~ Annie Dillard
500 Acres and No Place to Hide
Susan McCorkindale's humorous look at farm life from the eyes of a city girl had me laughing right out loud. It also broke my heart. I just about wet my pants over the silly hen on Susan's head and the pansy that killed that hen. I then cried my eyes out over the cancer that changed their lives. I would describe this book as a series of short stories instead of an actual novel, but I loved it and wish I would have read the first one, well...first...but never fear, it will find it's way to my shelf someday.
It's been four years since Susan's husband dragged her kicking and screaming from their comfortable, big city East Coast life to a farm in Virginia cattle country. Susan's adjusting as best she can, which isn't easy considering she's been known to wear Manolos in manure. She'll never be a real farm girl, but as readers will see from her side- splitting confessions, she's faking it just fine.
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey
~The countess of Carnarvon
This is a history of Lady Almina and was written quite well. Lady Almina was an heiress, the illegitimate daughter of Alfred deRothchild, who then married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. During the first World War,Lady Almina found her calling and turned Highclere Castle into a hospital. Fascinating! Do not pick up this book thinking you will be reading a novel. It is history and written as such so gets a bit dry in places. I did really enjoy the history of the castle and the author, (who is the 8th Countess of Carnarvon!), did a good job of bringing the personalities out.
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration and setting for Julian Fellowes's Emmy Award-winning PBS show Downton Abbey, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon. Drawing on a rich store of materials from the archives of Highclere Castle, including diaries, letters, and photographs, the current Lady Carnarvon has written a transporting story of this fabled home on the brink of war.Much like her Masterpiece Classic counterpart, Lady Cora Crawley, Lady Almina was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, Alfred de Rothschild, who married his daughter off at a young age, her dowry serving as the crucial link in the effort to preserve the Earl of Carnarvon's ancestral home. Throwing open the doors of Highclere Castle to tend to the wounded of World War I, Lady Almina distinguished herself as a brave and remarkable woman.
This rich tale contrasts the splendor of Edwardian life in a great house against the backdrop of the First World War and offers an inspiring and revealing picture of the woman at the center of the history of Highclere Castle.
I have just started watching the first season of Downton Abbey and am enjoying it.
From the tbr shelves:
Kristin Hannah did it again with another book that really touched my heart. Jolene and Micheal have been married for twelve plus years and things are starting to unravel. Micheal is a workaholic attorney who has recently lost his father and is having a hard time coping with Jolene's Pollyana attitude towards life. She is forever spouting platitudes such as "Choose to be happy and you will be". Jolene came from a very broken family and lost both of her alcoholic parents to a car crash when she was seventeen. She choose to be independent and strong and Micheal is resenting her strength. Jolene is a Black Hawk helicopter pilot in the National Guard, another thing that Micheal doesn't support. One night, Micheal tells Jolene that he no longer loves her and just a couple of days later she gets the news that her troop is being deployed to Iraq. This is the story of a strong woman, a warrior, having to leave her family and a marriage that is following apart to go off to war. Jolene's heart is broken in a number of ways but she knows where her first duty lies and that is in protecting her country and her troops.I loved Jolene and my heart broke for her and all she had to face; not only the breaking marriage but the horrors of war as well. This is a novel of strength, love and horror. I think that all of us, including those of us with family in the military, (we have two sons who are both on their 4th tours of duty in war zones as I type this), should read this well researched novel to get a better understanding of what happens over there and the PTSD that so many of our soldiers come home with. Keep a box of kleenex close.