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woodnymph2_gw

February violets and delightful reading

woodnymph2_gw
12 years ago

I'm just finishing up Carmen bin Laden's "Inside the Kingdom: my Life in Saudi Arabia." This is quite an eye-opener, in terms of how women are treated in that particular country. Carmen was half Persian, half Swiss, married a brother of Osama bin Laden, and lived for a time in America. When she went with her husband to live in Saudi Arabia, her life narrowed considerably, she was forced to wear the veil, and she became increasingly determined to escape from that culture with her 3 little daughters. Eventually she separated from her husband and was able to live the in the Western culture that she valued.

Comments (102)

  • frances_md
    12 years ago

    pam53, Defending Jacob is a fabulous legal thriller. I can't remember whether I read this in a review or not but the book reminds me of Scott Turow's Presumed Innocent in a way. I can't really say much about the story without giving something away but if you like legal thrillers this is one of the best!

    My reading in this young year so far has been exceptional-- I'm loving everything I listen to and read.

    Next on audiobook is another stab at Bleak House. I started listening to it a couple of years ago and decided I would prefer reading it to listening but don't remember why. With my new interest in Dickens maybe I will enjoy it more, while also reading the Dickens biography.

  • pam53
    12 years ago

    thanks Frances I have reseved it at the library

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  • woodnymph2_gw
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Liz, you had snow in Texas? Amazing!
    I agree that Victoria was not at all close to her many children, having read some of their biographies. I always thought she was a rather cold, haughty, frosty person. I do believe her marriage to Albert was, however, a love match, at least in the very beginning.

  • veer
    12 years ago

    Mary/woodnymph. I can now bore for England on Victoria. :-) After her very narrow and strict childhood V really loved her few years of 'freedom' that becoming a young queen gave her and enjoyed staying up late, balls etc. Once she married Albert that soon changed, partly because she had nine children but also because he didn't approve of gaiety or too much dancing. He was so serious and strict with both the Queen (which led to terrible rows) and his sons. I think she absolutely worshipped Albert . . . and his memory after he died. The expression 'We are not amused' is apparently apocryphal. She had a quiet sympathy/understanding for 'simple folk' especially the cottagers of the Highlands. Certainly she didn't feel close to her children, especially her sons who never lived up to Albert's high expectations. She always liked to keep a daughter around her as a 'companion' and was never happier than when planning marriages for her numerous grandchildren!

  • carolyn_ky
    12 years ago

    I'm reading The French Gardener by Santa Montefiore. The blurb describes it as "A neglected garden. A cottage that holds a secret. A mysterious Frenchman (handsome, naturally). A family in need of some love." and says reviewers compare it to Maeve Binchy and Rosamunde Pilcher. It is more than just the romantic fluff that it sounds, and I am enjoying it. I'm not sure if it was recommended here or elsewhere.

  • rosefolly
    12 years ago

    I think The French Gardener was recommended here, that or we both saw it recommended on the same other place. I gave it a try but I'm sorry to say that it didn't work for me and I gave up on it. I found myself disliking most of the characters, something that pretty much ruins a story for me. Perhaps I hold unreasonably high standards for novels that feature gardens!

    Rosefolly

  • J C
    12 years ago

    I received an excited, almost breathless phone call from the library director yesterday. "Someone has returned 11/22/63 and you are next on the list!." The list contains 198 names, so this is a pretty big deal. How odd that the Maine library system apparently has only one copy. Do they think that people will buy the book because it is by our hometown hero? I even considered contacting King and asking for a book donation for the library. (Perhaps I still should.)

    On to the book - I stayed up far into the night reading and am seriously hooked. It is a huge brick of a volume that begs to be read on an ereader, but I am No. 167 for that priviledge. Very entertaining and no horror so far.

  • woodnymph2_gw
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Carolyn, I was the one who recommended "The French Gardener." I found it several cuts above Pilcher and Binchy.

    I'm now reading "Touch Not the Cat" by Mary Stewart. Rather Gothic but lovely descriptions of an English castle and its surrounding landscape.

  • 2sweetpea
    12 years ago

    I just returned "The Stranger�s Child" by Alan Hollinghurst to the library. I don't know if it was recommended here or I read a description of the book some place. I am sure that it was this quote from a review, (possibly this one that is on the book jacket) that caught my attention. "From the Man Booker Prize--winning author of The Line of Beauty: a magnificent, century-spanning saga about a love triangle that spawns a myth, and a family mystery, across generations." The author may be a prize winning writer, but this novel left me cold. I could not finish it. I found it tiresome.
    I am now into "Binocular vision": new & selected stories " by Edith Pearlman a finalist for the National Book Award. I am enjoying them and wish I had read her earlier stories.

  • carolyn_ky
    12 years ago

    Woodnymph2, I have all the Mary Stewart books from when they were published and enjoyed all of them. My introduction to her was Nine Coaches Waiting, which was published in the back of one of the women's magazines that used to do that--probably Ladies' Home Journal. Try Madam, Will You Talk if you haven't read it.

    I used to love the Gothic novels back in the day. Victoria Holt's Mistress of Mellyn comes to mind. I remember reading somewhere that it wasn't the stories that fascinated women so; rather, it was the houses!

  • vickitg
    12 years ago

    woodnymph and carolyn -- I, too, am a Mary Stewart fan. I recently reread several of her books, and it was quite fun. Like you, carolyn, I used to love Gothic novels. The houses were interesting, but I was always fascinated by these people who didn't have to work for a living. They got up in the morning, went downstairs, ate the breakfast that was always laid out on the sideboard or buffet, and then wandered aimlessly around the house and grounds until they discovered some mystery or mischief.

    A favorite author, who has been mentioned here before, was Madeleine Brent (who was actually a man, Peter O'Donnel). I really enjoyed his books, especially the first one I read, "Merlin's Keep."

    I posted a link to info on O'Donnel, if you're interested.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Peter O'Donnel

  • carolyn_ky
    12 years ago

    Sarah C., wasn't Madeline Brent the one who wrote The Mirror? An odd thing that has stuck in my mind from that book was that the children of the mother who went back in time remembered that she always made them chew twigs or use sewing thread or something in lieu of dental floss and used expressions that no one else ever heard of.

  • vickitg
    12 years ago

    I don't think that was a Brent book, carolyn. He only wrote nine books under that name. That book sounds interesting, though.

  • friedag
    12 years ago

    Carolyn and SC, The Mirror was written by Marlys Millhiser. I remember it chiefly for the improbable names of the grandmother (Brandy) and granddaughter (Shay). Do those names ring a bell with you, Carolyn. I liked that book quite well at the time (1970S), but I'm afraid to reread it.

  • carolyn_ky
    12 years ago

    Yes, Frieda, you are right that the author is Millhiser. Hmm, wonder what I've read by Brent?

  • woodnymph2_gw
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    I finished "Touch Not the Cat" which I must say I thoroughly enjoyed. Now, I am trying to get into "The Tiger's Wife" by Tea Obrecht. I'm finding the story a bit difficult to follow, thus far. This young author has been highly acclaimed.

  • J C
    12 years ago

    I loved Mary Stuart as a teenager and I remember feeling very grown up when I read her books, although now I don't remember why they made me feel that way. I particularly remember Touch Not the Cat as I loved the title. I really should reread that one.

    Stayed up into the wee hours finishing Stephen King's 11/22/63 with mixed feelings. Like many of his books, it was bloated and much too long - at least I found it so. As the protagonist launched into yet another adventure, I found myself wondering when we could finally get to the end. At one point in the novel five months remained until the titular date and I groaned inwardly. Maybe it could be improved if Readers Digest produces a condensation. But yes, I liked it. King got the novel off to a whiz-bang start, wasting no time in establishing the characters and moving the story forward, and the first 450 or so pages were really good. I could hardly put it down. Then the action began to slow and towards the end it was just a slog. I'm glad I read it and I'm glad it is over. Back to the library!

    I'm going back to Bleak House.

  • carolyn_ky
    12 years ago

    Speaking of Mary Stewart, my daughter and I are comtemplating a trip to Croatia this summer. It begins in Vienna, and she wants to go early in order to have time to see a performance by the Lippizaner horses. My sister said, "What horses?" and we replied in unison, "Airs Above the Ground!"

  • rosefolly
    12 years ago

    I enjoy both Mary Stewart and Madeleine Brent, and re-read several novels by each of them about a year ago. It was a different experience than was my first, younger, reading, but I enjoyed them still.

    Right now I am in the midst of two very different book experiences, reading the (heavily) annotated Persuasion by Jane Austen, which I just bought, and listening to David Copperfield which turned out to be the only recorded Dickens novel currently in the library other than Great Expectations which I already read a few years ago. I really wanted to listen to my Dickens selection, in particular because I wanted to replicate the 19th century experience in which his books were mostly read aloud. There are 26 CDs to this book so I think I'll be busy for quite a while.

    Rosefolly

  • woodnymph2_gw
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Carolyn, I'll never forget the performance I saw many years ago of the dancing, prancing Lippazoner horses in Vienna. I loved that city, as well, for other reasons, not the least of which were the cafes and bakeries! I first encountered these horses in a wonderful book my cousin loaned me when I was a girl, "Florian."

  • lemonhead101
    12 years ago

    Funny you guys should mention the Lippazoner stallions. Our Aussie pup (no more than a year old) tends to walk like a Lippazoner stallion at times... It's quite funny to watch...

    Here is a link that might be useful: Official link to Lipizzaner Stallions

  • frances_md
    12 years ago

    I am another who loved the Gothic novels. Victoria Holt was my very favorite but I also read everything by Mary Stewart and Phyllis Whitney and several others. I recently ordered a couple of used Victoria Holt books, including Mistress of Mellyn and Bride of Pendorric.

    Having determined once again that Bleak House does not make for a good audiobook, I've moved on to the stories of Sherlock Holmes and am really enjoying them. There are three volumes available of his stories and novels and so far I'm finding the stories very interesting.

  • pam53
    12 years ago

    I loved Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart too but could never get into Phyllis Whitney's books-also Nora Lofts, loved her too. There were so many back in the 60's and 70's weren't there?
    I am now reading behind the beautiful forevers-by Katherine Boo her non-fiction book about a small slum area in Mumbai. It is interesting and fascinating, in a grim way. I also am reading The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons and loving it! I guess she is one of our modern day Mary Stewarts. Please excuse errors in typing as my computer has been acting up on there site.

  • carolyn_ky
    12 years ago

    Pam53, I am also reading House at Tyneford. Good, isn't it?

  • Kath
    12 years ago

    **Insert loud 'aarrrggghhhh' here **

    I checked at Amazon, having not heard of The House at Tynford although I have read (I thought) both of Natasha Solomons' books, and sure enough, this is the book I read under the title The Novel in the Viola.
    Why, oh why do they do this?

    However, I did enjoy it very much - even more than Mr Rosenblum's List which is also called something else in the US.

    I finished two Gabaldons, Drums of Autumn and Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, and haven't tired of them yet.

  • lemonhead101
    12 years ago

    An ILL came in, an English book called "Envelopes" by Harriet Russell, an art student (at the time) who had noticed that the Royal Mail (and US Mail) would usually be able to deliver an envelope even if it was badly addressed. So she took 150 envelopes, and (using various addresses) designed puzzles for the mail people to solve so they could deliver the envelopes. About 75 of the envelopes made it, and many had been completely filled out by the lovely employees who had played along. There was everything from dot-to-dot puzzles to crosswords to the elemental chart... I was very impressed with just the sheer number of ideas this author had. (I am not sure that I would have that level of creativity in my head for one project.) Overall, very fun book with photos of the envelopes and little text.

    I recently finished the companion novel to Mrs. Bridge, with Mr. Bridge, which gives the POV of the husband... After reading this, I have few questions as to why Mrs. B was like she was. (Or perhaps this is reflective of the times: 1950's societal mores etc.) It was fun to read the other side, at any rate.

    Then picked up Stewart O'Nan's newest fiction, The Odds, about a long-married couple having a last weekend in Niagra Falls before they break up. A poignant and rather honest look at how couples can fall apart, but still be together. Well written, indeed.

    However, after those two rather dreary novels, I am looking for something more upbeat, so will have to see what I have in the TBR pile...

  • veer
    12 years ago

    I recently finished My Antonia by Willa Catha and Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. I almost feel I should add "Compare and Contrast these two titles"
    My Antonia is all sunshine, even in winter and Frome bleak cold and melancholy.
    I found that although little actually 'happened' in My Antonia the scenes of prairie life, the friendship between Jim and Antonia and the other local girls, the help and support for the early settlers given by the more established farmers to the Germans, Norwegians and the Bohemians (and I admit I had to check where that once-country used to be) did contrast with the life in Starkfield where the Fromes are very much left to their own miserable fate. I don't know if this reflects the then characteristics of a hard-scrabble life in New England, where 'the folk with brains' had moved away, or that the newcomers to the Mid West had a more positive and lively outlook on life.
    But my goodness there should be a health warning on each copy of Ethan Frome saying all sharp objects, drugs, guns, gas ovens etc must be kept away from the reader. The unrelenting gloom and doom, the mean-spiritedness of the wife Zena, the lack of get-up-and-go mixed with misplaced pride that kept Ethan a 'captive' in his own miserable house . . . it is enough to make me turn to the bottle.
    Someone here once said Ethan Frome would make a good Valentine's Day 'read'. Probably the quiet and very fledgling feelings of affection between Mattie and Ethan would possibly have been more long-lasting than a great full-blown romance. But if Wharton had let them 'live' full lives surely the couple would have been as crippled by guilt as they were by physically injury?
    Anyone willing to comment?

  • rosefolly
    12 years ago

    Vee, I only saw the movie of Ethan Frome, and it was bleak enough to keep me forever from reading the book. I wanted to smack those people back into living real lives. Reminded me a bit of 19th century Russian novels, the gloomiest ones.

  • lemonhead101
    12 years ago

    Vee - I agree with you. Ethan Frome is a good read, but cheery it is not...

  • carolyn_ky
    12 years ago

    Vee, now try reading the Little House books for a much more charming view of the westward movement, and maybe Russo for New England. I have read both your books, and they are two that I never want to reread in my life.

  • veer
    12 years ago

    Carolyn, thanks for the suggestions. I read the Little House . . . books after my DD bought them home from school (they probably were not available/hadn't been written when I was a child) and enjoyed the descriptions.
    Don't know Russo at all. What titles might you recommend please?

  • woodnymph2_gw
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Maybe one has to have spent a winter in New England to appreciate Wharton's depiction, which I still think is sheer genius. On the other hand, the movie that was made from "Ethan Frome" was atrocious, in my opinion.

    Vee, you might like Cather's "O Pioneers." (again set in the American west).

  • pam53
    12 years ago

    I am still reading The House At Tyneford and loving it. It was published in the UK as The Novel In The Viola-I hate this as sometimes I order books from the UK and get all confused.

  • woodnymph2_gw
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    I am dragging through "The Tiger's Wife". I keep hoping the story will make sense and will pick up, but I am hating this book. I will be so glad to be finished with this one. Anyone else read this ? What did you think?

  • carolyn_ky
    12 years ago

    Vee, try Empire Falls or That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo.

    pam53, I have finished The House at Tyneford and continued to really like it.

  • rouan
    12 years ago

    I don't know what's going on with me, but I seem to be on a nonfiction kick. I recently read The Wicked Wit of Jane Austen by Dominique Enright and followed it with Following Atticus by Tom Ryan; the story of how he and his miniature Schnauzer (Atticus) climbed all 48 of New Hampshire's 4000 ft peaks both in the summer and winter. It made me feel (at least for the duration of the book) like I could do the same with the Adirondack peaks...!

  • veer
    12 years ago

    Thinking of the cold and snowy setting in Ethan Frome I just heard an interesting interview on the BBC with the US writer Eowyn Ivey, in which she talks about her first book The Snow Child. There used to be only one well-know/infamous Alaskan woman we heard about so I found Ivey's way of life and the premise of her story very interesting.
    Are any of you familiar with this book?

    Here is a link that might be useful: Eowyn Ivey on the BBC (for 4 more days)

  • lemonhead101
    12 years ago

    Vee - the book has been recently released (or will be), and so quite a few of the blogs that I visit have been reviewing it... It's seems to be quite popular with those who don't mind magical realism stuff... Haven't read it yet though...

  • woodnymph2_gw
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    I finally finished "The Tiger's Wife". I wish I had been warned that it is magical realism. The plot and characters made no sense to me at all.

    Now, I am enthralled with Michael Ondaatje's "The Cat's Table". Very good, so far, told from the POV of a young boy en route from Ceylon to England ca. 1950 on an ocean liner.

  • sherwood38
    12 years ago

    I just finished Dead Beat by Patricia Hall. I had really enjoyed her Thackery series years ago, but this new one was very diappointing taking place in 1960's London with corrupt cops & lots of vice-obviously taking place before the laws were changed were men & women were rounded up & jailed for their 'sexual preference'!

    I need to get to the library today to pick up the new Alex Berenson thriller The Shadow Patrol, I really enjoy this series.

    Pat

  • sable_ca
    12 years ago

    Veer - Another Richard Russo book you might like is Nobody's Fool, which is about a small New England town in mid-winter, a slice of life tale with a few ironic twists. It was made into a movie starring Paul Newman, with Jessica Tandy, Melanie Griffith, Bruce Willis, Phillip Seymour Hoffmann, and other actors. One of my all-time favorite movies. I bought the book after seeing the movie, which followed the story almost scene by scene and word for word. Imo it's a very fine story.

  • Kath
    12 years ago

    Vee, one of my colleagues at work has recently finished The Snow Child and liked it so much she wanted to put it on the 'Staff Love' wall, which she rarely does.

  • carolyn_ky
    12 years ago

    I am well into No Mark upon Her by Deborah Crombie. I love, love, LOVE her books.

  • twobigdogs
    12 years ago

    Can anyone please tell me why it is that when the teenagers get involved in stuff at school, it is the mother that stuffers? My daughter is very involved with the high school musical. As a result, I have been getting no sleep, get no reading done, am constantly driving back and forth to the school (only about 2 miles but I am whining), and making mounds and mounds of homemade popcorn since the entire cast, crew, and orchestra has become addicted to it. THANK HEAVEN the practices are over and the performances begin tonight. But yes, I am proud of her.

    I am also slogging through The Tiger's Wife. I am reading it on my Kindle Fire. The only reason I mention the Fire is that I am able to touch a word or phrase and the Fire finds it on google or wikipedia for me. So while I am reading it, I am able to reserach the fables and characters. This has done wonders for my understanding of the book. That being said, it is still not going on any of my "favorite books" lists.

    Now reading a fascinating history book entitled Empires of Trust by Thomas F. Madden "How Rome built, and America is building, a new world". It is looking at how the two societies came to be and the similarities and the differences between the two. I must say that I have done quite a bit of reading on Rome and Roman life and this book delves deeply into the Roman psyche. Very well researched and vastly interesting.

    Carolyn Ky, can you tell me more about the Deborah Crombie books? If you are giving them three "loves", please share more about them!

    Mailed The Haunting of Maddy Clare to Siobhan last week. Hope you like it as much as I did. Sorry for the delay in finding your address! (may I blame my brainlessness on the high school musical?)

    PAM

  • timallan
    12 years ago

    Pam, I was involved in shows all through my school years. I suspect it was a relief to my whole family when that was all over.

    I have not got much reading done this month, mostly due to stress of having to look after my father (in his mid 70s), who fell in his driveway and broke his arm about 3 weeks ago. Not one of life's easiest experiences!

    Last night I did finish a wonderful little Josephine Tey mystery, Miss Pym Disposes, published in 1947.

    Having now read two of her novels, I feel qualified to issue sweeping generalizations about her work. Just kidding, of course. I will say the Tey books I have read (so far) have been unusual and very intriguing. The Daughter of Time and Miss Pym Disposes are not mystery novels in the traditional sense. Tey experiments with the conventions of the typical British mystery. Instead of being reminded of Agatha Christie or Margery Allingham, Miss Pym Disposes reminded me of books written by writers like Muriel Spark, Ivy Compton-Burnett, Elizabeth Bowen, and of course the ultimate "Miss Pym", Barbara Pym.

    The "Miss Pym" of the book's title is a writer who visits an old school chum, Henrietta, herself now the headmistress of an exclusive girls school set in the picturesque English countryside. The school specializes in training girls to be physical therapists, dance instructors and what would now be termed "PE teachers". Miss Pym finds herself seduced by the beauty of the English countryside, and the overall wholesomeness of the students.

    Beneath the fresh-faced normalcy of the setting, there are subtle hints of the darker elements at work. I found myself impatiently waiting for something terrible, and simultaneously dreading anything which might disturb the seemingly pleasant life of the school.

    What intrigued me most about Miss Pym Disposes is the subtle way in which Miss Pym becomes an actor in the murderous story which unfolds. In the mysteries of her more famous contemporaries, the sleuth is a remote, almost god-like figure, one who observes, disposes, and then moves on with being personally affected by the proceedings. I don't want to give away the plot, but Tey turns this convention on its head.

  • sherwood38
    12 years ago

    I just finished Still Midnight by Denise Mina. It was recommneded to me as a good mystery-and it was!
    I had previously read her book Garnet Hill and didn't care for it at all, but I was pleastanly surprised by this one & will ck the librarty for the 2nd book in the series.

    Pat

  • lemonhead101
    12 years ago

    Finally finished up two non-fictions which had been hanging around: The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brockett (loved it and it was a re-read!), and then also Outposts:Journeys to the Surviving Relics of British Empire by Simon Winchester.

    Outposts was a fun read as the author is well-read and has a good sense of humor. It was originally written in 1983, but updated in 2003, but a lot of the historical stuff wasn't *that* updated, and it would have been lovely to have an Afterword which described what life was like in real-time for some of these outposts that he visited.

    Winchester took trips around the world to visit the remote (and usually small) remnants of the British Empire that were still surviving: places such as the Falkland Islands, Ascension Island, St. Helen's, the Pitcairn Islands etc. It was positively shameful just how neglectful the UK government has been towards some of these colonies (some of which has been tinged with elements of racism historically speaking). However, Winchester did a good job of describing life on the various islands in good detail and with respect towards the island inhabitants.

    The book was also laced with a good dose of history about each of these places so that was really interesting as well. So - overall, a good read. Just wish it had been updated at some point recently.

    Now reading a guide book to San Francisco (since going there on Fri of this week to see my sis), balanced with Waiting, a non-soppy love story by Ha Jin. Very good so far, once I had the names sorted out. :-)

  • carolyn_ky
    12 years ago

    PAM, Deborah Crombie has written a series of (presently) 14 books featuring a London couple of detectives whom we meet in A Share in Death written in 1993. The books build on each other, so if you do read them, it is more fun to do it in order. She develops the characters and their relationship quite gradually, and one of the things I enjoy about the books is that she devotes a good portion of each to their personal lives.

    I can't tell you much more without spoilers, but she has won the Macavity Award for best novel twice and been nominated for it and others several times.

  • pam3
    11 years ago

    Magnificent Obsession sounds interesting since I read Queen Victoria by Christopher Hibbert. From what I see, it won't be released until March 13. Is this wrong?

  • pam53
    11 years ago

    Carolyn-I know the year is young but The House At Tynford I thinkj will be a favorite of 2012.
    I am visiting my daughters and grandkids this week so not much time for reading. I brought Catch Me by Lisa gardner with me and also the latest by Mo Hayder.
    When I get home the latest J. Picoult is waiting at the library-I am hoping for the best. Her last book fell short of her usual excellence and I don't want to be disappointed.