Last week I finished my audio-read of Death Comes to Pemberley. This one left me cold. It lacked the warmth and humor of Jane Austen's books. The plot had sordid details that are nothing for today's audience, but I like to read Austen because she doesn't include such things. The writing was fine, though it hovered oddly between Austen's and modern day, never really being either. Over all, I was underwhelmed (though the PBS production of DCtP was very good). The cover, though, I adore. My rating: 2.5 stars.
I started and finished Kick last week, and I was pleasantly surprised. First off, it was even-handed. Those Kennedys were no angels, and Byrne deals frankly with the bad (Joe Senior's affairs, Joe Senior's rather undignified defeatist attitudes during WWII, Jack's sexual promiscuity, Rose's overbearing tendencies, daughter Rosemary's botched lobotomy, etc.) Secondly, Byrne is a Brit, so the English part of Kick's life--she married an English boy with a title--was in good hands. There were a couple annoyances such as the odd comparison between Kick and Jack that fell flat every single time. I'm not sure why it was important to Byrne to make it a book about Jack, too, but it didn't succeed in being so. Also, there was much too much talk of which highfalutin English parties Kick went to with which beaux and where. I couldn't care less. Lastly, one confusing thing is that the book is dedicated to Byrne's grandfather Robert Kennedy, whom I took to be THE Robert Kennedy--Kick's bother, and throughout the book I thought she was Kick's grandniece. Apparently, not so. Confusing. But overall, it was a rather good biography of the vivacious Kick, her choice between the Catholic church and love, and her tragic end. My rating: 3 stars.
I, happily, began to enjoy All the Presidents' Gardens a lot more once it reached the 20th century history of the mansion's gardens. My enjoyment really turned a corner when photography came into existence, so I could see the gardens and greenhouses instead of just renderings. It ceased being boring and became much more engaging. Ike's helicopter pad and putting green, Truman's balcony, George H.W. Bush's horseshoe pit, Michelle Obama's kitchen garden. These are all thing I've read about in other places, and they were nice touchstones here. If you're a White House buff like me, I think you'll enjoy this one. My rating: 3.5 stars.
Last week I began:
Apparently Marcella Hazan did for Italian cuisine in America what Julia Child did for French. I don't really know her, but I take the publisher's word for it. Her posthumous book Ingredienti (don't you love the cover? I sure do.) is an alphabetical list of ingredients and how to select and prepare them. It's interesting how political food can get. Hazan's opinions regarding many vegetables are counter to how most folks I know feel about them. For instance, she advises to purchase the thickest stalks of asparagus, to never boil carrots, to ignore raw cauliflower altogether. She's opinionated, but rather in a grandmotherly way. Still, I don't like thinking that I do vegetables wrong. You know?
My new audiobook is Anne of Avonlea. I planned to read this one this year, but it just hasn't worked out, so I've decided it would make a nice comfortable audio-read instead. And I was right.
This week I'll continue with:
I'm adoring Grover Cleveland, Again! Simply adoring it. Plus I'm learning presidential trivia which puts me in my happy place.
Two of my August reads were released Aug. 9, so they're "in the mail." Depending on when they arrive, I'll either be reading Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal or beginning Kate DiCamillo's Raymie Nightingale until Textbook arrives.