Category Archives: Uncategorized

A little bit of magic on the page: Magic City Gospel

This is a stunning prayer of a book. Jones writes:

Nothing good in life comes without stirring–

the promise of butter, the salty whirring

of pressure in a pot.

These poems stir the pot of history and memory to create word paintings of great beauty and power. Continue reading

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Marriage, Government Folks, and the Devil: Over the Plain Houses

I feel like I know Irenie Lambey, the main character in Julia Franks’ novel Over the Plain Houses. That’s because I grew up on a farm in Southern Appalachia and I knew many women from Irenie’s generation. I have also spent … Continue reading

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The Summer Before the War

Helen Simonson has a gift for dealing with deep issues with a light, deft hand that draws you irresistibly into a story that you suspect might break your heart but also promises hope. Her novels begin as comedies of manners … Continue reading

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Britain Between the World Wars:  The Maisie Dobbs Books        

I met Maisie Dobbs in the stacks at Spartanburg County Public Library in 2003, and she’s been a treasured friend ever since.  Or at least, I’d like to think she’d be a friend if she were a real person and … Continue reading

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The World the Young Folks Wish For and the World that Is: Everyone Brave is Forgiven

British writer Chris Cleave is aptly named. Reading his books will cleave your heart right in two.Everyone Brave is Forgiven will cleave your heart right in two, but it will be worth it. Continue reading

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Some Reflections on Europe, Totalitarian Rulers, and the Destruction of War

I just returned from Europe.I love Europe. I love the varieties of its landscapes and its lively and diverse cultures.I love the deep sense of human history preserved in architecture dating back two millennia or more.I don’t whether it is … Continue reading

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Coming of Age in World War II Europe: All the Light We Cannot See

Last summer, I read Kristen Hannah’s luminous novel The Nightingale (read my review here) about two French sisters enduring the Nazi occupation of France. At the same time, many of my friends were raving about another novel set in occupied … Continue reading

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For your summer reading pleasure: three women from history you’ll want to get to know

It’s been some time since I posted on this site, and I have lots of catching up to do.  For now, I’ll make do with flash reviews of three fictional accounts about notable women from my spring reading. A common … Continue reading

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Sisters are Doing It For Themselves: Girl Waits With a Gun, by Amy Stewart

“Our troubles began in the summer of 1914, the year I turned thirty-five. The Archduke of Austria had just been assassinated, the Mexicans were revolting, and absolutely nothing was happening at our house, which explains why all three of us … Continue reading

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Depression Days in West Virginia: The Truth According to Us, by Annie Barrows

 The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is one of my favorite books of all time–not literary, perhaps, but a delightful read with deceptive depth–so I was eager to read this book written by one-half of the Guernsey writing … Continue reading

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