Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thorsday Book Review and Giveaway

My parents were highly irresponsible.  They moved at least once a year until I got to 8th grade.  At that point, I begged them to stay in that house until I finished high school, so I wouldn't spend my entire youth without any friends for more than a couple of months. I still have no idea why they complied.

Anyway, the summer before I started eighth grade, we moved; it was the ninth place I could remember living.  I didn't know a soul, and expected to know no one 3 months later, when school started.  So I found out where the library was, determined that it was less than 2 miles and I could walk there, and did so, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, all summer long.  I concluded that the best thing to do was simply read the entire library, alphabetically, but after a less than auspicious start, I began hunting for books approaching 1000 pages long.  That way, I could bring home one epic and one shorter novel, and have enough to carry me 2 or 3 days.  Thus, I discovered this author.

by Taylor Caldwell

This is the story of Ellen, a 13 year old orphan being raised by her aunt in a small town south of Scranton in the late 1890s.  Tall and red haired, she was considered ugly by everyone, including her aunt.  But Ellen was a kind, trusting soul who took no upset at the taunting of others, simply believing whatever they said.  That summer, her aunt told her to lie about her age, and got her a job as a kitchen assistant in the mayor's house for the summer, greatly augmenting the family income.  The mayor's son and nephew both became infatuated with Ellen, a minor scandal of a sort arose, and Ellen and her aunt were moved to another town to work for a distant relative of the nephew.  This book follows Ellen's life, through marriage, children, her aunt's manipulations, etc.

Not unusual for Taylor Caldwell's books, there is a lot of historical commentary; much of it is relevant today.  Consider this:

"Well," said Walter, in a somewhat hopeless tone, "so long as we have local governments in the jealous states, we'll have decentralized government, and so a measure of our freedom.  But God help us if Washington ever becomes big and overpowering, with a swarm of harassing and arrogant bureaucrats who would rule by fiat and not by law..."

Sound familiar?

Or this:

"He (Woodrow Wilson) approved the Underwood Tariff, which reduced duties on foreign importations. This cheap competition with American industry threw tens of thousands of American workers out of jobs, and induced a depression, and widespread despair..."

It almost makes you wonder if history just repeats itself every century or so.

I love Taylor Caldwell's writing, but this book just made me sad.  Maybe I was just having a sad week when I read it; I don't know.  It was well done, and the historical aspects were thought provoking, but the story overall was sad.  So I don't quite know how to rate it.

Now, for the giveaway: in cleaning up the playroom, and reorganizing the books, I discovered that I had not one, not two, but three copies of this book.  If you want it, let me know, and I'll send it to someone.  Maybe only one person will want it, or maybe I'll have to draw a number, or maybe I'll just choose the best comment, but I'll send a copy to someone.  And you can tell me if it was a downer or I was just having a down week.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!


STELLA and RORY from Down Under said...

Hi Marjie, sounds like a book I would like. I enjoy books about people and their lives and relationships. Thanks for the review. (Just checked it out on ABE books and I can get a copy very cheap so don't put me in the draw. Cost of postage would be huge!). No worries, and love, Carol (and Stella and Rory)

SissySees said...

I like Taylor C., and it won't surprise you to know at roughly the same age, I too walked over a mile to the library several times a week.

Blond Duck said...

What's sad is that no one knows this history anymore. I'm sorry your parents were irresponsible, but you're one of the best moms I've ever seen. It sounds like a really cool book-- I wonder if they have it at the library.

(Oh, I meant to e-mail you-- I'm going for my graduate certificate in creative writing and a graduate certificate in composition and rhetoric on top of my master's in education- writing since my dad wouldn't pay for an English degree!)

Pam said...

Count me out... I've been ready too many sad books lately and it's starting to make me feel too blue. I need a good comedy next I think.

I used to walk to the library a few times a week when I was a kid too. I hadn't moved around a lot - I just loved the library and reading.

Sue said...

I'd love to read it. I've read other Taylor Caldwell books but not that one.

Have you read And Ladies Of The Club? It's a big thick book about strong women with lots of historical background.

Sarah said...

Loved reading your post but it sounds too sad for me :) That would have been terrible moving every year. I don't know how good I had it. We farmed and never moved, ever, even though sometimes I wish I could.

altadenahiker said...

I remember gathering my courage to face the first day at a new school in a new state. Generally this happened in the middle of the school year. And I was so totally focused on lunch. All the tricks I had to play to make sure, absolutely sure, I was invited to some group's lunch table on that very first day.

I never thought to read a library alphabetically. But the first thing we did in any new town was get that library card. On your rec, I'll check out a TC novel.

Dexter said...

Hmmm... am I too late for the giveaway? Sounds like my kind of book.

I can't remember the number of times I determined to read every book in the library from A to Z. Heck, I still do that sometimes, but instead I will choose a random letter of the alphabet and say "I'll read the first book in the N's" or some such.

Mango Momma

Claire S. said...

Well our library was across town so at 13 it was a Saturday event. MANY Saturdays, actually...I still love the library.

Gloria Baker said...

This book sounds so good Taylor Cadwell is an zmaxin writer Marjie!

deana sidney said...

thanks for your kind words. love the story about reading and moving... it is amazing how books can make life go a bit easier. I wonder if the new generation will feel the same way with Kindle books...