Friday, November 23, 2018

The Secret Life of Mrs. London

 A Novel by [Rosenberg, Rebecca]

The Secret Life of Mrs. London, by Rebecca Rosenberg, © 2018, Lake Union Publishing

Step back in time to the rumblings of the Great War. Europe is preparing for battle and America is watching on, at odds with whether they should join in or leave well enough alone. Many people loudly voiced their opinions, including famous writer Jack London. It was one of the qualities that initially attracted Charmian Kittredge, who later became his second wife.

While Charmian and Jack London were great intellectual equals, Jack took the spotlight in their relationship. Where Charmian was his typist and editor, Jack was the grandiloquent orator and prolific writer. Charmian charmed those she met, but Jack took life to the extreme; drinking, travelling, championing socialism, and womanizing. It was a challenge to fall in his shadow, but Charmian was no shrinking violet. So it should be of no surprise that when she met another powerful man of the era, she was drawn in by his magnetism as well. And who could resist the magical airs of none other than Harry Houdini?

Rebecca Rosenberg weaves a magical tale in this debut novel. Based on true events, she artfully fashions the story as historical fiction, painting a love triangle between Charmian, Jack London, and Harry Houdini. We see a different side to these public figures, as seen through Charmian's eyes and it is hard not to sympathize with her plight. I personally loved the peek under the covers that she offers readers and flew through the book's pages. Despite all of the characters' indiscretions, it is hard not to understand where their motives came from.

Rebecca Rosenberg
Ultimately though, this work is a body of fiction created by Rebecca. Since I had the pleasure to review her book, I thought it might be nice to ask a few more questions about it and learn more about her knowledge of Harry, Jack, and Charmian.

Let's chat with Rebecca!

1. Jack London had several affairs throughout his life, beginning with Charmian herself when he was married to his first wife. Why do you think Charmian accepted his affairs, but he couldn’t let go of her indiscretions?

Rebecca - We have to remember the Londons lived in the early 1900’s when things were very different than they are today. Women did not have the vote. All of a woman’s possessions were owned by her husband. Yet, the Londons were Bohemians and philosophers who believed in exploring the possibilities of life and passion. They read Jung, Freud, and other philosophers of the day and often discussed and argued big issues of fidelity, the value of life, the meaning of the universe. In THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON, Jack London writes several novels about LOVE TRIANGLES, including LITTLE LADY OF THE BIG HOUSE, HEARTS OF THREE, MARTIN EDEN. London toys with Charmian in order to experience (or imagine) the feelings of his characters. As the London’s pushed these boundaries of fidelity, they experienced jealousy, which brought them back together, more in love than ever.

2. Both Charmian London and Harry Houdini were supposedly happily married but ended up having an affair with each other. Why do you think they were drawn to each other in the first place?

Rebecca - The mystery of why Charmian London and Harry Houdini would have an affair, when they clearly adored their spouses was the impetus of the novel! The answer to this question would spoil the novel in a few ways, let me just say there are very real reasons the affair happened, and I hope readers will understand that when they read it! Jack London and Houdini had their similarities and differences. Both were driven geniuses, and pushed human existence to its limits. But Jack drank and smoked with a passion and battled with depression. Houdini was an expert swimmer, runner, weight-lifter for his daring escapes. He never smoked or drank. I think Charmian was attracted to Houdini for some of the same reasons as she was Jack, but Houdini had a cool aloofness that could have been a relief after Jack’s intensity.

3. Charmian was an aspiring writer herself. While Jack tried to get her published, it was only with his insistence that her novel finally received publication from his publisher. Considering she was Jack’s muse, typist, and editor, do you think her writing should have stood on its own recognizance or is it fair that it was only published because she was Jack’s wife?

Rebecca - Jack London’s publisher was MacMillan, and he was their best selling author, so they would naturally look at Charmian London’s books, especially since they were biographies of their lives. I think her books, Hawaii and Log of the Snark are fascinating about their travels in the early 1900’s through the South Sea Islands and Australia, encountering Lepers, Headhunters and cannibals. Yes, I think they could have stood on their own, but given Jack London was the most famous, well paid author, the books served a double purpose of giving the public a glimpse into the London’s adventurous life.

4. Where Jack London and Harry Houdini’s lives are both well known, Charmian is barely a footnote in their stories. Why did you choose to make her your main protagonist? What attracted you to her story in the first place

Rebecca - First and foremost, I feel that Jack London could not have written 50 books in 15 years without the talented Charmian Kittredge.

She was truly a woman ahead of her time. Charmian was college educated and worked as the assistant to the president of Mills College. She learned to type as a teenager and typed 150 words a minute. She was a champion horsewoman and concert pianist. She was an intelligent conversationalist, and consummate hostess at Beauty Ranch. She managed Jack’s moods and kept him writing one thousand words a day, no matter how he felt or what else was happening. She typed up his stories as he told them to her, then edited them later, filling in characters and description. She was a huge part of why Jack London’s stories are still popular today. In fact, CALL OF THE WILD was just named top 50 best loved books of all time by PBS.

5. A major sticking point for Jack was when his beloved Wolf House burned down. Who do you think started the fire and why?

Rebecca - This is a spoiler alert, since I leave the question open for the reader to decide! According to Charmian London’s biography, JACK LONDON, “We never knew who torched Wolf House.” You can still see the haunting ruins of the 25,000 square foot log lodge at JACK LONDON PARK, in Glen Ellen, California, an hour north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Much later, scientists have claimed the house was burned down from spontaneous combustion.



Thank you so much to Rebecca Rosenberg for sharing a little more about her debut novel The Secret Life of Mrs. London! Add it to your Christmas wish list this year.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Where Dragonwoofs Sleep and the Fading Creeps

Where Dragonwoofs Sleep and the Fading Creeps, by A.J. Massey, © 2018, Independently Published

Being 13 is hard. You have to deal with self confidence issues, bullying, and the determination to reach your goals—even if that goal is only to ask the cute girl in your World History class if she'll go to the school dance with you.

Ben has bigger issues than if Taylor will go to the dance with him though. Every time he closes his eyes, he ends up in Meridia; a mythical land that is slowly being eaten away by the Fading. It is up to him to stop it, plus fellow dreaming 13-year-olds Avery and Marcus, not to mention a translucent elf named Tam, and three dragonwoofs. With a dose of magic, a dollop of courage, and the strength to work together when it matters most, these characters battle evil generals and the quickly encroaching Fading to save this fantasy land, plus grow into the confident young adults they aspire to become.

Does the story sound familiar? Fans of The Neverending Story and Labyrinth might think so. It should come as no surprise then that as a child, Massey was influenced by 80s fantasy movies like those, plus other epic coming of age tales. The dream-like qualities in the book mirror those tales, but also serve to inspire a new generation of heroes. Heroes that also battle self doubt and poor self esteem, but find the fortitude to work together for the good of others. Will it be enough though?

There are goblins afoot, scorching suns, and plenty of monsters intent on murder within the pages of Massey's debut novel. Young teens with a taste for adventure will cheer along with Ben, Marcus, and Avery as they traipse across Meridia. You just might find yourself enchanted too. And decide that you need your own dragonwoof to help make the world a better and safer place for all.

Friday, October 26, 2018

To the Moon and Back

To the Moon and Back, by Lisa Kohn, © 2018, Heliotrope Books

If you were to write your memoir, what would it contain? Stories of family, friends, and experiences lived along the way? That would be typical. Lisa Kohn was certainly influenced by all those things, but there is a darker edge to her childhood. From a young age, she bounced between living in a cult with her mother, and surviving her father's lifestyle of sex, drugs, and excess in New York City's seedy East Village in the seventies. Both of these extreme influences made for a challenging adolescence, but are also fodder for this starkly honest memoir from a new and talented author.

In the seventies, cults were a feared part of the landscape for many people. Families worried that their vulnerable youth would be recruited by fanatical cult members. For Kohn though, when the Unification Church entered her world, she finally found what she thought was love and stability, after years of living with her hippie, free-loving parents. The love anointed by Reverend Moon was a conditional thing though. And despite her willingness to initially embrace her Mother's new found Moonie lifestyle, Kohn quickly stumbled within their highly judgmental fold. Nowhere was she good enough. Ultimately, that lack of self-confidence and the constant disapproval led to her spiralling out of control.

This story isn't about giving up though. Kohn may have battled anorexia, poor self-esteem, drug use, poor relationship choices, and more, but she also found the strength within herself to question the many influences which led her there. Today, she is an accomplished leadership consultant, executive coach, keynote speaker, and author. She also overcame her demons to find self-worth and a healthy relationship, where she could finally be at peace with her unorthodox childhood and let go of the plaguing beliefs that it was "all her fault".

If you have ever felt not good enough, know that that is far from the truth. We are a product of our experiences, but we also have the power to control the direction our lives go in. Kohn is a beautiful example of that. Her story is at once fascinating, but also hits close to home for anyone who has ever struggled with self doubt. You just might find it worth a read!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Peithosian Gift

The Peithosian Gift by Cristina Archer, © 2018, Rowanvale Books

Do you know how the mind works? Are you so sure? How much control do you think you have over other people's wills? Or nature? You might question all you know after reading Cristina Archer's newest book.

In The Peithosian Gift, Archer introduces two warring families, both with the power to manipulate the world around them with the gift of mind control. Is the Peithosian gift truly a gift though? For the Kane and Morgan families, ancient bloodlines who have feuded for centuries, the answer is not so clear cut. The Morgans believe that using their gift is their responsibility, while the Kanes believe it goes against the natural order of what nature intends. When a forgotten clan materializes, with a child more powerful than anyone has ever seen, the world and all who inhabit it are threatened. The question becomes, can anyone control the child or the ripples her presence might cause?

Archer creates several compelling characters who struggle with their mental manipulation gifts. While I enjoyed her speculative fiction and found the story a good read, the plot line jumped around quite a bit. The story starts in 55 BC, then fast forwards to 21 years ago. From there time lines bounce around further, leaving the reader to wonder which characters we might encounter next. While I was able to follow it, I suspect this device might be confusing for some. The many protagonists also offer a challenge to the reader, as we jump between Adele, Sam, Connor, Radha, Quinn, and many others. While this makes sense due to the wide time period of the novel and the many critical characters throughout, I wonder if the story might have been simpler to write from fewer view points. Ultimately, it was Archer's story to tell though.

So as the story builds in urgency, all the characters introduced eventually meet up in present day. It becomes a battle of the wills that no one is willing to lose, but everyone must be willing to bend on. Hopefully your brain doesn't turn into mush along the way, as you follow the many leads to the final conclusion. I won't spoil the tidy ending, but it seems the clans' biggest fears could be their undoing, or their salvation. Will Radha destroy them all with her barely controlled gift? Can sworn enemies let go of ancient feuds for the benefit of all? Does all of humanity, and nature herself, hang in the balance? You have to read Archer's book to find out.

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles

The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles by Laura Fahrenthold, ©2018, Hatherleigh Press

Earlier this summer I received a request to review a memoir by debut author Laura Fahrenthold. The premise of the story rang close to my heart—grief. A young mother loses her husband and goes on a journey to rediscover life and begin to forge a path to her new normal. I have walked in those same shoes, so it should be no surprise that I said yes for this review.

Instead of writing a review though—I feared I would take over with tales from my own grief journey—I asked if Laura would answer a few questions for me. In addition to learning more about the book, I thought my readers could discover more about the process behind Laura's journey. And I happily have a little more to share about Laura's journey with you! I hope you enjoy a few more insights from Laura's journey in life.

If you haven't had a chance to read The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles, I highly recommend it!

 A Closer Look at The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles...

Grief is a much longer journey than many people realize. When did you decide it was time and you were ready to write your chronicles highlighting your grief journey? How long did it take to write the book?

Actually, life is a much longer journey than most people realize! There are so many stages to it. That’s really what the book is about—it’s a book about going through the stages of life and how I coped with a huge tragedy by driving 31,000 miles across Canada and the U.S. searching for answers to life’s biggest questions. Sometimes, I got answers in the arms of Costco and Walmart shoppers; other times I found my own truths when staring into the sky. And I definitely learned so much from being with my daughters. It’s crazy how everything can change in a matter of six devastating minutes.

While that sounds so deep, and perhaps dark and depressing, the book is anything but that, as suggested by the title itself: The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles! It’s truly an often hilarious look at my efforts to gain emotional and physical strength through the open road in a beat-up old RV we named HaRVey with my two eyeball rolling teenagers and a stray dog, driving through our grief while gaining new experiences to work into our backbones.

So really, I didn’t decide to write this book. It decided to write me.

What do you mean the book decided to write you?

I never set out to write The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles. That isn’t what our ashes-sprinkling RV trips were about. They were about spending time with my daughters, having amazing experiences that would hopefully replace our sadness. We needed to climb mountains like Les Palissades de Charlevoix (which helped me overcome a fear of heights…well, sort of), ride the tidal waves in the Bay of Fundy and go mud sliding down the banks of the Shubenacadie River. We also ended up invited to a wedding in Cape Breton where we got to milk goats on their farm! We were always up to something during those 31,000 miles of adventures.

Friends kept saying I should share my story, that I should write a book, given that I am a journalist. And I thought, you know what? They are right! My story is so relatable on so many levels that it could really help motivate people to get out there and live before they die, too.

I started and stopped several times, but then when I found my husband’s journals, I knew I had to do this. Those journals were the puzzle pieces which put the whole thing into perspective. It was astounding, really.

It took about three years from start to finish while working my full-time job as an editor at Woman’s World Magazine. This meant I spent every second of my off-hours, including nights, weekends and holidays, writing, rewriting, examining every single word, rewriting more, editing more, putting it down, picking it up, crying, writing, doubting, declaring it done and then picking it back up again before finally pitching agents, and finding the best publisher— Hatherleigh Press, distributed by Penguin Random House. And now here we are with a book that was published this summer.

It takes immense strength to rebuild a life after the loss of a spouse. I know firsthand the process is not always pretty but is amazing in how transformative it can be. What are you most proud of accomplishing? What are some of your continuing struggles?

I’m most proud of accomplishing what I set out to do—which is rebuild our lives in the most wonderful way that I could, to give my daughters crazy, fun, positive experiences to draw upon so that their father’s death did not become bigger than our lives. None of us had the tools to deal with what we saw and experienced that night, but now we do. You can drop us in the middle of nowhere with a dollar in our pockets and we will find our way out. Mission accomplished. We are three strong, smart independent women who can now change RV tires, rock climb mountains, swim across rivers, ward off alligators—you name it! And find our ways back home.

I continuously struggle with having to do it all myself (I call myself Mr. Laura). I especially hate taking the garbage out; that’s when I miss my husband the most, on Monday mornings! But seriously, we all have struggles. My struggle is that I continuously struggle with my struggling to stop struggling.

Do you have any words of advice on how best to support someone going through their own grieving process?

Grief comes in all forms. Loss of a job. Unrequited love. Broken promises. Health issues. Divorce. Death. Disappointments. We all go through something at some point. My best advice is not to expect too much of a person in grief. Don’t take their responses or lack of responses personally. They need time. And when you are with them, just listen. Just be there for them.

You never know what a road trip might bring. Adventure, misadventure, laughter, tears, epiphanies, arguments, and hopefully a little growth along the way. Do you have any other road trips planned for you and the girls?

My daughters used to say they’d rather die than go on another RV trip! But then my older begged me to take “HaRVey the RV” on another trip with her and her best friend this past summer. And she drove most of the way! I joked that there’s a new sheriff in town!

HaRVey is and will remain a big part of our lives. It’s like having a giant dog in the driveway that always want to run free and play. Sometimes I like to go sleep out there. It’s fun and feels like a mini-vacation. I know the girls can’t wait for more trips. We’ve talked about Vancouver next! But no more sprinkling Mark. He’s RIPing at his boyhood home in Kansas in a giant field of bright yellow sunflowers.


Thank you so much to Laura Fahrenthold and Hatherleigh Press for sharing this poignant story and the strength it takes to grab life when you think it has escaped you. As Laura reminded me, Everybody needs love. The journey of finding it is within all our grasps, even if that means finding it within ourselves. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Beauty of Humanity Movement

The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb, ©2010, Doubleday Canada

In times of strife, the artists reach for beauty. They paint, write poetry, pen elegant missives—all in the name of keeping humanity alive. In Vietnam, it was no different.

When Maggie returns to Vietnam many years after fleeing with her mother during the Vietnam war, she is seeking answers. She never saw her father again after a tearful goodbye, but what happened to him? Who was he? Why was he targeted by the government? And how does she find those answers? It all starts over a bowl of Phở.

Old Man Hu'ng has been making Phở since he was 11 years old. He has seen much in the decades since then, both inspiring and devastating. Through it all, he found a way to offer his own form of humanity—in his specialty noodle soup. A soup that nourished a movement, and a generation fighting for what they felt was right.

Tu' was born after the revolution and grew up in an age of relative economic reform. He is part of the next generation, welcoming the world to Hanoi with his Nike knockoffs, and tourist-ready smiles. But despite his best efforts to gloss over a tarnished history, Vietnam cannot shake it and Tu' is only just beginning to understand what that means.

When Maggie meets Hu'ng and Tu', all of their worlds collide. Secrets spill out and truths can no longer go unspoken. Camilla Gibb weaves her character's lives together in a beautiful way that proves that humanity will never die. It is a movement will all hold in our hearts, if only we pause long enough to see it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Music for a Rainy Day

I started A New Day almost ten years ago. It has gone through several transformations, featuring the story of my travels through Africa, plenty of poetry, lots of photos, several book reviews, and even music. A few years ago, I even started a Monday Music feature that showcased some rather esoteric musicians.

Music strikes a chord with everyone. Whether you are into rap, roots, reggae, folk, classical, or hip hop, it bridges most divides. People associate with lyrics that touch them. They rock out to wicked drum beats or daze off listening to dreamy trance. I am no different.

My musical tastes have changed somewhat over the years. As a teenager, I thrashed around the dance floor to goth tunes that spoke of dark feelings and existential crises. That was interspersed with bouncy tunes by the likes of Canadian artists Bare Naked Ladies and Spirit of the West. It should be no surprise that an international flair sprang up in my musical tastes after my trip to Africa. And once again, music took on a new role after my husband died. I turned to music to help me heal and find new roots for myself.

I still appreciate any music that touches me, but am always interested to discover new musicians. They pour a little of themselves into the world and share what it means to be human. We all have hurt, experience love, feel joy, and sorrow. And sometimes we discover what it feels like to dance in the rain...

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Love Poems of Rumi

Happy Valentine's Day! What better day than today to take a look at Rumi's love poetry, as translated by Nader Khalili. The folks at the Quarto Books were kind enough to send me a copy of this beautiful book of poetry to review. Today I share it with you.

Love Poems

The Love Poems of Rumi; as translated by Nader Khalili, © 2015, Wellfleet Press

Reviewing a book of poetry is a tricky thing. Poetry is personally subjective. It is full of emotions, personal reflections, and poetic turns of phrase that spring forth from a poet's heart. Who is a critic to call it good or bad?

Such is my challenge.

Add to that, the fact that this is a translation from Rumi's works, and the prospect is daunting at best. Sure, I can comment on the artistic license that Nader takes in not including any capitalization or punctuation [Do I attribute that to Nader or Rumi? I would think Nader, as Rumi wrote in Persian, which is a whole different alphabet. Nader offers the English, therefore makes his call on translation and interpretation]

Regardless, I personally find 'i' distracting from the poetry as a whole. I want to correct the text every time I see the lower case letter. My sritique, but certainly not enough to take away my pleasure in these poems. If anything, I suspect we are to put less stock in 'i' the self, versus the bigger concept of capital L Love. Love is so much bigger than mere i in the grand scheme of things.

So perhaps we should delve into the text then, as Love is certainly the theme of the poetry inside the ornate pages of this book. Translation aside, the words of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī are enough to sweep anyone away with their beautiful and heartbreaking prose that reaches through the ages. For despite the fact that Rumi lived from 1207-1273, I am sure that many can relate to these universal feelings we ache from; the pathos of Love.
anyone who is not in love
cannot be as light as a soul
like moon and stars
cannot be orbiting restlessly
hear it from me
as the final word
a flag can never dance
with no air and no wind
I would be remiss, if I did not share
some of the beautiful murals
found within the pages of the book
Ah, do we not all dream of the mythical ideal of love to give us air to breathe and stars in the sky. It is love that makes it so...
love is
a mirror
you see nothing
but your reflection
you see nothing
but your real face
Should we seek outside ourselves to find this love though? Reading this and several other poems leads me to conclude the answer is not necessarily so. It can be found within and without. Love is joy and suffering. It is a journey we are privileged to be a part of.

Wise council fair Rumi. Thank you for these interpretations Khalili.

But lest we give up on earthly love, and the boundless challenges that come with it, there are still many lines which offer hope to those still looking for love this Valentine's Day. The journey may be long and hard, but Master Rumi suggests the path is necessary and infinitely worth it. Khalili gathers these thoughts together and counters them in subsequent pages, but the message rings out throughout—Love is...

There are so many more lovely images, but I will share these last lines for auspicious lovers to be today. May you find your sweetheart friends! I have many more poems to ponder, as I wander along my own journey towards Love.
this heart will one day
find you a sweetheart
this soul will one day
take you to the beloved
seize your pain as a blessing
your pain will one day
lead you to healing

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


March, by Geraldine Brooks, ©2005, Viking

It seems appropriate to have read March during February—Black History Month. This novel is set during the American Civil War, as people raged against each other in the name of black emancipation. While a work of fiction, it touches on some of the many historical events of the day, many of them heartbreaking. More interesting for me though, was the fact that this book is an imagined perspective from Mr March, the absent father from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. And while I don't usually go in for fan fiction, this novel is a worthy read in its own right (won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for fiction).

Brooks readily notes that she takes license with some of the time periods, but she did her homework before writing this book. She started with Little Women, but dug deeper into Alcott's own personal history, where Little Women was born. In fact, Alcott's father became the model for Mr March. Some of the supporting characters who appear throughout Brooks' book are taken directly from historical letters shared between Bronson Alcott and Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, neighbours of the Alcott family. Mr March's strict vegetarian lifestyle and support of racial equality were also point of fact from Alcott's life. One must remember though, that this is a work of historical fiction.

I must admit, I did not always like the character of Mr March. He strove to control his wife's hot temper too frequently for my sensibilities. That would have been common for the day, but that was what attracted him to her in the first place. And would his beloved Marmee really have been so outspoken during such a tumultuous time? Perhaps, but it seems unlikely. Again though, a work of fiction derived from another classic piece of English literature.

Mr March was a stalwart in his fight for what he believed was right though, and however misguided he sometimes was, one must applaud the courage he took to stand in the face of the popular belief of the day and the rampant abuses that were slavery in the 1800s. Seeing snippets of the Underground Railroad, the bloody battles, the horrific medical practices, and the people who lived through those turbulent times was interesting though. So many heroes, even while they strived to be human at best. For perhaps to give a genuine care to our fellow humans, is the most heroic of deed of all.

"I simply ask you to see that there is only one thing to do when we fall, and that is to get up, and go on with the life that is set in front of us, and try to do the good of which our hands are capable for the people who come in our way."
~ Grace Clement; quote from March by Geraldine Brooks

Monday, January 29, 2018

A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow; by Amor Towles, © 2016, Viking

As most anyone knows, Russia has had a tough history. There have been wars, civic upheaval, glittering triumphs, and questionably dark events. This novel is set in the midst of some of them.

In 1922, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is arrested by the Bolsheviks. His crime—being too Aristocratic. And it is true. Having lived a privileged life, Rostov moved in elite circles, rubbing elbows with the Upper Class of Russia and the world,  all while appreciating the finer things in life. But that all ended with a poem that sent him back to the Metropol Hotel under house arrest, never to leave again. Effectively, he became a non-person.

This is where this sweeping novel begins, and, despite never truly leaving the confines of the hotel, where we get to reflect on the events transpiring outside the Metropol's doors. As despite the fact that Rostov can never leave the hotel, the world still walks through its elegant lobby.

So while Rostov readjusts to life in a cramped attic room, a far cry from the generous suites he was previously used to, life still happens. And while the story is slow to unfold, one cannot help but be swept up in Rostov's reflections on it. There are touching scenes of love, friendship, fealty, honesty, and deviousness that are hard to resist. My favourite scene being when Rostov is led into the cellar to view the vast wine collection, only to find not a label in sight. I too was aghast at the travesty of it and couldn't put the book down from there.

While the book is a work of fiction, Towles adds plenty of historical events to set his stage. For fans of Russian literature, I'm not sure if this novel would hit the mark, but I found it worth the read and look forward to discussing it further with my book club when we meet. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


I scribe illusion
from the truths inside of me
who would believe them

* inspired from a prompt from Colleen's Weekly Tanka Tuesday
I used synonyms for #write and #myth


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