How It All Began by Penelope Lively Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

How It All Began by Penelope Lively; Penguin Books, 2012.  229 pages; $16.00 (paperback); reading level:  adult. It all began when 77-year-old Charlotte Rainsford was mugged; which meant she had to move into her daughter Rose’s house, where she tutored Anton, her adult literacy student, while her broken hip mended; which meant Rose noticed Anton’s… [Read More]

Bookends – Some Suggested Christmas Reading

I like “bookend” plots that start in one place and then circle back to the beginning of things.  I like January and December because they bookend the year.  And I like bookends – the real thing – because they’re useful when you have as many books as I do.  Here are some books you might… [Read More]

Monitor by James Tertius deKay Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Monitor; The Story of the Legendary Civil War Ironclad and the Man Whose Invention Changed the Course of History by James Tertius deKay. Ballantine Books, 1997.  247 pages; $11.95 (paperback). Reading level: high school/adult. Building on the premise that it was not the more famous land battles that determined the outcome of the Civil War… [Read More]

Ladies and Not-So Gentle Women by Alfred Allan Lewis Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Ladies and Not-So-Gentle Women;Elisabeth Marbury,Anne Morgan, Elsie de Wolfe, Anne Vanderbilt, and Their Times by Alfred Allan Lewis.  Penguin, 2000.  540 pages; $18.00 (paperback).  Reading level:  adult. Four big-spending Gilded Age women would seem to have nothing to contribute to the rough and tumble politics of women’s rights near the turn of the 20th century. … [Read More]

Canada Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Canada by Richard Ford. Ecco/HarperCollins, 2012. 420 pages; $15.99 (paperback). Reading level: adult. When sixty-six-year-old Dell Parsons looks back on the six weeks that changed his life back when he was fifteen, he begins his story this way: “First I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.” It… [Read More]

Connie’s Winter Reading List. What Are You Reading?

Our snowy winter here in Indiana is slowing me down and providing an opportunity to make a dent in the pile of titles stacked on my nightstand.   Canada by Richard Ford.  Besides the author’s credentials (he won a Pulitzer for his novel Independence Day), the first sentence has me hooked:  “First, I’ll tell about the… [Read More]

Behind the Beautiful Forevers; Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity Reviewed by Connie Wooldridge

Behind the Beautiful Forevers; Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo.  Random House, 2012.  256 pages;  $27.00 (hardback).  Reading level:  adult. In 1991, when a band of laborers was trucked in from Tamil Nadu to repair a runway at the Mumbai Airport, they decided to stay. They draped empty cement sacks… [Read More]

Suite Française Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky; translated from the French by Sandra Smith.  Vintage Books, 2007.  403 pages; $15.00 (paperback); reading level: adult. Némirovsky’s novel is accompanied by some fifty pages of notes. If you read only the novel itself, you will take up a panoramic, camera’s-eye view of Paris in June of 1940. You will… [Read More]

Marmee & Louisa; The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Marmee & Louisa; The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother by Eve LaPlante; Free Press, 2012. 368 pages; $26.00 (hardcover). This book is a game-changer. As LaPlante points out, “the packaging of Louisa…along with the idea that her mother was irrelevant” began immediately after her death. The world was told that Louisa… [Read More]

My Dear Governess; The Letters of Edith Wharton to Anna Bahlmann – Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

My Dear Governess; The Letters of Edith Wharton to Anna Bahlmann edited by Irene Goldman-Price; Yale University Press, 2012. 296 pages; $30.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. On May 31st, 1874, twelve-year-old Edith Wharton (then Edith Jones) wrote to her beloved twenty-five-year-old governess, Anna Bahlmann, inviting her to come to the Jones’ summer home in Newport,… [Read More]