Tag Archives: Lynn Austin

Books Read in August, 2010


Until We Reach Home/ Lynn Austin (2008). Historical Fiction.

This Christian novel is the story of 3 young Swedish women who immigrate to the United States in 1897. Although it took about 2 chapters for me to get into the story, after that I could hardly put it down.

Highly Recommended.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession/Allison Hoover Bartlett (2010). Non-Fiction.

Apparently Bartlett expanded her magazine article on book thief, John Gilkey, into a book.

Rarely do I buy books that I know nothing about. Too many times in the past I’ve been burned and ended up with something fit only for paper projects.

However, the title grabbed me. I stood in Sam’s and flipped through it. The subject matter was very intriguing to a book-lover so I bought it.

It’s a partial account of a contemporary man who very boldly steals books. And not just the run-of-the-mill books. Rare ones. Very valuable ones.

Did the author intentionally leave the readers wanting more; or was it that she just didn’t know how to end it (because the saga continues) or maybe she just didn’t know how to flesh out the story?

Gilkey is relentless and unrepentant. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much is a fascinating read, but it would’ve been helpful had Bartlett spared us her political and world views. Personally, I don’t care what she thinks.

I just wanted to know more about John Gilkey.

Recommended.

The Body in the Library/Agatha Christie (1942). Mystery.

Mrs. Bantry of Gossington Hall is awakened by her hysterical maid who has just discovered the body of a stranger on the rug downstairs. How satisfying for the Bantry’s to have Miss Marple as a close friend at such a time and so the fluffy spinster is called in to speed up the investigation.

So typically Agatha Christie and a very satisfying read.

Highly Recommended if you like cozy mysteries.

D.E. Stevenson

Celia’s House/D.E. Stevenson (1943). Fiction.

Publishers must think that book buyers judge a book by it’s cover. Nothing else explains the swill they print on them.

Celia’s House is a lovely, cozy read. The back cover of the edition I read had some utter nonsense about the younger generation trying to carry on and being at odds with their elders. There’s absolutely nothing like that in the book – at all.

It’s just a nice story set in the early part of the 20th century, about a Scottish family and their ancestral home. Of course, everyone isn’t nice. There are a couple of ne’er-do-well characters who give it a little literary tension.

I have several D.E. Stevenson paperbacks that were reprinted in the mid-70s and they have the most atrocious cover art. Here is an example of one edition of Celia’s House (not the one I read but I want to post it just as an example).

Please don't judge this book by the cover.


It was just last week that I read this book, and my memory is fresh and I don’t think a goat was ever mentioned.

Goodness.

So, ignore the cover and if you like cozy reads, this one is Highly Recommended.

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Filed under 1900s, Books, Cozy, England, Fiction

Books Read in September

October! How lovely that sounds in north Texas. That means it’s very unlikely that we’ll have any more 100 degree days until next May.

So, I’m thinking about what I’ve been reading and need to get it written down. Every January, I start a list of books I read during that year, but towards the end of summer I get very lax in keeping it up.

Do you think we can tell something about a person by what they read? Whenever we go to someone’s house, I’m always fascinated by what books are on their shelves, or better yet on their end-tables.

Non-Fiction
Farewell by Horton Foote Farewell Memoir of a Texas Childhood- Horton Foote
This is probably my favorite autobiography. The world was a different place in 1916 when Horton Foote was born. He is a master storyteller and reading this book reminded me of listening to my parents and aunts and uncles talk about their early years (they were a bit older than Mr. Foote). He paints a vivid picture of small town life in the early part of the 1900’s.
*Highly recommended.

The Reagan I KnewThe Reagan I Knew – William F. Buckley
One of the last books that Buckley wrote before his death last year, this is a personal look at Ronald Reagan through correspondence and reminiscences.
*Highly recommended.

Losing Mum and PupLosing Mum and Pup – Christopher Buckley
“They were not – with respect to every other set of loving, wonderful parents in the world – your typical mom and dad.” What an understatement. Christopher Buckley is not my cup of tea, but he writes a fascinating book about one of the most fascinating men of the 20th century. William F. Buckley was a singular man; I just didn’t realize before how singular he really was.
*Highly recommended.

Making an exit coverMaking an Exit – Elinor Fuchs
Publisher’s Weekly: “Fuchs celebrates the richness and folly of life and language in this loving and often funny tribute to her nonconformist mother, Lillian Kessler.” After her brilliant mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Elinor began recording their conversations (how I wish I had done the same). Her insight into the disease and how she coped with it was very helpful to me in dealing with my own mother. Nearly all the books I’ve seen on Alzheimer’s are much too clinical and not terribly helpful. This is not a self-help book, but it had that effect.
*Highly recommended.

MrsAstorRegretsMrs. Astor Regrets Meryl Gordon
Let me say right up front that I don’t like Brooke Astor or anyone else in this book, with the possible exception of her grandson, the photographer Alex Marshall. Not even the author. Especially the author and the subject. Snobbery fairly drips from the pages. If Mrs. Astor isn’t referring to Bill Clinton’s objects of desire as “trailer trash”, then Meryl Gordon is describing someone as not coming from a house with a rusted pick-up on blocks in the front yard. And who are these people? Brooke Astor’s second husband didn’t like her only child, Tony, so he was promptly shipped off to boarding school. After her second husband’s death, she was proposed to by Vincent Astor (he was still married) and she absolutely married him for his money. The rest of her life seemed to be a struggle to buy a good name and position for herself and give as little as she could to her family. She hated her daughter-in-law and condemned her as a gold-digger. The DIL had cheated on her husband (the local vicar) with Tony and they married after each getting a divorce. What hypocrites. The author’s sympathies clearly lie with Tony’s oldest son, Phillip who sued his father for guardianship of Mrs. Astor. Pretty mean stuff for someone so proud of being a buddhist. Gordon doesn’t even seem to consider that Phillip’s motives look mercenary.
*Not recommended unless you want an inside look the vanity and debauchery of the upper class.

Fiction

A Proper Pursuit A Proper Pursuit– Lynn Austin
Set in the Chicago area, 1893 this is a tale about a young woman learning that there’s more to the world than what she learned at finishing school. Austin humorously develops the character of Violet Hayes from a silly girl to a maturing woman. Set against the backdrop of The World’s Columbian Exposition (Chicago World’s Fair), as well as the impoverished life of immigrants, the author uses a good amount of history in the story. Her descriptions of the buildings at the fair prompted me to look up the photos on Flickr. It was amazing.
*Highly recommended as a well written, light Christian romance.

Still Reading

Green-Hell-coverGreen Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them – Steven Milloy
Very interesting. My husband follows his website on junk science. We’re reading this one aloud.

Against the Night Against the Night – Charles Colson
I found this one at the used book sale at the library. And I can’t write anything better about it than Larry Gott, who left this review on Amazon:
“5.0 out of 5 stars Most marked up book (next to the Bible), August 27, 2009
I have read this book twice, once when it came out in 1989, and once about 1998. I would mention that between the two readings, I lost my 1989 edition. However it was so marked up, it was hard to read the material for all the markings interposed. The 1998 copy I read mostly on an airplane (and marked it up again!).

In 1989, I thought it had the most substance of any ‘problem and solution’ book I had ever read. Colson was trying to be a ‘watchman on the wall’, and was warning us on what lay ahead if our nation, and the nation’s people (us), did not change our ways. The first half was diagnostic and prophetic (the problem), the second half was restorative and remedial (the solution).

By 1998, America, its people and its Christians were well down the road of what Colson was fearing. And now in 2009, we have arrived and have found ourselves in the middle of a giant mess. I’m going to reread it again, and see if the solutions might possibly still be valid. Highly recommended!”

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Filed under Aging, Alzheimer's, Books, Fiction, Politics