Walk in Beauty

Will’s Red Coat by Tom Ryan is a non-fiction book my mother recommended. Sharing our love of literature is wonderful and I am grateful for it.

As you can tell by the photo on the book’s cover, Will is a miniature schnauzer. I don’t often read books about animals so this book intrigued me. It turns out Will was a dog very near death who was rescued by the author who already owned another younger schnauzer. Almost blind and deaf, poor Will brought with him a myriad of problems to contend with. Ryan approaches the suffering animal with compassion and acceptance thereby making the end of Will’s life one of renewal and dignity.

This is a philosophically beautiful story about so much more than a dog during his final days. The author’s wisdom, compassion, and love of nature provide an enviable path for humans to follow.

I’m grateful my mother brought this book to my attention and come away from it with a sense of peace and tranquility. There’s much to learn here about life and the importance of treating all we encounter with dignity and respect.

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Humming a New Tune

Nocturnes: Five stories of music and nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro is a collection of music themed short stories. As a Ishiguro fan and music lover, this novel aroused my curiosity. I ended-up being surprised because it seemed so different from previous books of his I have read.

Each of the short stories have a musical element, however, not always the main theme. One story is about a former well-known vocalist encountered in Italy by a young guitar player whose mother owned bootlegged copies of his records. Another, centers on a single man visiting a couple whose marriage is on the rocks. There is a story about a struggling composer writing songs who meets and elderly couple who perform, a musician who has plastic surgery in effort to achieve success, and a cello player who encounters an elderly music mentor who cannot play a note.

Ishiguro has cleverly connected his short stories like notes on a musical staff. Each truth told here reflects his creative power to use an underlying theme to imagine many different scenarios. All of the tales are well-written and memorable. I read the book twice because my first reading didn’t fully absorb all that was here to learn. I liked it better the second time around, but I am not as keen on this novel as others I have read by Ishiguro.

As a musician myself, it brought back memories of times I spent writing, performing, and listening to music. For that I am grateful. I think most people would find something to relate to in these short stories. After all, isn’t music the universal language?

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For Pauline

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Bachman came into my hands with no previous knowledge of its subject matter and exactly one week after my best friend’s mother Pauline passed away after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

This most touching novella describes a grandfather who has Alzheimer’s disease and conversations with his late wife, son, and grandson. In beautifully written prose, Backman imagines the thoughts of an Alzheimer’s patient who is aware of the progression of the disease and his fear of losing his most precious memories. His grandson Noah gladly and lovingly accepts the responsibility of remembering these things for his grandfather.

Unfortunately, so many people know someone whose life has been touched by Alzheimer’s. I am grateful this wonderful novella came to me just when I needed it and highly recommended it.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation: https://alzfdn.org

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It’s In There

The Secret Supper by Javier Sierra had been sitting on my bookcase for the longest time. Encountering it recently while sorting books prompted me to read it!

I’ve read similar stories based on hidden messages in Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpieces and this one provided additional information I’d not yet read. It involves the Last Supper mural in Milan and the Pope’s secret inquisition into it while da Vinci is still working on it.

It is a fictional historical thriller similar to Dan Brown’s novels which I enjoyed.  Stories like these fascinate me. If you enjoy them also, I think you will like this. I will never look at the Last Supper painting in the same way again!

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Troubled Water

What is it All But Luminous: Notes from an underground man by Art Garfunkel is an autobiography I looked forward to with sincere interest. I am sorry to report how disappointed I was in it. Ever-changing fonts and layouts where torture for this guitar playing, music fan’s elderly eyes.

There were three things in this collection of random notes, poems and disconnected thoughts which caught my attention. Art’s photos, reading lists, and the songs on his iPod. Outside of those brief interludes, I wondered who thought this was a great idea?  When it comes to this biography, the one thing I am grateful for is that I didn’t purchase it. Talented musician? Yes, without a doubt. A writer? Stick to what you know Art.

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The London Season

Past Imperfect by Julian Fellows was published in 2008. I happened upon it recently at the library. I am grateful I did because I loved it!

This is a “What If” story about an extremely wealthy Englishman named Damian who, at the end of his life, enlists the aid of a former friend in effort to locate a child he may have fathered many years prior. Having no heirs or relatives to leave his fortune to, Damian reaches out to the man he wronged asking for an immense favor. Damian wants his former friend to contact a number of women who might have borne him a child forty years earlier; a child to whom he intends to leave his fortune.

Weird thing about the former friend is that although he narrates the story, his name never appears in it!  There are however, many other names of the high society men and women with whom he interacts in this who had the baby/heir story. Fellows does a fine job of weaving the past with the present as his nameless narrator connects the present with his past all the while filling-in missing information.

I liked a great deal of this novel; especially Fellows’ knowledge of the hidden rules of the English upper class. In addition, his story made me take my own walk down memory lane. I reflected on the relationships I had with people 40 years ago and wondered to myself where all those people are now easily imagining if we were to meet now, we would be strangers having missed the in-between. This novel gave me new-found respect for the author. I highly recommend it.

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Held Hands

A House Full of Daughters by Juliet Nicolson is a wonderful memoir. In it, the author traces the interesting lives of seven generations of women in her family. Beginning with a famous great-great-grandmother who was a European flamenco dancer, and ending with her own story and those of her children and granddaughters, Nicolson, with the assistance of copious written records, reveals secrets and sorrows which help to define her life and the lives of the people who preceded hers in the family tree.

There are many beautifully written truths in this soul-searching memoir which I loved. I plan to mark them in order that I may look to them for support whenever I need a hand to hold. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

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