Sunday, April 10, 2016

Three for the Price of One

Today, I'm catching up.  I don't post about all the books I read.  You can see what I've read in the end of month lists I try to remember to post.  I just finished three very different books.

I only knew Eleanor Perenyi as the author of Green Thoughts.  I used to be a serious gardener, when I had the space to garden.  I loved learning Latin names for plants.  I loved trying to grow things no one else I knew grew.  I loved reading gardening narratives, and Green Thoughts was a good one.

I had no idea that, in 1937, the American Eleanor, at the age of nineteen, met an impoverished Hungarian baron almost twenty years older than she was and married him.  Both families protested.  She moved to his country estate in Hungary and they managed it together.  Until Europe started to fracture.

They were at different times ruled by Hungary, the Czechs, or Ruthenia.  Things didn't usually change much for them, no matter who was in charge.  Until her husband had to enlist in the army.  To be honest, I had trouble keeping the nationalities straight, so I can't tell you what army he was in.

She got pregnant, things heated up more in Europe, and her husband and mother decided that she must leave for American before she can't leave.  She didn't want to go, but she and her mother sailed from Italy for the United States.  She didn't hear from her husband for two and a half years.  Their son was born, but he didn't know his father as a small child.

Perenyi ends the book with the first letter she received from her husband after those two years, but the introduction, written by a friend, elaborates on what she's left out and what happened after the book ended.  I enjoyed the book, especially when she wrote about the estate, the village, Budapest, and the people of the Carpathians.

This book, The Books that Changed My Life, is the kind of book I read when commercials are on on TV.  There are one hundred short essays, one or two pages long, written by, as the title page says:  "authors, actors, musicians, and other remarkable people."  To be honest, I skimmed some of them.  I skimmed if I didn't know the person or if they selected a book I didn't think I'd like.  I confess that I'm not thrilled by most modern literary fiction.  It usually seems too full of itself.  A few of the people asked said there was no 'one' book, that there were many.  Others got off topic.  A few touted their latest books.  It's the kind of book I consider 'filler'.

This is the second Annie Haynes mystery I've read.  I've liked both.  In The Bungalow Mystery, a nasty man is shot in his library.  The housekeeper runs next door to get the doctor.  The doctor finds a pretty young woman hiding in the curtains and decides to help her escape.  He thinks she must have shot the man but thinks that she must have had a good reason.  The girl disappears.

There is a train wreck that evening and the doctor's good friend is badly injured.  In fact, he loses both legs.  He calls off his wedding and secludes himself in his country estate.  He hires the doctor to care for him.  The doctor meets a young woman who lives in the estate next door and falls in love with her.

Much of the book revolves around who the girl in the library is and, of course, who shot the evil, blackmailing man.  I started to figure it out only near the end.  As I said, I liked this book, too, and plan to read others by Annie Haynes.


  1. Amazingly Fife libraries have More was Lost, it sounds interesting so I think I'll reserve it.
    Did you read the Annie Haynes book on your Kindle?

    1. I'm surprised that your library has More Was Lost. My big city one didn't. I did read the Annie Haynes book on my Kindle.

  2. Someone else I know recently read and liked the Perenyi book. I've seen The Books That Changed MY Life popping up here and there and it did seem kind of light and you confirmed it by calling it filler. I generally like these kinds of books but I think I will skip this one. Too many other things that need my attention!

    1. I think Danielle posted about More Was Lost. And, yes, The Books That Changed My Life was fun but not essential.