How the west was won with the help of women comes to mind as I read Jeannette Wall’s latest novel. The Glass Castle, an award-winning memoir by Jeannette, told her hardscrabble life story. Now Jeannette tells the story of Lily Casey Smith, her maternal grandmother born in 1901 in the southwest. The trials Lily had growing up during those hard times will make any one appreciate life today. Her unconventional father kept the kids running the ranch while he wrote letters to congressmen and pursued his own interests. Lily took to ranch life and yet knew there was more to life. She loved school and was able to teach school at the age of 15 when she traveled on horseback 500 miles to her first teaching post in the Arizona frontier. Lily became known as “the mustang-breaking, poker playing, horse-race-winning school marm of Coconino County”. She married twice, once to a bigamist with several children, the second time to a solid older man that was a highly respected rancher. The thousands of acres of land they ranched for owners in England, kept them leading a very hard, lean existance as they saved money for their own ranch. To make money, Lily tried everything from selling bootlegged whiskey, to driving a hearse as a taxi and school bus, she learned to fly planes, trained horses and raced horses and taught school at numerous isolated locations sometimes taking her two children with her.
Jeannette ends Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel
explaining that she didn’t think of the book as fiction, ” Lily was a very real woman and to say that I created her or the events of her life is giving me more credit than I am due. However, since I don’t have the words from Lily herself, and since I have also drawn on my imagination to fill in details that are hazy or missing…..the only honest thing to do is call the book a novel.”
January can be so dreary. We haven’t seen the sun for days and it’s too cold to go anywhere. It’s the perfect time to make a cup of tea and curl up with a fun read.
In Desperate Duchesses by Eloisa James, Lady Roberta St. Giles has been locked away in the country with her eccentric father, unable to meet anyone with which to make a suitable match. After glimpsing the man of her dreams, she escapes to a distant cousin in London, the Duchess of Beaumont, to ask for assistance in coming out to society. Together they plot to match her with the Duke of Villiers, whom Roberta is convinced would be the perfect husband, regardless of the fact that he is a confirmed rake. The only problem is Damon Reeve, the Duchess’s handsome brother, who is doing everything in his power to thwart their plans.
Desperate Duchesses is a witty romance, full of spice, that will leave you hoping for more bad weather so that you can finish the rest of the series.
Ah, the joy that fills my soul whenever I discover that Nick Hornby has written a new book. I finally got my hands on Juliet, Naked
and settled in for what I knew would be a great book, and I was not disappointed.
is the story of Annie, Duncan, and Tucker. Annie & Duncan have been together for 15 years, not exactly happy, but content enough to avoid braving the waters of being alone. Duncan has long been obsessed with a rock star who has been in hiding for 20 years, Tucker Crowe. Annie has tolerated this obsession with some appreciation for Crowe’s music, but also with mockery for Duncan’s hours on the Tucker Crowe fan web site. Meanwhile, Tucker lives a quiet life, disappointing others and himself. When Tucker e-mails Annie in response to a negative review she has posted on the web site, all of their lives experience an irrevocable shift.
Hornby’s books are the perfect balance between laugh-out-loud humor and in-depth investigation of the stuff of life. I laugh at his characters because they are so real. I know these people and in their vulnerability, meanness, and absurdity, I often see glimpses of myself. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.