Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Literary Wives #24!!

While I usually adjust the cover image size to something smaller, 
honestly, I believe this cover needs to be LARGE to better represent 
the LARGE person who was Ernest Hemingway, 
as well as all the people who loved and/or were obsessed with him.
Quite naturally, this listing includes the four women who actually married him,
all the men who were obsessed with him, all the women who slept with him, 
as well as all the others who were charmed by him.
And he was certainly a "charmer"...though in my opinion, he was quite the cad, 
particularly within his intimate relationships.

Be sure to check out the other LW cohosts' reviews:

Naomi of Consumed by Ink

Kay of whatmeread
Emily of The Bookshelf of Emily J.
Ariel of One Little Library

Here is my Literary Wives page listing all the past reads/reviews, as well as the cohosts who are currently on hiatus.

This is an online book discussion group that analyzes books with regard to the following question: 

What does this book say about wives or about the experience of being a wife?
First a review and then answering the question...

Having read and reviewed The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, I have a bit of familiarity with Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley/"Hash", and his second wife, Pauline/"Fife." However, Wood takes us into different territory in this novel, taking the reader into Hadley's head a bit more regarding her struggle with a realization that her husband is not only sleeping with her BFF, but is most likely in love with her, and possibly planning to make her 'Mrs. Hemingway #2.' 
[She] can feel Fife's ache for Ernest as strongly as if it were in her own body. (30)
I just cannot imagine being put in that situation. ๐Ÿ˜ž I also gained a better understanding of Hadley's mindset at the point in time that she first met Ernest. Her father had committed suicide during her youth, and she had spent a year recovering from a broken back.
She was six years old. Wheeled around for months in a stroller to keep her spine still, 
she felt as if she had been in a stroller like that all of her life. 
Her whole life spent in the killing blandness of St. Louis! 
Then Ernest had arrived, at a party one night in Chicago, 
unexpected, uninvited, and the world had ripped open with its riches. (27)
I could relate to her willingness to let loose and try something new and exciting in her life following the death of her mother after serving as her constant caretaker for months.  

Hadley considered herself a spinster at age 27 and never felt as if she 'fit in' with the "Lost Generation" of expats in Paris in the 1920's. A group of them would visit periodically during their son, Bumby's quarantine and recovery from whooping cough:
Hadley would watch them until they were out of sight: imagining the exquisite conversations back in Villa America, where one dressed for dinner and did not always undress in one's own bed. (32)
Yuck! Definitely not my kind of people! While considering Sara and Gerald Murphy:
...Hadley has always preferred Gerald. Ernest thinks him a poseur, 
but it's precisely this that appeals to her. Both she and Gerald seem miscast for their roles, 
while the others are pitch-perfect, delivering their lines pat. 
He is a mortal, like her, among the gods. (65)

Hadley mistakenly believes that inviting Fife to spend the summer with them will somehow force Ernest to choose to remain faithful to her. I had to chuckle at this:
...when Mr. and Mrs. Hemingway made love that night, Hadley made sure to scream out 
as loudly as she could, and the next morning over a breakfast of sherry and toast, 
Ernest's mistress was quieter than usual. (41)
However, I could never play such games... And did you notice? Sherry. For BREAKFAST! I venture to say the vast majority of these people were alcoholics, just to varying degrees. Good thing they employed caregivers for their children! At one point, one of the women calls Scott (F. Scott Fitzgerald) "a selfish infant who belongs in a kindergarten" and 
             Hadley thinks to herself, children are more civilized than this gang on the sauce. (77)

And never was there to be any admission of hard work, as in discussing the release of Ernest's book, The Sun:
"The Sun is going to make you a star, Ernest."
"Of course it is," Hadley says, looking over at her husband. 
"It's the best thing he's ever done. And he's worked so hard at it."
No one speaks. Ah yes, she has forgotten that success should come effortlessly or not at all. 
It's always got to be playtime. Cocktail hour. As if life were always a mooning adolescence or always blindingly fun. Hard work was for other people. (69)
These people really did believe in deluding themselves, if necessary... I believe Hadley was, by nature, much too realistic and pragmatic to truly fit in with them... She obviously 'played the game,' but I believe she really never did quite feel comfortable with these people. 

Fife states that in her sons' first few years of life they had practically been raised by their nursemaid and her sister, Jinny, while she, Fife, their MOTHER, accompanied Ernest wherever he wanted to go. 
She could manage being away from her sons, but not her husband. (114)
This reminded me of a conversation I recently had with a total stranger regarding one of my favorite authors whom I've met, Ayalet Waldman. This woman informed me Waldman had caused a shitstorm on Oprah by authoring a 2005 New York times article in which she stated "I love my husband more than I love my children." I guess some people are reacting very negatively to this, we both agreed that her point is well taken, it is your spouse/partner with whom you must maintain a relationship long after the children are adults and (hopefully) living their own lives. This is demonstrating the fact that there are many types of "love," and individuals love different people in different ways, and it is possible to love both your partner and your children without making one of these two your sole focus. (Though as a former full-time stay-at-home mother, I would say that your children MUST, by definition, be your highest priority, particularly during the infant/toddler stages. Unless you have the financial resources and choose to hire others to care for them.)

Fife (who does become the second Mrs. Ernest Hemingway, notes that Miss Gellhorn (Martha) is no Miss Mason (Jane). Fife knows that Ernest was traveling to Cuba to see Jane, but never felt threatened by her:
Ernest always liked his women happy and healthy, and the affair--if that is what it had been--
seemed to end just as soon as it had begun. (126) 
Jane, the poor and obviously deluded woman, suffered a broken spine as a result of jumping off a balcony following an argument with Ernest! Geeminy! 
It was as if Hadley had never felt that Ernest was hers;
whereas Fife has never felt Ernest was ever anybody else's. (136-137)
I guess this rather fits in with the power/powerlessness within a relationship. It was much easier for Fife in many ways to believe she had more power: she was independently wealthy, she was extremely confident and gregarious, and she was much more of an adventure-seeker than Hadley. Though as much as Fife wanted to believe he was all hers and only hers...that isn't how it played out in the end. In fact, that's not how it played out for any of the first three wives. 

And now for the Literary Wives question: 
What does this book say about wives or about the experience of being a wife?

I have always felt that if someone cheats on their spouse, the likelihood is that they will never choose to remain faithful to any one partner on a long-term basis...at least not for the 'long haul.' 'Once a cheater, always a cheater,' is the phrase that came to mind when Fife was considering her betrayal of Hadley and their own relationship as BFFs. But discounting her involvement with Ernest, especially while he was married to Hadley, as "something that just happened" is pure bullshit, in my opinion. I realize my inability to believe such a rationale is a direct result of my own personal experience. I had just completed my bachelor's degree after returning to college full-time once my children were in school. My ex-husband shocked me by stating that he was aware I would now be working among other professionals and eventually would meet another man, 'fall in love,' and want a divorce from him. I was momentarily dumbfounded. Firstly, I had no idea he lacked confidence to this degree, and I felt sympathy for him. Secondly, I was shocked that he didn't realize it was a "choice" we each made every day whether to allow others to believe we were 'available' or not. Last, but by no means least, I asked him if he honestly believed I had never been around any other males who appealed to me, or whom I found interesting, 'cause I most certainly had, but I made certain in my interactions with them, there was no misunderstanding as to whether I considered myself to be 'married,' which to me meant I was in a truly monogamous relationship (at least from my end) and faithful to only one man--in other words, I was NOT available!! And I left no doubt in anybody else's mind... To me, an individual must purposefully decide to engage in a relationship. I cannot conceive of my participation in an extramarital affair being 'out of my control.'      

Hadley, Ernest, and Fife are out on the raft, swimming and diving, and Hadley swims to shore. Immediately, Fife asks Ernest to go up on the rocks with her, but he refuses.
Ernest, evidently, could take her or leave her. She, on the other hand, wanted him always.
He had once told her that love was never about the powerful and powerless. 
But Fife can't think of what else might constitute a marriage. (112)
This really made me think. I do believe much of a marriage can honestly be determined by the sense of 'power' each partner may or may not believe they hold within the relationship. There are many variables that can contribute to a sense of power/powerlessness: economics/finances, manipulation and emotional control, aggression/violence, sexual satisfaction. A friend of ours was describing a date he had with a woman who insisted on paying her own way--it really threw him off and as a result, he decided he didn't like her. My advice to him? "Get over it." I would personally never allow or expect another person to 'pay my way' on dates, believing that, in effect, that can serve as a concession of power, recognizing the 'paying' person has some sense of 'control' or 'power' over you and/or the relationship. It sets a bad precedent with respect to a future relationship with that person, in my opinion. 

To Fife, it seems that "theft, possession, [and] recompense" are the "irreducible components of marriage." These thoughts came to her as she considered the fact of Ernest's continuing affair with Martha Gellhorn as her possible "undoing." Even Hadley noted that Ernest seemingly displayed "two personalities" as if he were actually "two different men." If loyalty is a characteristic of being a 'wife,' Fife certainly excels in that department: I would go so far as to say her attempt to retain Ernest bordered on obsession. 
"I won't divorce you, Ernest. Not for a long time, if that's what you're hoping."...
Ernest makes a grab for her, and Fife--not quite consciously--socks him on the jaw.
The shock of it--because it can't be the power--makes him stumble into the surf.
"You chickenshit coward!" she screams. "I could kill you!"
And for a moment she thinks she might just take his neck and hold it under the surf. 
She would rather kill him than have him be the possession of a woman 
who is nowhere near her equal.
This is why her love is better than Hadley's, better than Martha's.
No one, ever, will love him like this: enough to see his brain smashed into rock or 
his lungs fill with brine.... "You bastard," she says, "you don't even know what you've lost." (160)
I'm fairly certain Fife is correct. I don't believe Ernest ever realized what all he had 'lost' by cheating on his wives. And she is definitely proof just how thin the line between love and hate can be... Though I believe Ernest did feel shameful and guilty about Hadley...his first wife.

Martha was his third wife for 5 years, with this marriage ending in much the same way as the first two had...Ernest had already found wife #4! As Martha notes:
"I don't understand you. You say ou can't bear to lose me, 
but all the while you're writing poems to another woman?"
Ernest looks at her beseechingly but says nothing... 
"Mary who?"
"And who is this Mary Welsh? Is she your lover? Your mistress? Your next wife?"
Ernest looks about to say something but doesn't reply.
Martha thinks how typical all of this is of him: he wants his wife, 
he wants his mistress, he wants everything he can get. 
He is not so much greedy for women as blind to what he thinks he needs and so he grabs 
at everything. Wives and wives and wives--Ernest doesn't need a wife; he needs a mother! (210)
 And Martha is so correct...Mary will indeed become Ernest's fourth and last wife, before he takes his own life. I don't have much knowledge of Ernest's childhood, but I can't believe he was a child who felt secure in his life. That certainly might help explain his inability to remain faithful. As Martha notes...
Between divorcing his ex-wife and marrying her he'd left thirteen days; 
it seemed he was a man who couldn't bear being alone. (219)
I believe that is the truth. 
This big strapping man stomping about the city--and yet he couldn't seem to spend a week, 
a day, even an hour on his own. (219)

Martha almost admires him: what a feat,...to want to marry every woman he fucks.
He is so good at being in love that Ernest Hemingway makes a rotten husband. (220)
This made me laugh! How ironic, yet it did seem to be the truth of Ernest's life and loves. Adding to the irony, Martha actually meets with Mary and discovers they have much more in common than just an attraction/love for Ernest:
They walk down the Elysees together, Mrs. Hemingway and Mr. Hemingway's mistress...
Paris is where this sort of thing happens to Ernest, where women knit together his fate. 
He thinks he is the one making all the choices...He is not." (230)

Fife notes:
What a pull he has! What a magnetism! Women jump off balconies and follow him into wars.
Women turn their eyes from an affair, 
because a marriage of three is better than a woman alone. (126)
It seems this is the conundrum faced by virtually each of Ernest's wives... Yikes! That's all I have to say. I cannot imagine putting up with infidelity. And actually...I didn't...

As Wood states in the Afterword:
Mary Welsh [Mrs. Hemingway #4] said being loved by Hemingway was like 
being in a beam of light--and I imagine when that beam was turned off, 
it must have been a very heavy darkness indeed. (Afterword, 4)
Indeed, it did seem as if it was unbearable for each of them when that beam was no longer shining on them. 

Again, in the Afterword, I believe Wood summed up Ernest...
Norman Mailer wrote that Hemingway "carried a weight of anxiety within him...
which would have suffocated any man smaller than him." 
Reading about the depression and paranoia that accompanied his suicide moved me, 
and I think a good deal of human compassion makes you 
understand his behavior while refusing to excuse it. (Afterword, 7) 
I am fascinated by the Lost Generation and Hemingway specifically. He is definitely a complex and flawed personality...and I'm just glad I was not around to possibly be drawn in by his 'larger than life' persona.

I enjoyed Wood's book and getting to know a bit more about 
the Mrs. Hemingways #3 and #4.
I really need to make time to read some of the books he wrote! 
Have you read any of his books?
Have you read The Paris Wife or this one?

Join us for our next Literary Wives review 
on Monday, February 6: 
The Wife by Meg Wolitzer.

I have never read a Meg Wolitzer book
 and am looking forward to this one!

Happy Reading

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Literary Wives #25

Though this review was almost completed on  
Monday, February 6, I was unable to get it finished 
and posted until almost a whole week later. 
Considering my battle with disconnectedness 
and depression lately, 
I am proud to have (1) read the book by the due date, 
and (2) reviewed the book, even if later than planned.
Now, hopefully, tomorrow I'll have finally completed 
and posted my review of the 
Literary Wives #24 read as well! 
(That didn't happen yet either!) ๐Ÿ˜ฉ
That is no reflection of my enjoyment of Mrs. Hemingway 
by Naomi Wood, 'cause I found it fascinating!
But back to LW #25! 

This is the first Meg Wolitzer book I have read...
but I certainly do not plan for it to be my last! 
I always felt that I would like her books, 
and if this one is any indication, 
I was correct! 

And a perfect selection to discuss the role and meaning of "wife"! 
This is what we do in the 
Literary Wives Online Book Discussion Group! 

Make sure you check out the other Literary Wives cohosts' reviews:

Emily of The Bookshelf of Emily J
Naomi of Consumed by Ink
Kay of whatmeread
I believe Ariel of One Little Library and Kate of Kate Rae Davis took a break on this one! 

I read books like this about women who are totally controlled by their husbands and immediately start thinking about how I would NEVER allow myself to be manipulated and exploited in such a way...and then I get real. ๐Ÿ˜ I remember that I myself stayed in a marriage for 12 more years after I realized I was totally unhappy! Ah, as much as I would like to think I would NEVER allow myself to be put in some of these marriage situations, then I realize I was in a marriage situation I would have NEVER imagined myself to be in...let alone remain in...for so long. So my point is that I guess we never really know for sure in which situations we may find ourselves...or how we may react, until we're there! I am also reminded of another book I just finished reading, An Untamed State by Roxane Gay. I'm sure Mireille never imagined she would ever be accosted in such ways, let alone that she could survive such travails, but she did... Though Joan's situation is much different, she is still in a situation she would have never imagined for herself. And she somehow copes.

As a Smith college student in English 202--Elements of Creative Writing class, Joan and 11 other students wait for the instructor to arrive...and finally, 17 minutes after the class period was to begin, he does, explaining that his wife had just given birth to their first child. Joan's imagination immediately takes flight...
I imagined him ten years old, trapped inside the cylinder of an iron lung, 
lying with only his head sticking out, while a kindly nurse read to him from Oliver Twist. 
The image was pitiful, made me almost want to cry for the poor boy whom 
I was starting to confuse, in my mind, with the character of Oliver Twist himself. 
I felt an uncomplicated love for Professor Castleman, and even a kind of love for 
his wife and tiny baby, the three points that made up this delicate Castleman constellation. (45)
Speaking of constellations...does this 19-year-old girl have an imagination, or what?!? Yet, somehow Joan believes her life only begins once she has an altercation with "Mrs. Castleman" months later...seems Carol wasn't all too keen on her husband having sex with "the babysitter"/Joan. And, amazingly, 'walnuts' are one of the connective themes throughout the first 75 pages of the book! I admit it was about at this point that I became a tiny bit bored, but it definitely picked up afterward! I felt rewarded for having persevered beyond those first 75 pages!

I liked the way Wolitzer takes us back and forth from Helsinki to flashbacks of Joan and Joe and their life together, and though we don't get much detail about their children, I think we get enough. Their only son and youngest child, David, is actually a rather troubled soul who has never seemed to find himself. Though we discover much later that David more than 'suspects' the truth of his mother and father's relationship, especially with regard to work/writing, and it rattles him to his core. 
But still we loved him. We loved them all, Joe and I, though not quite together. 
The children received two separate channels of love, one from me, a reasonably steady flow,
and one from their father whenever he thought of it, whenever he could manage 
to turn away from himself. He was distracted so much of the time, caught up in the details 
of his professional life and all the accolades that kept accumulating like inches of snowfall.
The children and I simply watched as Joe's career grew and grew. (77)
Though Joan and Joe both lie to their children to the bitter end, I'm sure the undercurrent of lies and deceit were palpable in their household. How could they not be? I could much better understand Joe's ability to seemingly never truly "connect" with anyone on a deeper level. It definitely felt as if his relationships were all fairly shallow. And that last line of this quote...makes me grit my teeth now that I've read the whole book and know the truth! 

Joe and Joan have been married over 40 years when he finally wins a large international literary prize, the Helsinki Prize, which Wolitzer describes as somewhat less than the Pulitzer or Nobel, but up there, definitely a recognition pinnacle for his lifelong contribution to literature. Flying to Helsinki, Joan muses about her husband:
He was Joseph Castleman, 
one of those men who own the world. 
You know the type I mean...They own everything...
There are many varieties of this kind of man:
Joe was the writer version, a short, wound-up, 
slack-bellied novelist who almost never slept, 
who loved to consume runny cheeses and whiskey and wine, all of which he used as a vessel 
to carry the pills that kept his blood lipids from congealing like yesterday's pan drippings, 
who was as entertaining as anyone I have ever known, who had no idea of how to 
take care of himself or anyone else, and who derived much of his style from 
The Dylan Thomas Handbook of Personal Hygiene and Etiquette. (11)
They are in their 60's and suddenly, Joan realizes that she is ending this marriage. She'll get through this event in Helsinki, but she wants to start life on her own afterward. No more Joe in her daily life. I could relate to her feelings, even before I knew the real truth of their relationship...and the main source of her underlying resentment.

Joe represented an anomaly among writers for his time, 
as his friend Harry, a poet, states:
"You mix in all this feminism, if you want to call it that--
even though it always makes me think of dykes with chain saws. 
You're an original, Joe! A great writer who isn't a total prick. 
You, you're fifty percent prick, fifty percent pussy." (25)
As I reread this sentence now, it is much more meaningful 
to me, having read the book all the way through! If only 
you knew the truth, Harry...if only! ๐Ÿ˜ฒ And no wonder 
Joe absolutely refused poor Nathaniel Bone's offer to 
write an authorized biography of the man...again, 
as I finished the book I could understand the
impossibility of such a project.

And for the Literary Wives question: 
What does this book say about wives or about the experience of being a wife?
Joan freely admits to generally drinking too much at these award dinners/events, and once when the children are a bit older and accompany them to one of these events, she and one of her daughters are outside the facility, Joan apologizing to her daughter, when the girl says,
"If you're so miserable,...then why don't you leave him, Mom?"

Oh, my darling girl, I might have said, what a good question. 
In her worldview, bad marriaes were simply terminated, like unwanted pregnancies. 
She knew nothing about this subculture of women who stayed, women who couldn't logically explain their allegiances, who held tight because it was the thing they felt most comfortable doing,
                          the thing they actually liked. (82)
Although I felt this was definitely a greatly over-simplified vision of Joan's life as Joe's wife. I believe their marriage/relationship was much more complex than most, And there is a certain truth to the fact that some women just STAY! What may seem so obvious to outsiders, may never be the way the "wife" understands her relationship.  

There are glimpses of the prejudice that still existed about women writers, and especially 'successful' women, whom all these white males believed to be femi-Nazis, it would seem. Several times Joan recalls men verifying that "she wasn't one of them, was she?" Then there was the night she was the only female among a group of white males, and one of the editors from the company where she was currently working as a mere "editor's assistant" just reached out and "very lightly stroked the soft skin of [her] forearm with his fingers." Her response was to quickly jerk away and say, "Don't!" His reply? "Sorry...It was just irresistible."
"Hey, Bob," said Joe in a vague and muzzled voice. "Did you see the sign? 'No touching.'" 
I knew then that Joe had been made aware for the first time what it might feel like to sit outnumbered among the mutterings of men. It was as though he'd been given a rare glimpse 
into what a woman felt and thought. (105)
Though I don't know that it changed him much overall.. And really, I felt this could have been much more a comment regarding 'ownership' of a woman between males, rather than a defense of Joan as a person...
I had no idea who could love a show-off woman writer. 
What sort of man would stay with her and not be threatened by 
her excesses, her rage, her spirit, her skill? (132)
But...isn't this exactly what a "wife" endured from these temperamental male writers? And really, Joe wasn't who he was pretending to be anyway...

Joan WAS my kind of woman in some ways. She didn't shy away from talking with the men. In musing over the fact that most woman wanted to leave after an event, but not so the men...
What do women so often want to go and men want to stay? 
If you leave, then you can preserve yourself better. 
But if you stay, then essentially you're saying: 
I'm immortal, I don't need to sleep or rest or eat or take a breath. (121)
Ah, yes, the need to be 'invincible.' Nothing can permeate or affect you...'cause you're a man...and you are tough!! This reminded me of Hadley's comment regarding Ernest in Naomi Wood's Mrs. Hemingway; they must always perpetrate a pretense of never having really to work at writing/creating! Joan continues: 
Joe wanted me beside him. He needed me there with him before a reading, 
and during it, and after it was over. (121)
Again, after having read the book, this statement held a much deeper meaning! Yes, I can imagine he did want her there, for all of that...

Joan had not only reached a point of needing to end this sham of a 'marriage,' but she had also decided to meet with Nathaniel Bone and give him details regarding Joe that he could use to write about the man. I wonder so often in the aftermath of having read this book if she really would have betrayed Joe in that way. But we will never know. She certainly refused to do so after his death. I admit I wondered how much of her motivation to retain the pretense of authorship was due to the attitudes of others toward 'women writers,' and how much was due to loyalty. And honestly, would society have believed her overall? Especially once Joe was no longer alive to confirm or deny?

Everyone knows how women soldier on, how women dream up blueprints, recipes, 
ideas for a better world, and then sometimes lose them on the way to the crib 
in the middle of the night, on the way to Stop & Shop, or the bath. 
They lose them on the way to greasing the path on which their husband and children 
will ride serenely through life. (183)
Women can be just as powerful and creative, but they're often mired down in the daily duties and routines, especially with regard to child-rearing, that most men, at least in the past, have totally avoided. (I feel as if this is finally changing for the better, however!) This is reminiscent of a recent conversation I had with a friend. I was raised in a household of women, and when young just assumed that it was males (white ones, of course!) who truly made all the decisions and made the 'world run,' so to speak. I had definitely bought into the patriarchal society myths that males were all powerful. (Well, so had my mother...though she was a divorced single parent! The irony...) Then I raised three sons and lived with them and my first husband/their biological father for 22 years...and realized women were actually the organizers and achievers overall. The majority of men lack those skills, in my opinion...it was quite eye-opening for me! And I purposefully tried my best to raise my sons to be more androgynous than their father and learn some of these more 'female' skills and characteristics. I firmly believe all children should be raised with the same expectations, be they 'male' or 'female.' 

As Joan eventually states, 
Everyone needs a wife; even wives need wives. Wives tend, they hover. 
Their ears are twin sensitive instruments picking up the slightest scrape of dissatisfaction. 
Wives bring broth, we bring paper clips, we bring ourselves and our pliant bodies. 
We know just what to say to the men who for some reason have a great deal of trouble 
taking consistent care of themselves or anyone else.
"Listen," we say, "Everything will be okay."
And then, as if our lives depend on it, we make sure it is. (184)
I think this has been true for ever and ever. Though, as I watch my own children in their relationships, they are not 'typical males' for the most part. I contend that much of that is due to "expectations," both by their parent(s), spouses, and of society overall. I do believe men are expected to be capable of 'female' characteristics now much more so than in the past. And this is a good thing. Just as females should be taught it's okay to be competitive and strong. Each child should be raised to fully realize her/his potential! 

In speaking of Joe's infidelity:
I ignored it whenever I could. It never occurred to me to say, 
Okay, here's your part of the deal: Control yourself.
...But they can't, these men, can they? Or can they, and we simply don't require them to? (205)
Ah, and there is the age-old question. Though I do believe that overall there is more pressure on males to remain faithful to their spouses, it is the spouse who must set the expectation and stick to it, in my humble opinion, at least! As I have mentioned before, this is a major requirement for me in an intimate relationship. If I'm faithful, you should be, too. And frankly, I've never had a problem with that myself. It is a choice, in my opinion. 

I'd been a good wife, most of the time. Joe had been comfortable and safe and surrounded...
It wasn't fair of course, it had never been fair, right from the beginning. 
Fairness wasn't what I'd wanted. (213)
As Joan informs Nathaniel, the potential biographer:
"Joe was a wonderful writer," I said. "And I will always miss him." (219)

Joan reminded me of Anne Morrow Lindbergh in Benjamin's The Aviator's Wife
in that they were both long-suffering wives... 
There have been others, too. What is it about many females? 
I have read various theories, the one that makes the most sense to me is that females 
have typically been raised to be "nurturers," who are not necessarily to defend themselves.
Although I know a few males who suffer abuse in their relationships and they stay...
In my opinion, this is something that should stop. It is not healthy. 

Be sure to join us on Monday, April 3rd for our reviews and discussion of 
Therese Fowler's Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald!!
I admit I am fascinated with this time period and these writers: 
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, etc.

Happy Reading

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday for August 9th!

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic is open-ended. 
I am choosing to follow-up on the topic from July 5th: 
The Top Ten Books I Enjoyed 
That Have Under 2000 Ratings on Goodreads
I'm sure most of you are aware that 
this weekly meme is hosted by 
But, just in case you didn't already 
know that, now you do! :)
I am excited to revisit this topic 
since my July 5th posting consisted
exclusively of books from 
series with which I am enamored! 
There were another 20+ books 
as well!

On to another 10 of that longer list!

A White Wind Blew by James Markert
Definitely one of the best books I have ever read, 
particularly within one of my absolute favorite genres, 
historical fiction! And there is also mystery/suspense involved! 
You can see a partial list of the historical fiction books 
I have read hereHow can I best describe this book? 
It's virtually impossible because it is so very unique, IMHO! 
I can tell you that the Borders Book Club read it and 
each member RAVED about it. We also very much appreciated 
Mr. Markert taking time to speak with us during our discussion! 
I can tell you that a person I know who mostly just reads history read the copy I donated to our local library and LOVED it! She was telling everybody how good she thought it was! Rarely do I unreservedly recommend a book to 
virtually anyone and everyone, but this is one of those. 
And it needs to get more press than it has in the past, IMHO! 
I can tell you that this is one of the rare books I would gladly reread 
in the very near future...if only there was more reading time! :) 
My rereads are typically books I haven't read for DECADES, 
not just within the past 5-10 years. 
[This is what happens when you get "wiser," you can remember experiences 
from decades ago! :) Which I actually think is rather remarkable!]
Oh, my gosh! Again, simply one of the best books I have ever read! 
I met Ritter and became aware of this book through the 
Christamore House Guild Book and Author Benefit in 2015. 
(If you're ever going to be in Indianapolis in April, attend this event, 
if at all possible. It is unique and definitely worth the time and money, the latter of which goes to a very good cause--supporting 
scholarships for students with limited financial resources!) 
I admire Ritter in so many ways, not the least of which is that he chose to self-publish, thereby retaining total control of the publication of his text. I am sometimes a bit leery about self-published books 
(having been burned by a couple), this one is definitely top-notch! 
Ritter spent his youth in Indianapolis and this book is very very loosely based upon 
some of his experiences and people from his younger years, including his family. 

This is one I simply pulled off the shelf while working at Borders! 
And, it contains elements of both of my favorite genres, 
historical fiction AND mystery! :) I feel that Martin's writing style 
is very similar to Dan Brown's, and that must be a good thing, 
in my book! (Pun intended!) :) 
I was fascinated by the plot as well as the historical details 
masterfully interwoven throughout...

I am preparing to reread this for Bex's Re-Readathon #4 
(August 10-21) that begins tomorrow! 
And...Andrea has agreed to complete an author interview 
which will be posted here! And...she has a new release out! 
The Silence of Stone! It is available for purchase from 
Books-A-Million, Book Depository, Wordery, IndieBound, and 
Barnes and Noble. (I'm sure it's also available on Amazon, 
but you're on your own with that vendor!)
You can hear her speak of her experience in Afghanistan here. (Yes, she lived there!) 
I always recommend this book as an alternative or companion read to The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. It is not that I disliked The Kite Runner, quite the contrary, however, I found it so very intense and rather depressing. Overall, I prefer this publication mainly because I feel as if people outside Afghanistan may be better able to relate to the ex-pat characters, and thereby also obtain a bit more personalized understanding or at least exposure to Islam and the Afghan culture. If I have time I will also re-read Aphrodite's War, her second book, which has remained with me in detail over the past four years! 

As I re-read, 
I will post reviews 
and provide 
updated links!

I'm certain I would have never read this book had it not been 
selected as a Fiction Expert read for Borders. 
I was very glad to have read it. 
Certain images and the overall plot certainly remain 
lodged in my mind these 6 years later! That says something! Something good! Geye is a master at using the environment as a character in and of itself. The lakeshore landscape of northern Minnesota emphasized aspects of the story: 
loneliness, isolation, solitude, 
returning to nature.
Though many aspects of human life were explored: fertility, death, the "right to die," 
and all those wonderful (*cough cough*) 
"family relationships"! 
At the time I read somewhere that this 
book qualified as "chick lit" for guys. 
I have no idea about that, but I do know 
that I personally found it be a powerful read, especially for a debut! 
He has had two other books released 
since this one: 
The Lighthouse Road in 2012 
and Wintering in July 2016. 
Both of these are on my TBR listing! 

This is a bit of a diversion...
into juvenile literature, but I do so enjoy reading "kid's lit"
The story of Prairie is so very poignant! 
I don't know how anyone could resist rooting for her!

A Lost Wife's Tale: A Novel by Marion McGilvary
Sadly, it seems Miss McGilvary is no 
longer writing/publishing! :( 
I felt this was an excellent debut novel! 
Ironically, just as Edith believes she has 
hidden her past, it comes right up and punches her!
I didn't believe Edith quite deserved the bad treatment she received, 
though that would be a very difficult thing to forgive...

The Midnight Dog of the Repo Man (introductory e-short story) 
I read the short story first and was glad I had. 
I liked having that introduction to 
these characters, Ruddy and Jake. 
I admit that after receiving an email from 
Mr. Cameron, asking if I would 
read and review this book, 
when I saw the cover my reaction 
was kinda "meh"... 
Although I have adored every one of 
his publications I have read, 
so that was the motivation for me to continue onward, reading and reviewing it! Some of the raucous humor 
in this book reminded me of 
Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series
(And that's some high praise, coming from me! lol) 
And I am thrilled that the promised sequel, Repo Madness
is due to be released August 23 2016! YES!!!

Emory's Gift by W. Bruce Cameron
I'm uncertain if I've ever read a book which better depicted
an adolescent--so much hesitation,
so little confidence, so "clueless" at times!
This one gives you so very much to ponder...
And, of course, don't forget about LOVE:
first loves and girlfriends, loving/"romantic" relationships
later in life, and just how committed/connected we remain 
to those we've lost...and have we really "lost" them?
Will we have the opportunity to reconnect with them 
in the future? In this lifetime? In another lifetime? 
Ahhh...the possibilities are endless...
Thank you for taking the risk to write this story, Mr. Cameron!
Everyone in our book club truly enjoyed this book!

The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell

I won a free copy of this book through Goodreads. 

As I told my book club members about it, they decided 
they wanted to read it, too, so we did! 
Each member really enjoyed it and it prompted 
much valuable discussion: ecological issues 
and climate change, love between humans and 
animal companions, and impetuous actions 
that end up providing such benefits!
Though we all cried!

I am struggling to re-enter the world of blogging!
It seems that my time becomes more and more limited, 
or perhaps I am just so much more enamored with reading that I find it 
increasingly difficult to publish on the blog...
I am currently helping at an information desk in the lobby of our building on campus,
so brought my laptop so I can access the Registrar's website, 
faculty/staff directory, etc., in helping guide students,
then thought I should access the blog and see what I might be able to finish and publish
during the lag time between students.
(Doesn't that make you feel oh, so much more productive?!?)

Happy reading