Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I stay up late reading because I am trying to finish these books before I have to turn them in at the library. I estimate I have a week or so. Two new books arrived but I haven't had a chance to go get them. My son pleaded to go tonight. Tomorrow, I promised him.

But let me share these gems.

The Literary Ladies' Guide to the Writing Life by Nava Atlas. This is not just a pretty book (it has lovely interiors -- go check it out) but I feel as though I have Jane Austen, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Willa Cather and many more writers in my home sharing their dreams, their joys, their frustrations of the writing life. I already have loved many of their works, but this gives an intimate portrayal through diaries and letters. Atlas also shares many quotes from other women writers. Enjoy this gorgeous book. It's one you'll come to often.

I wanted to share just one quote but it's so hard to pick one. There are gems sprinkled throughout. So I'll give you a flavor:

Nava Atals writes: Though it's never easy, it's good to know that women can rock the cradle with one hand and rock the world with the other. She is speaking of Stowe who had a large family (seven children). It was the death of her child that compelled her to write Uncle Tom's Cabin. Stowe says: I wrote what I did because as a woman, as a mother, I was oppressed and broken-hearted with the sorrows and injustices I saw.

In a letter to her husband (1841), Stowe writes: If I am to write, I must have a room to myself, which shall be my room ... Sound familiar? It's before Virginia Woolf said, a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.

In another letter to her sister-in-law (1850) we get a glimpse of her life. She writes: Since I began this note I have been called off at least a dozen times -- once for the fish-man, to buy a codfish -- once to see a man who had brought me some baskets of apples -- once to see a book man ... then to nurse the baby -- then into the kitchen to make a chowder for dinner and now I am at it again for nothing but deadly determination enables me to ever write -- it is rowing against wind and tide.

Are you ready to run and get this book?

I'm just finished a lovely little book by Ruth White: Little Audrey. I was in search of another book by her but found this on the shelf. It's largely autobiographical, told from her oldest sister's viewpoint, of a time of great hardship in her family, with an alcoholic father, a depressed mother, and her sisters whom she refers to as "three little piggies." Despite the poverty and sadness, White shares the joy and happiness as well. I laughed at all of Virgil's monkey jokes. The setting is the coal camp in Jewell Valley, Virginia 1948.

What gems are you reading right now?



Dawn Malone said...

Both sound like excellent books! Thanks for sharing; I'll have to take a look.

Anne E. Johnson said...

Literary Ladies sounds delightful. Thanks for recommending.

anna said...

I love having these kinds of recommendations to keep in mind. Thank you Vijaya :)

Suma Subramaniam said...

Vijaya, I would love to read Literary Ladies. Thanks for sharing. Im currently reading Hunger Games. Its great!

Vijaya said...

Dawn, Anne, Anna and Suma: you will be very much inspired by Lit. Ladies. I just finished it last night and so many words of wisdom are swirling in my head.

Suma, I liked Hunger Games, but the world was too violent for me to stay for the entire trilogy. I enjoyed Matched by Ally Condie much more.

Bish Denham said...

Okay, this is one I definitely want to read!

Mary Witzl said...

I know I've seen another review of Literary Ladies somewhere -- now I really want to read it too.

Not so long ago I reread 'Maiden Voyage', an anthology of women travellers, which is equally wonderful.

Vijaya said...

Bish and Mary, you won't go wrong with the literary ladies. And Mary, Maiden Voyages sounds delightful. I'll have to look it up as soon as I can get a library card again.