Step Back in Time

Last year I read some wonderful books set during World War II. Besides being drawn in to care for the characters and having to google location images, I learned a bit of history along the way. The following is a brief review on my selections.

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All the Light We Cannot See

Set mostly in France, this heart-wrenching story follows two main characters: blind Marie-Laure whose father works for the Museum of Natural History in Paris, and Werner, an orphan recruited into the Nazi army. “Seeing” the war through blind eyes was interesting. Marie Laure’s father made a model of their city so that she could eventually earn her way around unaided. Later, he had to do it all over again in a new town, but this time his model was more than just a way to help his daughter. It also held a secret.
Marie-Laure’s and Werner’s paths eventually crossed, as I hoped they would. But it was a bittersweet timing.

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

This story was a little more light hearted, yet still contained moments of sadness that can’t be avoided in war. Written in the form of letters between the main character, Juliet Ashton and others who were a part of her life, this one has an element of romance sprinkled in with the courage shown by those who faced wartime with tenacity and tenderness. The “society” was a cover story made up on the fly, but one which led to a community coming together under the bond of reading. This one is a book lover’s delight!

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Suite Francaise

Written in 1939, it was the last work of Irene Nemirosky, who met her untimely death in a concentration camp before she finished this work. It’s almost too full of characters, so it needs to be read carefully. I often found myself backtracking to pick up storylines or remind myself who the characters were. Still, it is an interesting take on a side of war that we don’t often see. It shows what happens to those who aren’t on the front lines, but at home, forced to house the enemy. Yet, sometimes the enemy seems like a friend.

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Once There Was a War

The only non-fiction work on my list, it was easy to read Steinbeck’s collection of his news articles. Sometimes I breezed through the technical military aspects, but I got the jist of them. There is something about his style that makes you feel like he’s sitting across the table telling you about his day.

If you want to brush up on your history and lose yourself in a good book, any of these would make an excellent choice!

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Bama Books

I’ve been working through some books that are either by Alabama authors, or take place in Alabama, or both. Here are a few brief reviews.

I Wish I Was in Dixie collected and edited by Marie Stokes Jemison and Jim Reed
This is a collection of stories from all across Alabama, from Birmingham to Montgomery to Tuscaloosa

Dear Slave – poems by Irene Latham. These are rich retellings of stories taken from the mouths of slaves and recorded by Ruby Pickens Tartt many years ago.

I Still Dream of You by Fannie Flagg.  This was an enjoyable read and one that had me doing a little research about Birmingham. I read this for my book club, but no one else was able to finish it that month.   😦

Fried Green Tomatoes At the Whistle Stop Cafe – also by Fannie Flagg. I couldn’t read this without picturing Kathy Bates in the role of Evelyn. I STILL need to go to the cafe in Irondale!

Previously published @ Carry Me Home 6/20/17

 

I Can’t Even

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Some of my Maeve Binchy books

 

I decided to tackle my bookshelves in April.  I reorganized, categorized some, discarded a whopping five books. Along the way I made a few discoveries.

I’d consider about 21 of my books to be reference books; I’m not ever going to read them cover-to-cover. About 41 are fiction books I’ve read that I just have to keep, including my collection of  22 Maeve Binchy books.  I didn’t make a final book count in the house because that would have meant counting my husband’s books and all the books I have for grandkids and other littles that visit. Speaking of kids’ books, I have 13 Golden books, 15 in my set of Chidlcraft from my own childhood, 12 Great Illustrated Classics, a set of 11 “My Book House”  books from my father-in-law, plus quite a list of pictures books.

Of the 270 (+) TBR books, here are some breakdowns:

  • 11  “Irish” books
  • 33 biographical
  • 17 “classics”
  • about 50 kid/YA books
  • 8 short story/ collections
  • a variety of 49 fictional books
  • and… I think I’m embarrassed about this … 42 books about writing

So, where does all this lead? Hopefully to me stepping away from the computer and TV and reading more. But, when I AM on that computer, I need to be putting one of those 42 writing books to good use.
(previously posted @ Carry Me Home on 4/5/17)

Book Treasures

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I love opening up a book and finding a surprise. I found three in the past two days. Yesterday, I found the sticker seen above. I googled it, and came up with three things

  1. A Greek vehicle manufacturer
  2. A German beer
  3. The Pakistani Elvis

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I think it is really LOVE, scrambled.

So, today I found two more unexpected things. First, a sad one, a card from a funeral.

Using my googling/detective skills, I found the memorial for this man on Find a Grave and posted the picture there. I’d like to think one of his friends left the card in my book. I got the book in either Florida or Alabama, I don’t remember, but Mr. Canavan was buried in Massachusetts.

My most exciting find was an autograph I’d completely overlooked. My copy of  The Bride of Innisfallen by Eudora Welty is actually SIGNED!! It’s inscribed to a Mrs. George Barrett. There is a copy online that is inscribed to someone and signed and it’s selling for $120. Think I’ll keep the book to myself a while;  just knowing she signed it makes me feel connected to her.

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A few years ago I found a baptismal certificate and photograph in a book. Using those skills of mine, I’m pretty sure I found the owner’s brother on facebook, but he never responded to me. I don’t think he was very active online. Now, however, I may pursue it once more. I’d love to be able to return the items.

There is a book  and blog called Forgotten Bookmarks that is about just these type of finds. I hope to get a copy of the book soon. In the meanwhile, I think it would be fun to write stories about the items I find.  If I do, I’ll post some here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Walk in the Woods

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Moss Rock Preserve – 5/17/17

 

A Walk in the Woods

there in pieces of sunlight
through pieces of shadowlight
cardinal swoops down, takes flight
filtered memories alight
anchored by sound and by sight
lifted by a breeze so light
scamper of chittering squirrel
dreams unfurled are not finite

This poem was written in response to a Wednesday Prompt , pieces, by Robert Brewer, using the Cyrch a Chwta poem form. Cyrch a Chwta is a Welsh poetic form which involves both end rhyme and internal (or cross) rhymes.

You may also enjoy this “pieces” poem by Sarah Lea:  The First Mr. DeWinter .

 

Word Pictures #2

 

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This is a second installment of Word Pictures – a collection of lovely and descriptive passages.

“Her laughter catches him off guard. As if it’s carbonated and someone has poured it too fast and it’s bubbling over in all directions.” – from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Do you know anyone who laughs like that?

“… at eight o’clock the last of the cool was burning off. The State Farm thermometer out the window over the sink was slowly percolating to the top.” – from Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor

I love the phrase “….slowly percolating to the top.” When I was a kid, I made coffee for my dad using a percolator that went on the stovetop. I loved the smell, but I didn’t drink it until I was way into my thirties – after some of my kids were already coffee drinkers.

“She knew God tore down the old world every evening and built a new one by sun-up.” – from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

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Vilano Beah, FL

 

“… a hardware store was your practical Uncle Walter, wearing bib overalls and carrying a hammer, asking you in a hearty sausage-and-egg voice to point him in the direction of what needed to be done.” – from The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg

In the first few months after we moved to BIrmingham, I noticed several times a man in overalls shopping in Publix. It was a sight I’d never seen in Jacksonville, and it brought to mind the short time we spent in south Georgia. There it was very common to see men in overalls. Sadly, I connect this memory of the overalled man to the racism that was alive and well. It was the late 80s, but it often felt like the 1960s. But, that’s a story for another day.

“…with cornsilk hair and delphinium eyes…” from Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck.

This is a perfect description of my daughter when she was a little girl. But, now I’d have to say “…with Merlot curls…”

“You pierce my soul” – Captain Wentworth to Anne in Persuasion by Jane Austen.

Social Media and Letters and Such #2

 

I’ll try to make sense of this  conglomeration of thoughts derived from numerous sources, all focused on  a common issue in my mind: the modern society’s pitfalls of social media and the like.

Fahrenheit 451 was published by Ray Bradbury before I was even born. I am amazed at the insight he had!

“And most of the time in the caves they have the joke boxes on and the same jokes most of the time,…” -Clarisse – from Fahrenheit 451

In my cave there are the joke boxes of television, Facebook, and Twitter. With the same jokes and political garbage most the time.

“There was a tiny dance of melody in the air, her Seashell tamped in her ear again, and she was listening to far people in far places.” Fahrenheit 451

Can you say bluetooth?!? He really hit this one spot on. It drives me crazy to be in the store and think someone is speaking to me and then realize they are talking to far people in far places.

“…people have developed less a sense of community than a loneliness which they attempt to assuage by being with other people constantly, and on a superficial level only.”  –  The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle .

That’s me. I’m with people superficially online, attempting to assuage my loneliness. Often all it does is exacerbate the situation.

“We have an innate pessimism about telephone calls; they have a habit of coming at the wrong time, and they are too sudden, catapulting you into a conversation you weren’t expecting. Letters, on the other hand, are a pleasure to receive, not least because they allow you to consider your reply. But people don’t write letters anymore.” – from A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

I must say that phone calls and letters are a step up from social media. At least with a phone call you can sometimes pick up on moods and intentions by a person’s voice. And with letters, you must put forth a little more effort and (hopefully) you take the time to craft your words more carefully.

And so, I leave you with this poem I wrote last year .

 

Left Unsaid  (April, 2016)

So many tweets were left unsaid

Brilliant words were never read

Chatty texts were never sent

Nothing told that wasn’t meant

I forgot my phone at home

No charming comments or replies

No clever words that sound so wise

No rings and beeps and  no voicemail

If someone called I could not tell

I forgot my phone at home

Surprisingly I did survive

In fact I may have even thrived

Lifting eyes up from the screen

With the world I reconvened

I forgot my phone at home