This was a nice reading month for me. I am still a little slow on blogging, but my reading pace has picked up and I am pleased with the variety of books I read this month, which included mostly new releases of fiction and nonfiction. I am also finding my short reviews on Instagram and Goodreads to be satisfying when I can’t write up a longer blog post. Summer is a great excuse for being lazy!
Blog Post, yes…just one blog post in July
What Maisie Knew, Henry James, 1897
Young Maise Farange is caught between her parents in a bitter divorce. Their meanness is not lost on the child, who with a touching candor sees she is in the way of her parents and is well aware they don’t love her. James really gets into the head of this little girl in a sad, but ultimately triumphal, situation.
by Danielle Trussoni, 2020. One of the best books I’ve read this year.
“A transformation was taking place inside me. I knew it; I could feel it on a cellular level I was becoming a new person, one who would have the strength to face my inheritance.”
Bert Monte’s surprise inheritance is not just material; the finances, the castle, the jewels are nothing compared to the genetic revelation she receives. This is a modern-day gothic novel about a woman’s quest to discover her family’s legacy and the part she must play. With added anthropological adventures and cryptozoologic discoveries I could not put this down!
Chain of Gold (The Last Hours #1)
by Cassandra Clare 2020
This is the kind of fantasy novel I like: it takes place during a historical time period (Edwardian England) with enough realism to ground it’s fantastic elements. In this case, a segment of society of demon-fighters that span generations of families.
The only drawback is there are a lot of characters in this novel, emphasis on A LOT, who are introduced within the first 15-20 pages making it a challenge to remember everyone. But it was worth it to get them all straight and I will patiently wait for #2.
The Illness Lesson, by Clare Beams, 2020
Lovely writing in this historical novel about the mysterious symptoms that plague young women at a progressive school that seem to coincide with a mysterious flock of red birds. The treatment is controversial and traumatic and speaks to the vulnerability and powerless of women against male authority in the medical establishment.
The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness
by Sarah Ramey, 2020
This book paired sadly well with the Illness Lesson as it’s a real life quest to find the cause and cure of Sarah Ramey’s ailments that doctors can’t define as a disease. She documents not only her own experience, but those of hundreds of women for whom these ‘female’ complaints are devastating, debilitating and presumed to be “all in your head.”
The Jane Austen Society
By Natalie Jenner, 2020
This is incredibly good. Very character driven with a cast of people drawn to Austen and each other while they try to save her last home. They discuss, quote and debate her books which reflect their life experiences and why saving the cottage at Chawton is both personal as well as for the good of Austen lovers everywhere.
Hill Women: Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains
by Cassie Chambers, 2020
Chambers grew up in the poverty of Appalachia and was raised and encouraged by strong women, who survived on the barest minimum in a county that is one of the poorest in the country. She goes to college and becomes a lawyer and returns to offer free legal services to these women and documents the story of the rural women taken advantage of by a system they don’t understand.
Information Hunters: When Librarians, Soldiers, and Spies Banded Together in World War II Europe
by Kathy Peiss, 2020
This is the story of the WWII information gathering program developed by US Intelligence that recruited librarians to go behind enemy lines to find and save German documents, books and texts to aid in the war zone as well as at home after the war. The book is based on the life of Peiss’s own uncle who she discovers was a librarian at Harvard when he was recruited by the US Office of Strategic Services during WWII.
by Jane Austen
In The Jane Austen Society, Emma is quoted and debated throughout the book. It is the only Austen I’ve yet to read, so it was an obvious next reading choice. I am about half way through and enjoying Emma’s busy body-ness immensely!
Happy August…May all be well in your neck of the woods, city, suburb, village or town.