Creech, Sharon. Love That Dog. New York: Joanna Cotler Books, 2001.
Reason read: April is Dog month.
Watch a boy learn to love writing poetry. At first he comes across as aloof, retorting that only girls are into poetry. Don’t tell anyone I can write, he begs the teacher, Miss Stretchberry. Little by little, poem by poem, Jack’s confidence as a poet grows. It is extremely clever how Creech uses well known (and loved) poets to reach into young Jack’s mind and pull out confidence. Even though this book is only 80 pages long, every single word is golden.
As an aside, the adult in me immediately clued into Jack’s tense changing when writing about his dog, Sky. I had that sense of foreboding that only comes from a loss of innocence. Adulthood taught me to expect the worst.
Best line of all: “I think Robert Frost has a little too much time on his hands” (p 20).
Author fact: Creech is a Newbery Medal winner for a different book. Her list of published titles is impressive, but I am only reading Love That Dog.
Book trivia: This seems like a book for children, but adults could learn a thing or two from Jack.
Nancy said: the only thing Pearl said specifically about Love That Dog is that it is suited for boys and girls equally.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Best for Boys and Girls” (p 21).
Fielding, Henry. An Apology for the Life of Mrs Shamela Andrews. Cambridge: Gordon Fraser at St. John’s College, 1930.
Reason read: This was supposed to be read way back in April with Pamela by Samuel Richardson. It sort of didn’t happen that way.
Everyone loves a good cat fight…but a fair one. An Apology… was Fielding’s direct satirical attack on Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, however Fielding was a coward. He first published An Apology…under the false name of Conny Keyber. It was supposed to be the true events or what really happened with Pamela in a mere sixty pages. According to Fielding, Pamela is not a chaste and sweet girl. Instead she is wicked and full of lust. Instead of being seduced by her former employer’s son, Fielding thinks she entrapped him into marrying her.
I have to admit I can’t speak to the steadfast morality of a teenager, but I agreed with Fielding in that I found it completely unbelievable that a fifteen year old girl would continue her diaries through all the chaos and upheaval.
Author fact: Henry Fielding also wrote the novel, Tom Jones which is not on my Challenge list.
Book trivia: According to the introduction to Shamela, written by Brian Downs, it is necessary to be familiar with Pamela in order to understand Shamela. Of course.
Nancy said: Pearl said Shamela is a portion of the novel Joseph Andrews. In actuality, Shamela was published before Joseph and if they are one and the same I completely missed it..
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Epistolary Novels: Take a Letter” (p 79).
Richardson, Samuel. Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded. New York: Croscup & Sterling Company, 1802.
Reason read: April is Letter Writing Month. Apologies! Apologies! Somehow this missed the publication date. 😦
To read Pamela Andrews’s’s letters to her parents you have to surmise she is a really good girl. Who, as a fifteen year old maidservant, sends money home to his or her parents these days? Exactly. Keep in mind this was written in 1740.
Back to Good Girl Pamela. The trouble doesn’t really begin for Pamela until her mistress passes away and young Pamela is left deal with the grieving son…only he is not so distraught as one would think. As soon as his mother has passed, his advances while subtle are enough to cause Pamela’s parents concern, especially for…you guessed it…her father. Some things haven’t changed after all. Maybe dad is thinking as a man instead of a parent when he begins to urge his daughter to come home. Those urgings become more insistent the more Pamela tells them about her employer, Mr. B. After several assaults and an extended “kidnapping” and after Pamela repeatedly tries to return to the safety of her parents, Mr. B. reforms and finally wins Pamela’s heart the proper way.
I have to admit. If my master hid in a closet for whatever reason I would find that to be a bit creepy. No. Not a bit. A lot creepy!
Author fact: Like Benjamin Franklin, Richardson was an apprentice to a printer.
Book trivia: Pamela is Richardson’s first novel.
Nancy said: Pearl called Pamela one of the earliest novels written in the form of a letter.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Epistolary Novels: Take a Letter” (p 79).
Fielding, Henry. The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and His Friend Mr. Abraham Adams. Edited by R.F. Brissenden. London: Penguin, 1977.
Reason read: I needed a epistolary novel for the Portland Public Library 2019 Reading Challenge. Pearl said this was epistolary when it is not.
Joseph Andrews starts off as a parable of the Good Samaritan with chastity and charity the central themes. Main character Joseph Andrews is a footman for Lady Booby. When her husband dies suddenly, Joseph is forced to ward off her amorous advances. In an effort to get away from Mrs. Booby Joseph travels to see his true love, Fanny. Along the way he is robbed and beaten but no one wants to help him. Sound familiar? It seems as if Fielding is fixated on responding to Samuel Richardson’s Pamela. There are other ties to Pamela. Fielding makes Pamela the brother of Joseph.
Along Joseph’s journey is accompanied by tutor and pastor Mr. Adams. A large chunk of History of the Adventures is Parson Adams’s adventures.
As an aside, what is up with all the goofy names? Mrs. Slipslop, Mrs. Booby, Tow-Wouse, Peter Pounce, Gaffar and Gammar Andrews, to name a few.
Quotes to quote, “The law makes us provide for too many already” (p 29) and “Riches can set any man above the law” (p 59).
Author fact: So. I was reading the author biography in the Penguin edition of Joseph Andrews and was shocked to read, “he attempted to abduct an heiress” (p). What the what?! A more benign fact is that Fielding started his writing career as a satirical poet.
Book trivia: Joseph Andrews was written ten months after Shamela and was supposed to be a comic epic poem.
Nancy said: Shamela is part of Joseph Andrews. What I think she meant to say is that they are more often than not published together in the same volume. Shamela was published first. Joseph Andrews came later and is not epistolary in nature.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Epistolary Novels: Take a Letter” (p 79). In Book Lust it is indexed as just Joseph Andrews and not with the full title.
Smith, Thorne. Topper Takes a Trip. New York: Modern Library, 2000.
Reason read: to finish the series started in March in honor of Thorne Smith’s birth month.
When we pick up with Mr. Topper and his wife, Mary Topper, they are in the South of France enjoying a holiday on the Riviera. After his adventure frolicking with ghosts and nearly becoming one himself in the last installment Cosmos Topper decides to take his wife on a vacation to the beaches of the French Riviera. He is hoping to rekindle his marriage and make up for his previous shenanigans. Mr. and Mrs. Kirby and their companions have been left far behind…or have they? While taking a bath Mr. Topper washes someone else’s foot. And so it begin again. Only this time Mr. Topper’s ghostly girlfriend decides he would be more fun as one of them. The only problem? Mr. Topper is still alive.
I have to admit there were some scenes so outrageous I was embarrassed to read them. I don’t think I am spoiling the plot any by saying this, but when Mrs. Topper takes Marion’s leg and swings it around like a weapon I cringed throughout the entire scene. It was beyond ridiculous. I can only imagine what the movie version was like.
But back to the plot. As I was saying, this time Topper’s friends have missed him so much they want to make him one of them. Sound familiar? It’s a repeat of the end of Topper when he crashes into the infamous tree. I couldn’t help feel sorry for Mrs. Topper the whole time.
The best line I liked, “A cat had to get used to so many disagreeable facts of life” (p 121).
Author fact: Thorne Smith was a huge fan of Dorothy Parker’s.
Book trivia: my copy of Topper Takes a Trip has an introduction by Carolyn See. Very cool.
Nancy said: Pearl said nothing specific about Topper Takes a Trip.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Ghost Stories” (p 101).
Read, Miss. Summer at Fairacre. Boston: Houghton, 2001.
Reason read: Miss Read’s birth month is in April.
After a long winter the folks of Fairacre cannot wait for sunshine and roses. No one is more anxious for warmer weather than schoolteacher Miss Read. She is looking forward to a long list of many projects. They do not include the unwanted attentions of Henry Mawne while his wife is out of town. Any woman could relate. If a married man brought another woman flowers, or brought her books, invited her to lectures or a sherry party, or mailed her postcards signed with love, all while his wife was away for whatever reason, people would talk. But Henry Mawne isn’t Miss Read’s only problem. She has issues with the woman who cleans the school and her house. Miss Read spends most of the book fretting about who will clean these places while Mrs. Pringle is ill. I have to admit it is a little curious how Mrs. Pringle can string Miss Read along.
One of the best things about Miss Read is how real her character was throughout the story. How fiercely protective she was of her private time. The episode when she had a twitch in her eye that led her to wonder if she was going blind was so apropos. How many of us have felt a pang and instantly wondered if we had an incurable disease? Despite Miss Read’s wonderful personality, I loved friend Amy even more. She was hysterical.
Quote I liked, “What would happen if we all spoke the unvarnished truth?” (p 14) and “Sometimes life seems as contrary as a cat” (p 201).
Author fact: Miss Read’s real name was Dora Jessie Saint.
Book trivia: Summer at Fairacre is number sixteen in a series. My only other book on the Challenge list was Thrush Green.
Nancy said: Scenes of British village life can be found in the novels of Miss Read.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter “Barchester and Beyond” (p 15). As an aside, I have no idea how I ended up reading two books from the same chapter in the same month.
Uwimana, Denise. From Red Earth: a Rwandan Story of Healing and Forgiveness. New York: Plough Publishing House, 2019
Reason read: and Early Review book for LibraryThing.
I began reading this book review on the 25th anniversary of the start of Uwimana’s story. April 7th, 1994 began a hundred-day nightmare as nearly one million Rwandan Tutsi were brutally slaughtered by neighboring Hutus. Uwimana’s suffering began as more of an inconvenience three years earlier when her village had an innocuous curfew and her husband was forced to leave his family. Prejudices abounded but they were manageable. At the time Uwimana would practice small acts of defiance such as combing her hair in Tutsi fashion or having clandestine visits with her husband, but as mentioned before, life was bearable. Everything came to a head when President Habyarimana was assassinated on April 6th, 1994. Then the real nightmare began. Tutsi were blamed for the death and a campaign to wipe out there tribe ensured.
While Uwimana writes in a crystalline clear voice I took in her words slowly and with great thoughtfulness. There is a subtle grace to the things she says. First she survived. Remarkable. Then she healed. Incredible. Finally, she forgave. Indescribable strength.