Well hello there! It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I have been swamped with work, study, and life in general. In June I traveled to West Texas to intern for a couple of weeks at an art museum, and I plan to share about my experiences there in a future post. I am also taking three classes this summer and have just finished up a class studying comedic drama, spanning the years from the Greeks and Romans to modern day. Because my degree is in the humanities, my classes all have large reading loads, so my personal reading life has suffered quite a bit lately. But I’ve been reading when and where I can, so thought that I’d share some favorite books. I don’t have time for in-depth reviews, so I’m using stars for rating and adding my thoughts on the book.
Star Rating: 1 = poor, 2=fair, 3=okay, 4=good, 5=excellent
This story begins with a chilling look at a criminal hung for the crime of killing his wife. While this is an obvious foreshadowing, the rest of the story is not easy to figure out. When young Philip Ashley loses his guardian, he suspects that his cousin’s bride may have had something to do with the death. He harbors deep resentment and suspicion towards her, and when she arrives at his newly inherited estate in England, he begrudgingly accepts her visit. However, Rachel begins to win him over with her flirtatious and attractive ways, causing Philip – along with the reader – to begin an emotional journey of doubt as the mystery around his cousin Rachel deepens…
This edition available here.
I first read this story several years ago and remember that I was somewhat disappointed in it. Perhaps reading it after North & South and Mary Barton had something to do with that. In any case, this second time around was more enlightening and enjoyable, perhaps because I grasped more of the story’s courageous portrayal of a fallen woman abandoned by her lover and left to raise her son alone in nineteenth century England. A shocking book when it was first published (it was burned by some, including parishioners in Mr. Gaskell’s church!), the story begs sympathy from its readers for a flawed character daringly promoted to the status of heroine in the Victorian novel.
This has been an ongoing read with a friend. We are about halfway through (we read about 50-75 pages and then discuss). The first part of the book was less interesting than the second part has been. Or perhaps it’s more that Ms. O’Connor’s letters became more interesting when she developed a penpal friendship with “A”, a woman who requested anonymity for the book’s publication. Their letters are witty, engaging, intellectual, and an example of a vivacious friendship.
Miss Pinkerton by Mary Roberts Rinehart
This was my second mystery by the “American Agatha Christie”, and while the plot plodded a bit at times, overall it was a satisfying mystery. A man commits suicide right before he is to be married and as he is about to make a lot of money. Why would he kill himself when life is just beginning to look up for him? And why do strange things happen in the home after his death? Miss Pinkerton is a spunky nurse who stays in the home of the deceased, determined to discover what happened there the night of his demise. This wasn’t as good as The Circular Staircase, but the story will still have you turning the pages in eagerness to see what happens next.
This was a five-star read, hands down, no doubt about it. Other bookstagrammers have been raving about Dorothy Whipple for a while and now I know why. I picked this up to enjoy on my way to Colorado over Memorial Day weekend and couldn’t stop reading it, even though I needed to be finishing up the books assigned for my children’s literature course. The story revolves around a woman who, while central to her family unit, is often ignored or discounted by her children and in-laws. She enjoys a sweet relationship with her granddaughter, however, and it is their woven understanding of each other which carries both through tumultuously sad and happy times. As basic as the plot sounds from this review, please don’t let it turn you off – this book is heart-rendingly beautiful, and I simply can’t tell you more than I have without revealing more and spoiling the experience for you.
Abram’s Books sent me the loveliest package, consisting of delightful items that were curated to celebrate the release of The New Paris by Lindsey Tramuta. This book is an absolute must for any Francophile and would-be Parisian. I relished every delicious page of food and shops in Paris, and can’t wait to return there one day and visit the places featured in this gorgeous book. Book bag is by Obvious State, This & That (hardcover journal) by Kate Schelter, greeting card is by Papier Tigre, and the coffee is from Belleville – Brulerie Paris. Cup & saucer are my own.
I also received this book from Penguin, and it inspired me to take up journaling again. I used to write in my journal often, but lately (i.e.,. the last couple of years of my life) I have neglected it. I journaled my internship and am hoping to keep the momentum going. It really is cathartic to write out a day’s events, or my current thoughts and plans, or even just truly mundane things. Thank you for the fun package and book, Penguin Random House!
This book is a visual feast of one the most beloved cities in the world. Nichole Robertson’s photography creates a compelling glimpse of the very things that make NYC, well, NYC, but are things that we overlook because they are so ordinary. Leave it to this talented author and photographer to make the ordinary positively magical. Thank you, Chronicle Books for sending me this copy!
Some other books which I have received and thoroughly enjoyed are Meet Your Baker by Ellie Alexander (it’s a murder mystery that takes place in a bakery! Thank you, St. Martin’s Press, for sending this to me!)
… and an advance copy of The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper.
Receiving The Other Alcott happened at the most perfect time, as I am reading Little Women for a children’s literature class which begins next week. I also studied some of May Alcott’s work in an art class during the fall semester that focused on women artists. I didn’t know that Louisa May Alcott’s sister was an artist before taking my class, and Elise Hooper’s book, while a fictionalized account, still incorporates enough reality and information from the Alcott family that I am finding it as educational as it is enjoyable. Thank you so much, Elise Hooper and Harper Collins/William Morrow for sending me an advance review copy!
Finally, another recently gifted book: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan.
The plot of this murder mystery tickled my bibliophile interest from the start. Not only does it take place in a bookstore in Denver (hello, totally inspired by the Tattered Cover!) but the author actually worked in some of my favorite bookstores before he turned to writing books rather than just selling them. Oh, and did I mention that it’s not only an intriguing plot, but is well-written too?! Thank you so much, Scribner Books, for sending me a copy!
I may not be posting regularly here (oops, must change that!), but I have been posting regularly on Instagram & would love to connect with you there! You can find me @thenobbylife – I hope you’ll drop by and say hi!
Until next time,