Wednesday, July 16, 2014

An Important Milestone

--from 4 or 5 years ago (how time flies)

My blog is 7 years old this month. I cannot believe I still enjoy blogging after so many years. Granted, I do not get that much traffic, but I sure enjoy posting about what I read, pictures from my life or ones I find interesting, and writing about a variety of subjects, including some travel-related and locally-geared entries. I especially enjoy posting book reviews and the occasional interview. I have intended to do many more interviews than I have, but work and social life take priority. Another reason I have enjoyed blogging is getting to meet some other bloggers in the virtual world and in person.  I believe another reason I blog is so that I can keep my memories of what I was interested in through the years in one place and have them to look back upon when I am old. Here are some factoids about M. Denise Costello:
 
--most readers are from the US, of course, but Russia is the next country with the most readers visiting
 
--most readers find my blog via Google, Pinterest, and then Facebook
 
--most popular posts are:
 
--the most G+'d posts (with a mere 3 each) have been:

  -Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.

  -Frank Deford

  -Running with the Enemy by Lloyd Lofthouse

--I have posted all of my book reviews to Amazon.com and have done 43 in total (semi-edited to fit that site)

--search terms that have gotten the most direction here are "Clinton library" and "Michael Fassbender"

--the highest number of hits occurred in April 2014 when I was participating in the A to Z Challenge

--This post is my 576th post
 
I have experimented with ads and I get so little traffic I have made zero money. I decided to have a few ads at the bottom of my page endorsing only products I like such as Amazon.com and the Alpha Hydrox cream.
 
In the future, I am planning on migrating to WordPress or getting my own domain, as I want to learn how to use and design on another platform. If I did not work fulltime, my blog would not be as neglected. You can find me on:


Thanks for reading and welcome to any new readers.
 

Wordless Wednesday: Cottony Clouds this Morning

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Care and Management of Lies: A Novel of the Great War by Jacqueline Winspear

The Care and Management of Lies: A Novel of the Great War
by Jacqueline Winspear
HarperCollins, NY
July 1, 2014
336 pages
 
 
 
Jacqueline Winspear’s eleventh novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was recently published and the publication date preceded the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI by just a few weeks. The publication date followed the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria’s 100th anniversary by 2 days. Ms. Winspear has taken a break from her beloved (especially by me) Maisie Dobbs series to introduce a different story with different characters and one that is not a cozy mystery. Instead, this historical fiction narrative focuses on the lives of a particular newlywed couple and others in their village in Kent and how the Great War affected the village and the surrounding community of farms.
 
Ms. Winspear listened to her grandfather tell stories of the war, as he had participated in WWI and was injured, his injuries affecting him the rest of his life. I recommend the novel because Ms. Winspear does an excellent job of showing how the lives of the common people were affected and what they sacrificed to defend their country. So many issues were touched upon in the book. Some of these subjects are how the poorest of the people wanted to enlist hoping that volunteering would bring them a little money and three square meals a day. The book brings forth the discrepancy of the landed gentry and college-educated men becoming officers automatically as it was during the Peninsular War a century earlier, even if they were not officer material. Also, a subplot involves a sergeant targeting a soldier who does nothing wrong just to make an example of him to deter the others from disobedience. I have seen this scenario before in the Sharpe novels by Bernard Cornwell. The book also touches on radical groups of the day such as the suffragettes and pacifists and how they tried to further their causes during the tumultuous times.
 
The novel centers on Kezia Marchant, her new husband and a farmer, Tom Brissenden, and Tom’s sister, Thea. Kezia and Thea were best friends and attended college together. Other characters were the farm workers, Tom’s soldier buddies, and a wealthy neighbor. Besides Tom enlisting, Thea volunteers as an ambulance driver in France (also a familiar story to me from Gabrielle Wills’ Muskoka trilogy).
 
When Tom and Kezia are married, Thea gives her best friend a “woman’s” book on running a household. Since she was not married and had no prospects and her best friend was “taking away” her only brother, the book was not given in a loving manner, but rather, the guidebook was given as a sarcastic gift meant to hurt. Ms. Winspear begins each chapter with a quote from the book (or occasionally from a war manual), which gives the reader pause for reflection in how valuable sometimes the information could or could not be depending on the true circumstances. The title of this novel is perfect, since isn’t that what war is all about—the care and management of lies? Lies from the military, lies from soldiers back to their families, lies between husbands and wives and families to the soldiers, lies between friends, lies between workers and employers, and lies from governments used to “protect” are explored.

--cover of a copy of the book Ms. Winspear stumbled
 
How appropriate to read this novel in modern times. Don’t we ever learn anything from history? Why do we go on and on repeating and making the same mistakes over and over again? Just a reminder, 9 million combatants died during World War I.
 
Following is the British cover for The Care and Management of Lies. Both illustrations were once again done by the extremely talented Andrew Davidson, the artist who has previously created all of the Maisie Dobbs covers.