Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Salutations

Hello and welcome to Sunday Salutations!

I hope that your week has gone well. The photos above are from an October visit to an orchard. I love fall and am looking forward to Thanksgiving. My family is a bit scattered this year, but my mother arrived this week for a visit, which signals the beginning of the holiday season. We've been having fun this weekend, and the weather hasn't been too cold to get out and about.

On the Blog . . .

Here are the posts from this past week:

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: The Square by Rosie Millard

Remarks on Recent Reads: The Procrastinator's Edition

Nonfiction November: The Only Woman in the Room by Rita Lakin

The Friday zen painting was Luxembourg Gardens by William James Glackens (1906).

Also, there has been a small change to my social media buttons. Gone is the link to my Facebook page which I really didn't have time to maintain. Instead, there's a link to my Instagram page. I'm having a lot of fun with Instagram lately.

Reading Plans . . .

Yesterday, I finished Edith Wharton's A Motor-Flight Through France, and I'll have a review soon for this book as well as Charleston Bulletin Supplements by Virginia Woolf and Quentin Bell, both for Nonfiction November. I'm continuing on with my reading plans with Waugh in Abyssinia by Evelyn Waugh.

Around the Blogosphere . . .

Here are some blog posts from this past week which caught my eye:

At I Prefer Reading, Lyn takes a look at some of Charlotte Bronte's poetry.

Over at Bibliophile by the Sea, Diane has a review of a book that I've been curious about, Wildflower by Drew Barrymore.

At The Emerald City Book Review, Lory talks about some interesting fall releases.

I look to JoAnn at Lakeside Musing as the expert on audiobooks, and this week, she recommended some of her favorites in nonfiction.

I've had the Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group on my mind and have noticed several interesting blog posts around the web:

If I could zap myself to London next Thursday night, I'd take a walk with Mrs. Dalloway in this post from Blogging Woolf.

There's a most excellent bookish conversation in the form of a podcast over at Stuck in a Book in which Rachel and Simon discuss lots of books, including Virginia Woolf's fiction and nonfiction in "Tea or Books? #7: Persephone vs. Virago & To The Lighthouse vs. A Room of One’s Own." This had me adding more titles to my TBR list!

I also liked this fascinating interview over at Miranda's Notebook with Vanessa Bell's granddaughter, London designer Cressida Bell. Great photos, too! I really enjoyed this inside look at Bell's work.

How has your week gone in reading? 

I wish you a wonderful week and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Have A Lovely Weekend.

William James Glackens, Luxembourg Gardens, 1906
Corcoran Collection (Museum Purchase, William A. Clark Fund)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Nonfiction November: The Only Woman in the Room by Rita Lakin (2015)

I am one of those people who likes to read the credits after movies and even after television shows. Awhile back, on a Sunday afternoon, I caught the end of an episode of "The Mod Squad." I was curious about who wrote the show, and that was where I first saw Rita Lakin's name as head writer. Then I noticed her memoir on Netgalley and requested a copy.

The Only Woman in the Room is written in a distinctive style. Lakin is always matter of fact as she tells her story. She was a young widow with small children when she decided that she wanted to be a screenwriter. How she started at the bottom as a secretary at a movie studio and worked her way up, eventually becoming a sought after television writer, is a great read. 

Her story takes place against the backdrop of the 1960s when changes were taking place for women. But in Hollywood, the men were still in charge and there were few women writers. Lakin faced challenges trying to navigate those waters. 

At the height of her success, Lakin married a second time. The world may have known her as a successful writer of television shows and television movies, but at home, she endured life with a controlling and abusive husband. Eventually, it took a toll on her career, but Lakin found her way out of the marriage.

Lakin has written a frank memoir with anecdotes, some funny and some appalling, that illustrate the bizarre inter-workings of show business and the difficulties women have faced in Hollywood. In fact, the book has made me see Aaron Spelling in a whole new way. Lakin also shines a light on what it's like to be a writer in Hollywood and how little control writers have over their work. I can only imagine how heartbreaking it must be to watch your story being rewritten and someone else's name put on the script as the writer. 

The only issue I take with The Only Woman in the Room is towards the end of the book, and it's a nit-picky issue. Lakin recounts advice a woman gave her who was a screenwriter in the early days of Hollywood, and Lakin states that she can't recall the woman's name. This was a little frustrating because I love reading about Hollywood's history and especially about the early screenwriters who were women and would love to have known who she spoke to. 

If you like an underdog story, or if you like reading about Hollywood, you'll enjoy The Only Woman in the Room.

These days, Rita Lakin writes mystery novels. I'm not familiar with her books. Are you? 

What nonfiction books have you read lately that you enjoyed?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Remarks on Recent Reads: The Procrastinator's Edition

It's been awhile since I've done a Remarks on Recent Reads post, and I have no excuse other than I've been procrastinating! Here are some titles that I've read over the past couple of months, all of which I recommend:

The Woman Who Had Imagination by H.E. Bates

I'd heard of H.E. Bates (1905-1974) and even have one of his novels (which I haven't yet read), but I couldn't pass up The Woman Who Had Imagination. I can't recall when I've read such beautiful writing in short stories. Bates' descriptions of gardens and flowers are beautiful and evocative. There are fourteen stories in this collection and several include ninety-three-year-old sprightly Uncle Silas, "as lively and restless as a young colt." There are also stories which take place in the city and illustrate the challenges facing those of the working class, and these stories are quite compelling as well.

I received an electronic copy of this book from Netgalley.

Thirteen Guests by J. Jefferson Farjeon

I'm enjoying these books from the British Library Crime Classics, and Thirteen Guests by J. Jefferson Farjeon (1883-1955) is no exception. I was curious to see if this 1936 crime classic would be totally confusing with so many characters but need not have worried. Farjeon's murder mystery takes place at a country house, Bagley Court, on an autumn weekend. Several events occur which lead to murder, and it's up to Detective Inspector Kendall to uncover secrets, lies and motives. All in all, a fun read. I look forward to reading more novels by Farjeon.

I received an electronic copy of this book from Netgalley.

The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford

This lovely edition has been languishing on my bookshelf for far too long. I've read several of Nancy Mitford's novels, but The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate are my favorites so far. 

The Pursuit of Love is told from Fanny's point of view. She is a cousin of the eccentric Radlett family of Alconleigh estate, and the story deals primarily with the road to love for the beautiful Linda Radlett. The Radlett family is based upon the Mitfords, and there are some genuinely funny laugh out loud moments.

In Love in a Cold Climate, Fanny is once again the narrator, but this time she tells the story of her distant cousin, Polly Hampton, and Polly's search for love despite the her interfering aristocratic family. Lively and interesting characters, romantic comedy, and a secret make this a fun read.  

This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart

Lucy Waring has come to Corfu to visit her sister and is looking forward to a lovely vacation. When a body washes ashore, Lucy finds herself caught up in a murder mystery as well as romance, but who can she trust? Handsome photographer Godfrey Manning or the dashing and charming Max Gale, son of mysterious actor Sir Julian Gale? 

I'm enjoying making my way through Mary Stewart's novels. There are several elements at work in This Rough Magic that made this such a wonderful book. The writing is so eloquent as always in a Mary Stewart novel. Stewart effectively weaves Shakespeare's The Tempest into the story in an interesting way. Then there is the appearance of a dolphin who becomes important to the plot, and Stewart makes this believable. This Rough Magic is another book I've had for awhile, and I'm so glad I finally read it.

What have you been reading that you recommend?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: The Square

Happy Tuesday! I hope that your week is going well so far. Today I'm participating in First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea, where bloggers share a bit about what they're reading or planning to read soon.

I've been enjoying Nonfiction November, but I'm missing fiction and looking for a little respite. The Square by Rosie Millard (2015) looks like it might be just the thing. 

Of The Square, Goodreads promises "a comic romp featuring the bored, overprivileged and vain London bourgeoisie. Full of controversy, gossip, affairs and drama . . ."

The opening:

"Chapter One Jane

Roberta climbs the steps and rings the door bell. In a disinterested way, she wonders who might answer. Patrick, the dishevelled husband? Jane, the trim, pressurised wife? It certainly will not be 'Boy' George. He will be where he always is. Upstairs, hiding in his room. Trying to squeeze another thirty seconds before being called down for his weekly ordeal."

The opening was taken from a proof copy received from Netgalley.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Have A Lovely Weekend.

John La Farge, Flowers on a Window Ledge, c, 1861
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Corcoran Collection (Museum Purchase, Anna E. Clark Fund)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Nonfiction November: Walter's War by Walter E. Young

I've been interested in reading about World War I lately. I'm still reading Robert Graves' autobiography, Goodbye to All That. But I received a copy through Netgalley of Walter's War, a memoir of World War I experiences in France of London postman Walter E. Young (1889-1957). 

What intrigued me about Walter's War is that it isn't a book that Young wrote with publication in mind. These are letters and remarkable journal entries that he recorded on paper that weren't found until after his death. 

By all accounts, Young was a quiet and an unassuming man who never spoke about his wartime experiences or his heroic deeds that won him a medal for bravery. It's hard to imagine today when it seems that so many people want their fifteen minutes of fame that there was once a generation who valued privacy and humility.

The writing about the violence of war, the death of so many of Young's friends, and the challenging life in the trenches is frank at times but eloquent at other times. Apart from being a soldier, Young also served as a stretcher-bearer. Young saw some horrible things as a stretcher-bearer, but I appreciated that he told just enough without going into graphic detail. In March 1918, Young was captured by the Germans and served the remainder of the war as a prisoner. 

This memoir deals only with Young's experiences in World War I, but there is a section at the end of the book which provides information about Young's life after the war.

This is a moving memoir that I highly recommend.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

If you'd asked me awhile ago how many nonfiction books I've read this past year, I could have mentioned a few. But I was surprised to see that I'd read ten books. 


Carrington: A Life by Gretchen Holbrook Herzina

Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford

The Only Woman in the Room by Rita Lakin (review coming soon)

Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford

History/Social History

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Mrs. Woolf and the Servants by Alison Light

My First Time in Hollywood by Cari Beauchamp

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

Letters, Etc.

The Bookshop at 10 Curzon Street: Letters between Nancy Mitford and Heywood Hill 1952-1973 by Nancy Mitford and Heywood Hill

Charleston Bulletin Supplements by Virginia Woolf and Quentin Bell (review coming soon)

What is the book you've recommended most?

What is/are your favorite nonfiction read(s) of the year?

What is the topic or type of fiction that you haven't read enough of yet?

I don't really think about categories when I read nonfiction. It has more to do with seeing a book that is about something or someone that looks interesting. That's how I've approached my reading choices for this month as well.

What are you hoping to get out of Nonfiction November?

I'm looking forward to reading some books that I've set aside just for Nonfiction November. Also, I'm excited about concentrating on nonfiction and seeing what everyone else is reading. I'll no doubt be adding even more titles to my TBR pile!

Have A Lovely Weekend.

Winslow Homer, Autumn, 1877
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: Diary of a Provincial Lady

Happy Tuesday, and welcome to First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros! This weekly event is hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea where bloggers share a bit about what they're reading or planning to read soon.

I've started the satire, Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield (1930), which is a "fictional journal of a middle-class wife and mother with literary aspirations, who is muddling through her relentlessly domestic existence with wit and more than a little ruefulness." The book has been compared to Jane Austen, Barbara Pym, Angela Thirkell and even Erma Bombeck.

Here is the opening:

"November 7th.--Plant the indoor bulbs. Just as I am in the middle of them, Lady Boxe calls. I say, untruthfully, how nice to see her, and beg her to sit down while I just finish the bulbs. Lady B. makes determined attempt to sit down in armchair where I have already placed two bulb-bowls and the bag of charcoal, is headed off just in time, and takes the sofa.

Do I know, she asks, how very late it is for indoor bulbs? September, really, or even October is the time. Do I know that the only really reliable firm for hyacinths is Somebody of Haarlem? Cannot catch the name of the firm, which is Dutch, but reply Yes, I do know, but think it my duty to buy Empire products. Feel at the time, and still think, that this is an excellent reply. Unfortunately Vicky comes into the drawing-room later and says: "O Mummie, are those the bulbs we got at Woolworths?"

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Nonfiction November: For Consideration

I'm participating in Nonfiction November this year, and these are the books that have jumped out at me. I'm already about 60 pages into the Robert Graves memoir and am really enjoying it. 

How about you? What are you planning to read?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sunday Salutations: A Look Back at October

Hello and welcome to Sunday Salutations! October went by in a flash, it seems. I hope that it was a good month for you.

Reading and Blogging . . .

My reading has been sporadic lately. I want to read but haven't been making time for it, and I've really missed not having that time. I also have a list of reviews to write for books I've read going back to September, but I haven't felt particularly motivated to do that, either. Does this ever happen to you? I'm looking to November to change all this.

On the Blog . . .

In October, I participated in the RIP.X Challenge, hosted by the Estella Society, and read The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill and a book of Edith Wharton's ghost stories.

At the end of the month, I had a great time participating in the 1924 Club, hosted by Simon at Stuck in a Book. For this, I read Distressing Dialogues by Nancy Boyd (a.k.a. Edna St. Vincent Millay). I've had so much fun finding out about other great books published in 1924. I have a whole new TBR list!

Coming up in November, I'm taking part in Nonfiction November for the first time, and I'm going to make some decisions today about what I'm planning to read.

This year, I've been reading books for Back to the Classics Challenge, hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate. This month, I read Broderie Anglais by Violet Trefusis.

Photos . . .

Here are a few images from a recent trip to one of my favorite places, Shaw Orchards in Stewartstown, Pennsylvania:

I hope that you had a wonderful Halloween! Onward to November!