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BEAUTY AND ATTRACTION: A Novel ~Liz Rosenberg

Monday, October 31st, 2016
beauty-and-attention

beauty-and-attention

An Advanced Reader copy of this story arrived in my inbox and I just thought the cover of this book was a good first hook.  I found this story about a young woman in the 1950s to be very interesting and a good read.  The story is about a “freedom” which can manifest after a death; it is about how to express and explore this new stage in a time period known for being quite restrictive.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this book for review.  It is a good read.

The precision of the writing truly pulled me into the story of Libby Archer, a  naïve, young woman living in Rochester, New York as her father has just died and left her an orphan.  Her aunt and uncle who live in Ireland ask her to come and spend time with them and she choses to do just that as her friends push her to get married to be cared for and a young, smart enterprising local fellow is hoping she will say yes.

The banter between her cousin, an English Lord, and Libby is quite remarkable and compelling as Libby is quite outspoken and feisty.  Libby has very few resources at her disposal except her wit, charm, and kindness.  Her rather narcissistic aunt takes charge of her future and introduces Libby to a fascinating friend.  There are trips to Paris for clothing and style and Libby is loosing herself with each chapter.  She becomes more and more molded into a rather pathetic person and then falls in love or is manipulated into a relationship, when in Rome.  Money has come her way and this makes her an even greater “mark”.   Death keeps signaling change in Libby’s life – and then in a surprise twist she takes hold and takes a new direction.  Makes it worthwhile to read to the very last paragraph.

I enjoyed the book and liked that it was short and to the point.  There was good context material, such as reference to the McCarthyism pervasive in the USA and the focus on the development of computers.   I so liked how the story ended.

“The author of more than thirty books for adults and young readers, Liz Rosenberg has published three bestselling novels, including The Laws of Gravity and The Moonlight Palace. She has also written five books of poems, among them 2008’s Demon Love, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and After Great Grief, forthcoming from the Provincetown Arts Press. Her poems have been heard on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion. Rosenberg’s books for young readers have won numerous awards and honors and have been featured on the PBS television show Reading Rainbow. A former Fulbright Fellowship recipient, Rosenberg teaches English at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where she earned the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. She lives in Binghamton with her daughter, Lily, and a shih tzu named Sophie. Although she has homes in New York and North Chatham, Massachusetts, her heart is still in Ireland.” (TLC book tours)

Liz Rosenberg Wikipedia

Related:
The Moonlight Palace
The Imaginary Life
The Time Travelers Boyfriend

THE BRIDGE LADIES: A memoir ~Betsy Lerner

Monday, May 9th, 2016

“This is the best book about mothers and daughters I’ve read in decades, maybe ever.  I just loved it, related to it viscerally, kept calling up my daughters to read passages aloud to them.  It’s about – in addition to Bridge, of course – mother-daughter conflict, the desire to love and be loved, aging and loss, discovery and renewal.  Betsy Lerner is a beautiful, achingly honest writer, and THE BRIDGE LADIES is at once heartbreaking and hilarious, uplifting and profound.”  (From the cover, Amy Chua, Yale Law professor and author of BATTLE HYMN OF THE TIGER MOTHER)

I just fell into BRIDGE LADIES hoping it would be as wonderful as AND LADIES OF THE CLUB an historic fiction novel, I also adored and have read 3 times.  BRIDGE LADIES is much more contemporary and it truly is a memoir worth reading for most mothers and daughters.  Thank you to TLC Book Tours for sending on the advanced readers copy for review.

For 50 plus years, a group of mothers have come together every Monday to enjoy lunch and play Bridge for the afternoon.  The author had a fairly “rocky” relationship with her mother over the years and now in her forties wanted to change up that parental/child programing and find a new wave of connection.  Lerner is very open about her life with her friends but the Bridge Ladies are not as open and there is some speculation among the children about the ties that bind these 5 women and hold them together.  They do all belong to the same temple in New Haven, Connecticut.   Lerner begins attending the Monday lunch/game and interviews the woman each in turn.  She interviews the children and for some of the group – husbands.

Included in the story are Lerner’s Bridge lessons that she begins taking and her detailed descriptions of other players and the culture of Bridge.  She shares with us her need for further counseling sessions to assist in the transformation of her relationship with her mother.

I could certainly relate to this read, as my own Mother for over 50 years belonged to a group called P.E.O., which owns a college and supports this project and women’s education all over the United States.  There is a bond and a lot of getting out the best dishes in this group also.  There is a bond of caring through their focus.  I am sure my Mother would have loved reading THE BRIDGE LADIES.

About Betsy Lerner
Betsy Lerner is the author of The Forest for the Trees and Food and Loathing. She is a recipient of the Thomas Wolfe Poetry Prize, an Academy of American Poets Poetry Prize, and the Tony Godwin Prize for Editors, and was selected as one of PEN’s Emerging Writers. Lerner is a partner with the literary agency Dunow, Carlson & Lerner and resides in New Haven, Connecticut.
Find out more about Betsy at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. (From TLC website)

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Related:
Life From Scratch
When Women Were Birds
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

ALICE IN BED: A Novel ~Judith Hooper

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Interesting title for this book and it captured my attention and made me want to read it even before I knew much about the story!   When I learned it was about Alice James the sister of psychologist William James and writer Henry James, I did not hesitate to pick the book up and read.

I liked everything about this book – everything.  The writing was just perfect for the 1870s and captured the full image I had of Cambridge, Massachusetts I had tucked in my head.  The family is now living in Cambridge after being “hotel” children all over Europe.  Their Father being a lecturer and an interpreter of the “Divine Philosophy”.  There is little formal education for the children and lots of chaos in the family’s style.   Mary and Henry James are the parents of 5 children.  Bob, Wilki, William, Henry, and Alice.   Aunt Kate also lives with the family and they are surrounded with the elite of society.  Their home is located right across the road from Harvard Square.

Alice may prove over time to be the most intelligent of the family, but she is stuck with being a WOMAN and so no privilege is extended her way.  At about age 13, she begins fainting daily in the late mornings and is taken to numerous doctors about the “falls” and gets a number of bazaar diagnoses.  The medications make it worse; probably the corsets and crinolines and heavy-duty tight, restrictive women’s clothing also contributed to her ailment.   Women with hysteria diagnosis abounded.

Alice adored her brothers especially William who was thought to be a hypochondriac.  William was a talented painter but Father made him go into science and he became highly interested in the mind; studying very intently.  Henry abandoned his Father’s rules and took up writing and spent many years living in Europe.   On a trip to England at age 38, Alice fell and lost the use of her legs. She   was established in an apartment in England in a Spa City and could not travel again.  She began writing a diary which after her death was published and people were amazed how she understood politics and society and was so keenly aware of what was happening all around her and her caustic and keen sense of humor.

I kept wondering if I would describe this story as a biography, historic fiction, or a well-researched expose’.  I think I will use all three.  I enjoyed the detail and the feisty pro-woman stance, and how they fit evenly into the culture and the expectations for the traditional woman of that era.   There were several mentions of Emerson in the story but nothing about Margaret Fuller who would have been a kindred spirit to Alice.

History comes alive and I am very happy that TLC Book Tours sent me an advance PDF file to review this story.  I am sure I will read this book again in the future -Paperback.    I say that because my copy did not translate properly onto my Kindle. The print was so small, I had to keep stretching the page to be able to read it and the page then floated and would not move forward properly to turn the pages.  In the 390 page read I am sure I used up over an hour keeping the page in front of me.  This proved to be disconcerting.  (Hard copy it is 325 pages)

“Alice in Bed is an absorbing, poignant, sometimes hilarious journey through the Gilded Age with one of literature’s most unusual and captivating heroines.”

Judith Hooper writes a fine story and this is her premier novel – a very good work.  I know that many people will love this story and this history lesson.

“Judith Hooper was an editor at Omni magazine and is the author of Of Moths and Men and co-author of The Three-Pound Universe and Would the Buddha Wear a Walkman?: A Catalogue of Revolutionary Tools for Higher Consciousness. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.”(TLC page)

Related:
Margaret Fuller
Hannah Coulter
Daughter of Sand and Stone

DANCE THE MOON DOWN: WWI Historic Novel ~R.L. Bartram

Sunday, March 9th, 2014


DANCE THE MOON DOWN was a retreat from the rain and wind storm and all the disturbing news about possible war, and yet it is about a war and how difficult it was to experience that event first hand.  It is a story about how women’s lives were changed by WWI in the UK and how after experiencing such horrific events the whole world makes a shift; valid until we endeavor to create war again.

The novel gets its name from the young people who fought WWI who were known as the DANCE DOWN THE MOON to ragtime generation.  Today we talk about the ME Generation, the X Generation and the Baby Boomers when we describe other young people.  Victoria the main character of the story is a representative of that group, who is not part of the gentry but grew up with a Physician Father and a tradition steeped mum.  Victoria’s father insisted that she attend university and her mother thought it unnecessary and might even ruin her opportunities for a good marriage.   Victoria did attend university and her roommate was Beryl a suffragette.

Young Victoria’s husband, a poet, is sent off to fight in the war just a few months after their marriage.  The primary characters in the story then become all the different ways that women experienced the war at home.  Victoria’s income becomes not enough to find lodging and food and she ends up working on a farm which is attempting to meet government quotas to feed the population and keep an island from starving during the conflict.  She is not a LAND GIRL with adequate income because of her connection to the suffragette movement and her friend Beryl.   Victoria’s husband is MIA for 4 years and she fights to find out where he is located; yet another strike against her.

The writing is quite formal and has a simplicity that makes the story very real to the events of this period in history.   I could readily believe that Victoria did not know how the poor women coped or survived; she did not take a big political stand and yet she improved the circumstances for some in her own wisdom, with some modesty and embarrassment.  The style of writing very much captured the mood and was quite realistic and informative.   Bonds of friendship developed that could have only happened during a war and changed the people.  I liked that the novel focused on women’s experience.  The story had a good romance, but the work, strength and understanding were far greater in importance.

I thought this was a newer perspective and loved the more formal style.  I also liked watching the BBC History Series such as: Call the Midwife, Wish Me Luck, Farm Girls, Bletchley Circle, and Island at War which were primarily about WWII.  DANCE THE MOON DOWN is definitely in that league and truly highlights women’s role in that segment of history. Another opportunity to learn history with a grand story attached.

Robert Bartram the author sent me a PDF copy of this book and it was a pleasure to read DANCE THE MOON DOWN.  Thank you

About the author in his own words: “Having first put pen to paper at the age of 17, he has now been writing for a number of years and many of his short stories have appeared in various national periodicals and magazines.  His two main passions in life are writing and the history of the early twentieth century, which made ‘Dance the Moon Down’ a logical choice for his first full length work of fiction.  He is single and lives and works in Hertfordshire.”  He dedicated this book to his mother.

Robert Bartram on Facebook 
Author’s page on Amazon UK
This is an Authors Online UK book 

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s  from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket. Donations also welcomed. Thank you.

Recommended:
Letters from Skye 
The Best of Daughters
Playing St. Barbara
Songs of Willow Frost