So Long September

What an absolutely bonkers month. September was…How to describe September? The family had a reunion of sorts. The island suffered its fifth shock of the season with a quadruple murder. Running was another head-scratcher as I officially resumed physically therapy for my twisted hips. But. But, But! I was able to log over 30 miles. Nowhere near the 70+ I wanted, but it’s something. At least I haven’t stopped entirely. And the reading? Here are the books:


  • Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (AB/print)
  • The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman
  • Burton And Speke by William Harrison (fictionalized history/historical fiction…whatever)
  • My Dream of You by Naola O’Faolain (AB/print)


  • O Jerusalem! by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre – Confessional: didn’t quite get all the way through this)
  • Everybody was so Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy, a Lost Generation Love Story by Amanda Vaill
  • Living Well is the Best Revenge by Calvin Tomkins

Series continuations:

  • Passions Spin the Plot by Vardis Fisher
  • Henry James: the Treacherous Years (1895 – 1901) by Leon Edel

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Boat Runner by Devin Murphy (fiction!)

Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax

Gilman, Dorothy. The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax. New York: Fawcett Books, 1966.

Reason read: September 10th is National Grandparents Day. In an odd twist of ironies, I am connected to someone who just killed his grandparents this weekend. I am in a state of shock.

Mrs. Pollifax is a bored, retired widow looking for excitement. So, what does she do? She takes a trip to Washington D.C. and inserts herself as a spy for the CIA. It’s really quite simple. They need an unassuming, nondescript individual to pick up a package in Mexico City and Mrs. Pollifax has nothing better to do but volunteer. What starts off as an innocent vacation turns dramatic when the package isn’t there and Mrs. Pollifax goes missing. It’s a hard-to-believe tale but one thing is for sure, Mrs. Pollifax is definitely unexpected. You will fall in love with her immediately.

Author fact: Gilman died on my birthday at the age of 88 years old.

Book trivia: Each installment of the The Mrs. Pollifax series takes place in a different foreign country. The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax takes place in Mexico City, Mexico and an unknown location in Albania.

Nancy said: if you are planning a trip to Albania the perfect accompaniment for the trip is The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax (p 12).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the ever so simple chapter called, what else? “Albania” (p 12).

Edward Lear in Albania

Lear, Edward. Edward Lear in Albania: journals of a landscape painter in the Balkans. London: I.B. Tauris, 2008.

Edward Lear is such a great writer in addition to being an artist. I thoroughly enjoyed his journey through the Balkans. Each chapter begins with an outline, as if Lear didn’t want to forget a single thing. His entries are so descriptive and vibrant it’s hard to imagine that he would forgot a single detail.
At every stop along the journey Lear would take a hike to a picturesque location so that he might draw the landscape. He attracted plenty of attention and was sometimes accused of evoking the devil with his art. (It was a sign of evil to draw.) He was constantly getting himself into trouble. For example, one time he drew portraits of two brothers. Simply by mistake he had drawn one brother’s portrait larger than the other. He ended up offending them both. Like any good artist he was continually worried about losing the light and would often set out at daybreak to capture the landscape. While his art is amazing so is his journal. He manages to illustrate not only the landscape but the cultures of the community as well. Every chapter is filled with Lear’s good humor as well. For example, face washing in public was seen as “a species of water-worship” as Lear put it.
At the end of November Lear aborted his travels in the Balkans to accompany a friend around Cairo, Mount Sinai and Palestine. He returned to the Balkans to “complete his tour of Albania in April.

Best lines ever: “Yet it is a great charm of Turkish character that they never stare of wonder at anything…I am satisfied that if you chose to take your tea while suspended by your feet from the ceiling, not a word would be said, or a sign of amazement betrayed” (p 10), “The certainty of night rest is not among the good things of Akhidha; in the small cell I inhabit, a constant clawing and squalling of cats on one side of my pillow, and quacking of dicks on the other, is not favourable to sleep” (p 33),

Confession: right off the bat I was hit by confusion. In Book Lust To Go Nancy Pearl says she thought this Edward Lear was the nonsensical poet and “…It took me a minute to realize that there must have been two Edward Lears, and this was the one I was unfamiliar with” (p 13). What she meant to say was there were two sides to Edward Lear and she was unfamiliar with the painter side of Edward Lear because, according to the preface of Edward Lear in Albania, written by Vivian Noakes, the Edward Lear who wrote nonsensical poetry was also the Edward Lear who was an accomplished ornithological illustrator and Albanian landscape painter.

Reason read: November is a decent time to visit Albania, if you can.

Author fact: Edward Lear captured the imagination of Natalie Merchant and she set some of his lesser known works to music.

Book trivia: Not many libraries in my area have this book. My copy traveled from Bates College.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust To Go in the chapter called simply “Albania” (p 13).

November ’12 is…

November is Thanksgiving. My mom’s birthday. A wedding somewhere out there. The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder. Soon it will be time to crank up the woodstove. November is also a football game (Go Pats!) and maybe some music. It promises to be a good month for books, too. I have a couple of really short ones to buzz through:

  • Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, Vol 2. by Giorgio Vasari ~ continuing the series started in October in honor of art month. As with Vol.1 I won’t read any bio that has a mistake in it.
  • I’m excited about this volume because Da Vinci is in it.

  • The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris by Chris Ewan ~ a continuation of the series started in October to honor the Amsterdam marathon. This should be a really quick read.
  • Camus: a Romance by Elizabeth Hawes ~ in honor of Albert Camus’s birth month
  • Edward Lear in Albania: journals of a landscape painter by Edward Lear ~ in honor of November being a good time to visit Albania.
  • I guess so.

  • Before the Knife: Memories of an African Childhood by Carolyn Slaughter ~in honor of November being a good time to take a safari in Africa. Truth be told, this won’t inspire me to travel anywhere near the dark continent.
  • I can tell already.

For audio – I’m plan to listen to Martin Gilbert’s biography of Winston Churchill, Winston Churchill, a Life and Dorothy Sayer’s The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club.

For the Early Review program on LibraryThing I will finish Clay by Melissa Harrison. I have to admit I’m not wild about the story. I love the way Harrison describes the landscape around her but not a fan of her character development.

What else about November? Can I say I will be thrilled, thrilled to not have to listen to Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren bash each other over the head anymore? As a woman I have never felt more “targeted” than in this particular election. That would go for Obama and Romney as well. Grrrr.