Sunday Bulletin – November 16

desert

This week I attended the Arizona Library Association conference just outside of the Phoenix area, at a conference center out in the desert. As soon as I drove out of the city and entered the tangle of brush, cacti and jagged mountains I felt my soul exhale. It felt so good to be out of the concrete, out of the strip malls, out of the endless traffic. It reminded me that I really need to journey away from the city more often, into the beautiful places in Arizona that are so refreshing and stimulating to the brain and the body. I can’t have roses like Elizabeth in her German garden, but saguaros, prickly pear cacti and mesquite trees will do just fine.

Books finished this week:

One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes – This painterly, beautiful novel documents the life of one family on one summer’s day in 1946. Laura Marshall, her husband Stephen and daughter Victoria are uncomfortably adjusting to life after the war. Their servants are gone, rationing is a challenge, and their family dynamics are still unsettled since Stephen’s return. Starting at breakfast and going through to evening, we mostly follow Laura as she engages in her domestic chores and ruminates about their changed lives. It is an absorbing portrait of the ways in which English society shifted after the devastation of WWII. Panter-Downes writes so well about human nature and I love her vivid descriptions of people, buildings and the landscape. The world she creates is so real and so fascinating. I just adore her writing and wish that her other novels were as available as this one. It looks like I’m going to have to submit a few interlibrary loan requests.

Hope your Sunday is wonderful!

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Sunday Bulletin – October 26

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Autumn on Hampstead Heath

I think for the rest of the year I’ll return to my Sunday Bulletins if you don’t mind. It will guarantee that I post every week and helps me to focus. My mind is wandering these days and I am dreaming of new opportunities, goals and plans for my career and my life. Most of this year has been frustrating and disappointing for me, but England put sparkle and vibrancy back into my soul and I am straining to keep it there.

I’ll also post more pictures of my trip in between Sundays.

This week my book club held our October meeting and we discussed We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. We had a good talk about unreliable narrators, stifling small towns and belief in superstition. Next month we’ll discuss Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

I recently finished reading a book I bought in London –¬† Good Evening, Mrs. Craven: the Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes. I loved these short glimpses (some just a few pages) into the lives of normal, middle-class people as they stumble along through their days while the shadow of war taints everything around them. The frank, realistic and honest tone of the stories felt so authentic and believable to me. Yet they’re not bleak; they are reassuringly human and often¬† quite funny. It is one of my favorite books of 2014.

It might be a bit early to start thinking about Christmas music, but I’m already pondering what albums to purchase this year. I think this one might make the list.

I hope you have a great Sunday!