Sunday, April 27, 2014

Benedict Hall

Benedict Hall (A Benedict Hall Novel) –by Cate Campbell

Fiction / Historical
384 pages / 701 KB
5 Stars

The first in a series by Cate Campbell was, for me, a real page burner. This story is set in Seattle of the 1920s and it was great fun seeing what my old town used to look like through this author's eyes. As a retired Boeing employee, it was also fun to see how she treated Bill Boeing and The Boeing Company, at the time a small company building seaplanes.

The careful and thorough research by the author is delightfully woven into a story of love, jealous hatred, and a bit of ancient history through a magical stone the villain picked up while at war in Jerusalem that used to belong to Roxelana.

The people of this book are alive, and their surroundings given with such marvelous detail, I could almost reach out and touch them. I'm positive Benedict Hall actually exists, somewhere, in Seattle, just under a different name.

Margo Benedict is one of the few women physicians in Seattle, indeed of the time. Her father is one of the wealthiest men in Seattle, but she wants to do things her way, on her own without his help. Her mother doesn't understand why she would want to be a doctor, and not only treat the ill, but touch them. Her brother, Preston, has been jealous of her all his life, hates her, and even as a child tried more than once to kill her, which no one in the family saw or even believes.

Frank Parrish, a quiet man who served in Jerusalem with Preston and lost his arm in a battle, comes to Seattle and through a chance meeting with Preston on the street, is invited to Benedict Hall, where he meets the rest of the family, and is befriended by Dickson, the Patriarch. And, of course, falls in love with Margot.

Benedict Hall shows us the upheavals this highly thought-of and prestigious family goes through as they come to grips with Preston and his psychosis, and a strong-willed Margot who wants more than anything and against all odds, to become a surgeon. While there is a romance that builds, I would hesitate to call this a Romance novel. It is a history of Seattle and the times, a history of how women, servants, and blacks were thought of and treated.

I look forward to getting and reading the next books in this series. My only concern is that I will read them faster than Cate. Campbell will write them!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Old and Rare

Old Books, Rare Friends – Two Literary Sleuths and Their Shared Passion –by Leona Rostenberg & Madeleine Stern

Nonfiction / Memoir
292 pages
5 Stars

This is a book about old and rare books, and the two women who spent their adult lives finding them and bringing them to the light of the modern world. This is a book about enduring friendship, formed in college, and growing throughout their lives. This is a book about Life lived the way it should be—not as a book sleuth, but doing whatever it is you want to do.

The biggest problem with this book is that I didn't want it to end. I thoroughly enjoyed it from page one to page last. Early into the book, I decided to read more slowly, and to only read a couple pages a night to make the book last longer. Didn't work. All of a sudden, I found myself at the end, nights before I wanted to be there!

Their sleuthing of Louisa May Alcott and all "Thunder' stories she wrote under a pseudonym fascinated me. I had no idea she wrote anything beyond the Little Women books I read so many years ago.

Their story is delightfully told. First one tells her story, and then the other tells hers. Now and then, they write a chapter together. Because of these two women, and their love of the printed word, especially way back when, many old manuscripts, pamphlets, and books that very well may have been lost to history, and now in the hands of collectors, libraries, and museums where they are cared for, and shared.

Starting with their first venture into finding, collecting, and selling old and rare books, they enjoyed little more than each other's company and the hunt. And writing their catalogs, articles, and their own books (which I shall now have to hunt, find, and read)

This is a book I not only will keep and treasure, but one I will read again. And possible even again after that.

A delightful story, delightfully told, and perfect to read before turning out the light.

An aside: The woman who gave me the book wrote to them, and they, in turn, wrote back a delightful letter. Both a copy of my friend's letter, and their reply are in my book. Sadly, so are the dates of their deaths, so I cannot also write and tell them how much I enjoyed their book.

Shells - a gift from the sea

Gift From the Sea –by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Nonfiction / Memoir
128 pages / 181KB
4 Stars

This is a charming memoir of one of America's revered women. It is filled with beautiful words, and word pictures, about her life, and what it means to be a woman (at least in the 1950s)

The book was a gift from a dear friend, who thought I would get a great deal out of it, and I did though, perhaps, not as much as my friend. We are, after all, different people. I found many things I could relate to, and also many things that reminded me of the age difference between us (Ms. Lindbergh was born 37 years before me).

Of the things that did speak to me, and there were many, this sentence was one:  "The here, the now, and the individual, have always been the special concern of the saint, the artist, the poet, and—from time immemorial—the woman." Where Ms. Lindbergh apparently remained home as a housewife and mother, I had to work to support my children and myself. She was a full time wife/mother, or views on life, of necessity, were different. And yet, that one sentence stood out for me, for I am a woman, and a poet, and now and then, an artist. I would never, ever, claim to be a saint.

I will probably read this book again. I have found, through the years, that my perception and reception of books often changes when my mood changes, or when my worries/stresses change.

This is a marvelous book to read just before turning out the light for a good night's sleep!

Here Come the Bears

Bears: Fun Facts and Amazing Photos of Animals in Nature by Emma Child

Nonfiction / Children
31 pages / 965 KB
5 Stars

I have read all but one of Ms. Child's books (the one on Spiders is the exception) and I have found all of them to be well researched and entertainingly written. This book is no exception.

Truly, I thought her book on Dolphins was the best, but now I fear it has slipped a half a degree down the scale, with Bears on the top.

Ms. Child's series of books is a great series to add to any child's library. If your child is too young to read, these books are written so an adult can read them. Several times if need be, and not become bored. I think these books would be great "Read Along" books, and the photos are marvelous!

As a child, I frequented the Portland (OR) Zoo, especially the Himalayan Sun Bear, my favorite of the bears, so I was particularly pleased to see one in the book.

Not only does she talk about the different kinds of bears, but at the end of the book is a list of fascinating facts that kids will enjoy learning and sharing.

Job well done, Ms. Child. Keep up the good work!