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Blog category: Book Reviews

"The Enchanted April" by Elizabeth von Arnim

First published in 1922, The Enchanted April was a best-seller in both England and the United States. The plot centers around four women, all strangers, who escape the dismal British weather for a month-long retreat at San Salvatore, an Italian villa. Once there, the company of the other women along with the “wisteria and sunshine” bring each character to realize then overcome a central flaw in her life. Lotty has her nervous tendencies; Rose always puts her religious obligations before everything else; Mrs Fisher can’t reconcile her contemporary life with the past she so idolizes; and the beautiful Lady Caroline can’t figure out why everyone around her is so dreadfully dull. Continue reading .

"Ethan Frome" by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome is the story of a doomed love triangle between a man, his wife and their housekeeper. Given the social conventions of the time, Ethan feels he must stay, trapped in a loveless marriage, rather than pursue his true feelings. Supposedly, the most auto-biographical of all Wharton’s novels, her main character is a man torn between duty and love with disastrous results. He is a truly sympathetic character even though his choices are always wrong. Is this his fault or that of fate? Continue reading .

Review: "Elizabeth and Her German Garden" by Elizabeth von Arnim


One of the beauties of reading well-seasoned literature is that we modern women forget what life was like for women a hundred or more years ago. How easily we forget that having the liberty to choose one’s own activities is a relatively recent phenomenon for women. For Elizabeth, an upper class woman who was not enchanted by cooking and sewing, her passions for such “wasteful” activities as reading books and garden planning could only be fulfilled because of an indulgent husband, but even then, only then with ever-present feelings of guilt. Continue reading .

"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird is a modern American Classic and winner of a Pulitzer prize. With an upfront and direct personality and the innocence that is characteristic of children, Scout introduces us to Maycomb with all its qualities, injustices and idiosyncrasies. In her narrative, Scout is not always aware of the many layers of complications existing in the facts she describes, her innocence makes her somewhat naïve, but the incongruence and unfairness of the situation are not lost on the reader. Continue reading .

"The First Sir Percy" by Baroness Orczy

The First Sir Percy could be called The Laughing Cavalier, Part II because it takes up where the previous book leaves off in the highly addictive Scarlet Pimpernel series. The story teeters on the brink of disaster, as again, we wonder just who can we trust, and how in the devil is Diogenes going to get out of this trap, and again, should he? If you have read The Laughing Cavalier, don’t stop there. After all, you’ve already learned the Dutch, you know the characters, so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy The First Sir Percy. Continue reading .

"The Laughing Cavalier" by Baroness Orczy

The first of two prequels to The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Laughing Cavalier is set in Holland in 1623. It tells the story of Percy Blake, a foreign adventurer and ancestor of the Scarlet Pimpernel who goes by the name Diogenes. Unlike The Scarlet Pimpernel, Diogenes has not yet established himself as a man of sterling character or irreproachable moral integrity. Some of the fun of The Laughing Cavalier is that one is uncertain whether he will wind up in jail or on the scaffold, and whether he just might deserve such a fate. Continue reading .

Review: "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott


Today’s reader might find some aspects of the novel moralistic–however Alcott is never preachy. She broaches subjects such as etiquette, feminine behavior, and the roles of the parent, spouse and child in a happy home. These moral teachings can be used by the reader or disregarded, but the completely genuine way Alcott presents her subject matter makes it easy to digest. If you are open to the advice she is giving, Little Women makes for a wonderful self-help book for women and men of all ages. Continue reading .

"Whose Body?" by Dorothy Sayers

Meet Peter Wimsey, an English lord with a penchant for solving sordid crimes. Mervyn Bunter, Wimsey’s valet, plays Dr. Watson to Lord Peter’s skewed Sherlock. What makes this a unique detective novel is that before the crime can be solved, the investigators must decide if a crime has been committed and, more importantly, who is this dead man to begin with? And what is he doing in someone else’s bathtub wearing only a pince nez? Continue reading .

"The Professor's House" by Willa Cather

The Professor’s House by Willa Cather was first published in 1925. Split into three parts, the first and last take place in a small college town on Lake Michigan. These two parts tell the story of Professor St. Peter and the changing relationships within his family. The middle section is Tom Outland’s narrative about his adventures in the Southwest where we enter with him into a world of desert mesas and long hidden civilizations. Continue reading .

"Anne of the Island" by LM Montgomery

If the prior two books lacked romance, this one makes up for it. Anne and two college friends share a quaint house in Kingsport, and there is a constant stream of “beaus” coming through the door. One of the friends, Phillippa Gordon, is an excellent addition to the book. She is vain, but knows it, and that somehow makes her utter superficiality less annoying. Even she has her share of romance, happening upon it–as seems the theme of this novel–where she least expects to find it. Continue reading .

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