A Literary Blog
about Books (and the occasional film) How
they affect us. How they shape our lives. Note:
Postings are once a week or so, as the muses strike. Watch for your
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Friday, April 17, 2015
One Dark and Stormy Night… …about a month ago, I began reading a Gothic romance. This is not a literary genre that I am,
er, was particularly fond of. I’d read a few in my time, yes…but dark and eerie is not quite my speed. Except
for…maybe…Dark Shadows – the original television series watched many years ago with a few college
buddies in the dim recesses of a college lounge between classes – but I’ll reserve that for yet another future
Anyway…the Gothic romance that completely caught my fancy that rainy, windy February night
is Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan, a British author whose novel tackles not only the essence of the genre, but intertwines a number of women’s
issues of the time in which it was written and that of today.
One is the treatment of post-partum depression
at the turn of the last century, another the stigma of having a child out of wedlock in the 1930s.Today, depression is easily
treated – at least most of the time. Having a baby with benefit of spouse is so commonplace these days, it has almost
become an accepted norm. But back then? Back in the day…both were causes of alarm, consternation, misunderstandings,
and, often, misguided, cruel treatment. Riordan cleverly treats these themes in her third novel with great compassion –
whipping up an intriguing story that compelled me to forget the raging storm outside.
I have more thoughts about
this novel, which I wrote in my review for www.authorexposure.com. You just might want to take the time to access it. While there, please noodle around the revitalized site and check out
all the new and exciting features that may spark your literary interests.
Who knows? You just might find a new
genre to add to your reading repertoire.
Growing Up Dark All of us have a dark secret or two from our past…our childhood…our early adult years.
Some of us have yet to garner new ones. Even I have a few skeletons in my closet – figuratively speaking, of course
– a few painful memories while coming of age back in the day. Not any of them, of course, to be revealed here, but on
this particularly rainy day, perhaps briefly reflected upon within…some things I wish I did or did not do…things
I wish could be undone. But would that really change anything?
A stunning first novel,My Sunshine Away, by M. O. Walsh, deals with painful and no so painful memories of a teenage boy growing up in Baton Rouge Louisiana. The
main protagonist has a dark secret he is now compelled to reveal. Finding the need to write about a most profound coming-of-age
experience that has had profound effects upon his later life, the narrator delves into the dark side of (wo)mankind’s
nature and comes up strong on the lighter edge of his reader’s introspection.
It’s a different kind
of novel. I am not sure what genre to categorize it in except to say it totally took me out of my own guarded comfort zone…and
brought back a few childhood memories that I greatly overly fictionalized in my own debut novel, Forty-Thirty. But there the similarities stop.
Curious? Then please take the time to read my review on www.authorexposure.com. You might wish to ponder picking up a copy of Walsh’s novel. You might also find yourself reminiscing. You needn’t
worry, though. Like the novel’s hero, all can be forgiven.
First Spring Read Finally…Spring has sprung! It’s the first really nice, sunny warm day since…well,
since last Fall, actually. Warm enough to take a long walk, soak in some rays…almost warm enough to don the ol’
shorts and sneaks and hit the tennis courts. Almost, not quite. But the sun this afternoon has melted away the last vestiges
of snow and has started to coax budding crocus from the ground. It is now streaming in through the window where I now sit
at my laptop…the warmth feels good on my face as, finally, after nearly a month a half away…I try to compose
a blog entry.
With spring finally here, there will be no more curling up by the fire with a good book for me.
Not for a long time. Most of my reading will be on the deck or by the pool. Come on, warm weather! Bring it on…I am
However, speaking of a good book by the fire…I did read an interesting, quirky novel during a particularly
wintry day in February that sparked and sparkled. What Burns Away, a debut novel by emerging author Melissa Falcon Field, which I had the good fortunate to read and review for www.authorexposure.com. It was just posted today, as a matter of fact…and as I re-read what I wrote, I was struck by how much I really enjoyed
it, even if it brought me out of my comfort zone – much like Gone Girl did, written in the same vein, tone,
After a hiatus of a few weeks to be reconstructed, the AE site is now up and reasonably running. Please
take a moment to visit and read my comments. I think you’ll be intrigued enough to add Field’s literary endeavor
to your Spring/Summer reading list. Even if you do enjoy it not by the warmth of a blazing fire, but on the sun-filled decks
of a pool.
Stars in My Eyes Last year about this time, you will recall, I tried to predict the Oscar winners. I based my selections
on having seen almost all of the movies nominated and/or those that most appealed to my quirky, “different” eclectically
erratic and often erudite tastes. But, sadly, the flicks and stars that I really liked and predicted to get the gold walked
away empty-handed. This year, rather than embarrass myself once again, I am forgoing my star-studded seer status…No
choices listed here, folks. Sorry to disappoint…
But…that being said…I really, really, really
want Meryl Streep to win “Best Actress” for her startling scary performance as the wicked, vile witch in Into
the Woods, although I just know it will go to Julianne Moore in Still Alice who so eloquently portrayed a brave
English professor in the throes of the angst, trauma, and drama of early onset dementia. Regardless of who wins this year,
I will be avidly watching, forgoing the last episode of Downton Abbey Season 5 (which, I have to confess, I’ve
already seen on DVD. Twice.)
Seventy-six years ago in 1939, Gone With the Wind received eleven Oscar
nominations, capturing Best Picture. Vivian Leigh was awarded Best Actress and Hattie McDaniel, in a historical breakthrough
for black actresses (and actors), won Best Supporting Actress for her delightfully poignant role as Mamie. Sadly and unfortunately,
Clark Gable lost his bid…But the number of Oscars accrued was indeed a monumental “sweep” for what has
become one of the most favorite and most watched movie in our modern era of filmmaking. All the more so, since it was produced
during the first full year of color movies – The Wizard of Oz being the first full-length feature to, um, feature
Technicolor in all its glory.
So, imagine, if you will – and which I easily can – being an aspiring
young scriptwriter on the set of GWTW and coming face to face with its audaciously arrogant producer, David O. Selznick. Imagine
meeting and coming under the protective wing of Carole Lombard (who was not in the movie, but as Clark Gable’s mistress
and later wife played an important role in its successful production) and writing a few of its scenes. Imagine being there
first hand as the burning of Atlanta (filmed in one take) rages on a Culver City back lot; watching as Scarlett declare, “I
will never be hungry again!”; and being privy to the more intimate details of one of the most famous Hollywood romances
– that of Gable and Lombard…Oh, what fun that would be!
I can more than imagine it, as I have lived
my dream job through the pages of A Touch of Stardust, a most delightfully “celeb” novel written
by a talented author who, as luck would have it, has real-lie connections with the characters in her stunning novel, which
was just released today. Kate Alcott, the author, is the pseudonym of novelist Patricia O’Brien who married into the
iconic Mankiewicz family. She cleverly weaves into this grand story never-before-secrets and stories from the Golden Age of
Hollywood to more than just delight and entertain. It is an behind-the-scenes elucidating look into the workings – and
trappings – of Tinseltown.
I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing A Touch of Stardust just
before Christmas this past year – truly a gift indeed! – for www.authorexposure.com. My comments were posted yesterday, just in time for you to savor and whet your appetite for this year’s awards…Enjoy!
Compare and Contrast Remember back in high school when we had to write those dreadful book reports? Groans all around in remembrance!
But, in retrospect, to me they were back then excellent training for my task of reviewing books today. Especially the ones
where we had to “compare and contrast” two characters in a novel; significant parallel plot events; even, as in
this case, comparing and contrasting two different books I recently reviewed. Both of which, I must state, I thoroughly enjoyed
reading. No penny dreadfuls here.
There is at first sight nothing similar between Jonathan Odell’s Miss
hazel and the Rosa Parks League (a new, rewritten rendering of his earlier The View from Delphi) and A Memory
of Violets by Hazel Gaynor who last year brought us the blockbuster novel, The Girl Who Came Home.
At second sight, though…
Hazel’s name is in the title of Jonathan’s book! Both titles contain
the name of a flower. Both are set in the 1900s. Both stories deal with freedom and class prejudice in significant historical
eras: one is set in the deep South during the Civil Rights Movement; the other in London at the turn of the last century.
One is about the plight of flower sellers; the other the plight of black domestics.
Both are written by very
talent writers who each deal in his/her own way with what it means to love, to be a family, a friend, and, most importantly,
with the value of sisterhood – in all of its defining, often disparate forms and characteristics. Both, of course,
are great reads and are best-seller list bound.
Now, your assignment is to read my comments, buy a copy of each novel, and do a little leisurely “comparing
and contrasting” on your own. Once again, written book reports are not necessary. But your reading enjoyment factor
will be graded.
* Incidentally, A Memory of Violets marks a major milestone for me: It’s the 100th
book I’ve read and reviewed since I started this labor of love less than four years ago…Here’s to 100 +more!
J. McInerney is an author, poet, and librettist.
currenty published works include a novel, a book of spiritual inspirations, two volumes of poetry, stories for children (of all ages) and a variety of
children's musicals. Her titles include:
Rainbow in the Sky
Meditations for New Members
of Oreigh Ogglefont
The Basset Chronicles.
Cats of Nine Tales
Water: A Collection of Poems
Exodus Ending: A
Collection of More Spiritual Poems
We Three Kings
Beauty and the Beast
Peter, Wolf, and Red Riding
Originally from the New York metropolitan area, June currently lives near Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania with her constant and loving companions, FrankieBernard and Sebastian Cat. She
is currently working on her first novel.