Good Books and New Blogs

Because Mother Nature put the kibosh on thrifting this weekend by tossing down more of that tiresome white stuff, I'm afraid there's nothing spiffy to showcase in the Treasure Box this Wednesday. But that doesn't mean I've forgotten about you all! Nope-- instead, I have something completely different...

TWO somethings, really. The first is a happy little announcement:

I've just launched a brand new blog...

It's called, "Of Cabbages and Kings" and while it's 100% thrift-free (and hypo-allergenic!) it's designed to tickle your funny bone. This last year while writing The Thrift Shop Romantic, I've had ideas for posts that wouldn't quite fit here. And rather than MAKE them fit-- like the way my grandpa used to try to put puzzles together (THAT was always interesting... Many a puzzle bit the dust that way, let me tell you)-- I decided to branch it off into a blog of its own. If you have a moment, I'd love it if you'd check it out:

Okay, NEXT! I have a Tag to fulfill from my "invisible friend" Ms. A. over at Livingwithoutmoney.blogspot. Actually, this is a pretty fun tag, too, because it's the first one I've participated in that's dealt with books. Also, I'm never not reading SOMETHING. This tag asks for the tagged blogger to share the book she's currently reading, and then enter a few paragraphs from it. Mine happens to be the Hotel Paradise by Martha Grimes.

For those unfamiliar with her, Martha Grimes is a mystery novelist with a knack for wit and an unexpectedly poetic turn-of-phrase. Though she's an American living in Maryland, one of her best-known detecting duos is British-- Detective Superintendent Richard Jury and his friend, the eccentric Melrose Plant.

This particular book, however, is not a part of that series, (though lovers of mystery, you might really enjoy it). Instead, in The Hotel Paradise, Grimes turns to small town America in the 60s and transports us to a time where gentility was still something people valued, and where the present is haunted by the mysteries of the past. The story follows pre-teen Emma, a precocious girl with a Nancy Drew streak, as she examines questionable events in town history which others have long forgotten or set aside.

The tone and atmosphere of the book is reminiscent of Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird," painting pictures of the small town folk and adult-sized problems from Emma's smart, sassy perspective.

Much of the book has the feel of the elegant or eccentric deep South-- and as a result, the descriptions are something I think any romantic decorator could easily get behind. Those are a couple of the passages I'll share with you today.

We join Emma as she visits Miss Flagler and Miss Flyte, two elderly ladies who run quaint adjoining shops within the town.

With her cat named Albertine and her comfortable kitchen with its smell of cinnamon and ginger, I imagine there are worse lives than Miss Flagler's... I am sometimes invited to share their morning coffee or afternoon tea (oh, those fresh cinnamon buns!) and could think of them as just putting up with me, but I don't. For some reason I feel at home with old ladies, as if I wear, in my ancient twelve-year-old soul, pince-nez and cardigans...

We sit on turquoise and buttercup-yellow painted wooden chairs (that have me revising my notion of a lack of gaiety in Miss Flagler's life) pulled up to the white kitchen table. In winter we are warmed in front of the black cast-iron stove into which Miss Flagler shovels fresh coals...

Soon, as an introduction to pumping her adult friends for information, Emma gets the older ladies to begin reminiscing about their youth and a particular social event of the time...

Miss Flagler's dress had been ice-green organdy, with a silk lining. She had worn it to a garden party, which she described to me as "all white": white dresses, white suits, white pumps, white roses, white-iced cakes.

I was momentarily carried away, or carried back, to this fairy world of garden parties and organdy dresses. I have personal experience of neither. I try to picture Miss Flagler moving airily around in her ice-green organdy, a punch cup in one hand and a plate of tiny sandwiches in the other. The color sounded both cool and delicious. I decided it must be the color of Albertine's eyes.

Those pretty bits of purple prose enchanted me while I was sitting at the car dealership recently, reading and waiting for my car to finish inspection. (Of course, most things seem romantic compared to emissions testing.)

Anyway, I guess I need to tag five people in turn. So here goes:

That said, for those who might have missed Sunday's post regarding some questionable serving tips courtesy of Amy Vanderbilt, click here. And for the rest of my online friends, may this week bring you a spring in your step, and some Spring in your weather, too.


Lidian said...

Thanks for the tag! I'll be doing this - but I might be emulating your grandfather with the puzzle pieces! Still, as my sixth grade teacher used to say (though this may be apocryphal) "let it be a challenge to you!"

We had that storm too - I think we have all just about had enough snow!

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

I'll do the book tag on my next post. Does a magazine count? I have to tell you your new blog is fabulous. I love a good sense of humor and yours is the best. I live so far out in the country and off the beaten track that we don't get little girl scouts selling us cookies so I suppose I will have to go looking for them. :)

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Hi Lidian- no problem, no hard and fast rules on these tags. Just a bit of fun really. (And for me, a nice distraction from having no thrifted goodies to share this week!)

Lynn- I would certainly say a magazine counts-- go for it. Also no real obligation to DO the tag, if it doesn't fit well with your blog. It's a no-pressure thing. And thanks SO much for visiting the new blog-- that's terrific.


Lidian said...

Thanks for the comment, Jenn! And thanks for asking me to join in, it was a lot of fun.

white o'morn cottage said...

No thrifting treasures this week? What will I do? You know I live for your thrift shop Wednesdays so I can be green with envy!

Does this mean you will have to buy twice the amount next week? MMMM...looking forward to that.

Vallen said...

Oh, and there's a sequel to this book the name of which escapes me, equally as touching. I always marvel at Ms. Grimes ability to be so British and wouldn't you like a Richard Jury in your life.
Thanks for the sweet compliment. Guess I better get home and crack the spine on one of the dozens of books waiting to be read by me.

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Ah, Pam, sorry to disappoint this week. I should have some sort of goodies to share NEXT Treasure Box Wednesday, though. And given you're in Ireland and St. Paddy's Day is coming up, I must say, the green suits you. :)

Vallen, I should have KNOWN you'd already know Martha Grimes. :) You're terrific.

Blog LadyDee said...

Oh my, reading your blog is like a trip through my house. 1940's dishes, Carousels, antique linens and Martha Grimes....I will be a regular visitor. I love the new blog also....long ago and far away, I was an English Lit major.
You have made my day...what a find!!

Blog Lady Dee
Blog Lady Elle