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Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2021

Non-Fiction

Am I wrong to think there is something unethical in the publishing world about all these oh-so-coincidentally timed dueling books? I see this over and over again. It must be very irritating to the authors.

The Doctors Blackwell by Janice P. Nimura

The Excellent Doctor Blackwell by Julia Boyd author of Travelers in the Third Reich

[I’m counting this pair as ONE book.]

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Troubled: The Failed Promise of America’s Behavioral Treatment Programs by Kenneth R. Rosen. This one appeals to me as one of my own had a very troubled adolescence. Had I been able to afford Outward Bound, let alone one of these programs I am still not sure what my decision would have been (for Outward Bound–a resounding yes, for the others, I’m not sure). A couple of former bosses sent sons to these programs. It seems to have only caused lasting resentment, but we’ll see what the book says.

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The Barbizon: The Hotel That Set Women Free by Paulina Bren. This is my mother’s era–she would have loved living there and going to a fashion design school. Plus, Grace Kelly lived there. This one arrives in March.

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Hot, Hot Chicken: A Nashville Story by Rachel Louise Martin. I first heard of Hot Chicken when friends in Australia tried it in Melborne (as in Victoria, Australia–not Florida). That tells you how backward the place is where I live! Last year my son and I fell in love with these Nashville Hot Chicken Burgers from Mason Woodruff of Kinda Healthy Recipes. Make sure you have an exhaust fan, and, no matter how cold or hot it is out, open a window. It’s so worth it! I’m giving the mixture as a belated Christmas gift to a few people this month (with the Kinda Healthy Recipes and Mason Woodruff acknowledged).

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The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray. The Morgan Library is on my bucket list and I joke with friends that I am their personal librarian.

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Windsor Diaries, 1940-45 by Alathea Fitzalan Howard is now available for pre-order in the USA. It arrives on May 4th.

Fiction

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There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura is due out in late March.

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Nick: A Novel by Michael Farris Smith is a take on Gatsby. It is out today.

The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin and

The Children’s Train by Viola Ardone (author) and Clarissa Botsford (Translator)

show another pet peeve of mine with publishing industry: Thinking we are all so stupid we’ll buy the wrong book if the covers are similar. The colors, the boy in the cap–come on, we aren’t so dumb we fall for this- are we? Yet this lazy marketing trick is everywhere today.

[I’m counting this pair as ONE book.]

Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton. I can’t get enough of her books! Chanel Cleeton and Elizabeth Acevedo are two rock stars of the decade for me! This one arrives early in May.

Why not join the fun next week? You can read the rules here.

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My Favorite Fiction & Nonfiction Books of 2020

The Winners

Both of these came early in the year. Milkman during Reading Ireland Month (a challenge I want to do again in 2021). Hidden Valley Road was the winner in nonfiction. I was mesmerized by this family’s tragic story. (Links are to my reviews).

Runners up–Fiction

I know that I just did a Top Ten Tuesday post with the year’s favorites, but when I sat down to try to pick just 3 this was as close as I came–and these were the titles. Here are the links to my reviews: Train Dreams, Clap When You Land, Piranesi, and Sweet Bean Paste.

 

Runners Up–Nonfiction

To be fair, I kept my nonfiction favorites to four titles. Here are the links to my reviews: The Pioneers, The Hidden Life of Trees, Invisible Women, and Lady in Waiting.

Have you done a Best of 2020 post or similar? Leave me a comment or link to your post!

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Six Degrees of Separation: Hamnet

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On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book.

How the meme works

Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain. (Books Are My Favorite and Best)

 

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About Hamnet from Amazon

“Of all the stories that argue and speculate about Shakespeare’s life… here is a novel … so gorgeously written that it transports you.” —The Boston Globe

 

In 1580’s England, during the Black Plague a young Latin tutor falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman in this “exceptional historical novel” (The New Yorker) and best-selling winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Agnes is a wild creature who walks her family’s land with a falcon on her glove and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer, understanding plants and potions better than she does people. Once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose career on the London stage is taking off when his beloved young son succumbs to sudden fever.

A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a tender and unforgettable re-imagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, and whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing, seductive, impossible to put down—a magnificent leap forward from one of our most gifted novelists.

This book is on my 2021 TBR.

My Chain

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The first books that came to mind was Entertaining Mr. Pepys. Though set in 1666, Pepys of Peyps Diary fame features in the book as would be expected. The main character though is an actress and lives through some really rough times–like the Great Plague. She would obviously have done Shakepeare’s plays from time-to-time.

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Ghost Map by tells of a plague in London in a later day.

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Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler is a retelling of Shakespeare

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Thousand Acres is another retelling–I read it when it came out.

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H is for Hawk tells of another wild creature like Agnes–though she came to train Goshawks, not falcons. Still, I feel there’s a tie there. Birds of Prey.

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Clarissa by Clarissa Eden

Still alive at 100, Clarissa is accorded the style of Lady Avon, albeit NOT Lady Stratford Upon Avon–because her husband, Anthony Eden was given that peerage for his rather shambolic service as P.M. and his many years as Foreign Secretary to Clarissa’s uncle, Winston Churchill. I’m going with this regardless of the tenuousness of the link! After all Clarissa hung out with theatre people and her first cousin, Sarah (Winston’s daughter) was an actress. There! First and last link connected.

February’s Chain …

…starts with an book by an author on this chain–Anne Tyler’s Redhead By the Side of the Road which I have read and enjoyed.

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Diverse December Review: I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown

My Interest

I bought this when Reece Witherspoon picked it for her dual-selection month after the killing of George Floyd and subsequent BLM protests.

The Story

Austin Channing Brown tells the story of her own encounters with the deeply-embedded racism of American and within Christian ministry in America. She also talks about her hopes and fears for her sons in this climate.

My Thoughts

This is a hard book to review. Everything she writes is sadly true. I work for a Christian institution that struggles to overcome its 1950s and 60s insularity that made it fear the Civil Rights movement (and later forced it to publicly apologize for this after being a leading force for abolition). I have watched wonderful, creative, Black colleagues come and go like through a never-ending revolving door–tired of the micro- and macro-aggressions of clueless, if well meaning, whites that likely included me and others with no desire to ever be racist. When she listed the silly ways such institutions tried to become more multicultural I laughed out loud–my institution does all of them.

Her experience of having to be the spokesperson for all Blacks (or other minority) or all African Americans is the norm for all minorities in such places. I am one of the odd ones out who has ever lived or worked closely with non-whites in this country. (I am odder still for having lived as part of a white minority in a African nation.) This does not make me immune to being clueless of her experience–just slightly better attuned to what not to ask or say. Slightly.

So many of her workday encounters are cringe-worthy to an extreme, but all ring completely true. I did feel occasionally she missed the fact that ALL women take some of the same crap at work if they try to lead. Unless we use our Michelle Duggar “keep sweet” baby voice and apologize to the oh-so-bright men in charge for even wanting to offer a comment, we get labeled as “shrill” or “strident” or “Butch” or “a bitch” or a “ball-breaker.” I get it–she has to take all of this with an added layer of scorn just for being Black. I only have to take the woman-crap-comments.

Then there is her story of white church groups arriving for a “mission” trip to “help” her ministry and leaving without doing anything to “help” out of fear the neighborhood wasn’t safe. Fear for their little white sons and daughters in the “ghetto” or “hood.” Yeah. Ouch. My kids went on such trips, but believe me, their Youth Pastor had what it took to do the hard things–like face the racism with which we grew up and want our kids to see that someone who is poor and Black in America need not be seen as a threat or a criminal anymore than their classmates who get free lunch at school are threats or criminals.

Cringey, too, is her playback of the oft-repeated comments from whites about “My family didn’t even own slaves/wasn’t in the U.S. then,” which I honestly admit to thinking. That isn’t the point. The point is that since my family’s arrival in this country we have done little to change this. Yes, I have a cousin, a nun, who was in Selma marching with Dr. King. So? It’s something I am proud of, as is her service in some of the poorest places in Chicago, but that’s one person, and it was Dr. King doing the changing.

My family, like most, have voted all kinds of different ways over the generations, but we never really pushed for change. I grew up in suburbs with “good” schools–all white until the mid 1970s when TWO brave families integrated our district. So many white Americans have grown up similarly or lived in cities but attended predominately white private or religious schools. How many white parents were happy to bus their children to poor-performing, all black or majority black public schools? This is truly how we “voted” over the generations. We voted to not change things very much. In fact today, there are STILL well-educated white people who think Blacks get a free college education [they do not] or that affirmative action hurts white men [oh, please….]. That’s how “far” we’ve come.

What I LOVED about this book was that she does NOT apologize for her personal faith or for worshiping Christ in Church and in her daily life. That is not a rare thing today, but it is rare to see it in a book published by a commercial, secular publisher on the best-seller lists and endorsed by a celebrity book club. That is a break-through.

My Verdict

Reece Witherspoon did people a favor in picking this one–it is a good, approachable, look at the problem of racism in this country humanized by the author’s relating her own experiences. I think every white church should read this book in 2021, including my own. I also recommended this as a possible all college “read” at my institution.

4.5 Stars

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Review: Snow by John Banville

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My Interest

The title is what caught my attention. I thought it would be interesting to read books with winter or winter-ish titles during this winter. I also thought this sounded like a potential series, and I have been looking for a new series. I knew the author only from trying, and failing, with his book The Sea. I decided to give this one a try.

The Story

Local squire, Colonel Osborne’s first wife died falling down the stairs. Now a local priest has died by the same method. Unfortunately, someone also took umbrage with the cleric’s proclivities and castrated him as well. The cast of characters includes the dissolute son, the obnoxious daughter, the much younger, baffling second wife, an odd young man who looks after the horses and more. Who would want to kill “Father Tom,” son of a hero of the Irish Civil War. Then onne of the detectives who comes along to the Big House to investigate disappears. The mystery has a mystery within it. Can the narrative be trusted? Several of the characters are likely suspects.

But this is not a Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple mystery like the publisher has sold it to readers. This veers off the G rating to beyond an X rating.

My Thoughts

Until, late in the book, I hit the chapter “The Interlude,” [Spoiler alert] in which a character tells about and tries to justify his sexual abuse of a young boy, I was enjoying the book. I admit I fast-forwarded the audio after I got into “The Interlude” and kept going to the end of the book. By that point, I had easily worked out that character’s secret and had picked the most likely suspect. But the damage was done. “The Interlude” won’t leave me. Brain bleach is strong enough.

I do not want to use the phrase “in spite of this” for I do not think child molestation is a topic to be celebrated in fiction. Nonetheless, the rest of the book was pretty standard mystery stuff. It is unfortunate that the author once again decided to make such a showcase for child molestation–the very reason I threw The Sea back. Had I remembered why I threw back The Sea I’d have saved myself this trauma. If child sex abuse is all this author writes about then I will not be trying another title by him. The publisher deserves all sorts of criticism for mislabeling this book as sort of an Agatha Christie. Deceptive marketing at its worst. Had I bought this book, I’d have demanded a full refund for the deceptive description of the story.

A horrible topic in a the last book read in a  horrible year.

Snow: A Novel by John Banville is on sale for $2.99 for Kindle.

My Verdict

1 Star due to the child molestation.

I’d give it a zero, but the Interlude came near the end of the book and, after skipping most of it, I listened until the end of the book. Had the “Interlude” chapter with the molestation not been in the book I would have given it a higher rating–3 stars.

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Review: Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man by Siegfried Sassoon

My Interest

There isn’t much about the late Victorian, Edwardian, and World War I era that doesn’t interest me. The war poets are a source of great interest. I love Rupert Brooke and enjoyed reading Wilfred Owens and others, too. Sassoon is new to me–I knew OF him but had not read anything by him.

The Story

“Outwardly monotonous, my life was made up of that series of small inward happenings which belong to the development of any intelligent little boy who spends a fair amount of time with no companion but himself. In this way I continued to fabricate for myself an intensely local and limited world,” (p. 22).

George is a young man soon off to his prep school [boarding school for elementary school students] to prepare for his public school [boarding secondary school] when the book opens. He is the ward of his loving maiden aunt. Her groom, Dixon, also has a hand in raising him as does his tutor and, at a distance the gentleman who manages his inheritance. Few children at any point in history have had such an idyllic childhood as a youngster so fixed in the last days of Queen Victoria and the first days of Edward VII. While Aunt Evelyn’s country home is not vast or situated in one of the fashionable counties, it provides George with all that he needs–room for a pony and lots of books.

“Often when I came home for five o’clock tea I felt a vague desire to be living somewhere else–in 1850, for instance, when everything must have been so comfortable and old-fashioned, like the Cathedral Close in Trollope’s novels” (p. 90).

Over time, with Dixon coaching him, George takes to hunting. (Note to American readers. In the UK, “Fox Hunting” is just called “Hunting.” Hunting any type of bird is called “shooting” and hunting deer is known as “stalking”–the term came about well before the current meaning of the word, the same principle though). Back to the story. Dixon soon has a pony for George picked out. Aunt Evelyn sees nothing wrong with George, a young Gentleman, doing nothing much except hunting. So, until World War I (“The Great War”) intervenes, that’s pretty much all he does. But, with a poet telling the story you can believe me it is glorious! After all, as one wag tells him: “[I’d] sooner cheer a pack of Pomeranians after a weasel from a bath-chair than waste [my] life making money in a blinking office” (p. 136).

The hunt consumes young George. He loves the atmosphere, the characters, the clothing, the manners, the society, the whole of it.

“And how could I forget them, those evergreen characters…. Sober-faced squires, with their civil greetings and knowing eyes for the run of a fox; the landscape belonged to them and they to the homely landscape. Weather-beaten farmers, for whom the activities of the Hunt were genial interludes in the stubborn succession of good and bad seasons out of which they made a living on their low-lying clay or wind-swept downland acres. These people were the pillars of the Hunt….” (p. 172).

The wild rides out hunting, claiming the cup in point-to-points, the quiet, blissfully peaceful days at home, the trips to London for the tailor for a new hunting coat where the tailor looked George over “with the bland half-disdainful interrogation of a ducal butler” (p. 115)–it all came to an end with the coming of war in August 1914. Interestingly, George enlists as a common private in the Yeomanry (Americans–think National Guard). Eventually, he seeks and wins a commission in the Flintshire Fusiliers. (Hands up, Downton Abbey fans if you read “Flintshire” and immediately thought “Shrimpy”).

So taken with hunting was young George, that out riding cavalry or officers horses to give them exercise behind the lines, he pretends to be out on the hunt imagining the day’s “going” in just the same way a small boy might kick a football and imagine himself in a tied match, the crowd roaring and he gets his one shot at the tie-breaking goal.

The war, though, is not lovely. George loses dear friends, spends time as a transport officer, and ultimately enters the trenches. Even though the muck of mud and the horror of shelling and mustard gas surrounds him, George recalls a conversation with a man in the trench–a man with no claim to aristocracy or even gentry, yet they talk of:

“…how I wish I was a Cathedral organist” [the man remarked]. “His remark, which had no connection to any religious feeling, led us on to pleasant reminiscences of cathedral closes. Nothing would be nicer, we thought, than to be sauntering back, after Evensong, to one of those snug old houses, with a book of anthems under our arms–preferably on a mild evening toward the end of October” (p. 305).

The story ends on Easter Sunday, with George revealing that he “could find no consolation in the thought that Christ was risen. This note left me feeling sad and tears welling in my eyes. Not out of any feeling of evangelical calling, but that such a time of hopelessness was foisted by men upon men. A war that took a generation had reason to be skeptical of any source of hope.

Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man by Siegfried Sassoon.

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Diverse December Review: Passing by Nella Larsen

My Interest

Aside from this reading challenge, my interest stems from wanting to understand more the Black or African American experience. I grew up in a town with factories, a University, and the KKK. Thankfully, my parents did not raise us to share the views of the latter.  The book at the end of this post is the other reason I am interested in reading the classic novella, Passing.

The Story

“The trouble with Clare was, not only that she wanted to have her cake and eat it too, but that she wanted to nibble at the cakes of other folk as well” (p. 51-52).

Two classmates grow up in the same neighborhood. Both are of mixed racial heritage. Upon a parent’s death, Clare is sent to live with relatives, while her friend Irene stays put. Rumors swirl about Clare. Someone reports seeing her in a situation with only white people. In America, Clare and Irene, you see, are Black. Black in Jim Crow times. Eventually, the two former friends meet by chance and Irene verifies that Clare is living a life on the edge–“passing” as white.

“Race. The things that bound and suffocated her…[she] wished, for the first time in her life, that she had not been born a Negro. For the first time she suffered and rebelled because she was unable to disregard the burden of race” (p.101).

“Hello N..”

…is the greeting Clare’s successful white husband gives her. Sadly, it is due to her becoming darker [presumably in the hot summer sun]. He has no more idea the two friends she is entertaining are either “Negro” or “Negro by marriage” than he does that his own wife is also Black.  The emotions of this interview leave Irene shaken. Married to a successful, but darker-skinned, doctor, she has all she could want. Why was this not enough for Clare? Why would Clare push her luck and try to pass? Irene’s world changes after this encounter.

My Thoughts

If reading “Hello N…” is painful for me, a white woman brought up to think of that as a word never used, how can it be for Blacks or African Americans to read it?  “Passing” or “Trying to be White” is still an insult. Some students who study hard and aim for good colleges get it. Some kids who prefer things like orchestra or art instead of basketball or football get it. Some get it just for speaking with so-called “white” grammar. The day of racial insult is not over as we’ve seen this year. I do not know how a white person can adequately describe the emotions in this book neither those of Irene, who though as fair-skinned as Clare, has made her way in “Negro Society,” or of Clare herself who is living a dangerous lie.

Today’s discussions of “cultural appropriation” and of BLM and all aspects of the race problem in the U.S. swirled around me as I read this. The movie version, due out in 2021, also will revive interest in her work. And, perhaps, it will help move the conversation along about racism. I do not mean to say that a mere movie could ever end racism in the USA–I doubt anything can. It can, however, show the young that the problems of today are not new, that people have resorted to very dangerous ways of circumventing the restrictions of the law over the eons. That desperate people do desperate things.

The Other Book

Gregory Howard Williams moved to “Shedtown” in my hometown and discovered he was black. Yes, you read that right. His father had “passed” as Italian in Virginia. Back home in Indiana, he was black. When his sons were sent “home” during a bad time, they learned they were “black” and what that meant in a deeply racist factory town that then had only a Teacher’s College and a few do-gooders to pretend to lessen the racism.  He grew up to be Dean of The President of two great universities.  He may have been the first person to truly examine his “white privilege” in a way no woke college student of today can imagine. Life on the Color Line by Gregory Howard Williams.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2020

It’s always hard to do “Best/Favorite Book of the Year” posts. I usually recommend one book as my “Must Read Book” of the new year for my readers. Here are some of the books I enjoyed in 2020. All are reviewed here. Please use the search box to find the reviews. I normally link, but I’m on vacation this week!

Fiction

Nonfiction

Why not join the fun next week? You can read the rules here.

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A few DNFs for 2021

Fiction

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I had so much hope for this book and was so excited by the cover! I finally got it on audio a week or two ago. Vivi the Hollywood starlet and Maxine (Max) the journalist meet while working at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth toured this fair. It was all so good in theory. But…. [SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!]

My grandmothers, great aunts and other women I’ve known lived as adults in that era. Yes, they didn’t like double-standards. But….

I just “couldn’t” with Max’s stupid schemes. Someone smart enough to get into Columbia’s graduate journalism program wouldn’t do such stupid things.  [Incidentally, this is the second “meh” book this year involving a woman in this program–the other was Lions of Fifth Avenue].

Two of my pet peeves with historical fiction were in this one:

  1. Modern PC opinions
  2. Using newspaper headlines to pad stilted conversations

That said, I would definitely give this author another chance. This story was just not for me. It happens. It does not mean the author can’t write–she clearly can!

We Came To Shine by Susie Orman Schnall

Nonfiction

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Caste was deservedly preachy, but that made it hard to listen to. I have no problem with being told my sins re racism. There is too much documentation throughout American history to say otherwise. But it’s the sort of book that I can take with the due seriousness if I am not driving while listening to it. I intend to read it in 2021, but in print.

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Braiding Sweetgrasss verged on precious. That’s a huge sin in my reading world. Sugar-comma type precious. Plus it was “earnest”–puke-ingly earnest. Like I’ve tried twice now with this one–in print and on audio. I had hoped to use this as an Indigenous pick for Diverse December. It verged on being an environmental-Native American wisdom version of Anna Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts--a book from which I am still recovering from due to its precious-earnest-overload. Sweetgrass seems to be a love it or hate it title just like One Thousand Gifts. I have to clarify and say that I did not hate it. It is one that if given to me, I might leave on my bedside and read in a few minutes here and there–the chapters to do lend themselves to that type reading. So, who knows? Maybe it will get a third try? It says a lot that I am willing to even consider that.

Have you read or reviewed any of these and liked them? Feel free to leave me a comment or a link to your review that might change my mind.

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Review: Murder on Mustique by Lady Anne Glenconner

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My Interest

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After Lord Glenconner stiffed his family by leaving much of his fortune to his manservant Kent Adonai who spent his life on his lordship’s private island, Mustique, I can’t blame the widow for needing to earn a buck or two. The court case helped, and her family came through with a great house for her, but still. It isn’t the retirement she expected–is it?

Having published her memoir, Lady in Waiting, about her life with both husband Colin Tennant, Lord Glenconner, and job as Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret, Lady Anne has turned to writing a murder mystery with a fictionalized version of herself doing much of the sleuthing.

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The Story

Venerable, but still lovely, Lady Blair (“Lady Vee”–for Victoria, to her friends), wife of Jasper, Lord Blair–owner of the hedonistic private island, Mustique, arrives home to be met by her Oscar-winning friend [not-quite-lover] Philip. Lady Vee wears pastel cotton dresses, sun hats, drives her own buggy, speaks of the natives as friends, but accepts and expects that her world be overseen by her locally born butler. She is returning from the hard duty of attending Princess Magaret’s personally-planned funeral at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor (where Princess Eugenie was married). That she lives among the super-rich on this island of luxury is another thing Lady Vee takes for granted. And, like all the residents, rich or poor, black or white, she takes safety here for granted, too. [Cue the scary music.]

A beautiful young aristocrat goes missing–presumed dead. Soon, though, another young aristo goes missing. The posh Lady Vee simply must get involved to see that it is all investigated properly. After all, she and husband Jasper sent the man now running to island’s police to school in the UK and on to Oxford. Of course she must oversee it all. Adding to her angst is that her adopted daughter, [child of a late friend] the planet-saving Lily, is a friend of the missing young woman.

In among this story we hear of Lord Blair’s sad nerves and the way he must be loved through his crying jags and what not. We are informed of how amazing it is that the true citizens of Mustique, those whose families were here before Lord Blair arrived, have failed to give up all their old beliefs. Thankfully, though, Anglican communion is provided by a starched-chasuble-wearing priest at the aptly-named Bamboo Church.

Throughout the story are sprinkled mentions and memories of Her Royal Highness to constantly remind us of the author’s real-life role as Lady in Waiting (the Duchess of Cambridge rubs along fine without one) and of her nearly lifelong devotion to the Queen’s younger sister.

“I think about her every day, but that’s to be expected. We were together longer than most marriages.”

[Note: The Princess Margaret mentions function as the mandatory icky-sex moments or or woke views mandated to render a book publishable today.]

Where was I? Sigh….You get the idea. Well, I’m no wiz with mysteries, but I nailed the killed on about page 5 and I don’t think “they” had been introduced yet. (I use “they” in quotation marks not to be derogatory about anyone’s chosen pronouns, but to preserve the identity of the villain an don’t spoil the outcome of the book.)

My Thoughts

Someone as well connected as Lady Vee, sorry, I meant Lady Glenconner (Lady Anne–she was born Lady Anne and became Lady Glenconner at marriage. Her father was an Earl, her husband a Baron–I’m rusty on my Debrett’s so I’m not sure which is right and don’t care to take time, for once, to look it up!) should have produced a better story than this. Surely someone would have ghost-written it for a reasonable percentage of the take?

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Photos: Marie Claire

Now, maybe for book two of the series (it will be a series I presume—although she’s given a different name and title to herself and her husband, she’s just another fictionalized real person turned sleuth) perhaps Princess Margaret will pop up for a sing-along at the piano in her vintage swimming costume with the whale-boning to hoist her royal boobs up to the right level and will flip ash from her holdered-cigarette and order butler Wesley around like the diva she was. That might be more interesting. Maybe Roddy Llewellyn will come with her? That would be even more fun!

Never mind! Lady Anne is a treasure and I adore her!

My Verdict

2.5 Stars

Mind you, those stars are the real-deal. Coke (pronounced Cook) family stars. Not paste.

You can read more about Lady Anne’s memoir, Lady in Waiting here.

You can also read about her husband, Colin, in this post.