To start this week, we give a shout out to Amy C, True Library Friend and our Beloved Board President, who brought us caramels from the spot where she Summers in Montana! They were EPIC and worth every calorie. Thanks Amy! I have come to the sad realization that I can fight the March of Autumn only so long before even I have to surrender. The Autumnal Equinox arrives on Monday at 10:29; so officially this is the last weekend for the Summer of 2014. A more beautiful summer I don’t think I have ever seen. I don’t know about you all but I marvel at how swiftly fall is taking over. The golden quality of sunlight, the way it’s getting darker earlier, that bite in the morning air, even the green of the leaves is starting to have that muted characteristic of impending change. At the Farmer’s Market this week there were still beautiful tomatoes and corn to be had, but there were also plenty of fall squashes, pumpkins, mums, newly dug potatoes, lovely crisp apples and pears. This morning on the train platform I was in the minority with my sleeveless dress and bare leg. All around me were tweeds and boots and sweaters. They looked much more comfortable than I felt. So I officially yield to fall and I wish it a long glorious reign because just the thought of winter returning is killing me. This week we have knife throwing, Queens, (but not Knife Throwing Queens. Sorry), Wonder Woman, some Grand Duchesses, London, The Street and a Boston Girl. You want a soundtrack with all that? Done! In fact we are giving you two!
Let us begin!
Miss Elisabeth of the CL is still talking about what she did while Away. “While I was on vacation, I read 6 adult books, mostly light beach reads and detective thrillers. By far the best one was a brand new book by Chelsea Cain, One Kick. The beginning of a new mystery series, this was a nail-biting suspense novel with the type of heroine you can’t help but root for. When she was six, Kick Lannigan was kidnapped from her front yard. When she was 11, Kick was accidently rescued by the FBI. Now she’s 21, and she’s spent the past ten years making sure she knows how to keep herself safe: martial arts, sharp shooting, knife throwing skills, and lock-picking are among her many talents. Her quiet, safe life is forever altered when she is drawn into the investigation of two recent child abductions with eerie similarities to her own. I literally could not put this book down. I read it on the plane, and was so engrossed in the story I didn’t notice we were landing until I felt the plane bump the ground! If you like suspenseful mysteries, One Kick is a great pick. “
Barbara M loves herself a Seriously Sad Story. Here is her latest pick. “When I started reading We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas I thought it would be an updated version of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a family saga of the Irish-American experience. In a way, it is an immigrant American family saga but it is so much more. It’s about unfulfilled dreams and how the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease can devastate a family. The book is the beautifully written story of Eileen, a child of Irish immigrants, who has aspirations of escaping her life in Woodside, Queens. When she marries Ed Leary, a promising scientist, she believes that her life will go as she planned. It doesn’t. A sad story exquisitely told.”
Mallory has been talking non-stop about her love for this book. Seriously. She won’t stop. Please someone else read this so she can have a Book Friend. Thank you. For those of you who want a head start, check out Darien Reads. “The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore is part biography, part feminist history, part comic legacy, and my new go-to recommendation, so get used to hearing me blab about it. William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman’s creator, was a man obsessed with truth and justice, surrounded by women who were crusaders during the suffragist and birth control movements of the early 1900’s. He gets a degree in law, gets a degree in psychology, invents the lie detector, and basically fails at everything he attempts. Marston marries his high school sweetheart and then takes on a secret live-in wife as well (the feminist Queen Margaret Sanger’s niece). He has children with each woman and they all live together as one glorious oddball family in a little town called Darien, CT for a short period of time. Marston imbues Wonder Woman with characteristics from the women he encounters and uses her as a radical agent for social change. Wonder Woman was powerful, political, and her only weakness was being shackled by man; Marston’s Wonder Woman is my new personal hero. He states, ‘Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who, I believe, should rule the world.’ You’ll find The Secret History of Wonder Woman when it comes out in October, so place your holds now!”
The Fabulous Babs B just finished a book we are pretty wild for, The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport. Here’s what she thinks. “This is the history of the four daughters of the tsar of Russia, Nicholas II. They were the Princess Diana of their day and were much admired for their happy dispositions, their looks, the clothes they wore and their privileged life style. The girls lived in virtual isolation, their only freedom being when they traveled, usually on the Royal Yacht. I found it sad that they were constantly surrounded by armed guards. I also learned that Alexandra, the girl's mother, suffered with numerous health issues throughout her life which severely restricted her lifestyle. I was drawn to the great love and devotion the Romanovs felt for each other, despite living through the harshest of circumstances. “
Pat S has just finished Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home by Nina Stibbe. “Back in the early 80's, Nina, a young dropout from rural England, decides to try her luck at being a nanny in London. She joins the bohemian household of single mom Mary Kay Wilmers (editor and owner of London Review of Books) and her sons Will and Sam Frears. She finds herself in a rather rarefied literary world where one of the neighbors is the esteemed playwright Alan Bennett who drops in frequently for dinner, and the ex-husband is Stephen Frears the movie director. Nina does not recognize the names, nor is she impressed when told who they are. She is the anti-Mary Poppins (she neither cooks nor cleans), and fits in perfectly with this colorful, raffish crew. Over a period of the next several years, Nina recounts to her sister Victoria her daily routines and exchanges first as a nanny, and then as a returning university student in this enchanting, laugh out loud collection of letters. After reading these delightful letters, it made me wonder what will become of the epistolary format now that no-one seems to write letters any longer.”
Here’s Steph and what she’s reading. “This weekend on my commute, I read Business Adventures by John Brooks. This is our selection for September’s Business Book Group, and came to most people’s attention after Bill Gates told an interviewer it was his favorite business book. To be honest, even though I usually like business books, I didn’t have high hopes for this one, because it seemed to be a bunch of random stories from twentieth-century Wall Street. I was so wrong! This book has been a delight. Brooks was a writer for The New Yorker, and each of these stories reads like the sort of article you cut out and pass along to a friend. Whether he’s explaining how a corner works (and what happened the last time someone tried to pull one off), or walking the reader through the growth of Xerox, his writing is funny and clear, and has something to offer both the business novice and the Wall Street expert. I’m really looking forward to discussing it on September 23.”
I must confess that I was not a huge fan of Anita Diamant’s book The Red Tent. I have found that you either love this book, or you are in my camp: Camp Pack-Up-Your-Tent-And-Go. But when I heard her speak at a Library Preview at Simon and Schuster about her new book Boston Girl I was intrigued enough to give it a shot and I am glad I did. Addie Baum is asked by her granddaughter the following question: “How did you get to be the woman you are today?” Thus begins the story of 85-year-old Addie and her family living in the multi-cultural North End of Boston at the turn of the last century. I must confess. I love this book and the voice of Addie Baum so much I almost missed my stop this week. I think Book Groups would find plenty of meat to pick off the bones of this book and it comes out in December.
It would seem that The State Which Shall Not Be Named is a place to avoid at all costs and not for the usual reasons. Here’s DJ Jazzy Patty McC to explain why. “An uninvited guest arrived at our house last week. The cold, flu and virus season has officially moved in and I am feeling inhospitable. Our friends across the hall (he’s a surgeon and she’s an ER pediatric nurse) have assured me that we are not alone in the land of illness and quarantine. So this week, I’m going to keep things brief and to the point. Get a flu shot. Do it now. My autumnal equinox wish for you is that you have no uninvited guests. They’re hard to get rid of, they don’t want to leave and they don't clean up after themselves.”