Friday, January 25, 2013

Evening Reading

I recently finished a wonderful hard back book that I picked up for a dollar. The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs. Beeton , subtitled The first Domestic Goddess written by Kathryn Hughes detailed the domestic life of Victorian England especially in regard to its cookery. Mrs. Beeton, a young woman who married a book publisher, set out to create a cook book as a way to make money. She worked on it full time for three years and then died in childbirth at the age of 28! Her book, Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, (1861) continued in print for a hundred years in many different reprintings and revisions! Keeping her death almost under wraps, her publisher husband was able to "Brand"  her name which became synonymous with capable household management  for all classes. They continued to publish new books using her name because the English people of that time were interested in learning and bettering themselves by way of reading books. Her book became the standard wedding gift for new brides for scores of years.

The author of the book that I read, which was not Mrs. Beeton's book but was all about the phenomenon of her book, claims that the actual young Mrs. Beeton could barely cook herself and that most of her recipes were directly lifted from other cookbooks in publication at that time. Apparently, it was the authority with which the young author spoke that made her seem like such an expert. She recommended that all vegetables be boiled for an hour and Mrs. Hughes believes that that advice taught generations of women how to overcook vegetables leading to the reputation that English food is terrible! This book was fascinating reading to me because it concentrated on the details of how these people lived their everyday lives during the time of Queen Victoria. The other interesting thing is that Mrs. Beeton never knew how popular she was to become because her book really took off twenty years after she died! This young woman was just trying to help her husband to have a book to publish and to make money for the family and her name became a legend!
Larry has also been reading in the evenings and I don't want to give too much information but we are really enjoying climbing into bed on these cold winter nights with a cup of herbal tea or hot chocolate and reading together! Berlin Diary, subtitled The Journal of A Foreign Correspondant  1934-1941., written by William L. Shirer was first published in 1941 and was an immediate best-seller. The dust jacket claims that this book " was the first uncensored account of Germany's march toward war." It is about the rise of the Third Reich and what was going on in all of Europe's politics at that time. This book is almost 500 pages long and after finishing that, he read:
The Goebbels Diaries 1939-1941 translated and edited by Fred Taylor and published in 1982. This book is also a published journal, this one written by Joseph Goebbels who was Hitler's Minister For Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. This guy, Goebbels, took his own life imitating his good buddy Hitler, after poisoning his six children. He set aside a part of each day to write in his diary throughout his life, and then carefully hid the lot of them in a woodland before his death. They were found and have been published. The Forward by the editor states that these diaries carefully track the focus of the Seizure of Power while Hitler was taking over the State, the Universities and professions, the trade unions and the youth movements. Larry found it fascinating and finished all 454 pages.
 He just started a 1000 page book on WWII but I won't feature it until he finishes it. Through reading, he is educating himself to become an expert on the Second World War like he already is on The Civil War. Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it! It makes me so happy to see him reading such difficult stuff and I am very pleased about the good example this sets for the kids.
Meanwhile, John has discovered the Redwall series written by Brian Jacques, ( pronounced Jakes, as I  found out). He is tearing up this series both in paperback and hardback. There must be over twenty of these stories about a mouse kingdom and all of the other forest animals they associate with and battle. I am sure that my explanation is oversimplifying the plot. These books are very popular with young teen boys and Greg read many of them. John is checking them out of the library weekly.
Juby is reading these little Fairy stories as books that she chooses for herself when she goes to the library. There must be more than twenty-five of these that she has read which all follow the same formula. A fairy with a modern girl's name has an adventure that takes place in 65 pages. One night she read five of them (of course she had trouble getting up the next morning!)
For Christmas, she received a boxed set of 15 Beverly Cleary books sold at Costco for a very reasonable price. Although we own most of these titles, our books are very old and worn out. I knew that she would re-read them if she had fresh new copies and she has. These are great books for kids and there are titles preferred by both boys and girls in this set.
Katie John and Depend on Katie John, written by Mary Calhoun were given to us when our older girls were young by Aunt Catherine. These were her favorite childhood books! These have made great read-alouds for Juby and I. Our Read-Aloud is still our first subject right after our prayers. It is the time we enjoy the most. I would really like to figure out a time of day when we could read-aloud with our school kids but haven't gotten there yet. Sharing a good book together really builds a bond and it is pure joy!