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Showing posts from September, 2015

Maverick Mountaineer by Robert Wainwright

It's surprising to learn that steely-eyed actor Peter Finch's father (or step-father) was just as interesting as he was! Maverick Mountaineer by Robert Wainwright tells the fascinating story of George Ingle Finch, a scientist and mountaineer.  Even people who are not at all interested in climbing, are likely to enjoy this tale of adventure and heartbreak set in colonial Australia, civilised Europe and the then mysterious Himalayas.  (I even liked Wainwright's descriptions of mountaineering, and I get vertigo!)

Finch started his climbing career near Orange where his science-loving father owned a large property. However, the young boy eventually lived with his beautiful, society-loving mother in Europe and finished his education there, eventually studying science and becoming a lecturer.  He had several gifts, including being able to play the piano at concert level. The 'wild colonial boy' went climbing with his brother Max at a young age and soon made a name for hi…

My Badass Book of Saints Courageous Women Who Showed Me How to Live Maria Morera Johnson Ave Maria Press Pub Date: Nov 20 2015 |

This is an inspiring and enjoyable book to read if you are interested in learning about women saints, and women who were 'saintly' in a feisty way.  Maria Johnson includes saints, such as Sr. Blandina who was sent to the Wild West which was full of lynch mobs and St Teresa of Avila who founded seventeen convents and fifteen friaries over the age of fifty. Sr Blandina got rid of one of the lynch mobs by taking an accused man to the bedside of the dying man he had assaulted. The dying man forgave him, so he was tried in a court of law rather than a vigilante mov.

Maria Johnson also has sections on women, such as Nancy Wake and Audrey Hepburn. The Australasian Nancy Wake was known as the 'White Mouse' because of her work for the French Resistance during the war.  Hepburn also helped the resistance in her native Holland, but she is better-known for her acting and her charity work for children. I was glad to see Nancy Wake in the book, although I think that she might be sur…

Joy Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C. S. Lewis by Abigail Santamaria

The story of C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman is one of the great love stories of all time, as Abigail Santamaria writes in her well-written and interesting biography.  However, I found this book difficult to read because Joy was so unlikeable compared with her rather jolly and fun-loving husband.  I thought that it was amazing that Lewis fell in love with this annoying woman!

However, Lewis had a strange history with women.  He lived with his friend's mother for many years, and some biographers think that this was a platonic relationship, but it is a mystery.  She was 25 years older, divorced, and demanding.  The young academic was, no doubt, looking for a mother-figure because his mother died when he was very young.

Like Mrs Moore, Joy was divorced and didn't have much money.  However, she was also a much younger intellectual and writer.  Many people found her abrasive and inclined to be shocking.  She also seemed to neglect her sons and hit them a lot.  I tend to agree with Lew…

C.S.Lewis and the Crisis of a Christian by Gregory Cootsona

Theo's Little Bot, C.S. Lewis aged 50, Wikipedia Commons.

I actually read this while my mother was dying only a few weeks ago, and it helped me a great deal.  Although I found reading about C.S. Lewis's crises of belief rather heavy-going, I found that reading about the crises that he faced in his life, especially the grief that he felt when his beloved wife passed away was easy to relate to, and I am not surprised that so many people have turned to the famous writer in times of trouble.

Some of Lewis's opinions about Christianity will seem out-dated to some readers.  For example, one of the reasons for his conversion was that human beings yearn for another world, and this convinced him that heaven does indeed exist. Lewis also thought that suffering is good for the soul, and this won't appeal to many people today, although I tend to agree with him.

If you would like an introduction to Cootsona's writing before reading this book, I highly recommend his wonderful p…

The Dress by Kate Kerrigan

A fast-paced and beautifully written saga, this book tells the story of two generations of women - Lily  and Honor, and moves between London, Ireland and New York. When Lily, a lover of vintage clothes, discovers a stunning dress designed by a relative, she decides to make a copy of the dress. But how will this affect her relationship with her best friend?

Honor, a young and ambitious Irish designer, creates the dress but it causes her a lot of trouble, because she falls in love with her client's husband. This leads to a huge fight with Joy, who doesn't want to let her husband go.

How will these stories be tied up at the end?

This kept me interested until the last page, but there were some modern expressions in Honor's story that I found jarring. These included 'hanging out' and 'reaching out'. They only originated a few years ago!