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Good Old Summertime--July Reading

Posted by carolyn_ky (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 2, 14 at 19:27

I am reading Written in My Own Heart's Blood and am thoroughly enjoying it. Jamie is home and not happy with Claire and Lord John, meets General Washington, and gets a high-ranking officer assignment with the Rebels.

Some of the Outlander books have been so farfetched that I despaired of them, but this one seems to be back on target.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I finished Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony by Lee Miller. I have read 'straight' histories of Roanoke, such as Roanoke Island: The Beginnings of English America by David Stick, and the story is told in larger context in Ivor Noel Hume's The Virginia Adventure and Benjamin Woolley's Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America.

Miller digs deeper with informed speculation after studying primary sources and contemporaneous secondary sources. She has developed a theory that 'the Lost Colony' was sabotaged from its inception by someone in England who wanted more than anything to see Sir Walter Ralegh's ventures fail and was willing to sacrifice more than a hundred English settlers to do it. She narrows the likely head of the conspiracy to four candidates and concludes that only one was ruthless enough.

I don't feel competent to judge the validity of her conclusion, but she presents it well except for her annoying (to me) use of the present tense in her narrative. I will have to do some more synoptic reading before I can decide to my satisfaction whether 'the Lost Colony' was truly lost or some of them (the women and children, and maybe a few of the men) survived, as has long been suspected, to live with, intermarry, and have children by their Native American captors. The enduring mystery fascinates me, but I'm beginning to think it only would be possible to solve it with DNA analysis or something scientific.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I can't seem to settle on a book. Perhaps this is due to the insufferably hot and humid weather which has settled on Ontario.

I have been nibbling away at three books. The first, Joy Kogawa's Obasan, is a very famous novel (partly based on the experiences suffered by the author's family) of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. The issue of the Japanese internment, in both the U.S. and Canada, seems to be becoming more well-known. It is a beautifully written book, but I wonder if the story is going to be too sad for "light summer reading".

Also started a mystery, Dorothy L. Sayer's first novel, Whose Body. I am a little surprised at how ghoulishly detailed Sayers can be when it comes to corpses. Not like Christie for sure, who tends to mention them only with restrained distaste.

Also, picked up a recent novel, The Outcast by Sadie Jones. I have just started it, but so far it is good.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

Frieda, there are a lot of books out there on The Lost Colony. The latest one I read presented the premise that a few colonists had survived, intermingled and intermarried with some Indian tribes, as latter observers reported sightings of blue-eyed Native Americans in that area. What was made of the carving of the word "Croatan" on the tree in the book that you read?


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

Woodnymph, which of the books about The Lost Colony was your latest read? I have Roanoke: The Abandoned Colony by Karen Ordahl Kupperman and A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke by James Horn.

Lee Miller described John White's discovery of CRO carved into the tree and White assuming those three letters meant the colonists had gone to Croatoa(n) (evidently it has been spelt both ways) because that was the home island of Manteo and his people. Manteo had accompanied the English back to England after the English reconnaissance of Roanoke in 1584 and spent a couple of years in London -- along with another Native American named Wanchese of Roanoke who was not kin to Manteo. Manteo and the Croatoans were considered friends but Wanchese did not like the English and was bitter towards them. When Ralph Lane and his men did what they did to the Roanoke and the mainland peoples, it's not surprising there was hostility. John White knew this because he had been on Lane's assignment as the official artist, hired by Ralegh to document in pictures what he saw. White never intended to 'plant' his colony at Roanoke. Instead, they were headed to the Chesapeake Bay region, but someone sidetracked them to Roanoke. That someone apparently did it under orders from London, but not the orders of Sir Walter.

John White, when he eventually made it to Roanoke after sitting in England for three years, was initially relieved by the sign left to him by the colonists because they had agreed to indicate where they intended to repair. They had also agreed they would leave a cross carved into the same tree if they were under duress or in eminent danger. They did not carve a cross. White, if he had been allowed to, wanted to visit Croatoa, but there was a hurricane brewing and the English captains wanted to get away as fast as possible. They were essentially pirates first, and foremost, so they didn't give a rat's a... about the colonists. John White had to go home (actually he went to Ireland) and complain by letter that his people had been forgotten. Indeed, they had been and soon John White himself was forgotten as well. It was one of those sad comedy of errors that happened frequently in that age of slow communication. The so-called 'Lost Colony' isn't the only mystery of 'the lost' of that time, but it's held to be one of the most fascinating because it involved a lot of people (116/117) and some of them were women and children, including John White's famous infant granddaughter, Virginia Dare. Most people like to think Virginia could have survived.

Anyway, the Lumbee Indians have a tradition that they are descended from those colonists, and, as you say, light-colored eyes and hair appeared in their progeny within a hundred years. It would have taken a generation or two for the lighter eyes and hair to appear because these features would have been due to recessive genes that the Native Americans originally did not possess. The question is, though, whether they got their genes from the lost colonists of 1587 or other Caucasian settlers of the early 1600s who intermingled, intermarried, and reproduced?

Is that pretty much what has been represented in other books, Mary?


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

  • Posted by netla z5 Iceland (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 4, 14 at 3:47

I decided to postpone reading any of the three books I was wondering about in the June thread and am instead reading Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything by David Bellos. It had been languishing on my TBR shelf for too long. This is a very interesting book-length speculation about translation: what it is, how it is done and if it is even possible. It is useful for translators who want to think about their work on a deeper level, but it can also give laypersons insight into the problems and challenges faced by translators on a day-to-day basis.

This post was edited by netla on Fri, Jul 4, 14 at 3:48


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I'm re-reading A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. I enjoyed it very much the first I read it and couldn't get it off my mind, so here I am almost through it for the second time.

I have lined up Kate Atkinson's Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Just finished her Life After Life, which I thought was terrific. I didn't know how she was going to pull off the device she used, which is a person who dies repeatedly in different ways at different stages of life. The same person, that is. As anyone knows who has been around here for a while and read my posts, I like books with an element of mysticism, magical realism, and some quirkiness. If you can't stand those things, don't bother with any of these books. If you like those things, maybe give them a try.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I'm currently engrossed in Tracey Chevalier's "The Last Runaway." I really find the work of this author constantly satisfying, in terms of both plot and character development, as well as historical detail. The story is set in rural Ohio, with the arrival of a young English Quaker woman who finds the pioneer life in Midwestern America not altogether to her liking, yet must manage to make her way alone, as she cannot return to England.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I am almost finished with one written in the 1982 by a reporter, James Fox titled "White Mischief" a book which the movie was based.
It concerns the true investigation ( where possible) of the murder of a wealthy, indolent settler in Africa around 1942, a murder for which there was no conviction.

The lifestyle of the settlers of Happy Valley - oh my. Too much money, laziness, certainly alcohol, indulgences. A murder of that sort was bound to happen, I'm astounded that it took so long.

The book is good but I must confess that this is one of the few where I thought the movie told the true story better. However, I most enjoyed the carefully detailed reporting of the description of the lifestyles of those wealthy settlers in Africa. Certainly Happy Valley cannot have been representative of how things were then by all or even most of the settlers, I suspect those people were shipped.off by wealthy relatives with a monthly income, a job of sorts and a warning to either remain away or to become penniless! ;)

Despicable people, all of them , which made for a good read!

The movie was released under the same (apt title, "White Mischief".


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

Mylab, some of the type of exiles you describe were shipped to Australia and were called "Remittance men" due to the money they were remitted by relatives at Home who were glad to see the back of them!
I have just finished "Major Benjy" a follow up story by Guy Fraser-Sampson of the Mapp and Lucia series by E. F. Benson.
Quite good apart from a bridge game chapter that was rather incomprehensible to a non-bridge player like myself!


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

"Captain Blood" by Rafael Sabatini. Good old high-adventure pirate story. Free on Amazon for Kindle.

Carolyn, "Written....." is on my list. Glad to hear you are enjoying it.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I've finally started The Light Between Oceans for my book group, and so far so good. The writing is lovely but I'm not far enough in to have an opinion on the story yet.

Siobhan, I really liked Behind the Scenes at the Museum, she's an interesting writer and I've been meaning to read more by her.

I'm counting the days until The Book of Life arrives.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I'm reading The Photograph by Penelope Lively. Most likely some of you have read it since it was pretty popular when it was published 10 yrs ago. So far interesting.

This is the 3rd book I read by her (after Moon Tiger and Consequences), and have noticed that people in her novels work in professions/trades out of the mainstream. The husband who finds "the photograph" of the title is a landscape historian. Even in England that surely is not a common profession. Lively has something for historians: the main character in Moon Tiger, a woman, was a historian also.

In Consequences all the characters lead bohemian lives, they do not make a lot of money, but they seem to live relatively comfortably.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

RIT - I usually really enjoy Lively's work and even had some of her children's books when I was a kid. In fact, I don't think I can remember a bad read from her, but I may have erased any negative memories from my reading mind at this point.

My brother and his family were visiting from UK - fabulous fun and helped me to see my city in a new light. Plus just plain great to hang out with the family again. (It's his once-every-15-years visit.) :-)

So - not much reading, but lots of happy times.

Speaking of English-ness, I did finish up Volume I of Robert Lacey's wonderful historical NF series called "Great Tales from English History". This one covered a wide range of historical events, from the Cheddar Man to Ethelred the Unready and up to the Norman Conquest and the Peasants' Revolt. I imagine that most of these were mentioned at some point in my school history classes, but it seemed new to me! (And a lot more interesting.)


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I finished the Gabaldon book this afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed it. It seems better to me than some of the latter ones, but maybe it's just because it has been so long between books.

I have five library books on my TBR shelf and 2-1/2 weeks to get them read. Fortunately, none of them is an 800-pager like Written.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I started reading a biography of Madame Cliquot,
The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It by Tilar J. Mazzeo, but am finding the first chapter a bit annoying because every time the biographer stops discussing the turbulent times in which Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin - the girl who would become the Veuve Cliquot - grew up and begins discussing the subject, every other paragraph contains at least one "...she must have..." or "...surely she..." and other indicators that what is written is conjecture. Apparently very little is known about the subject in her early years and about her private life at all (claims the author), which makes me wonder: why write a book-length biography if so little is known about the subject?

In fact, according to some reviews on Amazon, it seems as if the author took what could have become a chapter in a history of champagne and fleshed it out into a 300 page book. Now I'm just wondering if the wider historical stuff in the book is interesting enough for me to continue reading, or if I should just stop reading it and try to find a history of champagne to read.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

Nearly through The Light Between Oceans and I'd like to slap both the main characters. *sigh* The writing is gorgeous, the information on Australian light houses is fascinating, but the story line and characters are frustrating, at least to me. I checked the reviews on Amazon when I was about half way through to see if I was missing something, and those who gave it 1- and 2-star ratings had the same complaints I did. However, those who gave it 5-star reviews literally number in the thousands. Hmmm. I hope it will make for a good book group discussion, and I hope I'm not the only one who was annoyed with it.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I finished T. Chevalier's "The Last Runaway" and thoroughly enjoyed it. I recommend this to anyone who is interested in American history and specifically the Underground Railroad. Not only was the book enjoyable, but I learnt quite a lot.

I had to give up on "Flora", Gail Godwin's newest work. In the past I have really liked her books but this one seems poorly organized and difficult to read. Too many characters, too confusing, so back it goes to the library.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I finished The Widow Cliquot and find it hard to classify it as a biography. So little seems to be known about Madame Cliquot that it is full of conjectures and guesses about her ideas and actions, thoughts and opinions, by an author who is clearly besotted with her. It does give one a good idea of the era in which the Widow lived and the history seems to be well researched.

Now continuing with Is That a Fish in Your Ear?.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

Just finished up a couple of reads of the old chestnut, "Ethan Frome" by Edith Wharton (1911). It was a reread for me (from a long time ago), and this time I really loved it. What great writing and how well it portrays the cold and isolation in the village where most people live.

In fact, it was so good that when I finished my first read, I turned around and gave the first part a second read right away as I wanted to see all the foreshadowing at the start.

Fantastic read, and I'm looking forward to analyzing the story on a deeper level. Really recommend with this without any hesitation. I'm sad that it's a frequently used text for HS/JHS English lit as I think they are a bit young to recognize its brilliance and then grow up thinking Wharton is awful just because of their youthful experience.

On another note, my NF is also somewhat of a bleak read: John Hersey's Hiroshima (1945), a beautifully written book that explores how the atomic bomb that the U.S. sent to Japan affected six particular ordinary lives. Riveting.

Also leaving for tropical climes and the beach in a few days, so contemplating which books to take... Choices, choices!


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

The Book of Life, the third book in the "All Souls" trilogy by Deborah Harkness arrived today, and despite my best-laid plans I've only just started re-reading the first one, A Discovery of Witches (it's still wonderful). Off I go to read.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I just requested The Book of Life from the library. I'm way down the list, though.

Also pre-ordered the new books by Deborah Crombie and Charles Todd and included the new James Lee Burke, which I will have to wait for as it combines with the others for free shipping.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I've finished "Lucia on Holiday" a book by Guy Fraser-Sampson using the E. F. Benson characters. The second of a trilogy.
I didn't enjoy it as much as the first one. He brought in real period people and a convoluted sub-plot which the book didn't need and was rather out of the Benson style.
Not "good old summertime" here, with massive storms and five tornadoes ripping roofs off houses in nearby suburbs. I read the book while staying huddled in my warm bed!


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

Liz, I agree that "Ethan Frome" is brilliant. It remains one of my all-time favorites.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

Liz and Mary I think I would have to describe Ethan Frome as a 'powerful' books rather than 'enjoyable' . . . the subject matter is so stark and bleak I can't say I felt uplifted or happy once I had finished it. Are there still people in the 'backwoods' of New England like the ones Wharton describes?
Just wondering as I am always interested in what makes folk tick.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I'm reading Murder on Washington Square, an early volume of the New York City Victorian midwife series by Victoria Thompson. It is one that I haven't been able to get from the library until now, and this is a well-used paperback. I assume it is a donation, for which I am very grateful.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I'm another lover of Ethan Frome. I read that a few weeks ago, along with several other of Wharton's as part of my 'I really must read some classics' self improvement plan. Stark and bleak are good words for EF, but left me feeling the way I do after listening to a great piece of music well-played. I didn't want to move a muscle for a while, just savor the feeling.

After reading Wharton I then decided I should tackle Henry James and persevered with The Portrait of a Lady. I did rejoice when I finally finished it. Hard reading for me, learned many new words, and I did enjoy the story, but was glad when it was finished. I felt I deserved a medal.

Now I'm reading Volume I of a bio of Eleanor Roosevelt. I wonder how Wharton would have portrayed her in a novel?


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

Vee, to answer your question, I should say yes. When I was in Maine, some years ago, I found parts of the state very poor and rural, especially as one gets away from the coast and goes upstate, toward Canada. And the winters are, of course, beyond bleak, especially out in the countryside.

Another little gem of a read by E. Wharton that I liked is "Summer."


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I have not long finished Alice Hoffman's latest "The Museum of Extraordinary Things" it was wonderful, it has been compared to "Night Circus" this novel was not for me!!


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

So far this month I have got through three books Running Wild by Peggy Fortnum, a memoir by the children's book illustrator. She describes growing up in what was a rural area (Harrow) north of London and spending an unsettling year in N France, as a 10 year old, trying to learn the language.
As the Sun Shines a slim collection of work by Henry Williamson (now better known as the writer of 'Tarka the Otter').
This yellowing book published in 1947, must have come from my late Mother's collection and is printed on 'war-time' paper. Williamson seems to have been an angry man who had seen much WWI suffering in the trenches then moved away to the Devon countryside to write about rural life and 'nature'.
The Playmaker by Thomas Keneally is probably well-known to all the Aussies here and, although quite a detailed read, I found very rewarding.
Set during the time of the arrival of the 'First Fleet' to New South Wales, it follows the few weeks in which a play was 'put on' by the convicts/lags to celebrate the King's birthday. Ralph Clark, a young marine officer is given the job of producer and we follow the progress of rehearsals along with learning much about conditions in the early penal Colony, the previous lives of the various convicts and what had brought them to the far ends of the Earth and the several moral dilemmas that all the real and imaginary characters faced.
It was a refreshing change, for a 'historical' novel, not to have interjections from the author taking a modern 'moral' slant on the degradation of the prisons and soldiers, the harsh conditions or the treatment of the indigenous population.
His characters were real people all living and getting along as best they could in an alien environment.
And the work was The Recruiting Officer by George Farquar, chosen as it was the only copy of a play anyone had brought with them.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

Vee, have you read Colleen McCullough's Morgan's Run? It is fiction about the beginning of England's taking prisoners to Australia. One thing I learned from it (which should have been obvious to me but wasn't) was that it began after the American Revolution when they couldn't dump them in Georgia anymore. Anyway, I liked the book a lot.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

After a couple of weeks reading nonfiction, I wanted a palate cleanser so I'm now enjoying Ammie, Come Home by Barbara Michaels. I think I must have read it the first time during the year it was published, 1968, because I remember identifying with Sara, the twenty year old, and thinking Ruth, Sara's aunt, was rather 'an uptight square', being as she's forty-something. Ha! It's fun to read a book that was contemporary when it came out, but has turned into a period piece! However, unlike novels written long after the time they depict, the period details are more likely to be authentic and 'the feel' is just right. This story is one of the trademark ghostly tales of B. Michaels, and I think it's still effective. Eerie stories often age very well. I remember now why Ms. Michaels was so popular


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

Carolyn, yes I read Morgan's Run some years ago and generally enjoyed it, though I seem to remember finding it rather 'over-long'. Are some authors paid per word?
While tracing various family trees I have discovered one young man, a very distant relative, who was sent to Van Dieman's Land (modern Tasmania). The conditions there make the penal colony of NSW . . . or Georgia look like a holiday camp!


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

Vee, not very nice of me, but we once had a young seminary student youth pastor at our church who was a self-made success, coming from a family (he told the story) of drunks and fighters. He was from the Georgia hill country, and I remember thinking . . . hmm . . . wonder about his antecedents? Thankfully, he has gone on to be a very successful pastor of a large church in Tennessee.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I am surprising myself by actually liking an 1898 history of Virginia. Of course, it stops with the Reconstruction period, but is filled with fascinating details and factoids. The author does not defend slavery, to my surprise, and seems to come down on the side of fair play. It is indeed surprising how many U.S. presidents and statesmen the state of VA produced! I lived there for over 40 years and have learnt new things of its history I had not known. The style is so quaint that it is almost fun to read. This book had been sitting unread on my shelves for decades.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I've finished re-reading the first two books in Deborah Harkness's "All Souls" trilogy (A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of the Night) and have finally started the final book, The Book of Life, which has me riveted. I'm a third of the way through and so far it's excellent.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

I finished The Book of Life last night. It tied up the trilogy beautifully and has left me with a total book hangover.

Kath, have you read this yet? I think it was you who said you'd read the others.


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RE: Good Old Summertime--July Reading

In anticipation of a trip to Britain this fall, I've started A Small Death in the Great Glen by A. D. Scott. This is his first book, and there are others listed on Stop You're Killing Me. I don't know if it is a series or not, but this book has started well.


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