Friday, April 27, 2012
Smoke In The Wind
Smoke In The Wind by Peter Tremayne is one of those odd books I picked up at a garage sale or book sale some time ago and finally got around to reading. This book is the eleventh in a series known as the 'Sister Fidelma Mysteries'. Peter Tremayne is the pen name of Peter Berresford Ellis, a prolific writer and an authority on Celtic history and culture.
Sister Fidelma is a 7Th Century religieuse, a former member of the community of St. Brigid of Kildare. She is also a qualified dalaigh - an advocate of the ancient law courts of Ireland. While most of Europe was still in the Dark Ages in the seventh century, for Ireland it was a period of enlightenment. Students from all over Europe were being educated in the Irish universities while Irish male and female missionaries were setting out to establish churches and centers of learning throughout Europe as they spread Christianity. I had the pleasure of visiting one of those ancient centers of learning, Clonmacnoise, when I was in Ireland.
While I totally enjoyed reading this book not only for the mysteries to be solved but also for the historical Celtic lore, it may be the only book of the series I get to read. Our library does not have any Sister Fidelma titles and I doubt I will search these books out to buy. With any luck, I'll happen upon some more at a book or garage sale.
(As an aside: While typing this title, words from a song began drifting through my mind: Smoke in the wind, all we are is smoke in the wind. A bit of googling, of course, got me to Kansas' Dust in the Wind. "I close my eyes, only for a moment and the moment's gone. All my dreams pass before my eyes of curiosity. Dust in the wind: All they are is dust in the wind." This could become my theme song.)
Laura Childs' Tea Shop Mysteries are her one series I do try to read. (She has two other series.) Agony Of The Leaves is the 13th book featuring Indigo Tea Shop owner and amateur sleuth, Theodosia Browning. If you're already reading this series, you won't be disappointed by this latest offering or the delectable tea recipes found in the back of the book. I might try making Haley's Butter Cake. Childs also includes ideas for different teas. How about a Shakespearean Tea? Or a Picnic Table Tea? The 'Tea Resources' listing is also quite extensive.
The main thing I learned from this book was that the agony of the leaves is the term used to indicate the unfurling of the tea leaf during steeping. How could I have not known this before? I have been a tea drinker my whole life. Of course, most of my tea has been brewed in a cup of hot water via a tea bag. True tea aficionados consider the tea in tea bags akin to 'floor sweepings'. That alone is enough to make me switch to loose tea leaf brewing - that and watching the agony of the leaves in a glass tea pot.
Rita Mae Brown has been on my good authors list for some time, so when I picked up her rather old (1987) book, High Hearts, at the library and saw that it was a Civil War setting, of course it came home with me. (I've been on a Civil War kick lately.)
The writing didn't seem quite up to the par of her newer books, but I liked the concept of a woman disguising herself in order to join a cavalry unit and fight for the Confederacy. While there are some graphic battle scene descriptions, most of the narrative is about the women who were left to manage their homes, farms and plantations as well as nursing the multitudes of war casualties.
Brown is a thorough researcher. This book includes as complete a list as possible of those who died who were from just one Virginia County - Albemarle - during the Civil War. In her words: "This is but one list from one county in Central Virginia. Imagine if we compiled a list from every county, from every state. It would be volumes of dead, mute testimony that once they lived, they were young, they were filled with hope and high spirits."
I have yet to find any of my ancestors who fought in the Civil War, though there's a possibility of a great-great uncle I need to research further. I have heard it said that on a per capita basis, Iowa lost more men during that war than any other state. I have seen the Iowa markers on the battlefields of Shiloh. Next month as I visit the cemeteries for Memorial Day I will take the time to pay recognition at all the Civil War monuments.
"My life - my real life - started when a man walked into it, a handsome stranger in a perfectly cut suit, and, yes, I know how that sounds." Thus begins Love Walked In by award winning poet Marisa de los Santos. And yes, this does sound like just another romance book.
From the book description: "When Martin Grace enters the hip Philadelphia coffee shop Cornelia Brown manages, her life changes forever. Charming and debonair, the spitting image of Cary Grant, Martin sweeps Cornelia off her feet, but, as it turns out, Martin Grace is more the harbinger of change than the change itself....
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, eleven-year-old Clare Hobbes must learn to fend for herself after her increasingly unstable mother has a breakdown and disappears. Taking inspiration from famous orphans (Anne Shirley, Sara Crewe, Mary Lennox, and even Harry Potter) Clare musters the courage to seek out her estranged father. When the two of them show up at Cornelia's cafe, Cornelia and Clare form a bond as unlikely as it is deep. Together they face difficult choices and discover that knowing what you love and why is as real as life gets."
But this is so much more than a typical romance book. It is romantic from the standpoint of black and white movie references; from the childhood love of the Anne of Green Gables books; from the need of every young girl to have an understanding aunt or older woman mentor in her life.
This is the only de los Santos book our library has, but I will be searching out this author's other two novels, Falling Together and Belong to Me. Her prose is magical - as poetic as I would expect her poetry to be. This book reminds one that love comes in many forms and we should remain open to all those forms because you never know when love will walk in.