Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Mrs Mac Suggests - what to read in AUGUST '19

The Day Lilies are almost over;  the roses may pick up since we had a night of rain recently (although we could do with more).  Whilst sitting in the garden reading this week I saw movement from the corner of my eye, and there was a Wren!  The tiny creature dancing about on a brick propped up against the wall of the house - and just for me!  We know they are in the garden, we know they nest at the bottoms of the hedges, but it's rare to see one so close.  A gift just for me.

So talking about reading, what shall we read in August?  I think you need to look on your shelves for

Something with a very odd title!

 Me?  I took off the shelf

Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars - Miranda Emmerson

which I think is odd enough!  Enjoy August, ask for rain (but only at night) and if you are having a holiday - enjoy!

Thursday, 25 July 2019

The Speckled People - Hugo Hamilton

This is a fascinating little memoir of Hamilton's early years.  A "Free Ireland" father, and a German mother, he and his siblings spoke only "Irish" (Gaelic) or German at home, and English when their father was not around to hear them.  At one point he describes some other children playing cowboys and indians in the street, but he could not join in  because cowboys and indians could not possibly be played in the Irish language.....  They were loved and cared for, but during the course of the book various beatings were meted out by their father for not speaking Irish:  he even made his own life difficult by wanting to make a little more money than his job paid and various schemes were put into practice.  Most failed because of his insistence of only dealing with people who would pronounce his Gaelic name properly (and most couldn't).   His mother, a gentle soul with a dark secret, came to Ireland after WW2 and only rarely went back to visit family and friends in Germany and was homesick for long periods of time.

There are some nice little insights into recent history here - how non-Nazi supporters had to act during Hitler's rule, and how kind those people tried to be if they could.  His mother referred to the Nazis as "the fist people" and it's easy to see why.  Then there was the building of the Berlin Wall - up in the 1960s, gone by the late 1980s; and the blowing up of Nelson's column in Dublin.  I found some parts rather harrowing, but Hamilton has such a wonderful writing style here that I found it quite magical too.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man - Fanny Flagg

When Daisy Fay and her parents move to Shell Beach, Mississippi, she starts a diary, and you'll find out lots of things about Daisy Fay's family, her Father's drinking, her Mother's disappointment in him, and Daisy Fay's life.  She's eleven, and Flagg has captured the mind of an eleven year old so well.  She's funny.  She's a tomboy.  She hates maths, and why shouldn't she?!  Her Father has raised money to buy a half share in a fast food and drink establishment on the beach, and he has loads of ideas about making money down there in the South.  It's no surprise that the ice cream freezer is soon full of road kill and the like, because one of those schemes involves taxidermy from a "teach yourself" course.  And no, it wasn't a success!

She's a brave kid, always the optimist. It's not too long, after many rows and makeups, that her Mother leaves, and Daisy Fay becomes even more independent.  Her father drinks even more, invites "women friends" to stay the night and at the end of the first year the business has made a loss.  Her life is described as though she was talking to you, a friend she had just met, and in the most part you will laugh out load (a lot!).  But you will also have a great deal of sympathy for this tomboy who does not quite fit anywhere with  her specs and chipped tooth, and there is a nice balance of pathos too.

Along the way she looses her Mother, her dog, eventually the cat, but she makes some really good friends, and a couple of enemies too, and by the time the book ends she is eigheen and life has a surprise in store for Daisy Fay. I have enjoyed every one of Fannie Flagg's books and this is no exception.

Recommended except for this new cover..... she's a tomboy!  Jeans or shorts and a Tshirt - under no circumstances a cute gingham dress with puffy sleeves and neat hair. 

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Large White Butterfly..... Dorset Garden July 2019


 Not my picture, taken in fact from the British Butterflies site, this is a female Large White.  Saw her hovering over the lavender last week. I never have my camera in the garden at the right time!

 But my garden is very low on butterflies and moths this year, sadly.  I wonder if the birds are eating them? I'd expect to see several species by now, but only one in May and one in July so far seems too little by far.

Friday, 5 July 2019

We Hope for Better Things - Erin Bartels

Some books you feel lucky you found, don't you?  I belong to an on-line quarterly book club, and this was the choice recently.  I had never heard of it, and a member who had read it passed it on to me.  I read all sorts of things, but like of us all I do enjoy a story that encourages you onwards with "just another page/chapter - or two/three/four!"

We Hope For Better Things has three separate time lines - The American Civil War, the Detroit Riots in the 1960s and today.  The leading characters are all women, Mary during the Civil War, Nora in the 1960s and Elizabeth today, who tells you this complicated but so cleverly linked story.  Can love overcome everything?  I think we always hope so, but it isn't always the case, and then again, sometimes life conspires to find us in the wrong place and then it isn't plain sailing.  This is a book about three women who don't necessarily get the happy ending they started out wishing for.  Bartel's understanding of race and prejudice makes this a book worth reading, because each woman is different, each lives in a different time and each has a major problem which haunts them.  The sense of history is given in glimpsed descriptions of the times but we are made to understand that in the case of Mary and Nora, society at large often conspires against us.  Secrets are revealed slowly and surely as the pages are turned.  Warning - don't read the last paragraph  before you start, but read it twice when you finish!

I know this description of the book is rather vague, but reader, if you are intrigued, I want you to discover this one yourself because for me it really was a wonderful read.

Early One Morning - Virginia Baily

I was attracted to this novel purely by the cover (as I suppose this is meant to happen!) and it has very little about the contents on the b...