My mother, at age 95, is still a prolific reader and an inspiration to me. She lives next door to a wonderful library and enjoys walking there as often as she can. During the winter months, when the weather is awful, she foregoes her walks to the library and chooses more Kindle books to read. She recently found one she enjoyed very much and she sent me an email describing it. It is a story that came out of World War II and the Holocaust, the story of a strong and courageous woman, both things of great interest to my mother. Since she hasn’t written reviews for my blog in quite awhile, I decided to include her email as a “Guest Post from Mom.”
I have just finished reading a biography called: Art of a Jewish Woman written by her son, Henry Massie. It is a remarkable story. When I read of her death at the age of 97, I could not hold back the tears, a complete surprise to myself.
From a review on Amazon I found this short review helpful in covering some important facts about this memoir, Dr Henry Massie’s’ account of his mother.
Kitty Hughes – See all my reviews
This review is from: Art of a Jewish Woman: The True Story of How a Penniless Holocaust Escapee Became an Influential Modern Art Connoisseur (formerly titled Felice’s Worlds) (Kindle Edition)
“Felice’s World is a graceful and thought-provoking read of the difficult, complex and rich life of the author’s mother. It fills in the various historical contexts of her life in a meaningful way, showing us the various worlds that Felice moved through and the ways she was shaped by and shaped the environments that enclosed her.”
Felice was able to escape the worst of the devastation the holocaust had on members of her family. She escaped to America with the help of family relatives living in the United States. She spoke a number of languages and mastered French to near perfection. She tutored young people from rich families in French, and was often able to be a live-in teacher, which helped her immensely.
From a young age, she was declared a beauty and her beauty provided definite advantages. She was certainly brave in accepting opportunities that came her way. Her story began in Poland and the war kept her moving to safer places. What an amazing story! It was hard for me to try to write about her but wanted to share a bit with you.
There is such an empty feeling when I’ve finished a book and am at a loss to know what to pick up next. That’s especially true if the book has been long- suffering and/or violent. Driving home from an errand, I realized the little book sitting on the seat beside me may be the very novel to read next. And it turns out I was so right.
Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper, by Harriet Scott Chessman, is a little book Robin gave me several years ago. I’ve had it with me in the car to enjoy when I have a few minutes to wait. Oh, such a contrast from the long mystery I had just finished!
A gentle read… Tender moments between the Cassatt sisters, Mary, the painter, and Lydia, her model. Lovely paintings to enjoy along with the story. Susan Vreeland, author of The Girl in Hyacinth Blue, says it beautifully: ”Laying down each sentence with exquisite delicacy, Harriet Chessman makes palpable the fragility and futility of desire in the face of monster mortality. For me it achieves the sublime.”
I picked up the mystery and took it from the room. In it’s place is Lydia Cassat Reading the Morning Newspaper, a novel to enjoy any number of times. A delightful read!
Thomas Jefferson: Draftsman of a Nation, by Natalie Bober, was for me a truly inspirational American history story. Knowing how we both like Bober’s writing, my daughter sent me her copy of this book and urged me to take whatever time I needed since I had a number of other books I wanted to finish.
This is Bober’s second book on Thomas Jefferson. An earlier biography, Thomas Jefferson: Man on a Mountain, was first published in 1988. I’ve never parted with my copy of that book. In her acknowledgments in this newly updated biography, Bober wrote,
“Revisiting the life of someone you thought you understood more than twenty years ago to search for new material and consider different interpretations of the old can be a daunting task. It requires the help of extraordinary mentors to aid in the journey back to times and places already visited, to open new doors, and to help you view those aspects of the life through a different lens. I am blessed to have had that guidance.” The new information about him that has come to light in more recent years created the need for her to write a more complete story.”
When I closed her new book this morning I found myself in tears. I appreciated, as never before, the tremendous contributions Jefferson made to our country. As a very honest historian, Bober does not avoid the inconsistencies in his life, but she made me appreciate what his intelligence and his beautiful words of wisdom mean to us today. I will replace my daughter’s book, but I cannot give it up.