Despite my traveling for most of July, I did manage to finish three books. That's what long flights and layovers in airports can do for your reading life!
I reread Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome, with the Victorians! group at GoodReads. It's been decades since I read this book, and it was light, bright, mostly funny, and a good book to travel with. It was also fun to read a travel book while traveling.
I learned that JKJ actually did the Thames boating trip on his honeymoon, but decided to substitute two male friends for his bride in his story of the journey. I think this was wise as Harris and George were the butt of many jokes, snide comments, and general foil for JKJ, a position that might not have been well-received by a spouse. I also learned that Montmorency, the pugnacious dog, was also not along on the actual trip, and I think he also was a great addition to the narrative.
There are a lot of great illustrations out there for this book, and a particularly appealing graphic book. This book just cries out to be a graphic novel, so I may have to get my hands on it for the next reread.
If you're like me and love maps, then here's a map showing the journey related in the book.
The second book I read on my trip was Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg. Again it was a reread, and again I was reading it along with a GoodReads group, this time the TuesBookTalk Read-Alongs Group. Another again...I last read this decades ago as well. I fell in love with all over again.
After months of focusing on Roman Britain, Northumberland, and ancient/medieval history, it was an absolute treat to return to Americana. Fried Green Tomatoes has one of my favorite narrative formats - an integration of "real" news reports plus multiple narrators from various time periods with past/present story threads. That's a very common format currently, but in the mid-1980s when Flagg first published Fried Green Tomatoes, it was much less common.
The novel takes place in a small town, a whistle stop town, in Alabama during the Depression and then in the mid-80s. Mrs. Cleo Threadgoode is an elderly woman living in a nursing home telling a younger visitor about life in her town 50 years earlier and the friends and family, white and black, that peopled the town. There's a mystery, a villain, plenty of heroines and heroes, and a deep, rich vein of love and loyalty, acceptance, tolerance, forgiveness, and joy of life that makes this a wonderful book to read...and reread. The book ends with a set of recipes that I vowed I would make when I got home, but haven't yet. I do have a garden full of green tomatoes, just waiting to be fried.
There's a very good movie version of the novel, though I haven't watched it in years, but my fellow GoodReads Tuesday groupons say that the ending is somewhat different, so we'll have to take their word on this.
The last book I read in July was Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, by Laurie Colwin. This book has been recommended many times by many book soulmates and I was wanting to dive into something completely different. It's short, it's a collection of essays about food, the writing is marvelous and Colwin's voice is amazing. She is funny, self-effacing, and enthusiastic about the taste and texture of food, the endless opportunities for feeding yourself, family, and friends. I did drop everything and made a loaf of bread following her recipe and it was divine. I have her More Home Cooking on order, and am toying with the idea of reading some of her novels. I really do love her writing. Sadly, she died of an aortic aneurysm at age 48 in 1992.
You know a book is good when you are thinking of all the people you want to share the book with when you've finished it. I choose my daughter, Sarah, who loves to cook and appreciates good writing, and mailed the book to her this morning.