Woe is (not) me



Just a sampling, loves.

Ah, bookish bookish love… These are a few review copies I have lying around the room, those which aren’t scattered further afield. Ideally, I like to keep the bulk of them in the same room – our family room, where the “main” computer is. Realistically, dream on.

Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball, as well as This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash (copy forthcoming) are upcoming review selections for The New York Journal of Books.

Heart of Darkness (for review here) is a new edition illustrated by the amazing, unparalleled Matt Kish (Moby Dick in Pictures). He has done it again, this time with Conrad’s classic:












Jay Parini’s Jesus: The Human Face of God, Lavery’s The Conquest of the Ocean and The Best American Travel Writing, ed. by Elizabeth Gilbert, are Amazon reviews.

And the little birdie that sits atop them? It’s someone’s ceramics project I found for sale at Goodwill. I collect the cast-off pottery of others. I think it’s lovely and it saddens me to see it sitting on a shelf. Handmade things are to be loved and cherished, such is the duty I gladly perform.

In eBooks, I have a staggering number courtesy of NetGalley. Twenty or so, I believe. Of all of them, perhaps the one I most lust for is John Freeman’s How to Read a Novelist.


     For the last fifteen years, whenever a novel was published, John Freeman was there to greet it. As a critic for more than two hundred newspapers worldwide, the onetime president of the National Book Critics Circle, and the current editor of Granta, he has reviewed thousands of books and interviewed scores of writers. In How to Read a Novelist, which pulls together his very best profiles (many of them new or completely rewritten for this volume) of the very best novelists of our time, he shares with us what he’s learned.
From such international stars as Doris Lessing, Haruki Murakami, Salman Rushdie, and Mo Yan, to established American lions such as Don DeLillo, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, Marilynne Robinson, Philip Roth, John Updike, and David Foster Wallace, to the new guard of Edwidge Danticat, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Franzen, and more, Freeman has talked to everyone.
What emerges is an instructive and illuminating, definitive yet still idiosyncratic guide to a diverse and lively literary culture: a vision of the novel as a varied yet vital contemporary form, a portrait of the novelist as a unique and profound figure in our fragmenting global culture, and a book that will be essential reading for every aspiring writer and engaged reader—a perfect companion (or gift!) for anyone who’s ever curled up with a novel and wanted to know a bit more about the person who made it possible.


Archetype by M.D. Waters came from nowhere:


Emma wakes in a hospital, with no memory of what came before. Her husband, Declan, a powerful, seductive man, provides her with new memories, but her dreams contradict his stories, showing her a past life she can’t believe possible: memories of war, of a camp where girls are trained to be wives, of love for another man. Something inside her tells her not to speak of this, but she does not know why. She only knows she is at war with herself.

Suppressing those dreams during daylight hours, Emma lets Declan mold her into a happily married woman and begins to fall in love with him. But the day Noah stands before her, the line between her reality and dreams shatters.

In a future where women are a rare commodity, Emma fights for freedom but is held captive by the love of two men—one her husband, the other her worst enemy. If only she could remember which is which. . . .

The first novel in a two-part series, Archetype heralds the arrival of a truly memorable character—and the talented author who created her.


Well, somewhere but I know not of it. A new book, a new author. Why not?

Have a lovely evening. Read! Read! Read!



George Eliot, Jane Austen and more

Books mentioned in this post:

Jane Austen – Emma

Fanny Burney – Cecilia

Fanny Burney – Evelina

George Eliot – Adam Bede [RR]

George Eliot – The Mill on the Floss

George Eliot – Middlemarch

George Eliot – Life and Letters (ed. by John Cross)

Elizabeth Gilbert – Eat, Pray, Love

Khaled Hosseini – The Kite Runner

Kathryn Hughes – George Eliot: The Last Victorian [RR]

Frances Mayes – A Year in the World [DNF]

Annie Proulx – The Shipping News [RR]

I’m so enjoying this recent foray into George Eliot’s Adam Bede. Reading it with an online group is adding even more enjoyment to the experience, as several of us have been fired up by all things GE since starting this read.  I’m nearly done now, and between you and me I’ll admit though I’ve read the book before I DON’T RECALL HOW IT ENDS…

I’m finding the character of Adam’s character even more fascinating than I did before.  He’s such  the quiet giant and that’s a fascinating character type to me. The concept of a man with great power but also great tenderness for a very ornamental young girl (Hetty Sorrel) is just such an interesting contrast. The dialect in this book is a bit irritating, but the plot is just wonderful.  It still isn’t my favorite Eliot.  That would be The Mill on the Floss, with Middlemarch trailing just slightly behind that (her masterpiece, I know, but I prefer the mill mostly for autobiographical elements). But I do enjoy Adam Bede, partly because the genius of Eliot is really budding in this earlier book.

Also still working on re-reading Austen’s Emma for the book group at the library.  I’ll be interested to hear reaction to this book, even more interested to see if I actually finish it in time for the meeting on Friday.  The good thing is I’ve not only read the book before but I’ve seen the various film adaptations many times.  The bad thing is I’ll feel a failure if I don’t finish!

Emma isn’t my favorite Austen but it is a charmer. I like Emma Woodhouse!  I know, not every reader does. I find her charming and goodhearted, if a bit foolish and even immature. She’s just been so sheltered by her domineering father and no doubt that’s colored her personality. When your father tells you all your life that you can do no wrong how can you NOT believe it?  Granted, Emma’s machinations are occasionally a real pain, and even do some degree of harm, but her heart is just so good.  I think I’d like her as a friend, flaws and all.  Perfect people are so boring, anyway.

I won’t be here for the library’s June read of The Kite Runner (would be a re-read for me, too), so I will have all that extra time if I don’t finish Emma by Friday. But I would like to get through this book so I can push on with other books, too.  It just FEELS better having finished, as though something’s been accomplished.

It’s your classic dilemma (no pun intended), understandable only to another fellow book lover.

Have just today retrieved my copy of Frances Mayes’ new book [A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveler] from the library. It’s a travel book and should pair nicely in reviews with Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. Did I mention I liked that book a lot??

Because I liked that book a lot.

Already mentioned I’m re-reading Kathryn Hughes’s George Eliot: The Last Victorian. Still at work on it. It’s a fantastic biography, in case you plan to read one, this would be it. It’s such a good book I have no problem reading it twice. Am also reading my 19th C copy of Eliot’s Life and Letters, edited by her husband Johnny Cross.  Hopefully I can manage to juggle both of these.

[2013: Spoiler alert: I didn’t finish Life and Letters. Not even close. It’s still sitting on my shelf glaring at me.]

[2015: Spoiler alert: I’ve forgotten I ever vowed to read this volume.]

The Proulx’s The Shipping News re-read is progressing nicely.  It’s also making me yearn for a visit to Newfoundland in the worst way. I’ve been to Nova Scotia, and it became a favorite spot for me, and now I’m eyeing Newfoundland. Quite a bit further than N.S., though.


[2013: Nope, still haven’t been to Newfoundland. Most likely never will.]

Am debating whether I’ll re-read Fanny Burney’s Cecilia with the 18thC discussion group.  I just recently read her Evelina, which was very good, but do I want to clog up my reading time with this weighty book?

[2013: Am pretty sure I didn’t re-read Cecilia. It’s a chunkster plus FB’s books are pretty much all the same: beautiful,  young woman comes into a fortune then gets courted by men wanting a piece of the money. There’s a good man and a bad man (well, in Evelina he’s just plain bad) and she must choose. Pretty much describes most 28th C literature.]

Terribly sleepy.  Need either a nap or caffeine transfusion!  I’m off to find a really strong cup of tea…