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Showing posts from May, 2016

Book Review: The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell

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Title:The Madwoman Upstairs
Author: Catherine Lowell

First line: The night I arrived at Oxford, I learned that my dorm room was built in 1361 and had originally been used to quarantine victims of the plague.

Review: This is the kind of book that gets the cutesy adjectives thrown at it -- quirky, charming, playful, breezy -- and they're all apt. This is a quirky, charming, playful, and breezy read, a kind of chick-lit-y coming-of-age story that did, I confess, occasionally kill me with the snark, but ultimately had me sighing with satisfaction as I closed it.

Our narrator, Samantha Whipple, is that last living descendant of the Brontes, and is newly arrived at Oxford University where she plans to study modern literature.

Homeschooled by her brilliant but unconventional father, novelist Tristian Whipple, Samantha is an odd duck who has a love/hate relationship with her famous ancestors. Her father's obsessive study of their writings combined with the public's insatiable curiosi…

Interview with author Susan Wittig Albert

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Last week I reviewed Susan Wittig Albert's wonderful Loving Eleanor, a historical novel about AP reporter Lorena Hickock and her relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt. I'm delighted to share my interview with Ms. Albert, so please read on to learn more about her and writing.

What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction?

I sold my first short story when I was still a teenager. It was called “Her First Violin,” about a young girl who played violin in her high school orchestra--and finally got to play first violin. It was published in a children’s magazine called Jack and Jill, which paid a penny a word. I still remember the delight of holding that check in my hand. I’ve been writing ever since.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

No rituals, a fairly stable routine. I show up at the computer early in the morning for a date with my social media friends, then catch up on email, do volunteer work for Story Circle Network (a women’s writing organization), and--by 10:3…

Book Review: Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert

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Title:Loving Eleanor
Author: Susan Wittig Albert

First line: Hick didn't go to the funeral.

Review: For good and for bad, I do most of my learning through historical fiction. This historical novel about Eleanor Roosevelt and the reporter who was, for a time, her lover, was a delicious, delightful read that gave me many oh-no-way! moments and lots of trips to Wiki to research more.

Albert wrote the fabulous A Wilder Rose, about Rose Wilder and her famous mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was so curious to see how she would handle Eleanor Roosevelt and her romantic relationship with AP reporter Lorena Hickok.

Lorena Hickok, a journalist, met Eleanor Roosevelt in 1928, when she was assigned to cover the elections that year. She and Eleanor had an instant rapport, and Hick (as she was called) was nursing a broken heart. She didn't think something would flare up between her and this soon-to-be very public figure -- but something did, and it had wide-ranging impact on the both of them, b…

Weekend reads and Mother's Day...

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This weekend is our second Mother's Day as mothers, and it's both exciting and no-big-deal. My baby is really no longer a baby, le sigh, but we'll be spending the day together. We plan to do the Mother's Day Walk for Peace with our church and then a quiet brunch with my in-laws. Obviously, I hope to get in some reading, too.

In addition to reading this weekend, I'm hoping to do some work on my novel. I had my second appointment with my life coach, and it's been wonderfully illuminating and fun -- a mix of therapy and a sympathetic cheerleader.  I'm grateful my wife thought of this gift, and I'm hopeful I can get out of my rut and finish my MS!

I just started C.W. Gortner's historical novel Marlene (and am wearing rhinestones in her honor). What are you reading this weekend?