Heat and Humidity has been fierce in Manhattan so our upcoming family reunion/vacation further south into New Orleans and Cajun country didn’t sound too inviting. Nevertheless I searched for travel guides and a book that would have some flavor of the Big Easy. My New Orleans
edited by Rosmary James was the perfect read. Short stories written by some hometown chefs, musicians, writers, restauranteurs, and poets created a desire to find out more about the area. Many of these authors are famous personalities such as Wynton Marsalis, Rick Bragg, Bret Lott and Paul Prudhomme.
This book was edited by Rosemary James, owner of Faulkner House Books, one of the country’s most famous bookstores which is located in New Orleans. It was conceived in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to benefit writers and was produced by Touchstone Books- Simon and Schuster who contributed considerable funds to hurricane relief.
There is much of the heart of New Orleans written in this tribute. I enjoyed this varied look at a city that is struggling to come back from such destruction. From a tale of discovery of the love of egret-watching at Audubon Park lagoons to the life of stripping on Bourbon Street, the flavor of New Orleans comes through.
Now back from our trip I can say New Orleans was a great place to visit. The weather was hot, but Manhattan was equally as hot and even more humid on my return. We just need some gumbo and a bayou.
“… Pam Cope owned a hair salon in Neosho, a tiny southwest Missouri town, and her husband, Randy, had just been appointed vice president of a company that ran a string of newspapers …. Their lives revolved around their son’s baseball games, their daughter’s dance lessons …. ‘My world was very small,’ said Mrs. Cope… ‘I was pretty shallow.”New York Times
On June 16, 1999, her life changed forever. Her fifteen year old son, Jantsen, died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart ailment. Her tribute to her son and her determination –comes alive in Jantsen’s Gift.
Her sadness was overwhelming—until she accepted a friend’s invitation to visit orphanages in Vietnam. Pam found her mission: to change the world– one small step, one child at a time.
“Early last month, Mrs. Cope returned from Ghana, where she had financed the rescue of seven children who were working as indentured servants on fishing boats for as little as $20 a year. … Mark Kwadwo, 6, had labored in dire conditions under a brutal fisherman who beat him when he did not get up at midnight to bail out canoes.Working with a small Ghanaian charity, Mrs. Cope paid $3,600 to free the children and found them a new home in an orphanage near Accra, the capital. After years of privation, the children were dumbstruck by the plentiful breakfast served at the orphanage, caregivers there said.
Mrs. Cope’s trip to Ghana followed journeys to Vietnam and Cambodia, where she and her husband help finance shelters for needy children and their families, and where the Copes adopted two Vietnamese children. The little hair salon, with its cozy peach and green decor, is a dim memory. Mrs. Cope is now a fund-raiser and executive of Touch a Life Ministries, an organization she and her husband started to help desperate children in faraway places.” New York Times
Recently a friend of mine rejected my book recommendation. When she pulled it from her stack of books at the pool, she decided that she absolutely could not read this book until fall. Ok, I’ve learned my lesson. Books have their seasons as well as their readers. If you’re looking for something light and fun to read by the pool, in the plane, or under a tree, try these summer reads.
American Thighs: the Sweet Potato Queens’ guide to preserving your assets by Jill Conner Browne is a hilarious life maintenance program to help women navigate society’s obsession with nips, tucks, carbs, and clothes.
Savannah Breeze by Mary Kay Andrews is the fun story of Southern belle BeBe Loudermilk. After being romanced a swindled by a conman, she starts over with all she has left, a run-down motor hotel in a quirky beach town.
In The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith takes us to contemporary Botswana. Precious Ramotswe decides to go against tradition and start her own detective agency, staffed only by women. Publisher Weekly calls it a “little gem of a book”.
Don’t forget that you can raise the fun quotient in your summer reading by joining in the Adult Summer Reading Program. That’s right: prizes for adults for reading!