Tag Archives: Miss Read

15 Authors


This idea came from Brenda’s post at Coffee, Tea, Books and Me. She got the idea from Sarah, at Thoroughly Alive.

 

 

How enjoyable to read another person’s list of favorite authors or books! When visiting in others’ homes, I’m always interested to see what’s on their bookshelf. Does it tell us anything about people to see what they read? Probably. Actually, I’m sure it does.

Several years ago our younger son (an adult at the time) told us that his friends were offended at the books in our living room. I doubt he was referring to the craft, gardening or music books. Surely he meant the ones on conservative politics and Christianity.

It seems that I’m always searching for someone who likes the same books that I love, because I so want to discuss them. However, I don’t think I have one single friend that shares an interest in very many of my favorite books or authors.

It’s funny because when I find a friend who likes to read, we seldom read the same books, even though we might have lots of other things in common. My friend, Patti, is a dedicated Christian, likes antiques and stories of the old days, tea cups, family history, card making and scrapbooking and southern gospel music. We share all of those things.

However, she also likes talk shows, loves country music (this one still has me shaking my head because she’s from New Jersey and I’m from the south. If it’s country and it’s not Johnny Cash or Patsy Cline, I’m probably not happy); Patti can’t stand Sara Palin and Dick Cheny (I love them both). She voted for Ralph Nadar and likes Mitt Romney. If they were the only choices, I’d be staying home on election day.

So, despite the fact that we’re both voracious readers, Patti and I rarely read or enjoy the same books. The only 2 exceptions I can think of (yes, yes, I know… of which I can think or something like that) are “

and

.

I really love the idea of a book club, but my ideal would be a cozy book group or at least a cozy mystery one.

Anyway, my list of most read or beloved authors goes something like this:

NON-FICTION

Emily Barnes
Peg Bracken
Priscilla Buckley
William F. Buckley
Emily Kimbrough
Norman Longmate
Corrie ten Boom

FICTION
Jane Austen
M.C. Beaton
Elizabeth Caddell
Agatha Christie
Erle Stanley Gardner
L.M. Montgomery
Miss Read
Laura Ingalls Wilder

A few words about authors
I love Miss Read’s books so much that I probably should’ve listed her twice.

And even though I’ve enjoyed the writings of Jan Karon and John Grisham, they’re missing from this list for different reasons. Even though parts of the Mitford books are wonderful, and I think that Karon is a very talented writer, there are parts of her books that I really don’t like. And I disliked her

so badly that I didn’t get past the first chapter. I intensely dislike whining (it’s one of my own and unloveliest traits) and that book is one big whine.

Up until about 5 years ago I had read about everything that John Grisham had written. In fact,

is one of my all time favorite books. So, he would be on my B list, along with Jan Karon, Harper Lee, D.E. Stevenson and several others.


If I were less truthful, I’d list C.S. Lewis because I have tremendous respect for his work, but his works are so hard to read. Countless times, I’ve started reading Mere Christianity or The Screwtape Letters, then give up when the going gets deep. But I hope someday to read not only them, but also other volumes of his that I’ve collected over the years.

And Charles Dickens: I’ve read parts of A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop and a considerable part of David Copperfield. The only one of his that I’ve actually finished was Bleak House. My interest was piqued in the story after I began watching the BBC version. The book was incredibly better.

Dickens was an amazing writer.

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Hats and Tea Parties

The most enjoyable parties I’ve ever attended have been tea parties.

Two at the top of the list come to my mind this morning because they were at this time of year. I’ll share one now and later on another one.

The actual photos from the party are put away somewhere, so we’ll have to make do with illustrations from books and magazines and our imaginations.

In 1995 we were attending Bear Creek Bible Church in Keller. A very kind young woman (who had been our younger son’s 4th grade English teacher) and I were talking at church one day about the holiday let down and we decided to plan an evening tea as something special for the ladies to look forward to during that in-between time of Christmas and New Year’s.


She offered her home and it was a perfect setting for such a party, very Victoria Magazine-like. We carefully planned the menu with traditional English tea time crumpets (which I made from scratch), cakes, fruit, 2 kinds of tea and imported Devonshire cream (bought at The British Emporium in Grapevine).

All the ladies of the church were invited and encouraged to bring their mothers and daughters of all ages (the youngest was less than a year old). We requested that the each bring a favorite teacup and saucer and be prepared to tell us all where and when they acquired it.

And we asked that they all wear hats. Surprisingly enough in this modern age, they all did.

Paula – one of the nicest members of the church – brought her mother, who was an English war bride. She presented us with a short program about the history of the candy cane and contributed authentic British homemade fruit tarts to our tea table.

Books by Miss Read seemed to fit in with the program, so I did a short book talk on those novels. Classical music from the stereo played quietly in the background.


Gleaming silver, candles and flowers, lace tablecloths, books, old ladies in hats, china tea cups and Mozart – how could a party be better?

We were dressed up, drinking tea and using our best manners. It was a lovely time.

Townsend's Monthy magazine (?), 1830, Plate 562

Caption below illustration:
“This plate depicts the wonderful high bonnets and lace caps of the early 1830s. Note the lingerie cap, which used to be worn underneath the hat or bonnet, has been replace by tulle ruffles, flowers, and other interior bonnet trim in several bonnets pictured.”

Photo sources for this post are from:

The Hat Book, Juiet Bawden
The Charms of Tea, Victoria
Southern Lady Magazine, Winter 2001
Southern Lady Magazine, Winter 2003
Vintage Hats & Bonnets, 1770-1970, Susan Langley

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Books Read in December, 2009


Village Christmas, (1966) Miss Read
First published as what Miss Read would call “a slim volume”, this edition of Village Christmas, along with The Christmas Mouse, was included in an omnibus entitled Christmas Tales. Set in Fairacre, it is the story of 2 aging sisters who are comfortable in their set ways, until their world is invaded by a young family who moves in across the road. Diana Emery and her husband have 3 cheerful little girls and another baby due any minute. Margaret and Mary are constantly shocked by the Emerys: Diana smoked, wore torn stockings, sent the children over to borrow a bit of string for a parcel, and was actually friendly.

“As Mary had foreseen, her Bohemian garments scandalized the older generation. An then, she was so breath-takingly friendly! She had introduced herself to Mr. Lamb in the Post Office, and to two venerable residents who were collecting their pensions, shaking hands with them warmly and asking such personal questions as where they lived and what were their names.

‘Wonder she didn’t ask us how old we be,’ said one to the other when they escaped into the open air. ‘She be a baggage, I’ll lay. I’ll take good care to steer clear of that ‘un.’ ”

While not exactly a spoiler, I just have to include a passage from the last few pages, because, of course, everything turns out to be okay. New babies have a way of changing things.

” ‘D’you know what Vanessa said when her father fetched her?’ asked Margaret. ‘She said” “This is the loveliest Christmas we’ve ever had!” ‘Twas good of the child to say it, I thought, after such a muddling old day. It touched me very much.’

‘She spoke the truth,’ replied Mary slowly. ‘Not only for herself, but for all of us here in Fairacre. ‘Tis a funny thing, sister, but when I crept up the stairs to take a first look at that new babe the thought came to me: “Ah! You’re a true Fairacre child, just as I was once, born here, and most likely to be bred up here, the Lord willing!” And then another thought came: “You’ve warmed up us cold old Fairacre folk quicker’n the sun melts frost.” You know, Margaret, them Emery’s have put us all to shame, many a time, with their friendly ways, and been snubbed too, often as not. It took a Christmas baby to kindle some proper Christmas goodwill in Fairacre.’ ”

The Christmas Mouse, (1973) Miss Read
The second Fairacre story in this volume is the story of old, widowed Mrs. Berry, her young widowed daughter Mary and Mary’s two little girls and a couple of unexpected guests on Christmas eve. It’s a bit longer than the previous story and is also a morality story with a good bit of wisdom in it.

No Holly for Miss Quinn, (1976) Miss Read

This third Miss Read Christmas story is also set in Fairacre, with a different set of characters. Miss Quinn is an efficient, executive secretary for a businessman. Her life is well ordered and just the way she wants it, with very little fuss and certainly no big celebration at Christmas. Then her brother sends out a call for help with his children when his wife has to go into the hospital and he, being a vicar, is busy with parish duties.

Caring for a whole household is a new experience:

“With a shock she remembered that there had been no preparations made for lunch at home. For the first time in her life, she bought fish fingers, and a ready-made blackcurrant tart. How often she had watched scornfully the feckless mothers buying the expensive “convenience” foods. Now, with three children distracting her and the clock ticking on inexorably, she sympathized with them. Catering for one, she began to realize, was quite a different matter from trying to please the varying tastes of five people, and hungry ones at that.”

It’s a lovely story, with even a touch of romance, and I read it again nearly every year.

Christmas Scrapbook, (2005) Phillip Gulley

A second Harmony Christmas story by Gulley, concerns the Quaker minister’s attempts to make a really special gift for his wife, a scrapbook of her life. Gulley is a real-life Quaker minister and I’m a little uncomfortable with the casual lying in which his protagonist engages. It’s an okay book, but no great shakes, and unlike the Miss Read pieces, I won’t reread.
Esther’s Gift, (2002) Jan Karon

If you’ve read any of the Mitford books, you know that Esther Bolick’s claim to fame is her Orange Marmalade Cake. This story is about her preparation of several to give as Christmas gifts and her struggle with generosity.

Once I read that when Jan Karon first mentioned the cakes in her series, that she didn’t have a recipe for it, just the idea. Memory fails me as to how she finally came up with it, but I’m glad that it’s included at the end of this story. It sounds mouth-watering.

Same Kind of Different as Me, (2006) Ron Hall and Denver Moore, with Lynn Vincent

Not a Christmas book at all, but simply an incredible story, Same Kind of Different as Me, is a double first hand account of redemption and freindship. More on this book later. Here is their website.

Christmas Cookie Murder, (1999) Leslie Meier

Really, I should know better. A couple of weeks ago I was at our local library and looking for some light reading and picked this one up. One of the Lucy Stone series, it’s set in a little town in Maine. Lucy is a wife, mother and part-time reporter for the local newspaper. Meirer’s story lines are mildly interesting but they drip with political correctness.

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Vintage Christmas Cards, III

Christmas 1957

Every year my family sent out lots of cards at Christmas time and received many in return. In the photo above, there are over 90 cards on our living room wall. Mama always like to display them festively, doing something different with them annually.

Candles and bells were my parents’ favorite illustrations on Christmas cards. Those seemed to have been among the most popular depictions in the 1940s and 1950s.

I associate them with my parents and because of the fond memories of happy and simpler times, candles and bells are some of my favorites symbols of Christmas, too.

The fondness for this tradition is evident is this passage from Chapter 3 of Miss Read’s cozy tale, A Christmas Mouse:

“Mary sat down thankfully and drew the packet of tags towards her. The presents were destined for neighbours, and the tags seemed remarkably juvenile for the elderly couples who were going to receive the baskets. Father Christmas waved from a chimney pot, a golliwog danced a jig, two pixies bore a Christmas tree, and a cat carried a Christmas pudding. Only two tags measured up to Mary’s requirements, a row of bells on one and a red candle on the other. Ah well, she told herself, someone must make do with the pixies or the cat, and when you came to think of it the tags would be on the back of the fire this time tomorrow, so why worry? She wrote diligently.”

This post is linked to Vintage Christmas Monday ~5 at Anything Goes Here.

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Cozy Reading

100_8353Brenda over at Coffee, Tea, Books and Me is asking her blog readers to submit their favorite books and movies that are in the Cozy category. She defines them as ones that make her feel all warm and cozy in the winter weather. Partly because we live in the south, my definition would be a little different – books and movies that me feel contented. There’s more to it than that, but when I start trying to nail it down, it gets elusive.

For instance, Agatha Christie mysteries are considered cozies, but they almost always involve murder. No gory details or horrible unpleasantness – but murder, none the less. I struggle with my affection for her books. Surely a Christian shouldn’t be so fascinated with sin. If I’m wanting to rationalize, I could say that it’s actually the intricacies of logic and justice that intrigue me.

Cozy books of all types make up a good deal of my reading. I also read a lot of challenging non-fiction: political, Alzheimer’s tales, biographies, but I find that after a few of these books, I need to read something that calms me down a bit. Because, even though I believe those topics to be necessary and important to my life, they can be a bit stressful.

Anyway, here’s some of my list. It isn’t complete because I’m sure that I’ll remember an omitted favorite this afternoon.

I’ve used Brenda’s format, to help me compare my list to hers.

AUTHORS
M.C. Beaton -mostly mysteries: Edwardian, Scotland, Cotswolds
Elizabeth Caddell – light mid-20th century novels of England
Agatha Christie – mysteries
Emily Kimbrough – reminiscences of very early and mid-20th century
L.M. Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables series
Miss Read – very light and pleasant novels of an English village school
D.E. Stevenson – light English romances
Gladys Taber – journal-like books about living in New England
Laura Ingalls Wilder – Little House books

FICTION
+Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder
*Absolutely any of the Miss Read books
*Mrs. Miniver, Jan Struther (disclaimer: there is a chapter on fortune telling which I skipped. I don’t think witchcraft/occult is harmless fun.)
*The Gown of Glory, Agnes Sligh Turnbull (one of the reader reviews on Amazon compared it to Our Town.)
*The Nightingale, Agnes Sligh Turnbull (same town as The Gown of Glory, different people)
*Half Crown House, Helen Ashton (post WWII England)
*Owl’s Castle Farm, Primrose Cumming (mid-WWII English farm life)
*Now That April’s There, Daisy Neumann (English children returning home from America 1945)
SERIES
*Fairacre series by Miss Read
*Thrush Green series by Miss Read
*Some of the Mitford books by Jan Karon
*Reminisce Magazine books – collections of short personal stories from very early to mid-20th century

NON-FICTION – HOME ARTS
*A Thousand Ways to Please Your Husband with Bettina’s Best Recipes, Louise Bennett Weaver & Helen Cowles LeCron (either 1917 or 1932 edition)
*The Little House Cookbook, Barbara M. Walker
*If Teacups Could Talk, Emilie Barnes
*The Charms of Tea, by Victoria Magazine
*Beautiful Home on a Budget, Emilie Barnes & Yoli Brogger
*Timeless Treasures, Emilie Barnes
*Sew Pretty Homestyle, Tone Finnanger
*Crafting Vintage Style, Christina Strutt
*Creating Vintage Style, Lucinda Ganderton

BIOGRAPHIES & AUTOBIOGRAPHIES
*Farewell, Horton Foote
*In My Father’s House: the Years Before the Hiding Place, Corie ten Boom
*Agatha Christie: an Autobiography, Agatha Christie
*A Fortunate Grandchild, Miss Read
*Time Remembered, Miss Read

FASHION

*20th Century Fashion, John Peacock
*Fashion Accessories, John Peacock
*The Costume Collector’s Companion 1890-1990, Rosemary Hawthorne Air

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