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I listened to the audiobook and came away inclined to reply in conversations using the haughty tone and proscribed vocabulary of turn-of-the century, upper-crust socialites. It was a convincing reading with a wide variety of well-developed characters. The story itself is based on the life of Alva Smith Vanderbilt. While it is historical fiction, the reality of the lives of the 1% of that time is like fantasy. The many extravagant mansions (5), the elaborate gowns, the frequent, first class junkets abroad, the numbers of household staff, the strict requirements of a certain social level...all hardly of the earth the bulk of us know! The realities of their extremely privileged lives had costs but it was all a marvel to read about. I couldn't help thinking of today's 1%. Alva is presented as a complicated figure, both fearful of her family's lost fortune and her future; bold, assertive, while slave to and rebellious against, the rules of propriety. A well written, absorbing look at a distant time and stratum of social life. ~ Reviewed by Heather Bellanca
The heft alone of this book is a testament to the elemental nature of this world-famous artist's large-scale sculptural work. According to Goldsworthy, "Each work grows, stays, decays – integral parts of a cycle which the photograph shows at its heights, marking the moment when the work is most alive. Process and decay are implicit." If you appreciate the forces of/in nature – or don't have the chance to – this book offers that inspirational gift. ~ Reviewed by Heather Bellanca
I generally avoid books that reveal too much reality. These shameful accounts are told in a way that I found utterly compelling. In spite of the clear injustices of these capital punishment cases, Stevenson relates his dogged efforts to rectify them in a clear way that left me with a sense of hope that these evils can and will be overcome. Read it. ~ Reviewed by Heather Bellanca
Only because the set was handy, I took these CDs to pass the time in the car, anticipating a self-aggrandizing Hollywood tell-all. Boy was I wrong! Lear, at 90-something, in his own clear voice, tells his rags-to-riches story in a charming, funny and self-deprecating way. From his miserable childhood, to harrowing WWII service as a fighter pilot in Italy, to the shocking anecdotes about Hollywood stars, to legions of world leaders he's met, I had no idea that he should be a legend in his own time. Beyond his graciousness, his insider's account of the evolution of the great, radical TV shows of the 60s and 70s is fascinating. So sad now, to have to travel without being able to listen to him spinning yarns. Read the book if you can't abide audio-books, it'll be just as inspiring. ~ Reviewed by Heather Bellanca
A surprisingly believable and compelling tale written from the unusual perspective of the bastard son of an 18th century, deaf bell ringer in the Swiss alps. The boy has a preternatural gift for hearing and a remarkable singing voice. The reality of life in those times and within the realm of the church was not always as beautiful as the sounds generated by it. This book manages to be a magical aural experience in which the boy struggles against unthinkable hardships to create beauty around him. ~ Reviewed by Heather Bellanca