Sunday, February 26, 2012

Monday Malarkey - Mini reviews of Fairy Tale Interrupted; Paris, My Sweet; The Return of the Soldier; Eloise; & Corrie ten Boom's Prison Letters

There is a stunning amount of blooming and budding happening in our area, so I did a little photography, this weekend. But, mostly I worked on cleaning. Or, at least that's what I call it. From the looks of things, I worked at making a very big mess. I dragged bins full of books out of a closet, you see. And, as I was going through them to do the regular purging chore, I kept getting sidetracked.

That always happens when I'm trying to purge. At any rate, I finished 5 books and I'm not going to write full reviews of them, so here's a brief run-down of each:

Fairy Tale Interrupted by RoseMarie Terenzio - A Memoir of Rose's time working for John F. Kennedy, Jr., beginning with her PR job and how she gradually got to know JFK, Jr. and his wife, Carolyn Bessett, then became his receptionist, personal assistant and friend while working at George magazine. As much a lovely tribute to the late Kennedy and his wife as a memoir about her work life and love life, Fairy Tale Interrupted is a quick, enjoyable read.

The only thing I disliked about Fairy Tale Interrupted was the litany of the perks that went with working for such a fabulously wealthy man and reading about the author's self-esteem issues. But, they're part of the story. They just interested me less than the famous couple and how Rose became close to them.

Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas - Another memoir, Paris, My Sweet is about the author's two years living in Paris, working in advertising for Louis Vuitton, biking the streets of Paris to seek out the best desserts.

Less a travel memoir and more a foodie journal, I didn't realize the emphasis on sweets would alternately make me feel queasy and droolish. The writing is light and fun, so I enjoyed it. I would have preferred to read more about her travels around Europe and less about all those desserts, though, even though her search for desserts was the whole point. Lesson learned. I think most foodie memoir lovers will enjoy this one and I do recommend it.

The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West - The intro to Good Evening, Mrs. Craven compared Mollie Panter-Downes' writing with that of Rebecca West, her contemporary, so I'd been planning to read something by Rebecca West out of curiosity. Then, I happened to look at a pile of books and there was a Rebecca West, staring me in the face. At only 82 pages, The Return of the Soldier is a quick read but a powerful one. It is 1918. Chris has not written home from the front [WWI] for a fortnight and his cousin Jenny is worried but wife Kitty assumes he's fine because they haven't been contacted by the war office.

Then, an impoverished woman arrives at their fabulous estate with a telegram saying he's been injured and says she also received a letter written by Chris and sent from the hospital. He has suffered amnesia and his last memories are from 15 years ago. Margaret was the love of his life and it is she whom he has contacted. What happened to tear them apart? Why, upon his return, is he refusing to give in to the obvious changes in his life? If his memory returns, will he be sent back to the front? How far should the women go to ensure his safety? And, why did the war office not contact Kitty?

There is so much to this little book that I wish I had someone to chat with about The Return of the Soldier. It's fascinating.

Eloise by Kay Thompson - I found a copy of Eloise, the classic children's book about an active little girl who lives in the Plaza Hotel in New York City with her nanny, while cleaning. I'd completely forgotten how oh my Lord fun it is and had a grand old time re-reading Eloise. My copy is not an original but one I purchased when I was working at a bookstore. I need an excuse to buy the rest of the books in the Eloise series.







Corrie ten Boom's Prison Letters - Letters and notes (smuggled out with the help of a German officer) written during the time of The Hiding Place's author's first imprisonment at Scheveningen prison for helping Jews as well as the time spent with sister Betsie at Vught concentration camp. I believe The Hiding Place is about her time in Ravensbruck, where she miraculously was spared death due to a clerical error.

The letters came from both directions -- those written by Corrie and Betsie and those from family to the two prisoners. I can't read anything at all by Corrie ten Boom without tears and this was no exception. Besides being cold, starving, often ill and finding out that their father had died after only 9 days in prison, the biggest frustration for Corrie and Betsie was that so many people were not interested in listening to their message of hope (they were devout Christians). Deeply moving. My copy is a former library paperback with a pocket inside and yellowed tape holding bits of it together.


©2012 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

18 comments:

  1. Prison Letters sounds interesting. I might have to try and track down a copy!

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    1. It's very interesting. She added some notes to explain things that were written in code or which needed further explanation. I think the hardest thing is the ending. At the end, they were transported to Ravensbruck concentration camp, where no mail or parcels were allowed. It was a death camp, not a temporary prison. They dropped a note on the tracks, asking anyone who found it to let their family know where they were being taken. She didn't say whether or not anyone found it. Have you read The Hiding Place? It's excellent.

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  2. So did you manage to purge any books??

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    1. Yes, I bagged up about 25 or so. Not as many as I'd hoped but I'm going to keep working on it!

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  3. It's been lovely here but today it's rainy and cold. Finally! I know it's weird to cheer for rain but So Cal can get so darn dry without it. LOL.

    I watched The Hub clean this weekend. I supervised.

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    1. No, it's not weird to cheer for rain. Sometimes I'm dying for a little cloud cover, here. We get an awful lot of sunshine.

      Ha! Smart girl! My husband did a bit of cleaning but he kept wearing himself out. He had to take iPad breaks.

      BTW, both of your messages came through; I deleted the second one, since it was a repeat. I moderate comments (but I think I got rid of the word verification; I meant to, anyway).

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  4. Ooooh…The Return of The Soldier really sounds wonderful…I'm going to have to look further for that one!! And I love love love that picure of the flowers in bloom :D Everything is starting to bloom here too!! Our lemon tree is loaded with flowers right now and they smell SO good!

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    1. Chris,

      The Return of the Soldier is just flat awesome. There's so much to think about and talk about that I'm still wishing I had someone to chat with about it. Could you go find a copy and read it, quickly? LOL

      I need to figure out what kind of flowers those are. I thought the neighbors had a forsythia, but nope. There's one up the street and it's kind of boring (photographically speaking) compared to the trumpety flower vine, above, which is just gorgeous. I'll bet you've got a lot in bloom! I actually missed quite a bit. Not sure why I didn't think to go out and photograph the daffodils or Japanese magnolias before it was too late. I guess because it was so early it didn't feel like time to break out the camera!!!

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  5. I love the movie Eloise at the Plaza. It is a great Christmas movie. I don't think I have ever read the book though. Have you heard of the Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall? They are kinda like Eloise. I love them. I have not purged too many books lately. One came in recently and I have three more PWS books coming. lol What is helping me is my Nook and free books. I have gotton several that are also on my shelf so I PWS the ones on my shelf and I will read the ones on my Nook later. I never thought I would like it the way I do. :)

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    1. I've never seen Eloise at the Plaza! I'll have to look for that and the Penderwicks. Nope, haven't read those.

      I'm afraid I still am terrible about picking up the e-reader, but I have so many books that I'm just slowly hacking my way through the piles, trying to get rid of anything and everything that I no longer think I'll someday read. I *have* put a few books up for swap when I found the e-books for free, but I've got so many e-books that are just sitting there being ignored that I've even stopped looking at the freebies. Crazy. I hope someday I'll learn to love my e-reader, but it's not happening yet.

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  6. You do a great job on these mini reviews. They say so much and so simply too!! Well done. Great job - on the cleaning too!! We're going to look at a new bookcase for downstairs tomorrow. If all goes well I will be doing some relocating and purging of my own in the next while. Oh, how can I part with my "book babies"!?!?!

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    1. Thank you! Still working on the cleaning. I keep picking up the same books and saying, "Yes? No?" to myself. Argh. Sometimes it's fairly easy. I have gotten rid of a lot of mysteries and chick lit, for example, because I no longer read many of those. But, the vast majority of books still seem to be shouting, "Read me! Read me!" Silly old books. I wish you luck on your purging!!!

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  7. These were wonderful mini-reviews, and I really enjoyed them. I need to read the book from Corrie ten Boom, as I have heard a lot about her, but never read her story. I also have heard some less than pleasant things about Fairy Tale Interrupted. It almost seems as if the author uses her platforms to talk about herself most of the time, instead of her subjects, and I think that would really annoy me.

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    1. Zibilee,

      Thank you! I've read about 4 books by Corrie ten Boom and they were all moving but the best, by far, is The Hiding Place followed by In My Father's House. Prison Letters is good but it is a collection of what her sister Nollie managed to salvage and there are necessarily some gaps. Anyway, I highly recommend that you start with The Hiding Place. It's gut-wrenching but shows the amazing strength she got from her faith.

      Fairy Tale Interrupted was pretty good. I think I gave it 4 stars at Goodreads. Yes, it's about her -- about how she came to work for JFK, Jr. -- since it is a memoir, and sometimes you may feel like I did. I am a low-maintenance person. Designer clothes and fancy restaurants don't interest me, so she lost me a bit when she got all excited about such things. It was not surprising that she was snubbed by ivy-league educated editors and others; I've gotten plenty of that for admitting I stayed home with my children. There are certain jobs/life choices for which people automatically assume you are either uneducated or uninteresting. I empathized with her but she did come off as a tad whiny. Still, it was mostly a tribute, I think, and she did a marvelous job of convincing me that the guy she worked with wasn't at all the spoiled rich kid that the press painted him. It was definitely worth my time. Might not be your thing, though!! :)

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  8. The Hiding Place was the first WWII book that I read when I was a kid, and so I've always had a soft spot for her books.

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    1. I think I was pretty young when I read The Hiding Place but I can't say it was the first WWII book I read. Can't remember, anymore! I have always loved her writing, though. She was an amazing woman.

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  9. Fabulous minis!

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