Wednesday, March 31, 2021

March books; and the Second World War

 15. The Black Cat Murders - book 2 in the Heathcliff Lennox series
by Karen Baugh Menuhin
mystery 2019
Kindle
finished 3/5/21

16. The Splendid and the Vile
by Erik Larson
nonfiction 2020
print
finished 3/15/21

17. The Curse of Braeburn Castle - book 3 in the Heathcliff Lennox series
by Karen Baugh Menuhin
mystery 2019
Kindle 
finished 3/19/21

18. Inked Out - book 2 in the Snug Harbor series
by Karen MacInerney
mystery 2021
Kindle
finished 3/23/21

Still loving the Menuhin books. I'm going to wait a bit to continue, and read some I already own on the Kindle, but I'll go back. Pure delight.

I enjoy two of Karen MacInerney's mystery series - The Gray Whale Inn, and this new one, Snug Harbor which is a bit of a spin-off. These are all books that ease my mind and soul. Nothing terrible happens to the main characters, there are mysteries, the settings are lovely, and always there are recipes. 

And now I come to one of the best books I've ever read, The Splendid and the Vile:A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. It is simply perfect. I've always said Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand is the best book I've ever read, and now this new one by Erik Larson comes in second. He has taken one year, May 1940 through May 1941, and brought it to life. I learned a lot about both the English and the Germans during that time. By choosing to cover only a year, so very much could be covered about the people and life during that time. 
 
I also watched two television series on DVD during my time of reading. One is Goodnight Sweetheart about a man who time travels back and forth between the 1990s and the 1940s. I offered a quote du jour from it in January. It is one of my favorite, favorite television shows. 

Back in the early days of PBS, when we were kids in our early twenties, Tom and I watched an English television series called A Family At War (1970-1972). We were absolutely riveted for 52 episodes. I gave the DVD set to Tom when he retired. He hasn't watched yet, but I did this winter into spring (finishing last evening), and found it to be just as wonderful as I remembered. It deals with an extended family from 1938-1945. We went to England in 1971, and I actually looked up the phone number of one of the actresses I liked a lot in the show, Lesley Nunnerley. I've always regretted that I didn't call her and talk to her about what a great performance she gave! 

To continue with my World War II reading and television experience, I am now reading Citizens of London:The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour which a friend recommended years ago. And I am going to begin this evening watching four movies, made from 1942-1945, which I bought as a set called David Lean directs Noël Coward

28 comments:

  1. In mid-March I read The Splendid and the Vile and LOVED IT! And this is interesting to me because I have read a great deal about this period in England, about Churchill, etc., but the fact that Larson scrupulously examined all he could find about just one year made the book an in-depth look at the people and the work and the danger facing the British at this time.

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    1. I love it that we were reading it at the same time!! It really was a completely different way to look at things. When I was in college, I used to dream of a course that took a period of time and examined all the facets of it - social, eating, houses, art, literature, everything. This book did it!

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  2. I must get around to reading the Churchill book. Thanks for reminding me.

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  3. The Splendid and the Vile is in the top of my favorite WWII nonfiction. I loved it! The Mass Observation Diary Project was the key to all the personal, every day lives.

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    1. That is so true. What a great idea someone had to start this. Even the people in power kept diaries then.

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  4. I too found The Splendid and the Vile a great read. Learned a lot about that time period. It was good to read after seeing the movie about Churchill.

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  5. I've added The Splendid and the Vile to my WW2 shelf on Goodreads and will buy it at some stage. I have actually read one of Larson's books, In the Garden of Beasts, which I thought was excellent. I'll be interested to hear what you think of Citizens of London.

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    1. I'm really, really liking Citizens of London. Murrow and Winant weren't really mentioned in The Larson book, but Harriman was. I haven't gotten to him yet in this book. Boy, Winant is a man after my own heart all those years before I was even born. And he was governor of my state! The book is very readable.

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  6. The Splendid and the Vile is on my April reading list... so pleased to see all the praise here. Can't wait to begin!

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  7. You remind me that I still haven't read Larson's The Splendid and the Vile, the only one of his books I've missed. When it was new, the library wait was so long...close to 300 people ahead of me at one point...that I didn't bother signing on. Then I forgot all about it...even though so many bloggers seem to love the book. Maybe now's the time to work it in.

    Speaking of television and movies, we've canceled Netflix and replaced it with the Acorn service because Netflix, despite having the occasional can't-miss film, really didn't appeal to us all that much. We're finding that the PBS Masterpiece app (along with all those great captioned series from Walter Presents) and Acorn are much better suited to our tastes. I'm more of an Anglophile than my wife, but she enjoys the British dramas a lot, too. We started a comedy series on Acorn this week called Boomers that is quite funny...lots of dry one-liners delivered with deadpan faces that never fail to make me laugh.

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    1. I watched Boomers. A little goofy, but I so like the actors! I read something the other day - the worst British show is better than the best American show. haha. You might be interested in a Masterpiece on Alistair Cooke. I just watched it last night and it was quite wonderful. So much I didn't know about him. I love Acorn and Britbox.
      It just shows how big a state you live in! 300 on a library list! Wow!

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  8. I must read the Churchill book! Have written it down. For a year now I've been reading books of England during the two war years on in biographies, one leading to another. First a biography of Nancy Lancaster, American married to Ronnie Tree at whose estate Churchill went for weekends away from London, then to a biography of David Bruce, ambassador to France, Germany and England under five US presidents--a record, and now I've just begun a wonderful autobiography of Duff-Cooper who knew all of these people. It starts in 1900 and he has just left Oxford and entered the Foreign Service, called Old Men Forget. It is heartbreaking as he tells of his friends, brilliant men, who would die in France in the first war. But it is the character and attitude of the British people during these two wars that astound me. I am enthralled with it but these biographies I only read with breakfast so it's a few pages a morning, and not every morning as some are eaten together with RH! So perhaps The Splendid and the Vile would be a good next breakfast book.

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    1. Are you sure we aren't the same person in two bodies?!!! My gosh, I don't know anyone who even knows those names, let alone reads books about them! I am way impressed. Ditchley is mentioned a lot in The Splendid and the Vile.
      And you know what else? I pretty much only read my print books at breakfast. Geez Louise!

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  9. I enjoyed Citizens of London even more than The Splendid and the Vile, but both were outstanding. Lynne Olson made those three men and their mission extremely fascinating while Larson really used letters and diaries to bring the people around Churchill to life. I went to the Churchill War Rooms on my last trip to London and if our plane hadn't been leaving that afternoon I don't think I could have left at all.

    We have a close family friend who is related to Gil Winant and regrets his sad death.

    Nan, when your library opens again, I want you to get this book out for the grandchildren. It is really lovely and I thought about you as I read it.

    https://perfectretort.blogspot.com/2021/03/the-year-at-maple-hill-farm-by-alice.html

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    1. I am really loving it. I am so interested that you know someone in Winant's family. He is a real hero of mine. A hero I had never heard of until I read this book.
      You may not be surprised that I own that book. I got it when my kids were little. I love, love, love it so much. It is a perfect book. Thank you for the suggestion.

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  10. That does sound interesting. I've read quite a lot of WW2 social history - stuff that came out of Mass Observation, etc.

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    1. I spent a lot of time going through my books recently and I came upon a book that was a MO person!! I am so psyched to read it now that I know more about that project.

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  11. I'm planning to read The Splendid and the Vile this spring. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it so well! Rod did, too.

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    1. I thought Rod would like it! Has he read Citizens of London? I think he would like that one, too.

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    2. I think he has read Citizens of London, but I should check his bookcase. He's read so many about that time period and about Churchill.

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    3. He and I sure share that interest in Churchill!

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  12. I have a long list of books to recommend for you, Nan! Let me have a think about it. My mother and her family lived right next to the army camp in Toccoa, Georgia (Band of Brothers) and I am married to a Brit, whose father was in Burma during the war. So many books to tell you!! Churchill was fascinating. Did you see on TV about Helena Bonham Carter's grandmother, Violet? It showed her letters to Churchill and she was just a great writer as he was. You know that's saying a lot! Will get back with you about my list of books. I have spent many years reading books of WW2.

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    1. So many wonderful connections for you!! My father was in Europe but not England. I haven't seen the PBS show, but plan to! Violet is mentioned a few times in The Splendid and the Vile! Thank you in advance for some titles.

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  13. You have some good books listed here. Thanks for mentioning the show Goodnight Sweethaert, I'd be very interested in that.

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    1. It is a wonderful show. I think of it so often.

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