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Memoir Mental Health Personal Growth

Read Wintering

Read Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult T…

Sometimes you slip through the cracks: unforeseen circumstances like an abrupt illness, the death of a loved one, a break up, or a job loss can derail a life. These periods of dislocation can be lonely and unexpected. For May, her husband fell ill, her son stopped attending school, and her own medical issues led her to leave a demanding job. Wintering explores how she not only endured this painful time, but embraced the singular opportunities it offered.

A moving personal narrative shot through with lessons from literature, mythology, and the natural world, May’s story offers instruction on the transformative power of rest and retreat. Illumination emerges from many sources: solstice celebrations and dormice hibernation, C.S. Lewis and Sylvia Plath, swimming in icy waters and sailing arctic seas.

Ultimately Wintering invites us to change how we relate to our own fallow times. May models an active acceptance of sadness and finds nourishment in deep retreat, joy in the hushed beauty of winter, and encouragement in understanding life as cyclical, not linear. A secular mystic, May forms a guiding philosophy for transforming the hardships that arise before the ushering in of a new season.

Liked some of this, wasn’t sure about other parts. The second half I liked better than the first. She has a keen eye for observation and describes her feelings vividly. I liked the bits of other places and natural history — dabbling in other people’s cultures less so. I’m not sure it all pulled together for me though I thought she ended it well.

Categories
Romance

Read Sailor’s Delight

Read Sailor’s Delight

Self-effacing, overworked bookkeeper Elie Benezet doesn’t have time to be in love. Too bad he already is—with his favorite client, Augustus Brine. The Royal Navy sailing master is kind, handsome, and breathtakingly competent. He’s also engaged to his childhood sweetheart. And now that his prize money is coming in after years of delay, he can afford to marry her…once Elie submits the final prize paperwork.

When Augustus comes home, determined to marry by the end of his brief leave, Elie does his best to set his broken heart aside and make it happen. But he’s interrupted by one thing after another: other clients, the high holidays, his family’s relentless efforts to marry him off. Augustus isn’t helping by renting a room down the hall, shaving shirtless with his door open, and inviting Elie to the public baths. If Elie didn’t know better, he’d think Augustus didn’t want to get married.

To cap it all off, Augustus’s fiancée arrives in town, senses that Elie has a secret, and promptly accuses him of embezzling. Has Elie’s doom been sealed…or is there still time to change his fate?

A quiet but deeply emotional story — Rose Lerner always seems to be very good at writing emotional complexity. The narrator, Elie, struggles with his love for his client, wondering what the right thing to do is, and trying so hard to do right by everyone else that he forgets about himself. His family, his honor, his duty, his faith all matter deeply to him. I really liked the framing of Rosh Hashanah, the new year, for the story and his arc of change. This feels painstakingly researched, with so many historical details enriching the story. This romance is mostly yearning, with the barest glimpse through the closing door, so don’t go in expecting heat. I would have liked one more chapter at the end to give them some more time together after so long apart.

Categories
Romance

Re-watched Pride & Prejudice

Watched Pride & Prejudice from m.imdb.com

Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?

I’ve seen this version three or four times, and I’m still not 100% sold on Keira Knightley as Elizabeth. Some scenes work well, and others she seems quite flighty and giggly. Honestly there was too much giggling without context/ out of nowhere from all the daughters, especially the first half.

I really like the proposal scene. She immediately regrets what she’s said but she’s too proud to take it back.

There was more arty-ness than I recalled to portray time passing. The ball scene cuts from character to character as it pans through different rooms — I feel like the acting or writing there is a bit overdone?

The ending is a little unsatisfying. He proclaims his love — she doesn’t even smile, and tells him his hands are cold. They touch foreheads and don’t kiss. She gives her speech of love to her father instead, and when she goes out to celebrate with Darcy the camera stays with the father for a joke line. She vaguely hints at an apology to him, but doesn’t truly admit her faults. And she never declares her love to him. (I read the book so long ago I don’t recall the ending at all and wouldn’t be surprised given when it was written if it was even less satisfying 😉 But that’s the point of a modern adaptation: to match the sensibility of the day and tell the story in a way to be satisfying to a contemporary audience.)

Categories
Romance

Read The Monster of Montvale Hall

Read The Monster of Montvale Hall (Saints & Sinners Book 1)

A childhood tragedy had shaped the life of Robert Forsythe, the Duke of Montvale Hall, forever.

He kept himself isolated from the world and the people in it, reveling in his reputation as a monster.

Locked in a world of guilt and grief, nobody had ever been able to break down the walls he kept around him. Nobody had ever tried.

And if being a monster kept everyone away, then a monster he would be.

Abigail Langton was as headstrong as she was mischievous, so it was no surprise that she wasn’t exactly welcomed at Montvale Hall with open arms.

It didn’t take her long to understand why its owner was called a monster.

It took even less time to realize that monster or not, Abigail’s heart called to him in a way she couldn’t deny or understand.

Robert’s world is turned upside down and inside out by the irrepressible Abigail. And try as he might to avoid it, he finds himself drawn to her in ways he doesn’t want. In ways that scare the wits out of him.

Will Robert give in to the temptation that is Abigail? And will Abigail find the heart of the man beneath the monster?

I didn’t realize this was a sweet romance 😣

I’m not sure the hero had enough going for him for me to buy that she fell in love with him despite his constant snapping and rudeness. They didn’t seem to have much in the way of conversation, especially that didn’t end in him yelling.

Not a lot happened in this? One dramatic interaction was… stumbling on the staircase. Another was… disputing wildflowers as decoration. (His antipathy towards the wildflowers was never clear to me.)

Saw the climax coming though I was hoping it wouldn’t go that way… at least it was less dramatic than I was braced for.

Is it not fridging if the female character is killed to traumatize the hero, rather than motivate him? 🤔 I kept waiting for her to come back from the dead.

Got this for free in a stuff your kindle giveaway — hadn’t read this author previously. Not planning to read the next book.

Categories
Cool Garden History

Drought reveals lawn patterns hundreds of years old

Liked History revealed (chatsworth.org)

Recent record high temperatures revealed the remnants of an ornate 17th century garden design on the South Lawn, normally hidden from view…It was covered over and replaced with a new design around 1730 but because the grass on the new lawn has shorter roots it burns more quickly, creating a contrast and temporarily revealing the older garden underneath.

It seems outrageous that a lawn resodded 300 years ago retains these imprints of its past. The land holds so many memories, and plants live on a much longer scale than we do. Every time a new secret is unveiled or we learn how to interpret what we’re seeing (like in the PNW the history of logging remains visible in stumps with springboard notches still clear to see), it’s a reminder of the long now, and our tiny place within the vastness of time and history.

Categories
Personal Growth Relationships

Read Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come

Read Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come

An introvert spends a year trying to live like an extrovert with hilarious results and advice for readers along the way.

This was entertaining — more memoir than serious non-fiction. Biggest takeaway was to put yourself out there and be vulnerable.

Encapsulated in this quote: “That’s the truth of the world… Nobody waves — but everybody waves back.” – Nick Epley, a researcher she talked to

Being charismatic:

  • Hold eye contact while shaking hands
  • Ask a genuine open ended question
  • Ask how they feel about it
  • Validate their feelings

Events for networking:

  • Go to events that actually sound fun
  • Stay at least an hour
  • Arrive on time
  • Talk to 3 people
  • Try to really connect with 1

“Some women don’t need so much help with public speaking as with the self-doubt and self-loathing that hold them back from getting involved in it.” – Viv Groskop, How to Own the Room

Categories
Romance

Read A Lady for a Duke

Read A Lady for a Duke

When Viola Caroll was presumed dead at Waterloo she took the opportunity to live, at last, as herself. But freedom does not come without a price, and Viola paid for hers with the loss of her wealth, her title, and her closest companion, Justin de Vere, the Duke of Gracewood.

Only when their families reconnect, years after the war, does Viola learn how deep that loss truly was. Shattered without her, Gracewood has retreated so far into grief that Viola barely recognises her old friend in the lonely, brooding man he has become.

As Viola strives to bring Gracewood back to himself, fresh desires give new names to old feelings. Feelings that would have been impossible once and may be impossible still, but which Viola cannot deny. Even if they cost her everything, all over again.

This story was long, which meant the author could include both the gothic oceanside home and a Season in London. I don’t feel the second half and first half tied together enough plotwise — the villain for the end of the piece was brought in quite late. Emotionally, I can see why a longer resolution was needed for reconciliation, but I think it could have been accomplished a little more directly. Both halves of the story could easily have been made into their own story, and perhaps picking one to focus on would have kept it tighter. And it maybe bothered me that the heroine is given another side role rather than being central to the story, when part of her story is that she gave up so much to be herself, including having her own independent life?

I thought the emotional conflict over the MC’s transition and “betrayal” was done well (though I’m not trans so defer to actual trans people on whether the rep was good). The hero adjusts to the transition fast, but I feel like as an author you need to do that or he’d look like a transphobic dick, which would kill the story. The sex scenes were written tastefully and thoughtfully.

Categories
Romance

Read The Truth About Dukes

Read The Truth About Dukes

Robert Rothmere is hiding a past no duke should have endured, but he’s not hiding it well enough. Sooner or later, his enemies will learn that he spent years locked away at a private asylum. To get their hands on his wealth, they’ll try to send him right back to his worst nightmares. If Robert is to foil their schemes, he needs to marry a perfectly proper, blessedly boring, deadly dull duchess, immediately—and he knows exactly which quietly delightful lady he’d love to entrust with that role.

Lady Constance Wentworth has cultivated a reputation for utter forgettability. She never speaks out of turn (in public), never has a daring thought (that she admits aloud), and never comes close to courting scandal… as far as anybody knows. Her path crossed Robert’s years ago, though, and she’s never forgotten the extraordinary lengths he traveled to keep her safe when she hadn’t a friend in the world. She longs to be his demure duchess…but little does he know that to marry her would be utter madness.

Direct sequel / continuation of A Duke by Any Other Name.

Liked this but not as well as the previous book. Again, I appreciated the lack of drama and resistance between them on admitting their feelings, that the drama was primarily caused by outside events and other people.

Robert came off as more mature in this book than the previous, where he painted himself a tragic tale of woe. It was good to see him get over it.

Categories
Art and Design

Queen Victoria’s emerald tiara

Liked An historically important emerald and diamond diadem, Joseph Kitching, 1845 (sothebys.com)

The present tiara is one of several jewellery pieces designed for Queen Victoria by her husband. Prince Albert had previously incorporated the Queen’s birthstone, emerald, into his designs, including in her engagement ring.

To accompany this ring, in 1843 Albert designed a matching necklace, earrings and brooch. Two years later, Prince Albert worked with the court jeweller Joseph Kitching to realise his design for this impressive piece which came to a total cost of £1,150.

Wow 😍

Visually stunning, am not going to think about the provenance of the jewels…

Categories
Romance

Read Waiting for a Scot Like You

Read Waiting for a Scot Like You (Union of the Rakes, #3)

For a merry widow and a stoic major, it’s a bumpy road to love…

Adjusting to life in peacetime isn’t easy for Major Duncan McCameron. Escorting a lady on her journey north seems like the perfect chance to give him some much-needed purpose. That is, until he learns the woman in question is the beautiful, bold, reckless Lady Farris. She makes his head spin and being alone together will surely end in disaster.

Beatrice, the Dowager Countess of Farris, is finally free of a stifling marriage and she has no plans to shackle herself to any other man. Ready to live life to the fullest, she’s headed to a week-long bacchanal and the journey should be half the fun. Except she’s confined to a carriage with a young, rule-abiding, irritatingly handsome Scottish soldier who wouldn’t know a good time if it landed in his lap. But maybe a madcap escapade will loosen him up…

Between carriage crashes, secret barn dances, robbers, and an inn with only one bed, their initial tension dissolves into a passion that neither expected. But is there a future for an adventure-loving lady and a duty-bound soldier, or will their differences tear them apart?

Not what I expected but quite the romp. Feminist and non-traditional. Accidentally read this before the second book but it was fine. Straight couple with a very light m/m subplot.