Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Magical World of Books/The Writer's Journey Roadmap

Unlike most of you, I’m sure, books did not play a role in my young life. My life was the desert, the mountains and the kids. A large group of us were together from grade school through high school. In the summer we lived at Crystal Pool in the day and “the park”, a one block lot next to the elementary school. It had several grassy knolls just perfect for clique meetings or clandestine trysts. In the winter we took ot he desert to follow the trails made by the Army bivouac troops or up to the mountains to ride horses or ski. That would be followed by a picnic and rollicking in the dunes of White Sands Missile Range.
I am not saying my life was devoid of books. I recall staying with a distant uncle who gave me a large book bound in orange leatherette, I thought it so elegant. I treasured it and even slept with it. I also remember always enjoying the feel of carrying my school books, and excitement as I turned the pages. Never did I envision them being such an important part of my life.
After school I did not touch a book for a decade, until I met my would be husband. He would tell me about the books he was reading, one per week. Our first date was on a cold rainy weekend so I went to the bookstore-I was in heaven with all the empty, beautifully bound journals, my weakness, and then all the books-what to choose. I purchased the first two Bourne epics by Robert Ludlum. Luckily, Tom had two couches. I filled the coffee table with munchies and we spent the entire weekend reading-great first date.
I have been reading and collecting books since that weekend, and I am now half way through my second book. I treasure the friendships I have made as a result of books.
What of “the kids”? They are still in my life. We keep in touch on social media and have reunions every four years, and I always bring books to give as gifts.

Laura Davis says
Nancy, what a great description of a unique first date between two compatible readers. How wonderful to establish that kind of easy comfort right from the beginning! Thanks for sharing this story. I could really see your Uncle’s gift and imagine you treasuring it.

This felt very cozy Nancy, thank you for sharing!

Jane says
Dear Nancy,
What a happy, healthy outdoors youth you were privileged to enjoy, near the amazing White Sands hill dunes! That is one of my favorite places in the US.
I was moved to be reading the magical tale about the beautiful book your Uncle gifted to you, and how you curled up with your treasured book in bed at night. Then the perfect date with the right guy for you.
Thank you for this lovely writing.

Beverly Boyd says
Hi Nancy,
I loved your description of life in the desert exploring with your friends.
A good read!

Miriam says
Nancy, I love your merging of your ‘loves’, the ‘beautiful, bound journals’ and the books, which became a beautiful way to connect with your now husband. Thank you for sharing this!

Judy says
Nancy, I enjoyed your piece and giggled as I read of your first date with your husband. My husband of 30 years and I shared a similar experience and to this day we still read aloud to each other. This line….”beautifully bound journals, my weakness,” shouted to me and further anchored me in your piece. Well done. Thank you and I look forward to more.

Nancy, I loved hearing about your first date. The idea of lounging on a couch and reading Bourne books and snacking sounds like heaven to me. Thank you for sharing.

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Paris Apartment

By: Michelle Gable

Undoubtedly the best book I have read in years. Appealing to those who love to read about Paris, fanciers of art history or antiques and, of course, love. This chronicles the history and discovery of the magnificent apartment of the demi-mondaine Madame Marthe de Florian (Mathilde Heloise Beaugiron), her years at the Folies and as muse to the Belle Epoque portraitist, Giovanni Boldini. The 9th arrondissement apartment was sealed up (from the Germans) over 70 years ago and discovered in 2010 when Sotherby's Continental furniture specialist, April Vogt, went in to discover it was packed with priceless furniture and art, including the never before seen Boldini portrait of Marthe that sold at auction for $2.1 million euros.  

In a bookcase were her journals. She has a lively sense of humour (I laughed so much) like when she first becomes acquainted with "le penis"..."it is really quite ridiculous, this creature", and her first paramour Msr. Buree' makes his fortune in bat guarno (bat shit)...she laughs, I laugh.

April is working with estate solicitor, the oh-so-french, Luc Thebault (of course ladies), who is as luscious as his name and accent. He is uncooperative, then cooperative, then rude, then flirtatious thus keeping "Avril", who already has a rocky marriage, in a continual befuddled state but they soon develop a symbiotic relationship and he lets her read the journals. The banter between them is endearing, the attraction undeniable, the respect surmountable.

There is a sisterhood between our heroines, April and Marthe. Both share the need for excitement/entertainment but their own personal demons/insecurities keep them from truly enjoying life. One uses men to achieve a rich life style and acceptance (or was it love?) from Parisian society, but is controlled by the men who have the pursestrings (she did not love) and the artist who holds what love she has to give plus the baby. The other searches for fulfillment and the love but is a slave to the memory of her mother's slow demise and the neglect she feels because of her father choosing to be with her mother over her, then sells all of her mother's things. This spills over to her husband who starts their marriage with a pre-nup, a gregarious ex-wife and infidelity.  Both women find a man who emotionally supports them until their lives evolve.

You will not be disappointed with this wonderful work of literature. I am a fan.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

One Day in Budapest

By:   J. F. Penn

Although I was asked to review this audio book by the author, I had purchased the Kindle version already because the title piqued my interest (not knowing it was #4 in a series), so I have to congratulate the author for a book that can stand alone as a well written piece of fiction and historically accurate.

That being said, I commend J.F. Penn on an emotional and poignant manuscript of history. Being a history buff I can relate to these events of the Jews to the past civilizations; to the Jacobites who stored treasures of King James' and weapons in caves throughout Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland. In WWII the treasures and supplies hidden under London in, what is now, 'the Tube'. I myself have always felt there are the makings for nuclear weapons under Berlin in Hitler's underground highway (actually city), and in bunkers under the dunes in the deserts and mountain caves in the middle east. This book reminds me of the repetition of nationalists. I began to cry because of the truths and possibilities of the recurrences in our lifetime and that of our children.

I am a fan and will be spending the summer reading the series in its entirety. Congratulations J.P.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Scoundrel's Secret Siren

By:  Daphne du Bois

It has been some time since I have read such a fun and sweet story. The author writes to spark our imagination and lead us through a fantasy. Even in this era (21st century), don't we dream of doing something out of the norm, something unacceptable, but fun? Further, having our fantasy of an illicit encounter with a roue'.  An Earl that is tall, has broad shoulders and chest (mandatory), the smile that admits him in and out of trouble-not to mention the lips, and a deep, resonate voice. He absconds first with her lips, her virtue and her heart...take me away!

So it goes for Lorlei Lindon, who meets said Earl on the Paddington Road...in the middle of the night...when she is ghost hunting.  His carriage is disabled so he climbs up behind her to be rescued. Even her horse, Tulip, doesn't mind. As a thank you, he gives her a first memorable kiss under the veil that hides her face, and he snatches her deceased mother's locket.

Later, in town for her presentation and first season, at a garden party given by her new friend Julia who introduces her to her uncle-she recognizes the name-Alasdair Tilbury, sixth Earl of Winbourne. And he recognizes her golden locks.

Much as she tries, she cannot stay away from him-that voice, those arms, those lips.  And, try as he might (tongue in cheek), he cannot stay away from her. He cannot deny she is chipping away at his cold rake's heart. This ducking and dodging leads to some unexpected, humorous and enticing scenarios including her showing up to act at his inconspicuous 'second' in a duel in which he spots her, thus leading him getting injured, and she risks her reputation to take him to an inn to tend to his wound for a week.

LaThere is dancing, walks/rides in Hyde Park, horseback riding instructions at a country estate with the earl in tow, that all ends in chaos and Lorlei lost in Alastair's eyes...and his lips...on hers.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Moment of Contentment

For any of us to be able to tell about ‘a’ moment when complete and utter contentment chose to shine upon us seems impossible. As we travel the roadways of life, some are dirt lanes, cobblestone or brick streets, the paved boulevards and the cement interstate highways.
I walked, or rode my bike, on dirt paths through the desert in Texas. I can still smell the damp mesquite and flowering cactus after a summer rain, and see the poppy’s covering the San Jacinto mountains. On the weekends my parents took us into the mountains of New Mexico to follow other dirt paths on horseback. We would gallop across meadows then go to the stream to water the horses. No worries, just dirt paths.
The cobblestone or brick streets signified the growth and changes, because in history as the roads changed so did we advance and the horses are replaced by the automobile. I, too, grew with the times (in my SS396) and went out on my own travelling the country as a photographer. I learned to care for, trust an like myself. hen one learns to be a responsible adult (said tongue in cheek) there is a great contentment in knowing ones self.
I relate my (finally) going to college and the paved boulevard with its wide, multiple lanes and accessible turn arounds. While driving you can easily turn and go another direction without addressing a stop light, as in college changing majors. For myself, I travelled, experienced and grew before knowing what I wanted to go to college for, and there I learned structure as in an outline. The pride in myself and from my parents made me very content.
But then it was time to get on the interstate high speed highway of professional employment. The scenery is mostly gone but who notices because there is so much traffic and everyone is in a hurry. But then you look and you are coming into NYC, Chicago or Chattanooga at night and the lights are so beautiful; or you are driving through the Blue Ridge Parkway or up Highway 1 and you look to your right or left to a pasture or amazing seascape (for those of you in the UK, sheep) and everyone sees it too so the flow of traffic turns gentle just like a great job.
My contentment, now that I am retired is reading and writing and I am riding a bike down a land in Provence or I ride a horse in Devon or the Highlands of Scotland, or my beloved desert southwest. I am content in books and writing and, hopefully, we will all be content with our memories.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sailing to Capri

This is a well written, and pleasantly read (for Audible) by Carrington MacDuffie, multifaceted story by Elizabeth Adler. 
A sad, cold, wintry day...Sir Robert Waldo Hardwick is laid to rest.

 Daisy Keane is put out of her life, her home by her unfaithful attorney husband, who takes everything and drives off with a 20 yr. old blonde.  Daisy runs off to London to start a new life, it isn't going so well. She is eating cereal and cheese sandwiches, and she is unemployed.  She comes across an invitation to a society cocktail party. She is approached by a, similarly bored, imposing man who invites her to dine with him. She agrees and is swept off to a fine, low key restaurant in his Bently. He is an interesting, and very rich man, unpretentious. She thinks he looks like Shrek or the Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk, Sir Robert Waldo Hardwick. Nonetheless,  he knows her. He sees through her lies, the ones she tells outward and the ones she holds within. He is accepting of her with all her insecurities and self doubt, and offers her a job as his personal assistant. She moves into his Yorkshire estate, Sneadly Hall, with his dog "Rat".  For years now, besides being his social secretary, personal assistant and public relations maven, they have shared travel, food, arguements and a deep friendship. A perfect 'marriage' without the sex. What will she do now without his guidance...without his friendship?

While saying her final goodbyes, and trying to pry Rat away from the grave of his master, a tall, dark stranger comes to her aide. He helps to get them home before the onset of a major snow storm, which means he stays for the night. He is Harry Montana of Dallas Texas, a private investigator and security specialist. He has worked with Sir Robert on and off for the past decade.  In his last days, Sir Robert was concerned for his life and that is why Montana is there. This makes Daisy uneasy, and defensive for her beloved friends memory. But Montana convinces her there is reason to believe the auto accident that took his life was in fact MURDER. He gives her an envelope from Sir Robert containing three envelopes to be opened at different times. The first instructs her to host a week long yacht cruise to his Capri Villa Belkis where his final Will is to be read. He gave Montana six names of people he thinks have reason to kill him including:
1) Diane, the self-centered, gambling ex-wife
2) Filomena, the Italian mistress, who could have had it all
3) Rosalina, the love of his life
4)Heir Dopplemann, the genius scientist
5) David Ferrell, Wall Street to Queens
6) Charles Clement, the devious sex marketer
Who will get the estates and the fortune?  Who is a murderer?

Upon the yacht, Blue Boat, tensions run high. Especially between Daisy and Montana, the tension is palpable, each fighting their own personal demons but the attraction unveils just as the personal stories of all the suspects unravel.

Daisy misses SIr Robert but still feels his presence in the wind in times of need. Further indication of his love and promise to always take care of her.  But he also teaches them all about love and integrity in the end.

I love this story.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Responding to your inner 'circle'

How can one have a circle that is deemed theirs to be concerned? Sure there are those who are selfish and narcissistic enough to live withing their own little circle that is “ME”, but mostly people are good, caring and benevolent souls. We all have encountered situations where we feel, and then act, responsible. There is just something in us, even men, that makes us respond because our hearts will allow us not to respond.
Years ago, I would admonish myself for always doing for others. Why, to make them like me or, in some cases, to quell the situation? Then, one day, I decided I did not need to justify what or how I did for others. It is in me and it makes me happy. So, on that day, I chose to make myself happy. I am a caretaker, like many of you are, and I am happy ironing the seam in my (now ex-) husband’s shirts and pants and I can iron his work clothes too.
Outside of my ‘circle’, I worked in the health care field. In the mornings, for first medication rounds, instead of walking into the patient’s hospital room and flipping on the lights, I would turn on the bathroom light so there was just enough to see. And I would then bring them a warm washcloth for their hands and face, and go get a coffee/tea for them. Little considerations that make one’s day start a little nicer.
In the nursing homes/extended care facilities, as many of you may know, the patient’s often get taken out of bed, put in a wheel chair and lined up around the halls, many are still in their thin hospital gowns. My mother attitude kicked in and I would go to the Salvation Army and buy sweaters and sweat shirts/pants and socks and haul them back to bed. Can you imagine being on several medications that make you drowsy and being stuck in a wheelchair in a flimsy nightgown, under flourscent lights.
I was happy doing what my instincts told me and I didn’t feel guilty about ‘doing too much for my husband’ or ‘kissing up to the hospital administration’…okay, that didn’t happen, actually I got in trouble for a nondescript reason. But, the moral to the story is to do what your heart tells you, what makes your soul happy. Be good to yourself and it will enhance your inner ‘circle’ relationships