So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Aunt Jane's Nieces at Millville by L. Frank Baum writing as Edith Van Dyne is the third book in a series written for young girls. It was originally published in 1908. The three nieces are Louise Merrick, Elizabeth De Graf, and Patsy Doyle and in this book they go to a fictional upstate New York town called Millville for the summer with their rich uncle John who has gotten a farmhouse there as payment for a bad debt. Much of the novel deals with the vast cultural differences between the small town farmers of the town and the rich "nabobs" living in the summer house. Soon after moving in the three young women sense a mystery in the sudden death of the previous owner of the house, a seaman named Captain Wegg, and the disappearance of his fortune. Suspecting murder and theft, each of the nieces has her own theory as to what happened and who may be guilty. The plot develops nicely providing a pleasant mystery/detective book with a happy ending.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Austin and Mabel is an amazing record of 19th century adultery. Austin Dickinson was the older brother of Emily Dickinson and the chief financial officer of Amherst College, as well as a leading citizen of the town of Amherst, Massachusetts. He was married and had three children. When the college hired a new astronomy professor, David Todd, along with him came his lovely young wife Mabel Todd. She was an artist and loved socializing. Austin and Mabel fell in love and maintained an intimate relationship while both stayed married. This book tells their story and prints their 13 years of letters, providing a detailed history of their love. Through these letters we see Austin, who is 27 years older than Mabel, grow old and die, while Mabel matures into an accomplished writer, editor and lecturer. "No love story approaches it" Mabel said of their relationship. While reading over 200 pages of love letters can get repetitious at times, Mabel and Austin are both wonderful people and their story is impressive.