Monday, June 13, 2022

The May Bookstack

I devoured a diverse group of books in May! From Julia Child and the royals to some good mysteries and an endearing novel, it was a fine book month.

"Appetite for Life" by Noel Riley Fitch


Noel Riley Fitch's comprehensive biography of Julia Child is not quick reading -- which isn't to say it is not an excellent biography or a well written one. It's all of those things and more, probably the closest to an officially sanctioned biography of Julia, as she permitted her personal and archived papers to be researched as well as connecting Fitch to numerous people with whom Child worked, along with college and youth friends, and family members. 

It took a long time to read the over 500 oversized pages in the book, partly because I didn't want to skip any of the material. It's not the first bio of Julia I've read -- I've read several, along with others related to her life and career, such as the letters between Julia and Avis DeVoto. But it was by far the most comprehensive and interesting because of it. 

Of particular interest to me (and covered less thoroughly in other works) was Julia's time working for the government in China and India in World War II, where she met Paul Child. The intricacies of her life and relationship with Child are told in great detail here, drawing on his letters to his twin brother, Charlie, chronicling their courtship. The book concludes short of her death, but includes material on all of her many television programs. If you are a Julia fan, I'd recommend this one highly.

"The Man Who Died Twice" by Richard Osman


This is the second in the Thursday Murder Club books and finds our favorite residents of Cooper's Chase, a retirement community in England, on the case of a former MI6 agent who happened at one time to be married to fellow agent/now-retiree, Elizabeth. As Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim join with Elizabeth to track down the murderer of her former husband, they are also trying to find justice for the man who mugged Ibrahim. 

That's enough to bring in local detectives Chris and Donna, who, along with the gang and MI6,  crack a puzzling case.

As always, the characters in this series are delightful and we can all hope to be as lively and sharp as they are when we find ourselves living in our own version of Cooper's Chase. 

(Just for fun, if you have read either of the Thursday Murder Club books, who would you cast in a film adaptation?!)

"The Palace Papers" by Tina Brown


 If you've read "The Vanity Fair Diaries" by Tina Brown, you know how delightfully bitchy she can be. This time the target of her sharp observations are the members of The Royal Family. The book more or less begins where her previous biography, "The Diana Chronicles" leaves off. Well, more or less. Because Camilla was a major character in Diana's story -- and she is in this one as well -- the book charts her relationship with Charles and the family, going into more detail on her background and story.

But she's not the only one under the microscope. Prince Andrew and his Jeffrey Epstein escapades get plenty of ink, as do the younger generation of William and Kate and Meghan and Harry. The Queen, too, and the backstairs workings of "The Firm" are also subjects for her pointed observations.

If you enjoy reading about the royals (and I do, and have read plenty about them!) this is one to add into the plus column. Even her barbs are well targeted and wittily flung with the grace and style of a remarkable writer. (And if you don't enjoy reading on the royals, you'll plenty more here you can add to your list of things that bother you!)

"Wilful Behaviour" by Donna Leon


This is the twelfth of the Guido Brunetti mysteries by Donna Leon, all set in Venice. This might be one of my favorites to date. We find a student of Brunetti's wife, Paola, visiting the detective, asking if he knows if it's possible to obtain a posthumus pardon for her dead grandfather, who was convicted in the years following WWII and spent the rest of his life in a mental institution. As Brunetti begins to investigate, he learns that the young woman was brutally murdered in her own apartment. 

The murder sets the detective on a quest to find out not only who killed her, but more about her grandfather and his activities during the war. It leads him into the world of stolen art masterpieces, revealing the shady past of those who traded in art during that time.

The plot is clever (as always) and the books are very well written (as always), revealing Brunetti's human approach to his cases. Favorite characters from past novels return, including executive secretary and hacker extraordinaire Signora Electra, his colleague Vianello and his delightful family. Trust me. When you read the descriptions of Paola's cooking, you will immediately decide you must make Italian for dinner that evening!

 "The Offing" by Richard Myers 


This small gem of a novel is a coming of age story. Set in the post WWII years in Northern England, sixteen-year-old Robert Appleyard, the son of a coal miner, sets off on a journey of discovery before knowing he must return home to work in the mines. His travels -- with only a backpack and sleeping bag -- take him closer to the sea in the north. One evening he encounters a woman living only with her German shepherd dog, named Dulcie.

Dulcie is unlike any woman Robert has met. She is avant garde, intelligent, self-sufficient. She has had a past, counting among her acquaintances Noel Coward and D.H. Lawrence, and she introduces the itinerant worker to their works and the prose and poetry of others as he returns to do work for her. As their friendship evolves, so, too, does Robert's appreciation for the written word, as well as his self-confidence and self-esteem. 

It would be unfair to reveal the central element on which the plot spins, one that had changed Dulcie's life in the past and would affect Robert's future. But it is a lovely book with beautiful writing and well worth the time spent reading it. 

********

 

And, on a different note, thanks for the good wishes on Rick. He's still struggling but hanging in there. I would have given him a "6" on Saturday; today, I'd say a "4" based on the chart above -- he might differ on those! (The good news is that even though he still has a sore throat, he doesn't feel like his tonsils were cut out by an exacto knife anymore, which I view as a big plus.) I'm still negative (also a big plus). On Day 6 he's still testing positive. It's it's taking longer than what we were led to believe a vaccinated/boosted person should be dealing with this. Keep wishing us well!

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51 comments:

Bill said...

My wife read the Richard Osman book and loved it. Glad to hear you're registering negative and Rick is still improving. Best wishes and have a great evening.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Our fully-vaccinated Prime Minister was just diagnosed with COVID for a second time, so other than mitigating the severity of the symptoms it appears that the vaccinations are not entirely effective.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Prayers continue
Great book reviews. Thank you. The lure of reading a good speaks to summer@

Mae Travels said...

The number of fully immunized people suffering from real cases of covid is becoming quite shocking! I hope Rick gets over it soon, and good luck to you staying neg.

I have read quite a few of the books you reviewed. I have read several Julia Child bios, including the two you mentioned (though my favorite is her memoir "My Life in France") I have read the two Osman mysteries (the third is on my list for as soon as it's released). And I have read most of the Donna Leon series. I agree with you about all of these.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I need to read the 2nd Osman book. The first one was so delightful! I can only hope to be that sharp when I am at the age of the characters!

I hope Rick turns the corner soon. I felt like crud for a solid 10-12 days, and kind of got 2 waves of it - I think because I was worn out when tending to Paul and his stomach bug in the middle of those 12 days. But I'd say it took 3 weeks to feel better and like I got my energy back. And 4 weeks for my sense of smell to return. I shudder when thinking how I might have felt if I wasn't vaccinated/boosted! And I even had the monoclonal antibody injection in April!

gigi-hawaii said...

I prefer non-fiction over fiction, so I would like the books about Julia Child and the Royal family. You might be interested in the streaming shows about Julia. It is so heartwarming and sometimes a tearjerker. The cast is amazing. Gigi Hawaii

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I am a Julia fan, so I thank you for sharing this book about her life with us especially.

DUTA said...

In my opinion, the royals are plain-looking except prince Philip who was very handsome, and princess Diane who was very pretty. Megan does have something about her but it doesn't count as Harry should have married an english girl.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I always enjoy your posts on books - even if the book reviewed would not be on my list to read. Your descriptions are entertaining and make each book special. I'm glad Rick is slowly getting better. From your description, he has it much worse than I did last summer. Sending a prayer for healing!

My name is Erika. said...

I always enjoy your reading post Jeanie. Other than the last 2 books on your list, I have but haven't read or listened to the others. Yet. You mentioned Appetite for Life before, and I've downloaded it as I had credit I needed to use before I lost it. I also have a copy of book 2 in the Richard Osman series. And when I was shopping at one of those shopping clubs I saw the Tina Brown book and picked it up. Now I need to read/listen to them. I'm glad to read your reviews before I do. I need to get back to the Donna Leon books I have, and The Offing sounds like a great read also. I added that to my wish list. Of course probably much like your wish list, it is pretty long. Smile. Thanks for sharing this Jeanie. Sending best wishes that Rick gets an even lower number on the pain scale tomorrow. Hugs-Erika

DVArtist said...

Ohh that is some reading. I have read the biography of Julia Childs. I just like her. Hope the covid heals soon. Sending healing energy.

Pom Pom said...

Hi Jeanie! Look at you go! Read! Read! Read! I've been listening to Clementine, a biography of Clementine Churchill. It's very good. The reader is excellent. I read Kristin Lavransdatter again. Wow. It's good but sad. I hope you are having a lovely June!

Laurie said...

Poor Rick, that’s so sad, I hope he feels better tomorrow. Wonderful collection of great reads today! I’ve read the Julia Child book and the one about the Royals, but not the others,, lots of selection of suggestion! πŸ‘❤️

Sue in Suffolk said...

Another lovely book post - there is nothing better!
I gave up on the 2nd Richard Osman - it got too silly but really enjoyed The Offing several years ago.

Hope Rick is much better ASAP - This Covid thing certainly is hanging around. Wonder how things will be next winter.

Valerie-Jael said...

You've been reading some good books. I always have at least one book on the go here, I need to read! Glad Rick is doing well, hugs, Valerie

Rita said...

Does sound like some great reads!
I hope Rick gets better soon...really soon. :)

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Jeanie

Great collection of books. I am working on two of these series, Osman and Donna Leon's. I hope you continue to stay safe and Rick feels better soon.
Have a great day and happy week ahead.

Jenn Jilks said...

The vaccines have been amazing. No, they don't prevent the disease, but they do mitigate it. They said that from the beginning. I read about those who have long COVID, and thank goodness there is a shot for this.
Take care, both.
(ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

Pamela said...

Sorry to read Rick is still struggling. I hope he is soon feeling good as new and that you continue to be safe.
These books look interesting. Thanks for your reviews!

Steve Reed said...

I've heard a lot of good things about the Osman books but I haven't read them. Maybe after I get through my stack of summer reading! I LOVED Tina Brown's "Vanity Fair Diaries," but I'm not sure I want to read a whole book about the royal family. Julia Child is such a THING nowadays. Dave read one biography of her several years ago, "Dearie." Maybe I should get him this one as well?

La Table De Nana said...

Always love that first pic..we recently watched the series Julia..Bravo!!Good! And a Ron Howard documentary YAY again.:)

Astrid said...

I think those mysteries sound great! I haven't read either of them. I really do hope Rick continues to recover. COVID can be quite the odd thing and it can unfortunately feel as though one day you're doing better and the next you're doing worse again.

Marilyn Miller said...

Sending best wishes for healing for Rick and that you stay well.
I can see a couple books on your list that would tempt. Fascinated by the Royal Family, but haven't read anything. And The Offing sounds tempting too.

Divers and Sundry said...

I'm glad he's better and hope his recovery continues and that he recovers completely. It's scary :(

I miss the days when I read a lot. I'm not sure what happened with that ...

Joanne Huffman said...

Continued good and healthful wishes for you and Rick. As always, I love your book reviews.

Linda d said...

Wish I could say I’ve so much as picked up a book but, alas, I cannot. I have listened to quite a few but that’s it. Feeling a bit ashamed right now 🫣

Linda @ Life and Linda said...

Jeanie, so sorry to hear Rick is struggling with covid. I had covid and it knocked me out hard. Wishing him a speedy recovery. I haven't read in a long time, but it's nice to read your reviews.

NGS said...

I saw recently that Richard Osman gave up his position on Pointless to be able to devote more time to writing his books and this was another reminder to me that I should read them - I've heard such great things about them.

Pam Richardson said...

I always enjoy your book reviews, Jeanie. You do an excellent job writing enough to entice, but not too much to reveal. I might need to read The Palace Papers! Happy week to you!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I sure hope Rick continues to improve and feel better. That is so miserable and I know how active he likes to be. Thanks for the book reviews. I know I should like Donna Leon but I've never been able to get into one of her books. I should try again!

Joyful said...

Hi Jeanie, It was fun seeing the picture of you as a toddler. You still have the same lovely smile. I've read the Osman book but not sure who I would cast in a film based on it. Good thing I'm not a casting agent, lol. I've also read the Julia Child book. It was very eye opening and what came through to me loud and clear was the love and partnership with her husband and also what a hard worker she was.

Joyful said...

I'm sorry to hear Rick is feeling so poorly and I pray he will have a turn around very soon. It is a pity that not everyone does well after contracting the disease even though fully vaccinated. Speaking of which I'm not overdue for my 2nd booster and I'm not that happy about all the restrictions being lifted. Life does need to get back to some semblance of normalcy but some people just don't take any precautions at all. Stay safe. xx

anno said...

I love the Thursday Murder Club series! And I thought the second was even better than the first -- you? And Tina Brown is always lots of fun; her latest looks like a great summer beach read. Thanks for this round-up -- I always enjoy reading about your recommendation.

Hope Rick is feeling better soon, hope you stay in the clear. Seems like the two of you have had an awful lot of "it's always something" lately. Here's all my wishes for clear skies and a lot of blissful nothing at all to worry about except where you want to put paint on your canvas.

Iris Flavia said...

With summer and work breaks I find time for books again, too, but wow,not your schedule!
That is a lot!
Hope health is 100% back soon.

Linda P said...

Thank you for the book reviews. There are some here that I've read such as the Donna Leon series and the Richard Osman ones. I've just watched the latest
in the television programme "Who Do You Think You Are?" (family history research series) featuring Richard Osman which was very interesting. I've made a note of The Offing and will see if I can reserve it at the library. I hope Rick fully recovers although from what I hear it takes time.

Sandra Cox said...

Sounds like good reads. Can't think of a better way to spend time than a well-written book:)

thepaintedapron.com said...

Thanks for the reviews Jeanie, I'm interested in reading the Julia Childs one and The Palace Papers. Best wishes to Rick, hope you can be with him soon πŸ’•

Victoria Zigler said...

Sounds like another excellent reading month.

Glad to hear you and Rick are improving, even if slowly. Hope you both continue to get better.

Polly said...

That's an adorable photo Jeanie. I read and enjoyed The Thursday Murder Club. If I have go into a retirment home I hope it would be like Cooper's Chase. The Palace Papers sounds good, it's on my list :-)

Polly said...

P.S. I hope Rick is feeling much better.

Lowcarb team member said...

Nice to see your mix of books. A friend has recently read the Richard Osman book and enjoyed it.
Pleased to read that Rick is slowly improving and you are still clear ... long may that be the case.

All the best Jan

Angelsdoor * Penny said...

Hi Jeanie,
I am so sorry Rick is still sick. I hope he recovers soon. Glad you are well.
Great book reviews, you are such an avid reader.

Thank you so much for your sweet comment on my bird drawing.
blessings,
Penny

Linda Stoll said...

Julia Child, the Royals ... some good weekend reads here, friend!

Nancy said...

You give such good book reviews. I may need to check out the Palace Papers.
I am glad Rick is feeling a bit better. He is the second person I heard that has Covid and the sore throat feels like razors. I’m also glad you are staying negative.
Take care of yourself and enjoy your weekend.

crackercrumblife said...

Oh no I am so sorry Rick is feeling so awful! I hope he feels better again very soon. :( And that you stay well!

I am going to check out the Paper Palace for my mom! Right now she doesn't have a library card so I have to do her book requests, lol. She will love that one. She loves reading about the royal family too!

Amy at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes said...

The Palace Papers sounds like my kind of book. Yikes, so sorry to hear Rick is still feeling so poorly. Hope that by your next post, he's progressed to a green or yellow face, and tests negative!

R's Rue said...

Can I email you sometime.

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

Jeanie,
Looks like quite a group of interesting books and I am especially interested in the Palace Papers...
I finally finished a book i started last Summer at the end of the season...It seems I can't find the time to read in the Fall and Winter...too many things to do, I guess. i started reading a book by a former local TV anchor whose husband was arrested and went to prison for sexual abuse of young boys and she had no idea....It is the story of how she defended him at first and the public humiliation it brought her and how she survived the collapse of her whole life and tried to protect her 2 daughters...It is calling Checking Scores by Marisa Burke....It is very good even for those not from this area....She now lives in Colorado...
Thanks so much for stopping by!!
Hugs,
Deb

It's me said...

You read a lot of books….I am know reading the seven sisters books right know,beautiful to read love sitting outside and read love happy weekend Ria and Leaf πŸ€πŸ’—πŸΎπŸ€

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

First, glad to read that Rick is improving even though I was a bit behind in knowing he wasn't feeling well. I enjoyed Richard Osman's second book far more than the first and now eagerly await the third one, which I read is or will be released soon. I recently finished Finding Me by Viola Davis, Nine Lives by Peter Swanson, and The Magnolia Palace, all good reads in different ways.

William Kendall said...

When I got covid the double Vax mitigated what would have been worse than early on Covid.

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