Where It Began

Recently, I watched An Education on DVD and enjoyed it so much, I decided toeduca read the memoir by Lynn Barber upon which it is based.  Surprisingly, the first chapter of the book pretty much covers the entire movie script. However, the rest of the book is wonderful; chronicling Ms. Barber’s continuing education, career, marriage, and motherhood.

I enjoyed her writing style and, as a child of the 60′s, can relate to the mores of the times spoken of in the memoir.  Another thing I enjoyed about the book was that it contained background history on Ms. Barber’s parents and relatives and provided a clearer understanding of her life and choices made.  I think Ms. Barber has had an interesting life worth reading about.

This is a quick read which provided good food for thought on a rainy spring day!

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Strangled Songbird

zoliZoli is the third book I have read by Colum McCann and once again, I am amazed by the depth of his work.  Written in 2007, this book is one which jumped out at me while I was searching for another on a nearby shelf in our library. For the past two days, I have been unable to put it aside. The novel contains many passages which made me stop to catch my breath.

This is a fictional novel about a Romani (Gypsy) woman named Zoli who sings traditional Romani songs and writes poetry about her people in Czechoslovakia when they roamed freely about the countryside during the political upheavals prior to World War II.  It is also about a young man from England who befriends Zoli and the inadvertent way his Socialist ideals lead to radical changes in the lives of the Romani people. On a larger scale the novel is about political agendas and governmental control.

I think this is an incredible story about a group of people whose culture and history has always intrigued me.  If you choose to read this book, I hope you will love it as much as I did.


Here is a link to a Romany legend a Gypsy shared with me many years ago which you may also find of interest:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romany_crucifixion_legend

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The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag is a spirited fictional novel hopewhich delighted me in many ways.  Set in England near Cambridge University, the story centers on the lives of four women. All are at a crossroads in their lives and with the assistance of an enchanted house on Hope Street, find the courage to begin life anew.

One of the things I particularly enjoyed was the magical aspect of this book.  Reading it, I thought how lovely it would be to have a safe haven for 99 days in which to sort out life when the going gets rough as three of the women in this book do.  I also enjoyed the many literary references in the book.  The back of it contains an informative biographical list of famous real life women who “spent time” as guests of Hope Street during their careers.

One passage in particular moved me deeply – “It’s not just the books Alba craves, it’s standing inside a place that houses millions of them.  Libraries are Alba’s churches, and the university library, containing one edition of every book ever published in England, is her cathedral.” Yes, I can relate to that!

If you are looking for an uplifting tale, take a trip to Hope Street.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Side Show

girlWhen I agreed to review Savage Girl by Jean Zimmerman for Penguin Publishing, I mistakenly thought the author had written another book I was about to read.  Boy was I ever surprised when the book arrived and I realized my error!  This book is a work of fiction which I fully expected to be one I’d never choose to read.  It turned-out to be one I could not tear myself away from.

The story is about a wealthy family who, while visiting a small town in Nevada in the late 19th century, encounter a feral girl on display in a seedy sideshow.  The well-meaning parents decide to do whatever they can to take her back to New York City where they believe they can help her to regain the life she might have had if circumstances had been different. Long story short, they take the wild girl home with them and like Pygmalion, proceed to groom her eventual entry into society.  There are however, a few big problems. The son of the wealthy family falls in love with the feral girl.  He has mental problems of his own and little by little, as mutilated bodies begin stacking-up wherever the girl goes, he begins to wonder if he or the feral girl is committing the murders.

Is the feral girl a villain or a victim? Is he a murderer? You’ll need to read this engrossing tale to discover the truth!  I thought it was so well done!

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Lodge a Few Pebbles

Deep Woods: the Story of Robert Frost by Peggy Caravantes is one of the wonderful deepbooks I acquired this year at our library’s annual book sale.  This small volume provided me an opportunity to expand my knowledge of one of my favorite poets.

The book covers Frost’s entire life.  I learned a great deal I never knew about his family and career.  Clearly, Frost was a complex individual with deep convictions about life and personal responsibility to his family. Thanks to this book, I gained insight into his work as well.  The Timeline in the back of the biography is very helpful.

Reading this book made me glad I “traveled by” the poetry table of discarded books at the sale this year!



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Sender Unknown


Jojo Moyes has reinforced my admiration of her work with The Last Letter from Your LoverPublished in 2010, this fictional novel took a long time to capture my interest, but in the end, I came to like it a great deal.

This was a slow-going read for me. If you find it the same way, keep with it as the end justifies the wait.  The story is about a woman in England who awakes with amnesia caused by an automobile accident.  Everyone around her, including her wealthy husband, are strangers.  Not long after the accident, a confused Jennifer discovers a handwritten love letter hidden among her things signed only with the letter “B”.  The letter can’t be from her husband whose name is Laurence. So begins her search for a mysterious great love she cannot recollect.

The novel switches back and forth in time quite a bit.  This I didn’t enjoy.  However, as I said earlier, the end of the novel justifies the path taken to get there.  If you are already familiar with Moyes’s work, I think you will enjoy this one as well.

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Silver Bow Belles

If you can get your hands on a remaining copy, The Sisters by Myron Brinig is a book sistersworth reading. Published in 1937, and made into a movie by the same name, this wonderful novel is about three attractive sisters who grew up in a small town in Montana during the early 20th century. Their father is a pharmacist and mother, a housewife. Together, they live in a small apartment over the drugstore.

The story is told by a young man who knew the family as a boy after an unexpected visit with the sisters many years later. Even though they are cut from the same cloth, the Elliott sisters are different individuals. They are strong women whose lives take dissimilar paths.

This is a wonderful book which captures more than the story of three lives; it immortalizes the life of a country at the turn of the century planting and expanding its roots in the soil of a growing nation. I hope you will be able to read it and enjoy it as much as I did.  Oh how I love resurrecting old books!

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