Those of you who follow my blog regularly—yes, both of you—might have noticed I’ve missed a week or two in posting something new. That’s because I’ve been in the Great Northwest—the damp and rainy Great Northwest—visiting family. Whenever I travel to Springfield, OR, one of my favorite activities is visiting my niece Amanda Bird’s Book Nest, which features “Fine Books, Good Reading.” Amy (family's name for her) has a wonderful selection of quality secondhand books and collectible volumes, and I always find way more books there than I can possibly afford to buy or find time to read.
On this trip, I narrowed my choices to two books, one of which was Maeve Binchy’s Minding Frankie. I agree with Kirkus Review’s assessment that Minding Frankie is “cheerful, read-by-the-fire comfort.” There is also plenty of laughing out loud. And I’m as much a fan of Binchy’s style as I am her content. The author is a genius at revealing characters through their actions. Talk about “show and don’t tell,” Binchy has the art mastered. In the past, several of my friends have suggested I read Binchy, but you know how it goes—so many good books, so little time. I never quite made it around to giving her a try. But the upside of rain and damp on a vacation is that it provides a lot of downtime--time to read. Now I’m hooked on Binchy and will be reading more of her work.
The second book I chose was Letters to Alice on first reading Jane Austen, written by Fay Weldon and published in 1983. While based on a fictional premise—Weldon isn’t really writing to her niece and, in fact, doesn’t even have a niece named Alice—this book is mainly non-fiction. In a collection of essays, Weldon shares her thoughts on writing and on reading literature—many works of great literature, not just Jane Austen’s. In a review in The London Times, Fiona McCarthy wrote, “...the belief that books can actually change us, have the power to improve us, animate this work...” If you are a Jane Austen devotee, an aspiring writer, or a bibliophile in general, I know you will enjoy her witty and insightful comments. Like Binchy, she also provides many laugh-out-loud moments. And you’re in luck. It can be ordered on Amazon!
I sat down to write this post, fully intending to grouse about how a blog is not a taskmaster, how I’m not going to be a slave to it, how I do have a life....in short, making excuses about why I haven’t blogged. But I enjoyed these books so much, I just had to share. Don't despair. The grousing will come later.
If you’ve read either of these authors, I’d love to read your input about them...kind of an on-line book club meeting!