All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West, a 1931 novel, was one of this British author’s most popular works. Its major theme is that of gaining control over one’s own life, and it also addresses the constrictions of class and gender.
We meet Lady Slane, who has lived her adult life as the dutiful wife of a powerful politician and a respectable mother. Her husband having just passed away, she’s already well into in her eighties but determined to live out her remaining days to their fullest. Read More→
Daphne du Maurier (1907 – 1989), the prolific British novelist, playwright, and short story writer started her publishing career at age twenty two with her first novel, The Loving Spirit (1931).
The title was inspired by the name of a poem by Emily Brontë. It’s well known that du Maurier was greatly inspired by the Brontë sisters; her masterwork, Rebecca (1938), has echoes of Jane Eyre.
Beginning in the early 1800s, The Loving Spirit tells the story of the Coombes family, and is mainly set in Cornwall, a part of England in which the author spent much of her life. Janet Coombes marries her cousin, Thomas Coombes, who is a shipbuilder. The novel follows the adventures and trials of this family for four generations. Read More→
An ahead-of-its-time novel, The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (at the time known as Dorothy Canfield), published in 1924 by Harcourt, Brace & Co., imagined a domestic role-reversal.
Quite a rare set of circumstances to consider in its time, Evangeline and Lester Knapp were both going through the motions of their proscribed gender roles as parents. An accident forced them to reverse roles out of necessity, and from that adversity, their family found strength and happiness.
Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1879 – 1958) was an American author, educational reformer, and social activist based in New England and identified most closely with Vermont. She earned a Ph.D in 1905, was able to speak five languages, and worked for the cause of refugees in Europe. Read More→
The Reef by Edith Wharton, published in 1912, came more or less in the middle of her novel-writing career. It came after the triumph of The House of Mirth and before her Pulitzer Prize-winning turn with The Age of Innocence.
The author herself wasn’t pleased with this book, writing her regrets over it to a friend not long after its publication, describing it as a “poor miserable lifeless lump,” and vowed that next time she was “going to do something worthwhile!”
Some critics tended to agree with Wharton’s self-assessment. The New York Sun’s review called The Reef “a bitter, disheartening, sordid story and we could wish that Mrs. Wharton would look on brighter and nobler aspects of life.”
It’s fun and fascinating to watch film adaptations of classic children’s novels. Does the cast of characters match how you imagined them while reading? Is the film true to the book, or does it depart too much?
It’s a good idea to read a book first before seeing a film adaptation. That way, the cinematic visuals and actors don’t interfere with your imagination. Who can ever read the Harry Potter books again without picturing Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and the rest of the actors in the film series?
Film and television adaptations can be helpful for kids who aren’t big on reading. In those cases, having them watch the movie first might be a way to get them more excited about reading the book it’s based on. Then, comparing the film and written versions might spark lively discussions. Read More→
Katharine Graham (June 16, 1917 – July 17, 2001) is best remembered for her role as publisher and CEO of The Washington Post. She oversaw the newspaper’s involvement in the Pentagon Papers controversy and its investigation of the Watergate scandal that led to President Nixon’s resignation in late 1974.
Born in New York City, Katharine Meyer was one of five children raised in a family of great wealth. Her father, Eugene Meyer, was a multimillionaire and businessman who was Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve from 1930 – 1933. Her mother, Agnes Ernst Meyer, was a politically active educator. Read More→
The Lost Books of Jane Austen by Janine Barchas (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019) is an ingenious, lavishly illustrated excursion through the printed history of Jane Austen’s books. Barchas contends that the cheap, sometimes shoddily produced printings of Austen’s novels helped keep her work affordable and in the public eye.
From the publisher: In the nineteenth century, inexpensive editions of Jane Austen’s novels targeted to Britain’s working classes were sold at railway stations, traded for soap wrappers, and awarded as school prizes.
At just pennies a copy, these reprints were some of the earliest mass-market paperbacks, with Austen’s beloved stories squeezed into tight columns on thin, cheap paper. Few of these hard-lived bargain books survive, yet they made a substantial difference to Austen’s early readership. These were the books bought and read by ordinary people. Read More→