Senior Book Lounge

Welcome to the Lounge! This is a 55+ Community of books. I would like to introduce a new genre, "Silver Lit". The silver boomers advancing in age. have arrived! It's time to call attention to literature that may not be young in years, but "old" in wisdom. Like others, I am always looking for a good book, but also one I can relate to. I believe with age, comes wisdom and life experience, which adds texture to the book. To the publishing world, a wink, we are here and we are reading.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry By, Rachel Joyce

What a delightful read! I would walk with Harold Fry anywhere. Harold Fry, age 65, recently retired,  lives in a small English village,with his wife Maureen. He receives a letter from a former co-worker, Queenie Hennessey, who he hasn't seen in 20 years, notifying him that she is dying of cancer. She is writing to say good bye.

Harold writes a brief letter in response, tells his wife good bye and leaves to mail the letter.While walking, he decides he is going to journey 600 miles, to greet her in person, which he believes will 'save her'.

It all seems absurd but, is it really? That's a question I kept asking myself throughout the book. And why not? Harold convinces himself as well as everyone he meets, that as long as he walks, Queenie will stay alive. Its the power of positive thinking exaggerated to the 1000th degree and I loved it!

Harold's wife Maureen, is passive and irritable, and slowly begins to miss him, as Harold checks in with her periodically, throughout the journey. Along the way, Harold reminisces about regrets, mishaps, pleasures, losses and shares unexpected, and interesting tales. Harold meets a variety of characters, some respond with support, others are amused.

He does arrive before Queenie dies, and he walks to her bedside. "He reached for her hand. Her fingers were fragile, barely flesh at all. They curled imperceptibly and touched his. He smiled."

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Lido By Libby Page

Heartwarming. Rosemary Peterson an 80+ senior, is distraught over the recent changes in the neighborhood she has lived in her entire life. The library has closed and the family grocery store is a trendy bar. And now, the outdoor lap pool "The Lido" where she has swum daily since it opened, is being threatened by a property developer to close. The Lido, is the central 'character' in the novel. It is the community that revolves around it, and provides the narrative for the story. The book interweaves the history of the characters, and the neighborhood from past to present day.

Kate Matthews, a 20 something journalist, who writes for the local newspaper, is floundering. She lacks direction, is insecure, and depressed. She is directed to write the news story about the closing of the Lido for the paper. She meets and attempts to interview Rosemary, who agrees to an interview, only if Kate swims in the Lido.

Kate's questions are naive and comical. To Rosemary, "why do you swim?" Rosemary laughs, "Asking me why I swim is like asking me why I get up in the morning. The answer is the same."

Kate and Rosemary meet on a regular basis to swim. We follow their friendship, loves, losses, and the profound affect the 'pool' has on their lives. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. As a lap swimmer myself, I could relate to Kate's concerns about body image, the challenge to start exercising an outdoor pool, where its cold!The feelings of inadequacy about her job, herself and the struggles of growing up and out into the world.

The story poses the apocalyptic question about change and how it insinuates its tentacles into everyone's lives, and the aftermath that ensues.

Libby Page graduated from the London College of Fashion with a B.A in fashion journalism. There is a lovely photo of the author on the back cover insert, smiling by the Lido, where she swims. In Author's note she writes, "If you have never swum in a lido, I urge you to seek one out and take the plunge. If you do, perhaps keep an eye out for Kate or Rosemary in the water with you. I may well be there too. Happy swimming!"

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Women Rowing North By, Mary Pipher

I found this book to be thought provoking and poignant. As an aging woman, I could not get enough discussions on mental health-authenticity-real life stories-gratitude-nature references-empathy-humor-friendship-cultural and kitchen table wisdom.

The book is part memoir, a journal, a discussion on the aging process and the ways in which culture and societal norms ignore us, paint us as doting grandmothers, who are better off recessing into the woodwork, rather than challenging us to speak up and out. She describes aging as navigating life's currents and flourishing as we age. "As our bodies age, our souls expand."

"To grow into our largest best selves, we must be able to claim our own lives. We need to sort out what we truly desire and then go for it.'

In the introduction to the book, she writes, in reference to the aging process, "To be happy at this junction, we cannot just settle for being a diminished version of our younger selves. We must change the ways we think and behave. This book focuses on the attitudes and skills we need in order to let go of the past, embrace the new, cope with loss, experience wisdom, authenticity and bliss." 

She makes some very, very good points such as, with each new stage in life, we 'outgrow' strategies that worked for us at an earlier age. "If we don't grow bigger, we become bitter." She recommends expanding our capacities to cope, and describes growth as a qualitative process.

Mary does present 'happy stories' of people overcoming tremendous physical and mental health hurdles to reach to the other side of despair, a fulfilling life. She does profess to being a proverbial caretaker (oh yeah...we get it) which carries a heavy weight throughout the book, most likely for her and we as, readers. I did see her as the Grandmother in charge, nurturing, caretaker extraordinaire, which I found difficult to relate to, and a tad bit condescending.

Aging is a painful (literally) process. There are no quick solutions to life long questions. She does tend to gloss over the narrative, as a way to circumvent a deeper problem. For instance, she states we can all 'orchestrate' bliss. Its a shallow point to a much larger issue-how can we truly 'feel' bliss rather than arranging it.

I found some chapters to be more helpful than others. But overall, I found the book to be inspirational, and as a way of seeing aging as earned wisdom. "We have weathered strong storms and hold a long view of life's journey."

She is a Clinical Psychologist specializing in women, trauma, and the effects of our culture on mental health. She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Other Wife By, Michael Robotham

Wow! I read this book in one sitting. If you are looking for a gripping, psychological-mystery-thriller, I recommend this author and book. Michael Robotham is a former investigative journalist. He lives in Sydney Australia.

Joe O'Loughlin describes his parents, William and Mary as childhood sweethearts, who have been married for 60 years. But, when Joe learns his father has been brutally attacked, his world as well as his family's are turned upside down. Joe arrives at the hospital to find a strange woman, covered in blood consoling his father, who he does not recognize.
There are many twists and turns throughout this novel, that will keep you, turning the page. 

I find it hard to find books in this genre that I enjoy. Many of them have predictable plots or I can't relate to the characters who are one sided and bland. You can tell the author was an investigative journalist,we follow the story, like a detective would, with clues that aren't obvious, but simmer with sparks throughout the novel. He inner weaves characters, and introduces family dynamics through time, as we follow the family and are left thinking, what happened?

Other Current books by this Author;

The Secret She Keeps
Good Girl, Bad Girl
Close Your Eyes

Monday, March 25, 2019

Books: A Call To Action

As a community of Book Lovers, I am asking for your help.

In the blog-o-sphere I find it so frustrating that many wonderful books, do not get the recognition they deserve. Please join me in recommending books, you have read, enjoyed and you believe are fabulous but, if you mention the title, your book friend would say, "What is the title?" Or, "Who is the Author?'

I think the New York Times Book Review, does an excellent job of reviewing books weekly in a wide range of genres. But, they live in a bubble. There is a wide-wide world of books here, there and everywhere. Lets open are eyes and minds, beyond the "Best Sellers according to the New York Times" and welcome to our community, unknown and/or under rated authors. 

The following is a description from Wikepedia on how The New York Times determines their weekly Best Sellers List.

"The list is based on a proprietary method that uses sales figures, other data and internal guidelines that are unpublished-how the Times compiles the list is a trade secret. In 1983 (as part of a legal argument) the Times stated that the list is not mathematically objective but rather editorial content. In 2017, a Times representative said that the goal is that the list reflect authentic best sellers."

What are "Authentic" bestsellers?

Please join me in composing a list of "Authentic" books that you believe are underated-oblivious-unexplored-uncharted-exotic-unsung-passe.

Or, I need a 2nd opinion, I am not sure if I liked it, but it resonated with me.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

At the Wolf's Table By Rosello Postorino

Germany 1943. World War II. The 'wolf' at the table' is Hitler and 26 year old Rosa Sauer has been ensnared, as one of 9 women, who is a 'taster' for Hitler. Three times a day, she must taste the food before Hitler does, to assure that it is not poisonous. Its a revolving daily process; after eating, she then waits an hour to see if there is a fatal reaction, and if not, she returns the next day.

"we know Hitler is there. They called it the Wolfsschanze, the Wolf's lair. Wolf was his nickname. A legion of hunters was out looking for him, and to get him in their grips they would gladly slay me as well."

It is a compelling read. Rosa's parents are gone and her husband is away fighting in World War II. One morning the SS arrive and inform her that she has been conscripted to be one of Hitler's tasters. "Fear comes to me three times a day, always without knocking. It sits beside me and if I stand up it follows me, by now its practically a constant companion." Within the sisterhood that develops, secrets and resentments grow to reach a dramatic climax.

The story evolves as Rosa begins to realize that she is on the wrong side of history.

"I couldn't have known then about the mass graves, about the Jews who lay prone, huddled together, waiting for the shot to the back of the head... But I was afraid and couldn't speak and didn't want to know."

Rosella Postorino is an internationally bestselling author and editor. This is her first novel to be translated into English.

Joan Boswell (Reviewer)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk By, Kathleen Rooney

As someone who ascribes to lengthy walking escapades, I walk 7 miles each way to work. I could certainly identify with Ms. Boxfish's 10 mile trek through Manahattan.  It is based on the copywriter, Margaret Fishback, who was, the "highest paid female advertising copywriter in the 1930's." The author, Kathleen Rooney obtained the archives of Ms. Fishback's work.

The author states, the book is a work of fiction and not a biography of Margaret Fishback. We meet Lillian Boxfish, an elderly woman, alone on New Year's eve in 1984. She decides to walk from her residence to her favorite restaurant, Grimaldi's and then to Macy's. Its a quirky, poetic pilgrimage as she meets many colorful characters, and reminisces with quotes memories, anecdotes, culture, art, marriage, family and a recipe along the way.

I would take a walk with Ms. Boxfish anytime and would be enthralled with the conversation. She is emphatic in her descriptions, but leaves room for a question, regarding any matter, she is currently discussing.

"I think I look alright. But who's to say? The insouciance of youth doesn't stay, but shades into eccentricity, as people say when they are trying to be kind, until finally you become just another lonely crackpot. But, I have always been this way. The strangeness just used to seem more fashionable, probably."

She ends, where she started, stating, "Now? The future and I are just about even, our quarrel all but resolved. I welcome its coming, and I resolve to be attentive to the details of its arrival. I plan to meet it at the station in my best white dress, violet corsage in hand. Waving as it comes into view, born toward the present on its road to anthracite."

Monday, March 18, 2019

Senior Book Lounge: 10 Irish Writers You Should Be Reading

Senior Book Lounge: 10 Irish Writers You Should Be Reading: Nora Webster, By Colm Toibin. He is one of my favorite authors. Nora Webster is set in Wexford, Ireland. Nors is widowed at 40, with 4 c...

Sunday, March 17, 2019

10 Irish Writers You Should Be Reading

Nora Webster, By Colm Toibin. He is one of my favorite authors. Nora Webster is set in Wexford, Ireland. Nors is widowed at 40, with 4 children and destitute. There is a depth and breath of understanding for Nora, that comes through in every page. All of Colm Toibin's books are layered with warmth, and unfold with a quiet, passive resonance, that reverberate over time.

The Spinning Heart By Donal Ryan. The book describes the 'destruction' of a small Irish town, after Ireland's recent financial collapse. It is a collection of connected stories, with a different narrator. Its a tangled web of dark tales, trials and tribulations, set in a working class neighborhood.

When All is Said, By Anne Griffin. This is a deeply moving tale about Maurice Hannigan, an 84 year old farmer, who decides to review his life at a bar, by raising his glass- 5 toasts to the most important people in his life. There are buried secrets, regrets and triumphs.  It is a deep meditation on guilt and loss as he deconstructs the lives of his family, including his wife, who recently died.

The Irish Times describes the novel as: "The most impressive aspects of this first novel are its rich, flowing prose, convincing voice, and its imaginative and clever structure."

The Sea, By John Banville. It's the story of Max Morden, who recently lost his wife. He returns to the seaside town, he visited as a child. There, he rekindles memories, reminisces and mourns failures and regrets, made over time. All of John Banville's books, are thought provoking, serried with prose, and rich with meaning.

Bruno's Dream, By Iris Murdoch. Bruno is dying, and his final wish is to see his estranged son, Miles once more. This book is rich with meaning-love, obsession, bitterness, retaliation. All of Ms. Murdoch's books are deeply philosophical and are multi layered, and thought provoking.

Antarctica By Claire Keegan. Short Stories. These are dark tales. Initially the stories seem banal in nature, but quickly turn sharp and intense. The stories are varied and could be described as fables or vignettes.

The Love Object By Edna O'Brien. Ms. O'Brien is a master of writing in poetic language. She uses phrases like, "stunned by lack of sleep and it was all terrible, tiring and meaningless." Ms O'Brien writes in an exaggerated tone, that is full of vivid descriptions, as if she were painting words on the page.

The Gathering By Anne Enright. Anne Enright is a beautiful writer. The Gathering is the story of a large Irish family that reunites over the death, of their brother Liam, who died at sea. There are deeply held secrets within the family. Ms. Enright masterfully leaves clues, and imparts wisdom with each step she takes, in telling the story of three generations of the Hegarty clan.

The Heart's Invisible Furies, By John Boyne. From the author of, 'The Boy in the Striped Pajamas'. This book is set in Post War Ireland, and is about the life of the adopted boy, Cyril Avery. We follow Cyril from Dublin to Amsterdam to NY and back. Cyril, born out of wedlock, from a young teenage outcast in a small town, is adopted by an eccentric couple who take of his physical needs only. They do not provide a loving, supportive environment. Its a tale of the power of the human spirit.

Last Stories, By William Trevor. William Trevor is known as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. His stories have been called 'small masterpieces' that grace the page.  Trevor's writes in depth stories about loneliness, and uses words like 'lone, alone and loneliness' and the concept within relationships. In the words of William Trevor, "People run away to be alone."

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Friend By, Sigrid Nunez

I LOVED this book! I reread it to write this review and I am still enthralled. After the death of her friend and mentor, the narrator feels compelled to adopt Apollo, a "Harlequin Great Dane, 34 inches from shoulder to paw and 180 lbs" while living in a "tiny" (500 sq foot) rent controlled apartment that prohibits dogs. The narrator and dog's grief intertwine, as they both struggle and attempt to navigate the new normal.

The book reads like a journal, as the narrator shares her daily musings, regarding the students she teaches (she is a college professor) the writing life, and attempts to write through her feelings of love and loss. She struggles with friends who attempt to 'reason' with her, that it is an untenable situation and she needs to 'let go' of the dog.

In an attempt to 'understand' the dog, and assure she is providing quality care, she takes the dog to a vet within walking distance to her apartment. I found her descriptions on her life living as a woman of a certain age, to be insightful, sarcastic and much appreciated. Her description of the vet, "He is good with Apollo, but I am wary of him, the sort of man who speaks to women as if they are idiots and to older women, as if they are deaf idiots."

When she tells him that Apollo never plays with other dogs, not even at the dog park, he says, "Well he's not so young anymore, is he. I'm sure you don't run and jump around the way you use to either."

It's an enthralling read, that challenges the impact of grief on humans, as well as canine companions. The ending brings the pair together, in a cottage by the ocean.

"This is life, eh? Sunshine, not too hot, nice breeze, birdsong. Now I know you like the sun, or you wouldn't be lying in it. In fact that sun must feel awfully good on your old bones. And you probably find the ocean breeze as refreshing as I do. Whenever it blows our way, you lift your head to sniff."

And so it goes, "the world doesn't end, life always moves on, and we too move on, doing whatever we need to do." This book is a gentle reminder to take a moment to enjoy the sunshine, listen to the birds and move with your heart, one beat at a time.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Stone Mattress

These 9 tales have a predominant theme of women,who have been mistreated in their youth and have a vindictive streak, poised to strike. In the title story, Verna, a self professed, husband killer embarks on an arctic cruise. As she peruses her fellow male travelers who are single, she discards the ones who have wives, that "stick like burrs."
She eyes the name tags, "there are alot of Bobs on this trip." Initially, she has no intention of murdering anyone, "but old habits die hard" (we soon learn she killed 3 previous husbands) but, just in case, she feels the urge," there's nothing wrong with a little warm up practice, if only to demonstrate to herself that she can still knock one off, if she wishes to."
I appreciate her poignant and shrewd humor, when describing dressing for the evening meet and greet, she states, her face."Is what it is, and certainly the best money can buy at this stage, with a little bronzer, pale eyeshadow, mascara,glimmer powder and low lighting, she can finesse ten years."
As she makes her grand entrance, 'slightly late-smiling a detached but cheerful smile,' she notices, "there's alot of sportswear in the room, much beige among the men, many plaid shirts, vests with multiple pockets."
She discovers, one of the "Bobs", is a long lost schoolmate who raped and humiliated her. He does not recognize her, but she is prepared to seek revenge after 50 years. Verna, Bob and the rest of her fellow cruise mates, embark on a day trip to see stromalites, which comes from the Greek word, mattress, and the root word stone. "Stone mattress, a fossilized cushion, formed by layer upon layer of blue algae that created the oxygen they are now breathing. isn't that astonishing?" She has now discovered her weapon of choice, for Bob's demise. Its a short,quick death with a sharp, right jab to the jaw.
All of the stories in this book, have a circulating theme of aging, and all of the women in the tales, wield the power. As in all of Margaret Atwood's stories, she uses humor interwoven with fantasy, to tell captivating,witty tales, that resonate with a wry spirit of wicked wisdom.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

A Gentleman in Moscow By, Amor Towles

Although this book is not categorized as Historical Fiction, I felt as though I was transported to the Metropol Hotel in Moscow. It is a grand hotel, which features a formal and informal restaurant, a cocktail bar, a barbershop, flower shop, a full time seamstress, meeting and banquet rooms.  In 1922, an irascible aristocrat, Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest for a poem he wrote, which ignited a political firestorm. The Count was charged with Sedition, which is the conduct or speech, inciting people to rebel against authority. The Metropol was a historical landmark where notables, movie stars, dissidents, journalists, poets and royalty convene to discuss the current state of Russian affairs. The Count begrudgingly moves to a smaller, "cramped room in the attic, beneath the confining eaves of the roof, containing a single window, the size of a postage stamp."
The Count meets a precocious 9 year old girl, Nina, who is intent on living life as a princess. The Count is everyone's grandfather, as the two gallivant through rooms, hidden alleyways, cracks and crevices of the hotel.
Despite his confinement, the Count entertains, has an affair with an actress, conspires with the hotel chef and maitre d', and develops a life long friendship with Nina and in time, with her daughter Sofia.
Its a 30 year journey, unfolding in 400 pages, that captures a lifelong quest to live a rich and rewarding life, within the confines of the hotel. There is a wealth of wisdom throughout the book such as, "the Count had restricted himself to two succinct pieces of advice, the first is, if one did not master one's circumstances, one was bound to be mastered by them and the surest sign of wisdom is constant cheerfulness."
It's a charming book, that deftly engages readers on the merits of freedom, political hypocrisy, love, friendship, fate and the ability to adapt and persevere, in extreme circumstances.
The Counts message,"When life makes it impossible for a man to pursue his dreams, he will connive to pursue them anyway."

Friday, March 8, 2019

Empowering Women, By Louise Hay

"A Guide to Loving Yourself, Breaking Rules and Bringing Good into Your Life"

Louise Lynn Hay (October 8, 1926-August 30,2017)
Louise Hay is known as one of the founders of the self-help movement. Her first book, Heal Your Body, was published in 1976, long before it was fashionable to discuss the connection between the mind and the body. Revised and expanded in 1988, this best selling book introduced Louise's concepts to people in 33 different countries and has been translated into 25 languages throughout the world."

This book is an inspirational read that I will refer to when in doubt. It is divided into 11 Chapters that discuss: Advertising & Targeting Self Esteem, Positive Affirmations, Health & Well Being, Aging and Women Supporting Other Women.

I particularly enjoyed Chapter 4, "Your Relationship with Yourself." She discusses the fears women have, particularly, of living alone.  I appreciate how she aptly downsizes problems, as a means of minimizing their power, she reinforces the need to acknowledge them and then 'walk through your fears."

"Do a meditation where you look at each fear and then drop it in a stream of water to literally dissolve it and make it disappear downstream."

Throughout the book, she lists practical solutions with a 'bottom line' and drives home the message that women have the power, but we aren't using it."

"Inside of you is a smart, powerful, dynamic, capable, self confident, alive, alert, fabulous women. The world is waiting for you."

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Bettyville By, George Hodgman

George Hodgman, a magazine and book editor, leaves Manhattan, for his hometown of Paris, Missouri to take care of his aging Mother, Betty. At age 90, soon to be 91, she is a force to be reckoned with. It is a bitter sweet memoir, which brings back nostalgic memories for both mother and son. Betty, is fiercely independent and grapples with losing her driver's license,fighting her 'need' for George and most notably, she has never accepted the fact that her son is gay. George grapples with memories of his father, depression, growing up in a conservative, close knit community, grief and loss.

The book is hysterically funny, as George delicately states the obvious. But, he is astute in paraphrasing,so he does not hurt her feelings. George describes their relationship, "I was her conspirator and she made me laugh or want to reach out sometimes, to protect the part of her that rarely showed, her secret soft spot."

The book is full of "Betty-isms" that George aptly describes, which are laugh out loud funny.
"Betty complains constantly about her feet. New shoes, she claims cause her agony. (She has always taken pride in the fact that she wears a narrow size.) Now she insists on the same size, though her feet have swollen."

George obligingly chauffeurs her around the city to various appointments, most notably, Waikiki Coiffures, where her hair is styled into a "lacquered bubble blown back in a way that suggests shock." She states, she has not had a "successful hair appointment since 1945." As Betty slowly realizes she is not quite the independent woman she use to be; the star of the bridge table and piano.

Its an ever changing world for both George and Betty, as they both contemplate the intersection of old and new. "When people ask Betty if she emails, she stares back and asks., "What kind of question is that?" Everyday it becomes more apparent to me, and to her -a woman who still calls a refrigerator an 'icebox'--that her world is gone and she is standing almost by herself now, the only one who remembers how it was here, wondering half the time, what it is people are talking about."

As we all ponder our aging years, the book calls to attention, the enduring love of a son.
"On Betty's journey, I have learned something I had not known. I am very strong, strong enough to stay, strong enough to go when the time comes. I am staying not to cling on, but because sometimes, at least once, everyone should see someone through. All the way home."

Monday, March 4, 2019

The Yellow WallPaper By, Charlotte Perkins Gilman

This story was published in 1892. Its a personal narrative written from Ms. Gilman's "secret journal." The author and her husband, who is a physician, rent a mansion for the summer. Her husband prescribes a 'rest cure' due to her 'temporary nervous depression-a slight hysterical tendency' after the birth of their child. She is confined to a room, with barred windows, and describes the decor- yellow wallpaper. "Its dull enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance, they suddenly commit suicide-plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard contradictions."
The author writes in short,curt sentences, with subtle nuances, as she describes her controlling husband," He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction." 
Her husband continually patronizes her with comments such as, "blessed little goose" and "what is it little girl? He said. Don't go walking about like that-you'll get cold." 
Ms. Perkins Gilman describes the inevitable-madness -as her only freedom. She ends the story screaming at her husband,  "I have gotten out-at last -outside the wallpaper and can't be put back."
This book is as relevant today as it was in 1892. I read this short story in college, and it has haunted me ever since. Ms. Perkins Gilman writes with the passion of a Feminist, who has felt the weight of confinement, in describing a woman's role in servitude to men.
Ms. Perkins Gilman did spend a month in a 'sanitarium' and in 1887, after 4 years of marriage, she and her husband divorced.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The New Old Me By, Meredith Maran

This was a delightful read! Its a rollicking memoir that starts in San Francisco where the author loses her 9-5 job, her marriage ends, she loses her best friend, her life savings and moves to LA.
As she adjusts her 'point of view', acknowledging her age at 60, may pose a multitude of challenges and may be a long, uphill climb. The author is keenly aware that she is now older than her doctors, therapists, mortgage broker, and most of her friends.
Ms Maran accepts a job as a copy writer, working with 30 somethings, who dress in Lululemons, prepared for 'Work out Wednesdays.' She is planted in the center of the thicket, as she describes the work place as the 'vibe is mellow, a group of friends hanging out, snacking on wasabi seaweed, drinking grass green juices from the fresh pressed juicery down the street and water from mason jars, dissecting last night's Game of Thrones." HIL-arious!
The author brings you with her, as she meanders through life and discusses the demands of marriage, family, death, youth, loneliness, sex, alcohol, friendship, love, and more. She presents herself 'unvarnished' and vulnerable, as she tackles the next challenge and feels stronger each day, with a renewed sense of accomplishment.
Ms Maran speaks of the wisdom she has learned and 'Earned' through the aging process. She ends the book describing her birthday and her decision to paraphrase Stephen Stills. "If I can't be with the one I love, my best insurance policy against a sad, lonely old age is to love the one I'm with. The one who will never leave me, no matter what. That one of course, would be me."

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Being Mortal By, Atul Gawande

Dr Gawande is a General Surgeon who contemplates the use of palliative care, to prolong the inevitable- death. The author begins the book stating that he was taught a variety of subjects in medical school, but mortality wasn't one of them. The author further addresses the point, stating that the purpose of medical school was to teach 'how to save lives, not how to "tend to their demise." Dr Gawande describes the scope of medicine as 'narrow' and essentially, the 'repair' of health, not the 'sustenance of soul.' The author struggles openly with patients and the ethical dilemma of 'saving' patients, knowing that additional treatment, will prolong their life, and then lead ultimately, to a painful death.

"People die only once. They have no experience to draw from. They need doctors and nurses who are willing to have the hard discussions and say what they have seen, and will help people prepare for what is to come- and escape a warehoused oblivion that few people want."

Dr Gawande illustrates the point, when he describes a patient, who was living a 'fantasy'. The patient was demanding treatment at all cost, to prevent the inevitable, death.  Consequently, all preventive measures were utilized, and the patient suffered through all of the 'enhancements' applied to 'keep him alive.' After 14 days, the patient's son intervened, requesting the ventilator be removed.

In Chapter 5, "A Better Life" he offers examples of nursing homes, which allow birds, animals, community activities and community gardens.  Dr Gawande provides examples of nursing homes, who are giving patients 'reasons to live' rather than 'warehousing them' till they die.

In Chapter 6, "Letting Go" the author describes death as a process, that involves preparation for the event, the final chapter. Understandably, once it is clear death is inevitable, the focus shifts to the quality of life, and how to strengthen relationships with family, friends and ways to maintain independence. It is a difficult subject to contemplate, as the author states, 'death may be the enemy, but it is also, the natural order of things. I knew these truths abstractly, but I didn't know them concretely." Once death is on the horizon, the author recommends having a concrete plan in place to move the 'abstraction' to reality.

The author ends the book with, "Hard Conversations" including his own, with his father, who requested 'no ventilators and no suffering.' Dr Gawande states there was comfort in knowing what his father's wishes were, so he could accommodate them. But also, so he could say "good bye" knowing that his father was at peace, and so was he.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Loving Frank By Nancy Horan

This is a book for everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The book is listed as Historical Fiction and is based on the love affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney. At the time of the affair, both were married with children. Ms Horan, describes in harrowing detail, the struggles, these two encounter, to justify their affair. as they travel across 2 continents.

It was an historical scandal in 1914 Chicago, when Mamah Cheney announced, she was leaving her husband and children to travel with Frank Lloyd Wright. Ms. Cheney, was an educated women, who felt confined and stifled in her marriage. Once she met Frank, she welcomed the opportunity to break free from the strains of convention and explore the world. Ms Horan also vividly depicts the personality of Mr Wright, who she describes as egotistical, charismatic and melodramatic.

The book also discusses the 'weight' of Frank Lloyd Wright's influence on what he described as 'organic' architecture, which emphasizes simplicity and natural beauty. However, he was criticized for designing homes that were aesthetically pleasing, but lacked practicality. There are numerous debates on his architecture, as to whether they are art objects or houses?

The book is an exquisite tromp through Frank World, the consequences of a clandestine affair, travel and a bitter, tragic ending.

I also highly recommend Nancy Horan's other book, "Under the Wide and Starry Sky". Another historical novel, based on the marriage of Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Van De Grift Osbourne.
Unfortunately, these are the only 2 books Nancy Horan as written.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Night of Miracles By Elizabeth Berg

Quote from Night of Miracles:

"What Maddy has come to believe is that certain life circumstances make for people who walk with a psychic limp for all of their days."

Elizabeth Berg's characters in both The Story of Arthur Trulov and it's sequel, Night of Miracles, reveal how some people are able to transcend the 'psychic limp"into a catalyst for obtaining rich, meaningful lives. Throughout the novel there are snippets of Arthur's influence, and its clear his death 5 years ago, has dramatically affected the lives of both Lucille and Maddy.

In small town, Mason, Missouri, while Lucille's Baking Class business grows, Maddy becomes a mother and college student. We meet several new characters also dealing with life challenges. As with the story of Arthur Trulov, this story remains whimsical and a reminder of the importance of developing a community of neighbors.

I recommend reading Arthur Trulov first, to appreciate his warmth and kindness, which dramatically impacted both Lucille and Maddy's life. Once again, Arthur's premise, which he dubs, "ways of being' highlight the aspirations of the novel, to offer encouragement and inspiration to all who cross our path.

By, Joan Boswell

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

A well written novel that evokes the readers' emotions about loss, friendship- and the rewards.
Widowed Arthur. seventeen year old Maddy (who dubs Arthur as "Truluv") and neighbor, Lucille have unlikely encounters, with each other that blossom into a lasting trio of friends. They help one another through heartache and hardship. Ultimately, they are each able to redefine their lives, and fulfill their dreams.
Since Arthur's wife died, he has embraced his cat, Gordon, his rose garden and his daily trips to the cemetery to visit his wife's grave, talk to her and have lunch. There he meets Maddy, a lonely teenager, who wants to escape the struggles she endures at home and at school.
Ultimately, each character creates a life filled with happiness.

By, Joan Boswell