reading & watching...

Just finished reading this and could not put it down.

Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by luck or chance. Would they be adopted by a kind and loving family, or would they face a childhood and adolescence of hard labor and servitude?

As a young Irish immigrant, Vivian Daly was one such child, sent by rail from New York City to an uncertain future a world away. Returning east later in life, Vivian leads a quiet, peaceful existence on the coast of Maine, the memories of her upbringing rendered a hazy blur. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past.

Seventeen-year-old Molly Ayer knows that a community-service position helping an elderly widow clean out her attic is the only thing keeping her out of juvenile hall. But as Molly helps Vivian sort through her keepsakes and possessions, she discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they appear. A Penobscot Indian who has spent her youth in and out of foster homes, Molly is also an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past.

Moving between contemporary Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train is a powerful tale of upheaval and resilience, second chances, and unexpected friendship. 

Another riveting book.

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.


FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn't believe that the Nazis will invade France...but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne's home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

Vianne's sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gaetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can...completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women's war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France--a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

 

Friday night we watched this movie. It is on both Amazon and Netflix. I love Maggie Smith!

The Lady in the Van tells the true story of Alan Bennett's strained friendship with Miss Mary Shepherd, an eccentric homeless woman whom Bennett befriended in the 1970s before allowing her temporarily to park her Bedford van in the driveway of his Camden home. She stayed there for 15 years. As the story develops Bennett learns that Miss Shepherd is really Margaret Fairchild (died 1989), a former gifted pupil of the pianist Alfred Cortot. She had played Chopin in a promenade concert, tried to become a nun, was committed to an institution by her brother, escaped, had an accident when her van was hit by a motorcyclist for which she believed herself to blame, and thereafter lived in fear of arrest.

Enjoy!

Don't forget to take a look at my newest font family!

what are you reading?

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I have been reading a lot lately, on the deck after dinner. Here are my recent favs. I always enjoy Anna Quindlen.

Still Life with Bread Crumbs begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof. Between the two is a wry and knowing portrait of Rebecca Winter, a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women. Her career is now descendent, her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere. There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life.

Brilliantly written, powerfully observed, Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a deeply moving and often very funny story of unexpected love, and a stunningly crafted journey into the life of a woman, her heart, her mind, her days, as she discovers that life is a story with many levels, a story that is longer and more exciting than she ever imagined.

 

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Another favorite author is Joanne Harris. This is the 3rd book in Chocolat story. Unfortunately I thought it was the second one.

Vianne Rocher, her partner Roux and her daughters Anouk and Rosette have been living on a houseboat on the Seine. Eight years have passed since the events of Chocolat. Anouk is fifteen years old, Rosette eight, and Vianne believes that finally she has found a way to escape her wanderlust and to settle down and be happy. However, the arrival of a letter from Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the fictional village in which Chocolat was set, brings a new challenge to Vianne. The letter is from Armande Voizin, an old friend from Lansquenet. Armande died eight years ago, but she left the letter in her will, to be opened and delivered by her grandson, Luc. In it, she predicts that Lansquenet will some day need Vianne again, and asks Vianne to visit, if only to put flowers on an old lady's grave. Vianne, intrigued goes back to Lansquenet, taking her daughters with her.

 

 

This is the second of a 4 book series. They can be read out of order which I have done. Here are the 3rd and 4th.

Death hangs heavy in the disturbed air of Ireland's lonely Loughnabrone peat bog, an ancient holy place, steeped in legend, drowned in sorrow, and long since abandoned by man. Pathologist Nora Gavin has been called to an archaeological site in the bleak midlands west of Dublin—a place known as the LAKE OF SORROWS—to assist at an excavation where a well-preserved Iron Age body has been found in a bog.

So.... what interesting things have you been reading?

 

gardening, reading and baking...

More great guests this weekend. Terry and Barry were here. It was the 4th Annual Golfapalooza. The men golf as much as possible and on breaks they watch golf. The women garden and shop. Saturday found us at the Farmer's Market. And from the shoes I wore it looked like I got dressed in the dark. Too bad that wasn't true.

I planted some pots of flowers...

while Terry weeded, transplanted, and planted some lupine and foxglove. She has been working on this bed for 3 visits and it is looking good this year. All these great plants for only $40 at the market. Score.

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This book has been on my reading list for several years. I am finding it interesting.

Empty Mansions is a rich mystery of wealth and loss, connecting the opulence of the 19th century's Gilded Age with a 21st century battle over a $300 million inheritance. At its heart is heiress Huguette Clark, a woman so secretive that, when she died at age 104, no new photograph of her had been seen for decades. Her father, W.A. Clark, was born in a log cabin, discovered incredible riches in copper in Montana territory after the Civil War, was thought to be as rich as Rockefeller, founded Las Vegas and was pushed out of the U.S. Senate for bribery.

Huguette held a ticket on the Titanic and was still alive in New York City long after 9/11. She grew up in the largest house in New York City, a remarkable dwelling with 121 rooms for a family of four. She owned paintings by Degas and Renoir, a Stradivarius violin, and a vast collection of antique dolls. But wanting more than treasures, she lived out her last 20 years in a simple hospital room, devoting her wealth to her art and buying gifts for friends and strangers.

Pulitzer Prize-winner and NBC News investigative reporter Bill Dedman stumbled onto the story of eccentricity and inherited wealth in 2010, discovering that Huguette’s fantastic homes in Santa Barbara, Connecticut and New York City were unoccupied but still maintained by servants. Dedman co-wrote the book with Huguette’s cousin Paul Clark Newell Jr., one of the few relatives to have conversations with her.

The Clark family story spans nearly all of American history in three generations, from a log cabin in Pennsylvania to mining camps in the Montana gold rush, from backdoor politics in Washington to a distress call from an elegant Fifth Avenue apartment. The same Huguette who was touched by the terror attacks of 9/11 held a ticket nine decades earlier for a first-class stateroom on the second voyage of the Titanic.

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I enjoy Maddie Allen's blog Muffins & Mixtapes. The No-Bake Mini Cheesecakes were a hit this week. Check her blog out, I like both the food and the music.

what are you reading?

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 10.58.32 AM Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 10.59.49 AM I just worked my way through a large stack of books. I enjoyed these two. These are 3rd and 4th in a series and I just put the first two on my library list. I liked the forensics, archeology and history and that it took place in Ireland.

False Mermaid...  Gavin remains haunted by a cold case that nearly cost her sanity five years ago: her sister Tríona's brutal murder. After failing to bring the killer to justice, Nora fled to Ireland, throwing herself into her work and taking the first tentative steps in a new relationship with Irish archaeologist Cormac Maguire. She's driven home by unwelcome news: Tríona's husband—and the prime suspect in her murder—is about to remarry. Nora is determined to succeed this time, even if it means confronting unsettling secrets. As she digs ever closer to the truth, the killer zeroes in on Tríona's young daughter, Elizabeth.

The Book of Killowen... After a year away from working in the field, archaeologist Cormac Maguire and pathologist Nora Gavin are back in the bogs, investigating a ninth-century body found buried in the trunk of a car. They discover that the ancient corpse is not alone—pinned beneath it is the body of Benedict Kavanagh, missing for mere months and familiar to television viewers as a philosopher who enjoyed destroying his opponents in debate. Both men were viciously murdered, but centuries apart—so how did they end up buried together in the bog?

(Thanks Linda!)

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After reading my stack of books I am now on to the my hold list at the library which is also a lovely long list... here are some favorites.

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . .

So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 11.19.30 AM

“Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation resembles no book I’ve read before. If I tell you that it’s funny, and moving, and true; that it’s as compact and mysterious as a neutron; that it tells a profound story of love and parenthood while invoking (among others) Keats, Kafka, Einstein, Russian cosmonauts, and advice for the housewife of 1896, will you please simply believe me, and read it?”— Michael Cunningham

It’s short and funny and absorbing, an effortless-seeming downhill ride that picks up astonishing narrative speed as it goes. What’s remarkable is that Offill achieves this effect using what you might call an experimental or avant-garde style of narration, one that we associate with difficulty and disorientation rather than speed and easy pleasure.— New York Review of Books

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Imagine this: It's your birthday. The doorbell rings: No one is there. But a book is there wrapped with ribbon silvery as London's Thames River at teatime in April. Alexander McQueen might well have tied the bouffant bow.

Kathleen Tessaro's new novel, The Perfume Collector (Harper), is a mystery, a journey, which takes us from Paris in 1955, to spring in London the same year. Then we're in New York, and it's 1927! We visit Monte Carlo, England, and ah, back to Paris.

The Perfume Collector, Tessaro's striking fifth novel, is fragrant with suspense. You will learn astonishing secrets about perfumes: classic, forbidden, long lost, as memorable as this story.

Tessaro is the rare writer who defines the exact place we are. She is a fine host; you can feel her fascination as her characters arrive in each perfectly detailed scene. We first meet Eva d' Orsay in Paris. She is not having a good day. Her life has been, as we learn, a puzzle. But then Eva never showed anyone what she could do with numbers. (If she'd lived in America now she'd be running Apple). But this talent "was secret...she couldn't recall a time when numbers hadn't carved through the chaos...bringing order." - The Huffington Post

 Soooooo, what are you reading that I should put on my list? Do share.

what are you reading?

I like to read real books. I like to see the typeface used, the type of paper, if they do any special illustrations for each chapter. But I was on vacation a couple weeks ago and decided to load my iPad with books. This was my first one.  

 

At first glance Harold Fry is a sad, lonely English milquetoast, the human equivalent of a potted geranium. “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry,” Rachel Joyce’s first novel, contrives a way to shake him out of his monotonous life and send him on a voyage of self-discovery. Harold will learn that there is more to life than mowing one’s lawn. Readers will learn that one man’s quiet timidity should not be taken at face value. Potted geraniums have feelings too.

Ms. Joyce’s novel, a sentimental nominee for this year’s Man Booker Prize, has a premise that is simple and twee. One day Harold receives a letter from an old acquaintance, Queenie Hennessy. Queenie is dying at a hospice that is 627 miles north of Harold’s home near the English Channel. When Harold reads the letter, he responds with a tearful “I um. Gosh.” Then he writes her a postcard and walks down his road to mail it. Then he keeps on going. - The New York Times

I did enjoy this book. But then I got to read most of it in sunny Oak Creek, AZ in the back yard of a nice house with the sun warming me.

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The clock is always ticking in Andrew Sean Greer’s “Impossible Lives of Greta Wells.” Elegiac in tone, this tale of time travel, loss and compromise is as precisely engineered as a Swiss watch. The premise is deceptively simple. It is 1985, and Greta Wells, a photographer living in Greenwich Village, has just suffered two devastating losses: Her twin brother, Felix, has died of AIDS and her lover, Nathan, has left her for another woman. Thrown into a deep depression, she consults a psychiatrist, who in turn sends her to Dr. Cerletti, an advocate of electroconvulsive therapy. “Will it change me?” Greta asks, before her first session. “Not at all, Miss Wells,” he replies. “What has changed you is your depression. What we’re trying to do is bring you back.”

Instead the treatment takes Greta away. The next day she wakes up in her own room — but not in her own time. “Instead of my white walls, I saw pale lilac wallpaper patterned in ball and thistle. Gold-framed paintings placed along it, and sooty gaslight back plates.” Not only that, she’s a different Greta. “I marveled at the long red hair falling in waves over the delicate yellow nightgown I had never owned before, trimmed with little useless ribbons. I touched my face and wondered: What trick was this? How could this be me?”-New York Times

OK, maybe I choose these two book in part because of their interesting titles. Both were good vacation reads.

Almost done reading this nice, heavy coffee table book on 100 years of Hallmark. I always wanted to work at Hallmark. Now that I am reading this book I really wish I had a chance to work there. This book is borrowed and I need to finish it and return it.

I have a big stack of books that I have been given or have somehow have just appeared. I did receive the 3 volume set of The 50 Shades of Grey. I think I'll read 100 pages just to see what all the hoop-la is all about.

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Another gift and it is the next book I am going to read...

The ordeal of the whaleship Essex was an event as mythic in the nineteenth century as the sinking of the Titanic was in the twentieth. In 1819, the Essex left Nantucket for the South Pacific with twenty crew members aboard. In the middle of the South Pacific the ship was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale. The crew drifted for more than ninety days in three tiny whaleboats, succumbing to weather, hunger, disease, and ultimately turning to drastic measures in the fight for survival. Nathaniel Philbrick uses little–known documents-including a long–lost account written by the ship’s cabin boy-and penetrating details about whaling and the Nantucket community to reveal the chilling events surrounding this epic maritime disaster. An intense and mesmerizing read, In the Heart of the Sea is a monumental work of history forever placing the Essex tragedy in the American historical canon.-Nathaniel Philbrick

This appears to be a rather eclectic list, but then I think my reading always is.

So what are you reading?