Elizabeth-Obstinate Headstrong Girl: Part I, The Regency

Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl edited by Christina Boyd

So a while back Christina Boyd asked me to be a part of her Book Tour and I wholeheartedly said yes.

I have always wanted to be a part of a book tour, it’s like being a rock star, but even better as it involves books. 

Although…unfortunately I realize that I am too much like Stacey Jaxx the rockstar as I forgot all about the book tour until I saw posts on social media.

But hey, better late than never right?

So when I went to read the book, I saw that my link to get a free copy of the ebook was expired.

I thought of asking for a new one, but I decided to just buy my own as Christina Boyd and the others have been so generous to me. The book, whether as an ebook or physical copy, is really not that much. So if you are stuck in the quarantine and looking for something to read, why don’t you head over to Amazon and order a copy?

So a little backstory before we review the book. Back in 2017, Christina Boyd (editor) and the following writers: Susan Adriani, Sara Angelini, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Jan Hahn, Jenetta James, Lory Lilian, KaraLynne Mackrory, Beau North, Ruth Phillips Oakland, Natalie Richards, Sophia Rose, Melanie Stanford, Joana Starnes, and Caitlin Williams-put together an anthology that had stories on Mr. Darcy, The Darcy Monologues

After all, who doesn’t love Mr. Darcy?

Half the stories had a Regency theme, while the others were set in different times (Old West, 1960s, 2017, etc.) Each one did their own spin on the story-keeping the things we love but trying a new look, or new path on the tale. With so many Darcys there is sure to be a Darcy for everyone to love (there were several that I loved). [Also something to get if you are stuck in quarantine and looking for something new to read.]

In the back of this book, Obstinate Headstrong Girl, Christina Boyd shared that from the publication of The Darcy Monologues, readers suggested doing the same for Elizabeth-but she wasn’t sure. With all the retellings of Jane Austen’s most loved novel:

“…I thought all the Elizabeth Bennet point-of-view stories surely must have been told.”

But you know us Janeites-no matter what character may be your favorite, everybody loves an Obstinate Headstrong Girl.

So here we go with the five Regency stories. All of these are set in the Regency whether before the novel, after the novel, or taking a new path from some point in the story. I am going to do them in the order they are as you read it.

Resolution by Amy D’Orazio

It is two weeks before Elizabeth’s wedding and she eagerly awaits it. If was marrying Mr. Darcy I would feel the same way. 

She is staying with Jane (now Jane Bingley) and Mr. Bingley and glances out the window and sees Mr. Darcy-becoming stricken with fever at seeing him. Aw, she is so excited to wed him…so cute.

Jane is in a lather trying to get things ready for Elizabeth’s engagement party-upset that Mr. Bingley keeps inviting people so she has no clue how many people are coming. I really liked that, as I think it is nice seeing Jane more than the perfect angel and I think every marriage has its annoyances. Elizabeth is a bit distressed that Darcy would be coming (weird as they are getting married.) 

Whatever, Jane asks if Elizabeth holds a grudge and that it shouldn’t be weird having him at her engagement dinner.

OMGOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHATTTTTTTTTTT?!!!!!!!!!!!!! ELIZABETH AND DARCY ARE NOT ENGAGED???!!!

literally spit out my tea! WHAT??????!!!!!!!!

Do you ever get shocked in reading that you read faster, because you have to know what happens next?

ANSWERS!!!!!

So in this version everything happened as in the original book, but Darcy did not come back a second time to propose to Elizabeth. He did visit with Bingley, so he went back and spoke to Jane but Elizabeth and Darcy never had their walk together, time passed, and she met another man-Mr. Julius Timpson-who also happened to be wealthy as he is a banker-and got engaged and is to be married. Mr. Timpson is older, opinionated, and Elizabeth isn’t in love, she loves Darcy, but as she cannot have him sh but believes herself to be content with him. WHAT? ConTeNT?

OMG I have to take a breath.

Okay, so I calmed myself down, I’m sure Darcy and Elizabeth will straighten everything out. So that evening Elizabeth can’t stop thinking of him. Why didn’t he come back, was Lydia’s shame too great? Has he found another. She wishes she could speak to him, but doesn’t get a chance to as she is next to Mr. Timpson (if you can’t tell whenever I say his name I say it in a snotty tune as I don’t like him) and Darcy is on the other side of the table.

She gets a chance to break away from the ladies, and tries to talk to him-overhearing Darcy and Bingley talking about her engagement. She interrupts them and she and Darcy get a moment to talk when Bingley gets called away. The two parry blows with their wits, and Darcy admits that he loves her aw! They are going to get together! But no, he leaves. What!!!

Go BAAAAACK!!!!

13 Days until the wedding, the wedding that should not be happening, but is.

Elizabeth wants to be with Mr. Darcy, she imagines him when kissing her fiancé. Oh no, Elizabeth-but she can’t she doesn’t even know if Darcy loves her still. I think D’Orazio speaks for us all when she describes Elizabeth’s feelings:

Elizabeth drinks a bit too much wine and writes a note to Darcy asking him why he didn’t come back. The note is delivered and he replies he did what he thought she wanted. WHAT!!!!!!!!

What are you talking about??

He didn’t know if her feelings changed and then Lady Catherine, that evil schemer went and told him that Elizabeth would never want to marry him.  NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

But what will happen? Will they get together? Will Elizabeth break her engagement?

So I really liked this story and I think it was perfect for the beginning of the anthology. Not to talk bad about the other writers, as I loved their stories too, but this story itself was worth the price of the book. D’Orazio took parts and texts of the original novel and gave it her own spin. We  get to see a view of what would have happened if Darcy did not come back? Would she have gone on to be a spinster? Or would she have become like Princess Buttercup in The Princess Bride, not loving or caring and entering the marriage having no feeling regarding it. 

And NO lie, every time the days before the weddings shortened, my heart leaped in anxiety, will they or won’t they? I zoomed through this story as I just had to finish it before my lunch break ended.  Plus I LOVED that ending, it was amazing. and just what I was hoping for. 

For more by Amy D’Orazio, go to “The Wishing Ball” by Amy D’Orazio” from YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-Inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

Atmospheric Disturbances by Christina Morland

Darcy and Elizabeth are fighting. 

But not about her sister or Wickham. The two are engaged and we have fallen right in the middle of their unknown dispute. Elizabeth is angry and trying to poke at Darcy to get him to react, he wanting to leave, but she not letting him until they have it out. 

Mr. Darcy is a puzzle to her-he is “cold and warm, kind and aloof, reticent and garrulous”-a walking contradiction. He is kind and loving enough to each her sisters to play chess, gives everyone in her family gifts,  but doesn’t give her anything but the compliment of his attention.

Hmmm…

So…I was really not getting into this story. I love Darcy, but in a different way than most people. I mean I love that he is kind and caring and a romantic hero, but I also love him because he reminds me a lot of myself, personality-wise (not money or family). Like that earlier quote I pulled, that could describe me.

So as I’m reading this I’m like, why you mad Elizabeth? Look at all the stuff he is doing- spending time with all the people who are the last he’d want to be trapped with, Mary and Kitty, ugh Mrs. Bennet. And I’m sure he feels that giving his time is the best thing to give, after all that happened I’m sure he feels that any larger gift would look as if he is trying to purchase her love not an act of love. 

I’m done

But, then we get why Elizabeth is fighting with Darcy, the real reason:

“No, what truly frightened her was the epiphany he was bound to have, and soon: she was, and always would be, headstrong and obstinate. When he came to understand this unalterable aspect of her character, would he also come to regret his love?”

OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHH…she is feeling insecure.

It all makes sense!

Will they be able to work through these issues? Or will their wedding not take place?

Hmmm…

I really liked the rest of the story as I think this was a new view into Elizabeth Bennet. I mean we all love her wit and how she has no fear toward Lady Catherine, but even though she loves Darcy and was a very confident person, she is no longer blind to her family faults and she must have spent time afterwards wondering if this would work, if Darcy would be okay with it, if he would regret his choice. 

Does he regret marrying me? (from Death Comes to Pemberley)

 

I also like how Morland shows that just like any couple-Darcy and Elizabeth have to work through from being a “I” to becoming a “we”, and that it can be done with communication and still retaining one’s independence and obstinate, headstrong ways.

For more by Christina Morland, go to “Self-Composed ” from Rational Creatures: Elinor & Marianne Dashwood

The Uncommonly Busy Lane to Longbourn by Joana Starnes

Elizabeth is trying to hide out as her mother is trying to match her up with Mr. Collins. 

Elizabeth thinks to herself about how soon Jane will get with Mr. Bingley and then maybe Mrs. Bennet will lay off. Thinking of Mr. Bingley of course brings thoughts of Mr. Darcy-how dare he say she isn’t tolerable, and that in turn brings thoughts of Mr. Wickham. Poor Mr. Wickham, so rudely mistreated by Darcy. 

As she runs home, she runs into Mr. Darcy, who is out taking a ride on his horse. They actually engage in decent conversation, surprise, to Elizabeth’s total surprise! But she hurriedly scurries away as she does not want to spend any more time with him-confusing man.

At home, Elizabeth tries to put in her plan to have Jane influence their mother to pass Mr. Collins on to Mary, as Mary enjoys his sermons and has her own self-righteous streak. It works half right well, as Mr. Collins secures the first two dances with Mary, but that leaves Elizabeth open to Mr. Darcy asking her to dance! She does, but ends up getting her foot squished by Mr. Collins. That man!

She has to sit out the dance, but who should come and keep her company, Jane?…no Mr. Darcy. 

Elizabeth is shocked, but the two actually have some decent conversation, until Darcy warns her against Wickham. That will not do and she becomes extremely angry.

Thinking you were nice.

The rest of the night is horrible as she doesn’t get to dance and instead has to watch everyone else dance and she gets to see how silly her family is acting. 

The next day they are walking to visit their Aunt Phillips and tell her of the ball, and when they come back they come across Mr. Wickham who joins their party of Elizabeth, Kitty, Lydia, and Jane. 

The other girls walk ahead to give Wickham and Elizabeth time to talk to each other,  but as Wickham tries to steal a kiss, before Elizabeth can decide what to do they are interrupted by Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy begs a moment with Wickham and the girls walk off. 

They are almost home and there is no Mr. Wickham behind them. Elizabeth starts to grow fearful and decides to head back as maybe Mr. Darcy did something to him? She and Jane hurry and they spot motionless riding boots emerging from a bush. Oh no!!!!

Elizabeth thinks it is Wickham and reaches out to him, only to discover it is Mr. Darcy and he has a headwound!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! NOt Mr. Darcy!!!!

Nooooo

They take him home and call the apothecary but Elizabeth is in shock. She cannot believe that Wickham could do such a thing, such a decent man-it must have been Mr. Darcy’s fault, it must have been an accident, he must have gone for help, Wickham can’t be a bad man.

But why didn’t he get an apothecary? Why didn’t he get help? Darcy must have caused it himself, right? She can’t have been wrong about Wickham, could she?

 

I liked that Starnes took the obstinate and headstrong down this pathway. I know I am an obstinate and headstrong girl and I have often in my younger days, not as much now, held onto a view of belief of a person even when the evidence seems glaringly opposite. It is a major fault of being an OHG that we can be so obstinate that we deceive our own selves. 

And she receives the truth hard-with the officers saying that Wickham spread the account of Darcy (Mr. I won’t speak an ill word and disgrace his father), meeting Georgiana Darcy and seeing she is nothing like Wickham said, and Georgiana sharing the truth about his character.

 

But don’t fear, let me calm your hearts-Darcy survives and there is an amazingly cute scene when he thinks Mr. Collins is Elizabeth as he is suffering from a bad concussion. But will he want to be with her still? I mean he almost died for her-will that deter him from this OHG?

For more by Joana Starnes, go to “And Evermore Be Merry” from YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-Inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

Something Like Regret by Elizabeth Adams

Elizabeth and the Gardiners have decided to tour Pemberley as Mr. Darcy is gone. Elizabeth immediately regrets this as seeing it reminds her of what she gave up.

However, she also would have had to marry Mr. Darcy, and who would want to be married to Mr. Darcy?

 

She realizes however she was wrong about Mr. Wickham and about Mr. Darcy. Seeing the beautiful place isn’t what chnges her mind but hearing what all his staff say about him-she starts to wonder. Could it have been that Mr. Darcy was just seeking intelligent discourse, seeing her as a match for his wits-rather than trying to argue with her? Could she have misconstrued his intentions? Could he have fallen in love with her mind? Is that why he said he loved her?

I don’t know…

She then sees a portrait of him when he was 22, before his father died. And she can see the difference in his countenance-before he had to be a serious landowner, responsible to all the people, and a father to his sister-in fact, he only a year older than Elizabeth and he took all that on. And Elizabeth knows she would find difficulty in being responsible for so much, and looking at how it has flourished:

They learn from the houskeeper how wild Mr. Wickham turned out and Elizabeth starts to wonder about her judge of character.

Maybe…being obstinate and headstrong isn’t the only way one should be. Maybe they should be firm in what their beliefs but also allow a flexibility in judging characters.

Hmmm…

She looks at the late Mr. Darcy’s study-left exactly how it was when he died and how he kept a small miniature of Mr. Wickham to honor his father. Elizabeth thinks that if she had accepted Darcy’s proposal her first act as mistress of Pemberley she would “accidentally on purpose” smash Wickham’s picture, and I’m 100% in agreement with her!

NOT REALLY

Elizabeth realizes that she let his comment and injury to her vanity color her every perception of him. Being obstinate and headstrong sure can lead to misunderstandings. (I know it!) 

Then Mr. Darcy comes…awkward.

Elizabeth is later surprised when Mr. Darcy joins their tour. He converses with her uncle, and is extremely friendly and not at all what she expects, and when Elizabeth apologizes for the way she treated him in Kent-he turns it around and admits his faults and apologizes to her.

How romantic!

The two begin to spend quite a bit of time together as Mr. Darcy invite her and her aunt and uncle over. And what of Mr. Wickham? Well, he does not cut their visit short as he won a ton of money and took off to hide from his creditors. So good-bye to you!

Adams is an excellent romance writer as they are just so cute together-the way they talk, and act, and such. Ah my heart melts like butter. 

Squee! I loved it!

For more by Elizabeth Adams, go to “And Evermore Be Merry” from YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-Inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

The Age of Nescience by J. Marie Croft

So this was a very different story. We start the book off in 1806, when Elizabeth is 15 and at her coming-out into society. I really like that Croft went in a different direction than most people-I don’t think I have ever read any other retelling that starts long before Pride and Prejudice

The first party was not so great as she and her mother argued over the clothes-and there were no proposals. We all know Mrs. Bennet is not happy about that.

Later a Mr. Archibald Crosbie visits, both handsome and charming, and Elizabeth develops a crush on him. She goes to visit with her Aunt Gardiner who is planning on buying her clothes that are fashionable and actually suits Elizabeth, also using this time to try and talk about her about men-warn her that not all have honorable intentions, but Elizabeth doesn’t really listen. She believes she is an excellent judge of character and will not be hoodwinked-us poor obstinate headstrong girls-we don’t listen.

She picks out lovely material for her new gown, and knows it will catch Crosbie’s attention. 

But Mr. Crosbie attracts too many women, and nothing happens. Poor Elizabeth is hurt and slightly angry at him-you know teenagers:

She then concludes that she will never pursue a man again-they need to pursue her!

Sir Jack Ashe moves into the neighborhood and pays a ton of attention to Elizabeth, pursuing her over her beautiful sister Jane. As anyone who has ever felt second best to a sister, Elizabeth’s heart gets stolen by his attention. He tries to woo her, but unfortunately all Elizabeth’s illusions and hopes are broken when she discovers he just wanted to take a roll with her in the hay-he never had any intention of anything more than seducing a “simple country girl”.

 

Elizabeth is angry at her naiveté and decides to never be used in such a way ever again and to not even look at wealthy man, but set her sites lower; developing an unknown prejudice against the wealthy class. 

There is more to the story, I don’t want to give everything away, but I found this to not only be an interesting view into Elizabeth and her obstinate, headstrong ways-but very new. I also like how the author concentrated on Elizabeth’s relationship not with Mr. Darcy, but with all the people that are very important to her: Jane, Mrs. Gardiner, Charlotte Lucas, and her father Mr. Bennet. 

For more by J. Marie Croft, go to “Homespun for the Holidays” from YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-Inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

Some people might feel what more can be done to Pride and Prejudice? Does Elizabeth really need her own book? Well I am going to stop you right there because first of all-

And secondly, this anthology proved that yes there is plenty more stories to tell about Elizabeth. 

So I really loved and enjoyed all these stories!

Especially how each author took the theme of “obstinate headstrong girl” and worked it to create five very different stories that still kept the heart of Jane Austen and the fire plus wit of Elizabeth.

So if you love Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet, or am a cardcarrying member of the Obstinate Headstrong Girls’ Club-you should definitely check this book out (and what better time when you are basically being told to stay home and read?) Why don’t you head over to Amazon and order a copy?

I think it is a fantastic idea. 

So this of course is only the five Regency stories, the next post on 3/26 will be on the other five stories-these of course will be set in different time periods. We have the Victorian Era, Edwardian Age, 1930s, the ’80s, and present time!

For more on Elizabeth Bennet, go to Modesto Jane Con: Defining the Definitive Darcy and Lizzie

For more on Pride and Prejudice, go to P.S. I Like You

For more edited by Christina Boyd, go to YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

Catherine Morland’s Reading List

So I was at the library and shelving some books when I came across The Inn at Half Moon Bay by Diane Tyrell. It was described as a Gothic novel and I thought Catherine Morland would totally read this.

So if it is something she would read, I need to read it.

So then I started thinking about all the other book Catherine Morland would read. Like Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Frankestein, etc. All the books mentioned in Northanger Abbey and ones that were published at the time and after.

Wow!

I then thought, oh it would be nice of I could review this on my blog and the other books.

Why not start a new series, Catherine Moreland’s Reading List? Here I would review books that Catherine Morland would read: Gothic novels.

I know, I know-haven’t I already started two other series recently?

Not to mention all the Austen remakes I have listed out to review?

Yes, but you know me. I like to challenge myself.

Yeah, plus you know I love to read.

So books on this list are going to be Gothic novels. For those wondering what classifies a book as a Gothic Novel, here is the definition.

Gothic fiction, which is largely known by the subgenre of Gothic horror, is a genre or mode of literature and film that combines fiction and horror, death, and at times romance.

So some of these books I have already reviewed, and the rest are what I plan on doing in the future.

A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Jamacia Inn by Daphne du Marier

Rebecca by Daphne du Marier

Dracula in Love by Karen Essex

The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Necromancer, or The Tale of the Black Forest by Karl Friedrich Kahlert

The Midnight Bell by Francis Lathom

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

The Monk by Matthew Lewis

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

The Castle of Wolfenbach: A German Story by Eliza Parsons

The Mysterious Warning by Eliza Parsons

The Murders in the Rue Morgue” from The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allen Poe

The Tell-Tale Heart” from The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allen Poe

The Italian by Ann Radcliffe

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

The Old English Baron by Clara Reeve 

Clermont by Regina Maria Roche

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The Orphan of the Rhine by Eleanor Sleath

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Dracula by Bram Stoker

The Inn at Half Moon Bay by Diane Tyrell

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

For more Gothic Novels, go to Book Club Picks: Wuthering Heights

For more book lists, go to The Retellings Strike Back: Pride & Prejudice, cont.

Book Club Picks: The Mother Keeper

So as you all know I started a book club, because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time the book club member chose:

The Mother Keeper by Paula Scott

So in my last book club book review I had chosen The Far Side of the Sea by Paula Scott and our book club actually got to meet her!

Afterwards, we all started following her on instagram, facebook, etc. One book club member spotted this on facebook and afterwards wanted to read it.

Paula Scott told us that she started writing this years ago and tucked it away, bringing it out later when her daughters wanted a romance as she wouldn’t let them read Twilight (thank goodness).

She tweaked it here and there and rewrote it-this being the finishing product.

Jenny McBride and her husband Kevin, live in Colorado, are celebrating New Year’s Eve and ecstatic for their pregnancy. They can’t wait or the baby, dreaming of all the things they would like to do.

Both are Christians and strong leaders in their church. That night Kevin had a drink, something Jenny does not approve of, and she insists on driving them home in the snow. A car comes careening their way, and crashes into them. Jenny loses her uterus, Kevin his leg, and both their baby.

Nooooooooooooooo

Jenny can’t believe this happened to her, her whole life she has been a good Christian and this is what happens to her? She is hurt, depressed, and angry.

Noooo!

Meanwhile, in the country areas of Tennessee, teenagers Ellie Ryan and her boyfriend are making plans for the future. Jamie is a big football star and will get a scholarship, while Ellie can get one with her amazing grades. However, there is one wrinkle-Ellie is pregnant.

That is not good,

She doesn’t tell her boyfriend, she just breaks up with him. She then heads to the pregnancy crisis center where her sister had gotten an abortion before she took off to California. Ellie hasn’t heard from her since.

At the center, Ellie meets Patsy Klein, a pastor’s wife, who invites her to come stay with her and take part in their church’s Mother Keeper program. The Mother Keeper program, is when a family takes in a pregnant teen and helps take care of her until she has the baby. Sometimes they adopt the baby, help arrange adoptions, or just help them until they can figure out their next step. They pay the food and medical bills through church funding/fundraising.

Ellie stays with Pastor Klein, Patsy, and their three boys-Shawn, Seth, and Stephen. For Ellie, this a dream come true as she is finally part a perfect family.

Shawn is upset when he hears that a pregnant girl from Sutterville-Sucksville-is going to be living with  them. He has enough on his plate with football, a scholarship to Vanderbilt, his beautiful girlfriend Jill who desires him. But meeting Ellie and spending time with her-Shawn realizes that the life he has been living isn’t what he wants at all, but what does he want? Now, he doesn’t know.

Hmmm….I need to rethink my life’s choices

As Shawn and Ellie grow closer, Shawn wants to marry her and raise the baby together. But the assistant pastor contacts his sister Jenny, she having gone through a spiritual battle and grief, is ready to adopt-Ellie’s baby. What will Ellie decide?

Many more decisions will be made as secrets are brought out in the open: a secret affair, true parentage revealed, murder, rape, and a fight over who will adopt Ellie’s baby.

Wow!

This was a a fantastic story and a real page turner. Paula Scott doesn’t pull way from anything, but hits the truth hard.

What?

It’s funny because it certain characters reminded me of ones from Desperate Pastor Wives and The MasterpieceThat was completely unplanned by us. In DPW, Jennifer Shores too has lost a baby, and becomes angry with God; having to go through her journey, getting close to God, and figuring what is next in the future. In The Masterpiece, Grace Moore is kept by a family until she has her child, and goes through a similar battle over who will adopt her child, along with having family issues she has to work through.

It was a fantastic book, and I strongly recommend it.

For more Book Club Picks, go to Book Club Picks: Far Side of the Sea

For more by Paula Scott, go to Book Club Picks: Until the Day Breaks

For more Christian novels, go to Book Club Picks: Desperate Pastors’ Wives

Book Club Pick: Far Side of the Sea

So as you all know I started a book club, because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.

As you know, I am behind in my Book Club Pick reviews-but I am trying to catch up.

Eventually I will get them all done.

Haha…sure

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time it was my turn and I chose:

Far Side of the Sea (California Rising #2) by Paula Scott

So I had first been introduced to this book when I worked at our local museum. I actaully got to meet the author and speak to her, and after hearing about how she researched and just listening to how she spoke about her work I  decided to borrow the book from the library and read: Until the Day Breaks.

This book came out and my coworker said she enjoyed, so I purchased a copy for a friend. A couple weeks later I was at work and realized, I had forgot to bring a book to pass the time when we had no one visiting the museum.

That is not good,

Yes, I always brought a book or two to read in the downtime, as sometimes we had a lot of people visiting, and other times we only had a few. This week there was a special event happening in the area so I knew we weren’t going to have a lot of people, it would be the perfect time to read.

But this time I had forgotten my book! I was looking at four very quiet and boring hours.

As I started tidying up the gift shop, wondering what I was going to do with my time, I spotted the Far Side of the Sea and bought it.

I quickly devoured it, and then a year later in book club I decided it would be great to read this series. So we read the first book, then Wuthering Heights, and Desperate Pastor’s Wives; and before you know it, it was my turn again to pick.

Months had gone by since we had read the first book, and while I had really wanted to read the second book, I also really wanted to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I thought afterwards we could all watch the movie together.

Yes!

But at the time I was going to this divorce class/support group and the day I had to choose our book, my reading for the class was Psalm 139, where this title comes from.

So I knew, we had to read it.

I gotcha!

Until the Day Breaks, we had protestant Rachel Tyler coming to California, where her father has brokered a marriage between her and a member of a very old and important Californio family, Roman Vasquez. The two do not know each, and neither is sure of the marriage, but before anything can immediately be done-California independence and the Bear Flag Revolt breaks out. There is romance, war, and fantastic characters. To read more, click here.

At the end of the first book, Rachel and Roman left to Monterey, where they are married. We begin book two with Rachel’s awful father, Joshua Tyler, returning from the revolt and finding his new wife Sarita and child dead and buried, Rachel gone, and becomes very angry. With the war-he had decided to marry Rachel off to someone else, but as now he does not have that, or his wife, he uses the heavy debts of the Vasquez family to blackmail the patriarch into giving him Roman’s sister, Maria Vasquez, to marry.

Roman’s sister Maria, is a beautiful and fiery redhead. She has been riding horses since a child, has gone on grizzly bear hunts, loves to dance, and is stubborn, passionate, and extremely strong-willed. She does not want to marry Joshua Tyler, but as her uncle controls her fate she has to.

Maria is haughty and angry, which just fuels Joshua Tyler on more. When they reach Monterey, they search for the priest to marry them, but he cannot be found (he had married Rachel and Roman and left to celebrate with them.) Joshua doesn’t care and decides to take Maria as his own, raping her.

Maria tries to get free, but Joshua is too strong, she does manage to grab a knife from him while he is distracted by her and stabs him-murdering a man, a hanging offense.

That is not good,

For Maria, this is something that should never have happened to her. Being raised as one of the gente de razon, she was always treated respectfully, kindly, etc. She feels dirty, scared, alone-and then she remembers something from long ago. When Maria’s mother was ill, she came into the room with a special feather, and at that same exact moment her mother died. One of her mother’s Indian slaves said that she was cursed with the mark of death and will bring death wherever she goes.

Death walks into the room…

Maria goes from the priest’s room into the church, feeling dirty, ashamed, and alone. No loner a virgin, no longer worth anything, and what will she do now? She can’t stay her and she can’t go back home.

One of Joshua’s mercenaries, Gavilan, decides to help her and the two disguise her as a boy and sign up to be deckhands on a ship headed to Boston. On the way they will pass through Chile, an Gavilan’s home, and they can stay there.

They are on the ship with they realize that the Captain is none other than Dominic Mason. In the last book, Dominic was bringing Rachel’s fiancé Steven from Boston to come after her. Steven lead him to the Lord and they became fast friends. When they reached California, the two quickly bonded with Roman as well. Maria fell in love with Dominic from that first moment she saw him, and he was incredibly attracted to her. Maria decided he was going to be her first kiss, and after she got it from him, he told her he was engaged already back home.

Maria tries to hide from Dominic, and while at first he doesn’t recognize her, eventually her secret comes out. Gavilan and Dominic become friends, although both have a deep interest in Maria. Maria wants Dominic, but as much as he wants her-he is engaged and must do his duty to Sally, his fiancé.

When they reach Argentina, they discover that Gavilan belongs to a wealthy family-but they do not want to stay there. The people are all about pleasure, Gavilan’s sister-in-law hitting on every man. Also there is a dreaded ghost from Dominic’s past, the evil, cruel, dreaded Captain Wade.

Ugh!!

Captain Wade was Dominic’s first Captain, and after seeing all the atrocities that he did, Dominic tried to leave as soon as he could and get his own boat. Now does he tell Maria-the most beautiful woman in the world and Captain Wade’s new interest all about this? No, he just tells her to stay away. And of course the fiery, stubborn, Maria does not like being told what to do.

From there they go East to Boston. Maria stays with Dominic’s family and faces not only an incredible culture shock being in Protestant East, but snubs and prejudice from being Latina and Catholic. Dominic’s father and sister try to treat her like family-but Dominic’s mother remembers the Catholic’s treatment of Protestants back in Ireland.

Dominic and Sally plan their wedding, and its decided to be sooner rather than later. Dominic still has feelings for Maria, head over heels in love-but Sally-loyal, dependable, sweet, and caring; has waited all these years for him.

Also reading this again, I felt that there was a strong undercurrent here of interesting class distinction. Sally’s father owns the ships Dominic captains, while Dominic’s father is a dockworker. Makes you wonder if marrying Sally had a little extra pressure…

Hmm…

Anyways, the wedding comes, and Maria is heartbroken. Dominic returns to his ships, Sally to their beautiful new house, and Maria is stuck in the frozen Boston and dreary Mason house.

Sally gets pregnant, and the pregnancy really treats her body rough. She calls in Maria to help her. No one else likes Maria-for being what she is, and Dominic’s mom senses the attraction, and all treat her bad-Maria not helping with the situation.

But not Sally. Sally loves Maria and encourages, supports, leads, and is there for her. She reads the bible with her, teaches her about God, and just gives her friendship. She gives her the titler psalm and becomes such a calming and sweet presence for her. Maria helps her with the pregnancy, along with taking care of baby Dominic “Nicky”.

When Dominic arrives, Nicky is 2 and Maria is the nanny. Sally has never recovered from her pregnancy and is not strong enough to care for Nicky on her own.

Dominic has made enough money that he has left his old business, struck out on his own, and is moving the family to San Francisco. He wants to take Maria back to her brother-but Sally won’t let her go. Sally is Maria’s best friend, and after she gets pregnant, does not want Maria to go. Dominic sets sail, taking his younger sister Chloe, hoping that she will take over Maria’s duties instead.

Unfortunately, delicate Sally does not survive the second child, and passes away. Maria tries to save the newborn, named after her, but she dies as well. Maria once again feels that she is carrying death to those she cares for.

Nooooooooooooooo

Maria finally makes it back to her brother. Roman lost the ranch as the Californios could not keep their property when California became a state, but Rachel inherited her father’s estate. They stay there for a while, Dominic realizing that he still is hopelessly in love with Maria and asks to marry her.

Maria agrees until Dominic is almost killed. She starts hearing voices telling her of death, and that she needs to leave him alone-go far away in order to protect him.

She returns to San Francisco and to Captain Wade. He turns out to be more than she bargained for-an abusive, cruel, demonic filled man. Will Maria die in this hell on Earth, or will she finally hear God’s voice and freedom?

I LOOOOOOOOOVED it!!! I really enjoyed the first book, but I found this one compelling. When I read the book the first time I couldn’t stop-page after page after page just whizzed past as I needed to find out what happened next.

Each time I have read it, that desire has not waned.

Of course reading the book after being in an abusive relationship, made the book just soooo relatable. It was powerful how she described how Maria was feeling, the hopelessness, wanting life to be over, the fear, feeling trapped, unsure of what to do…she just captured it.

There is a powerful scene when Captain Wade is attacking Maria and she starts praying and pulls out the gold crucifix, which stops the Captain Wade from doing anything further. This stuck such a cord with me as the last time I was with my ex-husband we were in the car together and he starts speeding down the freeway, in and out of lanes telling me that he is going to kill us both as he would rather have me dead then be apart from him. All I could do was pray and pray that God would save me-and my ex-husband stopped and I was able to get away. Thank God for that. The day I was legally divorced I heard on the radio the same thing happened to another woman, but she wasn’t as lucky-he crashed the car and killed her.

A powerful book that I strongly recommend.

For more book club books, go to Book Club Picks: Desperate Pastors’ Wives

For more by Paula Scott, go to Book Club Picks: Until the Day Breaks

For more bible verses, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: The Widow of Larkspur Inn

For more Jane Austen quotes, go to Earl Grey Infused Blueberry Smoothie

On a sad note, given the context of this book I wanted to add this:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

I Just Read Books: Three Days of the Condor (1975)

I am not a spy. I just read books! We read everything that’s published in the world. And we… we feed the plots – dirty tricks, codes – into a computer, and the computer checks against actual CIA plans and operations. I look for leaks, I look for new ideas… We read adventures and novels and journals.

We watched this film in a class I was a teacher’s assistant for, America at the Movies. Some of you might not feel that isn’t a mystery but more of a political drama, but au contraire, this film won the Mystery Writers of America’s 1976 Edgar Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay. So it counts!

To all you haters

I  loved this film. You have a movie that centers on reading books

And stars Robert Redford!

Swoon

The film starts out with Joe Turner (Redford) just doing day to day “office work”. Turner works at the American Literacy Historical Society-preserving the books that are important to the culture and history of our times.

Just kidding-that is the cover story. In reality Turner works for the CIA, codename Condor. His division reads mystery and spy novels looking for secret messages, plots, concepts, ideas, etc. It’s an easy job, pretty much all you do is read all day. Sounds perfect to me!

Turner reads one novel and submits it to CIA headquarters as the book has a few questionable elements and has been translated into many languages.

Hmm…

One day Turner steps out to get lunch for the staff. While he is gone, armed men enter the building and promptly kill the six staffers on duty. When Turner arrives, he discovers the dead bodies.

AAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Scared, Turner follows protocol and reports in, giving codename “Condor”. He is supposed to meet his head of department, but it all turns out to be a trap. Now Turner is in a cat-and-mouse game, trying to outwit the CIA and assassins.

I love this as it is so similar to The 39 Steps or other Alfred Hitchcock films. Just normal guy, doesn’t really know what is going on and gets caught up in this big huge adventure.

The only thing we are missing is a beautiful blonde.

Enter, Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway), a woman he encounters by chance that he forces to take him to her home and keeps her hostage, using her apartment as a hiding place.

What a jerk

This doesn’t last as the man after him, Joubert, discovers his hiding spot and sends the hitman after him. Turner does manage to overcome the hitman disguised as a mailman. He gets a name and address of Leonard Atwood, Director of Operations of the Middle East and why the killings happened.

Joe Turner: What does Operations care about a bunch of damn books? A book in Dutch. A book out of Venezuela. Mystery stories in Arabic.

Atwood: Wait!

Joe Turner: What the hell is so important about…[He stops as he sees the connectionOil fields. Oil. That’s it, isn’t it? This whole damn thing was about oil! Wasn’t it? Wasn’t it?

Atwood: Yes, it was.

The book was fictional, but hit too close the truth and the story had to be eliminated, and those who had read it. Joubert comes on the scene and kills Atwood, the head of the CIA determining that he is too much of a liability. They have decided to let Turner “go” for his ingenuity-but will they really? Joubert warns Turner it will never be over. Just like in The Godfather, he gives him notice of how the hit will go down.

Joe Turner: I’d like to go back to New York.

Joubert: You have not much future there. It will happen this way. You may be walking. Maybe the first sunny day of the spring. And a car will slow beside you, and a door will open, and someone you know, maybe even trust, will get out of the car. And he will smile, a becoming smile. But he will leave open the door of the car and offer to give you a lift.

Turner meets with CIA operative Higgins in public-Times Square. Higgins talks more about the “plan” Turner stumbled on.

Joe Turner: Do we have plans to invade the Middle East?

Higgins: Are you crazy?

Joe Turner: Am I?

Higgins: Look, Turner…

Joe Turner: Do we have plans?

Higgins: No, absolutely not. We have games. That’s all. We play games. ‘What if?’ ‘How many men?’ ‘What would it take?’ ‘Is there a cheaper way to destabilize a regime?’ That’s what we’re paid to do.

Joe Turner: Supposing I hadn’t stumbled onto a plan; say, nobody had?

Higgins: Different ballgame… the fact is, there was nothing wrong with the plan. No, the plan was alright; the plan would’ve worked!

Turner wants out and has insurance to protect himself. He gave The Wall Street Journal the whole story-anything happens to him it is published…or will it?

Higgins: Hey, Turner! How do you know they’ll print it? You can take a walk. But how far if they don’t print it?

Joe Turner: They’ll print it.

Higgins: How do you know?

It is a powerhouse of an ending. Is Turner safe? Will he be protected? Or will he be living his life always looking over his shoulder?

We will never know. That’s the beauty of its creepiness.

To start Horrorfest VII from the beginning, go to It’s the End of the World: The Birds (1963)

For the previous post, go to Who Did I Marry?: The Stranger Beside Me (1995)

For more spy films, go to Someone Has Erased His Memory: Total Recall (1990)

Cats, Books, & Tea

So besides the special people in my life: such as my husband, family, and friends–here are the three things I love the most.

My godmother gave me this shirt for my birthday and it is my new favorite-as it says my three most favorite things in the world. Cats!

Books!

And Tea!

Yep!

The best things in life, you know besides my husband. 😀

For more on my love of cats, go to Cat Lovers All Know This

For more book love, go to Time Flies When You’re Reading

For more tea, go to Cozy & Comfy Tea Time

 

Book Club Picks: The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

So I have been trying to catch up with my book club book reviews, and I am almost there. Just three more (including this one) and I am back on track.

Alright!

So every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. We’ve been reading a lot of fiction books, so one of the members decided to choose a non-fiction book they had found at the library.

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan

During World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee; was home to over 75,00 people, used more electricity than New York City, and was shrouded in mystery.

What?

What was happening there? Why was it secret? Not even the workers knew what they were doing or “making”, as no product even seemed to come out.

Help me! I’m confused!

Women from all over the country came fresh out of high school, right out of college, when they had nothing, as a last resort, etc. These women enjoyed making their own money, living on their own, etc.

The book chronicles different women: races, to areas of the country, ages, etc; and gives each one’s story from when they start at Oak Ridge to when they close the city down.

Hmm…

Between the stories of the women there are the classified documents of the government and it shows the other side of the scientists who actually knew what was going on.

It turned out that all these men and women in Oak Ridge were helping build the atomic bomb, although none of them even knew it.

I didn’t really care for this book, and neither did my fellow book club members.

We all loved the parts about the women and their life stories. It was really interesting how they built this community, friendships, were willing to leave everything behind to work at Oak Ridge, etc.

One of the best parts was when one of the workers was dating a military man. She had to wait in line to buy everything, and because there was so many people and only so many supplies, if you didn’t get there early enough then you got nothing.

Her boyfriend used to get her soap and other important toiletries- something she found incredibly romantic as it saved her so much time. I thought it was super romantic as well!

*swoon*

Or the one woman who’s boyfriend kept asking her to marry him, but she would say no as she didn’t want to get married. He stopped asking her, and it upset her, so she told him to ask her one more time. It was really cute.

And there was another story about an African-American woman who used to have the guards bully her when she went to visit her husband (men and women lived in separate areas). One day she ran into some workers getting rid of some extra metal-something that was perfect to be a biscuit tin. After that she would make biscuits for her husband and give some to the guard-winning him over with her excellent cooking.

However, what we didn’t like was all the technical stuff about the atomic bomb. The way it kept switching back and forth was confusing and brought you out of the women’s stories.

That part was really boring as well.

It really brought the book down and I was the only one who was able to power through it.

For more book club picks, go to Book Club Picks: A Wrinkle in Time

For more non-fiction books, go to Book Club Picks: Sandcastle Kings

For more on atomic weapons, go to A Giant Metal Man: The Iron Giant (1995)

Book Club Picks: Sandcastle Kings

So in my book club, we read a book for a month, then discuss it. There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. I went first, so this next month was someone else’s turn. They choose:

Sandcastle Kings: Meeting Jesus in a Spiritually Bankrupt World by Rich Wilkerson Jr.

This book is part memoir about Pastor Wilkerson’s life, while mostly instructing how we can stop being sandcastle kings but connect better with God.

Sandcastle Kings, is the term Pastor Wilkerson uses to describe how we are when we try to control our lives instead of allowing God to have the control. We try and build and do all we can, but is like building out of sand; it is only temporary and too easily destroyed by everything. It make me think of the Doughnut Man song about the wise man and the foolish man.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27

In his book Pastor Wilkerson analyzes four different interactions with Jesus Christ in the New Testament:

  1. The Faith of the Centurion, Luke 7: 1-10
  2. Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son, Luke 7: 11-17
  3. Jesus and John the Baptist, Luke 7: 18-35
  4. Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman, Luke 7: 36-50

I thought the book was excellent and two stories really stood out to me:

The first was his interpretation of The Faith of the Centurion. 

When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this,because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

First we see that the Centurion respected the culture of others and instead of going straight to Jesus, he instead spoke to the Jewish leaders to have them request on his behalf. Then the Centurion sends a servant to tell him that he is unworthy to have him, unworthy to make such a request; this powerful man humbling himself before Christ, asking only for Jesus to say the word and knowing that his servant will be healed.

This spoke to me as how often to we have a cavalier attitude around Jesus and God. Often we don’t humble ourselves or treat Christ with respect, demanding, whining, sometimes only doing things if we will get something out of it. Here he, the Centurion, recognizes the power of God and also that the mercy He gives is not because of anything we do, but because God wants to. We need to remember that too, that God’s love is nothing because of what we do but because of His Love.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

In another part, Pastor Wilkerson, shares a story about how people treat things that don’t belong to them. For instance, when one stays in a motel they throw their wet towel on the ground, they don’t make their bed, they make messes, etc. People don’t treat things they don’t own or borrow very well. I’ve talked about that before-

With this it made me think of how we treat ourselves. God created us and we belong to him, but sometimes we forget our worth and treat ourselves horribly.

I thought it was a good, quick read, and of you are interested in developing a better relationship with God, or looking to read at Luke chapter seven in a new way, than this book is for you.

For more on my book club, go to Book Club Picks: The Secret Of Chimneys

For more on Jesus, go to He Has Risen

For more C.S. Lewis quotes, go to Perfectea, A Perfect Cup of Tea or Tea for Two

So Sandcastle Kings is not the only King I am going to talk about. We are going to discuss the King of Kings as today is Palm Sunday.

Just kidding, the Palm Sunday:

We are starting off with the Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem from the Florence Baptistery by Lorenzo Ghiberti.

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

‘Hosanna!’

‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’

10 ‘Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!’

‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.” Mark 11:1-11

This piece was only created because of a contest. In 1401, Arte di Calimala (Cloth Importers Guild) proposed a contest to create gates for the Florence Baptistry. Originally the doors were going to depict scenes from the old testament, the challenge to show the sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18). There were seven finalists which included Lorenzo Ghiberti, Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello and Jacopo della Quercia. Out of them Ghiberti won the commission, although later art historians found Brunelleschi’s work to be more impressive with his use of perspective.

They later changed the doors to being from the New Testament and it took Ghiberti twenty-one years to complete the twenty panels of the life of Christ and eight on the saints. He was forty-two when he finished.

Ghiberti, like Duccio, tended to cram his space with figures trying to showcase every one involved. In the center is Christ seated on the donkey mentioned in the text, surrounded by his disciples and the Jewish people praising him. We can see one laying his coat down for Christ to walk over.

In the middle background you can see the temple and to the far right, the fig tree that occurs in the next section of the bible, (Mark 11:12-26)

While this scene is crammed with figures , not as realistic as we would see in later artwork, it still is a beautiful piece that evokes movement (although squeezed) and full of amazing details. Look at the beards and hair on the figures heads, the leaves on the fig trees, the faces, etc. Ghiberti doesn’t have a whole lot of space to work with, as each panel is limited by size, but he creates some amazing pieces.

I also like how the donkey looks out at you, reminding and almost challenging you with the question “what would you do for the son of God?”. Well, what would you?

For more depictions of Jesus’ entry, go to Entry into Jerusalem

For more depictions of Christ, go to The Death of Christ

Never a Lender Be…Because You Might Not Get Your Stuff Back in the Same Condition

Yes, I don’t know about you all but it seems like today’s world that we are living in is missing some crucial morals; such as respect and treating others and their belongings the same way you’d want to be treated.

morals

I mean I work in a library and I see it all the time. People borrow items and when they return them they are in horrible condition!

ew! Gross Yuck

They are written in, dog eared, wrinkled, water damaged, stained, and just beat up.

hit with bookssnapeharrypotter

It is horrible! When you borrow something you should treat it and the person with respect. Return it in the same condition as the one you borrowed it in.

dareyoutouchmybooksnever

Or treat them bad.

It’s like people think because it doesn’t belong to them it is worth nothing and they can just toss it about.

HarryPotterLibraryBookSlamonTable

But just because you didn’t pay for it doesn’t mean it is worthless. It is actually worth more as someone else paid for  it and are trusting you to treat it right.

Adoptionbooks

Now I know you’re thinking well it is a library, there are too many types of people who are coming and going, too many hands, etc. But it isn’t just them, my friends have been doing it too.

OMG gasp

I lent someone a book I thought they would enjoy, and then I saw that they had open, but laying face down. That is the fastest way to get the spine broken and once that happens you can’t really fix it.

1Star-Wars-Luke-NOOO-Not-my-father

Another friend returned the book with the pages all bent and folded.

what-makes-true-friend

Someone returned a book to me horribly stained, and the back cover torn off.

The horror!

The horror!

And that is if they return them to you.

lostbookborrowednotreturned

I understand accidents happen, and sometimes you don’t mean to do something: but when did we get so cavalier about borrowing.

Idon'tcareanymoreDeanWinchesterSupernatural

This is not the attitude we should be having!

And it is not just books, clothes, cars, etc.; whatever. We need to stop being so disrespectful and treat others items not as we want our stuff treated, but better!

startrekletsgetstarted

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For more book-filled posts, go to 30 Day Challenge: Literature Loves

People Have to Snatch at Happiness When They Can in This World. It is Always Easier to Lose Than to Find: O Pioneers!

Day 21): U is for Unhappy: Choose a book with an Unhappy ending

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O Pioneers! (Great Plains Trilogy #1) by Willa Cather

I was first introduced to the work of Willa Cather when one summer I was trying to read through a list of classics provided by Barnes and Noble. (The same list that lead me to read Uncle Tom’s Cabin.) Of course I never finished it:

6notenoughtimetoreadeverythingIwant

However, two of the book I read during that time were My Antonia and O Pioneers!. I read O Pioneers! second, not knowing it was the first book and while I enjoyed My Antonia I loved O Pioneers! more.

ReadBookCarryWithYou

And it makes me really upset that no one knows about this book.

Say What

I KNOW! It is a fantastic book but no one knows about it. It is hard to even purchase as I wanted to buy a copy for my friend, but amazon didn’t have it or Barnes & Nobles. Crazy! So why is this book fantastic? Let’s take a look.

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So the book is just under 200 pages and divided into three parts.

PART I: THE WILD LAND

The story takes place in Nebraska, the Bergsons are a Swedish family of six who immigrated to America for a better life, but found the prairie not as promised. The father, John, went into serious debt, but was finally able to pay it off. He owns six hundred and forty acres of the original homestead, and three hundred and twenty acres given to him by his brother when he pulled out. Just as it seemed he might be able to tame the land, he becomes ill and at age 46, is going to die.

Why?

Why?

For weeks he has been thinking what to do next, when he decides that everything must be left to his daughter Alexandra to control.

Whattheheck

This book was published in 1913, but takes place in 1883. And even though he has two sons who come before Alexandra he recognizes in her his own spirit. While his sons Lou and Oscar are hardworking they just don’t have the business acumen.

“It was Alexandra who read the papers and followed the markets, and who learned by the mistakes of their neighbors. It was Alexandra who could always tell about what it cost to fatten each steer, and who could guess the weight of a hog before it went on the scales closer than John Bergson himself. Lou and Oscar were industrious, but he could never teach them to use their heads about their work.” pg. 15

On his deathbed, John calls all the kids together and makes them promise to keep the land and listen to Alexandra, there will be no quarreling. When each wishes to marry they can divide the land, but until then they must follow Alexandra.

Wecandoit

Even though the boys do not like being put under their sister, they agree to their father’s wishes.

Mehsleepyhollownotimportant

Six months later, the Bergsons invite their friend and neighbor Carl Linstrum to visit “Crazy” Ivar. Lou and Oscar make fun of him,

I'm crazy

He’s crazy

But Alexandra values his advice and knowledge of animals.

Topthorn War HOrse

Ivar suffers from some kind of mental affliction, one not stated as most likely at that time they had no name for it. Sometimes he spouts wisdom, other days nonsense. He likes to live as far away from people as he can. While he suffers from these eccentricities his knowledge of animals is without competition. He has a pond where all kinds of birds come to visit, as they know he will not shoot them, as he has an aversion to guns.

Now one of the reasons this book is so good is the character of Alexandra. While others see the craziness of Ivan and brush him off, she listens to his advice and follows it, it turning out very well. What a person looks like, or acts like doesn’t matter to her; she values their hard work, their wisdom, and their heart. And she doesn’t care what others think of her.

value:Worth

After their father’s death, the Bergsons clan did well.

Double double yay

But then the drought came, an with it three years of nothing but failure.

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It is at this time we see a divided family as to what to do next. Many people have left the “promises” of the prairie to follow the “promises” of St. Louis, Chicago, San Francisco, Alaska, etc.

Good-bye

Good-bye

Carl Limstrom comes to tell Alexandra that his family is leaving to St. Louis. This is heartbreaking, as Alexandra and him have fallen in love. Alexandra doesn’t want him to go, but Carl won’t have him and his family be a drag on their finances, after all, Carl is no farmer. But Carl promises that he won’t forget her but will work hard for her.

“I’ll write as long as I live…And I’ll be working for you as much as for myself, Alexandra. I want to do something you’ll like and be proud of. I’m a fool here, but I know I can do something!” pg. 34

you deserve better

This is the first part of what makes this book so sad. Alexandra doesn’t care about that Carl, she just wants you! But Alexandra understands how you feel and how you don’t want to enter a marriage being a drain on your wife, you want to be equal.

And even though you really want Carl to stay with Alexandra, you respect him for not wanting to use her inheritance and enter the relationship having her take care of him. He knows Alexandra is the greatest thing in the world and wants to show her he is worthy of her love.

Fredrick Wentworth

But poor Alexandra

[To Carl’s retreating form] Since you have been here, ten years now, I have never really been lonely.” pg 35

HeartbreakBuffy the Vampire slayer heartbroken Sad

The boys are worried about what will happen next with the sweet potatoes seeming to be the only thing really living on. They want to sell out and move to the cities, where opportunity really is. Or trade their land for the river as that land is much better than the kind they have.

We need to get out of here

We need to get out of here

Alexandra of course doesn’t go on feelings, whispers, or what others tell her to do. She thinks on it long and hard, researching into what would be the best decision.

Thinking Hmm

She and her younger brother Emil travel to the river to examine the land. After reviewing everything and thinking on it; she decides that the thing to do is to mortgage their land with the bank and buy up as much land as they can. The boys of course are skeptical of this plan. Six more years of working off a loan? And what if the land prices don’t soar, what if the drought continues on, what if, what if?

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But Alexandra sees the way to go:

“The men in town who are buying up other people’s land don’t try to farm it. They are the men to watch, in a new country. Let’s try to do it like the shrewd ones and not like the stupid fellows.” pg. 43

The boys know this will be going against all the others and they don’t want to be viewed by others as crazy.

But Alexandra is certain, and they follow her. Alexandra is pleased as she watches the land knowing that the future is stirring.

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PART II: NEIGHBORING FIELDS

It has been sixteen years since the death of John Bergson, now being 1899. In the years that have passed, his wife has passed on as well. The land is producing much, telephone wires zig zag the prairie, and the area is thickly populated as more have arrived to stake their home there too.

Emil has achieved Alexandra’s dream and gone on to attending the university and doing well in sports. He is tall, handsome, charming and all the girls in the area wish for a moment with him, as brief as it could be.

swoon dreamy

But he isn’t interested in any of them.

uh-no-gifuhno

Their old friend Marie Tovesky, now Mrs. Shabata, a Bohemian, has moved back to the prairie she used to visit as a young girl now a neighbor to the Bergsons.

And how are the Bergson’s doing? Any one could tell you that they have the richest farm on the Divide, and that was all due to the woman farmer, Alexandra.

Alexandra

Alexandra, that is.

One of the things I like about Alexandra is that Cather created a character that is intelligent, strategical, yet still feminine. With today’s modern works it always feels like an either/or situation. Either they are pretty or smart. They are intelligent and masculine or an airhead and feminine. Alexandra has extreme intelligence but also enjoys doing housework, baking, and as beautiful as she is brainy.

Psmartorprettyeitherorsarahdessenmorethanthat

The older brothers are married and have their own sections of land as they began families, but Alexandra has the most of land and wealth. Emil comes back and forth between Alexandra’s home and school; and there is one more addition.

Carl and her married!!!

Carl and her married!!!

No not Carl.

Oh darn!

Oh darn!

He is still out trying to make his fortune. No, when Ivar lost his land, Alexandra opened her home to him. Such a compassionate person, not caring what others think of him or her for having him live in the home; all that matters that there is a soul in need.

bekindBeright

Ivar comes to Alexandra one day, afraid that people will send him to the asylum for being different, but Alexandra doesn’t care. She knows what it is like to be talked about because you do things differently.

“Don’t come to me again telling me what people say. Let people go on talking as they like, and we will go on living as we think best. ” pg. 60

A lot has changed in the sixteen years with modernity. A lot of the old ways of living and being are no longer accepted. In the family, Oscar’s wife will not allow any Swedish to be spoken in the house, so when they visit the relatives only English can be spoken.

Tom-Hanks-Saying-Really

Alexandra has not married, her heart still pining after the only one who ever truly understood her, but enjoys being an aunt and looking after her brother’s children. But as she is the wealthiest of the whole clan, she often becomes caught in a game between her scheming brothers and sister-in-laws, as they all desire different things.

One day she is with her nieces in the flower garden when a tall, handsome stranger comes on the prairie. It is Carl!

Carl and her married!!!

Carl is on his way to Seattle and then to Alaska to go gold prospecting. He stopped by to say hi and Alexandra is thrilled as she has missed him so much. The brothers aren’t as they are worried that instead of a gold prospector he might be a gold digger and after Alexandra’s wealth.

money money money

Carl admits that he had hoped to present himself as better, worthy of Alexandra, but he has nothing.

“You see…measured by your standards I’m a failure. I couldn’t buy even one of your cornfields. I’ve enjoyed a great many things, but I’ve nothing to show for it all.” pg. 77

That doesn’t matter to Alexandra of course, but Carl must prove himself.

I think Carl and Alexandra are just the cutest couple. Carl is so sweet to her and pretty much understands her (except for the having to prove himself thing because she does not care) and doesn’t find any measure of her odd or not right.

“I wonder whether I should ever be able to tell you all that I was thinking up there. It’s a strange thing, Alexandra; I find it easy to be frank with you about everything under the sun-except yourself!’

‘You are afraid of hurting my feelings, perhaps.’ Alexandra looked at him thoughtfully.

‘No, I’m afraid it would give you a shock. You’ve seen yourself for so long in the dull minds of the people around you, that if I were to tell you how you seem to me, it would startle you. But you must see that you astonish me.” pg. 83

How sweet!

How sweet!

Carl and Alexandra are just perfect:

WeClickPerfectPerson

I want them to get together!!!!!

Twocharacterstogettogether

Carl and Alexandra go to Marie’s and spend time with her being interrupted by her husband. No two people could be more horribly matched.  Marie is light and fun, while her husband Frank is jealous, depressing, and unfriendly.

uh-no-gifuhno

They meet when Marie was at school and she thought Frank was handsome, brooding, and romantic. Her father did not want them to marry, and nothing makes two people “fall in love” faster than when they are forbidden to.

Not good

Not good

She was sent to a convent, but as soon as she turned 18 left it and married Frank. Her father bought them the farm and they’ve been unhappy ever since. Marie realized that the Frank she thought she loved was one that was not real, but created in her mind.

rebeccaitwasallalie

Emil and Marie spend lots of time together, as he often helps out with the farm, taking care of things that Frank is too lazy to. But that friendship must end. Emil can’t pretend anymore. He is in love with Marie and wants to be with her, but of course she is married.

Darcy P&P OMG Can't Even

Carl and Emil head off to a Catholic fair, where Emil runs into his newly married friend, Amédéé. While they are gone the brothers come to talk to Alexandra about Carl. They wanted Alexandra’s land to be willed to their children when she dies, but Alexandra will not be bullied and will do what she wants with her land.

I don't think so

You have to read what they try and use to talk her out of it. They tell her things like she’s just a woman, she didn’t really do the work “even though she had the ideas”, the property always belongs too the men, she is too old at 40 to think of marrying, Carl is four years younger than her too young.

Those guys

Those guys

But Alexandra holds her ground. She tells them that she owns her land and, she was the driving force that created their wealth, and they can stuff it or go to their lawyers but nothing will come of it.

MysteryMenDon'tMessWithMe

Alexandra tries to talk to Emil about it, but he is too heartsick he begs her to send home far away, to Mexico.

gossipgirlcan'tstandhappycouplesy

She agrees and is sad that no one really understands her. She has no one, Marie and Carl being her only friends.

The_Wolf_Man_4Crying sad

Meanwhile Lou and Oscar go to talk to Carl and convince him he is worthless.

“What a hopeless position you are in, Alexandra!’ [Carl] exclaimed feverishly. ‘It is your fate to be always surrounded by little men. And I am no better than the rest. I am too little to face the criticism of even such men as Lou and Oscar. Yes, I am going away; to-morrow. I cannot even ask you to give me a promise until I have something to offer you. I thought, perhaps, I could do that; but I find I can’t.’

‘What good comes of offering people things they don’t need?’ Alexandra asked sadly. ‘I don’t need money. But I have needed you for a great many years. I wonder why I have been permitted to prosper, if only to take my friends away from me.

‘I don’t deceive myself,’ Carl said frankly. ‘I know that I am going away on my own account. I must make the usual effort. I must have something to show for myself. To take what you would give me, I should have to be a very large man or a very small one, and I am only in the middle class.’

Alexandra sighed. ‘I have a feeling that if you go away, you will not come back. Something will happen to one of us, or to both. People have to snatch at happiness when they can in this world. It is always easier to lose than to find.” pg. 114-115

In one day she loses all the men she cares about.

right in the feels broken heart

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PART III: WINTER MEMORIES

Winter never feels as cold as when you no longer have those you care about. No longer will Alexandra see Oscar or Lou because of how they treated Carl. She gets letters from Emil and Carl, but it is not the same as having them near.

The_Wolf_Man_4Crying sad

Mrs. Lee, Lou’s mother-in-law and one of the old timers, loves to visit Alexandra where she can follow in the old ways of living and not be judged. Even though the brothers are no longer welcome, Alexandra still opens her home to the rest of the relatives.

Alexandra brings Emil’s letter for Marie to read, never knowing what interest lies in Marie’s light and happy heart. Marie also gifts Alexandra with a scarf she made for Emil. Little does Alexandra know how Marie really feels on the inside.

HeartbreakBuffy the Vampire slayer heartbroken Sad

Marie’s life has grown exceedingly unhappy. She realizes that she and Frank are not suited for each other at all. She becomes more and more unhappy and folds into herself.

weather-winter-snow-alone-girl-hold-umbrella-image

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PART IV: THE WHITE MULBERRY TREE

Emil has returned from Mexico at last, and just in time for a big carnival at the Catholic church. Emil runs into his old friend Amédéé, now a father. All the girls flutter around Emil, and when he gives one of his turquoise stones to auctioned it starts an even greater flummox.

minemineminepocahontas

Marie is just as crazy about Emil, but he smartly keeps his distance from her.

spockstartrekidon'tknowokayiguesmovingongo

Frank is angry as he is jealous and wants someone to blame for Marie not caring for him any longer. But the only one who drove the wedge was him and his cruel nature.

yellangrybeastbeautyandthebeast

When the lights go out, every girl is kissed by their sweetheart and Emil does the one thing he has wished for so long, kisses Marie.

OMG gasp

Emil is heartsick  and finally asks Marie what has been on his mind for so long, why would you marry Frank? Marie tells him she loved him. Frank was the same now as then, but as a young girl she saw him differently. And now she pays for her heedlessness, stubbornness, and naivety.  She begs Emil to leave as she doesn’t want them to sin and she can’t go.

TimingWrong

Emil is preparing to leave for Omaha to train as a lawyer, then going on to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Before he departs, he stops by to see his friend Amédéé. Amédéé. is in awful pain, completely sick with appendicitis. The doctor tries to take care of him, but it is to late, Amédéé is gone.

1Star-Wars-Luke-NOOO-Not-my-father

Emil stays on for the service and is to set off, but goes back to Marie’s to get one thing of hers to hold on to. When he gets there he discovers her lying in the grass.

Frank comes home and sees Emil’s horse in the barn. He then goes into the field and hears something. As he comes closer he sees two figures in the field and shoots. And then streaks off.

1Star-Wars-Luke-NOOO-Not-my-father

Ivar finds Emil’s mare the next morning all worn out and not taken care of. He knows Emil would never do anything like that unless he was hurt or injured. He goes next door to get help and finds the bodies.

The_Wolf_Man_4Crying sad

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PART V: ALEXANDRA

Alexandra has become so sick with grief she cannot do anything without being instructed. Her boy, her best friend…gone.

HeartbreakBuffy the Vampire slayer heartbroken Sad

She feels horrible for always throwing them together, never thinking what would happen. She feels so cold and alone.

what-not-to-say-to-broken-hearted-girl-3what went wrong holiday

Alexandra goes to see Frank Shabata, but feels no anger at him. Only pity.

Strange Sad Have My Pity Toy Story

But one bright spot arrives, as soon as Carl gets Alexandra’s note on the death he hurries over.

He isn’t as important as he would have wished, but he does have a good buisness starting in the West. The two plan to marry, going West but eventually returning home to the prairie. At last, Alexandra will no longer be alone. A bittersweet ending

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I love this book but it is sooo sad. Just full of feelings:

CantWork_emotions

But I love it anyway and read it over and over.

bookhumor

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to Le Fantôme de l’Opéra

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For more on Sarah Dessen, go to I’d Spent Some Time As a Kid Wishing My Name Were Ashley or Katherine, if Only Because It Would Have Made Life Simpler, But My Mom Liked to Tell Me That My Name Was a Litmus Test: Along for the Ride

For more on An Affair to Remember, go to Anything Can Happen: An Affair to Remember (1957)

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For the Christmas Carol I choose Silent Night otherwise known in Bohemian as Tichá noc. This song was written in 1816 by Father Joseph Mohr when he was visiting Mariapfarr, Austria.

Two years later, Father Mohr approaches Franz Xaver Gruber, a schoolmaster and organist, and asked him to set it to music. Together they performed it during Christmas Eve’s mass.

In 1859, Pastor John Freeman Young translated the song from German to English. Since then the song has been translated into over 140 different languages.

I chose the version by Celtic Woman as I really enjoy that group.

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For more on Celtic Woman, go to I Finally Read Moby-Dick

For more Christmas Carols, go to Each Illustration is a Little Story. If You Watch Them, In a Few Minutes They Tell You a Tale: The Illustrated Man