The Visits of Elizabeth

Elinor Glyn

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I was unfamiliar with the work of Elinor Glyn, until my friend Mary Ronan Drew suggested this book. I’m so glad she did. This delightful account of a beautiful, naive ingenue who makes the rounds of her mother’s friends is a delightful tongue in cheek look at the upper class during the Edwardian period.

Elizabeth visits various settings France and England, breaking hearts and having a delightful time, all the while making insightful observations about the French and the English in her letters to her mother. It was so much fun, I have ordered the sequel.

The Tale of the Dancing Slaughter Horse

Victoria Shade

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Unable to afford a horse of her own, Shade accepts her trainer’s suggestion that she ride the abandoned horse, Moonshine. Abused by her former owners, Moonshine presents an almost insurmountable challenge to the girl’s determination to turn him into a proper dressage mount. Along the way, she learns about the true challenge of dressage and her own abilities. As a half-Thoroughbred, half-Quarter horse, Moonshine matches no one’s ideal of a dressage horse. Competing head to head against warmbloods, the duo overcomes the challenges to go as high as they can, eventually competing in the Junior Olympics.

I knew that dressage riders have to work hard, but I had no idea how hard it is to compete at the highest level. Victoria meets challenge after challenge head on, overcoming her own shortcomings as well as that of her horse, to rise to the highest level of competition.

The Rose Garden

Susanna Kearsley

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Ahh, love me a good time-slip novel, and Kearsley delivers like nobody else.

Eva returns to Cornwall, to her friends there, to scatter the ashes of her beloved sister. She stays to help build a tearoom. Searching for a hook to lure tourists to this out-of-the-way place, she discovers the legend of a ‘Grey Lady’ who haunts the location and a couple of smugglers who once operated nearby. Throwing herself into the project, she is startled to find her surrounding dissolve into a mist and finds herself 300 years or so into the past. Unable to control her comings and goings, she is set off balance by her passing back and forth between the two times. Then there’s Daniel, a most attractive smuggler in the past.

Kearsley is a mistress of suspense and holds the reader in her hand. We want Eva to have her HEA, but how she manages it is a delightful surprise. I could barely put the book down it was that good.

Journal of a Solitude

May Sarton

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May Sarton constantly dealt with the contrary desire to be alone, to write, with the need to sign books, to make appearance, to entertain friends, and to be available. Happiest at home, with her pets and her garden, she found herself juggling the demands of her public.

This journal of a year shows the cost of meeting contradictory demands on her time. To have a poem gestating in her mind, and yet to be called away to speak at a university or at a book signing she had agreed to month prior, set up a necessary tension in her life.

Much as she complains about it, I think part of her liked the attention.

If the Creek Don’t Rise

Leah Weiss

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Mediocre books are so much easier to review. It’s simple to point out the weak spots. Excellent books are harder. It’s difficult to believe this is a first novel. Leah Weiss’ place on my list of favorite authors is fixed. The story of the people who live an a small Appalachian community in the 1970s has a secure place in my memory. I usually hate books that are written in dialect. One book that broke through this prejudice was These Is My Words. This is another. The author uses dialect with a light hand, and it’s not intrusive. Each character is so unique and well described that he or she lives in my memory. I can even dredge up some (not much, but some) for the abusive husband. At the heart of the story is the freakishly tall, flatlander teacher, who comes to the mountain. She finds she has as much to learn as to teach. All the characters are real and shine so¬† brightly, I hated the book to end. I recommend this book highly and look forward to others by Ms. Weiss.

 

A Shameful Murder

Cora Harrison

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With this book, Cora Harrison starts a new series of cozy mysteries. Set in Cork, Ireland, during the troublesome 1920s, it features the attractive nun, Mother Aquinas. Head of a school for poor children, the reverend mother uses her family background and contacts among Cork’s wealthiest families to further her investigation. It helps also that at age 70, she has years of teaching to extend her contacts to reach into all levels of society.

The story begins with her finding a body at the convent gates. Washed down the river by recent rains, the body is clothed in evening dress. A lovely young girl, cut down in the prime of her life, it is truly a shameful murder. Spared the day to day grind of an investigation, she is able to use a police sergeant to do her footwork. Aided by the skills of a doctor friend, a very wealthy cousin, and a journalist former student, she is able to unravel the mystery of this girls death.

I liked the setting and the character of the elderly reverend mother for this satisfying read.

Named of the Dragon

Susanna Kearsley

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I didn’t enjoy this story as much as I have other Kearsley novels. The romantic element was barely there, and the suspense was simply confusing.

Literary agent Lyn is lured to Wales by her most important client, children’s book author/illustrator Bridget. Lyn, a widow, is mourning the death of her child. She is not best please by constantly being thrown into the company of Elen, a near neighbor, with a small child, much the same age as her own.

The male characters include a writer, Gareth, that Lyn is supposed to be enticing to switch to her agency, but she doesn’t do anything to lure him. There is a young man sniffing around Bridget.

The most entertaining and interesting character is Chance, a long-haired Jack Russell, who has more personality than any of the other characters.

That being said, if you are a Mary Stewart fan, I think you’ll like this. At least her heroine isn’t too stupid to live.

A Fatal Inheritance

Cora Harrison

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When a woman’s body is discovered tied to a post associated with the old gods of Ireland, Mara welcomes the distraction from preparations for her 50th birthday party. Solving the mystery of the women’s death means stirring up memories of her evildoing and casts suspicion on her cousins who were cheated of their inheritance when she interfered. In addition Mara has the challenge of what to do with her 13-year-old son, He has no aptitude for the law, but training him up in the warrior he wants to be means separation from Mara.

This satisfying latest addition to the series is one of the best.

The Bunner Sisters

Edith Wharton

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This short novel tells the story of two sisters on the margins of life. They make a meager living by running a small shop selling buttons and bows, eked out by the occasional refurbished bonnet. They both live together above the shop. One day a nearby clockmaker enters their life, charms both the sisters and eventually marries the younger. He takes her away to New Orleans where he has a job waiting. The remaining sister is left alone in New to worry about her sister and the increasing silence. Eventually all communication ceases.

The mystery of what happens to the two sisters and the outcome of the marriage makes up the balance of the book. Wharton demonstrates all her skills of observation and storytelling in letting us in on the life of these two sisters.