Monday, April 30, 2012

Clarissa: April Progress Notes

Terri and I are co-hosting a yearlong group read of Clarissa by Samuel Richardson. Links to April update posts are being collected here.

Just as I was about to hit the publish button for this post, a typo in the title made me laugh out loud - "Clarissa: April Progress Nots". Do you think it was a Freudian slip? According to our loose schedule, I should be at letter 160 or page 542. Instead, my bookmark is at letter 88, page 355.

March's letters were a struggle to read. In fact, it took me until mid-April to get through them. I read somewhere that Richardson tried to make Clarissa shorter. My suggestion would have been to cut out at least half of those letters. Besides being dull, they were repetitive. Bottom line: nothing actually happened in March.

The April letters (beginning at 73) improve dramatically as Clarissa's situation reaches the crisis stage. Letter 78 is positively riveting! It seems she will be carried off to Uncle Antony's against her will unless Miss Howe or Mr. Lovelace intervene. Miss Howe is unable to provided assistance, so Lovelace has become her only hope of escape.  I'm feeling a little suspicious of Lovelace at this point, and possibly even distrusting. Clarissa herself states that he is making unfounded assumptions about her feelings for him. Why is Lovelace offering to help Clarissa? Is he motivated by love, or something darker?

There were quite a few memorable quotes this month. I'll share one that made me laugh. Miss Howe to her mother, regarding hoop skirts (L74, p.292):
"I desire my hoop may have its full circumference. All they're good for, that I know, is to clean dirty shoes and to keep ill-mannered fellows at a distance."
At this rate, it looks like I'll finish the April letters by the end of May. Are you still on schedule? It may take me a couple more months to catch up.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Clarissa Group Read: April Links

Mr. Linky and I don't seem to be getting along, so I will collect April posts for our Clarissa Group Read manually. If you've written a post for Letters 73-160, or on your April progress in general, please leave your link in a comment and I will enter it below.

April Links:
1. JoAnn @Lakeside Musing
2. Cat @ Tell Me a Story
3. Adam @  I Lodge in Grub Street
4. Lindsey Sparks @ Sparks' Notes
5. Christina @ The Literary Bunny

The Sunday Salon: April Was...

Agatha Christie
Below Stairs by Margaret Powell
Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning... it's spring
Daughter #1's Graduation is just days away
Flower beds need a spring cleaning, too
Group read of Clarissa is still going strong
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake ...
Is sure to be a favorite of 2012
Joined The Classics Club
Koto celebration for the twins 19th birthday
Loved Syracuse Opera's production of Madama Butterfly
Must read Butterfly's Child
Niece's First Communion
Pitt and Northeastern for nephew and niece
Quick trip to visit Twin A
Relaxing weekend in Virginia
So much driving!
Twin B's college chorale concert
Undecided about Pinterest, but...
Very tempted by Trish's challenge
Winter King by Thomas Penn is my current audio book
eXtreme weather -  from 90 degrees to 6"of snow in one week,
You can expect just about anything from a central New York April!
Zelda has a new best friend, Electra

Friday, April 27, 2012

April Acquisitions

April is National Poetry Month, so adding a couple titles to my slowly growing collection seemed only fitting.

From the top:
Blue Iris: Poems and Essays by Mary Oliver - probably my favorite poet
Collected Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay - a purchase inspired by this post celebrating her birthday
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey - from Audra's give away
Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel - I rarely accept ARCs, but couldn't resist the sequel to Wolf Hall.

Missing from photo:
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield - My mother borrowed it the moment I finished. She's loving it as much as I did!

The Persephone Biannually arrived yesterday, too. I'm happy to see several of my blogging friends quoted.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

"Time's a goon, right? You gonna let that goon push you around?"

It's hard to know where to begin writing about this book, so I'll start by thanking my book club for pushing me to read a title I would not have chosen on my own. Since its release nearly two years ago, I've avoided A Visit From the Goon Squad, the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Jennifer Egan. An edgy "novel of interconnected lives at the fringes of the music industry" simply didn't appeal to me, especially one which features a chapter in PowerPoint. In the end though, I was nudged out of my comfort zone and quite enjoyed the experience.

A Visit From the Goon Squad is a novel about the passage and effects of time. It's about aging, growing, and surviving. The characters are interesting, although not overly likable, and their stories intertwine through various connections to the music industry. On initial presentation, they appear in one dimension and seem a little flat. The beauty of the novel begins when the characters reappear in another time or setting. We see another aspect of their personality, observe how they've grown or changed, and begin to understand how multifaceted they really are.

My planned approach was to listen in the car and read at home, but it ended up being primarily an audio experience.  I cannot stress strongly enough that this is NOT a good choice for a novice listener. The non-linear plot shifts abruptly and without much warning from present, to past, and even to the future. There are point of view shifts, too. Most chapters are told from a third person perspective. I found the sudden switch to second person narration disconcerting, but strangely effective. It took some work to follow this one.

About the PowerPoint chapter: I was driving, so ended up listening to it first. Typing (and maybe clicking) can be heard in the background, and a character is asked why she doesn't just write instead of make slides.... pretty strong clues for a PowerPoint presentation. The main ideas came across clearly and I was prepared to report that this worked just fine on audio. Later that evening, I read the chapter and was amazed by its impact. The ability to see the arrangement of shapes, arrows, graphs, etc., made the print version much more powerful and effective. But, even though the printed version conveys more, I still feel the audio was adequate. In the end, I decided it was like listening to a nonfiction title without access to charts, maps, and photos. You're fine without them, but if you take the time to hunt down a print copy, the rewards are great.

My book club's reaction was mixed. Due to scheduling confusion, only five members were present. We were all impressed with the creativity and originality of the novel. Two of us liked it, two were neutral, and one did not finish. One member that could not attend sent an email expressing her strong dislike. Those of us who enjoyed the novel still felt it was not one we could easily recommend.

About the audio production: Roxana Ortega, a new narrator for me, did an excellent job of adjustinging her voice and tone as characters wandered in and out of chapters. Her delivery style ranged from warm and engaging, to cool, detached and almost clinical. I did not see other credits listed at, but would happily listen to more of her work. You can sample the production here.

My rating:

FTC disclosure:
audiobook purchased from, print copy borrowed from library

A Visit From the Goon Squad
by Jennifer Egan
Narrated by Roxana Ortega
AudioGO, 2010
10 hours and 8 minutes

Monday, April 23, 2012

The View From Monday

With a nod to E.L. Konigsburg for the post title, our view this Monday seems even more disturbing in light of last Monday's 90 degree warmth and sunshine. The view is gradually improving as power has been restored and snow has turned to rain. Schools even opened after a two hour delay.

The weekend, however, was perfect. A cold, drizzly Saturday with no pressing commitments provided the perfect opportunity to finish Below Stairs, several letters in Clarissa, and still spend time with my husband and daughter. Sunday we saw Syracuse Opera's spectacular production of Madama Butterfly and had dinner with friends. Butterfly's Child, which imagines the life of her child in America, is now on my wish list. What's in your view this Monday?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Author Birthday: Charlotte Bronte

From today's Writer's Almanac:

It's the birthday of Charlotte Brontë (books by this author), born in Thornton, England (1816). She grew up with five siblings, including future novelists Emily and Anne. Their mother died of cancer, and they were sent briefly to school, but her two older sisters died of tuberculosis there. After that, they were educated at home under the supervision of their father, an Anglican priest. He was strict and aloof, but he had a huge library, which the children loved. Charlotte read everything she could get her hands on, from the Bible to Lord Byron. The children mostly educated themselves: reading, acting out plays, making up stories about an imaginary kingdom, and going for long walks on the moors. 
Charlotte's friend, the novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, wrote in a biography of Brontë: "In 1831, she was a quiet, thoughtful girl, of nearly 15 years of age, very small in figure [...] with soft, thick, brown hair, and peculiar eyes, of which I find it difficult to give a description, as they appeared to me in her later life [...] The usual expression was of quiet, listening intelligence; but now and then, on some just occasion for vivid interest or wholesome indignation, a light would shine out, as if some spiritual lamp had been kindled, which glowed behind those expressive orbs. I never saw the like in any other human creature. As for the rest of her features, they were plain, large, and ill set; but, unless you began to catalogue them, you were hardly aware of the fact, for the eyes and power of the countenance over-balanced every physical defect; the crooked mouth and the large nose were forgotten, and the whole face arrested the attention, and presently attracted all those whom she herself would have cared to attract. Her hands and feet were the smallest I ever saw; when one of the former was placed in mine, it was like the soft touch of a bird in the middle of my palm." 
In 1846, when she was 30, Charlotte accompanied her father to Manchester, where he underwent cataract surgery. She spent a month with him in a boarding house, nursing him back to health, and it was there that she began writing Jane Eyre. Brontë sent Jane Eyre to a publisher under the name "Currer Bell," and when it was published in 1847, it sold well. Within several months, both of her sisters published their first novels: Anne published Agnes Grey by "Acton Bell," and Emily published Wuthering Heights by "Ellis Bell." Then, within eight months, all three of her siblings died — her brother of tuberculosis, and both Emily and Anne of tuberculosis. Brontë published two more novels, Shirley (1849) and Villette (1853), and in 1854 she was married. But she died a year later, possibly of tuberculosis, at the age of 38. 
She wrote, "I would always rather be happy than dignified."

I only know Charlotte Bronte through her most famous novel, Jane Eyre, which I'd planned to reread before beginning The Flight of Gemma Hardy. It seems fitting to begin today.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

"One of us... One of us... One of us
Three words, endlessly repeated, dinning themselves hour after hour into receptive brains.
Five people - five frightened people. Five people who watched each other, who now hardly troubled to hide their state of nervous tension.
There was little pretense now  - no formal veneer of conversation. They were five enemies linked together by a mutual instinct of self-preservation."

Why have I waited so long to read Agatha Christie? And Then There Were None, first published as Ten Little Indians in 1939, is a fabulous classic mystery that kept me in suspense until the final page.

Ten strangers receive vague letters summoning them to Soldier Island off the coast of Devon. The host and owner of the island, reportedly an eccentric millionaire, is mysteriously absent upon their arrival and the ten find themselves quite alone. Ten soldier statues, along with copies of the children's rhyme "Ten Little Soldiers", are prominently displayed in the dining room. We learn almost immediately that each visitor has had a nebulous connection with a death at some point in their lives but, with no solid evidence, charges never followed. As the visitors begin to die one by one and according to the rhyme, the soldier figurines also disappear. Eventually, as the title suggests, there are none. Ten dead bodies are discovered on the island. 

This story will keep you turning pages, but Christie's skillful writing imparts a gradual, palpable increase in tension. The survivors, certain the murderer is one of them, become more suspicious and afraid as the hours pass. 

One piece of advice: allow yourself time to read this novel in just a few sittings. I started it last month as my 'bedtime book' and only read a few pages each night - not a good way to become immersed in a mystery with so many characters. Once it became my primary read, I reached the very satisfying conclusion (which I did not come close to figuring out ahead of time) in just a couple of days. I will reread this novel at some point and look for the clues I missed. 

There will definitely be more Agatha Christie in my future. Do you have a favorite to recommend?

source: borrowed

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesday Intro: Below Stairs

I was born in 1907 in Hove, the second child of a family of seven. My earliest recollection is that other children seemed to be better off than we were. But our parents cared so much for us. One particular thing that I always remember was that every Sunday morning my father used to bring us a comic and a bag of sweets. You used to be able to get a comic for a halfpenny plain and a penny coloured. Sometimes now when I look back at it, I wonder how he managed to do it when he was out of work and there was no money at all coming in.
Below Stairs
by Margaret Powell

My library hold for Below Stairs arrived earlier than expected, and I spent some time last weekend beginning this classic memoir. An enjoyable, quick read with a straightforward tone, it offers an interesting glimpse into the "downstairs" life of great houses in 1920's England.  I have a feeling this may be a must-read for all Downton Abbey fans.

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening paragraph(s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Classics Club

Jillian at A Room of One's Own has recently created The Classics Club. I love reading classics and plan to read 50 over the next 5 years. The list below is a starting point and will probably evolve over the next few years. I hope to read the following books between April 15, 2012 and April 15, 2017:

  1. Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice (reread)
  2. Austen, Jane  - Emma
  3. Braddon, Mary Elizabeth - Lady Audley's Secret
  4. Bronte, Anne - The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  5. Brookner, Anita - Hotel du Lac
  6. Buck, Pearl S. - Imperial Woman
  7. Capote, Truman - Breakfast at Tiffany's
  8. Cather, Willa - A Lost Lady
  9. Cather, Willa - Death Comes for the Archbishop
  10. Christie, Agatha - And Then There Were None
  11. Christie, Agatha - Murder on the Orient Express
  12. Colette - Gigi
  13. Collins, Wilkie - No Name
  14. Dickens, Charles - David Copperfield
  15. Dostoevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment (Pevear and Volokhonsky translation)
  16. Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy
  17. DuMaurier, Daphne - My Cousin Rachel
  18. Faulkner, William - A Light in August
  19. Fitzgerald, F. Scott - Tender is the Night (reread)
  20. Forster, E.M. - Howards End (reread)
  21. Gaskell, Elizabeth - Cranford
  22. Gaskell, Elizabeth - North and South
  23. Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the D'Urbervilles
  24. Hemingway, Ernest - The Old Man and the Sea (reread)
  25. Hemingway, Ernest - The Sun Also Rises
  26. James, Henry - Washington Square
  27. Mitford, Nancy - The Pursuit of Love
  28. Morrison, Toni - Sula
  29. Oates, Joyce Carol - Them
  30. O'Connor, Flannery - A Good Man is Hard to Find (stories)
  31. Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar
  32. Powell, Anthony - A Dance to the Music of Time (four movements)
  33. Pym, Barbara - Some Tame Gazelle
  34. Richardson, Samuel - Clarissa (year long group read, in progress)
  35. Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
  36. Stegner, Wallace - Crossing to Safety (reread)
  37. Steinbeck, John - The Pearl (reread)
  38. Steinbeck, John - The Winter of Our Discontent (reread)
  39. Tan, Amy - The Joy Luck Club
  40. Tanizaki, Junichiro - The Makioka Sisters
  41. Taylor, Elizabeth - A Game of Hide and Seek
  42. Updike, John - Rabbit, Run
  43. Welty, Eudora - Delta Wedding
  44. Wharton, Edith - The Age of Innocence
  45. Wharton, Edith - The Bunner Sisters
  46. Whipple, Dorothy - They Were Sisters
  47. Whipple, Dorothy - The Priory
  48. Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray
  49. Woolf, Virginia - A Room of Ones Own
  50. Zola, Emile - The Belly of Paris

A Personal Bonus Challenge will be to finish the following books in progress... realizing I will probably need to start over.

Eliot, Georg - Middlemarch
Mann, Thomas - The Magic Mountain
Maugham, W. Somerset - Of Human Bondage
Thackery, William Makepiece - Vanity Fair
Trollope, Anthony - The Way We Live Now

My reward for completing the above list will be a 'literary pilgrimage'.  It may be a day trip to Edith Wharton's The Mount, but I'm really hoping to plan a trip to England with a literary focus.

Track my progress by clicking on the "Classics Club" tab at the top of this blog.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Peony: A Novel of China by Pearl S. Buck (audio)

Peony: A Novel of China
by Pearl S. Buck
Narrated by Kristen Potter
Oasis Audio, 2011
12 hours and 30 min
originally published 1948

Publisher's Summary:

Young Peony is sold into a rich Chinese household as a bondmaid -- an awkward role in which she is more than a servant, but less than a daughter. As she grows into a lovely, provocative young woman, Peony falls in love with the family's only son. However, tradition forbids them to wed. How she resolves her love for him and her devotion to her adoptive family unfolds in this profound tale, based on true events in China over a century ago.
"The conflicts inherent in the Chinese and Jewish temperament are delicately and intricately traced with profound wisdom and delicate understanding in this tale... This is an enchanting story, the theme of which is tolerance. Highly recommended." --Library Journal

My thoughts:
Years ago, I read Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth. It was my introduction to the author and instantly became an all-time favorite. The story and cultural portrayals were fascinating and I remember not being able to put it down. Many years passed before I returned to Buck's work, listening to Pavilion of Women late in 2010. It was an audio favorite that year and I was again drawn into the lives of an old Chinese family.

When Peony became available through last year, I knew I would listen. Again, the fabulous storytelling I'd come to expect was evident, but Peony seemed deeper and more thought-provoking. It's interesting to note that it was written in 1948, after The Good Earth (1935) and Pavilion of Women (1946). The household Peony serves is of both Jewish and Chinese ancestry. David, the only son and love of Peony's life, must come to terms with their profoundly different philosophical outlooks and decide how to proceed with his life. Peony's story is equally compelling. An afterward, explaining the Jewish presence in China, proves Buck's historical accuracy. It's very effectively placed after the novel.

A note on the audio production: 
Kristen Potter does an excellent job narrating. Her reading of Brooklyn by Colm Toibin was an audio favorite a few years ago, and her pacing and tone here were perfect for the story. I especially enjoyed her portrayal of David's mother, Madame Ezra. I will listen to her again soon - The Lotus Eaters is waiting in my audio library.

My rating:

Jen at Devourer of Books collects audiobook reviews every Friday for her Sound Bytes feature. Stop by and read her review, then click over to see what others have posted. Feel free to link up your own audiobook review, too.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Too Many Bookmarks!

It's been ages since I finished a book, or at least it seems that way. The problem is that I'm currently using too many bookmarks. For as long as I can remember, I've read one book and then moved on to the next. When audiobooks became part of my life ten years ago, I began to read two books at a time. It seemed perfectly natural to read one book at home and listen to another in the car. Eventually, I moved on to one audiobook in the car and one on my iPod... three books at a time. From there, it was only logical to further subdivide my print books. One fiction and one nonfiction, one long term project and something 'easier' to read when I'm tired, one classic and one contemporary, etc. Yesterday, it dawned on me that I have five print books in progress - a personal high. No wonder I haven't finished anything lately!

From the bottom:
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield
I am loving this book! I began listening in the car, but it's so good I needed a print copy to keep reading at home. I will finish this book momentarily.

The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki
I've been wanting to read this classic for years and its time has finally come. It is a slow, beautiful novel about a vanishing way of life pre-WWII  Japan. I put it aside two weeks ago while trying to catch up with Clarissa and haven't quite made my way back... yet.

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell
In an effort to combat DAWS (Downton Abbey Withdrawal Syndrome), I added my name to the library hold list for this memoir. I was feeling secure at position number 23, but somehow catapulted to the top of the list overnight. The entire hold system  remains a mystery to me. No renewals, of course, and I'm just getting started. Must finish this in the next couple of weeks.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
March Mystery Madness seemed like the perfect opportunity to read my first full-length Agatha Christie novel. Obviously, the opportunity has now passed. This was to be my 'bedtime book', but it ended up languishing on my nightstand when I was too tired to read. It's now thrown in with all the others and my bookmark is just past the halfway mark. This is a great book and I'll finish it right after The Homecoming of Samuel Lake.

Clarissa by Samuel Richardson (on my NOOK)
My year long project to read Clarissa continues. A sharp increase in the number of March and April letters has caused me to fall behind. Not much happened in the March letters and reading has become a little tedious. I understand the action picks up again in April, but I'm not quite there yet. Several slow months are coming up later in the year, so I'm bound to catch up eventually.

Obviously I've started too many books in recent weeks, but now I'm curious. How many bookmarks are you using today?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday Intro: The Earthquake Machine

Everything in Rhonda's house was beige. Beige rooms, beige couch, beige table and chairs. Even the painters whose landscapes hung on the walls had been stingy with their palettes. 
When Rhonda complained to her mother about the lack of color, insisting that it stifled her, Louise May sighed wistfully, as if she'd also rather have red walls, purple couches, yellow table and chairs, but she insisted the house was tasteful. The only brightly colored item in the house was a quilt that Louise May had pieced together herself, just for Rhonda, from pink squares of material. Rhonda would lie on her bed and trace the quilt's pattern with her fingertips, naming the different shades: hot pink, shell pink, rose pink, baby-girl pink.

The Earthquake Machine
by Mary Pauline Lowry

I recently won this book through a Friday Reads give-away on twitter. Although I don't have time to start it right now, the opening passage really appeals to me and makes me want to get to it that much sooner. What do you think?

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening paragraph(s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Weekend Cooking: Fish Fridays

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, is open to anyone who has a food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up over the weekend.

My weekly meal plan often includes at least one new recipe, and this Lenten season I decided to focus on fish. We had seafood experiment of some sort nearly every Friday. Today I'm sharing the two most popular dishes.

My favorite recipe came from Brunetti's Cookbook. Carol posted a recipe from this book several weeks ago and I wanted to take a closer look. Luckily, a copy was available through my library system.

Swordfish with Savory Breadcrumbs 
(Pesce spada al pangrattoto saporito)

Serves 4
1 lb 5 oz swordfish ( 2 slices cut into four)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, plus extra to finish
a sprig of finely chopped fresh parsley
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon capers preserved in salt, washed and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 medium eggs
a pinch of salt

Wash the swordfish and dry with kitchen paper. Place the breadcrumbs in a mixing bowl with the parsley, oil, capers, garlic, and cheese. Mix well. In another bowl, beat the eggs with the salt. Dip each swordfish slice in the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumb blend. Arrange them side by side on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Cover each swordfish with more breadcrumbs for an even tastier result. Place in a preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes at maximum temperature.

I used Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and set the oven to 450 degrees.

Another favorite came from a cookbook that's been on my shelf for a few years,  Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers.

Oven-Roasted Miso Sesame Salmon

4 serving-sized pieces of salmon fillet (about 6 ounces each)
2 tablespoons light miso
1 1/2 tablespoons mirin
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar or cider vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
chopped scallions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rinse the salmon and place it skin-side down on an oiled baking sheet. With a sharp knife, make about 4 slashes across each filet, taking care not to cut all the way through. In a small bowl, combine the miso, mirin, brown sugar, and vinegar.

Roast the salmon for 5 minutes. Remove it from the oven, spoon the miso-mirin glaze onto the filets, and return to the oven until the fish flakes easily with a fork but is still moist, 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the filets. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and scallions.

Ingredient note: If you don't have mirin (a Japanese sweet cooking wine made from rice), increase the brown sugar to 1 tablespoon.

Personal note: my husband thought this recipe was "too sweet"

We really enjoyed these Friday evening experiments. I'm already thinking ahead to next year and considering a vegetarian focus.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday Intro: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

Columbia County, Arkansas, 1956 
John Moses couldn't have chosen a worse day, or a worse way to die, if he'd planned it for a lifetime. Which is possible. He was contrary as a mule. It was the weekend of the Moses family reunion, and everything was perfect - or at least perfectly normal - until John went and ruined it. 
The reunion was always held the first Sunday in June. It had been that way forever. It was tradition. And John Moses had a thing about tradition. Every year or so, his daughter, Willadee (who lived way off down in Louisiana), would ask him to change the reunion date to the second Sunday in June, or the first Sunday in July, but John had a stock answer.
"I'd rather burn in Hell."
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake
by Jenny Wingfield

At some point in my Tuesday Intro posts, I usually ask if you would continue reading a book based on the opening passage. I'll skip the question today and just tell you it would be a big mistake to miss The Homecoming of Samuel Lake.

After reading Les' glowing review, I began listening on the three and a half hour drive to Twin A's college. This novel has it all - plot, characters, and atmosphere - and I would have been happy to drive twice as long. Since we talked all the way home, I haven't had more time alone in the car to listen. Thankfully, a print copy arrived at my door yesterday. I can't wait to continue reading!

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening paragraph(s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Author Birthday: Emile Zola

From today's Writer's Almanac:
Today is the birthday of Émile Zola (books by this author), born in Paris (1840). He was inspired by reading Charles Darwin to try to apply scientific principles of observation to the practice of writing fiction. The result was a 20-novel cycle, a kind of fictional documentary about the influence of heredity and environment on an extended family. It was called Les Rougon-Macquart. Some of the novels of the cycle include The Drunkard (1877), Nana (1880), and Germinal (1885). 
Zola said, "One forges one's style on the terrible anvil of daily deadlines....The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work."
Emile Zola was my first classic author discovery at Lakeside Musing. In the spring of 2009, I read Therese Raquin and my thoughts were eventually published in Yareah Magazine. I participated in The Classics Circuit's Zola tour in 2010 with a review of The Ladies' Paradise. In 2011, I turned to Zola's short stories from Dead Men Tell No Tales. I plan to read another of his novels later this year.

Emile Zola at Lakeside Musing:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

March Was...

A most unusal month weather-wise
Bulbs flowered before winter was over
Can it be global warming?
Don't think I've ever seen a hyacinth bloom in March before.
Even set up the patio furniture!
Family gathering for my nephew's confirmation
Group read of Clarissa continues,
Hope to catch up soon.
Ice cream stand opened early!
Just 43 days until Daughter #1's graduation
Know of any cheap apartments in Manhattan?
Living elsewhere doesn't seem to be an option for her.
March Madness
No such thing as too much college basketball!
Ohio St. ends Syracuse National Championship dreams :-(
Pretty soon it will be baseball season
Quite a month for audiobooks (in the car and on the treadmill), but
Reading time was way down.
Spent lots of time with my girls...
Three different colleges and three different spring breaks means
Undivided attention for all!
A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Wowbrary is a great new service from my library
eXperiments with seafood recipes - Weekend Cooking post to follow
You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik
Zelda needs a bath

Welcome, April!


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