Friday, May 25, 2012

Book Review - They Knew Mr. Knight

They Knew Mr. KnightThey Knew Mr. Knight by Dorothy Whipple

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading Dorothy Whipple is like being invited into a home, meeting all the family, taking interest in their lives, being glad for them and sad for them and sorry when you have to leave their home.

She is certainly not the world's most exciting author, nor the one with the most lavish of descriptions. But, she has a way of writing that makes me want to read on and on. I really feel for the characters.

Mr. Knight is a wealthy businessman who befriends Mr. Blake who is married with 3 children. Blake is just making it and is enticed by Knight's ability to steer him into better economic means. Blake and his family move up and up, but in the end have to face the cruel consequences of wanting too much.

There is a wonderful thread of good and evil here, with Blakes' wife, Celia yearning for God and finding Him at the time she most needed Him.

This story is set in England of the 20's and 30's, one of my favorite settings.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book Review - The Tuesday Club Murders

Tuesday Club MurdersTuesday Club Murders by Agatha Christie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Intriguing collection of short story mysteries shared by a group of friends, with Miss Marple as the wise and clever one who solves them all.

For the mystery lover, Agatha Christie reigns. Her characters are always fully formed into beings that you are drawn to, abhor, empathize with or a myriad of other emotions. She is in a class of her own.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Review - The Beginner's Goodbye

The Beginners' GoodbyeThe Beginners' Goodbye by Anne Tyler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As always, Anne Tyler creates characters full of emotion and real life situations. In this sad, bittersweet book, Aaron and Dorothy are married, but with tragedy striking not many years after with Dorothys' death. Aaron struggles to continue on without her and to also figure out how it might have been different. Could he have prevented the accident by changing his behavior?

The book title comes from the series of books his publishing house issues, all with "The Beginners" in their title. His co-workers, including his sister, all attempt to help Aaron through his loss. He sometimes "sees" his dead wife and has little conversations with her that helps him as well.

A story of love and loss and how people can make it through it all.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Book Review - Aiding and Abetting

Aiding and AbettingAiding and Abetting by Muriel Spark

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting supposition based on the fact of the Earl of Lucan, wanted on charges of murder and attempted murder, who disappeared on November 7, 1974.

Two different men seek therapy with psychiatrist Dr. Wolf, both claiming to be Lucan. One also says he has information of a damming nature about Dr. Wolf. Through the years various sightings of Lucan have been reported but with no definite outcome. Many think he might have committed suicide.

With the characters living lives of day to day desperation, Spark gives them all great voice in showing us who they are. Both Lucans have been on the run, checking in from time to time with various old friends for funds to live by.

An interesting take on what might have happened to a man that has never been found.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Book Review - In this House of Brede

In This House of BredeIn This House of Brede by Rumer Godden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fascinating look into life at a Benedictine monastery in England. Phillipa is an especially interesting resident as she has come to Brede as a divorced 42 year old.

The various roles of those in the house are explained and their relationships to one another are explored. As one not very familiar with the ways of the Catholic faith, this was so insightful.

Godden spent 3 years living outside the gates of a monastery when writing this book.
Her characterizations of the nuns are full of personality and causes them to be seen not only in the light of those called by God but also as women living and working together with their individual opinions and moods.

An excellent book in many ways.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book Review - Every Man For Himself

Every Man For HimselfEvery Man For Himself by Beryl Bainbridge

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Four days of the Titanic voyage are told through the eyes of J. Pierpont Morgans' nephew, whos' life is rather like a rudderless ship. He drinks too much, runs with not so great fellows and, being of money, has no true work or vocation. Until, that is, he sees the light on this fateful voyage.

He has been given the task of redesigning one area of the ship by its' designer, Mr. Andrews. He begins to see this as his work of the future and sets to it seriously. Set among the famous and wealthy society in his class, he lives four days of interesting encounters before that night of destiny.

Young Morgan seems to come alive with the task of doing all he can to help those in the final hours. Famous characters and their actions that are familiar to us are all there: The Astors, Vanderbilts, Strauss. His final moments find him swimming to one of the lifeboats and helping to organize those hanging on.

For the addicted Titanic account lover, this is quite an interesting read.

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Book Review - Jane of Lantern Hill

Jane of Lantern HillJane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading this for the third time I am as charmed as ever. I just adore this endearing story of 11 year old Jane, who is confused about why she lives in Toronto with her mother and mean-spirited grandmother with no knowledge of her father. Only after her summer spent with him at Lantern Hill, on Prince Edward Island, does she realize that her grandmother has conspired to cut him from her life and that of her mother.

Jane and her father set up housekeeping together as they begin to make up for the years apart. The reasons for her parents' separation are slowly revealed and through a tragic situation they are reunited for a happily ever after ending.

Although I did not discover Montgomery until my late 30's when I began working in the library,  I  immediately loved her as favorite author. I think I even love Jane as much as Anne of Green Gables. Written for young girls, her books, for me, remain timeless and fill a special niche in my heart that remains a little girl.

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Book Review - The Bookshop

The BookshopThe Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This simple story about a woman who opens a small bookshop in a seaside English town was very appealing but with a very sad end.

Florence Green invests all she has in the long dis-used Old House, with the front part as the bookshop and the back and upstairs her living quarters. She seems rather naive about the ways of business and sometimes lets others decide for her.

Mrs. Gamart, a local woman of money, has designs on the Old House becoming an arts centre, although she has not acted on plans for it until Mrs. Green has moved in. She uses her government employed nephew to implement a way to take the property.

Mr. Brundish, the local hermit, who never sees visitors, befriends Mrs. Green and commends her for her courage. He implores Mrs. Gamart to leave Mrs. Green and her business alone, but with dire consequences.

At book's end, Mrs. Green must face changes and also disillusionment about her life, her decisions and what she believed about others.

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Book Review - A Far Cry From Kensington

A Far Cry from KensingtonA Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mrs. Hawkins is a young war widow in 1954 England. She is hard-working, sensible and more than a little plump. She lives in a boarding house in South Kensington and enjoys her various housemates. She is on good terms with co-workers in her job at the publishing firm, with the exception of Hector Bartlett. He is an unctuous ingratiating literary hack and she cannot help herself from expressing what she thinks of him, calling him a derogatory term in French.

This causes a series of events that ultimately leads to tragedy for one of her housemates. As she continues on in two more literary jobs, she decides to trim down her weight. She very simply decides to just eat only half of what she usually does or is given with great success.

At this point she decides to be called Nancy rather than Mrs. Hawkins. She formerly thought that Mrs. Hawkins more suited her fat, matronly self and she no longer was that.

I really liked the character of Mrs. Hawkins and her perseverance with her life and helpful advice to others. Murial Spark gives her characters personalities that are understandable as real people.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Book Review

Cape Cod MysteryCape Cod Mystery by Phoebe Atwood Taylor

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A new author for me, this story is like taking a little vacation to Cape Cod and meeting the most interesting people.

When a murder occurs in Wellfleet, the obvious suspect is quickly arrested, but it is too obvious to local resident Asey Mayo. Asey is the quintessential Cape Cod-er, full of stories and sayings and wisdom all spoken in the perfect New England dialect. He was a man of many jobs and had sailed over the seas in every kind of ship. He sets to solving the case with inventive ways of obtaining information and suspects.

There are many suspects as there are so many who did not like the murdered man. It is not totally predictable when the killer is finally unveiled at the end.

Written in 1931, the book is a flashback to another time when things were simpler. Descriptions give the reader a good idea of the geography and customs of the town. With this as her first book written at age 22, Miss Atwood continued to write a total of 33 books.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Book Review --- Wodehouse

Three Men and a MaidThree Men and a Maid by P.G. Wodehouse

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As always, Wodehouse provides comic relief in between the reading of more serious books. He writes with great descriptive flourish, always entertaining.

The premise is simple; three men all in love with the same girl, and each engaged to her in the same few weeks. Sam is determined to win her back after a falling out, first using deception, later a night time visit to her home, where confusion reigns in all the characters staying there.

It is rather silly, but perfect, delicious fun.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New Button Book

  Just finished Shell Games and want to give a heads up to all button lovers. If you especially love Shell buttons and enjoy learning about the making of them, you will enjoy this book. I am doing a review for the National Button Society's July bulletin so will not say more about it for now.

          (Please ignore the "Click to Look inside". I used the image from Amazon.)


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