There is nothing more glorious than to sit outside in the summer and read. What a treat after being interned in airplane type office air all day. After work and on the weekends, I can usually be found under a shade tree in a crumply old hat, with a cool drink and a wonderful book.
Here is a favorite reading spot. One can just see the red hummingbird feeder on the right. These birds, tiny as they are, become highly annoyed when a they spot a reader in their garden. I have been buzzed often.
Here are some highlight books from the past three months that are worthy of note.
Mr. Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt
This was about Winston Churchill's often mentioned famous black dog of depression. A clever concept but, this book like others of its genre in which a novel is based on a real person, takes all kinds of liberties. I always wonder if the person in question is rolling in the grave. Another book of this type this summer was,
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
This was an imagined story based on fact and written in Hadley Hemingway's voice. As interesting as this book was - Paris in the 1920s (a favorite reading topic) one wondered again about the assumptions made.
Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
Completely amazing. I want to be Stacy Schiff. I heard her speak about this book at a lecture sponsored by Shakespeare and Company. Besides discussing Cleopatra's life she spoke about the complex problems that biographers will face in the future given the digital age. Thoughtful and provocative all around.
Nurse Hilary's Holiday Task by Jan Haye
What can I say? This book was left on the "free table" at work. Nurse Hilary Hope has just recovered from an attack of pneumonia and takes a job with Lady Vesper in France. There she meets her ladyship's doctor, Raoul de la Rue. Lookout cookout and handle with oven gloves! There is a first chaste kiss on about page 120. Published in 1964, it is representative of another era.
The Complete Poems of Cavafy, Translated by Rae Dalven
I found this gem for two dollars in a used bookshop. I have always loved the poem "Ithaca" and have it on my desk at work. Discovered "Candles" as well as others.
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
This was the perfect Hurricane Irene book. Tree down? What tree? This book was enthralling and could not be put down. The author recommends viewing "Berlin: Symphony of a Great City" on You Tube. He says it is charming and it is.
Snobs by Julian Fellowes
The beloved creator of "Downton Abbey" and "Gosford Park." This book is rollickingly entertaining. He is a wonderful writer. What a nice profile in the September 11 Times Magazine.
A Sheilah Graham Trilogy
The Rest of the Story
The Garden of Allah
Strangely, I found this book on the floor of the library and was hooked. It is the rags to riches story of Sheilah Graham and her very deep love for F. Scott Fitzgerald. I had read biographies of him and his wife, Zelda, but never knew much about Sheilah except that she was with him when he passed. As she rose, she came to know everyone - the Mitfords, etc. She reveals alcoholic and violent episodes in which Fitzgerald mistreats her. A sobering reality of what his alcoholism could really be like - not all fun and games and jumping in fountains. "The Rest of the Story" speaks for itself - she never really got over Fitzgerald. I read the "Garden of Allah" because this Hollywood locale is mentioned in so many other books. Started by Russian actress Alla Nazimova, it seemed that everyone who was anyone lived there. Some juicy stories.
Leave it to Psmith by P. G. Wodehouse
I am still working my way through all the Wodehouse books. There is a looong way to go. This book is the usual hilarious hysterical. Ordered it up from the library - requested a copy that was printed in 1927 on purpose. It had last been taken out in 1943. I love it!
When growing up, we had the enforced reading hour before we had to put the lights out. I remember that at first it was strenuous and laborious. Do we really have to read? But then as time went by the lights out order came way too quickly. This instilled in us a very great love of reading which I am so grateful for now.