Friday, January 23, 2009

Night Over Water

'It was the most romantic plane ever made.'

And so begins Ken Folletts NIGHT OVER WATER. I am a big Ken Follett fan, my favorite being PILLARS OF THE EARTH which I read long before Oprah ever put it on her list. When I signed up for this years What's In a Name Challenge , it didn't take me long to decide that this was the book I would read for the "Time of Day" category. It was already on my shelf, just waiting to be read.
The story starts off in England, at the dock at Southhampton where people are gathered to watch the approach and water landing of the Clipper, a PanAmerican Boeing 314 passenger plane. The plane was what they called a flying boat, splashing down in the water instead of using a long landing strip. It was a luxury airliner, carrying only the wealthiest of passengers. It is September of 1939 and England has just entered the war with Nazi Germany. The passengers of this final flight of the Clipper,(due to the war), are all, for their own reasons, fleeing their country and the war. Aboard are the weathly Oxenford family. Lord Oxenford is a Facist and will be thrown in jail if he chooses to stay in Englund. His wife is from Connecticut, so they are headed to America to stay with her family for the duration of the war. Their children, Margaret and Percy, do not agree with their fathers beliefs and will do anything to get out from under his oppression and dictatorship. Harry Marks is a young lad of questionable means, but very charming, and has his eye on the upperclasses jewels. Diana Lovesey and her American lover, Mark are headed to a new life, with Diana's husband, Mervyen in hot pursuit. Eddie Deacon is the plane's engineer who is being blackmailed by a gang of thugs who have his wife held captive. Tom Luther is on board and part of the blackmailing, but Eddie hasn't quite figured out what their reasons are. Carl Hartmann is a Jewish scientist, who has been exiled from his country and is fleeing for his life.
Follett's story takes place almost entirely during the 27 hour flight across the Atlantic. It reads like a good movie with plenty of violence, intrigue and betrayal. I very much enjoyed this book, but do have to say that of Follett's work, it is probably my least favorite. Most of his work is full of history, but in this one he is really just telling a story, which is not a bad thing at all.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Story of Doctor Doolittle

'Once upon a time, many years ago - when our grandfathers were little children - there was a doctor; and his name was Dolittle - John Dolittle, M.D. "M.D." means that he was a proper doctor and knew a whole lot.
He lived in a little town called, Puddleby-on-the-Marsh. All the folks, young and old, knew him well by sight. And whenever he walked down the street in his high hat everyone would say, "There goes the Doctor!-He's one clever man." And the dogs and the children would all run up and follow behind him; and even the crows that lived in the church-tower would caw and nod their heads.'

This is the beginning of The Story of Doctor Dolittle written by Hugh Lofting. My edition was published in 1948 and given to me by my sister last summer, along with another book in the Dolittle series. She knows that I have a love for the old hardback classics whether they be young readers or adult novels.
I read this book for the What's In a Name 2 book challenge. It fit rather nicely right into the book with a profession in it's title category.
Until my sister gave me these books, I had never even considered reading Doctor Dolittle, but now I'm glad I have. They are really fun stories, full of the adventures of the Doctor who can speak to animals. When the story begins, Doctor Dolittle is a very good people doctor who has many pets. His parrot, Polynesia, begins to teach him all the animal languages of the world. His office is in his house and as he acquires more and more pets, he starts loosing his clients until he has none left and becomes very poor. Polynesia suggests that the good doctor become an animal doctor since he can communicate with them so well. He takes her advice and soon becomes the best animal doctor around, with more and more animals wanting to live with him until a crocodile takes up residence in his goldfish pond. Now the farmers and little old ladies no longer want to bring their pets and farm-stock as they are afraid that the crocodile will eat them up, so the Doctor is once again without patients and very very poor again. This starts his adventures in the open-ocean, that includes pirates and monkeys. It's a very fun story, one I'm glad that this challenge prompted me to take off of my shelves and read.

Happy reading to you!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Clearing In the Wild

'Some say that love's enough to stave off suffering and loss, but I would disagree. Quietly, of course. Words of dissent aren't welcome in our colony, especially words from women. I should have learned these lessons-about dissent and love-early on before I turned eighteen. But teachings about spirit and kinship require repetition before becoming threads strong enough to weave into life's fabric, strong enough to overcome the weaker strains of human nature. It was a strenght I found I'd need one day to face what love could not stave off.'
First paragraph in A Clearing in the Wild by Jane Kirkpatrick

This is the story of Emma Wagner Geisy, a young wife in the mid 1800's who has been raised in a communal colony in Bethel, Missouri. Emma has married an older man, a pillar of the colony, against their leaders wishes. The leader chooses to send Emma's husband, Christian, off as the leader of the scouts to find a new God-chosen place to move their colony, away from worldly ways. Ever defiant Emma is sent along to Oregon territory as punishement for her outspoken ways. The scout troop settles in what is now Washington state, making way for the rest of the colony to arrive. Emma becomes her own person during this journey, learning to support her husband along the way.
Jane Kirkpatrick has taken real people and with the gift of a wonderful storyteller, brought them to life again in a way that their stories will not be forgotten. She is absolutely one of my all-time favorite authors and I will definately be running to the bookstore for the 2nd and 3rd novels in this Change and Cherish series.

This story takes place right across the Columbia River from our home. One of my favorite passages in the book is about our crazy coastal winters. Here Emma is trying to convince her husband to stay in the land they have chosen:

'"It isn't disloyal to follow your heart," I said. "Karl didn't go with Wilhelm to Portland because he believes there is something here worth staying for. Everything about it here, except the rainy winters, is an Eden. We'd appreciate the blooms and beauty less if we had nothing to contrast it with, and therein lies the joy of the rainy winter months, the dark heavy clouds that shadow our days and promise sunshine in due time. I never thought I'd say such a thing, but I mean it, Christian. I do."