Monday, January 29, 2018

The Chronicles of Barsetshire

I've finally finished reading all of Anthony Trollope's Barsetshire and Palliser novels. Trollope is enjoying a resurgence of popularity and I know lots of others are reading these books. This post is a little summary of the Barsetshire novels, to be followed with a second post about the Palliser series.

The Chronicles of Barsetshire are all set in and around the fictional cathedral town of Barchester, located somewhere in the southwest part of England. As far as series are concerned, this one is loosely constructed. Some key characters appear in each novel, but each one has an independent story line and works more or less as a stand alone.


The Warden (1855) Many Trollope readers express affection for this short (for Trollope) novel. It introduces us to the characters who will feature in all the following Barsetshire books and who can help but love the kindly Mr. Harding, the novel's main character. This book is about a manufactured church scandal. Mr. Harding presides over a "hospital" (really just a charitable home) for indigent old men. He receives a handsome salary and free house in exchange. The papers get ahold of the story and present it as a scandal of monstrous proportions - blood sucking clergyman getting rich on backs of old men, etc. Mr. Harding's daughter Susan is married to archdeacon Grantley, and the Grantleys are the family around which all the Barsetshire novels revolve. There's also a love story concerning Mr. Harding's younger daughter Eleanor, and the church reformer John Bold.


Barchester Towers (1857) In this novel, the Grantleys grapple with the appointment of a new bishop of Barchester. Archdeacon Grantley is the son of the late bishop and has some expectation of filling the role himself. Instead, Bishop Proudie is appointed and he comes with an odious wife, Mrs. Proudie, who will provide entertainment in all the following Barchester novels. In addition, there's their sanctimonious assistant, Obadiah Slope, who pursues the widowed Eleanor Bold. (Alan Rickman played Obadiah Slope in the BBC series based on the Barsetshire Chronicles.)


Dr. Thorne (1858) This novel takes us outside of Barchester itself and away from the Grantleys. Dr. Thorne, respectable, but without an excess of money, lives with his niece Mary, who is illegitimate. Her mother is dead, her father unknown. Mary and Frank Gresham, the son of the local squire are in love. Frank's mother is one of the aristocratic de Courcy family and she is not going to accept a marriage with a penniless girl of dubious birth. This book has a plot twist that I don't want to spoil, but ultimately it's a satisfying love story and I've seen it mentioned several times as the favorite of the Barchester books.


Framley Parsonage (1860) I've seen people mention this as their least favorite Barchester novel, but I enjoyed it. It concerns the young clergyman Mark Robarts, who, although not born into any great wealth, enjoys a happy marriage and a position as the rector of Framley, which comes with a comfortable income. It's painful to watch him make a series of stupid financial mistakes and bring his family to the brink of ruin. Perhaps this is why some people have difficulty with this book. There's also a love story, involving Mark's sister Lucy and his friend, Lord Ludovic Lufton. This book has a secondary plot involving the marriage of Archdeacon Grantley's daughter Griselda, to Lord Dumbello, which allows for some brilliantly catty scenes between Mrs. Grantley and Mrs. Proudie. Finally, this novels ties up the story of Dr. Thorne in a most satisfying way.


The Small House at Allington (1864) A love triangle between Lily Dale, Johnny Eames, and the caddish Adolphus Crosbie. We also return to the family fortunes of the de Courcys from Dr. Thorne. I loved this book at the outset, but later grew frustrated with Lily Dale, who is absolutely bent on self-destruction. We are also introduced to Plantagenet Palliser, the young man who will be the focal character of the Palliser series. He considers (shocking!) a dalliance with the married Lady Dumbello, or Griselda Grantley of Framley Parsonage.



The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867) This novel concerns Reverend Josiah Crawley, the curate of Hogglestock, a less-affluent region of Barsetshire. We first meet Mr. Crawley in Framley Parsonage, when his wife becomes ill and Lucy Robarts moves in to take care of her. The Crawleys are desperately poor, and Mr. Crawley is of a stern and upright nature and firmly resists any efforts to help him. In this book, Mr. Crawley is accused of stealing a check for fifty pounds. Now, it's obvious to everyone that Mr. Crawley is the last person to steal anything, but the stolen check is in his possession, he can't say how he got it, and he refuses to bestir himself to fight for his innocence. To add to Mr. Crawley's troubles are Mrs. Proudie and a sycophant clergyman who has an eye for stealing Crawley's curacy, once he's in jail. The love story (because there's always a love story) concern's Mr. Crawley's daughter Grace and Henry Grantley. The Grantleys all agree that Grace is a lovely girl, but they don't want to be connected with the daughter of an accused thief. We're also treated to the conclusion of the Lily Dale/Johnny Eames love story and some glorious angry scenes between Mrs. Proudie and Reverend Crawley.

I can't name a favorite Barsetshire novel. I loved them all. These books are the comforting sort that you long to get back to at the end of a long day, but not so comfortable that you're bored. You'll rage at the injustice that some characters face at the hands of Mrs. Proudie and others of her ilk, and you'll laugh as Trollope mocks annoying human traits that are easily recognizable among your own acquaintance.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

New Orleans Part II

Brigid's porch on Sunday morning

Bright and early on Sunday, Brigid and I walked from her house to the Wakin' Bakin' Cafe for breakfast. I had a delicious bowl of yogurt topped with hemp granola, berries, and Louisiana honey. Then we headed for the famous St. Charles Avenue streetcar and rode into the Garden District. This is the oldest continuously running streetcar line in the world. We hopped off at Washington Street and walked to Lafayette Cemetery.



During an earlier visit to the cemetery, Brigid had found a tomb with a bit of the top broken off, a view of the bones within, and a mysterious mason jar containing a mysterious thing that, viewed through the clouded glass, could easily have been an eyeball, or was perhaps something innocuous like a tulip bulb. At any rate, we searched for it at some length and finally stumbled on it, just as Brigid had remembered it, only now, offerings of coins and a string of Mardi Gras beads were piled by the hole in the tomb. It's funny about Mardi Gras beads - here at home I see them as clutter and toss any beads that make their way into my house, but they look so right in New Orleans. They're everywhere, draped on fences and houses - we even saw a huge pothole in the street that was filled with them. They're like an integral part of the city itself.




Mystery mason jar
We left the cemetery and walked over to the Irish Channel, on the other side of Magazine Street. This is where the Irish settled when they first came to New Orleans and I was curious to see it. My own Irish ancestors went to Pennsylvania, but there's a long and interesting history of the Irish in New Orleans. And we shopped a bit on Magazine street and I bought Jon a leather card holder made by a local artisan.
In the Irish Channel

My house in Cville has a similar stained glass window

(Side note: most of my pictures are awful. I forgot to pack my camera and had only a phone. Plus, I was mostly focused on absorbing the surroundings and talking to Brigid, so I left my phone in my pocket and missed several good photo ops.) Anyway, we headed to lunch at the house of one of Brigid's friends, who, with a group of friends, transforms her backyard into a restaurant or theater. It's called The Pepper Lantern and is in the Faubourg Marigny.  



You squeeze yourself through this tiny alley and emerge into a backyard where there was a fire, a bar, tables and chairs arrayed on the grass. We ordered a sampler plate to share - one of each dish on the menu, which was a hot African groundnut stew, sweet potato hummus with flatbread, a delicious salad with chard, beets and oranges, and a latke topped with pickled red cabbage. We also ordered a yummy cinnamon oatmeal baked apple for dessert and ordered mimosas from the bar.

Our sampler platter

New Orleans is THE place to see vintage typewriters in the wild




There was live music, so we hung around for a while, drowsing in the sun. It was a cold day, but we were in the sun and sheltered from the wind. (It was so cold and windy in New Orleans that my face is as chapped as if I'd spent the weekend skiing.) We left after a while and stopped at a market to buy a bottle of Gingeroo (a bottled rum/ginger cocktail) and headed to City Park to drink it and watch the sunset under the Singing Tree, a live oak, hung with wind chimes. There's no open container law, so it's totally acceptable to do this. Brigid says you can pop into a cafe on Sunday mornings and order a bloody Mary to go. It's not like I want to run amok in the streets but honestly, some alcohol laws are ridiculous. Why shouldn't you be able to stroll about with a beer - an eminently civilized activity, in my opinion - if you feel like it? .

The Singing Tree


Live oak in City Park

But now it was late afternoon and I was acutely conscious that my flight left the next day at 5:30 am. We ate a simple dinner in a French restaurant and then said our goodbyes. The whole trip had been magical and it was just so wonderful to see my daughter in her own surroundings, meet her friends and see her life. I think what struck my the most was when Brigid said that in New Orleans, people don't ask what you do, they ask what you make. I love that.

The trip home was uneventful except for one incident I'd like to relate because it was so silly on my part. First of all, the rental car area of the New Orleans airport has a very robust anti-theft system. In my experience, you stop at the kiosk, are given keys, and you drive away. In New Orleans, once you're in possession of the car, you must stop at a second kiosk, where, while you show your contract to an agent, a security bar comes down and a plate of vicious spikes elevates from the floor, ensuring serious damage to the car should you decide to make a run for it. That's right. At the New Orleans airport, they would rather wreck the car than let you steal it.

So anyway, I was anxious about several things that morning, including missing my flight and not being able to find the rental car return. And then I was delayed leaving my hotel because my windshield was frozen and the car didn't have an ice scraper and THEN, despite my maps app, I got onto the highway going in the wrong direction and had to loop back and wasted several precious minutes. I finally got to the rental car return, a multi-level parking garage, and I missed the Alamo sign on the second level and drove up to the third level which was for cars from different companies. I realized my mistake immediately, but now I was stuck because of the above-mentioned theft precautions, it was literally impossible to exit the garage and drive down to the second level, and of course no one was manning the kiosk at 4:00 am. So I left the car with the "Thrifty" company and went off to catch my flight.

In Atlanta, where it was now a more reasonable hour, I called the "customer care" phone number from the email about my reservation and explained the whole situation. The person I spoke to was very kind but when she tried to call the Alamo office in New Orleans, no one was answering the phone. She told me not to worry and I hung up and then realized I'd called Orbitz' customer service number and not Alamo's itself. But here is the thing, I'm one of those people with a phone call phobia. It had taken much resolve to make even the call to Orbitz. (I had considered just not calling anyone and hoping it would sort itself out.) The thought of making another phone call and having to go through the whole rigamarole again was unbearable. So I left myself in the fate of Orbitz customer service and consoled myself with the thought that surely I wasn't the first person to make this mistake and that the Thrifty people would probably soon notice that a car that didn't belong to them was in their lot and it would all be sorted. Which it was, apparently. I can see from my credit card statement that I was charged $10 more than the contract, but if $10 is the fine for being a dumbass, I am OK with that.

Otherwise, I got home with no problem to find that Jon, in my absence, had painted a surprise mural on one of our walls. It's growing on me. I mean, why not?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Weekend in New Orleans

I just got back from a little visit with Brigid down in New Orleans! I had never been there before, but it's a place I've always wanted to see, so it's super exciting that one of my children actually lives there. Brigid works full time, teaching, so when I arrived last Thursday morning, I was on my own for a bit. (Jon stayed home. With our work schedules, his speaking engagements, and the needs of the dogs, it is increasingly difficult to travel together.)

As much as I love solo travel, I really hate driving in an unfamiliar city, and since I arrived before the check-in time at my hotel, I drove straight from the airport to a museum, partly to view the exhibits, but also to get my feet on the ground and have a chance to get oriented. There are many museums in New Orleans and I chose the National World War II museum, at Brigid's recommendation. (Bonus, but unbeknownst to me at the time, it turned out to be within walking distance of my hotel.) I'd say this museum is a must for anyone who is interested in the American experience in WWII. Exhibits cover everything from domestic life during wartime, to military uniforms, weapons, and many artifacts of all kinds. Particularly well done were the short informational films that played on loop, in various places throughout the museum. Of course I remember learning about the major events of the war in school, but these films, made up of actual footage from the time, really expanded my knowledge of and brought to life the raid on Pearl Harbor, D-Day, and the development of the first nuclear bomb. (Indeed, the short film about the Trinity Test - when we blew up a plutonium bomb in the New Mexico desert - was so compelling I sat through it twice and would have watched it a third time, but I felt like I'd hogged the bench for too long.) It was also a shock to see the displays of nazi symbols and regalia, as these are no longer just exhibits in a museum, but had been worn openly by the terrorists who invaded my city.

A typical WWII-era kitchen exhibit

I spent a lot of time in the domestic exhibit. :)
Please forgive the terrible quality of these pictures.


I drove to Brigid's house in mid-city and we walked along the bayou and then had dinner at a delightful mid-eastern restaurant, 1,000 Figs. We shared the spectacular felafel platter and a dish of spiced lamb hummus.

Empty plinth in mid-city where there used to be a confederate monument.


Friday was very bad, as I was sick the whole day. I'd had a bad headache after landing the day before and even cut short my visit to the WWII museum because I wasn't feeling well. I rallied in the evening after Brigid gave me some ibuprofen, but Friday I felt awful. I did manage to walk to a nearby pharmacy on St. Charles Avenue and buy ibuprofen and ginger ale. Back in the hotel, I spent the day throwing up and sleeping, just like when I went to Buffalo in August. I'm starting to think that flying must be triggering migraines because I'm never sick so it's weird that I would become so very sick whenever I fly and there are all sorts of articles on google about protracted air sickness and flying-induced migraines.

Saturday morning, still somewhat shaky, I ventured into my hotel's cheerful, sunny dining room and had a piece of toast and some coffee and felt amazingly better almost at once. My hotel (actually a bed & breakfast) was the Creole Gardens, set in an 1840's house and outbuildings around a courtyard.  Based on the conversations I overheard in the dining room, many of the guests were French. It's a beautiful building, located on the edge of the Garden district and very close to the famous St. Charles Avenue streetcar line. (Hint: I discovered when buying the ibuprofen that you can buy passes for the streetcar at Walgreens, which is handy because the ticket machines on the streetcar itself don't give change. A single ticket is $1.50 and a 24 hour pass is $3.00.)

Brigid and I strolled around the French Quarter, looking in art galleries and shops and we visited St. Louis Cathedral, where I lit a candle in thanks for my returned health.


One fun feature of the French Quarter is the street poets!

This poet must have gone off to get a hot drink. It was freezing!
Brigid's friend Zaq wrote me a poem about "resistance."




We had filled crepes for lunch at Cafe Conti in the French Quarter. After lunch we went to the Bywater neighborhood and walked to the "end of the world," a levy along the Mississippi, busy with industrial shipping. Brigid tells me that it's slated to become the launch point of a future Disney cruise, so the End of the World is at the end of its world. :(





We walked to The Sneaky Pickle, a vegan restaurant on St. Claude Street for hot tea and a snack. (New Orleans has so many great restaurants! I wouldn't have known what to choose but Brigid is familiar with lots of great places.) We poked around in a used book store, The Rubber Library, and I bought a vintage Duncan Hines cookbook and an old copy of Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore LappĂ©. 

The Rusty Rainbow



After that, we stopped in a bar for a glass of wine and a chance to look at our books and then walked over the "rusty rainbow" a humpbacked bridge over the railroad tracks and viewed the New Orleans skyline. 


Brigid sews costumes from assorted old garments and some of them were to be exhibited at the "Sustainaball" an event sponsored by Grow On, a community urban farming and sustainability organization. 



The back of a cloak Brigid made

Since it was Second Saturday and there were gallery shows going on everywhere, we went to a show at a ceramics gallery, where I couldn't resist buying this:


We finished the night with a late dinner of po'boys at the Parkway in mid-city. Goodness this post is getting long. I think I'll save the rest of the trip for a second installment.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Books of 2017 Part 3



The Innocent Traveler by Ethel Wilson (1980) Saga of several generations of a Victorian family who eventually emigrate to Canada. Mostly focuses on the free spirited Topaz, the old-maid, eccentric aunt.

The Friendly Young Ladies by Mary Renault (1944) A young girl runs away from home in search of her disgraced older sister.

The Golden Door by A. A. Gill (2011) Essays about America by a brit. One essay, depicting a cruel experiment performed by Thomas Edison (who was a monster, by the way) really put me off the whole book. Don't read this if you love elephants. Or skip that essay. Much thoughtful material though.

In Spite of all Terror by Hester Burton (1968) A children's book about the rescue from Dunkirk in early WW II.

The Proper Place by O. Douglas (1929) An aristocratic family faces reduced financial circumstances, sells the family estate and settle in a small fishing village in Scotland.

The Brandons by Angela Thirkell (1939) I've read so many Thirkell novels that their plots are starting to run together. This is one of her typical comedy of manners.

The Country Life Cookery Book by Ambrose Heath (1937) Vintage British cookbook. I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but I intend to.

The Sun in Scorpio by Margery Sharp (1965) This was one of my favorites of the year. A family living on Malta must return to England because of WW I. This book follows the misadventures of the family's younger daughter who can't thrive in the dreary northern climate.


Frost in May by Antonia White (1933) Young Nanda Gray, whose family recently converted to Catholicism, is sent to a select Catholic boarding school for girls. I believe this novel is autobiographical and there is much in it that will resonate with those of us who had a Catholic education.

The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell (1857) Brilliant and readable biography. Gaskell knew Bronte personally.

Before Lunch by Angela Thirkell (1940) One of Thirkell's recurring themes is people falling in love with the wrong person. But everything's always sorted out in the end.

The Duke's Children by Anthony Trollope (1880) The last of the Palliser novels. Not even being the Duke of Omnium will protect you from young adult children who behave like dumbasses.

The Day of Small Things by O. Douglas (1930) Continuation of the story from The Proper Place, mentioned above.


Britannia Mews by Margery Sharp (1946) Satisfying novel that repudiates social conventions and also explores the consequences (not all bad, eventually) of a terrible decision, made in one's youth. Was made into a move, called The Forbidden Street. Anyone seen it?

Cheerfulness Breaks In by Angela Thirkell (1941) Oh dear, the War has come to Barsetshire. I thought this one was better than her average.

My Sister Eileen by Ruth McKenney (1938) The funny adventures and misadventures of two American girls.

Too Close to the Falls by Catherine Gildiner (1999) Memoir of a young girl growing up in Lewiston, NY, a small village just north of Niagara Falls. I loved this because Catherine herself is a precocious and amazing character, but also because I recognized so many local landmarks and names and also the overpowering sense of danger and attraction that comes from being close to Niagara Falls. I will be reading the second book soon, about Gildiner's teenage years in Amherst, NY which is the actual town where I grew up.

A Woman's Walks by Lady Colin Campbell (1903) Travel essays. I have to be honest and say, these were ho-hum to me.

Mama Makes up her Mind by Bailey White (1993) Essays about an eccentric southern family. Funny at first, but a bit tiresome by the end.

The Silver Thorn by Hugh Walpole (1928) I really enjoyed this collection of short stories. This was my first Walpole, but I think I'll be reading more of him.

Forever Chic by Tish Jett (2013) A book about fashion and beauty for the over-40 crowd.

Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp (1944) Cluny has been raised by her plumber uncle, since the death of her mother. The fact that she "looks like she's somebody" leads her into some unusual escapades. Was also a movie! Margery Sharp really raked in the movie deals, didn't she?

Northbridge Rectory by Angela Thirkell (1942) A small English village continues to grapple with life during wartime. This might be my favorite Thirkell to date.

& Sons by David Gilbert (2013) A group of sons is summoned by their father, after his closest friend dies. I had a hard time liking this one, partly because the narrator isn't very likable.

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey (1930) Takes place on a single blustery day in March, in which the bride is somewhat ambivalent. Was made into a movie, but I haven't seen it yet.


Johannesburg by Fiona Melrose (2017) Inspired by Mrs. Dalloway; chronicles a single day in Johannesburg, in which Nelson Mandela dies and a woman plans a birthday party for her mother. Uncomfortable reading for an American in the Trump era. We're bad enough, but see what happens to unarmed POC here. (I'm not sure if this one is available in the US yet. I got mine from Amazon UK)


The Nutmeg Tree by Margery Sharp (1937) How amusing that the final book of the year turned out to be the best! Julia Packett is perhaps no better than she should be, but she shows true moral courage in trying to prevent her daughter from marrying a bounder. (I haven't yet seen the film version - Julia Misbehaves. If you've seen it, let me know if it's good!)


Monday, January 08, 2018

Books of 2017 - Part Two


The Postman Always Rings Twice by James Cain (1934) I thought this would be about a housewife having an affair with the postman, and it wasn't. It is about an extramarital affair, though.

Mariana by Monica Dickens (1940) Funny and beautifully written novel about a young girl growing up in London.

The Prime Minister by Anthony Trollope (1876) Fifth of the Palliser novels.


One Pair of Hands by Monica Dickens (1937) Hilarious memoir about Dickens' experiences working as a cook-general in various households in England.

The Fortunes of Harriette by Angela Thirkell (1936) I was surprised that this turned out to be a biography of Harriette Wilson, a regency era courtesan. (I was expecting another Barsetshire novel.) Honestly, don't kill yourself trying to track this one down.

Hostages to Fortune by Elizabeth Cambridge (1933) Lovely novel about a young family in England, mostly in the WWI era.

Summer Half by Angela Thirkell (1947) Tedious novel about a young law student who takes a temporary job teaching the summer term at a boys' boarding school. Important to read for Thirkell fans, though, because it introduces you to characters who will figure prominently in her later novels.

Scenes from Provincial Life by William Cooper (1950) I had the odd impression that this book wasn't what I'd intended to read at all and that there's a different book by the same title that was what I really meant to read. Anyway, it's a sort of autobiography of a young teacher and his romantic misadventures.


Portrait of Elmbury, Brensham Village, The Blue Field by John Moore (1945 - 1948) These make up the Brensham Trilogy, a series about a town and nearby villages in England, before, during, and just after WW II.

Pink Sugar by O. Douglas (1924) Cozy novel about a fortunate young woman settling into a small village in Scotland.

The Innocents by Margery Sharp (1972) A mother who refuses to accept that there might be something wrong with her daughter, leaves her in the care of an elderly woman for the duration of WWII. This woman, though undoubtedly the best caregiver for the little girl, seems to be an unreliable narrator, which adds a slight edge of creepiness to the story.


The Little Bookroom by Eleanor Farjeon (1955) A children's book of very imaginative short stories.


Pomfret Towers by Angela Thirkell (1938) British comedy of manners and romance. Rather better than other Thirkell novels I'd read to this point.

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking (2017) One of those bullshit books trying to capitalize on a trend. Don't waste your money.

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran (2011) Essays on all aspects of womanhood. Very funny and I also learned that if a shoe comes in yellow, you should buy it in that color.


Olivia in India by O. Douglas (1912) Charming and funny epistolary novella about a young woman's trip to India.

I'm going to finish up the list in a third post.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Books of 2017 - Part 1

One of my favorite posts to write each year, a list of everything I read over the past year. As with 2016, I read a lot of undemanding cozy lit books. Very little non-fiction books in this list, and most of those are cookbooks.

How to Create the Perfect Wife by Wendy Moore (2013) - Disturbing account of Thomas Day, who set about adopting a couple of young orphans and training them up so he could choose one to be his perfect wife.

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell (1968) - Frank and salty account of the life of a servant in Edwardian England.

The Father Hunt by Rex Stout (1968) - Nero Wolfe mystery

I read the Alexandria Quartet over the last of 2016 and into 2017

Balthazar by Lawrence Durrell (1958) - The second book in his Alexandria Quartet, which is a series of novels focused on the marriage and love affairs of an Egyptian family and assorted British ex-pats in Egypt.


Eugene Onegin by Pushkin (1830) - I read this because I enjoyed the movie, which starred Ralph Fiennes and Liv Tyler. This is actually a long poem, telling the story of a Russian nobleman.

Breakfast, Lunch, Tea by Rose Carrarini (2006) - recipes from the Rose Bakery in Paris.

Death of a Dude by Rex Stout (1969) - Nero Wolfe mystery

Phineas Redux by Anthony Trollope (1859) The third of Trollope's Palliser novels.

Please Pass the Guilt by Rex Stout (1973)

A Family Affair by Rex Stout (1975)

Ripe for the Picking by Annie Hawes (2003) -  Continuation of the very popular Extra Virgin, Hawe's account of settling on an olive farm in northern Italy.

O These Men These Men These Men by Angela Thirkell (1935) - The story of a failed marriage rife with sexism, classism, and bigotry that I couldn't overlook, even considering the year it was written.

Mountolive by Lawrence Durrell (1959) Third of the Alexandria Quartet

Schoolhouse in the Wind by Anne Treneer (1944) Charming memoir about growing up in the schoolmaster's family in a small village in Cornwall in the early 1900s.

Clea by Lawrence Durrell (1960) Final novel of the Alexandria Quartet

Dear Dr. Lily by Monica Dickens (1988) Spans the friendship of two very different women, who both emigrate from the UK to the US.


A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul (1961) Novel about the Indian community living in Trinidad, particularly Mohun Biswas, his marriage and relationship with his overbearing in-laws, and his quest for a house of his own.

The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West (1939) Old school Hollywood.

Journey to the South by Annie Hawes (2005) Hawes' account of her visit to her fiance's hometown in Calabria.

The Cornish Years by Anne Treneer (1944) Second part of Treneer's memoir, this time covering her time at a teaching college and her teaching career. There is a third book, Stranger in the Midlands, that I haven't read yet.


The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt (2011) Two outlaw brothers in the western US. Philosophical and sad.

Farmhouse Revival by Steve Gross and Susan Daley (2013) Gorgeous book of farmhouse interiors.

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty (2013) A sexy and smart suspense novel.

A Handful of Honey by Annie Hawes (2008) Hawes recounts an adventure from her teens, in the seventies - getting kicked out of Portugal for being politically dangerous and her rescue by a Moroccan family in Paris and her later attempt to find this family in North Africa.

The Landlord's Daughter by Monica Dickens (1968) Somewhat creepy novel about an awkward gym teacher and her secret life.

A History of Food in 100 Recipes by William Sitwell (2013) This book turned out to be less interesting to me than the title suggested it would. Lots of lecture, few real recipes, or at least not ones I wanted to try.


Scoop by Evelyn Waugh (1937) A series of mistakes sends the wrong man to a fictional east African country to cover a revolution there for The Daily Beast.


The Joyous Season by Patrick Dennis (1965) Very funny novel about the breakup of a marriage, told from the child's perspective.



Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen (1939) Portia Quayne is a 16 year old orphan who must move in with her brother and his wife, and the subtle cruelty of their treatment of her.

OK, I'm realizing that I read a LOT of books in 2017. I'm going to break this up into two or three posts, or you'll be scrolling forever. Tell me about your reading experiences in 2017.