Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann
@ 2:51 pm
At a time like this I hardly know what to think; let alone know what to write. Under quarantine with most businesses closed, doctor visits via facetime or skype. Dealing with an invisible enemy, Covid-19, makes it hard to plan anything. I miss my grandchildren and great grandchildren terribly, thank goodness for facetime! We usually host an Easter dinner with more than 24 family members here. This year it was just my husband and me, with lots of phone calls. Many people volunteer working for “the cause”, like my friend who made and gave away over 700 face masks. I made 44 and called it quits. And then there are the food drives. Everyone wants to do something to help. The experts say the longer the lockdown stays in place, the safer we will be. It is also true that the longer the shutdown lasts, the closer many people will be to bankruptcy. We now have higher unemployment than even during the Great Depression. Government bailouts are like band-aids on gushing wounds. And with our national debt already sky- high, where are they getting all these billions for these giveaways? I am sure many of you share my concerns about the strange times we are all living through.
I remember sitting beside my great grandmother in the back seat of my parent’s car when I was 9 years old, Mom was driving. As we drove past an old farm house on the left side of the road a mile or so down the road from Old Grandma’s house, she told me about the family who had lived there back in 1918 when they all got the Spanish Flu. Everyone was under quarantine. No one in our family caught it, Someone in that family did. Within one week, the six children, the parents and the grandparents who lived there died. All of them in seven days! I don’t remember the family name but I never forgot the story, and I think of it at least once each year when we drive past it to attend our family reunion, still held on the family farm all these years later.
After careful consideration, I decided last month to stop my Willow Lane Newsletter.it was a hard decision but I know it was the right one for me. It required more time and money than I wanted to invest in it any longer. I felt so relieved when I realized I was free of it. Really successful writers who have newsletters rarely do their own, they have assistants who do them - so they can continue to write more books. I will continue to write my monthly blog. And now I have more time to finish the book I’m working on.
The winner of a free e-book of Mother Love, Willow Lane, Book 2 in the BookSweeps Giveaway was Nancy S. of New Mexico. Congrats Nancy!
I now have 394 followers on BookBub, it’s a phenomenal site for book lovers. I would love to have more BookBub followers. A hundred more would be great! If you are interested, please click the following link: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/ann-mccauley?list=about you can then click the green icon in the FOLLOW box, on the top right of the profile page. Thanks to any of you who will check this out! You can also use this link to explore the Book Bub site. If you love books, it is definitely worth your time!
Good books I’ve read this month are:
The Plaque by Albert Camus, Fiction. I am not sure if reading this novel during a pandemic with orders for social distancing and shelter in place was a great idea. It was written in 1947 about an attack of the plaque in a city in northern Africa, in the early part of the 1900s. The politicians initially tried to ignore what was happening. Even as truck load after truck load of dead rats had to be gathered from the city every morning, The political powers tried to divert the attention of the masses away from the obvious. While the doctors tried to help the sick and dying. Oops, does that sound like what’s happening today. The similarities were beyond striking. The quarantines, the treatment centers where the sick were taken from their families, with no visiting allowed. The story was told in third person past tense, the narrators voice was not revealed until the last pages of the novel. The loneliness and isolation of the well developed characters threaded throughout the book. The plaque was almost a like a character itself. I am glad I read this important, yet disturbing novel. it seems history does repeat itself. The plaque has been around for centuries and outbreaks have come and gone over the years. And still, two of the most effective standards of care are mitigation and quarantines. Albert Camus wrote this novel in French and it was translated into many other languages,, including English.
The Unquiet Grave by Sharon McCrumb, Fiction. 2017.I have read many of Sharyn McCrumb’s novels She has long been known as THE go-to Appalachia historical author. I liked them all. BUT this one stands out above all the others. Her years of writing have enabled her to write this suspenseful masterpiece, exemplifying the complications of ’simple’ mountain people. The characters were well developed, the dialogue so realistic and the mountain scenery described as if by a master painter with words. The plot had many surprising twists. I’d recommend this book to any lover of great historical southern novels. Ms. McCrumb is now toted as one of today’s best southern writers, no longer just THE Appalachia writer.
Testimony by Scott Turow, Fiction, 2017 An exciting legal thriller, the protagonist handles his mid-life crisis by walking out on everything he’d thought was important to him: his wife and two young adult sons, his law career and his home. He ends up in Brussels working for the International Criminal Court. And the adventures begin, it is a page turning thriller. Layers of deception create unforgettable characters and the plot shifts create palpable tension. It was good book to read while being housebound. Mr.Turow is an excellent a writer, Testimony took me on a wild and exciting adventure for a few days.
The Splendid And The Vile’ by Erik Larsen. Nonfiction. 2019. This historical book reads like a an exciting novel, highly researched using hundreds of diaries to build the scenes with accurate dialogue and emotions as the story unfolds. Winston Churchill deservedly went down in history as a strong stubborn leader. This 503 pages, (not counting the 83 pages of documented research and bibliography), of lively detailed history reveals Churchill as we’ve never known him before. His family, marriage and the British citizen’s depth of courage during the German Blitz read like a thriller rather than well written history. It was my book club’s wise book choice for this month, or I probably would not have attempted to read it. I’m so glad I did.
The Lost Man by Jane Harper. Fiction. 2019 This family saga is about the Bright brothers, Nathan, Cameron and Bob, their widowed mother, Liz, Nathan’s son, 16 year old Xander, as well as Harry, the dedicated lifelong ranch foreman, along with Ilse, Cameron’s widow and the mother of two captivating young girls, Sophie, age 8, and Lois, age 6, make up the principle cast of characters. Nothing is as it first appears and no one is quite what you expect based upon early introductions. Bob and Nathan had not met in months, though they are each other’s closest neighbors. It is still three hours to drive from one cattle ranch to the other. They try to make sense of the situation as their brother, Cameron, lay dead at their feet, beside the stockman’s grave, along-side the boundaries of their ranches. All the characters develop slowly with layers of depth, as do their interpersonal relationships. Vivid memories of Carl Bright, the father haunts the two surviving brothers as well as their mother. An unforgettable story.
The Faraway Horses by Buck Brannaman and William Reynolds. This is the tale of an extraordinary life and the extraordinary man who lives it. This rich and rewarding memoir is a roadmap for living a harmonious and honorable existence with horses and humans. (As a teen, I rode in area western horse shows and even got a registered quarter horse, ‘Princess’, for my 16th birthday.) It is an inspiring and wonderful book.
We have also watched these worthwhile good movies:
The Art of Racing in the Rain, based on the book by Garth Stein. (He was one of our One Book Bradford authors a few years ago.) It is a wonderful movie about a dog who loves riding in race cars, relationships, loss and love. It follows the book very closely. (Netflix)
The Good Liar, starring Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen. There are many twists and turns in this entertaining thought-provoking movie about a retired financially comfortable widow and a hustling elderly con man. Well worth watching. (Netflix)
Lean on Pete, an excellent movie that gives viewers much to think about. It is about a dysfunctional family, an orphaned 15 year old boy who steals an old race horse to save it from being sold to an unsavory future while he sets off across several western states to find his long last aunt. (Netflix)
Buck, the story about the cowboy who inspired the book and movie The Horse Whisperer. Buck Brannaman overcame his abusive childhood, spent his teen years learning ranch skills while living with his foster family. who are like his real family, even to this day. His is an unlikely life as a horseman celebrity, he travels through horse country ten months out of every year, as thousands sign up for his horsemanship clinics. Nicholas Evans, author of the Horse Whisperer said, “His skill,understanding and his gentle-loving heart have parted the clouds for countless troubled creatures. Buck is the Zen master of the horse world.” (Netflix)
We are currently streaming The Crown, it’s about Queen Elizabeth as a child with her sister, her marriage to Prince Phillip, her coronation and her dealings with Prime Ministers and her family as the Queen. The actress who plays her looks much like photos of the young queen. We are really enjoying it. (Netflix)
Stay well, my friends.. And please do keep reading.
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