I have been reading constantly. It has replaced my other vices. When I am tired at the end of the day, even if it’s only 8 o’clock I have been retreating to my bed in my pajamas with my teeth brushed and my night cream on to curl up with a book. In the month of June I finished 5 books and, with the exception of two major life events, I haven’t written a single word for myself.
I thought reading was supposed to help you be a better writer, not stop you from writing all together! It seems that I would rather hide in the world of fiction than examine my own. After finishing my most recent distraction last night, I realized that it might be time for a break.
So this serves as a wrap up and review of my cold and soggy June spent under the covers reading the following:
- Ruth’s Redemption by Marlene Banks. Historical fiction about a beautiful and strong female slave in the South on the verge of abolition. It was a compelling and violent story, and I learned a lot about one of the most bloody slave uprisings in the South. However I was not expecting so much religion to be mixed in. I tried to speed read the bible references and conversion speeches, because they became tiresome and redundant after a while and did nothing to assist the plot.
- The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen. Renaissance portraitist Sofonisba Anguissola joins the Spanish court of Felipe II as a painting teacher for the new Queen, after she got caught having sex by Michael Angelo in his studio with his other apprentice. I loved reading about the court of Spain and all of the traditional painting techniques and processes of the old masters. The characters of the story were all historically accurate, and Sofonisba was one of the most accomplished woman painters in history. Don Juan also makes his mark on the story and made for some lovely imagery.
- The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani. Set in 17th Century Iran, a young poor farm girl’s father dies, just before she is supposed to be betrothed. She and her mother, facing starvation, travel to the capitol city to live with a distant relative who is a carpet designer. The girl shows talent for rug making and designing and tries to make her way in a city where she has very little choices as a young woman with no wealth. This may have been my favorite. The sights and sounds and smells of that incredible city came alive and the culture was fascinating.
- Cures for Hunger, A Memoir by Deni Y. Béchard. This was the only book that did not have a female lead character. It was well written but I am not much for modern day settings, or male adolescent coming of age stories. Luckily it wasn’t very long.
- Island Beneath the Sea by Isabelle Allende. The story begins in Haiti during the bloody and cruel days of sugar and slaves. I realized that I previously knew nothing about the history of Haiti. I learned about how the power in the Caribbean was a constant struggle between Spain, France, England and America. The pirates, the slave traders, the voodoo, and the white flight to both Cuba and New Orleans were all news to me. The book was a magical and scary tour and the characters were deeply moving. I’d like to know more about Haiti and it’s history.
It was not intentional that all of the books (but one), were historical fiction featuring a brave and exceptional woman. However, I think it was what kept me hungry for more. As women we don’t hear enough about our sisters before us. I feel fortunate to have the peace and liberty I enjoy in this modern American life. If I were to heed their examples, I should get my nose out of books, stop whining, and do something impossible.