A Poem for a Thursday #12

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

The thing about choosing poems for my Thursday posts is that once I discover a poet I like I end up with many of their poems that I want to feature. I have a list of poems by Mary Oliver because once I discovered her I just kept reading. The same is true this week for Billy Collins. I had read several of his poems before, including the one I am using today, but now I have so many more I would love to share. Don't be too surprised if Mary Oliver and Billy Collins pop up again on a Thursday sometime very soon.

Billy Collins was the U.S. poet laureate from 2001-2003. He has received numerous awards and honors. He is famous for "conversational, witty poems that welcome readers with humor but often slip into quirky, tender or profound observation on the everyday, reading and writing, and poetry itself."

His poem "Litany" is inspired by the first two lines of a poem written by Belgian poet Jacques Crickillon. It is immensely appealing with words that flow.

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner 
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and-somehow-the wine.

Billy Collins

A Poem for a Thursday #11

Photo by Jongsun Lee on Unsplash

Leonora Speyer was a poet and violinist. She won the Pulitzer Prize for one of her poetry collections. She said about her poetry "Having played the violin since my early youth it seemed but another expression, perhaps a more subtle one, of the same art to find myself writing, studying, deep in the metrics of musical words." I love the way swallows swoop and soar through the sky. Her poem captures that perfectly.

They dip their wings in the sunset,
They dash against the air
As if to break themselves upon its stillness: 
In every movement, too swift to count,
Is a revelry of indecision,
A furtive delight in trees they do not desire
And in grasses that shall not know their weight.

They hover and lean toward the meadow
With little edged cries;
And then,
As if frightened at the earth's nearness,
They seek the high austerity of the evening sky
And swirl into its depth. 

Leonora Speyer

Random Thoughts From My Life Lately

I sat down to write a book review but I am tired and that is just not going to happen tonight so instead, you get all the random thoughts that have been running through my head as I sit with my fingers poised over the keyboard. Really, it is just a list of things to tell you, none of which in any way are particularly interesting or merit a blog post but I am telling you anyway.

I started running. Again. But this time it seems to be sticking. I just finished week six of a couch-to-5k program and I can now run for 22 minutes straight. I have always quit at the beginning of week four before so this is major progress. I am slower than a herd of turtles but I am running.

I gave up sugar. Today. Yes, it is miserable. Yes, my family probably hates me right now. Yes, I hate me right now. But what is the point of running if I am still eating terribly? I don't have high hopes of this sticking but I'm giving it a try.

My sister and her family gave us a belated anniversary present and since part of it is book-themed I am showing you. It is the picture at the top of the post. I love it and now think I might need to redecorate my whole bedroom around it.

My husband asked me the other day if I thought I had enough books. He has been married to me for 28 years. Shouldn't he know better than that? I, obviously, promptly bought two more books. Well, Barnes & Noble had a 75 percent off section. What would you have done? These are the two books I bought.

I decided the other day that I needed an insulated teapot. It is cold now and my pot of tea gets cold before I am done drinking it. I looked them up on Amazon and they are about $60 which is more than I want to spend on a teapot. Do tea cozies actually work or are they just a retro thing that looks charming? Hot tea for more than 20 minutes is my dream.

I had to buy ink for my fountain pen. It came with a cartridge but I decided I wanted to fill it from an ink bottle because if I am going old-school then I might as well go the whole way. The bottle is pretty and the whole thing pleases me but I think I should probably paper my kitchen in newspaper before I try to fill it because I am a bit clumsy and this is likely not going to end well.

I have decided that what I currently want out of life is a little cabin in a clearing in the woods with a stream nearby. There must be a fireplace, a cozy couch with lots of blankets, and windows to gaze out of. I want an endless supply of books, tea, and blank notebooks to write in. I want silence. Of course, since this is all a fantasy, I am not at all nervous about being in a cabin in the woods by myself.

Now that I am thinking about it, an apartment in a city where no one knows me and there are lots of coffee shops and bookstores would be nice too. Maybe a week in the city and then I retreat to the cabin.

But, wherever I am, I want it to magically stay clean and food to appear whenever I need it. Healthy, sugarless food, I suppose. I tried to fit running into the cabin fantasy but I found that I immediately fell while leaping across the stream, sprained my ankle, and lay there all night until I finally managed to drag myself back to the cabin where I came down with pneumonia from exposure. Obviously, the running will have to stop.

So, which would you pick? Cabin or city?

A Poem for a Thursday #10

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash
I first came across today's poem because it is used on a blog I read. Carolann, at Finding Ithaka, loves the poem so much she included it in her blog name. I hadn't read it before but it is beautiful. The words have such a lovely rhythm and flow to them. C. P. Cavafy was a Greek poet, journalist, and civil servant. His poetry wasn't formally published in his lifetime. He preferred to have it appear in local newspapers and magazines or to self-publish it in pamphlets he gave away to anyone who expressed interest. He became much more well-known after his death and is now considered to be "perhaps the most original and influential Greek poet of the 20th century."

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon--don't be afraid of them:
you'll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops
wild Poseidon--you won't encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you. 

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time; 
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind--
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean. 

C. P. Cavafy

Book Review--A Notable Woman: The Romantic Journals of Jean Lucey Pratt

I am fascinated by how people used to live. What did they eat? What were their clothes like? How did they feel and act? What were their working conditions? What were their homes like? Who were the people behind the history?

Recently I have been reading a book that I highly recommend. It provides wonderful insight into a life and a time that is gone. A Notable Woman: The Romantic Journals of Jean Lucey Pratt is a satisfyingly thick book that fully submerged me in Jean Pratt's life. The book is edited by Simon Garfield who also edited volumes of diaries pulled from the Mass Observation archives. Jean Pratt featured in those under another name. Now, her diaries, over a million words in 45 exercise books, are compiled on their own. They are fascinating. Jean Pratt wrote with an eye to publication but was amazingly honest in recording what was happening in her life and her opinions on various matters. She writes such amazingly relatable things.

Never have time to do anything thorougly, to think or feel or dream. Half an hour at this, an hour at that, and interruptions every 20 minutes. Half a dozen pages of Shaw, two scenes from Shakespeare, an act from Dryden, half a tale of Maugham and a chapter of Virginia Woolf. A paragraph in The Times, the headline of the Herald, the photos of the Mail, the glimpse of an article in the Spectator, a rapid survey of the Bookman. No time to digest them or form one's own opinions or remember what one's read, too busy planning the hours to be spent on Boswell, Matthew Arnold and Tennyson, on Plato and Kant and John Macmurray, plans that never materialise because of a pair of stockings that have to be darned, nails that must be manicured. Then a telephone bell rings or a letter arrives. Little bits of scattered knowledge cling uselessly to one's memory. So much to do, so much worth doing, but in trying to do it all, one does nothing. 

I have never planned to read Plato or Kant but I do recognize the feeling of never having time, never getting to everything I want to do. Jean Pratt also writes about what diarists do. I like it because it sums up so nicely why I like to read diaries.

The diarist must do what other writers may not. His emotions are not recollected in tranquility; his ideas are not necessarily formed after long and studious reflection. Nor is his narration of events picked from imagination or memory. His purpose is special and peculiar. He has to capture and crystallise moments on the wing so that 'This,' future generations will say as they turn his glittering pages, 'was the present then. This was true.' 

My copy of the book is full of sticky notes. So many things she wrote resonated with me. Here is another one.

I have got Elizabeth Taylor's Wreath of Roses at Foyles. I remember vaguely the glowing reviews when it first came out, and Liz M. reading it, unable to put it down. And N.'s friend Ara telling me she had met Elizabeth Taylor:  'A little, quiet thing. She said she had written a book and I said, "How nice, what?" in a patronising way.' A year or so later I met Ara again with N., and she said I reminded her a little of Elizabeth Taylor, not in looks but in her quiet manner. It fills me with rage, a rage of which I am ashamed when I analyse it, that people like Ara (whom one thinks of as intelligent, cultured, sophisticated and therefore perceptive) should express astonishment when they find that quiet little things have depth.

 Here is one final quote. I suppose I can't include everything I have marked or this post would be a ridiculous length.

Perhaps the real difficulty is this:  that I want to watch the play and act in it at the same time. I want to watch the evolving of my own drama. 

Jean Pratt wrote with all her flaws and idiosyncrasies. Sometimes she annoyed and frustrated me, especially in her love life, but she never bored me. She was real. She lived a life I haven't but, through her diaries, I have experienced it and gotten to know her. You should do the same.

A Poem for a Thursday #9

Wendy Cope is a contemporary English poet. I stumbled across her on Pinterest and her poems immediately made me smile. Sometimes that is all you need and, for me, that was enough to pick a poem for today. My post should really be headed with a photo of Waterloo Bridge but since I can't provide that you will have to be satisfied with a picture of the Thames. At least it is, appropriately, London.

On Waterloo Bridge, where we said our goodbyes,
The weather conditions bring tears to my eyes.
I wipe them away with a black woolly glove
And try not to notice I've fallen in love.

On Waterloo Bridge I am trying to think:
This is nothing. You're high on the charm and the drink.
But the juke-box inside me is playing a song
That says something different. And when was it wrong?

On Waterloo Bridge with the wind in my hair
I am tempted to skip.  You're a fool. I don't care.
The head does its best but the heart is the boss.
I admit it before I am halfway across.

After the Lunch
Wendy Cope

For the Love of a Typewriter

Typewriters once were utilitarian; something you used to get the words on the paper in the fastest, most efficient way possible. They were useful, everyday, and sometimes annoying; especially when the ribbon wore out or you made a mistake and had to go through the hassle of wite-out or correction tape. You learned to type in school because it was as necessary as cursive and balancing a checkbook. The clack of the keys and the ding of the bell when you reached the end of a line were just a part of life. As a child, I went to sleep to the sound of my father typing downstairs as he worked on articles and talks.

Then typewriters were replaced with word processors and now computers. Typewriters are outdated and unnecessary but I love them. I love the sounds they make, the feel of the keys, and the belief they provide that at any moment you are going to write something worth reading.

I have wanted a typewriter for a long time but have never found just the right one at a thrift shop. I really wanted one from the 1940s because I have always been interested in that time period. Eventually, I started stalking typewriters on eBay but it was hard to judge the condition and frequently the shipping costs were prohibitive. However, I am not someone who gives up easily and finally, I found it--an Underwood Champion from the 1940s for a reasonable price in very good condition. I bought it immediately.

It is just as amazing as I thought it would be.

I spent some time cleaning it and making some adjustments. I bought a new ribbon and some onion skin paper. I had to relearn to type because I had forgotten just how hard you have to hit the keys. But now I am all set. I sit down at my typewriter, poise my fingers over the keys and vanish into another time period.

I am a journalist working on a weekly paper determined to prove I can write just as well as the men. I am a young woman writing to my fiance who is in a prisoner-of-war camp. I am sitting cross-legged on the grass in a meadow with a flask of tea by my side writing my novel. I am a literary lion dashing off a letter to my publisher.

I am just me waiting to see what words materialize.

A Poem for a Thursday #8

Most summers for the last ten years or so we have rented a farmhouse in New York for a week during the summer. (A post I wrote about it is here.)  We love it. It is on 70 acres with fields, woods, a stream, and a pond. It is a week of quiet and nature and peaceful joy. We weren't able to go this year but today's poem reminds me of just how wonderful it is and of the early morning joy of a walk up by the pond. Maybe next year...

At Great Pond
the sun, rising,
scrapes his orange breast
on the thick pines,
and down tumble
a few orange feathers into
the dark water.
On the far shore
a white bird is standing
like a white candle --
or a man, in the distance,
in the clasp of some meditation --
while all around me the lilies
are breaking open again
from the black cave 
of the night.
Later, I will consider
what I have seen --
what it could signify --
what words of adoration I might
make of it, and to do this
I will go indoors to my desk --
I will sit in my chair --
I will look back 
into the lost morning
in which I am moving, now,
like a swimmer,
so smoothly,
so peacefully,
I am almost the lily --
almost the bird vanishing over the water
on its sleeves of night.

At Great Pond
Mary Oliver

Books to Read in the Winter

It snowed the other day so I pulled The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder off my shelf. Obviously. It is the book I think of when I think of a winter story. When I was a child I was fascinated by the idea of twisting hay into sticks to burn in the stove, by snowstorms so deep they had to tunnel their way to the barn, and by Cap Garland and Almanzo Wilder's expedition to find wheat for the starving town. No matter how bad our winter is it will never be as bad as the one the Ingalls family lived through. The worst that will happen is that I will be stuck at home for a day or so, curled up on the couch with a stack of books by my side. And honestly, that sounds blissful. I browsed through my shelves yesterday trying to pick my next book and pulled a pile of books off that I would like to read over the next little while. Winter is the perfect time to read big, fat books that require a little more dedication.

The first book I selected is Prairie Fires:  The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser. This won the Pulitzer Prize for biography and I have wanted to read it for a while. The Little House books are a huge part of my reading identity and I love them dearly. I was concerned Fraser would tear apart the books I love so much but an article in The New York Times said:

Rather than driving "Little House" fans to distraction by diminishing or disparaging the literature they treasure, Fraser declares her respect and affection for it. As the "most unnerving, original, and profound of all her books," Fraser declares, "'Little House on the Prairie' endures as a classic work." "The Long Winter," in Fraser's judgement, was "Wilder's hard-won, mature masterpiece in which expertise accumulated over a long apprenticeship was paying off.

 I said winter is the perfect time for big, fat books and A Notable Woman:  The romantic journals of Jean Lucey Pratt definitely qualifies as a big, fat book. I love reading diaries and this is described as "a unique slice of living breathing British history and a revealing private chronicle of life in the twentieth century."  Jean wrote over a million words over the course of her life and no one knew until after her death. Don't you wonder about who else is a secret diarist who has written gripping accounts of their own lives that no one ever reads?

The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen is one of those books I have been saving for just the right time. I have read nothing but rave reviews of it. It is supposed to perfectly capture the atmosphere of London during the Blitz and is regularly referenced as one of the great wartime novels. It sounds like it should be absolutely perfect for me and I am almost afraid to read it in case it isn't as good as I expect.

A cold winter's day can be the perfect time to sink into a family saga and R.F. Delderfield is so good at family sagas. I have read a few of his books now and have been caught up in every one. God is an Englishman is the first in a trilogy about the Swann family. Adam Swann is "the scion of an army family, who has seen active service in the Crimea and India, and who determines to make his fortune and found his own dynasty in the ruthless world of Victorian commerce." I don't own the third book in this series and I probably should buy it right away. I know once I start the first one I am just going to want to keep going.

The last book in my stack is The Marches: Border Walks With My Father by Rory Stewart. This is an account of the 600-mile long journey Rory Stewart and his father took along the Marches--the border between England and Scotland. It seems to be about relationships, history, and the landscape. It sounds like the perfect thing to read when it is too cold outside to do anything. I can sit on the couch, sip tea, and pretend I am getting exercise.

I have about 25 pages left in the book I am currently reading which is An Open Book:  Coming of Age in the Heartland by Michael Dirda. This is about his life, reading and personal, instead of being specifically about books but I am enjoying it. As usual, I am left feeling singularly uneducated but anything Dirda writes has that effect on me. One of his chapter headings is a quote by Henry James. I liked it so I am sticking it in this post.

Remember that every life is a special problem, which is not yours but another's; and content yourself with the terrible algebra of your own. 

Twenty-five pages won't take me very long and I am going to have to pick another book from this list. Any guesses which it will be?

A Poem for a Thursday #7

Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Czeslaw Milosz was a Polish poet who won the Nobel prize for Literature in 1980. He wrote in Polish and then he and others translated his poetry into English. He "wrote of the past in a tragic, ironic style that nonetheless affirmed the value of human life." His poem "And yet the books" will appeal to any book lover.

And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings,
That appeared once, still wet
As shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn,
And, touched, coddled, began to live
In spite of fires on the horizon, castles blown up,
Tribes on the march, planets in motion.
"We are," they said, even as their pages
Were being torn out, or a buzzing flame
Licked away their letters. So much more durable
Than we are, whose frail warmth
Cools down with memory, disperses, perishes.
I imagine the earth when I am no more:
Nothing happens, no loss, it's still a strange pageant,
Women's dresses, dewy lilacs, a song in the valley.
Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,
Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.

And yet the books
Czeslaw Milosz

A Poem for a Thursday #6

I mentioned in my last post that I was reading The G.I.'s: The Americans in Britain, 1942-1945. When I was looking for a poem for today's post I started wondering about the poets who were writing during WWII. E.E. Cummings was an American poet who wrote almost 3,000 poems. He used unusual syntax and a lot of lower-case spelling. Norman Friedman, who wrote a book about Cummings, said that Cummings' innovations "are best understood as various ways of stripping the film of familiarity from language in order to strip the film of familiarity from the world. Transform the word, he seems to have felt, and you are on the way to transforming the world." Cummings was of fighting age during WWI.  He did write poetry during WWII. The poem I am using here was written in July 1943 and has a feeling of dread about it that must have been common at the time.

what if a much of a which of a wind
gives the truth to summer's lie;
bloodies with dizzying leaves the sun
 and yanks immortal stars awry?
Blow king to beggar and queen to seem
(blow friend to fiend:  blow space to time)
--when skies are hanged and oceans drowned,
the single secret will still be man

what if a keen of a lean wind flays
screaming hills with sleet and snow:
strangles valleys by ropes of thing
and stifles forests in white ago?
Blow hope to terror; blow seeing to blind
(blow pity to envy and soul to mind)
--whose hearts are mountains, roots are trees,
it's they shall cry hello to the spring

what if a dawn of a doom of a dream
bites this universe in two,
peels forever out of his grave
and sprinkles nowhere with me and you?
Blow soon to never and never to twice
(blow life to isn't:  blow death to was)
--all nothing's only our hugest home;
the most who die, the more we live

what if a much of a which

e.e. cummings

A Peaceful Afternoon

It is late Tuesday afternoon and pouring down rain outside. I have a fresh cup of tea by my side and a cheesy ham and potato soup in the crockpot. My husband is sitting on the couch reading the news and feeling a little bored which I view as a good sign. Boredom is an indication he is getting better. My daughter is home from school with a cold and she has dragged her brother downstairs to play video games with her. Not all of that sounds good--the cold, my husband's accident-but somehow it is all contributing to a peaceful afternoon. I have to go out again later but for now, I am just going to revel in the peace and quiet.

I am currently reading The G.I.'s: The Americans in Britain, 1942-1945 by Norman Longmate. I have an ongoing interest in life during WWII. Most of the books I have read have been about life on the Home Front in Britain. This is a fascinating account of the arrival of the Americans in Britain and how the two countries reacted to one another. Two million American soldiers were stationed in Britain during the war and the two countries learned a lot from each other. I find the differences in the cultures absolutely fascinating. The book is full of reminiscences and first-hand accounts from the G.I.'s and the  British people who encountered them. I am about halfway through it right now and highly recommend it. I have also read How We Lived Then by Longmate which is just as interesting.

I ordered a couple of books at the beginning of the month, I always do, and I just got a notification that one book is no longer available and my money is being refunded. Obviously, that means I need to buy another book to replace it. At least books are cheaper than the perfect wool dress coat for under $200.00 that I am currently looking for. It can't be black, it needs to be knee length, and it has to look modern and fun while still being classic. I don't ask too much, do I? Maybe I should just go back to buying books.

Isn't the teapot in the photo pretty? A friend showed up with a gift bag full of goodies for me--the teapot and cups, chocolate, cocoa mix, cookies, tea, and an entire flourless chocolate cake. She said she knew my husband was the one who was hurt but she thought I needed some comfort too. It was so sweet of her. I did share the cake with my family but the chocolate bar I hid away and I don't intend to share it though I should probably eat it soon before someone finds my hiding place.

We might get snow on Thursday. Maybe it will be another afternoon of books, tea, chocolate, and soup. I wouldn't mind that at all.

A Poem for a Thursday #5

Photo by Jordan Bauer on Unsplash
Carol Ann Duffy is a Scottish poet and playwright. She was appointed Britain's Poet Laureate in May of 2009. In describing her own writing she says she "likes to use simple words, but in a complicated way."  Here is a poem about Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare's wife, to whom he willed his second best bed.

"Item I gyve unto my wief my second best bed...'
(from Shakespeare's will)

The bed we loved in was a spinning world
of forests, castles,, torchlight, cliff-tops, seas
where he could dive for pearls. My lover's words
were shooting stars which fell to earth as kisses
on these lips; my body now a softer rhyme
to his, now echo, assonance; his touch
a verb dancing in the centre of a noun.
Some nights I dreamed he'd written me, the bed
a page beneath his writer's hands. Romance
and drama played by touch, by scent, by taste.
In the other bed, the best, our guests dozed on,
dribbling their prose. My living laughing love -
I hold him in the casket of my widow's head
as he held me upon that next best bed.

Anne Hathaway
Carol Ann Duffy

In Which I Cope With Life by Buying Books

Some people have practical reactions to stress. They go for a run. They clean their house. They garden. I, however, buy books. Actually, I buy books and eat sweets. My friends and family have been providing a steady stream of sweet treats since my husband was injured. In the last two weeks, we have been given multiple boxes of chocolate, lots of cookies, lemon bars, apple pie, flourless chocolate cake, carrot cake, and chocolate-covered fruit. Maybe I should go for a run instead of sitting on my couch and ordering more books. Maybe tomorrow...

In the meantime, I have been doing an excellent job comforting myself with books as you can see from the photo above. I have a few more ordered that have not shown up yet. I know it isn't particularly easy to see the titles in the photo but the weather is not cooperating for photos and, to be honest, I just gave up. I'll list them for anyone interested.

A Kind of Magic by Edna Ferber. This is the second volume of her autobiography. I read the first volume a month or so ago.

Darkness Falls From the Air by Nigel Balchin. I listened to a Backlisted podcast about this and the enthusiasm was so contagious I immediately bought it. I think the episode was from a while ago but I just got around to listening to it. Books set during WWII are definitely my thing.

A Woman's War by Frances Donaldson. The diaries of a woman during WWII. Of course I bought it.

A Soldier's Letters by Jack Donaldson. This is a very slim volume but it is the letters of Frances Donaldson's husband. It seemed necessary.

Pastoral by Nevil Shute. I read A Town Like Alice earlier this year and loved it. I  have gone on to read a few other books by Shute and this is up next.

The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley. I read The Boat by Hartley a while ago and enjoyed it. This is a book that everyone seems to know about but somehow I never heard of it. I am making up for lost time.

What Matters in Jane Austen? Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved by John Mullan. Because if you are stressed and tired then obviously the only thing to do is read Jane Austen. Which I did. I just finished rereading Northanger Abbey for the five millionth time. When you have done that the next step is to buy a book about Jane Austen. If that doesn't help with stress then I don't know what will.

The Murrow Boys: Pioneers on the Front Lines of Broadcast Journalism by Lynne Olson. I read Citizens of London by Olson recently and found it fascinating. I wanted to read more about Edward Murrow and the other journalist who became famous for their coverage of WWII.

An Open Book by Michael Dirda. I have loved everything I have read by Dirda. His bookish enthusiasm is a joy and a pleasure.

That is it. For now. My husband is doing better but his recovery is going to take a while. I see more stress--and more book purchases--in my future.

A Poem for a Thursday #4

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Wislawa Szymborska was a Polish poet and essayist who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996 among many other honors. An article in The New York Times described her as living "a life of quiet amazement, reflected in poems that are both plain-spoken and luminous." This poem, a lovely description of the joy of writing, is a wonderful example of the imagination and deft touch evident in  so much of her work.

Why does this written doe bound these written woods?
For a drink of written water from a spring
whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle?
Why does she lift her head; does she hear something?
Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth,
she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertip.
Silence - this word also rustles across the page
and parts the boughs
that have sprouted from the word 'woods.'

Lying in wait, set to pounce on the blank page,
are letters up to no good,
clutches of clauses so subordinate
they'll never let her get away.

Each drop of ink contains a fair supply
of hunters, equipped with squinting eyes behind their sights,
prepared to swarm the sloping pen at any moment,
surround the doe, and slowly aim their guns.

They forget that what's here isn't life.
Other laws, black on white, obtain.
The twinkling of an eye will take as long as I say,
and will, if I wish, divide into tiny eternities,
full of bullets stopped in mid-flight.
Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so.
Without my blessing, not a leaf will fall,
not a blade of grass will bend beneath that little hoof's full stop.

Is there then a world
where I rule absolutely on fate?
A time I bind with chains of signs?
An existence become endless at my bidding?

The joy of writing.
The power of preserving.
Revenge of a mortal hand.

The Joy of Writing
Wislawa Szymborska

Reading and Writing

My daughter is writing a short story for her English class. It is supposed to be historical fiction and she is writing about a girl who lives in a castle in Britain during the 1500s. I think it is simply an excuse for her to research knights, swords, and castles. Her main character runs away from home because she wants to be an artist instead of learning the usual womanly skills of the time. Celia is enjoying writing the story and I have been requested to regularly read the various drafts. She is doing a very good job on it, including a lot of description that gives a feeling of place and time. I commented on this last time I read it and she told me that she thinks it is easier to write if you are already a reader because then you know how a story works and what kind of details to include. She feels that if you don't like to read then you can't write well because you don't have the necessary knowledge.

Today I came across a quote by Stephen King. He said "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." My daughter would agree with him and so would I.

Often when we talk about our love of reading we mention our love of stories. We say that we like to learn about other people or that we like to escape into a different world. Maybe we insist we like to read simply for reasons of entertainment. However, in actuality, we are not only being entertained; we are being taught. By reading we learn how to format a story, we learn about conflict and resolution, we become better at using proper grammar and spelling. By reading we learn about building suspense, the need for secondary characters, and the perfection inherent in just the right combination of words.

This does not mean all of us are going to become best-selling authors. If it was that easy I would be rich and famous by now. However, it does mean that a reader can format a better report and write a better letter. A reader can probably more easily tell a story to their child. A reader can write. Of course, a non-reader can learn to do these things as well but, in all likelihood, it will take a bit more time, a bit more effort. For a reader, the knowledge of how words and language work comes a little more naturally because when we read we are not only taking in the story; we are taking in the mechanics of the story as well.

So, go, read a book. Fiction or non-fiction, fluff or serious tome, it is all educational. My daughter says so.

A Poem for a Thursday #3

When I was a child there was a fat, blue volume of Edna St. Vincent Millay's poetry on our bookshelves. I would dip in and out of it, caught by the language and the rhythm. I did not always care (and still don't) about exactly what the poems meant but she made words into music and that I loved. Millay wrote a huge amount of poetry. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923. I have a biography of her on my shelves somewhere that I should read soon.  I was tempted to use a favorite poem of hers that I memorized as a child but I am saving that for another day. I also was tempted to use a very sad poem of hers that I read three times in a row when I just came across it but that is for another day as well. For today, we have a poem about love- a stereotypical topic but not a stereotypical poem.

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.

Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX)
Edna St. Vincent Millay

Trials and Tribulations

I don't write about my husband much. He is a man who values his privacy. He is also the best man I know. Last week he took the day off work, went for a motorcycle ride, and a deer jumped in front of him. The man who witnessed the accident said my husband didn't even have time to swerve. I got the phone call I have always dreaded.

He is going to be okay. He spent several days in intensive care, several more days in a regular room, and is now home. He has a months-long recovery in front of him but he will recover. It could have been so much worse. It almost was so much worse.

It is our anniversary in a week and a half. It won't be the celebration we were planning.  There are not going to be any romantic weekends away. However, we will have what I want the most--each other.

I started this post thinking I had so much to say but I really don't. That is it. He is going to be okay. I am sure we will have other trials and tribulations in the future because life is full of them. However, we have friends, family, and a congregation that will always support us. They have proven it in the last few days by their phone calls, meals, texts, visits, and willingness to be at the hospital at a moment's notice. The trials and tribulations are there but so are the blessings.

It has been a bad week. It has been a scary week. But I still have my husband, my kids still have their dad, and everything is going to be all right.

A Poem for a Thursday #2

I know Judith Viorst as the author of children's books. My kids loved Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I liked it too. It is a children's book that holds up to repeated reading and that has a lovely rhythm to the language. This is not surprising because Viorst is also known for her poetry. I particularly like The Pleasures of Ordinary Life. 

I've had my share of necessary losses,

Of dreams I know no longer can come true.
I'm done now with the whys and the becauses.
It's time to stop complaining and pursue
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

I used to rail against my compromises.
I yearned for the wild music, the swift race.
But happiness arrived in new disguises:
Sun lighting a child's hair. A friend's embrace.
Slow dancing in a safe and quiet place.
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

I'll have no trumpets, triumphs, trails of glory.
It seems the woman I've turned out to be
Is not the heroine of some grand story.
But I have learned to find the poetry
In what my hands can touch, my eyes can see.
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

Young fantasies of magic and of mystery
Are over. But they really can't compete
With all we've built together: A long history.
Connections that help render us complete.
Ties that hold and heal us. And the sweet,
Sweet pleasures of an ordinary life.

Autumn Days

Crisp mornings.

Blue skies.

Leaves of red, orange, and yellow.

Apples, pulled off the tree with a twist of the wrist, piled into a bag, and taken home to be turned into applesauce and apple pie.

Pumpkin pie.

Hikes through the state forest with the leaves drifting down around us and our feet scuffling through them, inches deep, on the ground.

The strong, earthy smell of chrysanthemums.

Sitting around the fire pit outside with the fire crackling, the sparks flying upward, and constant discussions about whether or not it is the right time and place to add another log.

Acorns and horse chestnuts and milkweed pods and pinecones and leaves again--always leaves--collected on walks and saved until they shrivel in pockets and crumble in piles on the counter.

Evenings spent on the couch with a cup of tea, a warm blanket, and a good book or two.

The vivid reds, oranges, pinks, and purples of autumn sunsets that take your breath away and are gone in only moments.

Warm bread dripping with butter eaten straight from the oven while standing at the counter.

Cozy sweaters, ankle boots, and warm scarves--all my favorite clothes.

October was a beautiful month at Green Gables, when the birches in the hollow turned as golden as sunshine and the maples behind the orchard were royal crimson and the wild cherry trees along the lane put out the loveliest shades of dark red and bronzy green, while the fields sunned themselves in aftermaths.
 Anne reveled in the world of color about her.
"Oh Marilla," she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn't it? Look at these maple branches. Don't they give you a thrill--several thrills? I'm going to decorate my room with them. 

I agree with Anne. October, with all its assorted paraphernalia, gives me a thrill--several thrills.

A Poem for a Thursday

I don't read much poetry and I am not sure why. It might be pure laziness since poetry is frequently not as straight-forward as a novel and I like my words clear and incisive. However, I also like my words beautiful and lyrical and poems fit the bill there.  In a bid to read more poetry I am going to start posting a poem I like every Thursday. That is all it is going to be--a poem I like that caught my eye or my ear. I am not going to tear it apart and analyze it to death though I might occasionally have some random thoughts about it. If you have random thoughts as well then I would love to hear them in the comments. I also would love poetry recommendations. Do you have a favorite poem? A favorite poet? Tell me what I have been missing.

I have always thought of Robert Frost as a New England poet but I was fascinated to find out that, while he lived for many years in Massachusetts, his poetry was first published while he was living in England. Frost won the Pulitzer Prize four times, was made the poet laureate of Vermont in 1961, and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature an amazing 31 times. I doubt there is a high school student in the U.S. who has not read and analyzed his "The Road Not Taken".  I wasn't familiar (what a surprise) with this poem but I stumbled across it while looking for quotes about autumn.

A tree's leaves may be ever so good,
So may its bar, so may its wood;
But unless you put the right thing to its root
It never will show much flower or fruit.

But I may be one who does not care
Ever to have tree bloom or bear.
Leaves for smooth and bark for rough,
Leaves and bark may be tree enough.

Some giant trees have bloom so small
They might as well have none at all.
Late in life I have come on fern.
Now lichens are due to have their turn.

I bade men tell me which in brief,
Which is fairer, flower or leaf.
They did not have the wit to say,
Leaves by night and flowers by day.

Leaves and bar, leaves and bark,
To lean against and hear in the dark.
Petals I may have once pursued.
Leaves are all my darker mood.

Leaves Compared With Flowers
Robert Frost

I wrote this whole post and then realized that, as with many things, this is not an original thought. The blog Girl With Her Head in a Book also posts a weekly poem. Go, read! Have a double-dose of weekly poetry.

Bookshop Visit//The Shire Book Shop

The Shire Book Shop

Second-hand bookshops are delightful. Hours can be lost in them and even amongst the most seemingly pedestrian selection of books treasures are waiting to be found. I discovered just such a bookshop a few weeks ago on a sunny Saturday afternoon. My husband and I went out to brunch and visited The Shire Book Shop in Franklin, Massachusetts. The bookshop is on the ground floor of a turn-of-the-century old mill building, it is large, and it most certainly does not contain a pedestrian selection of books.  I walked in, turned to my husband, and informed him that I might never leave.  I found it overwhelming at first because there are books and shelves and nooks and crannies and I didn't know where to start. I wandered aimlessly for a while simply admiring all the old books and then I got down to business.

the shire book shop

the shire book shop

My book budget is reasonably limited and if I spent $40.00 on a book then that was likely to be the only book I would buy for the day. I am only going to do that if I come across something I can't live without. For a while, I felt like every book  I pulled off the shelves was more than I wanted to spend but I decided to start with the paperback section at the rear of the store and I was more successful there.

the shire book shop

typewriters at the shire book shop

The shop is a jumble with boxes of books in front of shelves, stacked on chairs, and around every corner. I felt a bit as if all customers should be greeted at the door with a treasure map, preferably hand-drawn on brown paper, showing the location of all the different sections. However, it was equally fun to make discoveries on my own.

the shire book shop

the shire bookshop

the shire book shop

I had a lovely chat with the bookseller. I asked if she had any old Penguins and she said I would have to search for them, they were all mixed in with the other books. She told me about a couple of her regular customers who come in a few times a year to add to their Penguin collections. I simply like Penguin books and will pick one up if it is a book I want to read but she has several customers who are trying to complete collections.  We talked about Jane Austen and the yearly Jane Austen themed tea party she attends. She also made a few bookshop recommendations. She was a pleasure to talk to.

the shire book shop

the shire book shop

So, what did I buy? I ended up having to spend endless amounts of time debating and putting books in and out of my final pile of purchases but the books below are the ones I brought home with me. I thought I already owned the first volume of The Horseman Riding By trilogy but apparently, I don't so I will have to look out for a copy of that. I was pleased to find Patience. This has been reprinted by Persephone Books. Any book about Jane Austen is a good book to have. The Edna Ferber is because I just read her autobiography and now I am rereading her books. The two Pelicans are because I find books about social history fascinating.

I had a very enjoyable visit to The Shire Book Shop and I am sure I will be back sometime soon. It is a wonderful place to while away a Saturday afternoon. And did I mention that they offer a complimentary cup of tea?

The Shire Book Shop
305 Union Street
Franklin, MA 02038

Golden Moments #8

It is autumn. Now, admittedly, it is not as cool as I would like and it is still raining pretty much all the time but it is autumn which is my favorite time of year. We had one very cool day when I got out my favorite afghan, sat on the couch with my book, and drank many, many cups of tea. Long may those days continue. Now I just need the leaves to change.

The other day I had a book show up in the mail (That isn't the golden moment. Stick with me here.) and Celia grabbed it, buried her nose in it, and announced that the smell of old books is one of the best smells in the world. My work here is done. I hereby proclaim myself to be a success as a mother.

Celia and I went to The Big E on Monday. The Big E is the largest fair on the east coast and one of the largest fairs in the country. All the New England states are represented. I have been going off and on since I was a child but we haven't been much in recent years since we moved further away. I picked Celia up early from school and we met my aunt and uncle there. We had ice cream, fried dough, baked potatoes, and slushies. We looked at animals, watched sheep dog trials, rode the Ferris wheel, and stayed out way too late for a school night. Celia had the time of her life and I had fun watching her. Sometimes you just have to ignore responsibilities and run away for a day.

I bought a typewriter. I am not posting a photo or saying anything else because it gets its own post one of these days but its arrival definitely qualified as a golden moment.

I already put this photo on Instagram but here it is again. I  bought a Jane Austen board game. My son loves board games but he also loves Star Wars and he owns so many different Star Wars board games. Star Wars is not my favorite. I decided if  I play those games for him he can play a Jane Austen game for me. I am looking forward to his playing the "card game of marriage and social domination." How is he going to cope with a game that doesn't involve lightsabers and jetpacks and does involve romance and balls? I can't wait to find out.

We had the exterior of our house painted. It needed it badly. I was not initially thrilled with spending so much money on such a relatively unexciting thing but now that it is done I am very pleased. It looks so fresh and nice and I have an indigo front door which is making me unexpectedly happy.

My husband and I decided to do something fun, just the two of us, one Saturday recently. We went out for brunch and then to a bookshop an hour or so away. That is going to get its own post as well so you only get one photo now but it was a lovely day and I have a lovely husband.

So, tell me, what lovely things have brightened your life lately?

Book Review//The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton


There will be a murder at the ball unless Aiden Bishop can solve the crime and stop the killer. It sounds like a basic mystery, doesn't it? You have your usual British mystery collection of a country estate, quirky characters, servants, balls, shooting expeditions, and fraught relationships.  Then you realize that the crime occurs over and over and the day repeats time after time and Aiden has eight days and eight bodies to inhabit in order to solve the crime. This is not your usual British mystery.

That is all I am going to say about the plot because the less you know the more you will enjoy this book. It is really best read in massive gulps over a short period of time. It is a bit confusing at first as Aiden jumps from person to person and you, and he, try to figure out what is going on. If you read it slowly it would be easy to lose track of what each person knows and has done. 

Since the story jumps from character to character you do not become attached to anyone in particular. This is a plot-driven, more than character-driven, book. That is necessary for the story but it does leave the reader a bit disengaged. Now that it has been a few weeks since I finished reading it the characters have all blended together a bit in my head. But while you are reading it you completely invested. 

The ending felt a bit forced to me but I find that to be typical of books like this that sweep you along to an unknown conclusion. There is such a big build-up to the reveal that it can be hard to make that reveal completely live up to expectations. The book also leaves a lot of questions about the world Aiden lives in. I wouldn't mind another book that focused on the greater world or the world after the mystery is solved. It is hard to explain what I want without giving away too much of the plot but I wanted to know more about the society and Aiden in the future. 

This was a fun and engrossing read. I don't think it is a book I will read over and over but it is a book that kept me up at night because I just had to know what happened next. 

A copy was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley.

Books Lately

I have a number of books I owe reviews for because I received them from the publisher through NetGalley. However, writing reviews is not my favorite thing to do on this blog. I like to buy books, photograph books, lust over books, and read books, but straight-up reviews don't happen often enough. This post is an attempt to catch up a bit. I have every intention of doing better in the future but we will see how that goes. I enjoyed all of these books and think you would too.

I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land* by Connie Willis.  This novella tells the story of Jim, a blogger who has just appeared on a radio show where he insists that the demise of the physical books is necessary and acceptable. He then wanders through New York in the rain and stumbles upon a bookstore that isn't quite what it seems. When he goes through a door in the back he stumbles upon a storage warehouse for books. But what books are these? They are books that are lost forever in fires, floods, library cullings, and other unfortunate events. This is definitely a novella with a message. I enjoyed it but it was not Connie Willis at her finest. For that read To Say Nothing of the Dog or Domesday Book. 

Scarweather* by Anthony Rollins. In 1913 John and his cousin, Eric, visit a famous, and eccentric,  archeologist and his wife at their house on the English coast. Eric falls in love with the archeologist's wife. Eventually, John gets a message that Eric is missing, presumed drowned. The book then skips ahead about 15 years when John decides to look into his cousin's death a bit further. Frankly, I don't know why it took him so long since I could see the resolution a mile off. This was well-written and enjoyable even if very predictable.

Continental Crimes* is a British Library Crime Classics collection of short stories. I am not always a fan of short stories that are mysteries. They frequently feel a bit rushed. I did enjoy these. They are all set, in whole or in part, on the continent. I particularly remember A Bracelet at Bruges by Arnold Bennett. A woman is showing off her new bracelet while standing by a canal. It somehow gets dropped in and is gone forever--supposedly. There is also a story by Agatha Christie, one by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and G.K. Chesterton, among others. As with any short story collection, some are better than others.

Death Makes a Prophet* by John Bude. This is another British Library Crime Classic. The Children of Osiris is a new religion led by its mild-mannered prophet and financed by a very opinionated woman. The first half of the book does a lot of scene-setting and I almost forgot I was reading a mystery as I got caught up in the eccentricities and relationships of the characters. Then the murder-suicide occurred. Superintendent Meredith arrives and has no trouble putting all the pieces together.

I enjoy reading the British Library Crime Classics. It is wonderful to see so many of the Golden Age of detective fiction being reprinted. Of course, some are stronger books than others but, so far, I have enjoyed them all. I do have mixed feelings about receiving them through NetGalley since they only provide an e-book. The covers are so beautiful that I feel like I am missing out by not having a physical copy.

I recently reread A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. This is probably the five millionth time I have read it and I loved it just as much as the last time. If you haven't read the coming-of-age story of Francie Nolan in the Brooklyn of the early 1900s then do so now. It is a wonderful depiction of a time and a place but also of an imaginative, realistic child. Here is one quote for you.

From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood. There was poetry for quiet companionship. There was adventure when she tired of quiet hours. There would be love stories when she came into adolescence and when she wanted to feel a closeness to someone she could read a biography. On that day wen she first knew she could read, she made a vow to read one book a day as long as she lived. 

What have you been reading lately?

*Received from the publisher through NetGalley.

Wandering Through Old Sturbridge Village

Covered Bridge-Old Sturbridge Village

Dusty roads, New England clapboard houses, covered bridges, sheep and pigs and oxen, cookies, candy and pictures of the past. I have written before about my love for Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. You can see those posts here and here. However many times I visit I am always happy to go again. My brother texted me last week and asked if I wanted to meet him and his family for an afternoon of wandering and chatting. I promptly canceled all my plans and took an afternoon off.

Bixby House--Old Sturbridge Village

Bixby house--Old Sturbridge Village

Old Sturbridge Village

I didn't actually take that many photos because I was busy talking to my sister-in-law and because my nephew, like most children his age, does not stay in one place for too long. The nice thing about visiting a place I have gone to so many times is that it doesn't matter if I miss things. I will always go again; probably soon because Celia was distinctly irritated that I went while she was in school. We wanted to go all summer but the summer has been so ridiculously hot that I could never muster up the enthusiasm necessary for wandering around in the heat and humidity. This day, however, was the one day of reasonable temperatures for the whole week--or maybe the whole summer.

Old Sturbridge Village

Old Sturbridge Village

I don't see a lot of my brother and his family, we live just too far apart to make getting together easy, so it was nice to spend a quiet afternoon together. Somehow, walking into Sturbridge Village, where life was slower and quieter, forces me to take a deep breath and relax. For a few brief hours, nothing mattered except following a child as he ran from place to place and chatting together. Life should be like that more often.

Old Sturbridge Village

Salem Towne House--Old Sturbridge Village

Is there a place full of memories for you that you return to again and again?

Book Review//The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

If a reader must choose between Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters then I firmly come down on the side of Austen. Austen's writing style suits me; her wit, her humor, her ability to use the trivialities of life to tell a dramatic story, all are exactly what I look for in a book. The Bronte sisters with their wuthering moors, their insane wives locked in attics, and their tragic lives are interesting but not quite my cup of tea. I read Jane Eyre a few times over the years and enjoyed it but never liked Mr. Rochester. The passion for Wuthering Heights passed me by when I was a teenager. It irritated instead of enthralled me. I read the Bronte sisters because I read everything I came across when I was younger but they are not books I return to again and again.

Recently I read a review of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and the storyline didn't sound familiar. Maybe I never read it? Anne Bronte seems to be viewed as the less-appreciated of the sisters and I decided I should give her a chance. I still am not sure if I read this years and years ago but I do know that I enjoyed it now.

The book opens with a letter from Gilbert Markham promising to tell the story of some major events in his life. He tells of the arrival of Helen Graham and her son to live in the uninhabited Wildfell Hall. She is a private woman who doesn't talk much of her past and the neighbors spend a lot of time trying to pry out her secrets. Inevitably, Markham falls in love with her; she refuses him and then gives him her diaries to read to explain the reason for her refusal. 

Helen married young and her marriage was not happy. We read of the slow deterioration of her marriage and of the strength with which Helen faced it. Her husband is an alcoholic, unfaithful, and a bad influence on their son. All of this is described with unflinching realism including the scene where Helen locks him out of their bedroom. This must have been a shocking scene for the time in which it was written. Helen finally flees from her husband--also a shocking decision for the time. 

I admired Helen. She was strong and determined to stick to her moral code no matter what those around her might be doing. She did seem to dissolve into tears at the drop of a hat but I can't deny she had reasons for those tears. This was a strong book that packs an emotional punch. 

I did find that the diary and letter format left me wishing for more about some characters and scenes. We only saw things from one viewpoint and sometimes minor characters were introduced that could have been fleshed out a bit more fully. Several of them could have had novels of their own. On the other hand, the diary format gave an immediacy to the events that was compelling. 

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was severely criticized when it was published. Sharpe's London Magazine warned women against reading the novel saying that there was a " perverted taste and absence of mental refinement in the writer, together with a total ignorance of the usages of good society." Charlotte Bronte herself suppressed the novel when it became due for a reprint a year after Anne Bronte's death. It is unclear whether that was from jealousy or because of concern for her sister's reputation. Either way, it is only in recent decades that The Tenant of Wildfell Hall has become appreciated fully as the excellent book that it is.