Book Reviews

The Sundial by Shirley Jackson (1958)

The Sundial by Shirley Jackson (1916 – 1965) was this prolific American author’s fourth novel, published in 1958. It was generally well received, though she had yet to reached her peak as a novelist. Jackson was already famous for her iconic short story, “The Lottery,” and her amusing memoirs of prettied-up domestic life.

After the publication of her masterpiece novels, The Haunting of Hill House (1959) and We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962) Jackson struggled with writer’s block and agoraphobia, as well as a host of physical ailments. She died at age 48, a victim of poor health and habits.

For some decades after her death, her work faded from the reading public’s consciousness (other than the widely anthologized “The Lottery”), but after a renewed interest in her place in the American literary canon, several of her novels, including The Sundial, were reissued. Read More→


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Come Along with Me by Shirley Jackson (1968)

Come Along with Me is the novel Shirley Jackson (1919 – 1965) was working on at the time of her untimely death in 1965 at the age of forty-eight. This unfinished novel was collected in the book of the same title: Come Along with Me: Part of a novel, sixteen stories, and three lectures, and edited by Stanley Edgar Hyman, her husband at the time of her death.

Known for her stories and novels of psychological terror, including The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Jackson didn’t leave behind a huge body of work but what she did produce was hugely influential. Read More→


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The Borrowers by Mary Norton (1952)

The Borrowers by Mary Norton (1903 – 1992) is the first volume a classic series of children’s books by this British author. First published in Great Britain in 1952 and in the U.S. in 1954, the Borrowers are perhaps themselves “borrowed” from the tradition of Ireland’s little people. Humans in  miniature who live behind the wainscoting or under the floors of big old houses, they survive by borrowing whatever it is they need, as their name implies.

As Mrs. May muses in the book’s first chapter, what do you think happens to the countless safety pins, pencils, spools of thread, match boxes, and knitting needles that are lost every day? How do they disappear  without a trace? Read More→


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Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley

It seems fortuitous that the 260th birthdate of Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 – 1797) in 2019 dovetailed closely with the 200th anniversary in 2018 of Mary Shelley’s 1818 masterpiece Frankenstein. There’s a profound connection between these two famous authors; they were, of course, mother and daughter. A book well worth reading about these women is the remarkable biography, Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon.

Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley were physically part of each other’s lives only for a few days as Mary Wollstonecraft died ten days after giving birth to Mary due to an infection. Yet the space they filled in each other’s lives was much wider. Read More→


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How to Write a Romance by the editors of Avon Books

Are you in the mood for romance? Most of us are, at least some of the time. Are you in the mood to write a romance novel? Now, that’s a more specific desire, but if you’ve ever fancied giving it a try, the editors of Avon Books, one of the leading publishers of romance books, have produced How to Write a Romance: Or How to Write Witty Dialogue, Smoldering Love Scenes, and Happily Ever Afters (Morrow Gift, July 2019).

It’s a cleverly designed guided journal that just might get you going, and a perfect gift for the aspiring romance writer in your life.

Many of the most beloved novels of all time are incredibly romantic, and perhaps the literary predecessors of contemporary romances. Classic plot lines often feature a plucky heroine who wants to be her own person, while at the same time, yearns for the love of a brooding, mysterious man. Read More→


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