A Few More...

Cruel and Usual Punishment by Nonie Darwish

This was hard to read because of the subject matter, but it was on my shelf for a very long time and needed to be either read or discarded, which I didn't feel I could do. I didn't find it particularly well written. It's quite emotional, but anyone living such experiences would be emotional in the telling of their story. There is some good information in here, and it is worth reading. 

Becoming Mrs Lewis by Patti Callahan

I did not enjoy this much. The book was heavy on Joy Davidman's "finding herself", which included leaving her husband and children in America for months while she had her "me time" in England, even when they were struggling to make ends meet. It doesn't paint a very flattering picture of her. I was disappointed with other things too. When "The Inklings" met at their usual pub, we are frequently told about the wonderful conversations they had, the brilliant exchange of ideas and philosophies, but we are never allowed in. We are told they happened, then it moves on to the next scene. I also question whether Lewis actually gushed over Davidman's work as much as this book implies; it seems odd that such great writing wouldn't be better known. 

The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphries

A lovely surprise. I'm not sure what I expected but it wasn't this. It's a small, hard cover book that looks like an art or gift book, but each chapter tells a story. The Thames has frozen over 40 times in recorded history and there's a fictional story set in each of those times. They are quite short but every one of them quickly grabs your attention and takes you to that time and place. The characters are vivid and the plots are wonderfully imaginative. Highly recommend.

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell

After watching Downton Abbey and reading others in the upstairs/downstairs genre, I found this one a bit flat. It is an actual, true story, which, if I'd read it first, I might have loved. As it is I didn't enjoy the writing and found myself ambivalent about the girl who is telling her story. I'm probably just jaded from all the glitz and glamour and drama - oh the drama - of the fictional stories.   

The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens

Loved it. Every time I read Dickens, I'm struck again by the timelessness of his tales. His books will never finish being relevant because basic human nature doesn't change. His stories are sentimental, but you can't help admiring his "good" characters. They may be too perfect, but they always leave me with some noble virtue to aspire to. His evil characters may be too thoroughly evil, but it's encouraging to see all that vileness bound up in one character and then see him get his comeuppance in the end. I always come away from his books understanding better how kindness can change people, both the giving and the receiving of it, and how selfishness is equally damaging to both the giver and the receiver. And besides all of that, you get a great story and Dickens' unvarnished look at the social problems of his time. But my favourite thing of all is his tone. Call it sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek, wry or what you will, I love it and it's what keeps me coming back. 

I apologize for the lack of book cover pictures. I tried to use them, but they simply won't stay where I put them. When I get the post looking just right, I go to preview and see massive white spaces everywhere and the jpegs all over the place. I've never had this much trouble getting it to work before, but it was impossible today so I gave up. Words will have to do.