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Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris
by Paul Gallico
A delightful work of fiction set in London and in Paris tells the tale of Ada Harris, a hard working char woman who sets her sights on owning a Christian Dior dress. She doesn’t want to wear it, just to own and look at something so beautiful as one would admire a work of art. How indeed would an honest widow, who is already living with few indulgences, manage to accumulate enough money for a designer dress?
Paul Gallico in Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris takes us on the journey with Mrs. ‘Arris as she struggles with the money issues that crop up all through the book as there are many aspects of a trip to Paris that the poor lady who is clearly not a seasoned traveller could not anticipate. You will quickly come to love Mrs. ‘Arris as everyone does who meets her. She is so genuine and determined and never wishes anyone ill.
Paul Gallico makes his character come to life from her wrinkled face and the twinkle in her eye to her accent (e.g. “lydy” for “lady”), dropping her “h’s,” and her word choices like “lumme” and “blime.” Her interactions with other characters are key to the story. They have aspirations of their own, and Mrs. ‘Arris is not shy about helping others including Natasha, Dior’s top model, and M. Fauvel, a quiet accountant at the fashion house. She breaks down English/French and class barriers with her inviting charm and practical approach to problems.
This little book brought smiles to my face, and I got teary eyed a few times as I found Mrs. ‘Arris had stolen my heart. The author’s writing style is perfect for this book, moving along quickly with descriptions that can put the reader in a messy bachelor’s flat or on the thick gray carpets of Dior’s. It is a charming novel that has held up well across the years, and that I will no doubt reread just for pleasure in the near future.
Notes: Blogger friend Christopher recommended this book in a “throw back” post. His review was so convincing that I bought it immediately. It’s over a year later, but I finally read it and am so happy I did. Thanks, Christopher! You can find his review here: https://pluckedfromthestacks.wordpress.com/2019/06/24/mrs-arris-goes-to-paris/.
Publication: 1958—Doubleday & Co.
And yet with some chars there was more to it than just that, and particularly with Mrs. Harris—a kind of perpetual house-proudness. And it was a creative effort as well, something in which a person might take pride and satisfaction. She came to these rooms to find them pigsties, she left them neat, clean, sparkling and sweet-smelling.
She had an exquisite figure and clever tiny feet that never once had tripped upon the corpses she had climbed over on her way up the ladder of success.
Mrs. Harris simply felt that if one owned a dress so beautiful that it cost four hundred fifty pounds there was then nothing left upon earth to be desired.
Flower Power Trip
by James J. Cudney
The third cozy in the Braxton Campus Mystery series does not disappoint its fans nor leave out new readers. It begins with a helpful Who’s Who briefly describing the characters in the series. The first chapter follows up with a summary of the action in the first two books as told by the main character Kellan, while getting the plot for the new book underway.
Kellan discovers a dead body and again finds himself in the middle of a homicide investigation. Flower Power Trip swirls delightfully with interesting characters, a multitude of clues, and humorous repartee. Several threads continue on from previous books: Kellan’s rocky relationships with his boss Myriam and Sheriff April Montague, Nana D’s bid for the mayoral seat, and Kellan’s presumed dead wife Francesca with ties to a mob family. There are also romantic conflicts and more than a little danger.
Notes: #3 in the Braxton Campus Mystery Series but works quite well as a standalone
Publication: March 30, 2019—Creativia
Helena recently celebrated her birthday by doing a pub crawl across all four villages in Wharton County. Eight hours, eight bars, eight different drinks. I wouldn’t have survived that level of commitment.
…”you are nothing but a nosy, interfering, non-stop questioning, painful wart on the tip of my pinky toe that has aggravated me beyond any reasonable expectation.”
…you must always have more physical books than e-books. I wanted Emma to experience a multitude of technology at her fingertips from an early age, but she also needed to respect and cherish all that our country had accomplished in the history of bookmaking and printing.
Death and Daisies
by Amanda Flower
Fiona, who has inherited a home in Scotland, a magic garden, and most importantly the position of Keeper of the Garden from her godfather, Ian, is joined in the book by her much younger, at-loose-ends sister Isla. Fiona is opening her flower shop named the Climbing Rose Flower Shop after the 300 year old rose growing in her magic garden in Duncreigan. Some townspeople are welcoming and friendly like Raj and Pasha, twins in their sixties with calming and wise ways. Others view the sisters with suspicion for their strange Tennessee accents and ways and their association with the magic garden. The local minister is so opposed to Fiona that he publicly bans her from the church.
Death and Daisies by Amanda Flower centers around a murder, threatening notes, an abusive spouse, and drugs. Fiona is compulsive about investigating despite a scary vision that might potentially foretell her death and the warnings of Chief Inspector Neil Craig who is afraid she will be hurt.
Death and Daisies is a fun and fascinating cozy mystery you will not want to put down. Filled with interesting characters and lots of twists and turns in the plot, this tale has room for character development and an interesting setting. The murderer and the reason for the murder surprised me. The author has another surprise for Fiona and the reader toward the end of the book on a very personal level. There is closure to this book, but also several issues that deserve further attention. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: #2 in the Magic Garden Mystery Series but works well as a standalone
Publication: November 23, 2018—Crooked Lane Books
“St. Thomas Church, as it stands today, is much younger. It was built in the seventeenth century.” She said this like the seventeenth century was last week. If anything was over one hundred years old back in Nashville, they turned it into a museum and built a fence around it. In Scotland, “old” had quite a different definition than I was accustomed to.
I didn’t want to break it to her, but no one had their life figured out at twenty-two. I didn’t have it figured out at thirty, and I wasn’t expecting fifty to be much better.
“But no one should make an apology expecting one in return. That ruins it for both parties. It is better to say you are sorry and be at peace.”
Natural Thorn Killer
by Kate Dyer-Seeley
Kate Dyer-Seeley, author of the Pacific Northwest Mystery Series, continues to share her love of that area in her new series, Rose City Mysteries. In the first book of the series, Natural Thorn Killer, Britta leaves her deadbeat husband, freezing Minnesota winters, and several unimaginative jobs to return to Portland, Oregon, to the nurturing and creative home of her childhood and the aunt who raised her. Both women are artists with flowers and woven into the book are tips on creating floral arrangements and maintaining their beauty, a personal view of the Riverplace Village area of Portland which is “like its own little city within the city,” and Scandinavian traditions and language. Her aunt Elin owns Blomma, the only flower shop-wine bar in Portland.
Natural Thorn Killer is packed with personal exchanges, a potential romance with a cute detective, interesting characters, outstanding descriptions of food, flowers, and wine, and a taste of Portland culture. At the heart of the book and woven throughout, the main focus of this book is the mystery. Britta discovers a body in her aunt’s flower shop, and life becomes very complicated. She readily shares her findings and insights with the close-lipped detective and mutual respect develops as the story progresses.
I liked the characters in this book and learned a lot about flowers and Portland. I am looking forward to the next book in this series, Violet Tendencies, and anticipate this will be another successful series for this author.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: 1. #1 in the Rose City Mystery Series
2. There are lots of floral tips in a section in the back of the book.
Publication: March 27, 2018—Kensington Books
Usually the flowers guide me. It’s as if they tell me when they know the arrangement is complete. I liked the subtle pink tones and texture. The antique silver bowl gave the arrangement a nostalgic vibe, while the white strawberries made it feel springlike.
I was excited about the now, yet if I didn’t do some serious self-reflection I was worried that I would be doomed to repeat my past.
My instructor at the Floral Institute had shared a study that noted people who stopped to smell the roses were happier and reported being more satisfied with life. The simple act of taking a minute to appreciate a flower’s sweet scent or cheerful bloom had a direct impact on health and well-being.
by Kerry Greenwood
The inimitable Phryne Fisher and her friend Bunji find themselves in the middle of a very physical Chinese family dispute, which is only a subplot in this tale, as they are on their way to the theatre to enjoy a presentation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera Ruddigore. Following that initial conflict, they make their way to His Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne, and the reader is presented with the one weak portion of the novel. In the guise of encouraging Bunji, a very minor character in the book, to stay and enjoy the opera, Phryne summarizes the plot of the opera for her. Greenwood is attempting to share background for her unfolding story which centers around an old and a new murder and mysterious occurrences at the “Maj.” Both the cast and the characters they play are important in Ruddy Gore’s storyline, but this portion of the book, really only part of a chapter, was more extensive than necessary.
With the background sufficiently established, the plot moves quickly as Phryne is initially mystified, and then gradually peels off the layers of this puzzle. As always with a Phryne Fisher novel, there are descriptions of her delightful ensembles and her romantic encounters. Dot, her companion, is called in to help with the investigation. Detective Inspector Jack Robinson views Miss Fisher as more likely to obtain information from the cast than he is, and so they cooperate and share information.
The Chinese connection through her love interest, Lin Chung, presents the thread of racial intolerance and prejudice from both sides. Lin and Phryne discuss the history of the Chinese in Australia and how the Chinese have adapted and coped. Phryne is the subject of discrimination herself from the Chinese and handles it well.
Phryne Fisher is undoubtedly rich as evidenced by her spending and lifestyle. She is not selfish, however, and her magnanimity occurs on a personal level. In this story she identifies a situation in which a stage boy with few options but much promise is being abused by his alcoholic father. Phryne doesn’t try to change the world, but she does change this boy’s world by providing him with opportunities. She doesn’t make him a charity case, suggesting that he repay her at a future date. She is also resourceful in engaging the cooperation of others in helping him.
Ruddy Gore is a wealth of incidental information about the theatre, actors, technical people, and management. All of these play a role in the mysteries which are resolved in the end, quite satisfactorily, leaving the reader anticipating further adventures starring Phryne Fisher.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Poisoned Pen Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Notes: #7 in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries but reads well as a standalone
Publication: April 4, 2017—Poisoned Pen Press
“He will always get everything that he wants and never get the one thing which he really desires—that’s how it works with bounders,” observed Phryne.
No harm in him but as self-centred as a gyroscope.
“Have you ever heard of hiraeth?” he asked, his eyes staring sadly across endless seas. “No, what is that?” “A Welsh thing, hard to translate. ‘Yearning,’ perhaps. ‘Longing’ is more like it. All of us have it, however happy we are. The yearning for home, even if we shook the dust off our shoes in loathing and swore never to return to the cold damp streets and the cold narrow people and the flat beer and the chapels fulminating endlessly against sin.”
It only took TWO WEEKS (24/7) to synchronize all of my pictures with iCloud, but it did work as far as I can tell. While that was happening, I was afraid to touch my pictures. Now I am ready to share some more of Mexico, starting with this past weekend. A few of these pictures were taken previously, but I did take all of them in Mexico.
Saturday Night Empanadas–perfect with a game of Scrabble!
Perfect Blooms Just in Time for Easter
A little collection of some of my favorite closeups from the beach: