June 2012

Thanks to Tropical Storm Debby, I was able to finish 2 books this weekend.

First was That Woman, a new biography of Wallis Simpson by Anne Sebba.  My knowledge of the story of Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson was gleaned from books, movies and newspaper articles in which the couple were mentioned, but I had never read any biographies about either of them.  One of the things that appealed to me about this book is that Ms. Sebba read letters, journals and contemporary accounts of the events that led up to Edward’s abdication and then his marriage to Wallis.

I had never had much sympathy for either of them, to be honest, and this book made me have even less.  They both come across as being selfish, self-absorbed hedonists.  The big difference between the two of them is that Edward was weak and desperate to be led, and Wallis was manipulative and more than happy to “wear the pants” in the family.  They both complained a lot and blamed others for all of their problems.  Edward doesn’t seem to have cared much about his duty to his country.  His attitude is so different from that of his niece, Elizabeth II, who has devoted her life to her country during her 60 years on the throne.  We are told several times during the course of the book that, in the grand scheme of things, it’s a good thing that Edward did not continue on as King and that George VI was there to lead his country through the horrors of WWII.

The other book I read this weekend was Murder on Fifth Avenue, the 14th entry in Victoria Thompson’s “Gaslight” series (as an aside, this synopsis was obviously written well before the book was published because there is no Algernon Abernathy in the book; the character referred to in this synopsis is named Chilton Devries in the book).  I mentioned in my review of Threadbare, Monica Ferris’ 15th Needlework Mystery, that I thought the series was getting old and that I didn’t know how many more of the books I would bother to read.  I had the same worries about Murder on Fifth Avenue when I learned it was about to come out.  But, in this case, my worries were for naught.  I really enjoyed this book.  There were 2 murders in this story and, while I did not figure out who killed these people, I did manage to figure out some of the other plot twists before Sarah and Frank did.  So #14 gets 2 thumbs up from me.

It’s now after 7:30 and the weather in Florida is still awful (and looks to be awful for the foreseeable future), but I likely won’t get any more reading done tonight; RA and CC are facing each other in Queens starting in about 1/2 hour and it should be a good game. LGM!

I just finished the most recent entry in Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness series.  This one is called Naughty in Nice and is book 5 in the series.  This entry is just as much fun as the previous four.

In this book Georgie finds herself on the French Riviera and, of course, mayhem ensues.  As usual, we spend time with Queen Mary, the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Simpson, along with Binky, Fig, Belinda, Darcy and Georgie’s Mum and Granddad.  Queenie is her usual klutzy self, and Georgie still can’t bring herself to fire this incompetent lady’s maid.  We also get to meet Coco Chanel, who asks Georgie to model for her.

It’s a very quick read, but it’s a lot of fun, and I honestly did not figure out who the murderer was until just about the same time Georgie does.  The characters are interesting, the dialogue is fun and the stories keep me coming back.  I highly recommend this series, and am looking forward to reading book #6, whatever it may be.

I just finished Monica Ferris’ latest Needlecraft Mystery, Threadbare.  As my regular readers know, I have been a fan of this series since the beginning, but Threadbare just didn’t do it for me.  I figured out pretty quickly “whodunnit” and wasn’t really impressed at how Betsy figured it out.  There are times when I’ve figured out who the murderer is and the fun is seeing how the author wraps everything up.  But in this book, I actually got bored.

Ferris does something different in this book than she has in her other books.  Here, we get inside the head of several characters and all of them could have reasons to commit murder.  I don’t remember her using this technique in any of her other books, and it seemed to me throughout that she was getting desperate in trying to prevent us from figuring out who the murderer was too early in the story.  But I figured it out almost immediately upon meeting the character, and nothing changed my mind.

In the final analysis, I’ll give this series another go, but I haven’t enjoyed the last few books.  I liked the earlier books enough that I will definitely be sorry to say good-bye but, if the future books in the series are as obvious as the last few have been, I won’t have trouble moving on.

That’s a direct quote from Gary Cohen, the TV voice of my beloved New York Mets.

The reason? After 8,019 games, a New York Met has pitched a no-hitter.  OK, it wasn’t a perfect game (5 Cardinals reached base via walks and there was a very, very bad call during a Carlos Beltran at bat), but it was still a no-hitter and Mets fans all over the world will still take it.  Johan Santana, who is already one of the great pitchers of his era, is now part of Mets history.  I am still in shock.

The Mets have had some incredible pitchers on their pitching staff: Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, etc., etc., etc., and none of them pitched a no-hitter as a Met.  But Johan Santana, who Terry Collins wanted to keep on a pitch count, threw more pitches than he ever had and ended the game on a strikeout.

It was beautiful.  I have been at hundreds of Mets games over the past 50 years, and have watched and/or listened to thousands more, and this ranks up towards the top. Gary Cohen is on the radio post-game with Howie Rose, and they both sound all choked up.  We all know they are life long Mets fans, and they are just as happy as we are.  Thank goodness tomorrow is Saturday, so I can stay up late and watch/listen to the coverage.

The Mets have posted highlights at their website.  At some point, I’m thinking the game itself will be available for sale at iTunes.  I will most assuredly be buying it.

Thank you, Johan.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.