Thursday Book Feature: The Enchanted April

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.The Enchanted April

by Elizabeth Von Arnim

Copyright 1922

 

Four English ladies retreat from their miserable lives in London to a medieval castle in Italy that they have rented for the month of April. Lottie and Rose are escaping their husbands. Lady Caroline is trying to get away from men in general, and Mrs. Fisher, a grieving widow, wants only to rest and think and not be disturbed. As the weeks progress, attitudes change, and things get interesting when the husbands and landlord show up.

This is a good story, but Elizabeth Von Arnim, like many authors of the time, includes way too much narrative, which slows it down. Because I was curious after seeing a theatrical production of this book, and my regional talking book library’s group decided to discuss it, I slogged through and found the ending, like that of the play, satisfactory. This might be a good book to read during the month of April in a sunny garden, perhaps in Italy. The excessive narrative plus the sun’s warmth may cause you to slip into a peaceful afternoon slumber.

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

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Thursday Book Feature: Sugar and Spice

Sugar and Spice

By Cara Wade

Copyright 2018.

 

Kaylan’s life is turned upside down when she learns she has inherited her deceased aunt’s bakery. Kaylan has a job and a life in the city, and the last thing she wants to do is move to the small town where she grew up and run the shop, but she agrees to try it for a few months. Along with flour, sugar, and other ingredients, add a resentful boyfriend, two dedicated employees,, and a handsome stranger named Jack to the mixture, and what comes out of the oven could be interesting.

This is a good story, but it’s not well-written. The author tells the story from Kaylan’s first person point of view, which is fine, but it’s in present tense, often slipping into past tense, which doesn’t work. I can understand using past tense to tell back story, but even when she’s in the present, she occasionally shifts into past tense. These instances could have been mistakes her editor didn’t catch. In any case, the story would have been more effective told in the past tense. Besides this, I noticed some grammatical errors and minor plot inconsistencies.

I also didn’t appreciate the detailed descriptions of love-making in this book. Unfortunately, many romance writers feel they need to include such scenes to show how their hero and heroine feel about each other. In most cases, descriptions of sex slow down a story. In this case, it was pretty obvious that Kaylan and Jack were falling for one another by their kissing, caressing, and cuddling. The bedroom action wasn’t necessary.

On the other hand, I like the way most of the character’s back stories come out in dialog and not in narrative. According to the author’s biographical information at the back of the book, Cara Wade is a new indie author. It looks like she has a lot to learn, and I hope she improves. As I said before, this is a good story, and it teaches an important lesson about relationships. Honesty with each other is always the best policy.

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

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Loneliness

This past Sunday, I spent almost an entire day reading a book about lonely people, not because I was lonely but because this book was recommended as a good holiday read. My review will go live here Thursday, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, in my opinion, loneliness is a state of mind that can be controlled. You can choose to wallow in self-pity because you don’t have anyone to love, or you can go on with your life, as I have done. I didn’t get married until I was in my 40’s. Before then, I was content to be single.

One of my friends was a victim of acquaintance rape, and another was abused by her husband. I came to the conclusion that it was better to never love than to be in any of those situations. Besides, I was too busy with work, writing, and other activities to have a relationship.

Then, after a two-year correspondence, Bill sent me a letter, asking me to marry him. My life changed, and I realized that not all men are bad. I felt lucky to have found such a catch, and he felt the same way about me. Despite the two strokes that confined him to a wheelchair, we had seven happy years together.

Now, he’s been gone five years. Am I in another relationship? No, I never will be. Am I lonely? No, I have my writing and other activities to keep me occupied and the support of family and friends. Unlike food, shelter, clothing, and medicine, relationships are not something humans need to survive.

What do you think about loneliness? Have you ever felt lonely? You can learn more about me and Bill in My Ideal Partner.

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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Thursday Book Feature: Any Day Now by Robyn Carr

Any Day Now

By Robyn Carr

Copyright 2017.

This is the sequel to What We Find, which I reviewed here recently. Sierra, a recovering alcoholic looking for a new start, moves to Sullivan’s Crossing, a campground in the Colorado mountains, to be near her brother Cal, a lawyer who is in the process of making an old barn into a home for his new family. She finds a job and Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, makes friends, and becomes romantically involved with Connie, a fireman with his own emotional baggage. Then, her troubled past comes back to haunt her. Other characters have their own romantic experiences. The book has a satisfactory ending.

Since my late husband Bill grew up in Colorado, I enjoyed reading a book set in an area with which I’m somewhat familiar. It was a great way to escape to the Colorado mountains without leaving my recliner. I also liked the fact that it’s not necessary to have read What We Find first, since plots from the previous book are briefly summarized throughout this book.

I can also appreciate the message Robyn Carr delivers in this book about rape. I’ve never been a victim of such a crime, but I know someone who has. I recommend this book especially to anyone in this situation in the hope they might gain insight from Sierra’s fictional story of survival.

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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***

Saturday Song: Me and Bobby McGee by Gordon Lightfoot

Janis Joplin also made this song popular, but I like Gordon Lightfoot’s version better. In 1970, I had one of his albums on an eight-track tape, which I listened to frequently and which included this song. Enjoy, and have a great Saturday.

 

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

 

Novel Emphasizes Value of Friendship Over Love

That Part was True

by Deborah McKinlay

Copyright 2014

 

Jack and Eve have two things in common. They’re both divorced from spouses who left them for other partners, and they both love to cook and eat. Jack is a writer in the U.S. Eve lives in England.

After Eve writes Jack a fan letter, they begin corresponding and develop a friendship. By telling the story mostly from alternating viewpoints of Jack and Eve, the author gives us a glimpse of their lives: Eve’s struggle with her daughter’s wedding, Jack’s difficulty with writers’ block and relationships.

Jack and Eve support each other through hard times, and during their correspondence, they talk about meeting in Paris, but life gets in the way, and that never happens. As close as they get to each other through their letters, you’d expect the friendship to blossom into love, but it doesn’t. Nevertheless, the book has a satisfying ending. It includes recipes Jack and Eve share with each other in their letters.

In a recording of this book from Hachette Audio, Jack’s part of the story is read by an American male, and Eve’s by a British female. The narrators do an excellent job portraying these characters. I also like the way the author develops characters through dialog instead of narrative, in other words, by showing, not telling. In a sea of romantic stories, with their ups and downs and broken hearts, this book is an island where friendship is beautiful and not complicated by love.

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

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Review: Elizabeth the First Wife

Abbie-1

Elizabeth the First Wife

By Lian Dolan

Copyright 2013.

 

Elizabeth is a professor at a community college in Pasadena, California. Ten years earlier, she divorced her movie-actor husband, and she’s content with her life, although her family encourages her to be more ambitious. Then her ex, out of the blue, makes an appearance in her classroom, much to her students’ delight, and asks her to work with him on a summer theater production of Shakespeare’s A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream in Ashland, Oregon.

A cast of such characters as Elizabeth’s meddling mother, her Nobel-Prize-winning physicist father, an Australian film director with weird ideas about how A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream should be staged, and a Congressional Chief of Staff make this a comical, heartwarming tale. There’s also a political controversy, but as Shakespeare once said, “All’s well that ends well.” The book includes a Q & A with the author and book club discussion questions.

I was drawn to this book because of my family’s love of theater. When I was born, my parents were living in New York City, and I believe they hoped to make it to Broadway, but when I came along, I guess they decided to make more realistic career choices. My brother and I acted in high school and college plays and participated on speech teams but also chose other occupations. My brother’s a physicist, like Elizabeth’s father, but hasn’t won a Nobel Prize yet.

At the beginning of each chapter of the book, the author inserts humorous commentary on Shakespeare and relationships in the form of excerpts from a book Elizabeth is writing. Although these are cute, I found them distracting at times, especially when the previous chapter ended on a cliffhanger. However, I slogged through them because the story intrigued me, and I wanted to know how it turned out. If you like humor and romance, you’ll enjoy this book, even if you’re not into Shakespeare.

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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