Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Am Gabriella (1955)

From the book cover: Karen hadn't seen her cousin in years, and when they finally met in Paris, she sensed something was wrong. This wasn't the girl she had known as a child. And then she (the cousin) disappeared ...

In an isolated chateau with a strange old woman and an evil-faced man, Karen found the missing girl. But she (the missing girl) kept insisting, I am Gabriella! I am Gabriella!"

Karen's cousin's name was Maxine. Who was this girl with Maxine's face? And why was she so afraid to admit her true identity? Was it because the man who had murdered to keep them apart as children had returned ... intent to kill again to keep the truth from coming out?

Okay ...

Written in the 1950s by an author of romantic suspense and advertised as a gothic, this book is actually a detective story along the lines of Tommy and Tuppence or Nick and Nora Charles. Anne Maybury's Nick and Karen Arnold actually work together to solve the mystery of the missing girl. There's an old house and some intrigue, but not much else is happening in this story other than a lot of cigarette smoking.

This detective duo is a great departure from the usual set up where the young bride is concerned that her husband might be trying to murder her, although marital distrust is what we have come to expect and love about this genre.

Hmmm ...

I am not sure what the cover summary means when it refers to the person who murdered to keep the girls apart as children? Whatever event orphaned the two girls as children and brought them together as cousins later on played no part in the overall story and was never even suggested as a potential reason for the identity conflict. We can just file this away as cover text "poorly written and completely irrelevant to the story."

To find this book on Amazon: I Am Gabriella.

Everyday Life in Early America (1989)

I've been reading non-fiction for a change, and chose this book in an attempt to further my family history knowledge. (More about that in a different post.)

David Freeman Hawke's "Everyday Life in Early America" gets high marks for readability but I'm left merely with an impression of the times and no hard solid facts or information.

When the English arrived in America, the goal of the crown was to supplement the economic needs of a home country even if the land and settler's needs didn not support it. After an initial attempt (as would seem natural) to replicate the world they left behind, the settlers adjusted their buildings, diet, and practices to fit a new environment and emerged as Americans.

While this book was a breeze to read, it's not memorable and I'm not sure I really learned anything significant. More interesting and useful was "The Planters of Colonial Virginia" to be discussed next.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My Balcony Garden

Almost ripe.
Salsa anyone?
Yes, I'm a farmer.