Nina's Reading Blog

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Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

The Angry Tide: A Novel of Cornwall, 1798 – 1799 (Poldark series #7)

Posted by nliakos on August 10, 2020

By Winston Graham (Macmillan 1978)

The saga continues! Ross and Demelza struggle to regain their mutual trust and comfort in each other’s company after the death of Hugh Armitage; they travel together to London, where Ross’s jealousy and Demelza’s natural innocence lead to an illegal duel between Ross and the odious Monk Adderley (a very Dickensian name: Adderley is very much like a snake.) in which Ross is injured and Adderley killed.

Drake Carne plans to wed Rosina Hoblyn, on the advice of Demelza and Sam, but as soon as he learns of the untimely death of the Rev. Osborne Whitworth, he breaks off the relationship the day before the wedding, causing much ill feeling in the community. Still, it takes the traumatized Morwenna a long time to liberate herself from the Whitworth household; even when she eventually leaves her son in the care of her horrible mother-in-law, she carries with her a revulsion with the touch of any man, even Drake, who promises to forego sex if she will only consent to marry him, which she finally does. The TV series suggests that Morwenna longed for her son, but in the book, she doesn’t appear to suffer from the separation and even says that she suspects he will grow up to be like his father, implying that she doesn’t even like him very much.

Dwight and Caroline’s little daughter dies in infancy, as Dwight had predicted, and Caroline runs away to London to escape her grief, she serves as Demelza’s confidante while she is in London with Ross. They return to Cornwall with each other’s spouses; Demelza with Dwight, followed by Ross with Caroline, who admit being attracted to each other but are careful not to act on the attraction.

George Warleggan contrives to ruin the honest banker, Harris Pascoe; Demelza, and then Ross do everything in their power to save his good name, and in the end, both Pascoe and Ross end up on the board of another bank still competing against the Warleggans’ bank.

I still don’t understand the workings of the English Parliament, which seems totally corrupt and completely undemocratic. I confess I did not pay very careful attention to the passages describing its business.

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Tevye’s Daughters: Collected Stories of Sholom Aleichem

Posted by nliakos on June 14, 2020

Translated by Frances Butwin; illustrated by Ben Shahn (Crown Publishers 1949)

Who hasn’t seen Fiddler on the Roof, the Broadway musical (later made into a movie musical) based on stories about Tevye the Dairyman by Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich, aka Sholom Aleichem? Friends recently gave me the DVD, and we watched it again, which inspired me to read the stories in this 1949 edition, which may have been my mother’s, but then again, it may have been my uncle George’s, or my aunt Sonya’s. In any case, there it was, so I read it.

There are twenty-seven stories in all, six featuring Tevye: “Modern Children”, “Hodel”, “Chava”, “Schprintze”, “Tevye Goes to Palestine”, and “Get Thee Out.” These are all narrated by Tevye, the dairyman from the village of Kasrilevka (not Anatevka!), and addressed to Sholom Aleichem; most concern the marriages of his daughters: Tzeitl, the eldest, who loves Motel the tailor (who is from Anatevka, as is Lazer-Wolf the butcher, who would also like to marry Tzeitl); Hodel, who loves a revolutionary and follows him into exile; Chava, who marries a Russian Christian, prompting Tevye to consider her as dead; Schprintze, who falls in love with Aaronchik, a rich idle young man who allows his mother and uncle to spirit him away without so much as a goodbye, leaving Schprintze to waste away and finally take her own life; and Beilke, the youngest, who marries a rich but quite contemptible man. Only Teibel, for some reason, does not have a story. Fiddler on the Roof, of course, is based on the stories of the three eldest; but it also borrows from “Get Thee Out”, the story of how the Jews were forced to leave their ancestral villages and move to the towns. Many, Tevye among them, chose to emigrate instead. Tevye is a memorable character, soft-hearted and more flexible than he would like to be (except in the case of Chava; he really struggles to forgive her for marrying a Christian). The translator writes in her Introduction: “Tevye is unique among Sholom Aleichem’s characters. No other character displays his peculiar blend of innocence and shrewdness, kindliness and iron, weakness and toughness.”

The other stories are mostly about (or are narrated by) the Jews of Kasrilevka, Anatevka, Yehupetz and other villages in the vicinity. They are interspersed among the Tevye stories, just as they were originally published. In “The Man from Buenos Aires”, for instance, the narrator recounts a train trip where he makes a new friend, a mysterious rich man who claims to have made his fortune in Argentina. The narrator is suspicious because the man refuses to divulge what exactly it is that he sells. The story ends inconclusively, with the man saying only what he does not deal in (prayer books), leaving the actual product to the imagine of the narrator and the reader both. In “An Easy Fast”, poor Chaim Chaikin starves himself to death rather than see his children go hungry. And in “Gy-Ma-Na-Si-A”, the narrator’s wife becomes obsessed with sending their son to high school, no matter his questionable academic credentials, the high cost of the school, and the discrimination he faces because he is Jewish. The family impoverishes itself to send the boy to high school, only to have him join a student strike.

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Blanche on the Lam (Blanche White Series #1)

Posted by nliakos on May 20, 2020

by Barbara Neely (narrated by Lisa Marie Pitts) (originally published by St. Martin’s, 1992)

I used to love mysteries and detective novels, but I’ve kind of gotten away from those genres in the past few years. Life is beginning to look too short to read about people killing one another. But I was intrigued by the Blanche White series, as the sleuth is a “traditionally built” African American woman who works as a domestic–an ideal position for observing one’s employers’ behavior. I put a hold on the first in the series on Libby, and only later realized that I had inadvertently reserved an audiobook. So Blanche on the Lam was my first experience with an audiobook from Libby. I was pleasantly surprised. The technology was seamless and intuitive. The book sync’ed accurately between my tablet and my phone, so it didn’t matter which I listened to it on. If I didn’t hear something or my mind wandered, I could rewind a little bit with a simple left-to-right swipe on the “cover” and listen again. If I was listening to the book in bed, I could set it to turn itself off in 30 minutes. If I had wanted to, I could have speeded up the narration up to twice as fast (but I didn’t want to). My only complaint is that “View Title Details” did not yield pub date or publisher; I had to google those, and I still don’t know who published the narrated version.

The story is set in small town North Carolina, where Blanche is from, where her mother still lives, and where Blanche has brought her sister’s children after the death of her sister. She is free-lancing as a domestic worker but finds herself in court on a charge of bouncing checks. She is shocked when the judge sentences her to time in jail and takes advantage of an escape opportunity, then takes a job with a rich white family to lie low until she can leave the state. Her employers include Miz Grace, Grace’s husband Everett, her aunt Emmeline, and her cousin Mumsfield, who has Down’s Syndrome. Except for Mumsfield, nobody is quite what they seem; three people die in suspicious circumstances, and Blanche finds herself being pursued by a homicidal maniac. But all’s well that ends well (except for the ones who got murdered).

I enjoyed Blanche’s perspective for a change and appreciated her musings on white and black people. And I liked her earthiness. I’m not sure if I will seek out the three sequels (life being as short as it is), but in case I decide to, they are: #2: Blanche Among the Talented Tenth; 3: Blanche Cleans Up; and #4: Blanche Passes Go.

Favorite quotation: She tugged her panties into a more comfortable relationship with her crotch. (Now who among us hasn’t had to do that on occasion?)

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The Four Swans: A Novel of Cornwall, 1795-1797 (Poldark series #6)

Posted by nliakos on May 8, 2020

by Winston Graham (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Griffin 2016; originally published 1976)

Book One: George is tormented by the question of whether Valentine is his biological child. He becomes interested in a seat in the House of Commons and is chosen as Mr. Francis Basset’s (aka Lord de Dunstanville’s) candidate to represent Cornwall, since Ross has declined to put himself forward. But his marriage is foundering because of his mistrust of his wife. Elizabeth and Ross meet by chance in the graveyard near Aunt Agatha’s grave and have a frank discussion of George’s jealousy and Valentine’s parentage. Ross advises Elizabeth to explicitly deny that Valentine could be another man’s child. Ross muses about the tragedy of a woman. . . who could not make up her mind, and so ruined the lives of all. In a way, the whole series centers around this.

Dwight and Caroline get married; everyone attends the wedding. Lt. Hugh Armitage, who escaped the French prison when Ross and his allies liberated Dwight, falls in love with Demelza, who likes him and is flattered by his attentions but is uninterested in pursuing an affair. At the end of Book One, he sails off to war (against Napoleon’s France).

Morwenna, married to and pregnant by Vicar Ossie Whitworth, is desperately unhappy and still pines for Drake Carne, who has recently been set up as a blacksmith in the village of St. Ann’s by Ross, but is consumed by depression following Morwenna’s forced marriage. After the difficult delivery of John Conan, Morwenna falls ill, and Dwight is consulted. He advises Ossie to forego sexual relations until she has recovered, but the over-sexed Ossie begins prowling around Morwenna’s younger sister Rowella, 15, who has joined the Whitworth household to assist with the children. Rowella does not discourage Ossie.

Sam Carne’s “Methodie” worship community is growing, and Sam becomes attracted to Tholly Tregirls’ daughter Emma; he tries to convince her to accept Christ and join the group, but she is having none of it. He declares his love for her, but she rejects him.

Book Two: Caroline reproaches Dwight for his failings as a husband; he promises to pay more attention to her. Ossie and Rowella’s affair is going strong; they presume Morwenna is unaware of it, but she is, as she tells Ossie later, “not blind”. Rowella claims that she is pregnant and tricks Ossie into financing her marriage with Arthur Solway, a young librarian. Ossie has convinced himself that Rowella is entirely responsible for their sordid affair, but he allows her to blackmail him. He redirects his sexual attentions to Morwenna, who threatens to kill the baby if he ever so much as touches her again. Sam continues to pursue Emma, and George, still consumed by jealousy and doubt, decides to harass Drake, who is finding solace in his work. Drake goes to Trenwith in an effort to enlist Elizabeth’s aid but is intercepted by George’s gamekeepers, who chase him down and nearly beat him to death. When he recovers, he goes to see Elizabeth in Truro and manages to tell his story before George appears. After he leaves (or more accurately, is thrown out by George), Elizabeth confronts George and forces a discussion of his suspicions about Valentine, as Ross had advised her to do. She promises to leave him if he doesn’t stop harassing Drake and disbelieving her. She swears Valentine is his (“I have never, never given my body to any man except to my first husband, Francis, and to you, George.” [keyword: given]), and he promises to control his jealousy. George reluctantly calls off his mischief-makers.

Throughout the novel, Napoleon Buonaparte is rampaging through Europe, and England appears like a likely victim of his insatiable appetite for conquest. Ross becomes involved in training a sort of volunteer militia, but he is frustrated by their lack of professionalism. He feels tempted to re-enlist but fears being away from Nampara in case of an invasion, which could come at any time. Hugh Armitage, away at sea with the British fleet, writes letters to Ross and Demelza, enclosing love poems for her, which she manages to hide from Ross.

Tom Harry (one of George’s gamekeepers) challenges Sam Carne to a wrestling match, and Emma promises she will attend his religious meetings for three months if he wins. He agrees to the match but later, feeling guilty over his true motivation (love/lust for Emma), allows himself to be beaten. Ross and George have a bet riding on the outcome, but Ross has cleverly arranged for the winner to donate the purse to a charity. Emma begins to have second thoughts and seeks Demelza’s advice as to what she should do about Sam. Demelza advises Emma to leave the area for a year and then see how they both feel.

Hugh Armitage comes calling while Ross is away and Demelza allows herself to be tempted, with a predictable outcome. Ross is suspicious but refuses to pressure her to confess. Later he will find a poem sent to her by Hugh which almost confirms his suspicions, but he realizes it might just be wishful thinking on Hugh’s part. In the final chapter, after Hugh’s death of a “brain fever” (I discovered a blog, Microbiology Nuts and Bolts, which speculates that the actual cause of Hugh’s demise must have been granulomatous amoebic encephalitis, or GAE; cf. Part One & Part Two). They discuss the situation, consider ending the marriage, and ultimately decide to stay together.

Meanwhile, Caroline gets pregnant but insists she doesn’t like babies; Caroline and Dwight host the feuding Lords Falmouth (aka George Boscawen, a real person, third Viscount Falmouth) and de Dunstanville (aka Francis Basset) and Caroline persuades them to end their feud; there is much discussion of the politics of the day (“the Corporation” of Aldermen and Burgesses vote to elect Members of Parliament sponsored (and presumably controlled) by the most influential gentry–in this case, Basset and Boscawen). In the previous book, Ross was approached by Lord de Dunstanville to stand for election, but he declined, and in a stunning revolt against Viscount Falmouth , George Warleggan was chosen instead. This time, it is Viscount Falmouth who convinces Ross to be his candidate. Ross agrees but stipulates that he must be free to support measures in favor of the poor and against slavery. When George and Cary Warleggan discover that Ross will be Falmouth’s candidate, they use intimidation to frighten those who they fear might vote for Ross, but in the end, George loses by a single vote (as in the preceding election, when he won by one vote.) Ross will go to London instead of George to represent Cornwall. He had not even told Demelza that he was standing for the seat. In the TV series, he tells her when he gets home; she has just learned of Hugh’s death and is grieving his loss, and they have that discussion about their future. In the book, he never brings up the election at all. The final chapter doesn’t really bring the story to a close. The reader knows that it will go on, and it does, in The Angry Tide. To be continued. . .

 

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To the Land of Long Lost Friends

Posted by nliakos on May 6, 2020

by Alexander McCall Smith (Pantheon Books 2019)

In the continuing saga of Mma Ramotswe, Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, Mma Makutsi, Mma Potokwane, and Charlie the forever-apprentice-mechanic/assistant detective, this advances the plot a little bit (by the conclusion, it looks as though Charlie will be able to marry his girlfriend Queenie-Queenie) and presents a couple of different plotlines. Mma Ramotswe’s childhood friends Calviniah and Poppy each have a problem. Calviniah’s daughter has inexplicably turned against her, and Poppy has given too much money to a suspiciously successful itinerant preacher named Flat Ponto. With the help of Mma Makutsi, Mma Potokwane, and Charlie, all is resolved in the final chapter. There is a lot of eating and a suffering orphan child to love (temporarily, it seems). Not very memorable, but a pleasant read.

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The Testaments

Posted by nliakos on April 28, 2020

by Margaret Atwood (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday 2019)

In this sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, there are three main characters: in Gilead (formerly the U.S., or part of it), there is Aunt Lydia, the powerful woman who controlled the fates of Offred and the other Handmaids in the first book, and Agnes, a girl growing up in the home of her ostensible parents, Commander Kyle and Tabitha; after Tabitha dies, the Commander marries Paula; Agnes grows up, narrowly escapes being married to all-powerful Commander Judd and manages to persuade Aunt Lydia to accept her for Aunts’ training. In Canada, there is 15-year-old Daisy, whose adoptive parents work to help refugees escape from Gilead. Although initially their stories are separate and seem unrelated, by the end of the book their stories fuse into one.

All three speak in the first person, identified as “Ardua Hall holograph” (Aunt Lydia), “Witness Testimony 369A” (Agnes), and “Witness Testimony 369B” (Daisy). I was actually pretty confused until about three quarters of the way through. It’s also hard to know when things happened to a character relative to what happened to the other two. Somehow, the confusion didn’t matter as the story pulled me along with it; I finished the book in a mere two days.

The United States under Donald Trump looks like it could easily turn into the dystopian Gilead. I suppose that may be why Atwood wrote this sequel, and I am glad that she ended it as she did.

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The Black Moon (Poldark series #5)

Posted by nliakos on April 26, 2020

by Winston Graham (e-book published by Thomas Dunne Book/St. Martin’s Griffin, originally published by MacMillan UK in 1973)

Book One: During a lunar eclipse, Valentine Warleggan is born to George and Elizabeth, who bring Morwenna Chynoweth, Elizabeth’s poor cousin, to Trenwith to be Geoffrey Charles’ governess. Demelza is pregnant with Clowance, and her brothers Samuel and Drake Carne come from Illuggan looking for work after the death of their father. Drake meets Morwenna on Trenwith land, which George has ordered off-limits to everyone who used to cut across the edge of the property. Both she and Geoffrey Charles are drawn to the handsome, kind young man. (Their saga will rival that of Ross and Demelza.)

Meanwhile, Sam (and to a lesser extent, Drake) have begun organizing the few Methodists in the area. They attend the Anglican church in a group but are disruptive with their singing and loud praying, so the Rev. Odgers doesn’t want them there, and George Warleggan supports their expulsion from the church. They begin looking for a place of their own to meet, and would like to build a little church on the edge of Ross’s land. Ross is not thrilled with the idea.

Dwight’s ship, the Travail, has been wrecked on the Breton coast. Caroline is understandably anxious, and Ross tries to find out if Dwight survived and has been taken prisoner, and if so, where. Ross and Demelza attend a party where a member of the gentry, Ralph-Allen Daniell, tries to convince Ross to accept a position as Justice of the Peace, but when Ross refuses, Daniell says that George will be offered the position instead. The Warleggans leave for Truro, leaving Geoffrey Charles behind with Morwenna, and Ross secretly sails to Roscoff (in Brittany) to meet with someone named Clisson, who may be able to get him information about Dwight’s whereabouts.

Book Two opens with the birth of Ross’s daughter Clowance and the death of Caroline’s uncle Ray Penvenen (without her confessing to him that she is secretly affianced to Dwight Enys). The friendship between Morwenna Chynoweth and Drake Carne becomes more romantic (but chaste), with weekly unauthorized visits and jaunts around the countryside and beaches together with Geoffrey Charles.

Ross visits his Great-Aunt Agatha at Trenwith and finds her living in squalor. He invites her to move to Nampara, but she refuses to be turned out of her ancestral home. She is anticipating turning 100 and plans to have a big party to celebrate. Ross intimidates the servants into caring for her a little better, at least temporarily.

The war continues with the successful French invasion of Holland. Caroline gets a letter from Dwight, and Ross begins to hatch a plan to sail to Brittany to try to free his friend. Meanwhile, George decides it would be in his interest to marry Morwenna off to marry the foppish vicar Osborne Whitworth, much to her dismay. He also closes Wheal Leisure, throwing the miners out of work as famine spreads and the winter of 1794-5 turns unusually brutal. Ross tries to alleviate the pain by taking on as many of the jobless as he can afford.

George and Elizabeth return to Trenwith, where George orders his servants to clear the pond of frogs and Drake playfully keeps replenishing the pond with new ones. George becomes obsessed with punishing the person responsible for the replenishment, and Drake is nearly captured but manages to escape. Book Two ends with Drake’s learning of Morwenna’s engagement to Ossie Whitworth.

Book Three is the story of the travel to Brittany, the prison break and rescue of Dwight Enys, and the return to England. Drake accompanies Ross, Tholly, and a few other Cornishmen; Joe Nanfan loses his life (in the TV series, it’s Capt. Henshawe, who doesn’t even go to Brittany in the book), and Drake nearly loses his, but they make it home safely to Falmouth, where Verity takes Drake in and cares for him. Caroline, unable to wait two more days, rides to Falmouth to see Dwight and takes him home to Killewarren. He is very weak from malnutrition and the terrible conditions of the prison.

George learns of Morwenna’s attachment to Drake and has Drake framed (accused of stealing a family bible given to him as a parting gift by Geoffrey Charles), arrested, and charged. Ross reluctantly confronts George and tries to reason with him; failing that, he threatens to incite the peasants and miners to riot. Eventually George withdraws the charge, but he manages to get the marriage back on track. Morwenna, facing pressure from all sides, gives in, and she and Ossie are married. He rapes her on their wedding night.

George figures out how to take revenge on Aunt Agatha: he cancels the party she has been planning, claiming that she is turning 98, not 100. The shock and pain of her disappointment kill the old woman, but not before she takes her own revenge, suggesting to George that his son Valentine is not in fact his.

A general comment on books vs. TV series: in the books, the reader is treated to the inner thoughts and feelings of the characters, so we understand better, for example, how Ross feels about his family and his own propensity to seek adventure while risking his personal happiness; we know how guilty he feels and understand why he endeavors to help Drake even though he resents him. Similarly, George’s motivations and character are also described in a somewhat more sympathetic way, compared to his unexplained cold conniving in the series. This is not unexpected; but it is welcome, at least to this reader.

Book 1: Ross Poldark

Book 2: Demelza

Book 3: Jeremy Poldark

Book 4: Warleggan

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Warleggan: A Novel of Cornwall, 1792 – 1793 (Poldark series #4)

Posted by nliakos on April 14, 2020

The novel opens by introducing the old families of Cornwall: the Poldarks, the Trevaunances, the Bodrugans, the Penvenens, the Trenegloses. Ross and his cousin Francis Poldark have reconciled and are partners in the Wheal Grace mine.  George Warleggan tries to insinuate himself into Elizabeth (Chynoweth) Poldark’s good graces. Dwight Enys, the young mine doctor and Ross’s friend, is still hopelessly attracted to heiress Caroline Penvenen, whose mutual attraction to him she hides behind banter and teasing. France, having overthrown its monarchy, is at war with Austria, and England will likely soon be embroiled in war.

The Trevaunances hold a rare party which Ross and Demelza attend, along with all of these other people and Captain Malcolm McNeil of the Scots Greys, who is attracted to Demelza. In a private conversation at the party, Elizabeth confesses to Ross that she had made a mistake marrying Francis and now regrets not having held out for him. Mr. Trencrom, the smuggler, asks Ross to allow him to land contraband in Nampara Cove. Ross, in serious financial straits, considers the offer, which Demelza opposes.

Book One closes with Francis’ accidental drowning in the depths of Wheal Grace, leaving Elizabeth a poor widow with a young son in a beautiful house.

In Book Two, Caroline anonymously rescues Ross from the debt his enemies, the Warleggans, have purchased; he immediately does the same for Elizabeth by purchasing her son’s shares in the worthless Wheal Grace for £600, convincing himself that he is discharging a debt of honor, since Francis had invested that amount in the ill-fated venture, but he keeps this a secret from Demelza. He goes to Ireland on Trencrom’s cutter to meet Mark Daniel, who he hopes will tell him exactly where it was he had seen a significant lode of copper in the mine, the night he hid out there after accidentally killing his wife Keren. Dwight and Caroline make plans to elope and go to live in Bath. The night they are to run away, an informer leaks Trencrom’s plan to land cargo in Nampara Cove to the customs agents, but Dwight, called to the village to treat young Rosina Hoblyn’s dislocated knee, manages to warn the smugglers, and only a few who had already landed are actually caught. The others, Ross among them, returning from a fruitless conversation with Mark Daniel, escape–but Dwight has lost his chance with Caroline, who decides that she was never his first priority and angrily departs for London.

In Book Three, Elizabeth agrees to marry George Warleggan. Ross visits her one night, actually breaking into his cousin’s former home, and ends up spending the night with an initially resistant Elizabeth.  This act will affect his relationship with Demelza for the remainder of the novel. She attends a party at Hugh Bodrugan’s without Ross, planning to let herself be seduced by someone, anyone, in order to get back at Ross the only way she can. However, at the last minute, she finds herself unable to go through with it. She gets rid of a disappointed Captain McNeil and escapes her host and one of the other guests by climbing out of the window as they argue in the hall over who has first dibs. Dwight, bereft and depressed, decides to join the Navy as a surgeon. A significant lode of tin is discovered in Wheal Grace, and the mine finally starts to produce, ending Ross and Demelza’s poverty but not their estrangement.

In Book Four, Dwight signs up for the Navy. Banker Pascoe finally reveals the identity of Ross’s rescuer, and Demelza persuades him to visit her in London to thank her and pay the interest on the loan, now that they can afford to do so. Ross convinces Caroline to see Dwight before he ships out, and they are reconciled, but the rift between the Poldarks only gets larger, despite their improved financial situation. They finally make up in the last chapter, on Christmas day.

Thus ended the first part of the Poldark saga. Winston Graham did not attempt to continue the story until many years later: “One day,” he writes in the Author’s Note to Black Moon, “for no discoverable reason, it became necessary for me to see what happened to these people after Christmas night, 1793.”

I have already begun Black Moon. (Despite the libraries’ being closed during the pandemic, I am still able to borrow electronic books using Libby.) I guess you could say I am addicted to Poldark! (Thanks to Vicki)

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Every Breath

Posted by nliakos on March 23, 2020

by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central, 2018)

A sappy love story which I consumed in a day and wept over. 🙂  Tru Walls, a Zimbabwean safari guide, travels to the North Carolina coast to meet his biological father for the first time. He falls deeply in love with Hope Anderson, a nurse who is staying in her family’s beach cottage next door to Tru’s father’s house because she is to be a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding. Hope has been in an on-again-off-again relationship with her doctor boyfriend Josh; they are presently apart, and she feels the same irresistible attraction to Tru as he does for her. They spend about three days together, talking and getting to know one another, have awesome sex, and say goodbye forever when Hope decides she cannot leave her country, her family (her beloved father has ALS), her friends, the possibility of having her own children (Tru is sterile), and Josh, maybe in that order. Tru is crushed but returns to Zimbabwe and goes on with his life. Hope has two children; Josh has multiple extra-marital affairs, and eventually, they divorce. She tries to find Tru and fails. [SPOILER ALERT!] When they are in their sixties, they are reunited (thanks to Kindred Spirit, a mailbox on the beach where people leave letters for other people to find), but it’s a bittersweet reunion because Hope is running out of time. . . .

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Jeremy Poldark (Poldark series #3)

Posted by nliakos on March 21, 2020

by Winston Graham (originally published in London by Werner Laurie Ltd, 1950. Sourcebooks edition 2010, 2015)

Third in the Poldark series of novels set in Cornwall, Jeremy Poldark’s eponymous character is not even born until the penultimate chapter; he is the second child and first son born to Ross and Demelza following the death of their daughter Julia of diphtheria in Demelza. The novel begins with Ross’s trial at the assizes in Bodmin for inciting a riot in the previous volume (Book One) and the financial and emotional troubles which follow (Book Two, which also details the beginning of the relationship between young Dr. Enys and the heiress Caroline Penvenen. Ross and Demelza struggle to find the happiness they had early in their marriage; Ross and his cousin Francis somewhat awkwardly end their estrangement and begin as partners of Wheal Grace. This novel corresponds to Season 2 of the 2015 – 2019 Masterpiece series based on Graham’s twelve Poldark books.

This quotation fits well with our current situation of the Coronavirus pandemic: Human beings are blind, crazy creatures, [Ross] thought, forever walking the tightrope of the present condemned to ever changing shifts and expedients to maintain the balance of existence, not knowing even as far ahead as tomorrow what the actions of today would bring. How could one plan a year ahead, how influence the imponderables?

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