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Review: Valor by Dan Hampton

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Thank you to #Netgalley who gave me a copy of the audio version of this book in exchange for a fair review.

My Interest

How amazing that I’d find a World War II (nonfiction) book, set in the Philippines, featuring a guy from a Kentucky family after having just read a novel set in the Philippines in World War II and have just read two books featuring young men from families in…you guessed it…Kentucky! Plus there was a lot of talk of Australia. Now, just where were two of my books set recently? Yep, Australia!

My interest in World War II is always with me. When I saw this book, I immediately requested it.

The Story

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Map of the Philippines in 1944–Batan is at the very top of the map.

Bill Harris, son of a Marine Corps General, Annapolis grad, and all-around decent guy, happened to be serving in the Philippines when the Japanese attacked, General MacArthur fled with his wife, child, and nanny, and the U.S. forces surrendered. Bill did not like the idea of being held captive–being a Marine he preferred to go on fighting. He and a buddy (I thought the story sounded a bit familiar) escaped. The buddy went on to be Governor of Indiana many years later and I have his book on this escape in my Kindle. (I haven’t finished it. He may have been elected governor, but he wasn’t a gifted storyteller).

In a odyssey that would span most of the war, and at times would involve more Americans, Bill Fields starved, swan miles, paddled, sailed, hiked, climbed and more to stay free. When finally his freedom ended the war was nearly won.

My Thoughts

This adventure was very exciting. I often stayed in the car in the parking lot at work listening until the very last minute. Ditto in the driveway at home. It was that interesting. I especially enjoyed the comments the author made about “Dugout Doug”–General MacArthur, who like Britain’s Lord Mountbatten, was an early adopter of modern public relations tactics to promote himself. How a 5-star General got away with skedaddling to Australia to sit out the war (supposedly it was to avoid capture to continue directing the war–it really just got him out of having to surrender) while his men were taken prisoner, yet he STILL got the nation’s highest honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor, is a testament to the man’s ego and powers of self-promotion. You can read the citation here. Then men Bill Fields knew had little regard for him before the surrender and even less after. (Though to be fair, he did get a lot right in the reconstruction of Japan).

Harris had MacGyver-level resourcefulness. He used just about every bit of his Naval Academy education and training as well as all that was taught him after graduation at Quantico to stay alive, stay free, and keep going. This refusal to be defeated, his insistence on continuing to try and try again, earned him a spot on the U.S.S. Missouri to see the Japanese surrender.

This is an amazing story and deserves to be made into an outstanding movie.

Valor by Dan Hampton

My Verdict

4.0

To learn more about the battle for the Philippines in World War II, check out this page from the U.S. National Archives.

Governor Whitcomb’s Book on the Escape

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Escape From Corregidor by Edgar D. Whitcomb

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Review: Under the Golden Sun by Jenny Ashcroft

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My Interest

Thank you to #Netgalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.

I enjoyed the author’s earlier book, Meet Me In Bombay, in spite of some problems with the story. I liked the sound of this story, too. World War II, an orphaned child, a long journey–so much to attract my interest.

The Story

Rose, who has recently been discharged from the Women’s division of the RAF for an unwed pregnancy, signs on to accompany a mixed-race child back to his family in Australia. Her uncle is close to the Prime Minister, her boy friend is an upper-class New Yorker working for a newspaper (whom the audio performer unfortunately makes sound like a gangster in a B movie). She instantly falls in love with Walter (the child) and agrees to accompany him to his extended family in Australia.

Their ship with go in a convoy hoping to evade German u-boats.The boy’s mother was struck by a bus and his grandmother is dying. Her Uncle (the one friendly with “Winston”) asks, sanely, “is there anyone else [the boy] can go to?” Still recovering from her miscarriage, Rose sees this as a great opportunity. Her brother, Joe, is an RAF pilot who happens to have known the child’s uncle, Max, who flew for the RAAF before miraculously surviving a crash. Rose arrives in Australia after the long months at sea and …..

My Thoughts

I’ll be totally honest: I was in the mood for a book like this! I need some adventure, some romance, and some tweaking at the heartstrings. This book fit the bill and then some.

Were there problems? Mistakes? Yes, The only one I’ll harp on (ok, aside from “grabbing her seat belt” in an Australian Ute in 1941) was that “Winston” had Rose’s family over to ride at Blenheim Palace. Now Winston could very well have rung up or written to his first cousin (Consuelo Vanderbilt’s son) the Duke of Marlborough and asked him to let friends ride the Duke’s horses on the Blenheim estate, but I think it much more likely that “friends” of “Winston” would have gone to HIS home, Chartwell, in Kent and ridden his horses. But, that’s just me. Minor point.

I liked this story very well in spite of any flaws. I thought Walter was sweet. I thought Rose’s Uncle Lionel was right to be concerned, but I knew she’d be ok in spite of everything. This is a great poolside or beach read.

My Verdict

3.0

Under the Golden Sun: A Novel by Jenny Ashcroft

Questions for the editor: They waited for a SHIP to take them from Brisbane to Sydney in 1941??

Previous review of a Jenny Ashcroft book

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Meet Me in Bombay by Jenny Ashcroft

Historical Fiction

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Was SO EXCITED about when they were released, but Still Haven’t Read 

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Top Ten Tuesday often does “What’s on your Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall TBR” and that usually leads me to  survey new or soon-to-be-released books. But do I read them? Not always! I also suffer from what I call “homework syndrome”–if I put books in a list that must be read I lose interest. So, here are some that I’ve never done the “homework” with (bad grammar, I know).

I have not included any I DNF-ed.

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Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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The Great Circle: A Novel by Maggie Shipstead

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The Last Bathing Beauty by Amy Sue Nathan

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Lear Wife: A Novel by J.R. Thorp

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The Rain Watcher: A Novel by Tatiana De Rosnay

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The Husbands: A Novel by Chandler Baker

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The Parisians: A Novel by Marius Gabriel 

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I’m not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez

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In Five Years: A Novel by Rebecca Serle

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The Farm: A Novel by Joanne Ramos

Have you read any of these? Leave me a comment or a link to your review.

Why not join in the Top Ten Tuesday fun next week?

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Check out the rules at That Artsy Reader Girl and join in next week!

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Review: We Band: A Novel of Angels by Elise Hooper

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My Interest

I read and enjoyed the author’s previous books, Fast Girls, and The Other Alcott (links are to my reviews). I devoured the book, We Band of Angels, about the real nurses on Bataan that is linked at the bottom of this post. That I finished the story of a Filipina heroine in Asian American Pacific Islander month is just something nice, but totally unplanned. So many Filipinos have served the United States proudly in the past, in spite of the Colonial relationship forced upon them in the now mostly forgotten Spanish American War.

The Story

Tess is a Army nurse in the Philippines as the Japanese are saber-rattling and getting ready to plunge the USA into World War II. Flor, a Filipina college student, is set to leave for the USA on December 8, 1941. When the Japanese attack Tess and her colleagues are sent to Bataan to serve in a “jungle” hospital where their health severely deteriorated. Next they were moved to the Malinta tunnel on Corregidor. When the Japanese forced General Wainwright to surrender, the nurses were imprisoned at the former University of Santo Tomas campus in Manilla.

The nurses had been given no Army basic training, knew nothing of handling weapons (unless taught to shoot a rifle back home) but survived their harrowing ordeal through grit, determination, and the bonds of true friendship–relying upon each other to stay strong. Along the way, as often happens in war time, even in captivity, romance happens.

Flor, from Manila, turns to helping the resistance–using an ingenious technique to smuggle messages out of Santo Tomas. Her family’s loyal servant helps her, but is clearly her own person–not just taking on the risk of the resistance to keep her job. Flor, too, continues the ‘other’ side of her life, continuing to live with her family and enjoying a romance

My Thoughts 

I’ve done a poor job of conveying all the emotion that is in this story! The characters were well developed and I came to care about all of the main characters. Yes, there is romance, but it does not in any way diminish the heroism of these women. Tess must make a horrible choice at one point, but proves herself up to the task and then some. Flor, too, faces harrowing choices, but does so resolutely and decisively. I admired both of these women even though they were fictional.

I did find Don’s story a little weird. When reading that storyline I did not feel enough emotion for him and X (no spoilers) to predict that conclusion. It still seems a little “out there” to me. No matter, it is one small minor storyline.

Of the three books by Elise Hooper that I’ve read, I think this did the best at conveying the emotion and atmosphere of the story.

My Verdict

4.0

Angels of the Pacific: A Novel by Elise Hooper

My Reviews of Other Books By This Author:

Fast Girls: A Novel of the 1936 Women’s Olympic Team

The Other Alcott

The Nonfiction Counterpart to this Book

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We Band of Angels by Elizabeth M. Norman

My review was lost on my old blog, so the link is the Amazon. I do not make any money if you click.

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Review: A Royal Life by H.R.H. The Duke of Kent and Hugo Vickers

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My Interest

Unless you just found my blog today, you’ll know I follow the British Royal Family. 

The Book

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H.R.H. Prince George, Duke of Kent and wife Princess Marina of Greece with young Prince Edward of Kent

H.R.H. Prince Edward (the “other” Prince Edward) was born to Prince George, Duke of Kent (son of George V and Queen Mary) and his wife, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark (first cousin of Prince Philip) in another Jubilee year–1935. It was George V’s Silver Jubilee that year, and few suspected the King would be dead in a matter of months. Born seventh in the line of succession, young Eddie with his dual royal lineage was related to just about everyone royal. Sadly, his father, Prince George, died in a flying accident during World War II. There are conspiracies theories about the death as you might imagine, fueled by the fact that no author has ever been allowed access to his papers in the Royal Archive at Windsor. 

Eddie progressed through the predictable posh schools, landing last at the poshest–Le Rothesy in Switzerland, before attending Sandhurst and joining the Army. He married a beautiful, talented lady, and had three children. He likes cars, music, and history. He hunts, shoots, fishes. He used to ride in Trooping the Colour on gray horse behind the Queen. His Army career, like that of Princess Anne’s first husband Mark Phillips, ended due to having to serve in Northern Ireland. He is interested in mechanical things and, like Princess Anne admitted recently, would possibly have enjoyed studying engineering.

My Thoughts

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Queen Elizabeth II and her paternal first cousin, H.R.H. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent

Eddie Kent has spent his life loyally serving the Queen. He is discreet, dutiful, and polite. Therefore, this book reads like a compilation of Court Circulars from 1952, when as a school boy he walked in King George VI’s funeral (and months later in that of Queen Mary) until today. It is not quite as dull as the official biography of his late paternal uncle, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, but close. Even the comments from his children were not terribly illuminating. His wife seemed vacant in her comments.

As this book is part of the counter-offensive to the preaching and moaning of the Queen’s third grandson and his wife, it is no surprise that the Duke supports working within the royal system and supports the Queen truly with his “life and limb and earthly worship against all manner of folk” exactly as he swore, on his knees, to do at her Coronation. He feels supporting the Queen is “by far the most important thing in life.” He has never felt “locked into” a system nor that any system was “working against [him].” According to co-author Vickers, the Duke “represents important values, not always appreciated by the present generation.” No question at whom that is aimed.

The only things I learned about Eddie that I did not know were that he hates getting rid of books, keeps meticulous records of the amount of time it takes for the performance of each opera he attends, and hated sports at school. He did not come to like riding and [fox]hunting until he joined the Army and had to learn to ride properly due to being in a mechanized cavalry regiment in which officers had to ride well. I learned at the Coronation one elderly peer stood and the his robes, antiques inherited from a previous holder of his title, disintegrated to the floor (hilarious) and that the late king of Thailand loved jazz.

I did like seeing some family connections of another sort. Eddie, Prince Philip, Princess Anne, and H.R.H. Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester who is an architect by education/training, all were/are fascinated by engineering or engineering-related fields. The Duke (and his lovely wife) loves music–especially opera, like Prince Charles and like the late Lord Harewood (the Duke’s paternal cousin–the eldest grandchild of George V). He also loves jazz (hence the mention of the King of Thailand) like the late Lord Harewood’s younger brother, Gerald. With Gerald, too, he shared his love of fast cars and auto racing. With Prince Charles he shared a difficulty with math at school and loathing of most team sports at school. He and his wife share with William and Catherine a love of Amner Hall as a wonderful family country home. The Kents had the house before Royal friends, the Van Cutsems, who had it before the Cambridges.

There is nothing revealing in this book what-so-ever. The Duke barely mentions being married. His children get a nod. His dogs are mentioned. No thoughts on anything except music, engineering, skiing, how lucky he was to go on all those royal trips, etc. Don’t complain, don’t explainto a “t”. Sing God Save the Queen, salute, and sit down. “And, quite right, too” one can hear him say in his basset hound-like club man voice (I heard him speak in a recent documentary about the Queen).

Read my post on the Duchess of Kent’s disguised pregnancy

The book has one fantastic photo of Queen Mary with many of her grandchildren from the Duke’s personal collection. Sadly, two of the photos have misidentifications. In one the Duke himself is left out–it is supposedly his christening, but it was clearly his sister, Princess Alexandra’s christening because a nanny is very clearly wrangling him as a toddler in her arms! The other identifies the current Queen as the Duchess of Gloucester! Surely the handbag was a tip-off? Apparently not.

Royal Life by H.R.H. The Duke of Kent and Hugo Vickers is available in the USA on Kindle and will be out in an outrageously high-priced hardbound edition later in the year.

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Books to go with Downton Abbey: A New Era

Even though I stopped watching way back in Season 3 when Julian Fellowes had Sir Anthony do something totally wrong (I was an “Andith shipper” in the lingo of that time), [I’m thrilled Edith gets to finally outrank Mary–she’s married to Marquess, Mary is the daughter of an Earl] I continued to read the hilarious summaries of the show in some British newspaper (I forget which now). My Mom wants to go see the new movie, Downton Abbey: A New Era. so I image I’ll join her. Meanwhile, there are some good books out there to help you out while you wait for the inevitable Movie 3–Julian could milk this till poor George dies at Dunkirk, right? (No, no, of course sweet little George won’t die!)

Read my post, Did a Royal Love Story Inspire Downton Abbey’s Lady Edith and Sir Anthony?

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Of course, there is the “official companion” book–an industry of these exist now.

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Great Villas of the Riviera by Shirley Johnston. I have not seen this but doesn’t it look incredible?

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The family’s version of the life of [The Crown] Porchey’s Mummy. Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey by the Countess of Carnarvon.

 Fiction

This Side of Paradise is set on the Riviera at about the same time as the Downton film. The Great Gatsby, of course, is set on Long Island, New York, in the 1920s. [Be wary of Kindle copies sold on Amazon–lots of really awful editions].

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Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and all their friends come alive. This book gave me my worst “Book Hangover” of its year! I just couldn’t leave it behind. Even knowing the outcome from the beginning, I still ached for Hadley. The Paris Wife: A Novel by Paula McLain

Evelyn Waugh wrote the book on Downton-ish life. Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews did the only version I’ll ever watch of it. Brideshead Revisited. Vile Bodies was Waugh’s book on The Bright Young Things.

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Most memorable for the discussion of Hemingway’s member. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway.

Fiction–Nonfiction Pairs

The Chanel Sisters: A Novel by Judithe Little

Chanel’s Riviera by Anne de Courcy

Mademoiselle Chanel: A Novel by G.W. Gorter

NONFICTION

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The Riviera Set by Mary S. Lovell

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Bright Young People: The Lost Generation of London’s Jazz Age by D.J. Taylor

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Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things by Robin Muir

The Long Weekend by Adrian Tinniswood

Country House Society by Pamela Horn

One I Have Not Seen or Read

But the cover is too fabulous to exclude it

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Twenties London: A City in the Jazz Age by Cathy Ross

I’m Going Just for the Look Robert and Cora give each other here!

Will you be going to see the film? Leave me a comment or a link to your own Downton Abbey: A New Era post.

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Appalachian Nature Fiction

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#Springathon involves nature writing. Nature fiction is not always as easy to find as nonfiction titles though. Here is a short list of some of the “nature novels” I’ve enjoyed. While the story itself is not necessarily about nature, the writing is vivid in bringing the nature surrounding people and events to life.

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Map of Appalachia. Click for map credit.

The Books

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Although a middle grades book, I highly recommend this story for the nature story within it–that of the herbs and medicinal plants the family collects and sells. Where the Lillies Bloom by Vera and Bill Cleaver.

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This novel brings to life the migration of the monarch butterflies. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver.

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Marshes and wetlands can be beautiful. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

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While this book focuses on the family of a coal miner, the surrounding nature is an integral part of the story. This is “the” classic of Appalachian literature. River of Earth: A Novel by James Still.  

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The Awakening Land trilogy covers the settling of Southeastern Ohio and include magnificent descriptions of the area. It is very good read as well. The Trees, The Forrest, and The Town all by Conrad Richter.

 

Like River of Earth, this book is not “about” nature, but due to work and way of life of the characters. a great deal of nature is included. Like Where the Lillies Bloom there is a good deal of discussion of medicinal plants, too. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and The Book Woman’s Daughter both by Kim Michelle Richardson.

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I wanted to include the Mitford book that introduces Lace Harper, for she earned money selling the most valuable plants growing in the area. Sadly, I couldn’t recall which book it was and, surprisingly, the internet to not give me that information. So, I’m linking to the first book in the huge, but wonderful, series. At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon.

Are you aware of other novels set in Appalachia with great nature writing in them? Leave me a comment or a link to your own post.

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Epistolary Books Part III : Stories Told Through Diaries, Letters, Notebooks or Other Episodic Forms of Communication

 

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Photo credit (click)

I LOVE books written as a series of letters, or as a diary, or even more modern methods of communication. “Epistles” aren’t just for the Apostles, you know! We used to write a lot of them.

Fiction

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Love & Saffron is the newest epistolary novel I’ve read. It combines foodie adventures with a warm, caring, friendship. Click the link to read my review HERE. I seem to find a lot more British novels of this sort, or diaries of real people who are from the U.K. (the country–not the University). This is one or two American books in this list.

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Logan Mountstuart starts writing a diary at his lesser public (private) school in about 1920. As the years go he crosses paths with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor during their wartime exile to the Bahamas where a famous murder took place. You can read my entire review here. Any Human Heart by William Boyd.

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Mrs. Tim is an Army wife, traipsing around making a home as her  husband’s regiment shifts location. She is of an indomitable breed that once built an  Empire. She’s also wickedly funny.  A classic in this genre. You can read my full review HERE. 

Diary of a Provincial Lady and The Provincial Lady Goes Further are classics in the genre. (The links are to my reviews) A rather ordinary woman develops and not-so-ordinary life for herself! (Be careful! Some cheap Kindle versions are not the real thing).

Nonfiction

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This marvelous little book is a “sort of” epistle so I’m including it here. It is one of the most interesting royal books ever. All kinds of indiscreet comments, snatches of conversation, and what-have-you from the notes made by JPH during his time penning the great official biography of Queen Mary. This book is currently heavily discounted to $6.99 for kindle and I highly recommend it. It is one of my favorite recent royal books, but somehow I neglected to review it here. The Quest for Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessy.

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James Lees-Milne Diaries–Often hilarious, sometimes snarky or even biting in his commentary on well-known people of his day. I love dipping into this one rather than reading it cover-to-cover. My review will happen, but it could be years from now.

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Letters of a Woman Homesteader (the “other” American book in this list) was an interesting read. I found this in my search for a book set in Wyoming to finish my 50 states reading project. You can read my review HERE.

Can you recommend other fictional or nonfcition diaries or books of letters, notes or similar? Leave me a comment or a link to your post.

Previous Epistolary Posts

My Favorite Epistolary Books Written by Real People

Favorite Nonfiction Diaries of Royals and War

Fave….Fictional Stories Told Through Letters, Emails, Tweets or Texts

My Fave…Fictional Diaries

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Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Characters 

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This week’s topic is “bookish characters.” This was a harder topic than it first appeared. I’ve read lots of bookstore books, books set in libraries or in universities or colleges, books about book clubs, writers and editors, but, to me none of these are automatically “bookish characters.” For example, I wouldn’t call either of the professors in David Lodge’s hilarious Changing Places “bookish” though they are scholars. It’s a job, a career to them–not a passion. I see bookishness as a passion.

The First Two–the Ones Everyone Thinks of

Hermoine Granger in Harry Potter and Jo Marsh in Little Women

Sorry fans, but neither Gilmour Girl makes my list. I didn’t like the show–especially Lorelei. Rory was ok, but a tad smug to me. Mea Culpa.

My All-Time Favorite Bookish Characters: One real, one fictional

Helene Hanff who wrote to 84 Charing Crossroads Marks and Co for all those years. And dear Frank.

Helene Hanff was the bookish, real-life, character who got me to look beyond popular authors of the ’70s. I discovered Pepys fabulous diary through her. And, she started my life-long love affair with epistolary novels, published diaries, and collections of letters. Thank you, Helene. Plus the movie of this book was so wonderful. (Did you spot Judi Dench in it? A little extra fun).

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Katherine Hepburn, as Bunny Watson, in Desk Set

You just know Bunny has a Commonplace Book, as vast a home library as her little apartment can hold, and books that she treasures–many with notes stuffed in them or even, (yes, even!) comments written in them. I suspect she has a card file of reviews with ratings and errors noted. I love her. Sadly, 70+ years later, people are still trying to replace us (librarians) with computers. Sigh.

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Professor Godfrey St. Peter in Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House. He is so attuned to his world of books–the world of his home “study” [room] that when his family moves to a new house he retains use of his room in the old one. I took down pages of quotes from this book in my Commonplace Book.

Cussy Mary and her adopted daughter, Honey, are both book lovers. So, too, are the many folks on their pack horse librarian routes in the back hills of Eastern Kentucky in the 1930s and 1950s. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and The Book Woman’s Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson.

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Ritaro’s Grandfather loves books and is devoted to keeping them available via his bookstore. When he dies, Ritaro and his friend, must continue to save books with the help of a cat. The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa is an amazing story for all ages.

 

Evie Stone is another type of bookish person. She saves, catalogs, and protects books and cares deeply about an author’s legacy. She promotes obscure, but deserving books. She is a fictional soulmate of mine, even if I have never enjoyed cataloging in my professional life. The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner.

Ashley Wilkes is the very definition of a bookish aristocrat. He adores beauty, peace, tranquility, his library, his gardens, his art collection, his memories of his Grand Tour and all the beauty he steeped himself in while in Europe. That he owns slaves actually bothers him–he wanted to free them all when his father died. He is bookish to the ends of his very slender fingers. His wife, Melanie, is the very same. They are a very, very bookish couple. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. (Be wary of cheap Kindle editions of this book).

Why not join in the Top Ten Tuesday fun next week?

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Check out the rules at That Artsy Reader Girl and join in next week!

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Review: Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier

My Interest

I am a creature of habit–it comforts and sustains me. “Get back in your niche,” my brother once famously told me. He was so right. One habit I’ve developed is participating in Daphne Du Mauirer Reading Week. (Click the link to read all about it). I like reading her books and like even more reading them when others who value her talent are reading them, too. “Intentional” is the big word today, and this is one act of intentional reading that I enjoy.

This story–the Frenchman that is, brought Rhett Butler to mind, too!

The Story

SPOILERS! I rarely do this, but I’m not sure how else to present this book.

“…this was living, to smile and to be alone…”

“She knew that this was happiness, this was living as she had always wished to live.”

“I had become like a prisoner in chains, and the dungeon was deep.”

“…those who live a normal life, in this world of ours, are forced into habits, into customs, into a rule of life that eventually kills all initiative, all spontaneity…”

Married to a rather dim aristocrat whose eyes she like and who, at one time, amused her, has become stifling and dull to Dona (Lady St. Columb) so she takes herself, her two children and the nursemaid off to her husband’s seldom-visited country home in Cornwall. There are rumors of pirates!

William, the man servant, is a tad creepy (but he’s no male Mrs. Danvers). Dona and the children settle in, but she discovers a jar of tobacco unlike that used by her husband on the table beside her own bed. More intrigue follows as Dona gets out and about on her horse.

Eventually she meets the pirate and takes to him in a big way. In an adventure that must have come straight from her own childhood (and bored wifehood?) dreams, the Frenchman, as the pirate is known, leads her into a life of excitement.

My Thoughts

“It does happen, you know, from time to time, that a man finds a woman who is the answer to all his more searching dreams. And the two have understanding of each other, from the lightest moment to the darkest mood.”

I found this book to have just the right amount of darkness, just the right amount of excitement, and just enough dim aristocrats! Released during World War II when society was busy with “but tomorrow I could be dead” thoughts, the few very racy (for the times) scenes likely wouldn’t have been in print a few years earlier.

“Therefore I will shed no more tears, like a spoilt child. For whatever happens we have had what we have had. No one can take that from us. And I have been alive, who was never alive before.”

Du Maurier’s characters are always so believable and the atmosphere so real. I, too, fell for the Frenchman (why always the bad boy?). I felt sorry, though, for poor Harry–hapless, half-wit Harry (hmmm….sounds familiar somehow). He genuinely loved Dona and thought their life was great. He had his boorish Hooray Henry, chinless wonder, friends, his adorable doggie-woggies, and two sweet kids. HE was happy. But oh, that wife of his! (Again, how strangely familiar this sounds). But, even as I felt for dear Harry, I understood the suffocation Dona was living with and cheered her on.

I did wonder how much of the marital boredom was from Daphne’s own life. She was very independent and her husband, General Sir Frederick “Boy” (“Tommy” to the family) Browning was away a lot–it never seemed to bother her, from what I’ve read. Then he got sucked into service to the Royals and, well, that isn’t much of a marriage or family life except for the Royals. The wife of a courtier, while invited to Balmoral some years, isn’t all that it could be, now is it? Ask Mrs. Peter Townsend.

Back to our story. As for the Frenchman–was he like Rhett Butler? Not as much as I’d hoped, but still swoony and exciting. He was scads more attractive than dull old Harry.

Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier

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Dear Daph has a small role in the new novel, Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner! You can read my review here.

My Reviews of Other Daphne du Maurier books

(Du Maurier? du Maurier? DuMaurier????)

Mary Ann

The House on the Strand

Jamaica Inn

I do not have links to My Cousin Rachel (lost on my old blog) or Rebecca (read in the ’90s) or even to my favorite, The King’s General (lost on my old blog).