Widows of the Ice: The Women that Scott’s Antarctic Expedition Left Behind by Anne Fletcher (2023). This is the story of Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated journey to the South Pole, focusing on three forgotten wives, whose love and support helped shape one of British history's most iconic moments. My review.
To Be an Author by Mabel Esther Allan (1982). MAE (1915-1998) was a British children’s author, who struggled with vision her entire life but managed to write more than 170 books. Her work includes adventure stories, mysteries, stories about families and local communities, and school and ballet stories. She also wrote at least one adult novel. My favorites are her ballet stories and Time to Go Back, a WWII time travel.
Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor--the Truth and the Turmoil by Tina Brown (2022). This is the gossipy inside story of the British royal family since the death of Princess Diana, from the Queen’s tightening grip to the defection of Harry and Meghan to America. I am never ashamed of my varied reading – and this was very entertaining – but I was glad to get this from the library, rather than spending money on it.Necessary Trouble by Drew Faust (2023). This memoir by the first woman president of Harvard University follows her childhood in rural Virginia to her evolution as a civil rights activist and academic. It is fascinating reading and makes one want to spend an afternoon with her. After I read it, I asked my mother to review it for the blog. This has been a local bestseller because of our proximity to Harvard. Review.
Happy Landings by Patti Bender (2023). In junior high, I discovered Emilie Loring, a Boston-born bestselling author in the first half of the 20th century. My library owned copies of her books, light fiction and/or romantic suspense and I read them all. Patti Bender was reading them while growing up in the Midwest and has written a comprehensive work about Loring and every book she wrote, a real labor of love. Loring's books are very dated now but I enjoyed rereading a few last spring. It was great to hear Patti present her research in person at the Boston Atheneum but her book is the next best thing. My review.
England Was an Island Once by Elswyth Thane (1940). Thane is one of my favorite authors and I recommend her Williamsburg novels, which begin with Dawn’s Early Light, to anyone who likes historical fiction. This is a hard book to describe but it is basically an appreciation of the British spirit of resilience in the months leading up to WWII. My review.
Capital Kaleidoscope by Frances Parkinson Keyes (1937). Like Loring, Keyes was a bestselling author in the first half of the 20th century (I’ve been wondering if they knew each other - Keyes was a bit higher brow), and was especially known for her historical fiction. Her husband was a New Hampshire Republican who served in the state legislature, then as Governor, before he was elected to the U.S. Senate. This book is about Keyes’ experience as a Washington, DC political hostess and includes some entertaining glimpses of luminaries such as Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. However, there is also a lot of name-dropping of people I never heard of. My review.
The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson. Larson recently announced that his next book will be The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War in 2024. I prefer the English Civil War but will certainly read this. I also really enjoyed his book about the Lusitania, Dead Wake.
Have you made a special effort to read nonfiction this month or is it always part of your mix? Any must-reads?