Book descriptions

Books by Rachel Carson: Before and After Silent Spring

Through the gracefully written books by Rachel Carson (1907 – 1964), the noted American marine biologist, conservationist, the public was gifted with a view of the natural world. Undoubtedly, her research and writings shaped the environmental movement.

She wrote eloquently in her nonfiction works, conveying how every living entity interacts with the broader web of life. Though Rachel Carson is known more as a scientist and environmentalist than as a writer, there’s no question that her passion for literature fueled her impassioned writings.

Silent Spring (1962) was her best known work, boldly opening awareness of the harmful use of pesticides. She also wrote three volumes about the oceans, which became known as the “Sea Trilogy” and a book that encouraged families to discover the wonders of nature together. Read More→

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The Six Brilliant Novels of Jane Austen (plus Sanditon)

It’s a testament to an author when a relatively small body of work endures through the ages. The six brilliant novels of Jane Austen have not only stood the test of time, but have continued to be adapted for film and television (not to mention fanfiction by other authors, a list far too vast to enumerate).

With six exquisite novels displaying compassion, humor, and insight into the travails of the sexes and social classes, Jane Austen’s place in literary history is forever secured.

Despite the popular portrayal of her as all charm and modesty, she was a writer and observer of human nature with full mastery of her gifts. She cared deeply about getting published and being read, despite myths to the contrary.  Read More→

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Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen: A 19th-Century Summary & Analysis

The first novel intended for publication by Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey was originally titled Susan. Completed in 1803, it wasn’t published until 1817, the year of the author’s death.

This  coming-of-age novel’s heroine, Catherine Morland, at first young and rather naïve, learns the ways of the world in the course of the narrative.

Set in Bath, England, the fashionable resort city where the Austens lived for a time, Jane Austen critiques young women who put too much stock in appearances, wealth, and social acceptance. Catherine values happiness but not at the cost of compromising one’s values and morals. Read More→

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The Gardenia by Vera Caspary (1952)

Even by her usual standards, Vera Caspary’s novella The Gardenia had a very quick route to the screen. Published in early 1952, producer Alex Gottlieb bought the film rights on September 3, 1952, and engaged Fritz Lang to direct (Caspary had no input into the script).

This overview of The Gardenia, the basis for the renowned 1953 film The Blue Gardenia, is excerpted from A Girl Named Vera Can Never Tell a Lie: The Fiction of Vera Caspary by Francis Booth ©2022. Reprinted by permission.

By November 24, 1952, the final shooting script was ready, a distribution deal was struck with Warner Brothers on the 27th, Lang began shooting on the 28th, and finished on Christmas Eve. Read More→

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Cimarron by Edna Ferber — the 1930 Novel and the 1931 Film 

Cimarron by Edna Ferber was a 1930 novel by the prolific American author that was quickly adapted to film, earning accolades and winning 1931’s Academy Award for Best Picture.

Though it wasn’t the first of Ferber’s novels to be adapted to film, it was a far more expansive (and expensive) production. It paved the way for more Hollywood blockbusters based on her books.

Cimarron (from a Spanish derivation meaning “wild” or “unruly”) takes for its subject the Land Run in Oklahoma territory in 1889. A 1930 review described the book in a nutshell:

“It depicts the opening up of that great territory known as the Run of ’89 — the fantastic scramble when oil was discovered. The story is told through the experience of Yancey Cravat and his young wife who went to seek their fortunes in the new territory. Always a mysterious character with a shadowy past, Cravat is one of Miss Ferber’s best creations.” Read More→

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