The Sunday Salon

Happy Sunday everyone!  I hope you are all having a great day so far.  I just got back from brunch at Abuelos.  I gorged myself–perfect way to start a Sunday!  I got a lot of reading done this week (yesterday especally!) so I hope to keep up my streak today and get some more reading time in. 

This week I read:

Forever, Judy Blume

Amy and Isabelle, Elizabeth Strout

French Milk, Lucy Knisley

Slam, Nick Hornby

I am currently in the middle of Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.   Maybe my expectations were too high or maybe the book just hasn’t picked up yet, but I am not sure how I feel about the book so far.

The books I got this week from the libabry are:

Last Night is Twisted River, John Irving

Nana, Emila Zola

Shades of Grey, Jasper Fforde

Brunelleschi’s Dome, Ross King

I also got a review book–Roses, byLeila Meacham–from Hatchette.  I am thinking it will be a great book to take with me to Florence in a few weeks because it is long and (hopefully) captivating. 

Anyone have any input on the above books?–I’d love to hear it!

Book Review: The Women

The Women

T Coraghessan Boyle


464 pages

I have wanted to read a book by TC Boyle for quite some time.  I have Drop City on my shelves, but as is often the case, just because I buy a book doesn’t mean I’ll read it–or at least not in a timely manner!  I also loved Nancy Horan’s book Loving Frank, also about Frank Lloyd Wright and his love life, so when I saw that TC Boyle had written The Women, also about Frank Lloyd Wright and his love life, I knew it would a perfect read for me. 

Loving Frank deals with Wright’s tragic love affair with Mamah Borthwick Cheney.  It also involves some information about Wright’s first wife Kitty.  The Women is more all-encompassing.   Again it involves little information about Kitty (which left me wanting more in that regard, despite the already long length of this tome) but it also went into Frank’s relationships with his second and third wives.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Quite a selfish man–whether this is fictional or not, it was present in both The Women and Loving Frank.  And the fact of the matter is that Wright was willing to leave his first wife Kitty and his numerous children with her to gallivant around with his mistress.  Basically, my idea of Wright after reading both of the aforementioned fictional books about him is that he was a selfish man with little respect for the dollar.  In The Women, he was quoted as saying something about his theory that one should buy luxuries first because the necessities would follow.

Catherine “Kitty” Wright

Married to Frank Lloyd Wright from 1889-1922.  They had six children together and Kitty was married to Wright throughout his entire affair with Mamah Cheney.  She refused to grant him the divorce he yearned for until after Cheney had died at Wright’s Wisconsin home Taliesin I.  She was given very little notice in either Loving Frank or The Women

Mamah Borthwick Cheney

Cheney and Wright began their love affair while Wright was designing and building a home for Cheney and her husband Edward.  They escaped together to Europe–Mamah abandoned her husband and two young children in order to live with Wright.  Their relationchip ignited a maelstrom of news activity and Wright eventually built Talisin I in Wisconsin as a sanctuary for the two lovers.  During the summer of 1914, Mamah and her two children were butchered to death by a disgruntled servant, who set Taliesin on fire and killed some other workers as well.

Maude Miriam Noel Wright

Miriam and Wright met after she wrote him a letter of her condolences after the death of Mamah.  She is painted as a vindictive and somewhat psychotic woman in The Women.   She and Wright were about the same age and were finally able to marry in the early 20’s after Kitty consented to a divorce.  She eventually left Frank but they remained married as he began his relationship with his third wife, Olgivanna.

Olga Ivanovna Wright

Olgivanna met Wright as a young mother.  She divorced her first husband and was eventually married to Wright after he was granted a divorce from Miriam.  However, before they were able to marry, Olgivanna and Wright had a daughter, Iovanna.  Once again, Wright’s romantic escapades cast him inthe public limelight.  Taliesin II (built after the original was destroyed during the murder of Mamah Cheney) was burned substantially at this time as well and again rebuilt.  Olgivanna and Wright remained married until Wright’s death in 1959.

The Women was a wonderfuly woven story that fascinated from beginning to end.  Wright was an intriguing man whose romantic endeavors are almost unbelievable

Other Reviews:

Books for Breakfast–Book Reviews with a Twist

Life is a Patchwork Quilt

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: Forever


Judy Blume

Simon Pulse

208 pages

I am enjoying the Shelf Discovery challenge probably more than any other reading challenge I have ever participated in.  Many of the participants are using the challenge as an excuse to read books that they haven’t read since their childhood.  Ultimately, I’m not a re-reader, so instead I am using the challenge to read childhood books that I missed out on.  As you saw a few weeks ago with my review of Wifey, I missed out on a few of Judy Blume’s books despite the fact that I was a big fan of hers as an adolescent.  When I joined the challenge, Forever and Wifey went on my list immediately because I had never read them and I don’t know that I would have ever had as good of an excuse to read them now. 

Forever is the story of Katherine.  She is a senior in high school and a virgin.  She has had a boyfriend before, but she broke up with him after he pressured her to have sex with him.  Since that point, Katherine’s interest in prospective boyfriends and sex has dwindled until she meets Michael, a senior from another school.  Emotionally, Katherine and Michael’s relationship seems to develop at a fast pace.  Katherine is still guarded sexually though, and it takes her awhile to trust Michael enough to have sex with him. 

I thought Forever perfectly encapsulated the typical high school relationship.  What teenage girl thinks that she won’t marry her high school boyfriend and live happily ever after?  I know I was guilty of it! Katherine and Michael had a fairly strong relationship and were very respectful of one another, but the relationship fizzled out on Katherine’s end when she went away to summer camp to work as a tennis instructor.  She met another boy at camp and at first they were just friendly with one another and then the relationship started evolving to the point where Katherine realized she had feelings for the boy.  She is caught in a tug of war because she loves Michael and doesn’t want to hurt him or the relationship they have, but at the same time she no longer feels the same way towards him. 

Forever evoked all these long forgotten emotions that I had from high school.  I don’t think I have ever read a book geared towards adolescents that is as realistic as this one.  Katherine’s feelings from beginning to end were very much like the feelings I had in high school.  I imagine it takes a lot for a book to take you back ten years in time, and that is what Forever did for me. 

I think Katherine did have her flaws, however.  She seemed so naïve and innocent about sex which I couldn’t believe of a senior in high school.  I am not referring to the fact that she was a virgin, but just her attitude towards sex and her body in general.  On the other hand, she is grown up enough to go to Planned Parenthood on her own and get put on birth control pills.  Something about her character just didn’t flow for me in that sense.

Regardless, Forever is a book you should read if you’re a fan of Judy Blume.  Or even if you’re not familiar with Judy Blume (although I’m not sure how that could be possible!).  I also think Forever is a great book for teenagers because the perspective is realistic enough that it conveys a powerful message.

I read this book for the Shelf Discovery challenge.

Other Reviews:

Books Love Me

Rhapsody in Books Weblog

The Book Lady’s Blog

Zoe’s Book Reviews

The Bluestocking Society

Persnickety Snark

Stop, Drop & Read

You’ve GOTTA Read This!

another page is used

It’s All About Me (Time)

I borrowed this book from my local library.

East of Eden, Part III

Review of Part I

Review of Part II

Discussion of Part III of East of Eden begins today at the Classic Reads Book Club.

I don’t feel as if I was as invested in Part III as I was with the first two portions of East of Eden.  It seemed like the story started to just plod along without holding my interest as much.  Part of it is Steinbeck’s writing style.  It can be so descriptive at times, especially regarding nature and the elements.  That’s really not my thing.  Plus Part III was just over 100 pages, so it didn’t seem as if there was as much time to develop the story as in the previous parts.

That being said I was still captivated by East of Eden and I am excited to read the last part to see how it all turns out.  In Part III the reader is able to see the twins begin to grow up and evolve into their own characters.  I found it interesting that Aron is very similar to Adam, whereas Caleb seems to embody his mother’s characteristics.  The difference between Caleb and Cathy/Kate is that Caleb, even though he is only eleven, understands that his way of thinking is skewed and he’s trying desperately to fix it, whereas when Adam visits Cathy after learning of Charles’ death, she still is unable to break free of her evil mindset.

I also enjoyed reading more about Samuel and his family.  Tom especially seems like such a deeply involved character, even more so after what happened at the end of Part III.   It remains unclear to me what role the rest of the Hamilton family will play in the end of the novel.

I look forward to finishing East of Eden.  The characters seem to be making great strides towards self-discovery (with the exception of Cathy).  It is nice to see that Adam has finally come to his senses and seems to realistically perceive his previous relationship with Cathy and what kind of person she is compared to who he wanted her to be.

I hope everyone else is enjoying East of Eden as much as I am.  It definitely qualifies as a chunkster, but it is more than worth the patience t sometimes takes to make it through a longer book.

The Sunday Salon

Once again, I feel like my week in reading was pretty weak.  That seems to be my mantra for February.  I finished one book this week–Passing, by Nella Larsen–and I am close to finishing the third part of East of Eden, by John Steinbeck.  I also read fifty pages of The Shack and decided it just wasn’t worth it.  The writing was so contrived and I just didn’t want to read it.  So I didn’t.

The good news is that there are really no plans for today.  I have some general housework to do, but other than that my day will be devoted to reading.

Despite the fact that my reading has been lagging, I decided to aquire some more books this week.  Firstly, I bought Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese.  The reviews I read for it portrayed it as a phenomenal book, so I purchased it. 

I also got two review copies this week from Hatchette.  The first, The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, by Tiffany Baker, is a book I have had on my list for over a year.  It will also count towards the Deb challenge I am currently signed up for.  The other book I am super excited about!

I love Chelsea Handler.  I think she is absolutely hysterical.  When her last book was published, I was lucky enough to get to meet her.  As soon as the book arrived in the mail, I immediately texted my family members because I knew they would be insanely jealous!

I also got quite a few library books.

Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher (this is a re-check out)

Secondand Smoke, by Patti Friedmann (for my trip to New Orleans)

The Last Madame: A Life in the New Orleans Underworld, by Christine Wiltz (also for my trip to New Orleans)

Forever, by Judy Blume (for the Shelf Discovery challenge)

Murder of a Medici Princess, by Caroline P Murphy (for my trip to Florence)

Signora da Vinci, by Robin Maxwell (also for my trip to Florence)

Have you read any of these?  If so, what are your thoughts?

Have a great Sunday everyone!



Classics Circuit: Passing


Nella Larsen

Penguin Classics

121 pages

Today I am a stop on the Harlem Renaissance tour for the Classics Circuit.  I decided to go with an author I had absolutely no familiarity with whatsoever–Nella Larsen.   I didn’t know what to expect going into the book, but I anticipated a great exploration of race relations in the 1920s.

Passing is the story of Clare Kendry and Irene Redfield.  The two women grew up together and meet again by chance as adults on the roof of the Drayton, a hotel in Chicago.  Both women are “passing”, meaning that they are black women that are light skinned enough to pass as white women.  Irene passes only occasionally, as she is doing on the day she meets up with Clare, whereas Clare has completely adopted the life of a white woman.

One of the most unbelievable aspects of Passing is that Clare’s husband, John Bellew, is not only unaware of his wife’s race, but he is also a raging racist.  As Clare and Irene begin to see more and more of one another, the danger of John discovering Clare’s true origins becomes more realistic.

John’s behavior was unbearable at times.  He was always openly racist when speaking with Clare, Irene and their aquintances because he is ignorant to the fact that he is degrading their own race.

‘So you dislike negroes, Mr Bellew?’

John Bellew gave a short denying laugh.  ‘You got me all wrong there, Mrs Redfield.  Nothing like that at all.  I don’t dislike them, I hate them.  And so does Nig (Clare), for all she’s trying to turn into one.  She wouldn’t have a n—-r maid around for love and money.  Not that I’d want her to.  They give me the creeps.  The black scrimy devils.’

Irene was incredulous that Clare could stomach living with someone who felt so disparagingly towards her race, and I agree 100%.  It was pathetic that somone could be so ready to turn on their own race to the point where they would continue to live with someone who continually put them down on the basis of their race, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

On a side note, I want  to make a brief complaint.  My biggest concern with this book had to do with this edition.  As is always the case, I read the introduction first.  This seemed fitting, as the introduction was at the beginning of the book.  You would figure an introduction would fulfill the purpose of doing what it imples–introducing a reader to the text.  I got more than I bargained for in this case.  The introduction completely spoiled the end of the book. Even after finishing Passing, I am aggravated at the fact that the ending was spoiled for me.  Suffice it to say, I would have been completely shocked by the ending and would have preferred to have it reveal itself to me naturally.

Ok, back to Passing.  I don’t feel like I connected all that well with any of the characters but it was a compelling story and I especially loved Clare’s character because of her colorfulness and I liked that she seemed like she was finally breaking free of the facade she was hiding behind.

Other Reviews:

Books and Chocolate

I borrowed this book from my local library.