One of my goals for 2013 (which I haven't bothered to write about -- just don't feel like writing down my goals, this year) is to attempt to keep my reviews short so I won't spend so much time online. Boy, did I fail on that count with House of Earth! But, I feel a little more comfortable with brevity when I read off my own shelves, for some reason, so the following are mini reviews of books from my own shelves.
Lucy by Ellen Feldman is a fictionalized account of the love affair between Lucy Mercer and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I must have had my head in the mud because I'd never heard of Lucy Mercer till recently but I love reading about Roosevelt and my interest was piqued when my friend Paula read Lucy. She very kindly sent me her copy (so it wasn't on my shelf for long).
I was terribly impressed with Lucy. It's told from Lucy's point of view and is quite believable for historical fiction about real-life characters in my opinion, possibly at least in part because the author took her time describing how the relationship developed. But, the writing also was very well done. I've read two books by Ellen Feldman, now, and I found Lucy much more sharply drawn, the characters very well-rounded. There were only a couple moments when I thought she drove home a point a little too fiercely and pulled me out of the story.
The author's note describes her use of letters and other documents and all indications lead to the thought that she did a rocking fine job of research. Highly recommended. Lucy was published in 2003 by W. W. Norton & Co.
How to Live with a Neurotic Cat by Stephen Baker is supposed to be humorous, but it didn't play on my own cats' idiosyncracies. I think we can all agree that they're pretty unusual animals. They're extremely active, even though they're now 4 and 3 years old, and they come running when I call them by name (unless they're deep in the midst of a nap). They have been trained to use cardboard and carpet-covered cat scratching surfaces, so they don't rip into the furniture. And, in the book there was absolutely nothing about cats knocking things off dressers. Isabel is big into "Knock It Off the Dresser," (usually around 4:00 AM) "Knock it Into the Bathtub" and other similar games.
I read How to Live with a Neurotic Cat because it's been on my shelves for eons and it's short. I figured it would be a good book to read quickly and donate. A friend of mine who has more cats than I do loved How to Live with a Neurotic Cat. I gave it 2 stars and had to quickly gobble down another short book to cleanse my palette, I disliked it so much. But, like I said, I think that's got something to do with the fact that my cats are so unique. They're really both more dog than cat, in many ways.
I love this review of How to Live with a Neurotic Cat at Cinamaetcetera. I think it's a little more fair than what I have to say about the book, a 1985 publication of Gramercy Books (a Random House imprint). Heh, told you it's been around a while, although I think mine was a reprint and didn't linger that long.
I got my copy of Letter from New York by Helene Hanff after reading 84, Charing Cross Road. It took a while to acquire this book and another title of hers, since I opted to get them via Paperback Swap, and then probably at least 2-3 years for me to get around to reading Letter from New York.
As you can see from the subtitle at the bottom, "Letter from New York" was a radio spot on the BBC Woman's Hour Broadcasts during which Helene spoke about life in New York. I think it was broadcast monthly, although I neglected to take notes. Letter from New York is a collection of all of the writings she could find from her days in radio. A few went missing.
I absolutely loved this book. Her writings were just stories from everyday life and, as such, painted an intriguing capsule portrait of life in New York City in the 1970s. Over the 6 years of her writings, things changed. A garden that was abandoned for lack of funds was brought back to life by volunteer effort, Christmas concerts that had been free for decades began to cost money, dogs died and new ones were adopted. Helene Hanff was dog crazy and I absolutely love her stories about the dogs in her building. Letter from New York is, like her better-known 84, Charing Cross Road, the kind of book that you close thinking, "I'll want to return to this world, some time in the future."
Highly recommended. A pleasant afternoon or evening read, quick enough to zip through but enjoyable enough to savor.
And, since I've admitted I'm old because I very well could have bought that neurotic cat book in 1985, although I'm almost positive I didn't, a peek into ancient history . . .
That's a photo I found tucked into my baby book, during the holiday break. I am on the right, kissing big sis goodbye on her first day of "big girl school". I don't have to confess the year, but you can probably figure it out or at least come close. I was 4 years old; she was 6. It always irritated her that I was never that far behind her in height. And, of course, I had great hair. Haha.
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