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Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Well, another Jane Austen finished. I’ve written about four of her books on this blog, though not about the one I know the best, Pride and Prejudice. Though this one doesn’t displace Emma or Pride and Prejudice in my greatest esteem, it is right up there. It is a bit complicated and has more characters than her usual. When she was 10 years old, Fanny, the main character, goes to live...

The Bridge of Little Jeremy by Indrajit Garai

Tony’s description, “A boy and his dog along the banks of the Seine in Paris,” sounded good, though he did mention that one should not underrate “the merely pleasant.” I know nothing of the author, except that he was born in India and lived in France and wrote in French for a time. This is a self-published book. The story is told by a 12-year old boy just recovered...

Room for a Stranger by Melanie Cheng

When you hear the one sentence describing each of the two main characters you would think this is an unlikely candidate for an uplifting-read book list, but that is where I came upon it. While I would not describe it as “uplifting,” I did find it to be a fine, engaging book. And there’s a bit that is quite timely. Meg is in her 70s and lives in the house where she grew up in a...

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

I read this book when I was in high school and had come to think of it later as memorable, but not great fiction. It was hugely popular when it was written in 1931 and won Pearl Buck the Nobel Prize. It has come to be seen with more interest, perhaps because of the 2010 book Pearl Buck in China:  Journey to the Good Earth by Hilary Spurling. Buck grew up in China as the child of missionaries;...

Hunting Mister Heartbreak by Jonathan Raban

First, the title. Perhaps I encountered Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur (Heartbreak), the author of Letters from an American Farmer in school, but I have no memory of him. His book, a series of 12 letters with different styles and topics purporting to be to an English gentleman, was published in 1782. Jonathan Raban, himself an English gentleman, says though the letters seem to be factual, Mr...

The Bird Way by Jennifer Ackerman

My book choices have been unusual in this strange time and perhaps this is the strangest of them all. I have always had a strong dislike of birds. As I child, I was terrified the chickens would touch me. As an adult I am keenly aware of birds as disease carriers. They have not endeared themselves to me in recent years when they come in flocks and drunkenly eat berries from our holly trees...

The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas

I came upon this book when looking around for library audiobooks. It has been a real pleasure to listen to and has stirred up memories of my freshman French teacher at the small Presbyterian college I attended in Tennessee in 1963. She swooned over the beauty of French literature and spoke lovingly of encountering students from decades earlier who remembered the poetry she had them memorize. (I...

Pass Go and Collect $200 by Tonya Lee Stone

The subtitle explains this is The Real Story of How Monopoly Was Invented. I have been reading to my grandchildren in Iowa and here in Charlottesville daily since mid-March. I chose this to read because the Iowa kids play Monopoly as often as they can. It turned out to be quite interesting and after the topic came up in a conversation my friend Dorothy had with her family, I decided to write...

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

I did come to enjoy the Olive stories in the original Olive Kitteridge, but hesitated to read this one. Olive is hard to love, given her penchant for saying what she thinks, no matter how hurtful it might be. She seems to go out of her way to express that honesty when no one asked for her thoughts. On the other hand she often finds the kind word to say, in spite of herself, and steps in to be...

There Was Still Love by Favel Parrett

The story of this book is told mostly from the viewpoint of two children in 1980, one in Melbourne and one in Prague. They never meet but are connected by their grandmothers, twins separated as teenagers during wartime in Prague. Each child lives with their grandmother and experiences hardship, but also great love for their grandmothers. Luděk is a young boy who runs through the streets of...

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