Friday, November 3, 2017

Thursday, November 2, 2017

#1968 Club: Wind Off the Small Isles by Mary Stewart


I'm back with another selection for the #1968 Club hosted by Stuck in a Book and Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings.

The Wind Off the Small Isles, a novella first published in 1968, but has been out of print until recently. At 68 pages, the novella is just long enough to encapsulate all those elements of Mary Stewart's writing that makes her such a great storyteller.

The story takes place on the island of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. There is a prologue about the mystery from 1879 of the two young lovers who run off in the night never to be heard from again. When the modern story begins, we meet twenty-three year old Perdita, the secretary of the famous novelist, Cora Gresham. The two are on holiday on the island, and Gresham wants a vacation home there. They happen upon a remote old house near a cliff that Gresham decides must be the place for her.

It turns out the house isn't so deserted after all but the home of another famous writer, Julian Gale, who is there with his assistant, the young and handsome Michael, who is overseeing restoration of the house. From there, the story takes off with humor, suspense, danger, romance, and the solving of the question of what happened to the two lovers. 

As always, there is Stewart's strong sense of place. I loved Stewart's descriptions of the island, the beach and the wildlife. Her vivid writing made me feel like I was right there with Perdita.

Mary Stewart is one of my favorite writers, and for the past few years, I've been reading her novels. I want to read everything she's written, and Wind Off the Small Isles reminded me of that again.

Wind Off the Small Isles is a quick read and a nice story. I highly recommend this lovely novella.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Selection for the #1968 Club: True Grit by Charles Portis


Here we are at November! I'm excited to be taking part in the 1968 Club, hosted by Stuck in a Book and Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings

When trying to decide what to read, I learned that I don't own many books from 1968. The first book I chose was A Small Town in Germany by John le Carre, but there was something about the events in the book that reminded me of what's currently going on in the news, and I had to put the book down. I plan to go back to the novel another day. 

My second choice was True Grit by Charles Portis. The Western genre has never really appealed to me, but there was something about the story that intrigued me when I read the opening:

"People do not give credence that a fourteen-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father's blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day. I was just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shot my father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robbed him of his life and his horse and $150 in cash money plus two California gold pieces that he carried in his trouser band. "

True Grit is the story of Mattie Ross, the fourteen year old leaves home to find a marshal to take her into Indian territory to locate Tom Chaney, the man who murdered her father. The story takes place in the 1870s, but Mattie looks back on that time and recounts the story as an older woman in her '80s.

Mattie is a wonderful heroine--determined, funny, wise and an expert business woman. She has no qualms about getting everything in writing. As she uses her wits in some extraordinary circumstances in dealing with the colorful characters she encounters, she also battles nature, bats and rattlesnakes (Which I didn't expect--not a fan of rattlesnakes.) 

Mattie also has to deal with the challenging Marshal Rooster Cogburn. Because of the first True Grit film, I've always associated Rooster Cogburn with John Wayne, but in the novel Rooster is completely different. He's in his late forties, overweight, and forever needing a bath. He spends most of his time drinking. He also as a huge mustache. 

Mattie's experiences an incredible journey. She has her confrontation with Tom Chaney, but it doesn't go as planned, and she pays a price. I found the novel to be suspenseful, humorous, and at times poignant. 

I enjoyed reading Mattie's story and highly recommend True Grit.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween Greetings


My break from the blog was longer than I'd planned, mainly because life got in the way. Mr. MBL and I have been back about a month from our worldly travels to Scandinavia and then to the north of England.

While I've missed the blog, getting back to the actual business of blogging has been harder than I thought it would be. However, I have bookish plans. I'll be participating in the #1968 Club this week hosted by Stuck in a Book and Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings. Also, I'm excited about Nonfiction November and have been looking through my many books to pick nonfiction possibilities. And I have a Remarks on Recent Reads post coming. 

Currently, I'm reading The Incredible Crime by Lois Austen-Leigh (1931). The book is part of the British Library Crime Classics series. The author, the great-great niece of Jane Austen, has written a novel that's breezy and funny. A review is coming soon. 

I hope that all is well with you and your reading and that you have a fantastic Halloween!