Category Archives: Favorite authors

Kim Stafford: Poems for the Pandemic

Kim Stafford is the Poet Laureate of Oregon. He’s a wonderful poet, as was his father, William Stafford. He’s been publishing on InstaGram a series of poems during this pandemic and time of quarantine, and I’ve looked forward to reading each one.

Here is his poem that greeted me this morning. He introduces it by saying, “In the web of our connections now, there are no random strangers. All become kin in our mutual concern.

His work is another one of the beautifully creative endeavors that are helping us get through this crazy time with compassion and understanding.

CLICK HERE to visit his project POEMS FOR THE PANDEMIC at The Oregonian online site.

CLICK HERE to visit his own website.

CLICK HERE to visit his InstaGram page.

Gardening At This Age

…a panorama (thus the distortion) of our veggie garden full of cover crops (red clover).

This garden is really too demanding for me at this stage in my life, but I know I shall never be able to restrict myself there. It has to be accepted that gardening is a madness, a folly that does not go away with age. Quite the contrary.

~ May Sarton, At Seventy

The Moonspinners

Catching up on some of my reviews at the end of the year here. A few months ago, I read The Moonspinners, by Mary Stewart. I should say I re-read it, because I remember reading it in high school and loving it. I also remember seeing the movie with Hayley Mills in it!

The story takes place on the island of Crete, and Mary Stewart tells a terrific story of intrigue and suspense, with a dash of romance.

from the publisher:

While on a walking holiday through the beautiful, deserted hills of Crete, Nicola Ferris stumbles across a critically injured Englishman, guarded by a fierce Greek. Nicola cannot abandon them and so sets off on a perilous search for their lost companion – all the while being pursued by someone who wants to make sure none of them leave the island . . .

I was caught by the suspense and read through the book very quickly, but not too fast to savor the way that Mary Stewart writes. Here’s an example of the kind of description she includes in her books. I feel like I’m there, in the heat and the dust and the beauty of the area.

But, when the big white bird flew suddenly up among the glossy leaves and the lemon flowers, and wheeled into the mountain, I followed it. What else is there to do when such a thing happens on a brilliant April noonday at the foot of the White Mountains of Crete; when the road is hot and dusty, but the gorge is green, and full of the sound of water, and the white wings, flying ahead, flicker in and out of deep shadow, and the air is full of the scent of lemon blossom?

I’m going to see if I can find the old movie and watch it again. I’ve always liked Hayley Mills, and it would be fun to revisit the film version of this story, too.

 

I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “Wanderlust,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a book from Greece.

Christmas at Thompson Hall

The novella, Christmas at Thompson Hall, by Anthony Trollope, made me laugh out loud! It’s just a fun read for the holidays or for any time!

from The Trollope Society:

…Mrs. Brown, journeying with her husband from the south of France to her old home in England for the Christmas holidays, spent the night in Paris where Mr. Brown developed a sore throat. Thinking to make a mustard poultice from a pot of mustard she had seen in the salon, Mrs. Brown lost her way on her return and, entering the wrong room, discovered after the poultice had been applied that the patient was not her husband…

 

…image from Crane Creek Graphics

 

I am enjoying some holiday reading!

 

E.B. White on New York

I’ve only been to New York City once in my life, long ago, and I would love to return, especially after reading E.B. White’s Here is New York!  E.B. White is a wonderful author and one of my favorites. I’ve loved everything I’ve ever read by him, and this little book was another one I thoroughly enjoyed.

It is a love letter to New York and it captured the city of my imagination and my long ago experience there. The book was written 70 years ago, so of course much has changed, but even so, I think he described in many beautiful passages, the essence of the city.

There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something…Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.

…New York blends the gift of privacy with the excitement of participation; and better than most dense communities it succeeds in insulating the individual (if he wants it, and almost everybody wants or needs it) against all enormous and violent and wonderful events that are taking place every minute.

This book is a must-read for anyone who loves New York, or who is interested in it, or who has always wanted to visit there, or who visited it long ago and needs to return!

 

I read this book as part of my year-long celebration of turning 70 years old.

Lonely Road

Nevil Shute is one of my favorite authors. I love his books, so it felt a bit strange when I started Lonely Road and struggled to get into it at first. I actually started it twice, because the first time I set it aside for another time. The time came and, in the beginning, I was once again very confused and didn’t much care for the main character. I stuck with it this time, however, and it became clear that the confusion I felt was actually the confusion the main character was feeling after a car crash and serious head injury. The mystery of the story was to sort through what actually happened that night on that lonely road. And alongside and intertwined with that mystery was a love story of a lonely man.

A short summary from the publisher:

Malcolm Stevenson, a wealthy ex-naval officer haunted by his memories of the war, finds his lonely life turned upside down one night when he runs into trouble on a road near the coast. What at first appears to be an accident leads him to discover an international conspiracy against his country—and to fall in love with a dance hostess who seems to have something to do with it. Malcolm’s determination to expose the plot will put his life—and that of the only person who has brought him any happiness—in grave danger.

It ended up being an interesting read, but is not my favorite of Shute’s works. I still love his writing, and I think this book will stick with me for awhile…anyway, I keep thinking about it. I admire Shute for experimenting with different ways to tell his stories, and I do think this was a worthy creative effort.

 

 

I read this book for my 2019 TBR Pile Challenge.

Rose Cottage

I couldn’t help myself! I just had to read another Mary Stewart for my R.I.P.-XIV challenge! I do love Mary Stewart’s books, and Rose Cottage has been on my TBR list for quite awhile, so this weekend I picked it up and read it almost in one sitting.

from the publisher…

Rose Cottage, a tiny thatched dwelling in an idyllic English country setting, would appear the picture of tranquility to any passerby. But when Kate Herrick returns to her childhood home to retrieve some family papers in the summer of 1947, she uncovers a web of intrigue as tangled as the rambling roses in its garden. The papers are missing. The village is alive with gossip. Did her elderly neighbors, suspected of being witches, really see nighttime prowlers and ghosts in the cottage garden?

This was a fun read for my PERIL the FIRST for the R.I.P.-XIV challenge. A very nice read for a rainy weekend.

Jane Eyre

 

Thank you to my big brother, Curt, for telling me 57 years ago that he thought I’d like the book he’d just finished reading: Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. I read his copy and it’s been my favorite book ever since. And having just finished listening to the audiobook version, fabulously narrated by Thandie Newton, I can say without reservation that it is still my favorite book!

from the publisher, Penguin Random House:

Charlotte Brontë’s most beloved novel describes the passionate love between the courageous orphan Jane Eyre and the brilliant, brooding, and domineering Rochester. The loneliness and cruelty of Jane’s childhood strengthens her natural independence and spirit, which prove invaluable when she takes a position as a governess at Thornfield Hall. But after she falls in love with her sardonic employer, her discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a heart-wrenching choice. Ever since its publication in 1847, Jane Eyre has enthralled every kind of reader, from the most critical and cultivated to the youngest and most unabashedly romantic. It lives as one of the great triumphs of storytelling and as a moving and unforgettable portrayal of a woman’s quest for self-respect.

I know from experience that this is a classic that should be reread at different times in one’s life. Each time I read it I see something new, receive the story in a different way. This is the first time I’ve listened to it read aloud to me, and my narrator did an incredible job! Thandie Newton’s narration was an absolute gift…so perfect, so insightful. It added a whole new dimension to the story for me.

Charlotte Bronte’s writing, though, is superb. I didn’t want to miss one word of it as I listened.  Her plot is compelling with an amazing level of detail about Jane Eyre’s experiences and her responses to them. I know that when I first read it I was carried away by the romance of it, and it is a deeply romantic book. This time, I was completely carried away by her struggle for independence and for her right to live her life by her strong sense of right and wrong, without compromise. That was a personal strength that was in her from a very young age, strength that  helped her survive an incredibly cruel childhood, a difficult pathway into adulthood, and was the source of her courage and resilience as an adult seeking to find her place in the world.

Once again, after finishing this reading of the book, I find myself deeply admiring Charlotte Bronte. She created a complete and totally engrossing world in this novel, and she created a main character that continues to inspire me.

 

I chose this book to read for The Classics Club, as one of my 50 books in 5 years. I also count it as one of the books on my list for R.I.P.-XIV.

Christmas in Absaroka County

Christmas in Absaroka County is a collection of short stories by Craig Johnson. He has added some novellas and short story collections to his Walt Longmire  mystery series, and they are a lot of fun to read.

from the publisher…

I am very fond of the character of Walt Longmire and am enjoying slowly reading through this mystery series. The extra glimpses of Walt that we see in these short “in-between” books give us a deeper understanding of the character and just add a lot of interest and fun to whole experience of this series.

 

I read this book for the R.I.P.-XIV reading challenge.