Monday, December 30, 2013

SlugDom


The above photo shows the contents of my stocking I received at my mom's tonight.
Yes, we're still having Christmas.
No, we're still not done...we're having Christmas dinner at my husband's family home tomorrow night and then in a couple of weeks, still another smaller Christmas lunch with my dad...in January. 
Christmas in January.
Who knew?

For the last several weeks, I've been a slug.  
I've eaten white sugar, flour, cookies, chocolate, cake, and even a McDonalds french fry or two.  
And, maybe, possibly a little alcohol :p
Ahem. 

What I have not done is run...or walk for that matter. 
Yes, you remember correctly that I'm signed up to run the Rock and Roll Half Marathon.
Yes, you also remembered correctly that I'm supposed to be in training.
Yeah.

2 days ago I almost cancelled my registration.
But, then I decided I wouldn't give myself an easy out.  
I will run/walk the 1/2 marathon if it kills me...and I will finish. 

Tomorrow is my last hoorah...and Wednesday begins the detox and getting back on track.  
The real problem of the moment, however, is how to get all my stocking candy eaten before detox beings.
Just kidding...well, maybe.



Sunday, December 29, 2013

Webcams and Doggie Hotels

I've become one of these people.




I usually leave my Layla at the vet when we're away.  
Of course, like every other dog on the planet, Layla associates the vet with pain, shots, scary stuff, and scary smells.  
My 90 lb. German Shepherd turns into a Chihuahua when we enter the parking lot at the vet.  
Her entire body quakes, and I have to use my calm controlled commands, which she obeys even though she's about to toss her cookies.  

My oldest daughter is working at a pet hotel close to our home so I decided to give them a try for a quick trip to  my mom's.  

Yes, I got the webcam...how did you know?

At first, I really liked the webcam idea.
Layla was still very nervous when we left...the other dogs were barking like crazy.
I felt so much better after we drove away when my daughter logged in to the site and pulled our girl's webcam up.  
She had settled down and seemed to be resting comfortably.

Here's the bad part of the webcam.
We can't stop watching. 

Every funny move she makes, we wonder if she's breathing ok.

Every time she looks around with those sad, brown, beautiful German Shepherd eyes, we say she's depressed.

When the light hit the floor in a funny way, we wondered if she had gotten sick.

She has a raised bed in her crate, but Layla's used to sleeping in a king-sized bed :p 
My daughter called this afternoon to ask the workers to put an extra blanket in Layla's crate so that if she never got on the bed, she wouldn't have to sleep on the hard, cold floor.  

Yes, we have become those people.
Oy.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

I never watch t.v...except when I do.

On a normal, everyday, Monday-Friday schedule, I'm lucky if I get to see the headlines of the day, much less television.
But, during the holidays or weekends, I catch up.
Here's what I'm addicted to right now: 



Scary stuff here...I have not seen the first two seasons, but Season 3 takes place in New Orleans and obviously is about witches.  Jessica Lange is incredible as the Supreme.  Pretty heavy at times and graphic. 





SPOILER ALERT: I'm still trying to deal with Brody's demise.  I kept thinking Superman was going to fly in and save him.  
But, he didn't.
I think this is HBO's way of reminding us that "Homeland" is about Carrie and the CIA, not a romance.






Ok, this is my guilty teenage drama pleasure...so sue me.  I'm losing interest in this one, especially after the two actors who play Elena and Damon broke up in real life...eh...I keep watching though. :/



My newest addiction.  I resisted this one for a while based on the time travel premise.  "Sleepy Hollow" reminds me of "American Horror Story" though on a disturbing basis...the devil is alive and well in Sleepy Hollow.
The music alone will make you jump in your chair!




Another one I resisted for a while.  I didn't really want to get involved with a series about zombies...but The Walking Dead is about so much more.  It's more of an Apocolypse storyline with the human spirit and survival at the forefront. 
SPOILER ALERT
I don't know what we're going to do without Herschel :( 




Dracula: all time favorite gothic novel.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: all time favorite Henry VIII in Showtime's 'The Tudors." 
There's almost a Steampunk feel to this series, and it's just the right mix.

I'm caught up on everything except "Sleepy Hollow"...and can't wait till January when they all start up again!


Friday, December 27, 2013

Sh*tter's fixed :P (PG-13 post)

Searching for a funny photo of cousin Eddie today (yes, we're still dealing with the sewer issue), I found this: 


The Moving Pencil is the name of the website, and the person behind it does custom graphic art.  
I don't know this person and have never bought anything from the website, but I did enjoy looking around :) 

Anyhoo.

The husband called in the big dogs today.  
They came, they saw, they dug, and they tromped around in really nasty watery muddy gunk.  
They turned the pump on; they turned it off.  
And, finally, they gave the husband the bad news.  
The pump was completely burned out and would have to be replaced.  
$2500.00 price tag.
Cha-ching!

To say that our budget does not allow for such unexpected expenditures is putting it lightly.  
Our bargain price ended up being $2160.00, but what are ya gonna do? 
Not pay the guys for sloshing around in your sewage and replacing the pump on your sh*tter?

I don't think so.
  
Oy.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Vacation continues...

I started thinking about cleaning up Christmas today.
Thinking about it.

And, then I folded some clothes.
And cleaned out my closet.  

Our sewage pump messed up somehow...again...and well, let's just say Clark W. Griswold became cousin Eddie.
(For the record, the husband was wearing jeans, a sweatshirt, and boots).


As the husband pulled the hose across the yard and turned on the pump, jumping out of the way of the first spew, I snickered. 
And, then I picked up my phone to take a picture.

That slip earned me a look similar to this:


Yikes. 
I decided against taking the picture and instead closed the window.

I stole a Fresh Balsam wall freshener from my middle kid and plugged it in.
The smell, people...the smell.

Then, Clark/cousin Eddie actually needed my help, and I became the pump plugger inner and outer and bathroom water turner onner and offer over and over again from inside the house through the now opened back up window.

We were quite the sight I'm sure.  

Ain't life grand? 
;) 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Peace on Earth

Today was an incredible day.
A long day, a messy day, a sleepy day, a lazy day, a stay in our pajamas all day kind of day.
Like I said...incredible :)

Our older daughters received things they needed and cash.  
They're in college after all.
The youngest daughter received toys which she played with non-stop all day in between rounds of Wii Dance Party 2014 with her older sisters.  




And, the Clark W. Griswold award for Christmas 2013 goes to my husband:

Ed: "That beef jerky ain't no good."
Whitney: "What beef jerky?"
Ed: "That stuff sitting on the counter"
Whitney: "DADDY! That's one of the cat treats!"
Ed: "No wonder it ain't no good."



Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

'Twas the night before Christmas...

After Christmas Eve service, we ate our traditional Chinese buffet supper, and gathered at home for home movies, candlelight, and last minute wrapping.  

I was looking through some of our previous Christmas pictures and stumbled across this one: 


Awwww, they're hugging each other...complete with big smiles and a Barbie SUV, circa 1997.

I teared up a little.

And then my oldest daughter (on the left) reminded me that seconds after this photo was taken, the middle daughter (on the right) smacked her in the head with the fabulous Barbie SUV.
Oy.
:p 

Precious memories, y'all...every one of them!

Merry Christmas :) 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Mary, did you know?


I poked my head out of my comfy cave today just to get a roll of wrapping paper and look for a couple of last minute things.  

Bad idea.

By the time I pulled off the highway, over the course of the time I was away from home, I spent more time sitting in traffic than I did anywhere else.

I saw several ambulances flying down the highway with their sirens screaming.

I saw 2 wrecks where thankfully the drivers seemed to be ok.

I saw one lady on her cell phone, pushing her buggy, with her child behind her, singing loudly.  The lady turned around and yelled at the child to "Shatup! I've bout had enough of you!!!"

And, then I saw another lady walking across a parking lot, screaming into her cell phone.  She made me and another lady pretty nervous.  

I put my earphones in and headed home.



Sunday, December 22, 2013

Peace. Joy. Love.

I've been laying low (or is it lying low?) lately.
Oh well...

I do this to a certain extent every Christmas, but I've taken it to an entirely new level this season.  

Music helps immensely...my middle daughter showed this particular video to me, and I've listened to it 3 times in a row: 
I bet you've never heard The Little Drummer Boy like this :) 

Enjoy.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Homebody

I'm in Atlanta, GA for work.
During the Christmas season.
What that means for a homebody like me who likes to hibernate during the holiday season away from the crazy people is homesickness.
Yep.
I'm a grown woman. 
Nothing wrong with loving my home and family so much that I'd rather be there than anywhere else in the world.  
And I ain't even sorry.

Thankfully though, my husband is with me on this trip, and we left our grown children to care for our home as well as Layla (the 90 lb German Shepherd who becomes a Chihuahua upon entering the glass doors to the vet.) 

Layla also freaks out when we get suitcases out of the closets.  I don't pack until I have no other choice for this very reason.
My daughter sent me this picture less than an hour after my husband, the youngest, and I left.


Layla: "This is my sad Chihuahua face because my mommy and my girl have left me with suitcases."




A little while later, I received this photo.  The middle daughter has an addiction to McDonalds that I have not been able to cure yet, so she took sad Layla through the drive-thru for a biscuit.  

Layla: "Whitney, my mommy says I'm not supposed to eat biscuits from Mackey D's, but if you say it's ok, I'll be a good dog for you and eat one."




This morning I woke up to this photo.  Layla sleeps at the foot of our bed, and this look is one of my favorites each morning.  Middle daughter slept in our bed with Layla so Layla wouldn't be so sad.  
She looks comfy there on my Pottery Barn quilt, doesn't she? 
Oy.

Layla: "My mommy said 'Stay' before she left, and she also said, 'Mommy will be back,' so I know if I stay right here, she will indeed return to me. 
Besides that, this Pottery Barn quilt is quite comfy and smells like my mommy; no wonder she asked for this quilt for Christmas last year!"  
"Between my mommy's quilt, my girl's "cubbie" blanket, and my Whitney, I'm gonna be just fine."

Me: I'm coming home soon, Laylaboo!!!! 

German Shepherd = scariest dog in the world, right up there with Pit Bulls. 
yeah, right.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Yes, Virginia, I too am a Feminist.




The Representation Project has released the above video.  
I wateched it this morning on Facebook and then posted it to my Timeline.  
Because I'm like that.
Whatever "that" means.

My 15 year old nephew posted the following comment, "Oh no, Aunt Patti, not you too..."

Yeah.

He did.

Because he's 15, I let him slide with a gentle confirmation that I am, indeed, one of those he catalogues as "you too."

Because I'm 45, and this is my blog, I can't just let it go. 
I'm a feminist.  

FEMINIST

I'm married, have 3 kids, and love my husband.
I appreciate men and am glad we have them here with us to take out the trash. 

That was a joke, people.  

However, there's a lot of inequality in this world.
Sexism, racism, ethnicism, anti-semitism, classism, nationalism...and on and on and on...
Still.

And, I don't believe that's the way it should be.

I worry tremendously about those who think equality is an old, boring topic...that mindset just means the hidden agendas are working.
One short look back into World History shows pretty quickly how the tide can turn...and how many times the tide turns over and over again.
We must work hard for change...and never let our guard down.
Never become complacent.
Care.

I've worked hard to raise my own daughters to believe in themselves, to be strong, independent young women who can take care of themselves.  
I've also raised them to care about others and to always consider how their actions and words affect not just themselves but others as well.
Each generation is responsible for the continuation of society.
And, they must accept that responsibility.

Now, I feel better.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini - TLC Book Review


Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (September 24, 2013)
Source? the publisher via TLC Book Tours
**FTC Disclosure - I received a complimentary copy of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker in exchange for an honest review.  The review below and the opinions therein are my own and offered without bias.

Why? I first became interested in Elizabeth Keckley when I read and reviewed The Lincoln Conspiracy by Timothy O'Brien.  

What Now?  I need more Lincoln...and more Elizabeth Keckley.  Behind the Scenes by Elizabeth Keckly is my next read.

Golden Lines

All of Washington City was abuzz with anticipation - and in certain quarters, apprehension - for the arrival of President-Elect Lincoln. (18)

"Shall we go downstairs, Mother?" the president asked his wife.

Excluded from her husband's inner circle, missing her departed sisters and cousins, disdained by the popular ladies of Washington, Mrs. Lincoln often told Elizabeth - sometimes sadly, sometimes in defiance - that Elizabeth was her only true friend within a hundred miles. (45)

Elizabeth felt the room shift and turn around her before all went dark. (65)

Great heaving sobs choked off his words. Tears filled Elizabeth's eyes as she watched the anguished father bury his head in his hands, his angular frame shaking with grief. (82)

Outraged abolitionists insisted that the president seemed incapable of understanding that the surest and swiftest way to win the war and save the Union was to emancipate all slaves everywhere and to allow them to don Union blue and take up arms in service to the nation.  As for Elizabeth, she certainly wanted slavery abolished everywhere.  She wanted colored men to be allowed to enlist as her son, George, had done.  But she also wanted the contraband to be healthy, well fed, educated, employed, and prosperous, and she knew that no amount of wishing could make it so - only hard work and careful planning. (110)

Immediately Elizabeth understood, and she felt humiliated for ever entertaining the slightest expectation of being offered the position.  "His other employees don't wish to work side-by-side with a woman of color." (127)

Her son was, in the eyes of the law, illegitimate.  George was a product of rape, the offspring of a liason she had never desired, and yet, due to the curious morality surrounding race and marriage and the "peculiar institution" of slavery, Elizabeth would suffer for what would be perceived as her sexual indiscretion. (129)

Mrs. Lincoln hesitated, took a deep breath, and said, all in a rush, "I have contracted large debts, of which he knows nothing, and which he will be unable to pay if he is defeated." (172)

"Can he mean it?" Emma asked in a whisper. "Will our men be permitted to vote?"
"I think they will be," Elizabeth whispered in reply, a thrill of excitement putting a tremble in her voice.  Perhaps that would only be the beginning.  Perhaps the lady suffragists would finally have their way too. (213).

Morning came at last, gray and somber.  At half past seven, a distant church bell began to toll, and then another joined it, and another, until all the bells in Washington resounded with the terrible news. (225)

"Tell me, how can I live without my husband any longer?"  Mrs. Lincoln suddenly cried.  "This is my first awakening thought each morning, and as I watch the waves of the turbulent lake under our windows I sometimes feel I should like to go under them." (259).

"I don't know why you miss them so.  I never, never wish to see any of my masters or mistresses again." (270).

The New York Citizen: "Has the American public no word of protest against the assumption that its literary taste is of so low grade as to tolerate the back-stairs gossip of Negro servant girls?" (319)

"You who have never suffered cannot understand the full meaning of liberty. (346)

Slowly drawing in a deep breath, Elizabeth nodded.  She did not want his pity.  "When I am in most distress," she said with an effort, keeping her voice calm and even, "I think of what I often heard Mr. Lincoln say to his wife: 'Don't worry, Mother, because all things will come out right. God rules our destinies.'" (349)

Summary from Amazon

"In a life that spanned nearly a century and witnessed some of the most momentous events in American history, Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born a slave. A gifted seamstress, she earned her freedom by the skill of her needle, and won the friendship of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln by her devotion. A sweeping historical novel, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker illuminates the extraordinary relationship the two women shared, beginning in the hallowed halls of the White House during the trials of the Civil War and enduring almost, but not quite, to the end of Mrs. Lincoln’s days."

What I Liked

The history of the African American woman...so many with so many talents...so many individuals who could have been but weren't bc of slavery.  Just like House Girl's Josephine and Elizabeth Keckley in Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, there were many others that we'll never know because their very identity was stripped from them.  These are losses we cannot recoup. All the more reason to cherish those who we can know.

A glimpse of the Lincolns behind the doors of the White House...their habits, their realness, their partnership.

The deaths...and there were many...are heart wrenching as, of course, I expected, but Chiaverini's writing made me feel the grief, the torment, the "keening."  Wow.

The politics - I'm not a political junkie by any stretch of the imagination...and can even be pretty snarky when it comes to those kinds of discussions.  But, again, Chiaverini helps the reader see history in the making through the layman/woman's eyes.  Even though I knew the story, Chiaverini unfolds it as if it is happening right now, and the reader is a player in the midst.

REALITY - so many times history is spit shined.  Not here. While freeing slaves state by state, signing the Emancipation Proclamation, and finally the Thirteenth Amendment were the right things to do, the reality of streets swarming with illiterate, starving families and field hands with nothing to their names became a social problem, one that needed relief and fast.  Lives were at stake.  The Contraband Relief Association were groups I had never heard of before.  Freedman's Villages were little more than immigration camps with little to sustain them.  Even among abolitionists, there were many who were not prepared to deal with the results of the new laws.  Freeing the slaves was just the beginning, not an end.

More REALITY - Just because the laws of the United States freed slaves, that didn't mean racism disappeared.   In the North, In the South, In the East, and In the West.  I think it's easy for people to blame the Civil War and racism on the South.  Everybody wants to point a finger.  But Northerners in Washington during the Civil War were the ones who didn't want to work with Elizabeth Keckley and a New York City hotel didn't want her on the same floor as white people when she went to help Mrs. Lincoln two years after the President's assassination.  I also read an interview just the other day with actress Alfre Woodard who is originally from Tulsa OK.  Discussing racism, she purported that she was never called "the n word" until she went to college in Boston.  Racism is more than a "Southern thang," and I was so very glad to see that point embedded deeply within Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker.

While the Lincolns are obviously a part of this story, they are not THE story.  Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker is Elizabeth Keckley's story...the one she deserves.  The famous first family is her backdrop.

The letter from widow Queen Victoria to the newly widowed Mary Lincoln.

Elizabeth's book writing process.

What I Didn't Like

Nothing. Nada. 

Overall Recommendation

If you are in the least bit interested in American history, the Civil War, President Lincoln, Mrs. Lincoln, Elizabeth Keckley, and/or the changing times for former slaves, you'll want to pick this one up.

The Author






Other Stops on the Tour

Monday, November 18th:  BookNAround
Tuesday, November 19th:  Always With a Book  **book spotlight and giveaway
Thursday, November 21st:  A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, November 21st:  Bibliotica
Friday, November 22nd:  Books are the New Black
Monday, November 25th:  A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, November 26th:  Red Headed Book Child
Wednesday, November 27th:  Lit and Life
Friday, November 29th:  Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Monday, December 2nd:  Book-alicious Mama
Tuesday, December 3rd:  Peppermint Ph.D.
Wednesday, December 4th:  Must Read Faster
Thursday, December 5th:  The Daily Mayo
Friday, December 6th:  West Metro Mommy Reads
Monday, December 9th:  Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, December 10th:  Lavish Bookshelf
Wednesday, December 11th:  Bookchickdi
Thursday, December 12th:  Broken Teepee
Tuesday, December 17th:  Kritter’s Ramblings

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope - TLC Book Review


Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope
• Hardcover: 384 pages
• Publisher: Harper (October 29, 2013)

Source? the publisher via TLC Book Tours
**FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of Sense & Sensibility from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The review below and the opinions therein are my own and offered without bias.

Why? I've never read the orginal.  There, I've said it.  I was an English major too.  I feel like I'm admitting some sacrilige, but my literature emphasis area and love has always been American lit.  Forever I have meant to go back and read the Bronte and the Austen novels, but sadly, I just haven't.  When these newer versions starting popping up everywhere, I made a pact with myself that I would not read them until I read the originals.  I've kept that pact until now.  I had every intention too, of reading the original before Trollope's version as soon as I agreed to read and review it.  But, alas, I did not.  It will be interesting to see how my response to Trollope's version compares with those who HAVE read the original.

What Now?
Yeah, I'm gonna read the original.  I need to.  I have to.  What better time for the classics than the holidays? :)

Golden Lines

Elinor sometimes wondered how much time and energy the whole Dashwood family had wasted in crying. (6)

Elinor clamped an arm round her shoulders and held her hard.  It must be so awful, she often thought, she often thought, to take everything to heart so, as Marianne did; to react to every single thing that happened as if you were obliged to respond on behalf of the whole feeling world.  Holding her sister tight, to steady her, she took a breath.  (7)

Fanny had wanted a man and a big house with land and lots of money to run it and a child, preferably a boy.  And she had got them.  All of them.  And nothing, absolutely nothing, was going to stand in the way of her keeping them and consolidating them.  Nothing. (13)

However detestable Fanny had made herself since she arrived at Norland, all the Dashwoods were agreed that she had one redeeming attribute, which was the possession of her brother Edward. (23)

"Do you, Elinor Dashwood, picky spinster of this parish for whom no man so far seems to be remotely good enough, fancy this very appealing basket case called Edward Ferrars?" (26)

"Wouldn't it just completely piss off Fanny if you and Ed got together?" (27)

"Say it, Ellie, say it.  Say, 'You, Marianne, should not have sex with Wills in the house that's going to be his anyway, one day.' Just say it." (125)

"Why doesn't he ring? Marianne wailed.  Why doesn't he answer my emails?  Or my texts even?  Why doesn't he at least let me know he's alive?" (163)

"Actually," Lucy said, "he is my Ed." (172)

Marianne turned on her side to face Elinor.  She said, much more urgently, "Ellie, I've got to.  I am going mad here; it's like a kind of prison, a prison of boredom and nothingness.  I've got to know what's happening to him."
Elinor said, "Have you looked on Facebook?"
"He hasn't been on it.  He hasn't been on it since he left here.  He hasn't even changed his status from 'single'. (186)

"You poor dear, " Abigail had said to Elinor. "It always comes back to you, doesn't it?  The price o having your head screwed on the right way." (204)

"You're telling me that Wills has dumped Marianne for the daughter of a rich Greek he hardly knows?" (205)

"You wouldn't believe it," Charlotte Palmer said, "but it's all over YouTube already!  Someone must ahve been filming, on their phone, at the wedding.  Aren't people just the end?" (209)

Those Dashwood girls, Char, such sweeties, but really hopeless. So emotional. I suppose you only have to look at their mother, don't you?" (233)

"Poor buggers," he said, "the whole bloody lot of them.  What a nightmare." (308)

TLC Summary

John Dashwood promised his dying father that he would take care of his half-sisters. But his wife, Fanny, has no desire to share their newly inherited estate with Belle Dashwood’s daughters. When she descends upon Norland Park with her Romanian nanny and her mood boards, the three Dashwood girls—Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret—are suddenly faced with the cruelties of life without their father, their home, or their money.
As they come to terms with life without the status of their country house, the protection of the family name, or the comfort of an inheritance, Elinor and Marianne are confronted by the cold hard reality of a world where people’s attitudes can change as drastically as their circumstances.
With her sparkling wit, Joanna Trollope casts a clever, satirical eye on the tales of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. Reimagining Sense and Sensibility in a fresh, modern new light, she spins the novel’s romance, bonnets, and betrothals into a wonderfully witty coming-of-age story about the stuff that really makes the world go around. For when it comes to money, some things never change. . . .

What I Liked

The ridiculousness of it all...for all its silliness, I think that's exactly what Trollope had in mind.  I do wish that I had read the original first though because I think I would have been in on more of the tongue in cheekiness.


What I Didn't Like

I'm a little bit of a cynic where all this smoochy, smoochy, googly eyes are concerned, and before I reached 100 pages, I was rolling my eyes.  Oy.

Belle - gracious alive, what a meddling mother!
Fanny - what an evil witch...and that husband of hers..yuck!

True love, treehouses, husband hunting, private schools, cottages, lordships and ladyships and all the relatives in between are quaint and lovely in period pieces, but those same things didn't work for me in this twenty-first century re-telling.  

Most of the men in this story...why in the world these girls were pining over them I haven't a clue.

Overall Recommendation

I will be interested to find out how other bloggers who read the Austen classic will respond to Trollope's take on the Dashwoods, their extended families, and their all out obsession with who would marry who.  

The Author




Joanna Trollope is the #1 bestselling author of eighteen novels, including The Soldier’s Wife, Daughters-in-Law, Friday Nights, The Other Family, Marrying the Mistress, and The Rector’s Wife. Her works have been translated into more than twenty-five languages and several have been adapted for television. She was appointed to the Order of the British Empire in 1996 for her services to literature, and served as the Chair of Judges for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012. She lives in London and Gloucestershire.

Other Stops on the Tour

Tuesday, October 29th: BookNAround
Wednesday, October 30th: Diary of an Eccentric
Thursday, October 31st: Savvy Verse & Wit
Friday, November 1st: Doing Dewey
Tuesday, November 5th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, November 6th: Lavish Bookshelf
Thursday, November 7th: A Chick Who Reads
Monday, November 11th: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, November 12th: BoundbyWords
Wednesday, November 13th: Book-alicious Mama
Thursday, November 14th: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, November 18th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Tuesday, November 19th: Alison’s Book Marks
Wednesday, November 20th: A Bookish Way of Life
Monday, November 25th: Peppermint PhD
Tuesday, November 26th: A Reader of Fictions
Wednesday, November 27th: guiltless reading
Thursday, November 28th: Excellent Library

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The House Girl by Tara Conklin - TLC Book Review


The House Girl by Tara Conklin

Source? the publisher via TLC Book Tours
**FTC Disclaimer - The publisher provided me a complimentary copy of House Girl in exchange for an honest review.  The review below and the opinions therein are my own and offered without bias.

Format? 
Paperback: 400 pages

• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (November 5, 2013)

Why? My lit emphasis area in college was American Lit.  I was fortunate enough at one point in graduate school to study slave narratives and was blown away by the talent that had been smothered, much of it forever since there are few records to trace the family histories and lives of slaves.  
Reminds me of the Holocaust.
Wiping people off the face of the earth.

I was reminded of? The Color Purple, The Awakening

What Now?
The House Girl is Conklin's first novel, but I'm sold on anything else she writes. She's already on my auto ship list at Amazon.

Golden Lines

During the course of the meeting with Dresser, Lina's desk had been cleared of all the papers relating to her old cases and a pile of books and binders  had replaced them: information on class action lawsuits, histories of U.S. slavery, economic treatises, financial models of farm worker wages and earned income, and case precedent - reparations of Holocaust survivors, for Japanese Americans, for East Germans post-reunification; decisions from the International Court of Justice, the Nuremberg Tribunals, the British Foreign Compensation Act. (72)

"Law is the bastion of reason," Lina's criminal law professor had always liked to say.  "There is no place for feeling.  As lawyers, we reason, we observe, we analyze." (75)

The harm was everyone and everywhere. (77)

As Jospehine passed the watercolor, she too paused to look upon it.  At Missus Lu's acceptance of Melly's praise, a familiar bitter emptiness sounded within Josephine.  An awareness came to her, as it had countless times before, that she possessed nothing, that she moved through the world empty-handed with nothing properly to give, nothing she might lay claim to. (104)

To be identified as white or black was quite literally a question of life or death. (127)

She marveled at Dan's poise, the unapologetic exercise of his presumed right to be an ass. (135)

The drawers she had kept so carefully shut all these years were now flying open as though in deciding to run again she had let loose something rough and dangerous within herself as well. (154)

"Long have I known Father's views on the instituion, but I had not heard him speak so openly before.  Slavery breeds nothing but sloth & degredation among the landowners, he told me, & it's the greatest hypocrisy that extends it still within our national borders." (212)

Lina stopped reading.  Josephine.  Heavy with child.  A descendant. (231)

Summary
- from TLC

Lina Sparrow is an ambitious young lawyer working on a historic class-action suit seeking reparations for the descendants of American slaves. Josephine is a seventeen-year-old house slave who tends to the mistress of a Virginia tobacco farm—an aspiring artist named Lu Anne Bell. Alternating between antebellum Virginia and modern-day New York, The House Girl is a searing tale of art, history, love, and secrets that intertwines the stories of two remarkable women.


What I Liked

Josephine - While Josephine and Lina are the main characters of Conklin's novel, Josephine is the one who stood out to me.  She was the woman stuck in the room with the yellow wallpaper, she was Emily Dickinson, and all the other women who came before her who were forgotten.  

Alternating Narrative - seems a lot of novels are using this strategy lately.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.  Conklin allows the reader to discover Josephine right along with Lina this way...and boy, does it ever work.

The letters, historical documents...we discover the truth as Lina discovers it...through the words of those who lived it.

The Undertaker - Mr. Rounds - The Underground Railroad comes alive in The House Girl.  My gut was in knots when he prepared the next shipment, and when Dorothea became involved...and especially when Dorothea tells Samuel.  I just knew.

The Ending.  We either choose humanity or we don't.
It's that simple.

What I Didn't Like

Mister - every scene with Mister was like reading The Color Purple all over again.

Missus Lu - Conklin created Missus Lu as the character from a novel about slavery that some readers might say, "See, look, not all slave owners were bad people."  In between the lines, however, I think Conklin shows us just how faulty that excuse is.  Even though Missus Lu was "nice" to Josephine, she keeps her like a doll.  Josephine's life was important only as she served to keep Missus Lu's life pleasant.  Josephine couldn't have or be anything that didn't positively affect Missus Lu's life.  Even a child.
I honestly never felt sorry for this woman.  Never.

Slave hunters - not sure what you want me to say here...hunting human beings.


Overall Recommendation

The House Girl is one of those few books that comes around that everybody should read.

The Author


Tara Conklin has worked as a litigator in the New York and London offices of a corporate law firm but now devotes her time to writing fiction. She received a BA in history from Yale University, a JD from New York University School of Law, and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. Born in St. Croix, she grew up in Massachusetts and now lives with her family in Seattle, Washington. The House Girl is her first novel. - TLC Book Tours




Other Stops on the TLC Tour

Tuesday, November 5th: Read Lately
Thursday, November 7th: A Bookish Affair
Monday, November 11th: Books in the Burbs
Tuesday, November 12th: Jorie Loves a Story
Wednesday, November 13th: Peppermint PhD
Thursday, November 14th: Lavish Bookshelf
Monday, November 18th: Olduvai Reads
Tuesday, November 19th: BoundbyWords
Wednesday, November 20th: Book-alicious Mama
Tuesday, November 26th: A Bookish Way of Life