Showing posts from July, 2016

"The Queen's Fool" by Philippa Gregory

J     Another Tudor-Era fantasy by the author of "The Other Boleyn Girl"; the narrative of the story is in first-person told by an interesting young female character. Hannah Verde (or Green, in English) is the daughter of a Marrano book dealer running from the Spanish Inquisition during the reigns of Edward and later Mary I. After his wife was burned as a heretic in Spain, the father and daughter (for her protection, dressed as a boy) flee across Europe to settle in England. Hannah has visions (Hannah is probably suffering from PTSD, after the sudden capture and execution of her beloved Mother). She sees a glowing white Angel behind Sir Robert Dudley when he arrives at her father's shop; she is "begged a fool" by him and made a retainer. Eventually, her visions and common sense take her to the inner-circle of Queen Mary's Court. Mary assigns her as an intermediary with her sister, Princess (later Queen) Elizabeth. She finds herself up to her ears in Courtly…

"The Jewel Box Bank" aka Merchants National Bank, in Grinnell, IA

Dates from 1914, designed by Louis Sullivan

Blue Theme....after the sunset in Iowa

In a state park near Grinnell, Iowa (Cedar Lake, I believe); after a "routine" pale and grey sunset, the world turned to the different shades of blue at dust.

One More Novel...I really like this author.

I can across "Paying the Piper" by regional American author Sharyn McCrumb; the novel predates cellphones and the internet, so as a "cozy mystery" it feels a little out of date. Her heroine, forensic anthropologist Elizabeth MacPherson (whose description would fit as the author's alter-ego) is a young intellectual who is also in love with all things Scottish, including a young scientist from Edinburgh. In the book, he is doing research in Scotland; she gets a slot on an archaeological dig on a remote Scottish isle. Here the mystery unfolds. The author embellishes the science-based solution to the murder mystery with interesting historic details about the remote islands.

Sharyn McCrumb writes about the life and times, historic and modern, of Appalachia, especially western North Carolina. Her "Ballad" series (different from the Eliz MacP series) of novels are evocative; she weaves the history and lore of the mountain region with crime stories involving…

"A High Wind in Jamaica" by Richard Hughes

The slim novel, written in the mid-1920's, was inspired by a real life memoir of an elderly Victorian lady whose ship was commandeered by pirates in the early part of the 19th century, when she was just a little girl, travelling without parents on a sailing ship from Jamaica back to Britain. The author "tamed" the pirates in his narrative and added more children to the plot. He based some of his child characters on the children of Robert Graves, a famous British novelist and poet.

The revolutionary idea (for 1929) was that children are not just sweet, silly little darling chimps, but sentient beings capable of the entire range of human emotions, motives and actions. (Why was there ever a question?) The novel is considered a forerunner to novels like "The Lord of the Flies" (which I refuse to read) and "The Catcher in the Rye", which I did not like very much and will not try again.

There is a terrific description of an earthquake prior to the children …

"The Night Manager" by John Le Carre'

What an engrossing, scary, complex and excellently crafted literary work! I think that LeCarre' is simply a great English writer posing as a thriller master.
The plot seemed a bit (to me) as if it's a re-work of "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold", post the threat of Russia and the Cold War, current the threat of rogue devils, roaming the world selling arms, drugs and misery (such as "now"). The "most evil man in the world" has a scheme to pedal stolen arms to thugs for drugs, which can them be marketed in Europe and America.
Our hero, (a former operative for the forces of good) now retired early to a job as night manager of a swank hotel, has a horrible history with this evil man. The evil one, and his entourage including a lovely girl, checks into the swank hotel one snowy night. Slowly the action begins to unfold.
A "skunk works" intelligence operation in London, engaged in it's own war with "pure intelligence" forces o…

A Round-up of Florida Flora, Fauna, Color, Clouds...Memories.


The Power of "Ten": John Henry Twachtman and the American Impressionists, late 19th Century

"Winter in Cincinnati" is an early work by a prolific American Impressionist, John Henry Twachtman, painted prior to is formal art training in Europe.

He painted landscapes, dreamy snow scenes like this.

Considering the artist only lived to about 50, he was very productive. In 1898, just a few years before his death, he and other American Impressionists banded together to promote and display their works (considered very modern at the time.) The group was called "The Ten".

Leon Kroll: Prolific American Painter of the Early and Mid 20th Century...and naked ladies.

You won't guess from Kroll's many landscapes and interesting city scenes featuring New York City in the early years of the century; later on, Life Magazine dubbed him "the dean of the nude" painters for his multitude of languid ladies posed nude on various pieces of furniture.

"West Shore Terminal" was one in the "ash can school", featuring gritty, industrial and transportation scenes from the period. Another version of this painting (not in the Orlando Museum) was this exact scene, painted in "summer clothes".

The artist lived from 1884-1974.