Fiction

Curl Up With Christie (Agatha that is!)

Agatha ChristieThe weather forecast for this evening calls for thunderstorms.  I love a cozy evening inside with the wind howling and the rain pounding on the roof.  It’s one of my favorite things!  Reading a cozy mystery while drinking a cup of herbal tea completes the picture!  For me, the title of” The Ultimate Cozy Mystery Writer” goes to Dame Agatha Christie.  One of her books will certainly make the perfect reading material for a dark and stormy night!

English author Agatha Christie is probably the most famous detective story writer in the world.  She wrote 66 detective novels, 150 short stories, and 19 plays.  I had the privilege to see one of those plays “The Mouse Trap” in London in 2002 at the time it was the longest running play in the West End, now it’s the longest running play in the world!  She created the famous detectives Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, and Tommy and Tuppence who all reoccur in her novels.  My personal favorite is Poirot!  Her books and stories are set in the time that she lived in- they were modern then, but now they are like reading historical fiction.  They span the decades from the first World War all the way up into the 1950’s- so reading them is like going back in time to the early 20th century.  Her stories have been turned into TV shows as well, often part of PBS’ “Mystery” program and many are now available to stream on Netflix.

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World War I Fiction for Downton Abbey Lovers

World War I historical fiction for fans of Downton AbbeySeasons 1 and 2 of my beloved and favorite T.V. series ever- Downton Abbey- take place right before and during the Great War (WWI).  We see Downton turned into a hospital for wounded officers.  Which, actually did happen at Highclere Castle (the real Downton Abbey).  We see Matthew Crawley and other men from the estate head off to the front.  And we experience just a hint at the heartache that this war doled out all over Europe.

From 1914-1918 the men of Europe and their colonial “partners”, later joined by the U.S., slaughtered each other in a particularly brutal fashion.  This war was stomach turning- violent, deadly, and inhumane.  All wars are such, but WWI seems to embody these characteristics in such an extreme way that it is hard to comprehend.  WWII is the only other human experience that I think can beat it, with the American Civil War coming in a close third place.

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“Wonderful Things”: King Tut, Highclere Castle, and Downton Abbey

Highclere Castle: The Real Downton AbbeyThis is Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey.  The widely popular t.v. show is filmed here.  Additionally, the writer of the show Julian Fellowes drew inspiration from the real family that calls the castle home.  For several centuries the castle has been the domain of the Earls of Carnarvon.  The 8th Earl and Countess are the current owners of the home.  The 5th Earl- The Great Grandfather of the current Earl was a pretty famous guy back in his day.  His name was George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, know as the 5th Lord Carnarvon.

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5 Must Read Civil War Novels

gone with the wind

“Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.” – Margaret Mitchell, Gone With The Wind (1936).  That is my favorite opening line of any book I have ever read.  I read those words for the first time in 7th grade; when I read Gone With The Wind for the first time.  Gone With The Wind is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel and holds a place of high regard in Southern and American Literature.   Reading it set off a life long interest in Civil War history and Civil War era historical fiction.  I have read Gone With The Wind over and over, own the movie, and even named my dogs Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler!

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“Home Fires” on Masterpiece Watch List

Home Fires Watch ListI am a HUGE Masterpiece Theater fan.  It’s without a doubt my favorite show on TV!  Right now PBS in airing “Home Fires” in it’s Masterpiece series.  The show is based on the book “Jambusters”, by Julie Summers.  Quick synopsis- the show is set in an English Village at the outbreak of WWII.  The plot centers around the lady members of the WI (Women’s Institute).  The WI is sort of like an English version of the Junior League- a group of women who volunteer to do community projects and also socialize with one another.  In each episode we see how each woman’s life is being affected by the war- some in positive ways and some in negative ways.  It’s dramatic, uplifting, funny, and heartbreaking all at the same time!  If you haven’t seen “Home Fires” yet check it out on PBS.org.

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