Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Sunday Salon: A Covid-19 Update

Hello, friends. What a month! March has obviously not gone as planned for any of us...

Our lives on the island have changed dramatically. As most of you know, two of our daughters live and work in Manhattan. As retired health care professionals, we grew concerned about the situation in the city early on and urged them to come to Florida. Eventually they agreed and have been here since the 12th... both working remotely. It's a tight fit with five adults in our small condo, but I am so thankful they're here.

We stayed home for two weeks following their arrival and still continue to do so. Groceries are delivered and it seems like I am cooking constantly... good therapy, actually. There must be material for a Weekend Cooking post or two with all the planning and new recipes. We'll see if the spirit move me.

Life on the island has become eerily quiet. Restaurants and bars have been closed for what feels like ages, though some continue to have take-out available. Public beach access and parking closed earlier last week. A few days later all public parking lots were barricaded... I assume to prevent people from coming over and riding their bikes on the paths. Yesterday the city suspended all rental accommodations for 28 days. The birds seem to like this arrangement... they have the beach mostly to themselves and are coming out in even greater numbers. 

Unfortunately, reading has become a distant memory. I'm still listening to audiobooks on my now twice daily beach walks, but that's about it. I've discovered Alison Weir's Six Tudor Queens historical fiction series and love how they take me away to another time and place. This is not one of my usual reading genres, but I've long been fascinated by Tudor England. Weir is primarily known for her nonfiction and I think she has a knack for fiction as well. Katherine of Arag√≥n: The True Queen was wonderfully entertaining and now I'm over halfway through Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession.

Blog reading has also fallen by the wayside, but I continue to think about my blogging friends and hope you are all safe and well.  As I settle into this new normal, my reading and blogging will pick up again...maybe as soon as this week. 

How are you all holding up? Are you still reading?

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Hello, March!

March... really?  February was a blur around here. I've come to the realization that this is simply a fact of life in southwest Florida - and I mean that in the best possible way. "Season" is here and activities abound. We had houseguests for nearly two weeks, spent time with several sets of old friends, enjoyed multiple gatherings with new friends, and attended fundraisers for local organizations. I've learned more about native birds, plants, and shells, participated in a couple of book club discussions, and walked the beach nearly every day. We're still in the midst of renovations on our new house... it's coming along slowly, but I'm happy with things so far.

You won't be surprised to see that February wasn't a great reading month... I finished only three books! This morning I decided to take a look back at my February reading over the past four or five years... since we have been "wintering" in Florida. There wasn't much to see. It seems I've averaged only three books in February since 2015 and have yet to read anything that ended up on my favorites list! It's been an average month after all...

Recent reading//

Ties by Domenico Starnone 

A few years ago, I listened to The Days of Abandonment  by Elena Ferrante (my thoughts).  While reading Ties, also a story of an unhappy marriage, the feeling of deja vu was overwhelming. This book is written by Ferrante's husband and beautifully translated by Jhumpa Lahiri. Did husband and wife write the same novel?

The writing, narrative voice, and structure are all striking in Ties. Book One is told by the wife, in letters to her estranged husband. This section is most reminiscent of The Days of Abandonment. Book Two is the husband's story and Book Three is from the point of view of their two adult children.

I appreciated this novel very much, especially Starnone's prose...yet it's hard to say it was an enjoyable read.

Red At the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

The audio production of this much-anticipated novel, narrated by Jacqueline Woodson, Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Peter Francis James, Shayna Small, Bahni Turpin, is fabulous! However, my initial reaction to the novel itself was one of slight disappointment... especially after loving  Woodson's earlier book, Brown Girl Dreaming. My initial rating was 3.5 stars but, over the past few weeks, I've found my thoughts returning to the story. It's grown on me, so I'm raising my rating to 4 stars.

by Anne de Courcy

This book was already on my wish list but after reading Jane's review, I decided to move it up. Amazon obliged with a perfectly-timed kindle deal and my library came through with an audio edition via hoopla. As you know, I prefer a read/listen combination for nonfiction.

The Husband Hunters offers a fascinating look at high society in New York City and Newport during The Gilded Age, and the barriers it erected to exclude the nouveau riche. It also outlines financial woes plaguing members of the British aristocracy, and explains why many viewed marriage to a new American heiress as the perfect solution for all. But was it really?

This is exactly the background material I wanted prior to reading The Buccaneers  by Edith Wharton, which I plan to do later this year.

Current reading//

by Alison Weir, narrated by Rosalyn Landor

I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but am fascinated by the Tudors. Noted historian Alison Weir is in the process of writing a series of novels about the wives of Henry VIII and I've finally decided to jump on board. This is a long book (625 pages and 22+hours on audio) so I've made it a read/listen combination. I'm at 35% now... it's very good!

Up next//

Self-Portrait with Boy by Rachel Lyon 

This is the March selection of our library book club, so it's time to get started. I'm not familiar with this book, but the description sounds a little strange. It was published in 2018... have you read it?

Looking ahead//

More visitors, more renovation, a spring training game (Yankees vs Twins) or two, and time with books, the beach, and my bicycle. March should look a lot like February.

How was your month? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday... What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.


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