Books! Books! Books!

February 2012

Paula Walters - Wednesday, February 01, 2012

I have trouble believing that it is the year 2012, and also a little trouble realizing January has zoomed by, and it is now the first of February.  I hope all of you had time to relax in January, and read some good books.  I always seem to be able to take time to read, especially in the winter, when I do not have to take time to work in my yard. 

 

This January I read Distant Hours by Kate Morton, Sarah Jio’s two novels, that I mentioned in my last blog,  a biography about Louisa May Alcott by Susan Cheever, and the very popular Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

 

Distant Hours takes place in England.  Edie Burchill’s mother receives a long lost letter that upsets her.  She is not close to her daughter, and does not share why she is so upset.  During World Two when young children were evacuated from London, to live with families in the country, Edie’s mother lived with the Blythe family, three sisters and their father, in their castle.  Now 50 years later Edie visits the Milderhurst Castle to find out why her mother is upset.  She eventually discovers a lot of secrets about the entire Blythe family.  If you have read The Forgotten Garden  by Kate Morton and enjoyed it you will certainly also enjoy this book.

 

I am so sorry that Sarah Jio had to cancel her visit to Wenatchee due to illness.  I was looking forward to her program having read both of her books.  I hope she is well and will be able to fit us in to her very busy touring schedule in the near future.  I will let you know.

I was excited to receive as a Christmas gift, Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography by Susan Cheever.  Little Women is one of my favorite books, but I have to admit I really did not know very much about Alcott's life.  Her father was an eccentric reformer, who financially was not successful, and the family lived in poverty.  Ralph Waldo Emerson was a personal friend who often helped the family financially.  Alcott's dream was to be a published writer, but was told early in her career that she should stick to teaching, as she would never make it as a writer.  She became an Army nurse during the Civil War.  During this time she became sick, which affected her health for the rest of her life.  Eventually she became an editor for a children's magazine, and wrote short stories.  A publisher then wanted her to write a  novel for girls. Alcott had no desire to do this.  Finally out of necessity to help her family financially, she wrote the first part of LIttle Women, and it was immediately a huge success.  She then wrote the second half.  Girls would write to her begging her to end the story with Jo's and Laurie's marraige, but she  refused this request, wanting girls to know that a career was more important then marriage to some women.  One comment that Cheever made was interesting.  She said that Little Women was about the family that Alcott wished her family would have been.

Last night I finished reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, another Christmas gift.  I cannot say enough about this book.  It is very popular with our book clubs.  It is the true story about a poor, black tobacco farmer named Henrietta Lacks.  She was diagnosed with cancer, and died in the early 1950's.  She was in her early thirties, and left behind young children. Henrietta's cells were taken and used by scientists, without her or her family's consent.  Her cells are known as HeLa and are still being used today.  The cells have been an important tool in the medical field.  This is an amazing book about science, but also a book about a family that has struggled a lifetime missing Henrietta, and then learns that her cells are being used by scientists, and not understanding that concept.  It is also the story about the relationship  the author developed with this family. For many years they did not trust her and wanted nothing to do with her.  This book will generate great discussions with book clubs. I would love comments from the clubs that have already read this book.

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