jacobs

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After hearing about The Little(r) Museums of Paris: An Illustrated Guide to the City’s Hidden Gems on the Tea and Tattle podcast, I had to buy it. I don’t impulse buy anything, ever. But this was too charming to pass up. Pages and pages of gorgeous illustrations, lovely descriptions of lesser-known Parisian museums – I can’t wait to dig in.

If you are so inclined, I recommend listening to the Tea and Tattle podcast featuring the book’s author, Emma Jacobs.

And since we can’t be in Paris right now, maybe we should try to discover a lesser-known gem in our own neighborhoods (when we’re not in quarantine, that is.)

Have a great week-end! Stay safe.

xoxo, Jane

Sleeping With the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War by Hal Vaughan

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Reading good books with interesting historical plots makes me want to know more about the real life history. The Queen of Paris is no exception. Reading it just made me want to learn more about Coco Chanel, especially about her collaboration with the Nazis. What really led her down that awful path? Did she regret it? Is that why she fled to Switzerland after Paris was liberated?

The author of The Queen of Paris, Pamela Binnings Ewen, said she used Sleeping with the Enemy by Hal Vaughan as part of her research, which inspired me to buy this book.

I am hoping my questions will be answered in Sleeping With the Enemy. Mr. Vaughan’s findings from his investigation into Coco’s life during Nazi-occupied Paris are revealed for the first time in this book.  It was published in 2011 and since then other books about her Nazi past have been written, but this is the book that started it all.

Also, Mr. Vaughan’s book dedication gave me the chills: “This book is dedicated to those French men and women who, though bent by the Nazi yoke, refused to to collaborate. And as always, for Phuong.” 

I look forward to reading this book and learning more, even if it will be unpleasant.

What’s on your nightstand?

xoxo, Jane

Local Book Haul

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I don’t impulse buy books. I generally use my local library for books and, as a special treat, I purchase books during my travels. I was looking forward to my trip to London this week and had several London bookshops on my must-visit list. But it wasn’t to be…

That said, the current crisis is upending the independent bookstores in the USA. I don’t want them to suffer or shutter, so I purchased several books from independent bookstores in my neighborhood.

I bought three books for moi and three books for the most delicious, sweetest little baby girl in the whole wide world. I bought her Uni the Unicorn, Baby Astronaut (trying to mold her mind) and Baby Touch and Feel Mermaid.

For moi, I bought The Words I Never Wrote by Jane Thynne (a most excellent writer), Women in Art by Rachel Ignotofsky and The Little(r) Museums of Paris by Emma Jacobs.

I plan to purchase more books locally. We’re in this together!

xoxo, Jane