Stories From Both Sides of the Second World War/How I Overcame Some First World Problems

Despite the title of this post, I am going to keep my discussion of my recent first world problems to a minimum.  They are even more embarrassing after reading through some of my accumulated books on the Second World War.

My reading personality is an Explorer. I like to build empathy and see the world from other people’s perspectives as I ride on the SUP I got for my birthday and have the health and time to train enough to do well in local triathlons and knit for fun with luxury yarn.  Some of it is charity knitting, to be fair.

The thing that is depressing about both of these beautiful second world war novels is that it is sad to die in the war, and sometimes it can be as sad and anticlimactic to survive it.

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A God in Ruins, Kate Atkinson

I loved Life After Life.  I believe I have shared this sentiment on the blog already.  This is meant not as a sequel but as a companion piece to that novel, according to Atkinson. I think she could not bear to leave her characters after writing Life After Life.  She chose the perspective of Teddy, or Edward, Todd, the most loved and lovable of the Todd sons, to flesh out his story and participation in the war as a fighter pilot.   Excellent choice to choose the most sympathetic character, but I wondered about her choices in spinning him out into a daughter, Viola,  who is not likable in the least.  Atkinson does not try to make her appealing in any aspect: she is immature, greedy, self centered, and hopelessly unable to make herself happy or be satisfied, even before the death of her mother when she was a kid.  And much of the story is hers, especially earlier on in the novel.  I really wondered about Atkinson’s choice in this.  I need tension from a novel, that is true, but I like tension from a character I like.  The story is enough about Teddy himself and his participation in the war and the original family cast of characters to keep me interested in the parts about his daughter, and especially in the parts where he is a loving grandfather to rescue his grandchildren from the complete ruin of their disaster parents.  Viola takes a decent stab at redemption but his grandchildren adore him long past my caring about her and what she does, and that makes her bearable.

This novel is not just depressing in the production of the daughter Viola but also in that Teddy’s real actualization in life is centered around the war.  He is aimless before and aimless after, engulfed in a typical British tedium (and I say typical just because of the other British books I have read) devoid of a certain amount of action and passion.  And then he lives on to his own ruin, a depressing ending to a hero in the war, in the midst of a generation who never had to participate in the war and question his morals in doing so. It’s kinda heart wrenching.  You like Teddy, you want him to find more after his participation in the RAF from life than puttering around and being the target of his daughter’s dissatisfaction with everything.

But, because Atkinson is a true artist, I still loved it.  I am still glad I read it.  I should have read it sooner.  I love the story of the Todd family and all the iterations that Ursula lives through. I love how she chose to end A God in Ruins.  It reminded me of my love of the story as the final note.

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The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

This one really gnawed at any lack of appreciation I was harboring toward my life.  A little girl in Nazi Germany taken into a foster home because her mother is too ill to care for her but not before her brother dies on the way to their new family.  No, that has to happen first.  She has to be ten years old and totally alone in the world. And death is narrating one of the most deadly periods in history.

Zusak makes it beautiful, though, because Liesel thrives in a terrible time and devastated place.  She is resilient.  She is lovable and kind and works hard and wants to do good things.  Yes, she steals books, but it is to feel whole.  Books are her survival and I can totally relate to that.  She comes of age in a scary time where survival is at a premium, and she experiences her own layers of trauma.  Liesel survives and makes a happy life for herself, but will have the demons from the war cling to her forever.

It’s that important YA that can make teenagers stop and think about what things must really have been like at that time and place.  I am a firm believer in appreciation and I am sure these books reminded me to do a little more appreciating.

I was going to say I won’t watch the movie, and I don’t watch a lot of movies, but this one could possibly be an exception.  I might not be able to promise that.

I loved both of these stories, but I am recovering from them by changing tracks with my reading.   I have three more WWII novels and I can’t do five in a row or I will be threatened with collapse.  On my SUP.  I liked how it worked out that I read books on the same topic from two different points of view, but in some ways, these views were very much the same.

I may have given up resisting Reading Challenges, even though I have had other, competing plans of how I am going to shape my reading.  Because it needs a shape.

Comments/shares/likes are always appreciated!

 

Mermaids!

I doubt few things are more interesting or appealing than mythical creatures whose intention it is to destroy men.  Fewer things are more timeless than destruction, seduction, and curiosity.

What could be more timeless than the mermaid whose purpose it was to drive men mad in the pursuit of them? And then the countless attempts at recreating these creatures in legends and curiosity exhibits?

The few books in this post to sample the topic of mermaids treat them all differently.  And it does not include all the mermaid books I would like to read or all the circus/sideshow reads in my book hoarding situation.

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The Mermaid’s Sister, Carrie Ann Noble

This was a either a Kindle First or a discounted price treasure and was the winner of Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award in 2014 for Young Adult fiction.

This one is as magical and mythical as a mermaid story gets. It is a fairy tale with the usual dose of nefarious characters and intentions, magic, and larger than life characters.  Two girls raised as sisters and one is becoming the mermaid she was meant to be, making the other sister, who is trying to get her to the ocean where she belongs out of love, wonders what this means for her.  Is she meant to turn into a stork, like her own legend of origin suggests?  What about the boy that is almost like a brother figure to her who is helping her try to save the sister and her feelings about him that just won’t be controlled?   All sorts of drama, darkness, and magic. Characters in this one actually have tattoos to immunize themselves from the curse of madness that seeing a mermaid can set upon one. And some regular teenage crises too just to keep it real.  I liked the audio with this one, and I am not at all surprised that it stood out enough to get an award for being the new kid on the block.

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The Book of Speculation, Erika Swyler

Also a debut novel, interestingly.  Strong family themes (similarly to The Mermaid’s Sister) in this tale of mystery and an inter-generational family curse that has to be untangled in time to save the latest generation from the same fate.  A librarian comes into possession of a book that helps him to unravel the reason why his mother and grandmother, both with mermaid abilities to swim and perform in a traveling show, seemed to drown themselves on the same day.  Again, the mermaid’s otherworldly, obsessive appeal is also talked about here as well as the mermaid being part of a show. Because what else would a woman with an uncanny swimming ability and in need of support do with herself back in times past?  Especially a woman to whom men felt an unexplainable draw? There is also a lot of reference to Tarot and reading Tarot cards to amp up the atmospheric mystery.  Sara Gruen endorses the novel on the cover, and people who like Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants and At the Water’s Edge) will probably like this one too. And the ending has just a bit of a twist on it.  So, worth the time.  I also have the prequel that I didn’t get to in time for this post. Shame on me.

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The Museum of Extraordinary Things, Alice Hoffman

I coveted this one for awhile before it came up on an Audible sale and I snagged it. Alice Hoffman is an author who I have hoarded up, and this one reminded me of why and that I need to get crackin through all her other stuff. It was one I was excited to procure, that I had not read yet which could be a Reading Challenge category.

While this one is more popular than some of hers (I am defining popular by the number of reviews I see on Amazon), it does not appear to be as much so as The Dovekeepers or The Marriage of Opposites.  This one just hinted right at the get go of being atmospheric, set in turn of the century NYC, one of my favorite novel settings for some reason, and it did not disappoint.  Have I mentioned before in my posts that NYC always has had this draw for me and for about ten minutes a year I think I could actually live there, when I currently live in a beautiful home in the country and driving to the nearby small cities can get overwhelming for me? A home where I regularly enjoy the benefits of living where I do? Yeah.  Then I am down there visiting a friend and I see children my son’s age boarding the subway and I have a panic attack imagining if that was me with my boy.

Alice Hoffman intersects personal histories in the context of the setting like only she can do.  A girl born with webbed fingers to a man who owns a sideshow museum and is groomed for performance as a mermaid in a tank, essentially as a prisoner, a Jewish boy who separates from his father after his father tries to commit suicide, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory disaster, and the intense political climate of the haves and have nots.  There usually aren’t even ten minutes of the year where I want to live in turn of the century NYC, but I love to read the tales of immigration, coming of age in a fast changing but still traditional world, people trying to hang onto their personal history as well as responding to the world around them in order to survive.

This book was everything I wanted it to be. Engrossing, intense, painfully real. I listened to it during driving in the rain which seemed to intensify it even more.

Mermaid books that I can’t miss?  None of these are romance novels, and I thought I saw some romance novels in the mermaid category, which would make sense, given then are supposed to drive men crazy.

In my own mermaid moment it is finally warm enough to swim in the lake with a wetsuit.  The fact I own a wetsuit and like to swim in lakes makes me ultimately unsuitable for my NYC dreams.  I don’t feel like a siren, either, just a woman wrapped in some weird fabric trying not to  dead sea float for long enough for the neighbors to think I might be dead out there.

Comments/suggestions/shares? I always love them.

Middle Grade Novels: Roots and Branches

Please month of June, give me warmth.

I love the green of the springtime around here but the rain is feeling prohibitive.  That might not seem like the right word, but it is.  Trying to train, trying to camp outside, trying to soak up every moment of this saturated season.

I wrestled two additional middle grade novels for this post.  Novels about kids thrust into adult situations and prevailed upon to help with adult problems.  Completely not okay in the real world, but like many things, makes a good story nonetheless.

Through these situations these children figure out their talents and how to use them, as well as the meaning of family, which are developmental tasks for the audience.

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The Mysterious Benedict Society,  Trenton Lee Stewart

So this is a four book set, but I was okay with just reading the first one.  A bunch of genius kids without families to miss them are selected to infiltrate a nefarious empire to spoil a mind control plot.  The kids are ingenious, argue a few times, but then become a solid family to one another, aside from finding or gaining adult family members as well.  These kids sprout both their roots and their potential.  I needed audiobook and a road trip assistance to work my way through this one.  My brain wanted adult themes.

I don’t know if I would have liked it more if I was a member of the target audience, but it is still a contender to share with my son when he is in that bracket.  He could be the kind of kid who fantasizes about being a genius.  I know I did occasionally and it got me into a life that can be overwhelming sometimes. One never knows.

 

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Greenglass House, Kate Milford

An orphan again, but this one has been adopted by parents who seem completely appropriate but who are accessories to smuggling.  They live in a big house that they run as a hotel to smugglers, allowing themselves to be a crossroads for illegal activity.  You can’t live in such a place in your middle childhood years without getting sucked into some kind of intrigue that you had no hand in creating.  While his parents are distracted with a mysterious influx of guests one Christmas season, he begins to realize that the combination of guests is not random at all.  They are tied to one another or to the history of the house.  He wonders about where he came from, and the other potentialities of his life, as well as learns more about being the person that he wants to be through role play (fake it til you make it, right?) so those are more childlike themes along with the adult stuff going on.  There so much action that the time crawls to Christmas and the peak of the action, the solving of the biggest mystery is about the treasure of family, not the treasure of valuable goods.   Another contender to share with my son in a few years, if he gets past the toilet humor.

Another one that I needed the help of audio to get me through, and I will share with my son, but my adult brain wanted adult things.  I had some adult things to read to give myself a break, which I am trying to finish to create the next themed post.  More atmospheric, legendary, and reaches of the imagination.

Comments/likes/shares are always welcome!

Better Together: Coming of Age in America

Happy Memorial Day everyone! Yes, the day is about remembering who we have lost defending our country but it is also the kickoff to summer.  Thank you for brave lives, thank you for summer.  Thanks for my freedom, thanks for grilling, swimming, and cold drinks.

I chose this featured image because lilacs are out Memorial Day and signal to me the coming of June and better things.

I set up the tent this week and my son and I camped in the rain.  I am tired of waiting.

So I missed a post last week.

It actually has more to do with competition training than a thriving social life.  I completed my first half marathon last weekend and ran every step, even though the last four miles I really wanted to walk. My training partner was riding with me, and that helped, as well as visualizing what it would be like to tell people I couldn’t run the entire thing after three months of training and a bloody toenail. The end was grueling and I nearly couldn’t step up on the curb to go into Starbucks for my reward coffee.

And I just bought a wetsuit because it’s time for triathlon season and I am a grape hanging at the bottom of the Adirondacks.

I am trying to decide if I will be posting every other week this summer instead of weekly due to training and seeing people taking over my slivers of time, although this can create a backlog of read books and no posts for them.

Today I have two books that are coming of age books, but also are about two grandfathers who are living life like they want it.  Turn of the century America (turn of the twentieth, that is), and white patriarchy thrives with stories of two children admiring and orbiting their patriarchs. One is a girl and one is a boy, and one is about accepting a crappy lot and trying to get to your dreams and the other is a boy choosing his life and everyone around him letting him do it.

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The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, Jaqueline Kelly

As a woman with a doctorate in science myself, this one is a soul crusher.  A soul renderer.  I nearly had to abandon it.  A little girl finds a love of natural science, something I have always found fascinating, through her grandfather.  He takes her under his wing and they puzzle through the natural world and even discover something new and notable together.  This all makes her heart sing.  And then, as she is pre-teen, her mother starts to try to cram her into the role that upper middle class white girls are supposed to fill in 1906 Texas: housewifery.  Cooking and housekeeping and bearing children.  And of course she is not good at it, unlike her pretty and sweet friend, who all the boys have a crush on and wins the competitions at the fair of pretty lace and handcrafts that Calpurnia is also forced to humiliate herself by entering.  Calpurnia wants to enter university and read On The Origin of the Species and she gets a housekeeping book for Christmas that she hates. The book does not end in her somehow being rescued from her fate of a miserable career in a house, and I don’t know how it could and be realistic, but she continues to hang onto her dreams as she grows.

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Cold Sassy Tree, Olive Ann Burns

Same period in history but narrated by a slightly older boy and in Georgia instead of Texas, Cold Sassy Tree was awesome to read right after The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate so they could be compared.  Will Tweety is allowed to do nearly anything he pleases.  He has to go to school, and he has to mind his grandfather, which usually trumps his mother or his father, but it is clear that the world is this boy’s oyster.  It can be a double edged sword in that he has some responsibilities which seem to exceed what his years and experience would justify, but he is a boy, he is the boy his grandfather never had, and the family is turned upside down by his grandfather marrying another woman three weeks after their beloved matriarch dies.  Will Tweety is introduced to a much wider world than Calpurnia, especially with him being allowed and almost expected to know about sex at a young age, and I know Calpurnia is a children’s book and Cold Sassy Tree is not, but I think that her being completely oblivious to the idea of sex would still ring true if it was not a children’s book.   Everyone is asking Will what he wants to do as a career, unlike Calpurnia, who no one really asks because they do not believe she has a choice in the matter.  Will’s grandfather makes a total scandal in a town that thrives on scandal and judging the choices of others, but like Calpurnia’s, he also does what he wants, and everyone else has to deal with it.

Neither of these books make me romanticize the past, as much as I absolutely love historical fiction. I loved them both, as they intersect the loss of innocence of a child with the world changing rapidly around them.  The magic of growing older, the magic of all the new things that the world is coming up with, wanting to hang on to childhood and the old ways as well as enjoying the modernities of the world.  Straddling of the old and the new and the world is your rich white granddaddy’s playground.

Getting it together for another post next week.

Comments/likes/shares are always appreciated.

 

 

A Good Place for a Questionable Death

The coldest month of the year is coming to a close and I am enjoying modern day coziness.

I feel more hopeful in February.  Every minute of daylight that we have been gaining since the longest day of the year on December 21 starts to make an appreciable difference in February…so I am actually excited for it.

At the end of December, following reading Ghostland, I became entranced by two more Gothic ghost stories that share a poignant setting:

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The Haunted Hotel, Wilkie Collins

I anticipate that I will eventually read most, if not all, Collins works. He is a sensationalist, wrote one of the first modern detective novels, and he loves twists and turns.  This may seem a lofty goal because he was prolific but I anticipate a long life and lots of public domain audiobooks.  Sidebar:  Librivox has upped their game.  Love the app.

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The Visitant, Megan Chance

This is my second book of Chance’s.  I read Bone River and loved the twist at the end so I bought this and another book of hers, Inamorata.  Like Collins, she is prolific. Historical mysteries featuring female protagonists who aren’t afraid to buck the establishment: yes please.

Both of these Gothic novels involve impoverished noble families falling into ruin along with their once fancy, crumbling Venice palazzos (rented or owned). Venice is cold and wet, a city of contradictions: Catholic but no stranger to a good bacchanal. I was so intrigued even looked up the why and how of a city emerging from water. Currently threatened by global warming, at risk of being swallowed by the rising sea levels to become a lost city.  It is a setting with enough intrigue to be a character in its own right.  Chance draws upon the details of the beautiful yet cold snow, a local dye factory polluting the water a different color on a daily basis, a combination of beauty with sadness and cold. An ideal atmosphere for a ghost story.

Apparently, if you’re a noble with a death in Venice that looks legit at first glance but really isn’t, you should consider coming back as a ghost to show the living what really happened. Avenge your death in the cold and wet ruins.  Even after they remake the palazzo into a hotel years after, like in Collins’ Haunted Hotel (which incidentally is only haunted to the people who are sympathetic to the dead noble) you need to be sure that anyone who cares about you, or may have led to your untimely demise, is made aware of this fact.

Of course, the authors extend the exposition by exploring the tangled web of relationships involved.  Collins’ Haunted Hotel is a more traditional Gothic novel in that there is a virtuous woman at the helm of the story, leading the story as a paragon of virtue, and of course, she ends up happy and rewarded.  She pines after being dumped and only after the man dies and his death is solved does she move forward to realize her happiness.  Despite my love of gothic novels, I struggle with women only being as good as their virginity in them. Women who are more cunning only win in the short term because virtue is the only great reward in the long run. Chance writes for a more modern audience, and I absolutely appreciate that.  It would be incongruous for her heroines to follow their passions in other realms but be completely indifferent to/appalled by sex. And she is realistic about the fact that throughout time passion has existed independently of marriage and long term promises.  The fact I constantly sweat the fact there was no reliable birth control back then is more my problem than hers.

I can see where this is not one of Collins’ more famous works, as it can be slow in places, and much of the conflict in the beginning happens with a serving woman whose husband mysteriously disappears. The more interesting characters’ actions and the hotel do not feature strongly until the second half of the novel, even though the novels begins with the sinister Countess coming to a doctor to discuss her engagement under questionable circumstances.  The juicy takes some work to get there, but you get to it.  And the opening makes a promise that there will be more juice later on.

Chance has a piece independently of Collins’in that her protagonist has had a career in caring for the mentally ill.  Although she comes to Venice to care for a patient for redemption from a mistake, she is competent and smart and has her own mind. Caring for the mentally ill has its own sordid past and Chance adds to the darkness by talking about how her protagonist had wanted to heal these people and had her own conflicts about its efficacy.  It was a nice way to give the protagonist an identity separately from a breakup/love gone awry, whereas Collins’ protagonist did have a job as a nanny that she loved, but her main torch was maintaining her virtue for a man who never deserved it.

Other Venice stories?  They have to be out there. I wish I could visit before it sinks into the sea. I love old school NYC as a setting too, which this year’s read down will make obvious.

Comments/likes/shares please!!

A Lighter Magical Trilogy

Serial books with heavy magic themes can feel so dark and involved.

Even if I love them, I have to be willing to enter their worlds: the dark vs light, shifting alliances and constant twists, the angst of having magical abilities, detailed characters and multiple plotlines.  Sometimes I don’t want to go so far in.  Sometimes I want less darkness, fewer details to keep track of. I can appreciate a shorter, lighter series on magic, with a healthy dash of steampunk and an appeal to adult and YA audiences.

Enter The Paper Magician series by Charlie N Holmberg.

The magicians in this trilogy animate and make uses of manmade objects instead of making things manifest out of thin air.  I like that the protagonist, the talented aspiring magician Ceony Twill got an element that at first seems boring that she isn’t sure she really wants.

Not only is the magic unique with its own set of clear rules, though, there were other unique elements:

The Paper Magician:  very unique exposition for the background of Emery Thane, the master magician that Ceony has been sent to as an apprentice.

The Glass Magician:  Ceony learns that she can break one of the thought to be unbreakable rules of magicianship, which I also thought was unique.  Many of the books I have encountered on magic are a battle between dark and light, not about manipulating some of the laws of the magic itself.  If you like well behaved characters, Ceony Twill might not be for you.  She is competent and loving and has many good qualities but she loves taking matters into her own hands, like, all the time.

The Master Magician:  This one combines both her personal story reaching a resolution as well as the last remaining threads of the conflict with the dark magicians.  Yes, there is dark vs. light but it is more than that. There is a decent twist when Ceony’s rule breaking discovery is revealed.

These books are also pretty short, fewer than 300 pages.  I used these as a break from heavier tomes.  One of my other reader friends who generally prefers lighter reads blew through these long before I did.  I read The Paper Magician and then I wandered off for awhile and then I finished the last two as a break from getting through my Reading Challenge reads.  It was not so forgettable or involved to not be able to pick up after a break.

Also, there is romance, but I think it is well done.  I don’t always like when characters have to get paired off in books, but I felt that the pairing here is tasteful and makes sense based on what we know of the characters.  I did not feel that the pairing was forced or unnatural.

These books started out priced more indie but are published by an Amazon Publishing company that does not accept unsolicited submissions.  So I guess this is not an indie series, but it is not one of the big five either. It was a really poor idea researching this for this post because now I see she has other books and I can’t buy more books this year.  This month.  Something.  No new books.  I hate January.

Do you have any lighter magic series that you like to read?  I have some cozy mysteries with magic that I have not delved into yet.  They could also make the cut for breaks from the heavier reads.

Comments/likes/shares are always appreciated.

 

Outlaws and Bad Feminists

No one can be the perfect feminist.  No one can be the perfect activist for any social cause.

Depressing, given our recent political climate, at least where I I live in the United States.  I made the depressing, although not completely conscious, choice to read two books on feminism for my Reading Challenges right around the time that we did not elect our first female president in part because misogyny is still a very real thing in our country.

So is racism.  You can’t read Between the World and Me and deny that racism continues to be a part of our world, but I feel that I can be lured into a false sense of security that feminism is not, in fact, enjoying the same fate.

And in moments we shall have a disturbing leader at the helm, whose racist and feminist attitudes somehow did not prevent his coming into power.

We have to hang on to the gains that we have already made.

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Romantic Outlaws, the Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter, Mary Shelley  by Ruth Gordon

This is a gorgeous interwoven portrait of a famous mother and daughter pair who both believed and gave up family ties and general respectability in order to live and assert the notion that women should be just as free to do as they please as men.  Pursue careers, go and do what they would like to do, have sex with whom they please outside of marriage, although both women were monogamous in their relationships with men by choice.  These two women were both greatly admired by many of their contemporaries while also remaining on the outskirts  of respectability.

Both also suffered from Major Depressive Disorder, with Mary Wollstonecraft having two suicide attempts, which the author explains in a way that garners empathy for the times that she chose to make these attempts.  It was a sad and lonely world for Mary at times, and then without thinking clearly because of being depressed, it was easy for her to choose to stop hurting so much. Ironic that her life was cut short from giving birth to her second daughter after all, after wanting so badly to escape it in unhappier times, and then when things are good for her she slips out of the world in a matter of days.  Depression robbed Mary Wollstonecraft of some of her hard won dignity, in my opinion, and if she had not suffered from it she would have been even more formidable.  Interesting also that her daughter did not make the same choices, despite being numbed and repeatedly devastated by the loss of children.

Mary Shelley went through bouts of it, too, although she was more often surrounded by friends and distracted by the constant responsibility of caring for her husband Percy B Shelley, who although brilliant was selfish and completely idealistic and in the moment.  Her younger years, after running off with Percy with her sister and living with other wealthy people  remind me of my own graduate school days. Not because I was spending my time with history makers and writing a modern classic, but because there was a lot of selfish behavior. I was dating my own version of Shelley, an idealistic man who really wanted romantic love and felt it should happen for him whether or not he did anything to take care of his relationship or make any sacrifice, no matter how small, for it.

Neither Mary was the perfect feminist.  Both pined after their wandering men and invested more in them than they got in return.  Both took care of their men (and many of their relationships. Both were at the ready to put themselves aside for a friend in need) at their own expense.  Mary Shelley let her husband take lots of the writing spotlight for her own work and after they died there was a period of backlash against all the progress they did make in changing the world’s views and treatment of women.   But both lived the closest to their ideals as they could manage, which is more than you can say of anyone, past or present. They fought for the time and space they needed to write and participate in the creative life that they both found sustaining. This book is beautiful, captivating and well-written and does give me home of some of the progress we have made in advancing the second sex.  Gordon did a spectacular job at researching and painting a very human portrait of these two women who never got the time together they deserved.

All right, so after tackling those 500+ pages, you could think, damn, women have it good now. They can own property and do not need a husband around for much of anything if they don’t want him there.  They can have any job they want!  Sweet! But old cultural norms die hard:

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Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay

No, we are still in the middle of those woods.  Although feminism does not require the life changing sacrifices as it once did, it hangs over us. Both in our entertainment and in the way the media still perpetuates the idea that it is unreasonable that (white) men shouldn’t always get what they want.

Gay starts the essays by writing about her own vulnerabilities: her worst feminist flaws seeming to be in her enjoyment in rap music, to which I can relate, her impostor syndrome as a PhD and college professor, her trying to reach out to black students where she teaches and how they are still very different from her.  Although not a flaw, I do particularly like the self disclosure of her love of Hunger Games and how the book helped her to get through the dreaded time at the gym.

It’s a good opening to the subsequent shredding of many things one can put forth as beacons of progress, especially with race relations.  Because racism is much less acceptable than other forms of denigration it has burrowed into subtlety.  I listened to her feelings about Tyler Perry movies while driving in the car and the whole time I was like, damn, sick burn, Dr. Gay.

Feminism was a shred of less subtle forms of denigration.  A news media coverage of a gang rape of an eleven year old girl where the newscaster seemed to feel that this little girl ruined the lives of the men going to jail, not vice versa.  The discouraging popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, where the whole point of the stories is a woman reconciling herself to a BDSM lifestyle to be with an insanely rich, damaged and controlling man.  I am at least happy that some of the romance novels I read for the Christmas posts involved women and men connecting over their family values and their hearts desires rather than a battle over who was going to be in control and who had to deal with it in the bedroom.

What are your thoughts on the future of racism and feminism as we soon transition to a new president at the helm?

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