Wednesday, March 27, 2013

115. The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh

A bizarre love triangle develops between an Englishman who works at Happier Hunting Ground pet cemetery, a cosmetician and the senior mortician both employed at Whispering Glades cemetery. Waugh satirizes the British ex-pat lifestyle and Hollywood of the 1940s in this amusing and sometimes tragic tale.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

114. Curious Punishments of Bygone Days by Alice Morse Earle

Originally published in 1896, this book is illustrated by woodcut prints of the various forms of punishment common in England and America in the 17th and 18th Centuries. We are familiar with the stocks, pillory and, thanks to Nathaniel Hawthorne, the Scarlet Letter. However, the bilboes, branks and wooden horse were equally cruel punishment meted out for seemingly minor offences and social control.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

113. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by Henry Edwards

This is without a doubt, the silliest book I've ever read. It's a lame attempt to create a plot out of the lyrics   of Beatles' songs. The film, starring Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees, is pure shlock. George Burns narrates and there is no other dialogue, just songs such as Nowhere Man, Lucy in The Sky with Diamonds,  Come Together, Strawberry Fields and The Long and Winding Road telling the story.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

112. Whiteoaks by Mazo de la Roche

Four generations of the Whiteoaks live in Jalna, the family's estate in southern Ontario. They are a fierce, proud family dependent on the hundred year old matriarch Adeline Court Whiteoak. Adeline makes it known that her fortune is left to only one descendant but not which one. First published in 1929, and sometimes titled The Whiteoaks of Jalna, this book is chronologically eighth in the sixteen part series.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

111. Curing Hiccups with Small Fires by Karl Shaw

A fascinating and diverse collection of British eccentrics from scientists to athletes to aristocrats. Many, like Charles Darwin, Barbara Cartland and Oliver Reed are well known today, others are much more obscure. Unfortunately, although it has a bibliography, the book lacks an index.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

110. Jimmy and Pat Meet the Queen by Pat Lowe, illustrated by Jimmy Pike

When a white lawyer arrives for a meeting in the Great Sandy Desert, he tries to explain the concept of Native Title and how, by Australian law, it has been extinquished in towns and cities. Upon hearing that the Walmajarri people have to prove that they own their land, Jimmy and Pat decide to write to Queen Elizabeth to invite her to prove the land belongs to her. Surprisingly, the Queen accepts the invitation and brings two of her Corgis in tow.  Delightful illustrations by Walmajarri man, Jimmy Pike, and  the words of England born Pat Lowe, add a touch of whimsy to an otherwise serious topic.

Monday, March 04, 2013

109. Breath of Autumn by Lillian Beckwith

This is the sequel to "An Island Apart", published ten years later in 2002. Kirsty has interited Westisle and her son Wee Ruari has just started school at across the sound at Clachan, where he boards in. Her step-son Jamie and his fishing partner Euan Ally are both ready to start families of their own. For years there had been only one occupied house on the island, in a few short months everything changes.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

108. The Small Party by Lillian Beckwith

This novel is quite a departure from Beckwith's other books. Ruth and her three young children awake one night to find that their town is being bombed. As they scramble to escape, they find out that a rebel group is fighting to take over their island. They encounter desperate refugees, police roadblocks, helpful strangers  and tragedy as they make their way to safety in the countryside. 

Friday, March 01, 2013

107. A Shine of Rainbows by Lillian Beckwith

A flim version of the book was released in 2010 and alternatively called Tomas and the Rainbows. Mairi McDonald has been unable to have children of her own and so decides to adopt an orphan. She had been raised in an orphanage herself and so empathized with young Thomas who her husband views as a weakling who stutters and wears glasses.