'I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.' L.M. Montgomery

'There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.' Irving Stone

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Train West

I took the train over to the west coast of Scotland to spend two days with author Alan Jones and his wife. It was a grand adventure on my own on the train. I've never done anything like that before. I so enjoyed it. I changed trains in Edinburgh and again Glasgow. Had to walk from Queen Street Station to Central Station in Glasgow. It was a lovely walk of just a few blocks. Central station is absolutely gorgeous.

Alan picked me up in Ayr and we went to Alloway to the cottage where Robert Burns was born in 1759. We decided to forego the museum as neither of us are big Burns fans, but we did swing by Brig O'Doon. It's a lovely bridge featured in the poem Tam O'Shanter.

We drove on down the coastline stopping at harbours for the lovely views and having lunch in a wonderful little restaurant. We had Cullen Skink! A traditional Scottish fish chowder. I'm not big on seafood but I have to admit this was delicious, so creamy and rich. I have the recipe and now I will definitely make it!

Here's a couple shots of a forlorn old castle along the road. And one of Ailsa Craig, an island bird sanctuary across from Girvan.

In the afternoon we took a little sail off Girvan, right in front of Ailsa Craig. It was cloudy and windy, 20 knots, and absolutely wonderful! I didn't take my camera with me. I just wanted to enjoy it and not worry about pictures. This memory is all mine alone! We went with old Stevie in his boat. He's the best sailor in Girvan! He has sailed around Ireland by himself! He has a small two keel sailboat. It was thrilling! They even had me steering and had me tack the sails which means turn into the wind. I noticed when we got to the harbour Alan really came alive! I can see how sailing can get under your skin and become an obsession. Stevie was a joy, we went down in the cabin and had coffee with him after we tied up to the pier. I could listen to his stories all day.

We finished off our wonderful day with dinner with his wife at a delicious Indian restaurant. I tried something new, bhoona, very good. And in the morning, Mrs. Jones sent me off with a full Scottish breakfast: eggs, ham, square sausage, black pudding, potato scone and tomatoes!

More of my time with Alan later!

Peggy Ann

Monday, August 29, 2016

J. Jefferson Farjeon Reprints

  If, like me, you read the reprint of Farjeon's Mystery in White last year and fell in love with his writing, you'll be glad to know Harper Collins is releasing new editions of his Ben the Tramp series this October!

  Ben was first introduced in Number 17, originally a play written by Farjeon and later turned into a book. The first original novel featuring Ben was then, The Detective Clubs, The House Opposite. He is a cockney tramp, ex-sailor in the merchant marines who finds himself solving murders.

  Four of the novels featuring Ben will be released on October 25th this year with the rest to follow next year. The Detective Club edition of The House Opposite will be released next month. You can check these out and pre-order them HERE.

Read a nice review on The House Opposite over at Cross Examining Crimes website

- Posted by Peggy Ann

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Year You Were Born

1958, The year I was born Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov was the most popular book. I found a first American edition for sale for $200. I've never read it. I guess I should!

What was the most popular book the year you were born? Find out!

Posted by Peggy Ann

Thursday, August 25, 2016

At Fault by Kate Chopin

'Widowed at thirty, beautiful, resourceful Thérése Lafirme is left alone to run her Louisiana plantation. When Thérése falls in love with David Hosmer, a divorced businessman, her strong moral and religious convictions make it impossible for her to accept his marriage proposal. Her determined rejection sets the two on a tumultuous path that involves Hosmer's troubled former wife, Fanny.

At Fault is set in the post-Reconstruction rural south against a backdrop of economic devastation and simmering racial tensions. Written at the beginning of her career, it has parallels to Chaopin's own life and contains characters and themes that prefigure her later works, including The Awakening.'

This first book by Chopin address a familiar theme in The Awakening, balancing love and moral duty and a woman reconciling her own needs with those of the people she cares about. In this one the heroine chooses moral duty and religious conviction over her needs and that of the man she loves. In doing this she sets off a chain of events that ultimately cause more harm to those she loves than the good she intended.

I read The Awakening before this one. This novel is excellent and one of those that seems to grow better a few days after you read and think on it. But I think I liked The Awakening a little bit better.

My copy of this book is an old Penguin paperback with a lovely informative introduction by Bernard Koloski.

Peggy Ann

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Barbara Newhall Follett, a Mystery

Fair Use Photo from Wikipedia
I came across this really interesting missing person mystery from 1939. Turns out Barbara Follett was a prodigy novelist and her first book, The House Without Windows, was published when she was just 12 years old in 1927. Her second novel, The Voyage of the Norman D. received critical acclaim when she was just 14. Sadly though the same year her father left the family for another woman and Barbara's life was turned upside down. Her bright literary career was pretty much de-railed.

She married in 1933 and in 1939, her marriage in trouble, her husband said they had quarreled and she walked out the door with $30 in her pocket and was never seen or heard from again. It's still a mystery today. Did he do away with her? We'll never know. I find these things fascinating!

I started looking around about her and found a wonderful site about her, run by her half nephew. You can read all about the mystery of Barbara HERE. There are several of her non-published works posted there to read, including a full length novel, Lost Island, that was never published.

The House Without Windows is available free in multiple formats HERE on a site devoted to the book. How wonderful that her works are made available after all this time! Looking forward to reading them.

How about you, have you ever heard of Barbara Newhall Follett before or read these books?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Eyemouth and the Great Fishing Disaster

Ever since reading Susanna Kearsley's The Shadowy Horses I've wanted to go to Eyemouth to the museum and see the tapestry in remembrance of the Great Fishing Disaster of 1881. We did just that last Friday when we went down to visit Eric Brown, author of the Langham and Dupre Mysteries and many science fiction novels.

Eye mouth is probably my favorite place so far, as far as towns go. I love the closeness of it and the higgledy, jiggeldy way the streets go. It was a very active small town and just exuded fishing village from every corner. Jack's grandfather was the pastor of the church there and his mom lived there as a child!

Willie Spears lead the revolt to end the paying of tithes to the church. I guess it was mandatory back then.

Robert Burns was made a Mason here at the local chapter Land of Cakes! How's that for a name? Wouldn't you love to live there?

The great fishing disaster took place on the 14th of October, 1881. After a week of bad weather and no fishing they woke up to gorgeous blue skies and the fishing fleets of every harbour along the coast were thrilled to get out on the sea. But later that day the skies turn dark and the wind picked up, hurricane Euroclydon struck. Winds so fierce it layed flat 30,000 trees! Just think of all those small fishing boats. A total of 189 fishermen lost their lives between several villages. 129 from Eyemouth. Many made it back to the harbour of Eyemouth only to be bashed against the rocks while their families looked on from shore. What a dark day it must have been, leaving 73 widows and 263 fatherless children. You can read a fascinating account of the day here at the museum's website. The museum was a wonderful peek into the farming and fishing lives of Eyemouth. Take a walk through the museum with me...

The young girls, called fisherlassies, followed the fleet from Lerwick to Great Yarmouth gutting, salting and packing the herring along the way. They would make between £17 and £20 for the season.

This is the Eyemouth Tapestry...

This is an installation commemorating the 129 Eyemouth fishermen who lost their lives that day. They stand together with their crews. The largest groups are those that went down with their boats and the single or pairs are those who were washed overboard and the only ones of their crew that didn't make it back.

Very moving.

Peggy Ann
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