Monday, April 27, 2015

Caught My Eye

Every week Barbara has a Laudable Links post which I've always rather enjoyed. In this post series, she'll share both funny and seriously thought provoking things which caught her attention as she browsed the web. I probably won't make this a regular habit but I did read a few things these past few weeks which I thought were particularly interesting..

  • I really appreciated this article by the ladies at Out of the Ordinary which talks about something worth fighting for. I love the point that the author of this post makes - that sometimes church is challenging for the "simple" fact that we cannot get over ourselves. Our own (frequently unfounded) fears keep us from fellowship with our fellow believers in a way which would benefit everyone and we need to fight against our fears to be a part of something which God established for our good (and His glory).
  • This article which talks about the "surprising study" which finds that babies feel pain just likes adults feel pain. Even a one day old can feel pain. (Someone explain the word "surprising" to me as relates to this article.) If we can assume that one day olds can feel pain then can we not assume - or at least ask the question - as to whether infants can also feel pain inside the womb?
  • Amy at Hope is the Word reviewed Red Sails to Capri, by Ann Weil and her review has left me with no choice but to read it for myself.
  • This post over at Coffee, Tea, Books and Me on Choosing to See What is Beautiful. A lovely reminder.

Ok, I never do this, really.....

One more:

Lastly, I'll leave you with this new single from Laura Story which I really, really love.

I've known rejections
I've bought the lie that I could never overcome the hurt inside
With arms of mercy You reach for me
Tore the veil away and gave me eyes to see
You're all I need

And I never knew love
I never knew truth
I never peace, the sweet release that brought me through
I never knew freedom, what grace could do
The broken chains, the hope that saves, a life made new
Till I met You

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Four Feathers, by A.E.W. Mason

This past month my in-town book club chose to read The Four Feathers, by A. E. W. Mason. I was glad of it because I had never read it and was very curious. I've linked the title to the $0.99 edition which is available on the Kindle which I would also like to note as being the cheapest, fastest way to get a hold of it. I liked the book so much though that now I'm on the lookout for a beautiful hardbound edition.

The Four Feathers was published in 1902. Although Mason wrote many novels (and plays) it is considered that this is his finest. Interesting to note, Mason was a contemporary of Anthony Hope who wrote The Prisoner of Zenda. (Linked to my review.) It was apparently a great time in history for adventure stories and these two titles most definitely ought to be enjoyed by a modern reading audience!

The Four Feathers tells the story of British officer, Harry Faversham. Harry is engaged to be married to a young lady by the beautiful name of Ethne when his regiment is called to Egypt to help suppress an uprising. Harry doesn't want to go to Egypt. He has always been a sensitive soul and loathes and fears the idea of entering into battle and watching people be injured, maimed or killed. He can't seem to muster the courage to put himself in harm's way and so he resigns from his commission. As a result of his cowardly resignation, three men from his regiment send him three white feathers. Henry opens the package containing the feathers in front of Ethne who then learns of his cowardice. Upon hearing what he had done, Ethne presents him with a fourth feather and calls off their engagement. Feversham is sufficiently shamed and - after informing his father and a close friend of what all had occurred - disappears from society. Privately, Faversham decides to seek opportunities by which he will be able to ask each of the four individuals who presented him with the feathers to take them back, thus restoring his honor. This is a tale of bravery, courage, love, hardship, adventure and honor.

The book was interesting from the perspective of that the way a reader would view different characters. Your thoughts and opinions about any number of individuals were apt to change while progressing through the story. I liked Harry and then I didn't. Then I liked him again. I admired other characters, but there were also times when I abhorred them. The only constant was that I did not care for Ethne (despite her beautiful name). I found her to be rather callous and self-centered much of the time. I wasn't able to attend book club for the discussion but it is my understanding that the generous consensus was that no one cared for Ethne very much. Others also expressed that their feelings changed towards various characters as they read along.

The other nice aspect of this book is that there is a main plot and then a variety of subplots which manage to keep a tight reign on the reader's interest levels. New details and facts, thoughts and ideas are revealed as the story unfolds. My only complaint about the book is really that it started off rather slow (for me at any rate). The first few chapters were a struggle to get into but by the middle of the tale I was completely hooked and breezed my way to the end.

I'm having a hard time finding much information or discussion about the book online. Even Wikipedia is brief in its description (gasp). Readers on Goodreads give it 3.84 stars out of 5. I'd give it 5 myself, despite its slow beginnings. Some readers noted that they didn't understand quite why it was labeled an "adventure" story as they found it to be more a study of feelings. I can see why they would say that. Much of the story is told by way of explaining a character or a situation and by sharing what they were thinking or feeling in any given moment. I understand too that because this book pretty much documents thought processes, it is a hard book to make into a movie. Critics seem to agree that there is not a faithful movie adaptation of the book to be found. (The 2002 version with Heath Ledger looks to be avoided at all costs.) After hearing other people's experiences with the films, I think I will leave The Four Feathers to my imagination.

Although I don't feel very equipped to discuss this title - based on the fact that I can't find much online of the history of the book or A.E.W. Mason online - I'll bring this "review" to a close. I would be curious to learn more about it and probably the one and only way that will ever occur is if modern readers pick his books up and become interested in them once again. This novel is really quite brilliant in explaining the inner workings of the mind and how the way a person is thinking has great influence over their actions. If that sounds too brainy for you, I'll refer you again to the books classification as being a "romantic adventure story." The best book is the one that entertains you thoroughly while making you think a little as well. This is one of those "best books" and if you find yourself with an opportunity to read it, do!

Note: The Kindle edition that I have linked to above ($0.99) includes several other of Mason's works which I plan to fully enjoy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Viking Picture Books and Resources

When your five year old expresses an interested in learning about Vikings, exactly what are you supposed to do? I poked around and asked a few friends for suggestions but no one had any specific titles to point me towards. My kids are all currently ages 8 and under so I was very interested in finding some titles that weren't all about the blood and the gore. With no suggestions, it became clear I was going to have to take a gamble and see what I could find. When it came to purchasing books about the Vikings I really appreciated Amazon's "Look Inside" feature. It helped me to get a feel for some of the titles, several of which I bypassed as being inappropriate for my children's ages.

Some of the titles I share below were purchased on Amazon and some were found by perusing the shelves of our local used bookstores.

#1 - Viking Settlers, by Fiona MacDonald.

Note: This is not a picture of the actual book. I can't find one online (which is a pity). (I might update this post with an actual picture of the copy I found.) This book was published in 1992 and would appear to be out of print, which is a real shame. The cover art is actually nicely done and very appealing. Viking Settlers is fully illustrated by Maggie Downer. Each page spread paints a scene of the Vikings building ships, sailing, building homes and, yes, attacking monasteries. When the Vikings are depicted in battle it shows them hovering over their victims with swords in hand. No blood, but you get the idea. In this book MacDonald covers topics such as Viking homelands, what they ate, how they traveled, and their death and burial practices. The book concludes with a timeline of events for the Vikings which is helpful piecing together their history.

I'm a big fan of this book and if you can lay your hands on a copy, do!

#2 - Who Were the Vikings?, an Usborne Staring Point History.

The Vikings look a little bit more, um, threatening than they do in Viking Settlers. Like many of Usborne's history books, it is filled with lots of illustrations and paragraphs of information scattered about the pages. Although the book is ordered out out much like Viking Settlements, it does feel more chaotic given the fact that there's hardly an inch of paper that is not covered with text or illustrations. It's a very busy book! However, it is also useful in providing information. Who Were the Vikings? is also illustrated and, like the above title, there is nothing gruesome contained within. The two books combined helped to solidify what we were learning  and, as is usually the case, each book you read on any given topic tends to add another layer of understanding. This book is likely easier to get a hold of and I have no objections to sharing it with small children.

#3 - DK Eyewitness Books: Viking.

I liked this book because it contained photographs of Viking relics. We read through our books on Vikings over the course of a week (one book a day, followed by a documentary which I'll share below) and we saved this title for last. At this point, the kids were getting a good picture of who the Vikings were, where they came from and how they lived. It was interesting for all of us to see photographs of Viking swords, cups, pendants, ships, etc.

Much like the Usborne book, this DK edition is also full of facts and visuals. However, I found it slightly less distracting of a title due to the photography. It didn't feel like a bunch of doodles filled the pages. The artifacts displayed made you feel more like you were taking in a museum exhibit instead of necessarily reading a book if that makes sense. At the conclusion of this book there are several pages with more detailed information about famous Viking rulers, adventurers, writers and historians, etc. I highly recommend this title to anyone wanting to learn about the Vikings with their younger children.

#4 - The Vikings: Facts, Stories, Activities. This title was published by Scholastic in 1991. It also appears to be out of print.

The only slightly creepy illustrations in this book are the faces of the Viking gods. Otherwise everything and everyone looks pretty normal. I like the layout of this book (although it does feature the same busy format as the titles already mentioned) in that the paragraphs of information seem decently spread from the illustrations. This title includes a story about the Viking gods ("Thor Visits the Land of the Giants") which is included in the famous Sagas. Scattered throughout the book are a couple of ideas for some Viking crafts that you can do if you so choose.

#5 - Leif the Lucky by Ingri and Edgar Daulaire.

This tells the story of famous Viking explorer, Leif the Lucky, who set sail from his home and family in Greenland and discovered North America. Actually it was Leif, not Christopher Columbus, who was the first European who set foot on North America. I'm not sure what that does about our Columbus Day but it's good to know the facts. This title is delightfully illustrated and all of my children enjoyed hearing Leif's tale.

Lastly I wanted to share about a kid-safe documentary on the Vikings. Of course, you will have to decide whether or not your own children are ready for this but we enjoyed it. (I previewed it before showing it to them.)

Vikings: Journey to the New World

This documentary focuses primarily on the Viking expansion in the west. It discusses their move to Iceland and Erik the Red's temporary banishment which led to him exploring Greenland. From there Erik the Red's son Leif set out to discover new lands which, of course, led him to North America. This film does reference the fact that the Vikings were known to be fierce warriors (it opens with the attack on Lindisfarne) but it stresses the point that many Vikings were farmers and explorers.

Although this film does show the attack on Lindisfarne, it simply shows the Vikings approaching the monks and then the screen quickly blacks out. Next a video of a Viking slashing his sword appears on the screen and then also instantly fades to black again. There is no visual of anyone being attacked and nothing frightening appears on the screen. The only other tense moment is when the Inuit Indians are approaching the Viking camp (North America) to kill the explorers. Bookworm1 was starting to feel a little anxious as the Viking tent was surrounded, but I assured him that nothing scary would be seen and that settled him.

I really appreciated the fact that someone bothered to make a fairly informative documentary on the Vikings without delving into battle, death and gore. Yes, of course, we will learn more about this side of the Vikings as the children age but below the age of eight I truly don't think it's necessary to dwell on such subjects. You can know that the Vikings were warriors but you don't need to witness a killing to fully comprehend. This documentary suited our needs perfectly and I'd recommend it to parents looking for resources. However, I'd issue the caveat that when it comes to learning about the Vikings, any resource you decide to pick up really needs to be previewed by the parent before showing it to the kids.

One note of complaint: I don't know who produced this documentary but a man with a North American accent provides the commentary. He did not know how to correctly pronounce Richard Wagner's last name, nor the word "saga" which drove me nuts. It seems to me that they could have educated themselves as to correct pronunciation. I don't know why they didn't.

All in all, I've been happy with the above titles and if this helps another person to find books that they feel comfortable with then it's all good.

Of course, I'm interested in learning about more materials and resources on the Vikings. If anyone out there has a suggestion to make, I'm all ears!

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Secret Keeper, by Kate Morton

You might remember that I read a different Morton title last year. After completing that read, I was really on the fence about her writing. I did find Morton to be a fascinating storyteller but I had some concerns about the content. At that time, a couple of you encouraged me to give her another try. Melissa recommended that I try out The Secret Keeper. I trust Melissa's opinion and so I tucked that suggestion away for whenever a good opportunity might present itself.

My mother-in-law and I share a Kindle and, as it turns out, she had a copy of The Secret Keeper on there. When I was flat out sick a few weeks ago I decided that was a perfect time to dive into a fun story and I knew that, if nothing else, Morton would prove diverting. She was!

The Secret Keeper improved my opinion of Morton as a fun author, mostly because I didn't have any hiccups and hesitations due to implied sexual scenes like those which existed in the other title. The Secret Keeper did contain one particular implied scene but instead of being able to see it coming I actually had to re-read the passage to see if I was really reading what I thought I was reading. (And I was. So yay I re-read that. Blah.) It was much more discrete though and I appreciate that. As to foul language, again I find myself unable to comment on that because unless it's super prolific, I tend to ignore its existence. (By this I mean that if a word appears more than twice, I generally notice. But less than two times and I'm liable to forget.) I don't recall anything, but that doesn't mean a word or maybe two was scattered about.

As Melissa had told me, this story is set into a World War II time frame which I definitely enjoyed. I'm going to steal the description from Amazon on this one primarily because, as the title suggests, this book is full of secrets.

"During a picnic at her family’s farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson witnesses a shocking crime, a crime that challenges everything she knows about her adored mother, Dorothy. Now, fifty years later, Laurel and her sisters are meeting at the farm to celebrate Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this is her last chance to discover the truth about that long-ago day, Laurel searches for answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past. Clue by clue, she traces a secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds thrown together in war-torn London — Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy — whose lives are forever after entwined. A gripping story of deception and passion, The Secret Keeper will keep you enthralled to the last page."
And it will.

This book will definitely keep you enthralled to the last page. As you skip back and forth from the 40's to the 60's to the present day you will be on the edge of your seat wondering how all of these lives intertwine. You might think you know, only to discover that you don't. I love that the book kept me guessing all the way to the very end.

I had a lot of fun reading The Secret Keeper and am glad to have read it. It was everything I hoped it would be. If you are looking for some fiction to lose yourself in for a bit, check out this story. (Thanks, Melissa, for suggesting it to me! You were right about my liking it!)

If anyone is wondering, yes, I will read another Kate Morton book in the future. (There's another one on the Kindle just waiting for me!) I'm saving it like chocolate on a high shelf.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Are You My Daddy?

Here are a couple of books which have floated through my mailbox of late, all from Scholastic Books. I realized recently that I've featured children's books less and less around these parts. I'll have to rectify that situation. I've been thinking about sharing the books which we purchased for our home collection and enjoy with great regularity. Soon. In the meantime though, here are a couple of new titles for consideration.

Walter the Walrus is playing a game of hide-and-seek with his father in the book Are You My Daddy?. Their game takes them around the zoo and through various animal exhibits. Walter is trying to find his daddy, of course, and keeps mistaking his mustache for another animal's bushy eyebrows, shaggy mane and/or furry goatee. In short, it's a cute story about a father and son playing together and who doesn't like that?

Bonus points for this book being the interactive sort. There are pages to turn out, slide features (you can move the penguin in and out of his home), or pet the goats fluffy beard. The first time I opened this book to read it to Bookworm4 (age 2) he totally cracked up over the penguin. This book is definitely a favorite.

Counting Dogs is also an interactive book. This is a storybox book which, if you are unfamiliar with the term, means that the pages are all set into a box, of sorts. Each page spread is of a different length so they are stacked up on each other as you flip through. Although you'd get the idea from the cover art and the title, dogs are not the only animal featured. Each spread has you counting owls, bats, flamingos, or fish. There is a dog featured on every page, being engaged with the other animals in some form or fashion but it is not exclusively about dogs. I found this somewhat unfortunate as our two year old seems to really enjoy pretending that he is one. (Always cracks me up. Always.)

This is a cute book to encourage counting skills, but don't pick it up if you are interest stems from the cute puppies featured on the front cover.

Many thanks to Scholastic Books for sending the above titles my direction in order to facilitate this review. I received no additional compensation and all options are 100% my own.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

An Uncomplicated Life, by Paul Daugherty

I accepted An Uncomplicated Life: A Father's Memoir of His Exceptional Daughter for review because I love titles which show the beauty of a life given. This book tells the story of Paul and Kerry Daugherty's daughter, Jillian, who was born with Down Syndrome. It is a book described by others as being "an inspiring love letter" from father to daughter. It is a very sweet and touching story.

It will come as no surprise around here that I liked the concept of this book because it supports the argument that all life is valuable. Modern society is very obsessed with each of us looking a certain way and being able to all do certain things. We cringe at handicaps of any sort and wish them away with laws that would deny humans the right to live before they have ever been born. My position is that life begins from the moment of conception and that all life ought to be protected. This is my opinion.

As clear as I am on that point, let me be as clear on Daugherty opinion: he is not writing his daughter's story with an agenda over the concept of what makes a life. To be more specific, while he is incredibly glad that he and Kerry have had Jillian in their lives and he wouldn't trade his daughter for the world, he also does not mean to place blame or criticism on "the moral choices" of others. Towards the end of the book he raises obvious questions about what the world might look like if we chose to wipe out an entire race of people who are different than ourselves and these are certainly questions worth pondering. I think Daugherty and I would form different answers to the question but I still enjoyed reading his thought processes.

An Uncomplicated Life takes us from the point in time shortly before Jillian's birth all the way through her graduation in college and life with her current boyfriend/fiancee (at the time of this post). Reading this story gives you a nice, big overview of the life which Jillian has lived to date. When Jillian was born, Paul and Kerry decided that they weren't going to focus on the limitations placed upon their daughter but, instead, they would look for the possibilities. Choosing the positive approach over a negative one certainly served Jillian well.

Daugherty relates the way he and his wife (literally) fought with school administrators over the entire course of Jillian's educational career to allow her to be included in regular classes, have her homework modified,  and receive special assistance while not being excluded, etc. He explains in some detail the frustrations of trying to keep Jillian in with her peers and educated at the same time. Their deep desire for their daughter was that she would learn how to hold her own socially, and be the most educated person that she could possibly be.

Again, most of the book talks about their struggles with school administration. If I were to list the main reason Daugherty wrote this book, I would say that he is writing Jillian's story to fight for the right of those with Down Syndrome to be treated equally. That is most certainly a worthy and important goal. Secondly, I would say that he wants the world to know that his Jillian is a masterpiece in and of herself. She is beautiful, fun, loving, enthusiastic and kind. He wants us to know that people with Down Syndrome have much to offer to society. I agree.

An Uncomplicated Life really is an inspiration to read. It's nice to hear of the Daugherty's passion to integrate Jillian into society. It's delightful to read about her cheery personality who, quite simply, loves her life. I'm so glad that Jillians exist in this world. People with Down Sydrome certainly do have unique qualities to share with us all. They give us perspective and we need that. I'm glad to have read this book for more of such a thing.

I do have some quibbles with it as well, although most of which are so minor as to not be worth mentioning. There is one that I will mention because it tickled my funny bone and caused me to burst out laughing.

As stated, a great deal of this book is about the Daugherty's struggle with the school system. They had/have very strong opinions about how teachers should have been treating Jillian and what they should be doing on her behalf. There is a lot of talk about teachers, some that they liked and some which they did not. Daugherty shares about one teacher, Nancy, whom the family really liked and grew quite close to. Nancy relayed the following story to Paul and he included in the book:

"One day, Nancy decoded the class would bake a cake together. It combined cooking skills with match know-how as well as the important of reading and understanding the directions. One of Jillian's friends, a boy named Layton, had never cooked. He had been homeschooled, Nancy said. "He'd never so much as cracked an egg." (Chapter 9, Nancy, page 116)

Oh dear, dear me, Mr. Daugherty. We poor uneducated home schoolers who can't even crack eggs. Heavens to Betsy! Sometimes I think it's a miracle that I survived to adulthood. It may have come to me late in life but eventually I did learn to crack an egg and now I crack them with abandon. Sometimes I'm like a crazy egg-cracking machine. And now I can be all, like, "Oh yeah, I was home me crack this egg." Booyah!

Astoundingly I even learned how to read! I am a wonder to behold.

It really gets my goat in an amusing sort of way when non-home schoolers question home schoolers. Can we be an insane breed perhaps? Anti-social? A bit dippy? Perhaps just . . . different? And if the argument that we're all making is that we need to embrace each others differences then shouldn't be back peddle on the whole "home schoolers are questionable people" spiel? A little give, a little take? I don't think home schooling is for everyone, but by golly I think it's super funny that you would make a negative-sounding comment because some kid had never cracked an egg before. (But I suppose if that's the worst you can come up with then you have to work with it.) I have actually known real people who purchase those frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pack them into their kids public school lunch boxes. No egg cracking involved. Serious.

Anyway, this is just one little instance where the book tickled my funny bone in a rather sarcastic way. I certainly don't agree on a great many of Daugherty's moral stances or personal preferences but that in no way detracted from my ability to enjoy his book. He has a positive message to share about and for individuals with Down Syndrome and it's good to read. All egg-cracking jokes aside.

Many thanks to William Morrow Publishing who sent a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. I received no additional compensation for this post and you can entirely bet on the fact that 100% of the opinions expressed above are my very own.

Other posts and books of interest:

Monday, April 13, 2015

Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey

I've had Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey sitting on my bookshelf for quite a while now. I don't even want to say how long  . . . but it's been awhile. I'm trusting that by the time this review posts I will no longer be sick and that I can safely say that I read this when I was sick and confined to the couch for three (excessively long) weeks. The only nice thing about being that sick for that long (at the same time as every other member of your family) is that you really can't do anything but watch movies and read books. We've done a lot of both. I pulled out a stack of books that I'd been wanting to get to but had not yet read and proceeded to work my way down the stack.

Lady Catherine was near the top of the stack. I'd been excited to read it after devouring the (current) Countess of Carnarvon's first book, Lady Almina and The Real Downtown Abby. (Title linked to my review in 2012.) Lady Almina was Lady Catherine's mother-in-law. Catherine married into the Carnarvon family and became the new Countess upon the death of the 5th Earl (which you might recall as the one who funded the excavation of King Tut's tomb). Lady Catherine's tenure at Highclere Castle (aka Downton Abbey) looked remarkably different than you might expect. She was not the Countess for an extremely long period of time,  because she and the 6th Earl divorced, which meant that she was required to leave the castle. Catherine's husband "Porchy", being the title bearing heir of the estate, stayed.

Due to the nature of Lady Catherine and Porchy's relationship, this book was not as fun to read as the one about Lady Almina. Catherine's story begins and ends well but everything in the middle is rather messy. In saying that, I can hear the fussing already. I'm sure you want to tell me that life is messy and we shouldn't avoid such reads. It is very true and I will agree with you that life is messy. History is full of unpleasant things. We shouldn't avoid learning about things just because we find them unpleasant. Not at all. I can read this book but also not enjoy the fact that her marriage to Porchy fell apart and find it a difficult-to-unpleasant read as a result. Whether or not something is "realistic" or "good for us to know" doesn't mean that it's not equally a hard thing to endure.

Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey was simply not as fun to read as the first book. What did pique my interest is the history surrounding the castle. The current Countess of Carnarvon fills this book with the history and culture of the 1920's, 30's and 40's. Those decades were full of hardships for England and she writes a lot about the role which Highclere Castle played during certain historical events. She notes who the Carvarvon family were friends with (i.e., Porchy rubbed elbows with Winston Churchill ) and how the family responded to news of the war against Germany. It's really very interesting from that perspective.

To be perfectly honest, reading Lady Catherine felt a great deal more like watching a few seasons of Downton Abbey. The historical notes (i.e., position of women in society, treatment of homosexuals, bravery in war, relationships to staff during hard times, etc.) that the Countess makes are strikingly similar to the points which the television series also wishes to drive home. Now, grant it, the 1920's and 30's were a time of real change in the way society viewed and handled a plethora of issues. Societal rules were being roundly challenged and so it makes the book (and the tv series) quite the soap opera (yes let's just confess that, shall we?). Porchy has a wandering eye and it's irritating to read about. Lady Catherine has to find her new place in society as a fairly well-to-do but divorced woman. Things in this book are all rather high on drama.

For me, the magic of Lady Almina was in learning the behind-the-scenes history of the people who lived at the castle - together. It's in hearing about Lord Carnarvon's passion for finding treasure in Egypt; his struggle to make a mark on the world. Lady Almina and her husband just seemed to have more gumption and stick-to-itiveness about them that I enjoyed reading about. Lady Catherine just didn't have the same "oomph" about her, although I do think she was a very kind woman who loved deeply and who appreciated and adored her family. She was admirable too but in a different way. And, I think, she suffered greater challenges in part because she lived in "changing times."

I declared before that I would read Lady Almina and the Real Downtown Abbey over and over again. I would too! I will. But I can't say that I really want to read about Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey more than once.
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