Monday, October 27, 2014

Emily's Ghost

Mitzi and I agreed to go to the next Cabell County Public library book group meeting in Nov.  They are reading Emily's Ghost by Denise Giardina.  Audible does not have this book available, so I am reading it on my phone via iBooks.  It is a quick read and quite interesting.  I own two other books by Giardina:  Storming Heaven and .....need to fill in.....but I added this post quickly last night as I want to look up information about Chartists and Wilberforce.

Giardina (Saints and Villains) offers Brontë fans a solid biographical novel portraying sisters Anne, Charlotte and Emily as different in temperament but in love with the same man, fighting the same illnesses and withdrawing from the same grim realities to write poetry and fiction that express their individual passions. Youngest sister Emily distinguishes herself at age six when, while attending boarding school, she admits to encounters with ghosts. (The punishment doled out by the headmaster does not deter Emily, but it does inspire a well-known scene in Jane Eyre.) Brontë men include brother Branwell, who struggles with addiction; father Patrick, straining to support his family on limited finances; and William Weightman, Patrick's young, flirtatious, social-reforming curate who becomes the key figure as he wins the hearts of the three Brontë girls. Giardina's mid-19th-century England is factually sturdy, while the relationship between Emily and Weightman is nicely nuanced, and the insights and inferences about Emily and Charlotte's relationship are convincingly rendered. You don't have to be a Brontë scholar to appreciate Giardina's novel, but having a little context will greatly increase the payoff. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.  From Publishers Weekly

I want to look up a bit about Chartists and Wilberforce....that is why I added this information tonight.  

I finished the book in Nov and liked it a lot....but never got around to looking up the Chartists and Wilberforce.  However, the description of the cholera epidemic in Emily's town is excellent.  I am thinking that that is the disease that took the lives of my Hare ancestors.  I will look that up and add it to one of my blogs.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The End of Your Life Book Club

This is the synopsis found on Amazon (along with the information that there are many used copies available for 49 cents plus shipping):

During her treatment for cancer, Mary Anne Schwalbe and her son Will spent many hours sitting in waiting rooms together. To pass the time, they would talk about the books they were reading. Once, by chance, they read the same book at the same time—and an informal book club of two was born. Through their wide-ranging reading, Will and Mary Anne—and we, their fellow readers—are reminded how books can be comforting, astonishing, and illuminating, changing the way that we feel about and interact with the world around us. A profoundly moving memoir of caregiving, mourning, and love—The End of Your Life Book Club is also about the joy of reading, and the ways that joy is multiplied when we share it with others.

I became bogged down in the subplot in the Princes of Ireland and also in the long trek home by Mary Ingles in Follow the River, so last night I downloaded a book that my friend, Mitzi, had suggested to me.  I am already captivated!  But I can tell that this book is one to read as I go to Starbucks and the post office and the mall and home because there are sooooooo many ideas that I want to capture as I go.  So I will be blogging as I read.  Of course, I am reading this one via

First book mentioned is Crossing to Safety.  I don't own it yet.....but I will be buying it.   It is by Wallace Stegner ....just bought it and noticed that Angle of Repose is also available via audible.  I have owned the book for probably 30 years and have not yet read it.....perhaps I should buy it via audible as well?  

The interesting thing about Crossing to Safety according to the author, Will Schwalbe, is that one of the characters is dying of cancer as is Will's mother.  He explains that in talking about the book, the two of them were able to talk about feelings and things that were going on in his mother's life that were hard to approach.  I wish that I had had something like that in the last year of Jack's life.  

I also loved the thought that Will expresses that his mother was very thrifty.  If someone gave her or loaned her a book, she read it.  So much the opposite of me.  I am not very thrifty.  I am much more careful  with the use of my time than I am with the use of my money.  It is much harder for me to spend an hour than a dollar.  Also Will's mother reads the end first.  She wants to know the outcome ahead of time.  Will explains that it is much like that of a cancer patient who is stage 4 (as his mother is):  you know how the story will end. 

On the way to Starbucks today Will talks about the fact that his mother was very attached to a book given to her by a friend:  Daily Strength for Daily Needs by May W. Tyleston.  Will's mother was given a used book that had been reprinted in 1939 from a book written perhaps earlier than 1900.  I can't remember for sure.  Here is what Amazon says about the book (book available via kindle for $5.95):

Power to Live God intends each of His followers to walk with Him every day and come into closer contact with Him. This 365-day devotional will lead you in this walk and guide you each day of the year. Through some of the most inspirational words of famous Christian writers such as Jeanne Guyon, St. Augustine, Hannah Whitall Smith, William Law, Charles Wesley, and George MacDonald, you will learn how to:Live each day worry-free Overcome present trials Find the peace of God Receive clear direction from God Cast all your cares on God Handle discouragement and temptation Experience God's free favor As you daily come closer to God, you will gain wisdom on how to live a godly life and persevere in it.

It is quite evident that many of the people who bought this book were indeed reading The End of Your Life Book Club as there is a list of other titles bought by those who bought Daily Strength.  And one of them reminds me of another book mentioned earlier in End of Life:

The Etiquette of Illness: What to Say When You Can't Find the Words   By Susan Halpern

And on the list of other books was the below...not mentioned in End of Life because it had not yet been written...but a book that I do have interest in:

How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who's Sick  

by Letty Cottin Pogrebin

Next book that Will mentions that I found of interest was the Gillead

Twenty-four years after her first novel, Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson returns with an intimate tale of three generations from the Civil War to the twentieth century: a story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America's heart. Writing in the tradition of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, Marilynne Robinson's beautiful, spare, and spiritual prose allows "even the faithless reader to feel the possibility of transcendent order" (Slate). In the luminous and unforgettable voice of Congregationalist minister John Ames, Gilead reveals the human condition and the often unbearable beauty of an ordinary life.
Gilead is the winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Marilyn Robinson was one of the authors that was included in the Key West Seminar in 2008 and I bought the book at that time but have not read it.  It is in my bedroom closet.  The theme of the seminar that year was historical fiction and I suppose that it is possible that this book qualifies in that category.

Today's book discussion in End of Life....was People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.  I won't take time to put much here because it was the book that I read by Ms Brooks just before the Key West Seminar in 2008.  I thought it VERY entertaining and unusual.  I liked it a lot.  I own several books by this author and look forward to reading them.  I liked the idea that Mary Ann (Will's mother) put forth that the about the fact that many people risked their lives to save the Haggadah.  She sugested that the Haggadah was symbolic of ALL books.

Wikipedia says of the Haggadah and People of the Book:

People of the Book is a 2008 historical fiction novel by Geraldine Brooks. The story focuses on imagined events surrounding protagonist and real historical past of the still extant Sarajevo Haggadah, one of the oldest surviving Jewish illuminated texts.

The book discussion this morning on the way to Starbucks was about The Lizard Cage which I will probably not read....and then about The Last Lecture which I read just after Jack's death.  I had to look Randy up in Wikipedia to remember when I had read his lecture....I remember going to a website almost daily for a while to see if Randy was still hanging in there just after I had read the lecture and just before his actual death.  I loved the idea that the proceeds of his book would help give his children a better life in addition to the fact that they would always have his words to inspire help them remember how much he had loved them and had wanted them to remember him and how full of life their father had been!

Randolph Frederick "Randy" Pausch[2] (October 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008) was an American professor of computer sciencehuman-computer interaction, and design at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Pausch learned that he had pancreatic cancer in September 2006, and in August 2007 he was given a terminal diagnosis: "3 to 6 months of good health left". He gave an upbeat lecture titled "The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" on September 18, 2007, at Carnegie Mellon, which became a popular YouTube video and led to other media appearances. He then co-authored a book called The Last Lectureon the same theme, which became a New York Times best-seller.
Pausch died of complications from pancreatic cancer on July 25, 2008.

You know, as I look back, I think that I listened to the you tube version from Randy himself rather than having read the book and then bought the book which I actually never read as I had already heard it!  But I do have a copy of the book and would be happy to share.

A thought that was unrelated to books that came up on one of the last two day's trip to Starbucks was about a nurse who was thought of a life coach to help make Mary Ann's last part of life as comfortable as possible.  I particularly liked the suggestion that Mary Ann not meet people for meals as she had little appetite and mainly pushed the food around on her plate.  Instead the nurse suggested that she meet for coffee or tea and non-meal times.

Today on the way to Starbucks the two books that were mentioned are Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking and Olive Kitteridge.  I own both books, but have read neither.  Both books are actual printed copies.  These books are mentioned several times in the book....I do look forward to reading both of them.

Today's trip to Starbucks is the third day that it is clear that Mary Ann is dying.  She is no longer taking chemo.  The tumors are growing very fast.  She is frail and tires easily.  So much of the book is devoted to what she is doing with her last days.  However, she does not quit reading.  The book mentioned today that is of interest to me is John Updike's:

My Father's Tears and Other Stories by John Updike was published posthumously on June 2, 2009. It is the first collection of Updike's short fiction to be released since 2000.

It turns out that Mary Ann remembers John Updike in her freshman class seminar in college as a very bright young man that she had failed to get his name.....but later realized that he was indeed John Updike.  I liked the part that Will recounts in which there is a description of a 55th high school reunion.  It might be fun to print a bit of it in our memory book.

I am sorting through old papers and see a couple of notes that I made along the way to add to this blog post .....but did not get around to doing so.....The Book The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

I finished this book early December 2014.  There were less books mentioned at the end of the book as the author dealt with the final stage of this terrible disease that his mother was fighting.  However, the end gives a very good depiction of what the death is like when one's loved ones die at home.