Monday, November 16, 2009

The Help & The Innocents Abroad

I finished The Help but didn't want it to end. The characters became so real to me that I wanted to know what happened next. I needed to know. But that's the way with good books, isn't it, they leave the reader wanting more. This is a first novel, and I can only hope that her second will be on the shelves soon.

Book Club, which is tonight, chose Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad, which I had to order from the library. When I picked it up last week I checked the last page, found that there were 406 pages, and divided accordingly, so that I would have a minimum number of pages to read to be finished in time. But as I read I didn't seem to be progressing as rapidly as expected. Alas, the book contains two volumes, Vol II is 406 pages, but Vol I is an additional 311, so my arithmatic was very wrong. I spent the weekend following Twain through Greece and Turkey and now the Holy Lands, and I have 65 pages to finish before this evening.

This is not a book I would have chosen to read, and it's amusing, but not his expected humor. The funniest part so far (and I'm near the end, so I doubt that there are many more funny parts) was the recital of his weeping at Adam's grave.

Since I stopped photographing my breakfasts I find I don't check Blogger every day, and as a result my dashboard often shows several posts from other blogs I follow, and then I have to catch up on all their doings.

Back to Twain! Have a good reading day!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Help

I've finished Kathryn Stockett's The Help and I'm sorry that it is so, because I want to know what happens next. That is the best sort of book, one that introduces characters that are so real that it seems wrong for the final page to be the end of the story. This first novel is set in Jackson, Mississippi in the 60s, about women of color and women who are raised by them and who, as adults, employ them.

Monday, November 2, 2009


This morning I finished David McCullough's 1776, which I thought was going to be a comprehensive cover of that first year, but wasn't. Instead it was a detailed account of George Washington's first year as commander-in-chief. What a time he had! A success in March in Boston and then nothing but defeat and retreat till that famous crossing of the Delaware in December. It's a wonder that the war was successful, so that it could be termed a Revolution instead of just another rebellion. McCullough presents the military events and politics of both sides in a fascinating account.

We are taught American History from grade school onward, a sanitized version without the mean drama and stress to all involved. Sometimes one side didn't so much win as take advantage of the other side's lack of action. Sometimes weather intervened for good or not. Sometimes it was just luck.

Last week my husband asked me if Washington really stood up in the boat, as depicted by Leutze. The answer is, probably they all did. They crossed in scows used to transport pig iron, 40 men at a time. Many were barefoot, in freezing weather. That battle was really a minor event, but has been elevated in American history to become much more than it was. I wonder if the painting helped with that elevation.

I have The Help to read and then John Adams. My year with McCullough will be at an end.