My Victober 2021 Reading List

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We are almost half-way through October, so I thought I’d share my Victober reading list with you. To recap, Victober was founded by Katie, Books and Things, Kate Howe and Lucy the Reader. I’m not following the challenge exactly as listed below. I’m cheating a little to suit my reading needs. Let me know what you’re reading this month (Victorian or not)!

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THE 2021 CHALLENGES

1. Kate’s challenge: Read a Victorian sensation novel – Not really a sensation novel, but I’ll be reading A Rogue’s Life by Wilkie Collins.
2. Katie’s challenge: Read a Victorian book set in the countryside AND/OR the city – I’m slightly cheating here by not reading a book for this challenge since everything I’m reading this month is set in the country or in the city.
3. Lucy’s challenge: Read a Victorian book with a female main character – Not a novel and not Victorian (though written during the Victorian period), but I’ll be reading The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
4. Group challenge: Read a popular Victorian book you haven’t yet read (how you define popular is up to you – could be popular now, popular on Booktube, popular in the Victorian period itself) – I’m counting A Rogue’s Life by Wilkie Collins for this challenge. I know it’s cheating, but it’s a busy month. The point of this challenge is to read something Victorian, even if it’s just one book.
5. Bonus challenge: Read aloud a section of a Victorian work, or have it read aloud to you (ie, by a friend or an audiobook) – I’m listening to Oscar Wilde’s Collected Stories.

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THE READALONG

Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell – I’m currently reading Gothic Tales and it’s quite an enjoyable read. Several of the short stories are based on facts and I’m impressed with Elizabeth Gaskell’s ability to draw from real life situations and turn them into gothic suspense mystery stories.

Happy Reading!

xoxo, Jane

PS. I’m on Instagram where I post about books and tea. Stop by and say hi.

Currently Reading: Lotharingia by Simon Winder

I’m currently reading Lotharingia: A Personal History of France, Germany and the Countries In Between by Simon Winder.

Simon Winder is a witty, sarcastic type of writer. I like his writing style a lot. Lotharingia chronicles what happened after Charlemagne’s three grandsons each inherited a country: France, Germany and Lotharingia. As you probably already guessed, Lotharingia doesn’t exist anymore. It ended up becoming all the countries in between Germany and France: Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands…

Mr. Winder traveled widely throughout Germany, France, Austria and all the other countries in between. He compiled his personal experiences into a set of three books. Lotharingia is the third and final book in this series. The book is not a memoir, not even a travel memoir. It’s simply history retold through the personal experiences of the author. If you like history, then you might want to check out Simon Winder. But if you don’t like history told through a personal perspective with a lot of sarcastic remarks, then he might not be the writer for you.

A snippet of his writing style: “Bouillon’s fame is over nine hundred years old, through its association with Godefroy of Bouillon, the leader of the homicidal outing later known as the First Crusade.” As you can image, I’m laughing quite a lot while learning about history.

What are you currently reading?

xoxo, Jane

PS. Enjoy two moody, brooding pictures of the Tuileries Garden below.

What I’m Currently Reading

Hello, there! I hope you’re having a great day.

I have so many books on my To Be Read shelf that sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the unread pile of books, but I’m happy to report that I started three new books (because the days of being able to relax and concentrate on one book at a time are behind us).

I’m reading a library book, Girl in Dior by Annie Goetzinger. It’s a beautiful graphic novel about Dior’s first fashion show in 1947. It’s completely charming. Speaking of Dior, I also started reading Mrs Harris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico. It’s such a dear story. The main character, Mrs. Harris, works as a cleaner for several rich families in London. She travels to Paris for the sole purpose of buying herself a Dior gown. I love that the protagonist is an older woman with limited means who will definitely have a happy ending (at least I hope so!). It was also nice to learn (not through this book) that Paul Gallico was a close friend of Princess Grace. She didn’t have a large circle of friends, but he was a trusted friend to her. I can picture Princess Grace reading this very book.

Last but not least, I’m also reading Model Undercover by Carina Axelsson. I’ve owned the ebook for a number of years and finally decided to give it a try. It’s a super cute story of a teenager, Axelle, who wants to be a detective, but her parents prefer that she have a more fashionable job, such as modeling. They send her to her aunt’s in Paris hoping she will just grow out of her detective phase. However, once in Paris, she learns that a model has gone missing so of course she begins to investigate. I’d describe this book as a fashionable YA of a young Sherlock Holmes in Paris. Completely adorable.

What’s on your nightstand these days?

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

Pairing books with tea (Writers as Readers: A Celebration of Virago Modern Classics)

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Writers as Readers: A Celebration of Virago Modern Classics is a book I’d categorize as slow reading. A book to be enjoyed with the seasons, not to be read in one sitting from beginning to end. It’s a lovely collection of wonderful writers writing about other writers.

Some of the writers writing about writers are Angela Carter writing on Charlotte Brontë, A.S. Byatt writing on Willa Cather and Penelope Lively writing on Edith Wharton. It’s a beautiful hardback. I love owning it and reading the entries.

I’d pair this lovely book with a good cup of Fortnum’s Countess Grey. Countess Grey is ideal because of its light and delicate flavor, which makes it perfect for slow reading.

Countess Grey goes with so many good books, doesn’t it?

xoxo, Jane

Currently Reading: The Other Side of the Coin

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Hello, just a short post to share what I’m reading.

I’m reading The Other Side of the Coin by Angela Kelly, the Queen’s Dresser. I love this book and I’m so glad I own it! It’s the second book Angela Kelly wrote about the Queen and her wardrobe.

“The title ‘Dresser’ could be a bit misleading as Her Majesty actually dresses herself.”

I’m enjoying it very much and I read a few pages every night before bed. Angela Kelly is a very diplomatic storyteller. She writes about the Queen, her wardrobe and hints at intimate details about their working relationship. There are abundant behind the scenes photographs and lovely pictures of a smiling Queen. Maybe I don’t look at pictures of the Queen often enough, because I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a fun or silly smile on her face. This book is a gem!

Good night. I’m off now. Must jump into bed with the Queen. (Ha, do you like what I did there?)

xoxo, Jane

PS. What are you reading?