I reviewed THE PILOT’S WIFE on this blog (http://brandypurdy.blogspot.com/2009/06/pilots-wife-by-anita-shreve.html), but it's not a book I like to think about now as it reminds me of a relationship I had with a man who was leading a double life unbeknownst to me; discovering the truth was very devastating so this story is a little too close to home for me to truly enjoy it.
I also read her historical novel ALL HE EVER WANTED but never got around to reviewing it; it's set in a similar time period as FORTUNE’S ROCK and I was hoping I would like it just as much. It’s the story of a college professor’s obsession with the wife who can never love him, which she tells him upfront before their marriage. I felt Ms. Shreve made a rather daring choice in her narrator, the professor’s tone is frigid, long winded, and pedantic, appropriately Victorian or Edwardian I thought, but despite his passionate obsession, hard for a modern reader to warm up to, and I know from personal experience it is always a gamble to write a novel with a narrator who is difficult to like. So while I respect her choice, I don’t recommend this novel as a starting point for anyone’s introduction to Anita Shreve; the style is very different from her other novels.
I just could not get into RESISTANCE for some reason I even put it down and came back to it several weeks later; it may have been something about the book or it may just have been me, but I may give it another try next vacation. It's the story of the wife of a resistance worker living in a Nazi-occupied village in Belgium who has an affair with the wounded American pilot they are hiding in their attic.
If I do this digest format again, maybe after I finish my current work-in-progress I'll be able to say I've read all of Anita Shreve's novels to date, or I may decide to catch up on Jodi Picoult instead.
So far, FORTUNE'S ROCKS still remains my favorite Anita Shreve novel.
When I was a little girl one of my favorite movies was THE UGLY DACHSHUND so I was very curious to see how it compared with the 1938 novel it is based on. Well...Disney certainly took quite a few liberties with this one, and I think I approve.
THE UGLY DACHSHUND the book by Jane Austen scholar G.B. Stern takes place at a luxurious villa situated in sunny Provence.
Tono the Great Dane (Brutus in the movie) is a misfit among his family of Dachshunds, he doesn't understand why the Legs, as all the dogs call the humans, cuddle and coddle "the other Dachshunds," and even have the cook prepare special delicacies for them. His only consolation is occasional glimpses of the godlike Great Dog reflected in pools of water, mirrors, and the gleaming surfaces of walnut furniture. Unlike the movie, which shows the Great Dane's confusion and disastrous and often hilarious attempts to fit in, through his owners' eyes, the novel tells the story from the viewpoint of the various dogs, including a worldly know-it-all Brussels Griffon and a Hollywood platinum blonde Pomeranian, as well as Tono the Great Dane, and the Dachshunds, they even have conversations with each other, which seems more like a Disney film than the actual Disney film in which the dogs only bark. Actually, the only thing the movie has in common with the book is the idea of a Great Dane who thinks he's a Dachshund; Disney threw out the rest of the original story.
After seeing the movie THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE I was curious to know more about her, and biopics always make me curious about how much is truth and invention, so I read THE REAL BETTIE PAGE THE TRUTH ABOUT THE QUEEN OF THE PINUPS by Richard Foster.
I found it to be a fascinating and well-researched book, but the subject remained tantalizingly elusive. It was interesting to learn what Bettie's life was like after she walked away from the spotlight, but sad to read of her struggles with religious mania and mental illness.
While I had the time, I decided to revisit one of my favorite true crime books, CLUELESS IN NEW ENGLAND THE UNSOLVED DISAPPEARANCES OF PAULA WELDEN, CONNIE SMITH, AND KATHERINE HULL by Michael C. Dooling. I previously reviewed this book on this blog (http://brandypurdy.blogspot.com/2011/10/clueless-in-new-england-unsolved.html) but I think it deserves another mention. I have been fascinated by mysterious disappearances almost all my life, and the case of Paula Welden has long intrigued me so this book was a must for me the moment I heard of it. Paula was a sophomore at
As a classic movie lover, one of my favorite romantic screen teams is Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. From the time of their first on-screen pairing in the lavish operetta NAUGHTY MARIETTA in 1935 they were known as “
While outwardly both were happily married to other people, they carried on a decades long secret love affair, fully documented in Sharon Rich’s excellent non-fiction book SWEETHEARTS which I previously reviewed (http://brandypurdy.blogspot.com/2014/06/sweethearts-timeless-love-affair-on-and.html).
The first volume ‘TIL THE END OF TIME chronicles their courtship and marriage and the birth of their children.
The second volume MELODY IMMORTAL shows them in middle age, occasionally in frail health but with perpetually healthy libidos, as their children grow up and leave home.
The final book in the series, LOVE IN ANY LANGUAGE, has the happy couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary with a trip to Europe while their children, all grown into happy, well-adjusted adults, get on with their own lives and loves.
Another author, Jean Hull Herman, had a similar idea. Her novel is called WHEN I'M CALLING YOU A HAPPY ENDING FOR HOLLYWOOD'S JEANETTE MACDONALD AND NELSON EDDY this novel tells the story of their romance in the form of diary entries written by Jeanette's secretary/confidante and seems at first to offer a more realistic, fact-based version of what a happy resolution for Mac and Eddy might have been like until things take a bizarre twist with the introduction of magician Harry Blackstone.
Shortly after creating this blog, I reviewed an earlier fictionalization of the MacDonald/Eddy romance FAREWELL TO DREAMS by Diane Goodrich and Sharon Rich http://brandypurdy.blogspot.com/2009/05/farewell-to-dreams-by-diane-goodrich.html which offers a more fact-based version of their affair.
Another Hollywood tragedy that has long fascinated me is the mysterious death of actor George Reeves, best known as television's Superman. I try to read every book about the case and I have previously reviewed two on this blog, SPEEDING BULLET http://brandypurdy.blogspot.com/2013/06/speeding-bullet-life-and-bizarre-death.html and HOLLYWOOD KRYPTONITE http://brandypurdy.blogspot.com/2013/06/hollywood-kryptonite-by-sam-kashner-and.html the latest to come to my attention is HOLLYWOOD MURDER MYSTERY! THE NIGHT SUPERMAN DIED SOLVED! by Lee Saylor.
Stylistically, this was a strange book to read, the author repeatedly refers to his book as a novella, but it certainly doesn't read like one, although the author often makes such presumptions as "I know what was going through George's mind," and he has a very in your face style, often hammering home his points repeatedly. Despite these quibbles, it is definitely worth reading as Mr. Saylor had the opportunity to interview one of the key suspects Leonore Lemmon, George Reeve's party girl "fiancee" and he makes many good points that are well worth considering.
My mother loved Stephen King, and it’s still hard for me to read his books or watch the movies based on them, without thinking of her, but I was drawn to JOYLAND, it made me think of my favorites THE GREEN MILE and THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. As an old man, Devin Jones looks back on the summer of 1973 when he was a brokenhearted virgin who got a summer job at an amusement park that changed his life forever. Part ghost story, part murder mystery, part coming of age story, it has that same nostalgic feel to it, but it’s not as powerful a story.
both as a book and one of my favorite classic movie musicals.
CHERI is one of those rare occasions when, in my opinion, the movie beats the book. Though based on both the original novel and its sequel, except for a voice-over at the very end, the movie largely ignores the second book, and, I think that was a very wise decision. Maybe I just don’t like Colette’s style, or maybe it was the English from French translation, but I can’t honestly say I cared much for either book. I found Cheri vain and superficial, his rejection of Lea because she was aging stung, and I didn’t feel much sympathy for him in the second book, but I liked Lea enough to wish for a happier outcome for her. But the movie has a permanent place in my DVD collection. It’s beautiful and knows just when to abridge and stop.
An online friend recently gave me a copy of SAVAGES by Shirley Conran, this is one of those novels I might never have chosen to read myself, but am so glad someone introduced me to. It's the story of five privileged wives of corporate executives who are accustomed to life's every luxury and comfort. After their husbands are assassinated by terrorists during a tropical vacation the women flee into the jungle and are forced to fend for themselves while they await rescue. As every vestige of civilized life is stripped away from them and a variety of perils threaten them--storms, sharks, poisonous plants, lice, and terrorists--they discover strengths they never knew they possessed.
The Cottingley Fairies is one of my favorite stories. For those unfamiliar, in 1917 two English schoolgirls, Frances Grittiths and her cousin Elsie Wright, created a sensation when they supposedly photographed real fairies. The fairies were actually drawings made by Elsie with long hatpins glued to the backs so they could be stuck into the ground and posed for the camera. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was convinced the photographs were genuine and even wrote a book about them. What began as a schoolgirl prank got out of hand and haunted the girls for the rest of their long lives.
Frances began writing her autobiography but never finished it and her daughter, Christine Lynch, published it with some supplemental information in a book called REFLECTIONS ON THE COTTINGLEY FAIRIES FRANCES GRIFFITHS IN HER OWN WORDS WITH ADDITIONAL MATERIAL BY HER DAUGHTER. If the story interests you at all, I highly recommend it. It's also an interesting account of what life was like for a young girl growing up in a rural English village during World War I.
WHO WAS DRACULA? BRAM STOKER'S TRAIL OF BLOOD by Jim Steinmeyer was one of the books I collected while doing research for THE RIPPER'S WIFE, but I never got a chance to read it until last week. I bought it not only because of the subject matter but because I try to read all of Mr. Steinmeyer's books, which usually deal with the history of magic and the lives of famous magicians. In this book he theorizes that the character of Dracula was based on a quartet of larger than life men, all familiar to Stoker, who lived their lives shrouded in the swirling mists of fame and scandal. Stoker's boss, the imperious actor Henry Irving; the poet Walt Whitman whose poetry expressed such bold carnality that it aroused Stoker's admiration; Oscar Wilde whose fame turned so fast to infamy when a scandalous trial publicly exposed his homosexuality; and the murderous fiend Jack the Ripper. Stoker may actually have known one of the suspects, Dr. Francis Tumblety, and even if he didn't, the Ripper's reign of terror was front page news throughout the autumn of 1888.
I found this to be a fascinating book, I learned a lot about the life and work of Bram Stoker and many of his contemporaries as well as the history of vampire fiction.
With his dark wavy hair, crooked smile, and beautiful tenor voice, Dennis Morgan was one of the top leading men at Warner Bros. during the 1940s. Though musicals were his first love, he also did comedies, dramas, war pictures, and westerns. I first noticed him in CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT.
I normally don't watch Christmas movies because my depression tends to worsen around the holidays, but this is the one Christmas movie I watch year round and never miss if it comes on TV during my waking hours.
I was overjoyed to see that the 1943 version of THE DESERT SONG was FINALLY released on DVD; I LOVE this movie
the ringtone on my cellphone is Dennis Morgan singing LONG LIVE THE NIGHT from THE DESERT SONG that's how much I love this movie.
I've also been trying my hand at a little gardening. This is the flowerbed I designed, it's filled with rainbow carpet sedum and some hen and chickens plants and at the center is a fountain of Saint Francis of Assissi. Right in front is a frog statue holding a gazing ball and behind is an artificially antiqued copper rooster weathervane. When I bought the Sago Palm in the background, shortly after my mother died, it was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand, and now its fronds are almost up to my shoulders.
I also have some multicolored coneflowers and Popsicle lilies in another part of the yard but the photos didn't come out well. The colors are actually much brighter.
After I got my copper rooster weathervane I discovered I'm very fond of roosters, our neighbors have a red one named George and he visits us often. Sometimes I bake him raspberry muffins from the Jiffy mix since those seem to be his favorite.
And here's Tabby! She's wearing her gardening hat and inspecting some vegetables from my father's garden. It's a poor showing this year, because we've had so much rain most of his tomatoes rotted.
Well that's all for now. I've always been a terrible multi-tasker so I have to devote myself to research and writing for the next few months, but comments and emails are always welcome, except SPAM, and I'll be back whenever there's any news to report about my work.
THE SECRETS OF LIZZIE BORDEN will be released January 26, 2016 and I plan to do another Virtual Book Tour arranged by Amy Bruno.
For any interested book reviewers, I have a few copies of THE RIPPER'S WIFE left over,
if you would like to do a review on your blog please contact me. This novel is based on the Ripper Diary and the lives of James and Florence Maybrick. But be aware, this is the story of Jack the Ripper, a man who was not very kind to women, so there are some graphic descriptions of violence, mutilation, and murder.