Laura (lauralkeet)'s 75 in 2021 - Part 1

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Laura (lauralkeet)'s 75 in 2021 - Part 1

1lauralkeet
Editado: Feb 2, 4:43pm



It’s high time I gave my furry friends pride of place on my thread. Here’s Woody (13yo loyal lab), Alys (6yo she-devil), and Midnight (18yo little lady)



An aerial view of Woody and Alys, doing what they do best: snoozing



Welcome to my thread! I'm Laura, late 50s, retired, and living in Philadelphia with my husband Chris, our two dogs, and a cat. We have two adult daughters, Julia and Kate. 2021 is my thirteenth year in the 75 Book Challenge Group. Where has the time gone?!

Reading has always been an important part of my life, but it saved my sanity in 2020. I made a nice dent in the tbrs on my shelves, but also read a fair amount of contemporary, recently-published stuff. More of the same this year, I think, along with a group read now and then. And of course I’ll keep plugging away at various series, and stay current with new series releases.

Besides reading, I spend a lot of time knitting and have a knitting thread in the Needlearts group; stop in and say hi sometime!

My 2020 threads can be found here:
Part 1 (books 1-8) | Part 2 (books 9-19) | Part 3 (books 20-35) | Part 4 (books 36-51) l Part 5 (books 52-66) | Part 6 (books 67-83)

Books completed
January
1. Jazz - my comments here
2. Summer - my comments here
3. The King at the Edge of the World - my comments here
4. County Chronicle - my comments here
5. Shuggie Bain - my comments here
6. Snow - my comments here

2lauralkeet
Editado: Ene 6, 10:39am

Series Progress

Active series as of January 1:

A snapshot of my active series sorted on the "progress" column.

Series completed/current in 2021:
* tbd

Series started in 2021:
* tbd

Series abandoned in 2021:
* tbd

---------------------

Toni Morrison Catch Up Project
Inspired by a course I took last year, I started a project to read (or re-read) all of Toni Morrison’s novels in order of publication. Below is a list of Morrison’s novels, with those I have yet to read in bold. Some of these will be re-reads.

The Bluest Eye, 1970 (read June 2020)
Sula, 1973 (read July 2020)
Song of Solomon, 1977 (read August 2020)
Tar Baby, 1981 (read October 2020)
Beloved, 1987 (read Jan 2020, this was a re-read)
Jazz, 1992 (read in Jan 2021)
Paradise, 1997 (read in the 1990s)
Love, 2003 (read in 2005)
A Mercy, 2008 (read in 2009)
Home, 2012
God Help the Child, 2015

3lauralkeet
Editado: Feb 2, 11:55am



Currently Reading & On Deck:



Persuasion



Telling Tales | Paradise

4katiekrug
Dic 26, 2020, 4:03pm

Alys looks like a little angel sleeping in her chair. "She-devil" indeed ;-)

And Woody likes like such a handsome Very Good Boy.

Happy new year, Laura!

5drneutron
Dic 26, 2020, 7:16pm

Welcome back!

6PaulCranswick
Dic 26, 2020, 8:20pm

Nice to see you back, Laura for another year.

7laytonwoman3rd
Dic 26, 2020, 10:12pm

Lovely to see the four-legged trio up top, Laura. Good luck with 2021 reading plans!

8Caroline_McElwee
Dic 27, 2020, 7:50am

>1 lauralkeet: Aww, your furry threesome. Lovely to see them Laura.

Looking forward to following your 2021 reading and exploits.

9EllaTim
Dic 27, 2020, 1:24pm

Happy new thread, Laura!

10thornton37814
Dic 27, 2020, 10:10pm

Welcome back! Enjoy your 2021 reading!

11AMQS
Dic 28, 2020, 7:37pm

Happy almost 2021, Laura! Lovely photos of your furry friends up top!

12EBT1002
Dic 28, 2020, 11:07pm

>1 lauralkeet: YES!! It's wonderful to see your furkidz topping off the new thread. :-)

13EBT1002
Dic 29, 2020, 9:17am

Laura, have you ever gotten all the words in NYT Spelling Bee? I’ve never done so but I’m addicted to this game/puzzle, thank you very much.

14lauralkeet
Dic 29, 2020, 10:41am

Thank you everyone for the welcome messages and for keeping my thread warm! I won't have much to say here for a few days yet, but I did want to answer Ellen's question (>13 EBT1002:).

Chris and I share the NYTimes subscription and have worked out an elaborate agreement about how to do the puzzles. I do the crossword online on Mon-Tues-Wed and Sunday. He solves online on Thurs-Fri-Sat and prints a copy for me. Because we get the Sunday paper delivered, he does the Sunday crossword in the print edition.

He has a special fondness for both Spelling Bee and Letterbox, so he has dibs on starting those puzzles. I often provide over-the-shoulder help with the Spelling Bee, because it's just so fun. We frequently reach the "Genius" level, but we've never gotten all of the possible words. Someday!

I know, we're weird.

15laytonwoman3rd
Dic 29, 2020, 10:53am

>14 lauralkeet: Doesn't sound a bit weird to me.

16drneutron
Dic 29, 2020, 5:40pm

I’ve got an online NYT subscription for the crosswords but haven’t tried the spelling bee. Now I’m going to have to!

17lauralkeet
Dic 29, 2020, 6:39pm

>15 laytonwoman3rd: whew! Thanks, Linda!

>16 drneutron: Oh yes Jim, you must!! Here's an article about it that will further pique your interest: The Genius of Spelling Bee

Today's Spelling Bee was really difficult!

18EBT1002
Editado: Dic 29, 2020, 8:34pm

>14 lauralkeet: Not weird at all! I think I’ve hit genius a time of two but never gotten every word, either. Sometimes I think “is that really a word??” and other times I smack my forehead because I missed an easy one. I still don’t have today’s panagram. And I don’t know Letterbox.... (oh no!)

ETA: I got the pangram. 🙂

19EBT1002
Dic 29, 2020, 8:05pm

>17 lauralkeet: I love that article. I get up earlier than necessary on work days so I can read. But my current routine is: read Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter from the night before, start the days Spelling Bee puzzle, then read for a little while. 😀 I’m so glad you introduced me to SB. I play it every day.

20EBT1002
Dic 29, 2020, 8:14pm

Pangram. I’ve been adding an extra A to that word for weeks.

21AMQS
Dic 29, 2020, 9:05pm

I have a subscription to the NYT but it must be pretty basic as I cannot get most games or recipes. I can do Spelling Bee (I love it) but when I get to 30-ish points it cuts me off. NYT dangled Letterbox for free for a couple of weeks and I really loved that, too. Debating whether to up my subscription or not. Most days I think not.

22raidergirl3
Dic 29, 2020, 10:49pm

Hey all you daily puzzle fans- have you played Guess My Word?(https://hryanjones.com/guess-my-word/) Two words a day, normal and hard, and the clues are strictly alphabetical - before or after. I play it occasionally with my high school math classes on the projected board. They get very excited when we guess the word.

23lauralkeet
Dic 30, 2020, 7:44am

>18 EBT1002: we never got the darn pangram yesterday, and never got to Genius either. I was especially annoyed because I can often get the pangram when Chris can't. We'll have to go check yesterday's answers to see what all we missed.

>22 raidergirl3: I will check it out, Elizabeth!

----

PSA: I'm sorry that I'm not responding individually to each post. The end-of-year changeover is always a bit overwhelming. I need to write one more review and my "year in review" post over on my (now ridiculously long) 2020 thread. I will be fully present here come Jan 1. Thanks for understanding!

24Crazymamie
Dic 30, 2020, 3:55pm

Dropping a star, Laura. This thread is making me miss my NYT subscription - might have to renew.

25DianaNL
Dic 31, 2020, 6:33am

Best wishes for a better 2021!

26msf59
Editado: Dic 31, 2020, 8:58am

Happy New Thread, Laura. Happy New Year! Glad we are turning the page on that one. Looking forward to sharing another reading year with you. I would also like to read more Toni Morrison in 2021. Looking forward to your thoughts on Shuggie Bain.

27CDVicarage
Dic 31, 2020, 10:45am

Happy New Year, Laura.

As a family (my son is living with us at the moment) we are doing more puzzles. Between us we do the Guardian crossword - not the cryptic - and we have started the sudoku and suguru puzzles, too. We haven't tried the Spelling Bee yet, though it's not called that and is in a circle.

28lauralkeet
Editado: Dic 31, 2020, 1:22pm



This thread is now officially open!

I've updated >2 lauralkeet: with my series progress, and >3 lauralkeet: with my current and "on deck" reads. Thanks to Katie, Jim, Paul, Linda, Caro, Ella, Lori, Anne, Ellen, Elizabeth, Mamie, Diana, Mark and Kerry for visiting and getting the chit-chat started.

I love seeing so many puzzle-lovers here. Kerry, I'll have to check out The Guardian's puzzles. I have never been able to master the cryptic ones but am always up for other challenges.

29lauralkeet
Editado: Dic 31, 2020, 12:51pm

My first book for 2021 will be Toni Morrison's Jazz. This is part of my Toni Morrison project (see >2 lauralkeet:), where I'm reading all of her books in publication order. A few other 75ers are planning to read the book in January also: Beth (BLBera), Katie (katiekrug), Ellen (EBT1002), and Kim (Berly) for starters. Others are welcome to join the fun! We'll just be sharing thoughts on our threads vs. using a more structured approach.

30SandDune
Dic 31, 2020, 12:59pm

Happy New Year Laura!

31RebaRelishesReading
Dic 31, 2020, 1:28pm

Happy new year, Laura! Love the photos of your furry friends and look forward to sharing 2021 with you.

32lauralkeet
Dic 31, 2020, 4:09pm

Rhian & Reba, happy new year back at ya!

33EBT1002
Dic 31, 2020, 6:34pm

Hi Laura and now I can officially say Happy New Thread and Happy New Year!

34FAMeulstee
Dic 31, 2020, 6:43pm

Happy reading in 2021, Laura!

35lauralkeet
Dic 31, 2020, 7:18pm

Ellen & Anita, happy new year to you, too!

36brenzi
Dic 31, 2020, 8:09pm

Well I love seeing your fur friends here Laura. They look mighty comfy in their chairs. They are THEIR chairs right?

You're reading two good ones at the same time or you will be shortly.

Happy New Year!

37sibylline
Dic 31, 2020, 8:14pm

Adding my voice: Happy New Year, Laura! Love the toppers!

38lauralkeet
Dic 31, 2020, 9:51pm

>34 FAMeulstee: They are definitely THEIR chairs, Bonnie. Alys will let one of us sit with her, but if we try that with Woody he gets up and leaves.

>37 sibylline: Thanks Lucy, and happy new year to you too!

39Berly
Dic 31, 2020, 10:03pm

I am all JAZZed up about the new year!! (get it? Toni Morrison....)

40MickyFine
Ene 1, 12:55am

Happy New Year, Laura!

41PaulCranswick
Ene 1, 1:25am



And keep up with my friends here, Laura. Have a great 2021.

42quondame
Ene 1, 2:07am

Happy new year!

43lauralkeet
Ene 1, 7:39am

>39 Berly: I see what you did there, Kim!

Happy new year to Kim, Micky, Paul, and Susan. Thanks for the festive greetings.

44scaifea
Ene 1, 9:50am

Am slightly disappointed that there are no...brownies...in this thread.

Anyway, happy new year, Laura!

45laytonwoman3rd
Ene 1, 11:43am

>44 scaifea: Here ya go



Oh...you didn't mean that kind, did you? *giggle*

46lauralkeet
Ene 1, 12:50pm

>44 scaifea: all good things must come to an end, Amber!
>45 laytonwoman3rd: oh no, not THAT!

I just remembered an Arrested Development reference to brownies and am sitting here all by myself cracking up. It's a bit crude so I'll put it behind spoilers so as not to (overtly) offend anyone. Such a funny show.
Michael: My mom is very stressed out, and, uh, she needs something that I can’t give her. Um... maybe a little “Afternoon Delight”?

Narrator: Oscar thought that Michael was referring to a particular brand of cannabis named “Afternoon Deelite,” a strain famous for slowing behavior.

Oscar: Well, sure. The question is, which way do I try to get it in her?

Michael: I don’t need any details.

Oscar: Maybe I’ll put it in her brownie.

Michael: Hey!


-----

Okay, enough of that! We had a quiet New Year's Eve, sipping prosecco while watching a finale from an old season of the Great British Bake-Off. Today is just a quiet day around the house. No brownies, but I have beef stew in the slow cooker and am planning to use up some apples by making a crumble.

47katiekrug
Ene 1, 12:55pm

I made a pan of brownies yesterday. REGULAR brownies, thankyouverymuch, though I did add crushed up candy canes and some mini chocolate chips...

48lauralkeet
Ene 1, 1:19pm

>47 katiekrug: mmm, yum. Those sound great, Katie!

49scaifea
Editado: Ene 1, 3:02pm

>45 laytonwoman3rd: Linda: NOW who's causing the shenanigans...? *ahem*

>46 lauralkeet: Laura: all good things must come to an end, Amber! I think you underestimate my ability to take things too far.

And now *I'm* giggling at remembering that scene in Arrested Development! Such a good show.

>47 katiekrug: Katie: I made a pan today, too! (Also the regular kind.)

50lauralkeet
Ene 1, 3:08pm

>47 katiekrug:, >49 scaifea: as I said over on Amber's thread, I don't believe a word of this "regular brownies" nonsense.

51lauralkeet
Editado: Ene 1, 3:31pm

All right, 50 messages in, maybe it's time to start some book chat.



I am loving Jazz already. It is so evocative of 1920s New York (aka The Jazz Age), and is quintessential Toni Morrison. She is such an amazing writer.

Before getting too far into the novel, I turned to the title essay from her collection, The Source of Self-Regard. The essay (pp. 304-321) discusses Morrison's novels Beloved and Jazz and, among other things, how each novel portrays a period in the history of Black people in America. Beloved is set during slavery and its aftermath; Jazz during and after The Great Migration. And, more importantly, each novel deals with African American culture during the time period. A couple of excerpts from the essay:
It seemed to me that the twenties, with its sort of nascent and overwhelming jazz idiom, was as distinct as it was because, precisely, of this change. That period, the Jazz Age, was a period when black people placed an indelible hand of agency on the cultural scene.

And this assertiveness, this creative agency, seemed to be most clear in the music, the style, the language of this -- that post-Reconstruction era that represented both transition and transformation. You know, like life lived in flour sacking or plain, dull cotton gives you a hunger, a desperation for color and patterns and powerful, primary colors, in the same way that hundreds of years of being mated off or ordered whom to marry, of needing permission to join with another, of having to take these extraordinary, drastic measures to keep a family together and to behave like a family, and all of this under the greatest stress, with so little evidence that anything would ever change. You could get slaves to do anything at all, bear anything, if you gave them any hope that they could keep their children. They'd do anything. Every impulse, every gesture, everything they did was to maintain their families.

Well, under those historical pressures, the desire for choice in partners, the desire for romantic love, operate as a place, a space, a way, for individual reclamation of the self.

In Jazz we meet Violet and Joe twenty years after they left the south and settled in New York City. Joe has recently shot and killed his teenage lover, and Violet has attacked her body during the funeral. And then Morrison fills in the events from past that led to this tragedy.

52PawsforThought
Ene 1, 3:39pm

Hi Laura! Happy new year, and happy new thread. Lovely pics of your furry friends at the top. I had a lot of fun watching my neighbours' dogs playing in the snow together yesterday - one's a small King Charles spaniel-esque thing that could barely get his nose above the snow and the other's a big samoyed that looked like a runaway polar bear. It was a lot of fun watching them running around.

53BLBera
Ene 1, 3:42pm

I am loving Jazz so far, Laura. I love the description of New York in the beginning. It is very musical. Thanks for posting the comments from The Source of Self-Regard; I left it in my office at school.

I love your photos of your furry family!

Happy New Year! The only Morrison I haven't read after Jazz is Love, but I would be up for a reread of Paradise; I remember that one as being strange, one that I would like to read again. So, let me know if it's OK to tag along with you.

54Berly
Ene 1, 3:46pm

>51 lauralkeet: Just downloaded the Kindle version for a re-read of Jazz!!

55katiekrug
Ene 1, 4:48pm

>51 lauralkeet: - Thanks for posting those passages, Laura. I'm only about 20 pages in, but I love it already. My copy has a foreword by Morrison, but - wary of spoilers - I am not going to read it until I've finished the novel.

56lauralkeet
Ene 1, 5:29pm

>52 PawsforThought: Hi Paws! I love watching dogs play in the snow. Our dearly departed lab, Lilly, absolutely loved it. Woody, not so much, which is decidedly un-lab-like. Alys is not as small as the dog you described, but smaller than a lab and she would rather the snow not get on her belly.

>53 BLBera:, >54 Berly:, >55 katiekrug: Hello fellow Jazz readers! I'm patting myself on the back for having marked passages about the novels as I was reading the essay collection. I'm glad you found those passages interesting. I love starting the year off with a great book.

And Beth, I'd be very happy to have a reading buddy for Paradise! Let's talk timing after we finish this one.

57lyzard
Ene 1, 6:11pm

Hi, Laura, welcome back! Best wishes for your reading year. :)

58karenmarie
Ene 1, 6:16pm

Hi Laura, and Happy New Year!

Nice pics of the fur kids, sounds like you've had a pleasant transition to 2021.

59BLBera
Ene 1, 7:08pm

>56 lauralkeet: Sounds like a plan.

60lauralkeet
Ene 1, 7:22pm

>57 lyzard:, >58 karenmarie: Hello and happy new year, Liz & Karen.
>59 BLBera: Okay great!

---

The stew and apple crumble have been consumed, with a bunch of stew now in the freezer to have some other day when we're not up for cooking. Plenty of crumble left, too. Yum yum yum.

61laytonwoman3rd
Ene 1, 10:08pm

>49 scaifea: Perhaps you've heard the expression "she didn't lick it off the grass"?

62EBT1002
Ene 2, 12:49am

>51 lauralkeet: Thanks for sharing those passages, Laura. I've read the foreword and the first chapter and I'm also loving Jazz, for the reasons you mention. I can't believe I've never read this one before!

I promise not to give you a daily report but I was super pleased to achieve "genius" level on the New Years Day Spelling Bee. It was a good comeback after a dismal performance yesterday.

63msf59
Ene 2, 8:13am

Happy Saturday, Laura. Good review of Jazz. It has been many years since I had read it but I still have fond memories.
I might try to get to Paradise in the coming months. I have still not read that one.

64lauralkeet
Ene 2, 11:25am

>63 msf59: Hi Mark. Watch this space for more about Jazz. My post in >51 lauralkeet: was just some initial impressions and context. There are a few of us reading it right now (Beth, Ellen, Kim, Katie) so you'll probably see comments on their threads too. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it back in the day.

65scaifea
Ene 2, 12:31pm

>61 laytonwoman3rd: *snork!!!*

Hi, Laura! Stew and apple crumble sounds wonderful right now!

66lauralkeet
Editado: Ene 2, 1:20pm

Ack, I'm so rude. Linda & Ellen, I did not mean to ignore you up there (>61 laytonwoman3rd:, >62 EBT1002:) although Linda I think you were responding to Amber right? Still no excuse for not being sociable. Ellen, I completely understand your pleasure in the Spelling Bee. We had a couple of rough days but yesterday was a good one. We keep a browser tab open all day if we need to, in order for "Bee-atrice" to make an appearance.

>65 scaifea: It was a nice comfort-food kind of meal. And I'm about to enjoy a bit of post-lunch apple crumble, with the promise of more for dessert tonight.

67AnneDC
Ene 2, 1:41pm

Dropping off a star here and best wishes for 2021. I’m loving all the Jazz talk And it’s making me consider a reread.

68norabelle414
Ene 2, 1:49pm

Happy New Year Laura!

69lauralkeet
Editado: Ene 2, 3:49pm

>67 AnneDC: Happy New Year Anne! It's not too late to join in if you'd like to read Jazz this month. It's not a formal group read, more of a shared experience I guess, where those of us who are reading it keep our own schedule and post thoughts on our threads.

>68 norabelle414: Hi Nora, same to you!

70laytonwoman3rd
Ene 2, 5:23pm

>55 katiekrug: yes, it's OK...Amber and I are carrying on a little side hustle. Don't mind us!

71katiekrug
Ene 2, 7:25pm

>70 laytonwoman3rd: - I feel like I'm missing something here...?

72lauralkeet
Ene 2, 7:34pm

>71 katiekrug: I think Linda meant to refer back to >66 lauralkeet: (not >55 katiekrug:), and >66 lauralkeet: referred to her post in >61 laytonwoman3rd: where Linda was responding to Amber.

It's not about you, Katie. LOL!

73banjo123
Ene 2, 7:43pm

Happy new year! and >1 lauralkeet: such cute pet photos.

74lauralkeet
Ene 2, 9:05pm

Thanks Rhonda! Happy new year to you too.

75Sakerfalcon
Ene 3, 9:05am

Happy new year Laura! It was great to see you on zoom the other evening, and I hope we'll be able to meet in person again some time!

I read Jazz some years ago but don't remember much about it, so I will be interested in your thoughts on it.

76lauralkeet
Ene 3, 10:55am

>75 Sakerfalcon: Hi Claire, and happy new year to you as well! I really enjoyed the Virago Group Zoom meetup. It was fun to see some familiar faces and be able to put faces with names for others. It also inspired me to take a closer look at my Virago TBRs and recommit myself to reading some of them this year.

77scaifea
Ene 3, 11:18am

>72 lauralkeet: Oh, it's *always* about Katie.

78Crazymamie
Ene 3, 11:19am

>77 scaifea: *belly laugh*

79katiekrug
Ene 3, 11:32am

>77 scaifea: - Hey, take that back!

>78 Crazymamie: - Et tu, Mamie?

81laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Ene 3, 11:51am

>70 laytonwoman3rd:, >71 katiekrug:, >72 lauralkeet: Yikes. Laura is correct. Must have been that "sundowner's syndrome" kicking in.

82jnwelch
Ene 3, 12:22pm

Happy New Year, Laura!

Lovely photos of your furry pals up there.

83lauralkeet
Ene 3, 1:37pm

>77 scaifea:, >78 Crazymamie:, >79 katiekrug:, >80 scaifea:
Well that was fun!

>81 laytonwoman3rd: No worries Linda it happens to the best of us!

>82 jnwelch: Happy New Year back at ya, Joe! I'm glad to see so much love for the pet photos. I was looking for a low-effort theme this year and they fit the bill. It shouldn't be difficult to get new photos for each new thread.

84justchris
Ene 3, 11:24pm

Ooh. I really want to join y'all reading Morrison's books. I guess I could ask around to borrow a copy of Jazz from a neighbor. But I feel like I got so much going on already...but you are inspiring with those bits you've shared.

85lauralkeet
Ene 4, 6:58am

>84 justchris: Hi Chris. You'd be very welcome to dive in! And if you can't make it happen with Jazz, I plan to continue with Paradise next/soonish.

86lauralkeet
Editado: Ene 4, 8:33am

Last night PBS Masterpiece aired Elizabeth is Missing starring Glenda Jackson (I think it aired in the UK some time ago). I absolutely loved the book when I read it in 2015, and Jackson is superb as Maud, making me choke up more than once. The adaptation is very true to the novel so I'll just share my book review here. Well worth watching.
Maud, an elderly woman with symptoms of dementia, is concerned for her friend Elizabeth, who she believes has gone missing. She obsesses on this, repeatedly visiting Elizabeth's house, as well as the police, much to the frustration of her daughter Helen, and the amusement of her granddaughter, Katy. In reality, Maud's condition makes her unable to comprehend the real reason why Elizabeth is not at home.

Maud's days are long stretches of time alone, with a morning visit from a caregiver and an afternoon visit from Helen. Notes are posted all around her house, reminding Maud to lock the doors, and not to cook. Maud also writes notes to herself, to help her remember details. Her pockets are stuffed with tiny scraps of paper, most of which make no sense to her later. Slowly, the reason for Maud's obsession with Elizabeth becomes clear, as Maud reflects on her childhood and the disappearance of her sister, Sukey, in 1946 when Maud was still a young girl. Author Emma Healey deftly weaves narratives from the past and present, unraveling the Sukey mystery while also unraveling Maud's cognitive abilities. Maud's character was exceptionally well-developed and while I have no idea what it's like to slowly lose your memory, this felt like a realistic portrayal on both a physical and emotional level.

Since my parents both suffer from forms of dementia, I could relate to Helen's feelings of frustration and sadness. I couldn't put this book down, and yet sometimes it all became a bit much and I had to take a break, despite my keen desire to solve the Sukey mystery. And the present-day plot brought tears to my eyes many times as it progressed. This was an amazing debut novel.

87japaul22
Ene 4, 8:37am

>86 lauralkeet: Oh, that's the last persephone that I have unread on my shelf! I've skipped your review for now and will come back to it after I read it. I didn't know there was a production of it.

88SandDune
Ene 4, 8:41am

>86 lauralkeet: I really enjoyed both the book and the TV production of Elizabeth is Missing. As you say, Glenda Jackson is superb.

89EBT1002
Ene 4, 9:58am

>86 lauralkeet: We recorded it but haven't yet watched it. Thanks for (re)sharing your review of the book!

90katiekrug
Ene 4, 10:31am

I finished Jazz this morning. Now ruminating...

91laytonwoman3rd
Ene 4, 11:22am

>86 lauralkeet: So intriguing...I wonder if it's still too soon for me to read that, though. I really admire you for being able to handle it while in the midst of your parents' mental decline.

92lauralkeet
Ene 4, 12:55pm

>87 japaul22: I didn't know Elizabeth Is Missing was a Persephone, Jennifer. It's a good fit for them.

>90 katiekrug: Way to go, Katie! I'm closing in on it but not sure I'll finish today.

>88 SandDune:, >89 EBT1002:, >91 laytonwoman3rd:
Rhian, Ellen, Linda ... I'm still thinking about it today. Like the book, the TV adaptation strongly affected me. Jackson was born in 1936, the same year as my mother. My mother's dementia was never specifically diagnosed whereas my dad had Parkinson's and the sort of dementia that often accompanies it. Both of my parents passed away in 2016. Watching the program last night, there were moments where something Jackson did or said as Maud, or the way she did or said it, was like having my mother in the room (and, um, not in a good way).

It’s also just a really well crafted story, tying together Maud's present day and her past and showing how both short- and-long-term memories were caught up in a web that she couldn't untangle.

93lauralkeet
Ene 4, 1:00pm

Here's an update for those who were eagerly following development of my nascent vape oil business at the end of 2020!

LT staff have removed the spammer's continuation link from my old thread so it now looks like a completely normal thread that I just allowed to run on for too long. And the matter will be referred to staff to consider potential long-term solutions. The Bug Collectors thread is here for anyone interested.

94BLBera
Ene 4, 7:59pm

So, no more brownies?

Elizabeth Is Missing sounds great. Of course, I want to read the book first.

I'm going to try to finish Jazz later. I think my favorite chapter so far is the one that talks about women. I wish she would number her chapters. I commented on Ellen's thread that there are a few places where she lists things, and I'm finding that is getting old. I think she's using it too much in this novel.

95brenzi
Ene 4, 8:03pm

I loved Elizabeth is Missing Laura, when I read it and knew the PBS show was coming but I didn't realize it was o last night. I see now that it's also on Acorn so maybe I'll just watch it there. I've been rewatching Foyle's War so totally unaware of what's going on lol.

96BLBera
Ene 5, 10:06am

I got stuck on the Golden Grey and Wild section, Laura. Thoughts? It seems like she's straying away from NYC quite a bit here.

97ffortsa
Ene 5, 11:11am

Hi, Laura! Happy 2021.

I haven't started Jazz, yet, but have acquired it from the library, e-version. And I have a little time in my reading, so I'll get to it shortly.

And as for SB, my sister and I are addicted to the daily puzzle too. It's truly the first thing I look at when I wake up in the morning, to see what words I'd missed. I have gotten QB a few times, but generally settle for genius or sometimes amazing, depending on how many words are required for the puzzle. Sometimes the long lists get quite tedious. And I also make use of Shunn.com's statistics when I get stuck. The whole thing can be quite addicting.

The puzzle subscription, apart from the newspaper edition, is available for the crossword and spelling bee, for not much each month, if anyone wants the puzzles without the news. But there are more types of puzzles in the full edition, some of which, like Tiles, I can also get addicted to.

98lauralkeet
Ene 5, 11:14am

>95 brenzi: I'm not surprised to see that you loved Elizabeth is Missing, Bonnie. You might be able to catch the adaptation on demand through your local PBS station, but I'm glad you can get it thru Acorn too.

>94 BLBera:, >96 BLBera: I finished Jazz last night, Beth. I didn't exactly get stuck in that section, but I did find myself wondering "where on earth is she going with this?" I was glad when the connection was finally revealed. But somehow after that it never quite recovered its footing. You commented somewhere (your thread? Ellen's?) that it's still a better book than Tar Baby, and I agree, but I gave that one 3.5 stars and have rated Jazz the same because it wasn't a 4-star book by my admittedly squidgy definition. I'll post a review at some point soon.

What are your thoughts about reading Paradise? I'd be up for it in February, to recognize Morrison's birthday. Which, incidentally, is the same as mine: February 18. But if you'd like a longer break that's okay too.

99katiekrug
Ene 5, 11:25am

>98 lauralkeet: - I ended up rating it 3.75 Laura, because I couldn't justify 4 but 3.5 seemed too low for the writing. I rarely do quarter stars...

I wrote up some comments on my thread, if you're interested.

100katiekrug
Ene 5, 11:28am

Back to say - I actually really liked the parts in Virginia. I think it served to ground Joe and Violet - to give them family, roots, history, etc. Some of it reminded me of Song of Solomon.

101lauralkeet
Ene 5, 1:46pm

>99 katiekrug: That makes sense Katie. I don't "do" quarter stars, but if I did ... I would. Ha.

>100 katiekrug: And that makes sense too. That's kind of what I was alluding to when I wrote, "I was glad when the connection was finally revealed" but you said it better.

Wow, you are full of all kinds of sense today!

102laytonwoman3rd
Ene 5, 2:02pm

>93 lauralkeet: I'm glad that got sorted out.

103weird_O
Ene 5, 2:08pm

The discussion here of Jazz has me contemplating a re-read, not just of Jazz, but of Song of Solomon and even Beloved. I do have some others of her books on the shelf, unread.

A prime Christmas present from my wife was a huge, 500+ page book, Keith Haring. Don't know if you remember me showing you photos on my cellphone of the house Haring painted in Philadelphia. Ellen was in town from her west-coast home, and a bunch of LT75ers gathered for a late breakfast and meetup. I got the seat next to you, and wanted to show off the photos I'd just taken. (Just now I'm wondering if that Philly house is in the book.)

104lauralkeet
Editado: Ene 5, 2:56pm

>102 laytonwoman3rd: me too, Linda.

>103 weird_O: Bill, I couldn't possibly forget our encounter! I was impressed with your knowledge of Haring, someone whose work I'd seen but knew little about. I've seen his stuff a few times since and been reminded of you and that fun meetup. The book sounds like it's right up your alley.

ETA: I highly recommend re-reading Morrison. I'm really enjoying myself as I work my way through her novels.

105lauralkeet
Ene 5, 2:56pm


1. Jazz ()
Source: On my shelves

Set predominately in 1920s New York City, Jazz follows Violet and Joe, a middle-aged couple who left the South for the City twenty years earlier. The book opens shortly after Joe kills his teenage lover, and Violet attacks her body during the funeral. Toni Morrison then takes readers into the past to understand the forces that shaped Joe and Violet and led them to that fateful day.

Jazz was Toni Morrison’s sixth novel, published five years after her previous work, Beloved. Each novel portrays a period in the history of Black people in America, with emphasis on culture over historic events. Beloved is set during slavery and its aftermath; Jazz during and after The Great Migration. In writing about the Jazz Age, Morrison very effectively imitates the jazz genre itself: the narrative can be lyrical, sometimes percussive, and subplots spin off like soloists in a jazz combo. The technique is mostly effective, although the novel faltered over one protracted “solo,” despite its satisfying resolution. This was followed by the denouement which, instead of tying up loose ends, seemed disjointed.

Only a writer of Morrison’s calibre could successfully produce two back-to-back experimental works like Beloved and Jazz. While I consider Beloved the better of the two, both are rewarding for those interested in literary form and the themes she chooses to explore.

106dudes22
Ene 5, 3:17pm

>86 lauralkeet: - I'm going to take a book bullet for this as your review made it sound interesting. I'll be watching for whenever you read Paradise as I gave up about 3/4 of the way through last year when I realized I wasn't following all the connections. I blame it on covid-brain.

107BLBera
Ene 5, 5:10pm

Nice comments, Laura. I might be able to do February for Paradise. I do like to read African American authors for Black History month. I finished as well and am pondering comments right now.

108justchris
Ene 5, 5:20pm

>86 lauralkeet: I had planned on watching the premier of Elizabeth Is Missing but ended up being in a meeting instead. And then I missed the second airing last night. Sigh. Will have to check the local PBS calendar to see when I might still get to watch it. Or add it to my Passport lineup if that's possible.

>85 lauralkeet: That's it! I'm going to ask around for copies of both books. I am also committed to Kindred and Parable of the Sower plus the nonfiction and medieval history challenges over in the categories group, plus my own personal challenges, plus my other book club read for this month...np, brb

109lauralkeet
Ene 5, 7:19pm

>106 dudes22: Betty, I highly recommend Elizabeth is Missing. It's very well crafted and, as I mentioned, really affected me emotionally. Hence the 5 star rating.

>107 BLBera: Let's pencil in Paradise for February, shall we? I like the tie-in to Black History Month too, great idea Beth.

>108 justchris: I hope you can find Elizabeth is Missing on TV, Chris. And it would be great if you can join in on the Morrison reads!

110katiekrug
Ene 5, 9:19pm

Good review of Jazz, Laura. You and Beth and I all seem to have similar reactions - appreciation of it but not full engagement.

111BLBera
Ene 5, 10:07pm

>109 lauralkeet: Sounds good.

>110 katiekrug: Excellent summary, Katie.

112msf59
Ene 5, 10:13pm

Good review of Jazz. I might join you on Paradise. It is one I have been meaning to get to and I have it on shelf.

113Berly
Ene 6, 2:32am

>85 lauralkeet: >105 lauralkeet: >112 msf59: I just got my copy of Paradise, another one of Morrison's I haven't read yet! I am about 85% done on Jazz. Should finish it up tomorrow. Not reading your review yet....tomorrow.

114lauralkeet
Ene 6, 7:21am

Good morning Katie, Beth, Mark and Kim! I've really enjoyed reading and discussing Morrison's novels with other LTers. I'm so glad to see interest in continuing with Paradise.

----



My library Kindle hold for Ali Smith's Summer came through the other day, so I am reading this before moving to the two books I originally had "on deck" in >3 lauralkeet:. It's very current and topical, and written in Smith's unique style. Good stuff.

115lauralkeet
Editado: Ene 6, 2:33pm

Book Club Schedule

On my last thread of 2020, I shared a list of books nominated for one of my book clubs. We already had books queued up for January (A Hundred Suns, a DNF for me), and February (Apeirogon, which I read about a year ago and loved). We’ve just completed the voting process to choose books for March - August (books I voted for are in bold, books I've already read are italicized).

March: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (NF, 2018)
April: Hamnet (F, 2020)
May: Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (NF, 2012)
June: Shuggie Bain (F, 2020)
July: Caste (NF, 2020)
August: The Vanishing Half (F, 2020)

The good news is that 4 of the 6 books are ones I voted for (although I've read The Vanishing Half, I thought it would make for good discussion). The less-good news is that I’ve already read 3 of these books, and I want to read Shuggie Bain NOW, not closer to our meeting.

So it looks like I'll end up reading the three not-yet-read books by the end of April. And as with Apeirogon, by the time we get to the books I've read they will be semi-distant memories and not far enough in the past for me to feel motivated to re-read. That’s less than ideal. I’m sure our discussions will be stimulating but I can’t help being a little disappointed at how things turned out.

Just for the record, below are the books that were not selected. Again, my votes are bolded and I will likely read a couple of these anyway, especially since they are ones that some of you recommended.

America, America (F, 2009)
Interior Chinatown (F, 2020)
The Six: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters (NF, 2015)
The Last Negroes at Harvard: The Class of 1963 and the 18 Young Men Who Changed Harvard Forever (NF, 2020)
Time and Again (F, 1970)
The Yellow House (NF, 2019)
The Map that Changed the World (NF, 2001)
Moloka'i (F, 2010)
A Perfect Spy (F, 1986)
Blood and Oil (NF, 2020)
The Cold Millions (F, 2020)
Burning Down the House (NF, 2020)
The Testaments (F, 2019)

116MickyFine
Ene 6, 9:51am

>115 lauralkeet: Oooh, I really enjoyed Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire when I read it years ago. Hope your book club gets some good discussion out of it.

117BLBera
Ene 6, 10:29am

>115 lauralkeet: Nice selection for your book club, Laura. We will be reading The Vanishing Half for my book club as well. I don't remember the month.

Looking at your Morrison list, I would like to read Paradise, Love, and God Help the Child. Love is the only one I haven't read, but I would like to reread the other two.

I look forward to doing business with you. :)

118lauralkeet
Ene 6, 10:36am

>116 MickyFine: That's great Micky, I'm glad to see a rec for that book. It definitely interests me. This book group usually has really insightful and lively discussions so I'm looking forward to our meetings, even if the selections and schedule aren't 100% the way I want it to be.

>117 BLBera: That's great, Beth! I'm really happy to have a reading partner.

119Crazymamie
Ene 6, 2:19pm

>115 lauralkeet: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup is excellent. I have Hamnet and Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire in the stacks. The funny thing is that I just purchased that last one earlier today as it was $4.99 on Kindle.

120lauralkeet
Editado: Ene 6, 2:33pm

>119 Crazymamie: MAMIE!!!!! THANK YOU!!!

I recently received a $6 Kindle credit and spent half of it on John Banville's Snow, which was a deal that day. I've been trying to decide how to spend the remaining $3. Problem solved! Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire is now mine for a mere $1.98!

121Crazymamie
Ene 6, 2:32pm

OH! Excellent! I bought Snow, too, when it was on sale. Gotta love a deal!

122karenmarie
Ene 7, 11:05am

Hi Laura!

>86 lauralkeet: I’ve added Elizabeth is Missing to my wishlist. It sounds wonderful.

>115 lauralkeet: It’s always fascinating to see what book clubs pick. I’m reading Hamnet now and have Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire on my shelves.

Time and Again and its sequel are wonderful, and I just pulled 3 By Finney from my upstairs shelves. I’ve tagged it ‘2021 read’. I’ve got the Simon Winchester on my shelves just waiting for the right time, too.

123lauralkeet
Ene 7, 12:38pm

>122 karenmarie: Karen, I hope you like Hamnet. It was one of a very few 5-star reads for me last year. Thanks for recommending Time and Again (I also didn't know there was a sequel). Recommendations always nudge books up the queue a bit.

124lauralkeet
Ene 8, 7:49am



I have a new grandkitty! Isn't she a beauty?

My daughter Kate and her partner Tyler adopted her this week. She's about 4 years old and part Siamese. They haven't settled on a name yet. This week she's been acclimating to her new home by hiding under a bookcase in the home office most of the time. But she's eating and using the litter box, mostly at night when the humans are abed. Yesterday morning there was evidence of a nocturnal expotition to the top of the bookcase -- some items were out of place or had been knocked over. She doesn't shy away from petting, purring a mile a minute from her hideaway under the bookcase, but she hisses when Kate tries to bring her out into the open.

Those who followed the arrival of Ellen's cat Carson will see some similarities here. Cats are funny that way.

125msf59
Editado: Ene 8, 7:59am

>115 lauralkeet: Great Book club list! The only one I am not familiar with is Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. I think Bad Blood is an excellent way to kick it off.

I still want to get to Spring & Summer.

>124 lauralkeet: The new kitty is a cutie!

126Crazymamie
Ene 8, 8:04am

>124 lauralkeet: That is the funniest photo - she looks grumpy, but she is gorgeous.

127PawsforThought
Ene 8, 8:17am

>124 lauralkeet: Hurrah! A new kitty is always reason to celebrate. She seems to be settling in well - that's good.

128scaifea
Ene 8, 8:27am

>124 lauralkeet: Aw, she's adorable! What a cool face.

129lauralkeet
Editado: Ene 8, 8:58am

>125 msf59: Mark, I'm happy to see another rec for Bad Blood. Bonnie loved it too. I wouldn't have given it a second look if it weren't for the 75ers. Every day I feel so lucky to be part of this community.

>126 Crazymamie:, >127 PawsforThought:, >128 scaifea: The photo was taken by her foster. Kate has yet to get a full-kitty pic herself. But yeah, she has really cool markings and is such a pretty girl. Kate texted me this morning that they're going to try a little "tough love" today by bringing kitty out into the room and blocking access to her hiding places. This was recommended by a friend who recently adopted an extremely timid/fearful cat and went through a fairly elaborate process to help her adjust. The room itself is quite small so hopefully that's an incremental step she can handle.

130laytonwoman3rd
Ene 8, 9:45am

>124 lauralkeet: What a sweetie! Good luck to Kate and Tyler in getting her to accept their love and take over their lives.

131MickyFine
Ene 8, 10:31am

>124 lauralkeet: Your new grand kitty is adorable. Having been through the thoroughly cautious kitty phase of adoption, I can vouch for the putting you and them in one room with no hiding spots for several hours as a great way to acclimatize. Definitely how Smee and I bonded.

132SandDune
Ene 8, 11:13am

>115 lauralkeet: I went through that with my book club a few years ago, when I seemed to have read everything that was being chosen. But it was just a phase, and we seemed to have moved out of it now.

133justchris
Ene 8, 11:33am

134katiekrug
Ene 8, 11:38am

Cute no-name cat!

135lauralkeet
Ene 8, 12:39pm

>130 laytonwoman3rd: I'm sure it will happen in due course, Linda. It's also cute to see them approaching this as a couple -- a new phase in their relationship about which I remain silent (except here LOL)

>131 MickyFine: Micky, thanks for validating their approach. They know the kitty will come around eventually and I don't think it's stressing them out too much, but it does help to use methods that have worked for others.

>132 SandDune: That's good to know, Rhian. It really is a good group so I will just have to live with it!

>133 justchris:, >134 katiekrug: Hi Chris & Katie! They've talked about names but want to get to know her first to see which name fits best.

I will keep you all posted!

136karenmarie
Ene 8, 3:07pm

>124 lauralkeet: She's gorgeous - really unusual markings. I look forward to hearing new kitty's name.

137lauralkeet
Ene 9, 5:29pm

>136 karenmarie: Thanks Karen. Still waiting ...

138lauralkeet
Ene 9, 5:31pm


2. Summer ()
Source: Kindle library loan

With Summer, Ali Smith wraps up her seasonal quartet that began with Autumn, published in 2016. The plots are contemporary and topical, often referencing current events at the time of publication. Brexit and immigration are recurring themes, and the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has an impact on plot developments in Summer. While each novel can stand alone, connections are cleverly introduced and discovering them enhances the reading experience.

Summer revolves largely around a mother, Grace, and her two teenage children, Sacha (16) and Robert (13). Sacha is an earnest believer in liberal causes; Robert is precocious and somewhat troublesome. Grace’s ex-husband lives next door with his girlfriend; although they never appear “on camera,” this arrangement has an understandably strong impact on the family environment. A series of events lead to Grace, Sacha, and Robert going on a bit of an adventure with a couple they have only just met, and at that point another storyline picks up and Smith begins dropping hints about connections to the present day and to characters from the previous novels. This is repeated a couple of times until returning to the original protagonists to tie things up.

I was engaged in most of this novel, although occasionally I lost focus. I’m pretty sure it’s me, not Smith, as I’m confident she had clear intent in both style and structure. It could be that I’ve forgotten important details from previous novels. Or that I failed to grasp themes that span all four works. This was a satisfying book in its own way, but I found myself wanting just a bit more from this novel and from the quartet as a whole.

139EBT1002
Ene 9, 7:30pm

>124 lauralkeet: Aww!

I will see about joining the Paradise read next month. I also think Beloved is better than Jazz, pretty significantly so.

>138 lauralkeet: I have loved the first three in this quartet and I'm thinking I may save Summer for after retirement and reread the first three before digging into this one.

What a week, eh?

140lauralkeet
Editado: Ene 10, 8:10am

>139 EBT1002: Hi Ellen! I thought you might like that kitty. Still no name, but I think they'll decide on one soon.

As for the Seasonal Quartet, I actually thought you'd read all four already. In any case I remember one of your reviews inspiring me to get back to this collection and read the last two books. It's a good idea to read all four close together, I feel like I might have missed some of those "Easter Egg" connections because the details were no longer fresh in my mind.

141dudes22
Ene 10, 7:45am

I just bought the first one and am looking forward to getting into it later this year. Now I'm wondering if I should get the others and binge read them all at once after your comments about forgetting details from previous novels.

142lauralkeet
Ene 10, 8:20am

>141 dudes22: Happy Sunday morning to you, Betty. I went back and looked at my details in LT and see that I read the first book, Autumn, in May 2017, and Winter about a year later. I didn't get to the third book, Spring, until September 2020. That gap of more than 2 years between the second and third book probably had the greatest impact on my ability to see the connections Smith was making in the fourth book.

So, of course you can binge read if you want, but I think you can also leave a little more space between books.

143BLBera
Ene 10, 10:53am

I think I might start from the beginning with the Smith quartet. I've only read the first two, and it's been a while.

144lauralkeet
Ene 10, 12:13pm

>142 lauralkeet: Not a bad idea, Beth. Hope you enjoy your Sunday!

145sibylline
Ene 10, 5:25pm

Really nice review of Jazz. Not sure if I am up for four Ali Smith's though, but who knows? I'm just happy I have a little bit of reading ambition again.

Love the new kitty!

146lauralkeet
Ene 10, 6:11pm



She has a name! Kate is a huge fan of Nora Ephron's rom-coms, especially You've Got Mail, so she named the kitty Birdie after a character in the movie.

Birdie has only emerged from her hideaways a few times, usually lured out by a trail of treats. Getting a photo has been difficult, and the one above was actually a stroke oif luck on day 1. She's just as cute as can be.

147laytonwoman3rd
Ene 10, 9:12pm

>146 lauralkeet: Awww....hello, Birdie, you lucky kitty! Looking forward to many stories and photos from your "Grandma" once you've accepted your new digs a bit better.

148AMQS
Ene 10, 9:18pm

Awww, Birdie is such a cute kitty! We're enjoying our new kitty - it's hard to remember life without him. They do burrow their way into our hearts, don't they?

My book club also will be reading The Vanishing Half sometime this spring. I'm looking forward to it. I read the Georgianna biography some years ago and enjoyed it.

Have a good week!

149Berly
Editado: Ene 10, 9:33pm

Hello Birdie!!! I don't think I have read any of the Ali Smith quartet....off to check....nope. I guess that means I've been hit with four book bullets and I am surely dead. LOL

150lauralkeet
Ene 11, 6:15am

Thanks for all the Birdie love Linda, Anne & Kim!

>148 AMQS: Anne, it looks like we both have some good book club reads ahead of us. Yay!

>149 Berly: Oops! Sorrynotsorry Kim!

151scaifea
Ene 11, 7:55am

Aw, Birdie! That was one of the nicknames we used for our calico, Susie! So I absolutely approve.

152Sakerfalcon
Ene 11, 8:55am

>124 lauralkeet:, >146 lauralkeet: What a beautiful kitty! I'm sure she will lose her shyness and feel at home soon.

153katiekrug
Ene 11, 10:42am

Great name!

154Crazymamie
Editado: Ene 11, 10:53am

I love the name Birdie!

>138 lauralkeet: Nice review - I will add my thumb if you posted that. I have only read the first one in that Smith quartet - Autumn, and I loved it. When I picked up the second one, I was so disappointed that she had not continued with the characters from the first book, and I set it aside. I appreciate your comments on the final book, and I will go back and reread the first one before continuing on and make sure not to let too much time elapse before reading them all.

155vivians
Ene 11, 10:57am

Hi Laura! I totally agree that reading all 4 of the Smith quartet makes sense. I loved each one but I know I would have appreciated them even more if I had seen all the threads.

156BLBera
Ene 11, 2:14pm

Birdie is a cutie.

157Caroline_McElwee
Ene 11, 2:45pm

>146 lauralkeet: I love the irony of 'birdie' for a kitty.

158quondame
Ene 11, 6:25pm

>146 lauralkeet: What delightful progress! Names are so important.

159lauralkeet
Ene 11, 8:36pm

A big hello to Amber, Claire, Katie, Mamie, Vivian, Beth, Caroline, and Susan!! I was away from LT all day and am
just catching up. Whew!

I'm sure Birdie is feeling all of your good vibes, because today she began to emerge from hiding. Kate fed her in the morning and while she was putting stuff away in the kitchen, Birdie came out to eat. She scurried under the couch when Kate returned, but once she sat down and began working, Birdie came out again. She seemed most secure as long as Kate kept her back turned and remained fairly still which isn't really practical but it was great progress.

>154 Crazymamie:, >155 vivians: Mamie and Vivian, thanks also for sharing your thoughts on the Seasonal Quartet and my review. Mamie, I did post my review on the book page so hopefully you can find it if you still feel like giving it a thumb. And thanks!

Also Vivian, I'm currently enjoying The King at the Edge of the World thanks to your recommendation.

>157 Caroline_McElwee: The irony isn't lost on me either, Caro!

160EBT1002
Ene 12, 9:27pm

Birdie is a cutie and, just like Carson, she will come out in time.

I already had planned to read the Seasonal Quartet together upon retirement and now I'm firm in that plan. Like you, Laura, I had a larger gap between the second and third (maybe there was a somewhat longer gap there in publication date?). In any case, I may not read them back to back but it would be fun to read them within a couple months.

The King at the Edge of the World looks interesting. The Washington Post calls him "one of the best writers in America" and I've not read anything by him!

161lauralkeet
Ene 13, 7:25am

>160 EBT1002: maybe there was a somewhat longer gap there in publication date?
You're onto something there, Ellen. I just did a quick fact-check and according to Google, the first two books were published in 2016 and 2017, and the last two in 2019 and 2020.

And Arthur Phillips, the author of The King at the Edge of the World is a complete unknown to me. I was surprised to see an American writing about Elizabethan England but again, an early-morning Google search tells me he has a BA in History from Harvard. So there's that. And then, after spending two years in Budapest he studied saxophone at Berklee College of Music. And as if that weren't enough, he was a five-time Jeopardy! champion in 1997. Sounds like a pretty interesting person!

Has anyone else here read any of Phillips' novels?

------
* touchstones not cooperating this morning

162karenmarie
Ene 13, 7:41am

Hi Laura!

>146 lauralkeet: Sweet pic, excellent name.

163lauralkeet
Ene 13, 9:01am

Hi Karen! I'm glad you approve. 😀

164vivians
Ene 13, 9:50am

>161 lauralkeet: Hi Laura - I read and loved The Egyptologist but don't have the foggiest memory of any details. I also read and didn't love Angelica, but I kept Phillips on my TBR list (especially want to read Prague) and that's how I came upon The King at the Edge of the World. Thanks for the bio - he definitely sounds like an interesting guy.

165lauralkeet
Ene 15, 9:17am


3. The King at the Edge of the World ()
Source: On my Kindle

In 1591 Mahmoud Ezzedine, the highly regarded physician to a Turkish sultan, travels with a delegation to the court of Queen Elizabeth I to discuss matters of trade and support Elizabeth in England’s conflict with the Spanish. In a surprising turn of events, Ezzedine is prevented from returning to Constantinople. He serves as physician to a nobleman and later plays an integral role in obtaining information necessary to determine whether Scotland’s King James VI should succeed Queen Elizabeth.

As Ezzedine becomes increasingly embroiled in a covert operation, elements of a spy novel are layered atop historical fiction in a satisfying way. Once or twice the text read more like a history book and there were times I wanted deeper character development. But the clever ending was an excellent payoff, leaving much to the reader’s imagination.

166lauralkeet
Ene 15, 9:21am

>164 vivians: Thanks Vivian! As you can see I enjoyed The King at the Edge of the World, so thank you for the recommendation.

----

I really want to get to Shuggie Bain this month, but need something lighter first. So last night I pulled my next Angela Thirkell novel off the shelves (County Chronicle), and am happily immersed in her world.

167katiekrug
Ene 15, 9:45am

>165 lauralkeet: - Vivian's recommendation caused that one to jump onto my Kindle. Glad to hear it was (mostly) satisfying.

168BLBera
Ene 15, 2:01pm

>165 lauralkeet: That does sound good, Laura.

169NanaCC
Ene 16, 5:19pm

>165 lauralkeet: I stopped by to drop a star, Laura, but found an intriguing review as well. I’ll be back once in a while to see what else you might do to tempt me.

170lauralkeet
Ene 16, 6:52pm

Hi Katie & Beth, and welcome Colleen! Sorry for being a bit late to my own thread, but I'm glad to see my reviews having an impact. Heh heh.

171sibylline
Ene 18, 6:22pm

Popping in -- that last book is very very very tempting!

172lauralkeet
Ene 18, 9:12pm

>171 sibylline: My work is done, Lucy!

----

A brief update on Birdie, my grandkitty. Today marks two weeks in her new home. She recently began accepting belly rubs while hiding under the couch, getting increasingly playful from her hideaway. This morning before her breakfast she came out from beneath the couch in Kate's home office and took a turn about the room while Kate was sitting on the couch. Then Birdie noticed Kate was holding a container of treats. She is VERY food motivated, so this was enough to inspire her to jump up on the couch where she received lots of pets and, of course, a treat. This was a huge step!

173brenzi
Ene 18, 9:23pm

I think I liked The King at the Edge of the World a bit more than you did Laura. I found it a hard book to follow though. I had to really concentrate to figure out what was going on.

174justchris
Ene 18, 10:15pm

>172 lauralkeet: Love the grandkitty updates!

175PaulCranswick
Ene 18, 10:41pm

>165 lauralkeet: I am another attracted by your review of that one, Laura.

176Sakerfalcon
Ene 19, 6:38am

>172 lauralkeet: That's great news! Sounds like she is enjoying the combination of hiding with play.

>166 lauralkeet: Angela Thirkell is a great comfort author to read in these times.

177lauralkeet
Editado: Ene 19, 7:52am

>173 brenzi: Bonnie, I had similar issues with following the plot at times. I'm still not sure I could give someone a play-by-play account of the whole poisoning thing, and how that was used to prove James' suitability as Elizabeth's successor. I often have trouble following spy movies so I wrote it off to that vs. any issue with the writing.

>175 PaulCranswick: Glad to hear it, Paul!

>174 justchris:, >176 Sakerfalcon: Birdie is adorable, especially now that I've had a chance to see her in full (Kate sent us a video of yesterday's "treats on the couch" episode). And I'm happy for Kate that she's made progress. I don't think she was super stressed about it, but Birdie's adjustment has been more challenging than she expected.

178Caroline_McElwee
Ene 19, 10:00am

Yay Birdie.

179scaifea
Ene 19, 10:19am

Aw, I'm so happy that Birdie is coming round!

180lauralkeet
Ene 19, 10:19am

>178 Caroline_McElwee:, >179 scaifea: Caro and Amber, I'll pass on your good wishes LOL.

181lauralkeet
Ene 20, 8:54am

Inauguration Day. I am so glad we will finally have a competent and compassionate team in the White House. I’m feeling better than I have in years.

182msf59
Editado: Ene 20, 9:03am

Morning, Laura! Happy Inauguration Day! I am also feeling better, despite the difficult roads we have yet to travel and to get this country back on track. It is all up to the Dems now. Please, don't let us down.

183laytonwoman3rd
Ene 20, 9:56am

>181 lauralkeet: >182 msf59: It's off to a good start...

184SandyAMcPherson
Ene 20, 9:48pm

>138 lauralkeet: and #165 Oooh, my first 2 BBs of 2021 are from you! Swamped already, because I have plans to read from our home library.

We've cross-posted. I just checked my new thread to give you the URL! I was going to say my intro would describes my objective this year.
Thanks for dropping by.

185lauralkeet
Ene 21, 7:09am

>182 msf59:, >183 laytonwoman3rd: Hi Mark & Linda. Yesterday was a great day, wasn't it? We watched the ceremony and the evening television special, and just basked in the glow of it all. I was really happy to see a whole raft of executive actions, and a 21-page strategy for fighting the pandemic. It feels so good to have proper governance in place again.

>184 SandyAMcPherson: Hi Sandy, sorry to add to your TBR, but I'd say just stick with your plan and keep a list of BBs off to the side just in case. There are waaay too many books in this world crying to be read, and each of us needs to manage that in our own way.

186sibylline
Ene 21, 2:09pm

>182 msf59:. Ditto. I can't believe the degree of relief I feel and the realization that the last four years have been one of unrelieved anxiety, constant, -- waiting for the next blow and the next and the next.

And I still have my pearls on. Maybe I'll keep them on for the first 100 days along with my mask? :)

187EBT1002
Editado: Ene 21, 8:43pm

Happy first full day of the Biden administration!!

One of my colleagues lives in DC and in a zoom (duh) meeting this afternoon she said they watched the fireworks from their roof -- they can see the Washington monument from up there -- and they were as spectacular as they looked on television.

188lauralkeet
Ene 21, 9:13pm

>186 sibylline: Lucy, you wear those pearls as long as you want! I agree with you about the weight of anxiety and constant feelings of fear and dread. Today felt so much better than any day in the past 4 years!

>187 EBT1002: Happy new era back at ya, Ellen. That rooftop view must have been pretty great!

189BLBera
Ene 22, 9:05am

Isn't it great to know there is an adult in the White House?

190lauralkeet
Ene 22, 12:54pm

It sure is, Beth. I'm really pleased to see the new administration immediately tackling some really critical issues.

191lauralkeet
Ene 24, 3:04pm


4. County Chronicle ()
Source: On my shelves

County Chronicle is book 19 of 29 in Angela Thirkell’s Barsetshire series, which captures the life and times of the inhabitants of a fictional English county in the early 20th century. These novels are light satire of people in every echelon of society, and the political events of the day. In this post-World War II novel, Thirkell’s conservative politics and dogged adherence to Empire are a bit too much in evidence, but if the reader can look past that they will find a pleasant series of typical Barsetshire events. The book opens with the wedding of a couple well-known from previous novels, and another recently-married couple have twins. There are garden parties and fêtes, and the steady ebb and flow of romantic relationships in which the most fruitful lead to the usual two weddings at the end of the book.

By this point in the series, many characters have aged and some have died. One of my favorite older characters figured prominently in this novel, and her story resolved in a satisfying way. It was also refreshing to see a few younger characters playing more prominent roles, no doubt providing a foundation for the remaining books.

192lauralkeet
Ene 24, 3:10pm



So far this year I've read four 3.5-star books: all above average, but not much of a wow factor. I started Shuggie Bain last night. I have high hopes for it after all the LT chatter and of course winning the Booker Prize.

193brenzi
Ene 24, 4:24pm

Get ready to have your heart torn out Laura lol.

194BLBera
Ene 24, 6:10pm

>191 lauralkeet: Your comments make me want to move along in this series, Laura. I just read the first one. Should they be read in order?

195lauralkeet
Ene 25, 7:34am

>193 brenzi: Bonnie, I've only read about 20% and I'm feeling that already.

>194 BLBera: Funnily enough Beth, I've just caught up to the first Barsetshire book I ever read (#20, The Duke's Daughter). I received it as a gift and liked it enough to want to read more. But I vaguely recall feeling I was missing something by not knowing the back stories of several characters. Having now read those first 20 books, I see that while each book stands on its own, those back stories add depth. For example, County Chronicle opens with a wedding, which is more meaningful for knowing more about the bride and groom, who appeared in previous books spanning several years. You know how more about how they came to be a couple, and understand references to events from their past.

196SandyAMcPherson
Editado: Ene 25, 11:16am

Hi Laura, just dropped by to see what's new in the reading department.
*Happy sigh* ~ I may not be American, but we're also relieved there are informed and experienced folks at the helm sailing 'good ship USA'.

And on my reading front, my best (as in enjoyable fiction-escapism) is still the gentle Thornyhold. I'm going to visit our second-hand bookshop when the weather stops being so challenging. I want to see if they have any Mary Stewart's, especially the one Lucy has mentioned, Madam, Will You Talk.

197PaulCranswick
Ene 25, 12:49pm

>192 lauralkeet: I am closing on finishing up Shuggie Bain and it is an impressive debut novel I must say, Laura.

198lauralkeet
Ene 25, 5:24pm

>196 SandyAMcPherson: Hi Sandy! Nice to see you here. I'm happy my vote ultimately contributed tor reducing your stress/anxiety levels. And I'm pleased with actions the new administration has already taken on multiple fronts.

>197 PaulCranswick: Shuggie Bain is very impressive indeed, Paul. It's intense, requiring reading breaks even as it keeps calling to me. For me, that's one sign of a really good book.

199BLBera
Ene 26, 2:46pm

>195 lauralkeet: Thanks Laura. I do have a few; I'll try to keep to the order.

200lauralkeet
Ene 26, 3:46pm

>199 BLBera: I've now read all of the ones I have on hand, except for #27. So of course I now need to acquire books 20-26. I'm in no hurry, but one of these days I'll probably look for used copies on Amazon or Abebooks.

201lauralkeet
Ene 27, 7:47am

Public Service Announcement



Paradise is the next book in my Toni Morrison reading project, and I'm planning to read it in February. So is Beth (BLBera), and we just exchanged messages about timing. We plan to start reading around the middle of the month, which coincides with Morrison's birthday on February 18.

It was really fun to see so many people reading Jazz in January, so I hope others will join us in February too.

202katiekrug
Ene 27, 7:53am

>201 lauralkeet: - I'm planning* to join you!

*Subject to change, of course 🙂

203msf59
Editado: Ene 27, 8:14am

>201 lauralkeet: Thanks for reminder! Yah!

How is Shuggie Bain? I am sure hoping it will be your first 5 star read of the young year. Grins...

204lauralkeet
Ene 27, 11:14am

>202 katiekrug: yay!

>203 msf59: Another one! Huzzah!

Shuggie Bain is excellent. But oof. Also painfully sad. I'm pacing myself.

205karenmarie
Ene 27, 11:55am

Hi Laura!

>172 lauralkeet: I’m glad that Birdie is coming along.

>191 lauralkeet: A series I need to contemplate starting sometime down the road.

206lauralkeet
Ene 27, 1:08pm

>205 karenmarie: Birdie is doing even better now, actually. Over the weekend she jumped up on the couch while someone else was sitting there. Yesterday she emerged from the home office and sat a few inches outside the doorway. This morning she went on an explore around the apartment! She then returned to the couch in the office and got up on the windowsill. (I was getting play-by-play text messages for a while there). So it sounds to me like she has pretty much acclimated to her new surroundings and it won't be long before she acclimates to the humans as well.

Karen, have you read Anthony Trollope's Barsetshire Chronicles ? They were written in the 1850s, and Thirkell's series imagines Trollope's Barsetshire "world" in the first half of the 20th century. Reading Trollope is not a prerequisite to reading Thirkell though.

207laytonwoman3rd
Ene 27, 1:22pm

>206 lauralkeet: I think Birdie has cleared the major hurdles, and it will soon be snuggles and lap-claiming all the way.

208karenmarie
Ene 27, 1:23pm

Yay for Birdie and her humans.

I have not. It turns out that I have The Warden, Barchester Towers, and the Last Chronicle of Barset on my shelves (1, 2, and 6), and just bought the entire series of 6 for $.99 for my Kindle. Probably reading six books will be more easily accomplished than reading 29... Thanks for the heads up.

209lauralkeet
Editado: Ene 27, 3:21pm

>207 laytonwoman3rd: I think so too, Linda! Apparently Birdie is still wary of Tyler and his heavier footsteps, but she'll come around.

>208 karenmarie: Good for you, Karen! You also might be interested in the "tutored reads" for those books. Several years ago lyzard guided many of us through the series, providing really useful historic context and answering questions. There was a tutored read thread for each book. Whenever you get around to reading them, let me know and I'll find the threads for you.

BTW, The Warden is a fairly short book. Just sayin'.

210dudes22
Ene 27, 4:04pm

>201 lauralkeet: - How do you discuss? A separate thread? I tried to read this last year and gave up about 3/4 of the way through, Not that I wasn't liking it, but because I was so confused. I don't want to read it again, but I'd like to follow the discussion.

211lauralkeet
Ene 27, 4:28pm

>210 dudes22: Yes, lyzard set up a thread for the tutored read. The first one started out with her tutoring another LTer, and then others joined in and we kept going through the series and then on to Trollope's Palliser Novels. The threads were created in the 75 Book Challenge group for the year we were reading e.g., we read The Warden in 2012:

http://www.librarything.com/topic/140276#unread

212katiekrug
Ene 27, 4:38pm

>211 lauralkeet: - I think in >210 dudes22: Betty was referring to Paradise :)

213lauralkeet
Ene 27, 5:44pm

>212 katiekrug: Oh. Oops. Thanks Katie!

And I'm sorry, Betty!

----

Re: Paradise in February ... last month when we read Jazz, it started out as I think just 3 or 4 of us and we just commented on our own and each other's threads. But by the end of the month more people had also decided to read it so I don't know whether that approach became unwieldy. I'm open to creating a dedicated group read thread if there's interest in doing so.

214justchris
Ene 28, 1:55am

>213 lauralkeet: I was unable to find Jazz or Paradise, but I now have Beloved, The Bluest Eye, and Home waiting.

215lauralkeet
Ene 28, 7:34am

>214 justchris: Beloved is the book that started me on this Toni Morrison reading project, Chris. I took a course last spring on Toni Morrison and other authors she inspired or mentored. Beloved was a re-read for me, and I got a lot more out of it the second time around. It's excellent. The Bluest Eye is Morrison's debut novel, and while it didn't wow me as much as Beloved, as I read I kept thinking, "wow, this is a debut novel?!"

216scaifea
Ene 28, 8:19am

Morning, Laura!

I keep meaning to mention to you that Charlie and I are watching the Philadelphia season of QE, and I wonder at every episode if they are visiting places you frequent!

217lauralkeet
Ene 28, 8:55am

>218 Oh yeah! It was quite a big deal in these parts when they were filming, and again when it aired of course. I actually haven't watched the series, but I found some news items to refresh my memory. So ...

Noah Hepler (Ep 1) is pastor of a church near us. We know him by sight but not personally. Reading Terminal Market (also Ep 1) isn't in my neighborhood, but was my regular stop for meat and produce (these days I get delivery). LaColombe (Ep 2) was our regular coffee shop, pre-pandemic. Pizzeria Beddia (Ep 9) is a hot trendy local restaurant, the kind where you have to reserve a month in advance. For pizza?! Whatever. If the QE team ever mentions Fishtown by name, that's the part of Philly we live in.

Enjoy!

218scaifea
Ene 28, 8:58am

>217 lauralkeet: Oooh, yay! Thanks for the details! And they *have* mentioned Fishtown a few times, and I thought that's were you were! Very cool.

219EBT1002
Ene 28, 1:09pm

Hi Laura. Just swinging through to see what you're up to. Enjoying Shuggie Bain, I see. It was one of my very few 5-star reads in 2020.

I'm looking forward to reading Paradise with the group and I'm open to whatever in terms of sharing comments, etc.

220laytonwoman3rd
Ene 28, 2:47pm

I'm probably going to reread Paradise along with you'all. I've wanted to read it again ever since I closed the covers on it the first time. I think I'd be in favor of a separate thread.

221lauralkeet
Ene 28, 3:32pm

>219 EBT1002:, >220 laytonwoman3rd: thanks Ellen & Linda. Here's who's participating based on previous discussion & comments upthread: me, Beth, Kim, Katie, Mark, possibly Betty, Linda.

That's enough of a group that I think a separate thread would be helpful. I'll create the thread around 2/1 so people can start reading and chatting anytime in February.

222EBT1002
Ene 29, 8:07pm

>221 lauralkeet: Thanks Laura!

223lauralkeet
Ene 30, 11:43am

Yesterday I finished reading Shuggie Bain, which was just as excellent as everyone here said it was -- my first 5-star book of 2021! I had some difficulty starting another book last night because I wasn't ready to move on. I'm wallowing in my thoughts a bit before writing a review.

Meanwhile, I submit Birdie performing her first lap sit this morning!

224dudes22
Editado: Ene 30, 11:45am

>223 lauralkeet: - She's cute. I'm still waiting for my copy of Shuggie Bain from the library. When I checked Wed, I was up to #17.

225lauralkeet
Ene 30, 11:51am

>224 dudes22: I was on the library list for a while, Betty, but then there was a Kindle deal ...

226Caroline_McElwee
Ene 30, 11:58am

>223 lauralkeet: Yup, Birdie's agreed her new home and staff are up to snuff.

I have Shuggie Bain in my February reading pile.

227katiekrug
Ene 30, 12:40pm

Hooray for a 5-star read!

And hooray for Brave Birdie!

228MickyFine
Ene 30, 2:24pm

Yay for Birdie! Victory for her and her humans.

Also yay for your five-star read.

229lauralkeet
Ene 30, 5:10pm

>226 Caroline_McElwee: I bet you will appreciate Shuggie Bain, Caro. I want to say "enjoy" but that's an odd word given the subject matter. Anyway, it's definitely Booker-worthy.

>227 katiekrug:, >228 MickyFine: Hi Katie & Micky! 5-star reads are rare for me, but this one met one of the key criteria: made me cry. And Birdie is the best. After losing her beloved Paula about this time last year, Kate really really wanted a cat in her life. I'm so glad to see Birdie settling into that space in Kate's heart.

230BLBera
Ene 30, 7:48pm

I'm happy you had your first five-star read, Laura. I am still waiting. :(

231justchris
Ene 30, 9:50pm

>223 lauralkeet: Kitteh! Settled kitteh! She's decided this is her place and person for sure!

232lauralkeet
Ene 30, 9:52pm

>231 justchris: I'm surprised it happened to me this early in the year, Beth. I usually have fewer than five, 5-star reads in a year. I'd love to have more, so maybe scoring my first one so soon is a good sign.

>231 justchris: I think you're right, Chris!

233lauralkeet
Ene 31, 8:01am

I just created a thread for February's group read of Toni Morrison's Paradise.

Come read with me!
http://www.librarything.com/topic/329307

234lauralkeet
Ene 31, 4:49pm


5. Shuggie Bain ()
Source: On my Kindle

Hugh "Shuggie" Bain is the youngest son of Agnes Bain with her second husband, Shug. Agnes left her first husband, often referred to as "the Catholic," believing she was making a better life for her first two children (Catherine and Alexander aka Leek). But Agnes’ life goes from bad to worse through a combination of poverty, relationship issues, and alcoholism. Shug, a taxi driver, works a night shift that affords him ample opportunity to bed down with women all over Glasgow. Agnes socializes with other women in their housing estate in evenings filled with penny-ante card games and lager. As Agnes’ alcohol dependency escalates, her children try to cope by falling into codependent roles in the family. Shuggie is much younger than his siblings and a social outcast at school, leaving him with no one to turn to for support.

Over the course of the novel Shuggie grows from little boy to teenager. The family experiences several major shifts, driven largely by Agnes’ mental and physical state. Periods of hope are inevitably shattered. This is not a happy story. And yet, Shuggie has a certain resilience that keeps him going, even when things get as bad as they could possibly get. It is clear from the beginning that Shuggie will need to find his own way in life with almost no safety net. It is quite moving to watch him grow up and overcome incredible obstacles, all the more so knowing much of this novel is drawn from the author’s life experience. This is a memorable novel, extremely well-written and a superb choice for the 2020 Man Booker Prize.

235vivians
Ene 31, 5:56pm

Great review, Laura, and I totally agree with your 5 star rating! I'm just finishing A Swim in the Pond in the Rain, the new George Saunders which analyzes several Russian short stories. I'm really enjoying his perspective, even if it is a little too craftmanship-oriented for me. Good luck with the snow!

236brenzi
Ene 31, 6:50pm

>234 lauralkeet: Yay for Shuggie Bain Laura. Great review. Shuggie resiliency was amazing.

237lauralkeet
Ene 31, 8:54pm

>235 vivians: I read about Saunders' new book, Vivian. I was curious but not curious enough to get my hands on a copy. I'll keep my eyes on your thread to see what you ultimately think of it.

>236 brenzi: Thanks Bonnie. Such a great book!

238NanaCC
Feb 1, 4:36pm

>234 lauralkeet: I’m going to add this one to my wishlist, Laura. I’m not sure when I’ll get to it, but it sounds very good based upon your review.

239SandDune
Feb 1, 4:38pm

>234 lauralkeet: Great review of Shuggie Bain Laura. I must get around to this one.

240Caroline_McElwee
Feb 1, 4:53pm

>234 lauralkeet: I'll revisit this once I've read this later this month, good to know it was a 5* read though Laura.

>235 vivians: This just landed on my tbr mountain Vivian. Glad to see you are enjoying it.

241lauralkeet
Feb 1, 6:46pm

>238 NanaCC:, >239 SandDune: oh yes, Colleen & Rhian -- definitely read Shuggie Bain. It's so good.

>240 Caroline_McElwee: I look forward to seeing your thoughts on it, Caro.

242AnneDC
Feb 1, 7:02pm

Onto the TBR pile goes Shuggie Bain. Thanks for the glowing review, and how nice to get a 5 star book!

I do plan to join in reading Paradise with you, or rereading it. It's apparently been 10 years since I read it the first time, but I loved it at the time.

243lauralkeet
Feb 1, 9:42pm

>242 AnneDC: I'm so glad you'll be joining in with Paradise, Anne. And I hope you get to Shuggie Bain sooner rather than later, too.

244lauralkeet
Feb 2, 11:54am


6. Snow ()
Source: On my Kindle

When a priest is murdered in an Irish country house in the middle of the night, Detective Inspector Strafford is dispatched to investigate. If you’ve ever read a murder mystery, watched one on television, or played a game of Clue, you could do a more thorough job than Strafford. He performs the usual task of speaking to the Osborne family who live in the house. He spots a couple of clues and asks local police to follow up but there’s no urgency, and no relentless “all hands on deck” approach to tracking down the killer. Just Strafford aimlessly going about his task, and then retiring to the inn where he’s booked a room for the night. The change of scene gives him the opportunity to talk to some locals who may or may not be relevant to the case, and to speculate about his chances with an attractive young woman working in the bar. Strafford spends a comfortable night at the inn and repeats this lackluster routine the following day, with no new insights. However, Strafford’s assistant disappears and Strafford is called before the archbishop who — no surprise — wants to cover up the murder.

The Osborne family are cardboard cutouts, stereotypical and lacking depth. The father is out of touch, his second wife has mental health issues, there’s a “wild” daughter, a broody son, and a shady handyman who lives on the estate. The priest is a complete unknown other than being a close friend of the family. So there’s not much to go on, and by this point John Banville has written himself into a cul-de-sac. To resolve this dilemma he abruptly hits “pause” and provides an “interlude” from ten years earlier, told by the now-dead priest. To the surprise of no one, the priest has a troubling but entirely predictable past. So, hmmm, who would harbor strong feelings about the priest, strong enough to commit murder? Lucky for Strafford, he finds clues scribbled on paper and thrust into his pocket (seriously?!), and yet it takes him surprisingly long to reach a conclusion. I guess he was distracted by the attractive young woman, who, in another overused trope, surprises Strafford by visiting him in his room.

To his credit, Banville attempts to infuse life into this tale with historic context about class differences and the early years of the Irish republic. In fact, a review in the New York Times praised these elements for making the novel something deeper than a standard police procedural. For me, there wasn’t enough of it to elevate Snow beyond a mediocre murder mystery.

245lauralkeet
Feb 2, 11:57am

>244 lauralkeet: I've just skimmed through the LT reviews for Snow, and I appear to be in the minority. So take my thoughts for what they're worth!

-----



Time for a comfort re-read. I'll start Persuasion today.

246katiekrug
Feb 2, 12:13pm

>244 lauralkeet: - I picked this one up in a Kindle sale recently. I am not rushing to read it!

>245 lauralkeet: - Be still my heart! Persuasion is my favorite Austen :)

247Caroline_McElwee
Feb 2, 12:54pm

>244 lauralkeet: Oh dear, it's in my pile. Could be there for a while me thinks.

>245 lauralkeet: I love Persuasion. I might sneak a reread in myself, after I've finished my current read. Of course, much of the story takes place in my beloved Lyme Regis, the characters would still recognise it.

248lauralkeet
Editado: Feb 2, 1:13pm

>246 katiekrug: I picked it up in the same sale, Katie. The NYT Review inspired me to place a library hold, and then I gave in to the siren song of a Kindle deal. Well, at least I didn't pay full price, eh?

>246 katiekrug:, >247 Caroline_McElwee: Persuasion is my favorite Austen, too! I've re-read all the others at least once so this is long overdue.

Finally, please note my disclaimer about Snow in >245 lauralkeet:. If you read the LT reviews you'll find a lot of appreciation for it. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

249japaul22
Feb 2, 3:11pm

>244 lauralkeet: Interesting! I've seen good reviews of Snow and I know Banville is a well-respected author. I will probably read this, but I'll get it from the library instead of buying it!

250Crazymamie
Feb 2, 3:16pm

I skipped your review of Snow because I have yet to read it, and it's in the stacks.

LOVE Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice is my personal favorite with Persuasion a close second, but my daughter Birdy's favorite is Persuasion.

Beautiful review of Shuggie Bain - I am not up to that one right now and so have resisted adding it to The List.

>223 lauralkeet: Hooray for Birdie! She is so full of beauty.

251brenzi
Feb 2, 3:58pm

Scratch, scratch scratch.....the sound of me taking Snow off my Overdrive list. Thanks for that Laura. Persuasion is my favorite Austen but I still have Mansfield Park to read, hopefully sometime this year.

252Whisper1
Editado: Feb 2, 4:06pm

Hi Laura! It is good to see your three animals prominently displayed in your opening message! They are all lovely!

I hope retirement is going well for you. We have approximately 30 inches of snow over the last few days! It makes for good reading time.

Your review of Shuggie Bain is incredible. I hope to obtain this book through the local library.

We had a lot of snow. I'm hoping you did not receive the 24 plus inches that landed in my area.

253lauralkeet
Feb 2, 4:43pm

>249 japaul22: I was kinda disappointed, Jennifer. Like you I read positive reviews. Maybe it was just my frame of mind. And any book that follows a 5-star read is usually a bit of a let-down.

>250 Crazymamie: Totally respect your decision to skim past that review, Mamie. I logged a few pages in Persuasion this afternoon and feel very cozily ensconced in Austenland now. Yay.

>251 brenzi: Bonnie, at first I thought you had some horrible rash LOL. I'm not surprised we have the same favorite Austen novel. I re-read Mansfield Park late last year and was really glad I did. I hope you enjoy it!

>252 Whisper1: Hello Linda! Fortunately we only had about 6" of snow. The roads are slushy and messy but I have nowhere to go, so that's a plus. I hope you get your hands on Shuggie Bain soon. I'm glad you like the pet photos.

----
Linda's message got me thinking about my next thread which I hadn't planned on creating until March but now this one is getting long. And I like to start new threads at the beginning of a month. I'll try to slap something together tout de suite.

254lauralkeet
Feb 2, 4:54pm

Bloody hell, the thread continuation link isn't working again. Well let's hang out here a bit longer til it's fixed shall we?!

255thornton37814
Feb 2, 8:51pm

>244 lauralkeet: I hope I like Snow better than you did. I've loved everything I've read by Banville, so I'm hopeful.

256BLBera
Feb 2, 9:09pm

I'll trust you on Snow, Laura.

I love Persuasion as well!

257scaifea
Feb 3, 8:04am

Morning, Laura!

You've reminded me that I want to get back to more Austen soon...

258katiekrug
Feb 3, 11:28am

>254 lauralkeet: - I tried to continue my thread this morning, and still no joy... :(

Happy Wednesday, Laura!

259lauralkeet
Feb 3, 12:14pm

>255 thornton37814: Lori, it might have just been my mood, or the "5-star read effect." I'd say go for it!

>256 BLBera:, >257 scaifea: Jane Austen is so delightful. I really should re-read her books more often.

>258 katiekrug: Katie, I logged this last night it over in Bug Collectors, after trying to continue a couple of other threads (I had no intention of actually continuing them, I just wanted to see if I got the same error, which I did). Of course a certain self-appointed master troubleshooter already asked me was I sure, maybe the problem was transient. Um, no, it's still happening and why don't you try it yourself, hmmm? But on the plus side, an LT staff member also weighed in. So we'll see.

260SandyAMcPherson
Feb 3, 9:46pm

>258 katiekrug: >259 lauralkeet: Several 75-ers (including me) mentioned how molasses-in-January slow the LT website was today. Perhaps the servers were "enjoying" an onslaught of DOS?
Lt seems more prone than in the past to spam and denial of service bots, no?
Maybe they need to upgrade their servers to a newer model but I understand the costs would be prohibitive.

261lauralkeet
Feb 4, 7:06am

>260 SandyAMcPherson: yeah, who knows what's going on, Sandy. I just hope they fix this particular issue soon.

262EBT1002
Feb 6, 12:12am

Hmm, I'm wondering if you've actually moved on to a new thread. Well. Regardless. I'm glad to see the 5 stars for Shuggie Bain. I wholly agree. And too bad about Banville's disappointing new novel.

I've started Paradise.

263lauralkeet
Feb 6, 6:56am

>262 EBT1002: Good morning Ellen! Nope, still here. I have a new thread ready to go but the "continue this thread" thing has been out of service since Tuesday. I'm hoping it gets resolved soon. Yes, I can create a new thread on my own but for anyone who "starred" this thread, their star won't automatically carry over.

264justchris
Feb 7, 12:39am

>250 Crazymamie: I'm right there with you, Mamie.

>253 lauralkeet: I hope the comfort of Persusasion brightens up your week.

>259 lauralkeet: How annoying and how extra annoying!
>263 lauralkeet: I hope it gets resolved soon so that you can move on now that you're ready.

265lauralkeet
Feb 7, 7:27am

Good morning Chris. I'm enjoying my re-read of Persuasion. It's been a long time since I last read it so while I could give you a plot outline in broad strokes, I had forgotten the details. In some ways, that makes it like reading it for the first time. I'm heading into the home stretch now, and enjoying how Austen is giving certain characters their just desserts.

266lauralkeet
Feb 7, 8:40am

Good news: the thread continuation feature is working again! Follow the link below ...
Este tema fue continuado por Laura (lauralkeet)'s 75 in 2021 - Part 2.