Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer: The Ultimate in Regency Romance

I just had the pleasure of being able to enjoy reading one of Georgette Heyer's Regency Romance novels for the first time.  I don't get that experience very often, because I've read most of Heyer's books by this point, and read several this year that I didn't necessarily care for.  Sourcebooks has been putting out beautiful trade paperbacks of Heyer's works for a few years now, and I got two of them for Christmas: The Grand Sophy, my absolute favorite, and Regency Buck, which I had never read.  Although The Grand Sophy must still remain my favorite for several reasons, Regency Buck is now right up there with Sylvester, Cotillion, and a few other of my "almost favorites."  If you aren't a fan of Regencies and don't want to be yawning by the end of this review, you might want to stop here.  For anyone brave enough or who just doesn't have enough else to do, feel free to read on. :)

Unlike many of Heyer's Regencies, which set up with a drawing room conversation between a few minor characters or a major and a minor character, Regency Buck launches right into the story.  Mr. Peregrine and Miss Judith Taverner are on their way to London after the fairly recent death of their father has left them wards of the Earl of Worth, who they have never met.  On the way, Perry hears of a prize fight about to take place near the town where they have randomly stopped to rest, and he insists they stay for it.  Judith reluctantly agrees, and they meet several interesting gentlemen during the course of their stay.  One, a very pleasant man who gives up his rooms at the inn for them, turns out to be their cousin, Mr. Bernard Taverner.  The other is a high-handed dandy who seems rather lacking in manners, accosts Judith on the road, and refuses to give his name.  To their dismay, when the Taverners reach London they discover that this insufferable person is none other than their guardian, Lord Worth.  Despite his obvious reluctance to have anything to do with them, as the young Taverners make their place in society, Lord Worth continues to take a high-handed approach with them.  Judith finds herself unable to decide whether she detests his interference or appreciates the security he provides.  Meanwhile, several plots to remove the Taverners from their large fortune - and also possibly their lives - must be dealt with, as well.  The mysterious aspect of the plot is so subtle that the reader is never totally sure whether anything nefarious is actually taking place or who the villain or hero will turn out to be.

This book is set at the very height of the fashionable Regency period, when Beau Brummell actively sets all the fashions, Gentleman Jackson is quite active in his club and in society, Almack's is at it's very height of influence, and the Prince Regent's summer castle at Brighton is the place for high society to spend the warmer months of the year.  Judith and her brother are swept along by all the brilliance and activity that their rank and fortune allows them.  Judith in particular is quite the rage, with her combination of beauty, fortune, and pert opinions.  She is pursued by a number of suitors, including a Royal Duke, but finds much more interesting pursuits for herself in driving a phaeton and becoming a connoisseur of snuff.  Her easy friendship with such society greats as Mr. Brummell and Lord Petersham, not to mention her guardian and protector, Lord Worth, keeps her buffered from some of the censure that some of her unorthodox behavior might otherwise incur.  She is certainly one of the most delightful and fascinating of Heyer's heroines.

As I mentioned, I enjoyed this book very much.  I think it is an absolute essential read in the genre of Regency Romance.  It defines and describes the period better than any other book I have read, while also presenting an intriguing plot and a very satisfying romance.  Having read An Infamous Army, I was already familiar with most of the characters.  Because Regency Buck actually comes first, a few of the plot twists were ruined for me, but I still found the book hard to put down.  For anyone considering reading Georgette Heyer, it is important to know that most of her books stand alone, but a few have common characters.  They are These Old Shades, Black Sheep, Regency Buck, and An Infamous Army, and they make the most sense if they are read in that order.  I didn't care for An Infamous Army, which is much more historical than romantic, and contains both an irritating heroine and painstakingly accurate details of the Battle of Waterloo.  Unless that somehow sounds exciting, I would suggest skipping that one altogether.  The other three are quite good, though Regency Buck is the best, and can be read by itself.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lucy's Favorite Things

If you know me at all, you know I am always happy to talk about my dogs. Rusty is our four-year-old Lab/German Shepherd mix who is super-sweet with huge chocolate eyes, scared of everything, and not quite right in the head. Lucy is seven, a beautiful mutt of uncertain ancestry, probably Husky and Australian Shepherd. She has been Greg's dog ever since she picked him out at the Portales pound, but she loves me too, and sometimes she even seems to like Rusty. She's a smart but stubborn dog, very well-trained with good manners and a sweet spirit. Her list of favorite things is short, but definite: food, affection, sleep, treats, and her two squeaky toys. One is a purple polka-dotted ball, and one is a bumpy white football. They have been around since before her time. They came in a stocking that Greg and I got for Sally, our first dog, on her first Christmas. She was a little freaked out by the squeak, so she never played with them. Then we got Lucy, and the football was the only toy that Sally would let her play with, so it became her one special toy. Sally then decided that squeaky toys weren't all bad, and adopted the purple ball as her own. We only let the dogs play with toys in the house, under supervision, and the house time is pretty limited. So any time she would come in the house, Lucy would immediately find the football, squeak it a few times to make sure it was okay, and then she'd be ready to play, or be petted, or flop on the floor and go to sleep. She would always remember where she had left the football, but if we had moved it and she couldn't find it, she would hunt it down with dedication and purpose, and expect us to help if she was having trouble. When Sally died, Lucy inherited the purple ball. That was great for us, because occasionally we would lose one of the balls, and Lucy would be very disappointed if she couldn't have her squeaky time when she first came in the house.

Lucy is a fluffy brown dog with furry ears and feet. Texas was not the ideal climate for her. She seemed to feel the heat more every summer. However, since we moved to Colorado last month, she seems to have a whole new lease on life. She is bouncy and happy all the time, and so far hasn't showed any of the grumpy moods that she would get into in Texas. Also, since Rusty would insist on barking all night if we left them outside, and we want our neighbors to like us, we have been letting them sleep in the utility room in the basement instead of in the pen outside. So they are really living it up now. Every night, they come in the door and charge down the stairs, and Lucy goes to find both the white football and the purple ball. Now, instead of just squeaking them once or twice, she pounces on them, chases them around the room, and has some real fun before coming to us for love and affection. This week, apparently she has got the idea that if the balls are so fun inside, why not take them outside? Earlier this week I found the football in a corner at the top of the stairs, and asked Greg if he had brought it up there. He hadn't, so I figured Lucy must have tried to sneak it outside. Then this morning, I went to let them out, and Rusty immediately ran up the stairs and waited at the door. Lucy took her time but came up soon after, and when I opened the door, there was the purple ball, about to roll out the screen door. I grabbed it just as Lucy scooted out the door. She looked back for the ball, and then looked up at me as if to say, "What the heck? It's my ball and I want to bring it outside!" I just shrugged and tossed it down the stairs. Greg laughed and laughed, and we decided the story was too good not to share. So there you go.

Lucy on the doghouse                             

Lucy and Rusty

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Best of Pueblo: The Daily Grind

Now that I live in a new town, I get to try new restaurants! I'm so excited! One of the ladies at our new church gave us a section from the paper called The Best of Pueblo 2009, and I'm going to make it my goal to try several of them over the next few months. Oh boy!

The Daily Grind is a coffeeshop and deli on Union Street. We went there last year when we were visiting Pueblo, but I don't remember much other than we liked it. It's kind of eclectic and chic, with old board games and paperbacks available for entertainment, and local art on the walls. It was voted the best coffeeshop in Pueblo, and when we returned today, we saw why.

One of the first things I noticed when I walked in was the wall of tea. It is a floor-to-ceiling shelf filled with containers of about forty varieties of loose tea. As tempted as I was to try them (Ginger Black Tea sounded especially tasty), I had to go with the Hazelnut Latte. I chose decaf because I'd already had tea that morning and I'm trying to be careful with my caffeine intake. Now, I have never found a coffeeshop that could rival Starbucks' hazelnut latte, but this was actually better. It tasted richer, with a little better hazelnut latte. I was impressed. Then I ate the food.

I ordered a half BLT on multi-grain bread and the soup of the day, which was baked potato. I opted for the cheese and bacon on the soup (I get 300 extra calories a day, so why not use them on bacon and cheese, right?) It was the thickest, creamiest, cheesiest potato soup I have ever had, and it was so rich I had to take some home. Yum! And the BLT was great, too. I had to trim some of the lettuce off the edges (I think they used a whole green leaf), and there was some kind of reddish-orange sauce on it that I was a little concerned about, but not for long! The bacon was excellent (Greg said it tasted expensive), the lettuce was crisp, the tomato was nicely ripe, and the bread was toasted to perfection. I don't know what kind of sauce the reddish-orange stuff was, but it was tasty. Oh, and they served it with a pickle spear that was over six inches long. Pickles are my favorite food lately, so I was perfectly happy.

I am now a fan of The Daily Grind. They have a large variety of sandwiches, pastries, soups, and salads, some really excellent coffeeshop drinks, and a pleasant, edgy ambiance. I imagine I will have more good things to say about them in the future!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Summer Reading Project Book Ten: Redeeming Love

This book is a treasure. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is one of those rare books that absolutely every adult should read. If you haven't read it, do it! Even if you happen to be a guy! Yes, it is a novel, and it is a romance novel, and actually, it's a Christian romance novel, which might make some of you groan and gag, but no matter. You have got to read this book. It is really so much more than a novel. It's an allegory, a retelling of an ancient story, and a revealing glimpse of humanity at its best and worst. It will rip your heart out, break it into pieces, and then very slowly put it back together, whole and new full of hope and promise. All that from one book? Yes. You just have to read it.

Set in the California Gold Rush, the book first introduces Angel, an incredibly beautiful girl with an unspeakably horrible past, a miserable present, and a hopeless future. We then meet Michael Hosea, a godly, wholesome farmer whose peaceful life is interrupted when God tells him to marry a prostitute. The complicated, heartrending, beautiful story of their relationship fills the book. Every character in the book fills an important role: Michael, the forgiving husband who loves his wife no matter what; Angel, the tortured soul who runs from love, refuses hope, and yet longs for peace throughout the story; Paul, the antagonist, who allows his bitterness to wreak destruction in the lives around him; the Altmans, who bring a picture of the "perfect" family in contrast to Michael and Angel's struggle; and even Duke, so great an instrument of the Enemy that sometimes the two are indistinguishable. Yet despite the symbolism and allegory of the story, still the characters seem real, with real emotions, real failures, and real victories. Although I could never imagine the kind of life Angel lived, still I could feel her struggle, her futility, and the belief that everything that had ever happened to her was somehow her fault, that she had been to blame from the moment of her birth. Yet just as real as all that is the steadfast love of her husband, wooing her with a picture of the deeper, greater love that God had in store for her.

Reading this again, years after the first time, I did notice that there are a few lines that are a little cheesy, a couple of cliche's, and a little more sappy sweetness than I had noticed before. It's not flawless writing, but it's still excellent and powerful, and definitely a cut above what you often get with Christian fiction. Also, it is a little more "racy" than Christian fiction usually is, although some writers have gotten a little edgier in recent years. Anyway, I wouldn't recommend it to younger readers, but for older teens and adults, I definitely think it's a must-read!

Summer Reading Project Book Nine: Rilla of Ingleside

First of all, I have to say that I love this book. It is my favorite single book of the series, and it's not even about Anne! It's about her daughter, Rilla. Don't misunderstand me: I absolutely love Anne, but I've had the whole series to get to know her. This book is about the coming of age of a young girl in a difficult time. We see her go from a spoiled, selfish girl to a poised, giving, mature young woman, all during the course of the first World War.

I've been known to say that I love war, because it's what makes history so interesting. I know that sounds horribly cold and flippant, because war is a horrible, hateful thing that steals young lives and breaks the hearts of those waiting back home. Still, no matter the cause, it is still a noble sort of tragedy. This book, written by someone who had clearly experienced the home front, captures both the tragedy and the nobility of it. The most interesting and heroic characters in this particular war tale are good old Susan Baker, Rilla, and Walter. More about Walter later. Let me just say that even if you don't make it through the other books of the series, this one is a must-read all on it's own. Taken together with the other books, it is even more special. It is, in a sense, the culmination of all the previous books and all the character development that has gone on to this point. Anne is not the heroine of this tale. She is too sensitive a soul to be able to handle the horror of war with the strength and spirit that Rilla does. Her character was formed in easier times. Still, she has a quiet dignity all her own that is comfortable in its way.

I love this book and I recommend it. I love it so much so that I can't help but talk about one of my favorite characters ever, but I can't do it without what some would call "spoilers." So if you haven't read it and you might someday, you may not want to read the rest of this post. I'm just warning you. :) Go read the book, then come back and see what I have to say!

Some characters in literature just seem to reach out and touch my soul. For me, Walter Blythe has always been one of those characters. He is truly one of those "in the world and not of it" people, with his poetic soul and his shining grey eyes that see the world in a different way than most. He is that lyric, fanciful, part of Anne's personality, crystalized in a human body. He understands all of the beauty and tragedy of the world because he actually feels it. I know it sounds crazy, but Walter is, and always has been, as real to me as if he had truly lived. It seems impossible that he only exists in the pages of a work of fiction.

Because I love Walter so much for his own merit, and also for the way Rilla loves him, I cry like a baby every time I read those two chapters: "Little Dog Monday Knows" and "And So, Goodnight." I think this time I cried more than I ever had in reading them before, maybe because I'm older now and have tasted a little of the sorrow of life. But somehow, even though it is so incredibly sad, it's also beautiful and inspiring. I think the beauty and inspiration of it make me cry just as much as the fact of Walter's death. There is the sense that when we die, it is not really the end. The soul of a person does live on, both literally and also in the hearts of those who loved him, and in those for whom he died.

Summer Reading Project Book Eight: Rainbow Valley

The seventh book in the Anne of Green Gables really isn't about Anne at all. Instead, it's about her six children and their friends the Merediths. A widower with four children, John Meredith is the new Presbyterian minister in the community. He is a pleasant, absent-minded man, more interested in the spiritual world than the physical. As a result, his children run wild, his house is poorly managed, and his family is the talk of the community. The children are sweet and good-natured, but clearly in need of a mother figure, or even a more involved father. Their antics and scrapes form the funny, interesting little stories that L. M. Montgomery delights in telling.

The questions which drive the plot of this book are: will Mr. Meredith wake up and realize his children need parents? And will he be able to find love again? Along the way, we meet the usual assortment of endearing and hilarious characters, including the fascinating orphan Mary Vance, big, blustery Norman Douglas, and sweet Rosemary West. As with the rest of the books in this series, I really enjoyed this one. I don't know if girls today still read, but if they do, it would be a shame for them to miss out on these books!

Summer Reading Project Book Seven: Anne of Ingleside

Unlike the previous books, which generally pick up where the last one left off, there is a gap of about 7-9 years between Anne's House of Dreams and Anne of Ingleside. In that time, Anne and her growing family have moved from the little white house of dreams in Four Winds Point to Ingleside, "the big house," in Glen St. Mary. She now has five children, with the sixth (and last!) on the way.

Anne of Ingleside begins and ends with stories about Anne, but the bulk of the book is about her children and the adventures of their young lives. They each have their own lively personalities, and are all blessed with the spark of fancy and faerie from their mother. This is a book about a large, well-to-do, loving family, and the little events that seem so significant and life-changing to little lives. Through everything that occurs, there is one constant: Anne, the caring, understanding mother, who manages to keep a straight face no matter how tempted she may be to laugh at the children's little dramas. It is family life seen through rose-tinted lenses, but it is consistent with the rest of the series, because that is usually how Anne sees life.

Although there are still two books after this in the series, Anne of Ingleside is the last book that features Anne as a major character. This book serves as a sort of transition from Anne to her children as the driving force of the story. And the children are delightful. Walter is my particular favorite, but more on that later!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Summer Reading Project Book Six: Anne's House of Dreams

And they lived happily ever after...

Anne finally marries her sweetheart, and they settle in Four Winds, at their little white house of dreams. The first months of marriage are sweet for the newlyweds, with all the joys of marriage and good friends. Somewhat isolated from the town of Glen St. Mary, they have a few neighbors who become dear friends: Miss Cornelia Bryant, Captain Jim, and Leslie Moore. Like Anne's other hard-won friendships, her relationship with Leslie is very precious but also very complicated, due to Leslie's difficult circumstances. Still, with Miss Cornelia's juicy gossip and Captain Jim's amazing stories, along with settling into life as a married woman, Anne finds plenty of joy.

This is sort of a bittersweet little book, because there is deep sorrow and strife in it, alongside the bright happiness. However, Anne and her new husband find that their love can withstand even the difficult times. It is "happily ever after," but in a real-life sort of way. And of course, because Anne is Anne and she seems to attract romance wherever she goes, she more another opportunities to see things work out well for her friends - in ways even she could not have imagined.

This is one of the shorter books in the series. I read most of it on the plane from Texas to Massachusetts, and I did love it. L. M. Montgomery has a way of making even sad things seem sweet, which takes a lot of the sting out of them. By the end of this book it feels like Anne is really a complete person, all grown up and ready to guide a new generation through the wild beauty of life.

Summer Reading Project Book Five: Anne of Windy Poplars

As with all the other Anne books, this one is a delight. It's also a bit different, as it's divided into three segments of one year each, and about half of it is made up of letters from Anne to her fiance. He is putting in his three years of medical school before they are to be married. Meanwhile, Anne is a principle at Summerside High. Summerside is like many other towns on Prince Edward Island at that time, with one notable difference: the Pringles. They are the ruling family in town and have a prejudice against Anne from the beginning. After the first miserable term at school, Anne is close to giving up in despair. But her salvation comes from a very unexpected and unintended source, and from then on, the Pringles are a delight.

Anne is almost a busybody in this book. She is just old enough and has seen just enough of the world to believe herself to be wise and experienced -- as is often the case with twenty-something college graduates. However, her old Anne Shirley sweetness is not spoiled by the wisdom of the ages, and she learns her lesson in a few hilarious episodes. She enchants the elderly ladies she lives with, befriends sweet Little Elizabeth next door, and refuses to be daunted by even the prickly Katherine Brooke.

Much of the plot for the "Sequel" movie actually comes from this book, intertwined with bits from Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island. There is one family in the movie that is actually a blend of at least ten different people in the books, and it's fun to see all the threads in their original, unraveled form. Getting through this book was more of a leisurely stroll than the headlong rush of Anne of the Island, but it was still an enjoyable trip.

Summer Reading Project Book Four: Anne of the Island

I loved this book! I believe I mentioned that the previous two books don't have a strong plot, but this one does. It is a romance, with all the glorious moments, misunderstandings, tension, and resolution that a good romance has. Ironically, Anne herself is such a romantic that she almost misses her own chance at love, because it didn't look exactly like she thought it would. But I won't tell you how it turns out. If you've read it or seen the movie, you know (although the book does it better, I think), and if you haven't, you'll just have to read it for yourself!

Although is it a romance at its heart, this book is also about friendship, college, and a young woman with developing dreams for her life. Those dreams take a few interesting twists and turns, with one in particular (the ill-fated short story, Averil's Atonement) that is both hilarious and a bit tragic at the same time. The time frame covers Anne's four years at Redmond College, with her friends Priscilla, Philippa, and Stella. Philippa, a new character, is a strange and delightful creature, vain and friendly at the same time, caught up in trying to pick which of her many suitors to marry.

I read this VERY fast. Greg lost me there for a day or two. I just had to see how it ended, even though I already knew!! This is definitely one of my favorites in the series!

Summer Reading Project Book Three: Anne of Avonlea

When I started this book, I thought, “Wow, I hardly remember this book at all,” because what I remembered most was the movie, and the book is different. If you’ve seen “Anne of Green Gables, The Sequel,” and read the books, you know what I mean. The movie is a mash-up of Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, and Anne of Windy Populars, with plots, characters, and plotlines so intertwined it really must have taken a remarkable effort to come up with a screenplay. It took me a little while to untangle my vague memories as I read this book, but when I remembered why I love it.

These books don’t really have a strong overall plot; they are more like a delightful series of short stories woven around a single character: the wonderful Anne Shirley. Anne of Avonlea picks up where Anne of Green Gables left off, and covers Anne's two years of teaching at the Avonlea School. Plenty of things happen, both hilarious and poignant, during that time. The real emphasis is the relationships with the people in Anne’s life, and the joy she takes in the beauty of her surroundings. We do see her complete the transformation from a girl to a young woman. One of my favorite lines in the book comes toward the end, and I think it sums it up nicely: “The page of girlhood had been turned, as by an unseen finger, and the page of womanhood was before her with all its charm and mystery, its pain and gladness.” It is interesting to me how in some ways, Anne is wise beyond her years, and yet in others, she simply refuses to grow up.

We said goodbye to one major character at the end of Anne of Green Gables, and are introduced to several others throughout this book. Most notable are the gruff new neighbor, Mr. Harrison, the delightful Keith twins (particularly the lovably mischievous Davy), the boy genius Paul Irving, and sweet Miss Lavender Lewis. Of course many old favorites are present as well, including Gilbert Blythe, whose feelings toward Anne are pretty clear throughout the story, although hers are considerably less so. The slim, graceful schoolteacher, who sees life as one great romance and eagerly encourages the romances of others, steadfastly refuses to see how her own romance is developing. Of course, that sets us up the next book, Anne of the Island!

I thought this was charming and delightful. Greg keeps rolling his eyes when I laugh out loud at various parts of the story. Ms. Montgomery was a master at capturing the essence of those things that make people interesting and characters real, and she was also funny! If you've never read beyond the first book of this series, you don't know what you're missing!

Summer Reading Project Book Two: Anne of Green Gables

I have loved this book for as long as I can remember. For many years when I was growing up, I read the Anne books every year, and they have had a profound impact on my life. However, it’s been quite awhile since the last time I read them. There is so much to love about Anne of Green Gables: first and foremost, Anne herself. This book actually covers five or six years of Anne’s childhood, beginning with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert taking in the “interesting” red-haired eleven-year-old Anne, and following her to the threshold of young womanhood.

Anne is easy to like, because she is real easy to relate to. She is a sweet and sincere girl she but she has flaws. She has a really terrible temper and a tendency to speak or act too impulsively, often with disastrous results. But she loves deeply and truly, and has a perfectly delightful imagination. Of course I see much of myself in Anne, but I think many people would say the same thing, probably for many different reasons. I like to think that if she had been a real person and lived today, we would be “kindred spirits.”

One of the nice aspects of the book is the setting. At one point, Prince Edward Island is described as the prettiest place in the world, and it certainly seems that way from the descriptions of meadows, trees, flowers, ponds, brooks, and the sea. Avonlea is a quaint small agricultural town, in a simpler time when little girls always wore dresses, horses and trains provided transportation, and school was a single room with a single teacher.

The author has a knack for catching the real heart of a story and putting it to paper. Marilla’s dry humor and Anne’s animosity toward Gilbert Blythe provide many of the comic elements of the book. There is always this feeling that most adults are laughing at Anne behind her back, which is a little sad, but we all do the same thing with precocious young girls. They don’t mean to be funny; they just are, particularly at their most dramatic. So it is with Anne.

This is a fast read. I gobbled it up in about three days. I thought is was delightful. What kind of children’s book uses words like “therein” and “whereupon?” I love the language! Even so, it is a children’s book: relatively short and simply but beautifully written. I was reminded again why it has always been a favorite!

Summer Reading Project Book One: Christy

Back at the beginning of the summer, I thought it would be fun to revisit some of my old favorites books. I'm in library school, but I had a whole two and a half months without taking classes, and reading sounded like a great way to spend some of that extra time. I posted them on Facebook originally, and now I'm re-posting them here. Enjoy, and of course, feel free to comment!

My first selection was Christy by Catherine Marshall. I remember reading it sometime in high school, probably when the miniseries starring Kellie Martin was on the air. I loved it, cried at the ending, declared it to be my favorite book ever, and never read it again. So I decided to give it another go.

There is a sweet simplicity about this book that I really enjoyed. Christy comes on the scene as a pampered socialite in early twentieth-century North Carolina who accepts a position as a teacher in underprivileged Cutter Gap, Tennessee. She feels as though she has some great destiny to fulfill, and giving these poor mountain children a basic education just might be that destiny. The book covers her first year in Cutter Gap, and during that time she completely changes as a person, as a Christian, and as a woman.

The book focuses on the relationships that Christy establishes with the children, parents, fellow mission workers, and God. The descriptions of both the place and the characters are so well-done that they feel real. The setting is heart-breakingly beautiful, with the natural splendor of the Smokies providing a backdrop for the incredible poverty and squalor of the community. The people are superstitious, ignorant, and prejudiced, but for all that, Christy finds glimmers of light: bright minds, deep friendships, and sometimes an almost aristocratic culture. She also finds love...but if you haven't read it I won't spoil that for you.

This book is based on Catherine Marshall's mother, and it took her years to write it. All that time, energy, effort, and research was well worth it, considering the final result. At one time it was considered the most influential book in the lives of you women ages 17-21. For me, it was just as good, if not better, the second time around, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It's a pretty quick read. I highly recommend it.

Book two, Anne of Green Gables, is coming soon...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pride and Prejudice = Literary Perfection!

Shockingly, I have not heard universal agreement on this point. But it is the most brilliantly written work of fiction I have ever read. So I haven't read everything, but I've read a lot, and Pride and Prejudice remains my favorite! The language is a little tough at times, and I'll admit I even get confused in a few passages, but the story is just wonderful. I love it because even though it was written two hundred years ago, the characters are just as real as if they lived today. Of course, no one today would say, "You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it," but it's so much fun to read! I love the scenes between Elizabeth's parents, the well-bred teasing between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, and even the stupidity of Mr. Collins is enjoyable in its own way. I love how Elizabeth and Darcy evolve over the course of the book, and become better people for having known, hated, and loved each other. I love how complicated the story is, but how it all works out for the best in the end. There is so much that happens. People are constantly traveling all over the country, visiting here and there, falling in love, sometimes behaving badly, and finally getting married. And underneath it all is a lively sense of the ridiculous that keeps the reader smiling even in the darker moments. And the romance is the best part, of course. No two people are more perfect for each other, even if it takes Elizabeth over half the book to realize it.

It's no wonder that Jane Austen is still so popular today. I've never attempted reading any of the spin-offs that people have written recently, because no one could capture those characters as well as she did. But now I've gotten into a habit of reading Pride and Prejudice about once a year, and all my favorite parts are practically memorized. I have two copies of the book and two more on my Amazon wish list. I know, I'm one of those crazy people, but I just can't help it. Every time I read it I live in a happy glow for days. I just love this book!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

So, what's the point?

Most people like to talk about things they like. I am no exception. Get me started in a conversation on food, books, movies, or theology, and I can go for quite awhile. I've often said I would love to be a food critic but I don't have the qualifications. A few weeks ago, I searched the internet for some good restaurants in the Fort Worth area and came upon the world of food blogs. What a concept! There are people out there talking about their experiences at restaurants and with different kind of food, and there are no qualifications necessary! I thought to myself, "How much fun would that be?" and then I thought, "Why haven't I thought of this before?"

So there you have it. My belated stroke of genius? Start a blog where I can talk about my favorite things, uninterrupted, as much as I want! Maybe I'm a little late to the blogosphere, but better late than never, right? Posted here, for my entertainment, are some bits and blurbs about those things I most enjoy talking about it. Read on if you like, and move on if you don't. If you're really impressed or entertained, or would like to argue with me, please comment. That's what makes this whole blogging thing fun, right? Right!

A note on organization: I'm tacking a label onto each post that will tell you if it is about books, food, movies, theology, or any other topic that I have failed to remember here. Feel free to only read those posts that might interest you. I will not be offended!