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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Books Read in April

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

This wasn't especially well-written, except in patches but I thought that it was reasonably helpful. After all, it's not a good idea to brood about the past all the time or constantly think about a better future. How often have you regretted not enjoying good times in the past as much as you should have? How quickly it goes! (I'm over 30.) This book shows a way of finding peace of mind by living entirely in the present.

Cherry: A Life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard

This Antarctic hero famously almost lost his life searching for the eggs of the Emperor Penguin hoping that they'd help solve a Darwinian problem.

A son of an aristocratic family who eventually inherited two English estates, Cherry-Garrard could have become a country gentleman and squire. He didn't need to work, but he was looking for more meaning in his life. He met Edward Wilson who became his mentor and helped him win a place on Scott's last expedition. 'Cherry' wrote his great classic, The Worst Journey in the World, about his harrowing time in Antarctica.

This biography describes Cherry's great expedition and experiences at the Antarctic, deals in depth with his terrible struggles with depression and his mistreatment by the Press and the British Museum, and his happy marriage at the end of his life. Wheeler also made an expedition to the Antarctic and her anecdotes make this part of the book very interesting.

The problem is that the book fell away a bit after the account of the Antarctic journey, because this was the most fascinating part of Cherry's life. It also became quite harrowing because Cherry was haunted by wondering whether he could have saved Scott and this affected his life badly.

However, it's well-worth reading if you like to read about Antarctic heroes.

The Queen's Favourites by Jean Plaidy

Plaidy is at her best in this book about the rivalries between the Churchills and the Mashams for the Queen's attention. The characters are finely drawn - Sarah is intimidating and dominating and Abigail is suitably sly, but the reader still likes both characters! (At least, I did.) John is lovely, of course. Queen Anne is treated sympathetically and receives her due.

It is historically accurate, like all Plaidy's books, captures the attention, and moved me to tears at one stage. I was sorry to finish it!

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