GO SET A WATCHMAN by Harper Lee, (c) 2015. What does that title mean anyway? This is Scout’s story after she’s grown up and moved to New York City to be a writer, it takes place in the 1950’s. Now she must return home to take care of her ageing and ailing father. Let me tell you, I’m having a hard time trying NOT to compare the true facts of Harper lee’s life from the Biograpy I read a while back. Scout’s life in NYC probably mirrored Harper Lee’s life there! Anyway, I put the book aside for now, I may pick it up again someday but I’m feeling very restless with my reading selection I have right now. I often wondered if Harper Lee wasn’t gay.
THE STONE DIARIES by Carol Shields, (c) 1993. This old book is a New York Times Bestseller which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1995. This is the story of Daisy Stone Goodwill who was born in 1905 in Manitoba, Canada. Her mother Mercy died during her birth and she was raised by a neighbor for 11 years in another Canadian town. At age 11 after her caretaker died she went to live with her father who was now a successful businessman in Indiana, USA.When she was about 20 years old Daisy ends up a widow who ends up at age 30 or so marrying the much older son of the woman who raised her.
The funny thing is I thought this book was a NOVEL! In fact it is a true story with photos and all! Truly a surprise to me since it’s written like a novel with artistic license. I AM enjoying the book and hope you will too, although the chapters usually had a long, detailed introduction to each person mentioned in the book.
Now I find it’s a FICTIONAL autobiography! But it has photos of REAL people! I’m confused. So it’s NOT BASED on real people, where’s the photo of the Daisy, the main character?
BLACKBIRD, A Childhood Lost and Found by Jennifer Lauck, 2000. This is a New York Times Bestselling Memoir. I admit I don’t read memoir’s very often, but this one seems to flow like a nice novel. It’s not bogged down with family photos either, which distracts me from the story and makes tend to skip over the story itself.. Frank McCourt who wrote Angels’s Ashes and ‘Tis, both of which I loved reading, recommends the book.
After the Acknowledgments, before the first chapter starts there’s a page of a hospital’s patient Death Summary for the author’s 33 year old mother Janet Lauck’s health in 1971. She had a benign tumor removed in 1961, and her health went downhill from there with weakness, fatigue, cough, paraplegia, bladder infections, the return of the tumor, etc. Finally in October 1971 when the report was written with all these respiratory problems, she tried taking her own life with an overdose of pills, but died of respiratory arrest or arrhythmia. It’s such a pitiful life, yet she smoked up until the end of it.
So far the first chapter opens with Jennifer’s early childhood, taking care of a sick mother, who’s recovering from or dying of cancer. It seems she was surrounded by the love of her family, including her mother’s siblings and their children. I’ll let you know what I think of the book as I get farther along, but I will let you know the family moved from Carson City, Nevada to California for Jennifer’s mother’s health, where her mother eventually dies and her dad remarries. When her dad and stepmother go on their honeymoon the kids get sent to some wacko religious summer camp, and it looks like a lot of child abuse goes on there. Halfway though the book poor Jennifer is in a cabin awaiting her own first experience of sexual abuse on a mattress with dirty sheets surrounded by children’t clothing.
NOTE: This is NOT a happy little story folks! : ( Sorry to give so much away, suffice it to say if you were abused yourself you might not want to read this book, but it’s not as bad as I thought it would be, with graphic details of the physical abuse like a Jodie Piccult book. Does it have a happy ending? I’m not giving it away.
The Ballad of DOROTHY WORDSWORTH, A Life by Frances Wilson, (2009). This is the biography of Dorothy Wordsworth, who was the sister of the poet William Wordsworth, and they had a most unusual relationship. She was undoubtably in love with her brother!, and when he married she lived with him and his wife Mary Hutchinson, who was a childhood friend of them both. Dorothy is described by the writer and opium addict Thomas De Quincey as “the very wildest… person I have ever known,” since she was not your typical spinster. She was the very center of her brother’s life, as they had an intense bond. Dorothy had a dramatic collapse on the day her brother married, and stopped writing in her journals days later. This book contains her journal entries, and is not my most favorite reading material- journal entries are so one sided, but the author of this book has plenty of explaining to do in between entries.
Dorothy is described as “a small woman under 5 feet tall with a wiry frame. She was never beautiful, and the loss of her teeth by the time she turned forty, together with her extreme thinness, her weathered skin, and the exhausting nature of her lifestyle, meant that she aged prematurely, looking 20 years older than she was. Dorothy seems to be the perfect picture of a hyperactive person. In her youth she is described as “wild and startling”, and as “all fire and ardor” by De Quincey. She is described as having “wild eyes” with “shooting lights” in them. She must have been a very dramatic and eccentric person to know. She acted as a secretary for her brother since he detested writing himself and merely dictated his words to Dorothy. Being a writer in her own right, her words were often borrowed by her brother and other writer friends.
NOTE: This book was BORING! I couldn’t bear to read more than a few chapters plus skim through parts plus the ending and look at the photos in the middle of the book.