Category Archives: nonfiction

Daniel James Brown, “The Boys in the Boat”

If I say that The Boys in the Boat is like Seabiscuit, only with humans, and on water, I mean no disrespect. How could I? This is one of those heart-warming sagas of effort rewarded and character winning the prize. … Continue reading

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Anne de Courcy, “The Fishing Fleet”

Do you know what “The Fishing Fleet” was? We’re not talking about sou’westers and cod here. Beginning in the early nineteenth century, young Englishwomen who had trouble finding husbands at home often traveled to India in search of an eligible … Continue reading

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Catherine Bailey, “The Secret Rooms”

Historian Catherine Bailey arrived at Belvoir Castle in the summer of 2008 to research a book on the effect of World War I on the Belvoir estate, which belonged to the Duke of Rutland. Some 1,700 men, at the urging … Continue reading

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Countess of Carnarvon, “Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey”

Actually this post is a twofer, because I also just read Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember. Now why do you suppose I would read these two volumes back to back? I’ll give you a minute. Maybe if I add … Continue reading

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Will Schwalbe, “The End of Your Life Book Club”

I’m cheating here. Normally I don’t blog about a book unless I finish it, and my bookmark is stuck on page 292 of 326 in The End of Your Life Book Club. I just couldn’t face the chapter entitled “My … Continue reading

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Bob Tarte, “Kitty Cornered”

Who reads cat books? Me, apparently. Kitty Cornered was a gift from a lovely friend who must be extremely sensitive, because she gathered from the occasional faint protest that Beloved Husband and I were sometimes puzzled by our cat’s behavior. … Continue reading

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Caroline Moorehead, “Dancing to the Precipice”

Lucie Dillon de la Tour du Pin has been vaguely on my radar for a long time; her memoirs show up in  bibliographies when you’re reading about pre-Revolutionary Versailles, or for that matter, about the revolution itself — or even Napoleonic … Continue reading

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Nathaniel Philbrick, “Why Read Moby-Dick?”

“There are no tricks — there is only enthusiasm.” That, according to my admittedly flawed memory, is legendary femme fatale Pamela Harriman’s explanation of how she managed to ensnare so many powerful men in her lifetime. My husband takes this … Continue reading

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Patrick Leigh Fermor, “Between the Woods and the Water”

Between the Woods and the Water takes up exactly where Patrick Leigh Fermor left off at the end of A Time of Gifts; the first sentence reads “Perhaps I had made too long a halt on the bridge.”  (A reminder that … Continue reading

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Asti Hustvedt, “Medical Muses”

One of the most fascinating areas of research for Leaving Van Gogh was the treatment of  mental illness in 19th-century France. Since the novel is set in 1890, it’s natural that I came across the titanic figure of that era, Dr. … Continue reading

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