Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Gorgeous Nothings

The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope PoemsThe Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems by Emily Dickinson

You will never be able to see how Vermeer painted a canvas, but if you open "The Gorgeous Nothings" you can catch a glimpse of Emily Dickinson's mind at work. I started thinking I would read one or two and found myself gobbling a dozen, then going back and looking again at the alternate words and phrases, as she worked out a line, tried out a different phrase. So small, intimate and personal. The difference between her printed works and these handwritten facsimiles is similar to the email and the handwritten note. Both get the job done, but the handwritten note conveys the person within its language. If you're skeptical, here's an example.

As old as Woe --
How old is that?
Some eighteen thousand years --
As old as Bliss
How old is that
They are of equal years

Together chiefest they are found
But seldom side by side
From neither of them tho' he try
Can Human nature hide

Now, take a look at the original at the Emily Dickson Archive.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ultimate Peter Rabbit

Ultimate Peter RabbitUltimate Peter Rabbit by Camilla Hallinan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the kind of "picture book" that a grown-up can while away the hours with. Yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition. Too bad. The book is filled with photographs of Beatrix Potter and her family, as well as hundreds of drawings and sketches of Peter and his animal friends. The illustrations bring out the strong connection in Potter's work between the beauty and mystery of the natural world and the everyday, routine activities of life, with the occasional adventure thrown into the mix. It is a small sip of joy to look at the world through the eyes of such a unique artist and storyteller.

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sweet Revenge

Sweet Revenge (A Lady Arianna Regency Mystery, #1)Sweet Revenge by Andrea Penrose
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an easy, enjoyable read. It reminded me a bit of the Lauren Willig "Pink Carnation" series and the Tasha Alexander "Lady Emily" mysteries, as a few other reviewers mentioned. The strongest points were the plotting and pace. The research needed to create a plausible financial scheme in the Napoleonic era separates this from fluffier historical fiction. The heroine was no-nonsense and the hero was likeable and not perfect (which I find completely off-putting in a story). I wasn't terribly into the chocolate thing, but in general, I like characters who appreciate good food and drink, so it was OK by me.
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