Thursday, 8 May 2014

A book a week update for April

I have been a little slack (OK, a lot slack) about posting recently, and I completely missed my March post about my reading challenge.  So today a post about my last my reading challenge of a book a week, for $52, for April and March.


I have been lucky this month to find some free online books -

"The mirror of the graces; or, the English lady's costume" published in 1811 - which can be read online here
A great insight into the times, including the belief that women were made to help men and be as lovely as possible for them, with some color plates, instructions on grooming, good health and fashion.  It also gives some insight into how the Empire fashion came to being, such as this snippet (p24) -

The author, a lady, goes on to say that unfortunately some took it too far and too much bosom was shown, and that corsets then began again to deform the human form. She believes in modesty, and says it should be the aim of every women, and encourages temperance (in diet), moderate exercise and fresh air, and cleanliness, including baths! Taken as a history text it really is an interesting read, and there are some interesting recipes for beauty creams at the end.

The second online book is "The Age of Napoleon: Costume from Revolution to Empire, 1789-1815" - which you can read online here.

Both of these were hard reading, but worth it if you are interested in Regency and Empire fashions.

Of course I also read Emma - the Reader's Digest hardcover version which cost me 10 cents (yes, crazy I know!) Needless to say I adore this book. If you haven't read it you must! You can also find this online.

I also read a more contemporary novel - 'Facing the Light' by Adele Geras. The setting is idyllic - the house as beautiful as one in Emma - but the time is 2002 and the occasion the 75th birthday of the family matriarch, Leonora. Like many families when they are under the same roof, this one is a tense, antagonistic and noisy - but there are also ghosts making their presence felt with past mysteries waiting to be  unfolded. Only when the words of the dead are understood can the living turn from the darkness of the past and focus on the light. A wonderful read, which you can find here. (my copy was 50cents).


My first book for March was The Sleeping Beauty by Mercedes Lackey. Honestly, I only read this book because it was 10 cents at the thrift store, but I was actually pleasantly surprised. It was a real twist on a fairy tale, written for grown-ups (although my twelve year old daughter loved it) and with the princess taking charge. the pink cover really doesn't do this book justice and I found it a great read and hard to put down.  It is the fifth book in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series, and I will be looking out for the rest!
Having been a fan of the TV series Pan Am, I couldn't resist Up in the Air when I found it on sale ($3). the book was written by ex-Pan-Am stewardess Betty Riegel, who at age 22 was on of  17 British girls picked from 1,000 to be interviewed to be a stewardess for Pan Am in the US.  It is a fascinating read, and gives an in depth look at a life in the sky.  I was amazed to discover the amount of cooking the girls had to do on the plane, sometimes preparing seven course meals! The book starts during WWII, and Betty's childhood memories of that time are also interesting.  Definitely worth a read, and you can find a copy here.

Betty Riegel Pan am Stewardess, 1960s
Betty preparing for a flight
Another book I bought because of price was The Horizontal Woman, by David Brierley.  Set in 1994 Poland, the novel sees Artist Tadeusz Lipski in prison, after confessing to a murder.  The story looks back at Lipski's life, through WWII and it's aftermath, and the continuing social unrest and cold war.  It's a great history lesson as well as an interesting novel.  There are some great moments in the book, such as when Tadeusz is discussing what sort of artist he is with a woman-

"What do you do, being a Satirist?'
"I paint. I play music. I compose. I write. I sculpt. I act.  But I don't dance."
"I like dancing."
"The kind of dancing I don't do is different from the kind of dancing you do do."
"are you being stairical now?"
"That is what I do."

Another 10 cent book for me, but you can find it here.

eadle's Dime Book of Practical Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen, by anonymous (1859),

My final book for March was a free online book from Project Gutenberg, a site which offers over 45,000 free ebooks.  My choice was Beadle's Dime Book of Practical Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen, by anonymous (1859), which you can read here or here.  A wonderful insight into 19th century life.

My previous year to date total - $32.65    
My total for March/April        - $3.20/60cents  ($3.80)
My new total                          - $36.45

Which means I have $15.55 left for books for the next 8 months, or 1.94 a month. Can I do it?  

Deb xx

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