Top Ten Tuesday: Even Darker Academia

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

I got confused with my TTTs last week and did this week’s topic:

September 13: Books with Geographical Terms in the Title (for example: mountain, island, latitude/longitude, ash, bay, beach, border, canyon, cape, city, cliff, coast, country, desert, epicenter, hamlet, highway, jungle, ocean, park, sea, shore, tide, valley, etc. For a great list, click here!) (Submitted by Lisa of Hopewell)

So for this week I decided to go my own way and do another school focused list, because I do love a school setting. I particularly love it when there are secrets beneath the surface…. I did a list like this a while ago, but I figure there’s always room for more:

Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay – I’ve long since admired the film adaptation of this book, but I only read the novel last year. Set in Australia in 1900, a group of students and several teachers at a girl’s boarding school go on a picnic at the nearby Hanging Rock. After lunch three girls took a short walk and never returned. Obviously the primary mystery is what happened to the girls, but we soon realize that there is a lot happening beneath the surface at this school. One thing I found interesting is that we tend to associate Gothic with windy, rainy English moors. Here a lot of the tropes and themes that we associate Gothic literature (atmosphere of dread, isolated setting, secrets) take place in a warm, sun soaked setting that soon becomes as ominous as any creepy English mansion.

Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson – Natalie can’t wait to go to college and get away from her abusive father and alcoholic mother. But when she gets there college life isn’t what she expected. As her sense of reality begins to fracture, Natalie makes a new friend… That’s the best way I can think of to summarize this book, because not much really happens here. I’m a fan of Jackson, and I admire some of what she did here, but it’s not what I’d call her best work. I didn’t know this at the time I read it, but Jackson loosely based this on the disappearance of a real life student at Bennington in 1946.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo – As a teen, Alex Stern was the only survivor of a multiple homicide involving her and her druggie friends. In the hospital she’s offered a new start: a free ride to Yale in exchange for a job monitoring the university’s secret societies. These societies practice some dangerous magic, and if their activities aren’t kept under control, innocent people may suffer the consequences. Everyone said this was a “love it or hate it,” but I liked it. I was intrigued enough so that I’ll read the sequel, but I’m not totally hooked yet.

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides – When Mariana Andros’ niece’s friend is found murdered, Mariana heads to Cambridge to help Zoe through the aftermath. She learns that Zoe’s friend was a Maiden, a student of Edward Fosca, a charismatic professor of Greek tragedy. She’s sure that Fosca killed Zoe, but she can’t prove it. Her obsession with trying brings her deeper into Fosca’s dark world. I read this one in about two days and I really enjoyed it as I was reading it. I didn’t predict the ending, but I was left rather underwhelmed by it nevertheless.

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas – When students are accepted to Catherine House they are given an education for free. In return, they need to pledge three years (summers included) to the institution. During that time they are completely cut off from the outside world, including friends and family. After the death of her roommate, student Ines begins to suspect that the school has been hiding something dangerous that is preying on its students. I was dragging myself through much of the early parts, but as things were revealed I was more intrigued. However I felt like the reveal was rushed and glossed over.

Bunny by Mona Awad – Samantha is an outsider at her creative writing program. The others in her cohort are twee rich girls who call each other “Bunny.” Samantha wants nothing to do with them. But when they accept her into their group, Samantha’s world, and her sense of reality, begin to fall apart. Sometimes you read a book that just makes you shake your head and go “WTF?” This was such a book.

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl – A year ago, Beatrice’s boyfriend died and she left her boarding school and friends in the shadow of that tragedy. When they reunite a year later, Beatrice and her friends get into a car accident. Fortunately no one is hurt. Or so they think. When they get home, a stranger arrives at the door and tells them they died in the crash. Only one survived. Now they’re in Neverworld Wake, sort of a halfway station, where they have to decide who the survivor of the crash was. Until there is a unanimous decision, they will be trapped, reliving the day of the accident again and again. The friend group soon realizes that their possible redemption lies with the truth about what happened to Beatrice’s boyfriend a year earlier. I really liked this one.

The Fairwick Chronicles by Juliet Dark (AKA Carol Goodman) – Callie McFay is a professor of folklore. She takes a job at Fairwick College where she has dreams of a handsome stranger. She comes to realize it’s the demon lover, her area of folkloric interest. She also discovers that it’s the only supernatural being at Fairwick, which, as the name suggests is a community of fairies and witches, who must help her cast out the demon. These were enjoyable but I don’t know if a trilogy was necessary. By the third book some elements felt a bit repetitive.

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus – This is a bit like The Breakfast Club gone horribly wrong! Six teen stereotypes have detention one afternoon. Bronwyn is the brain, Addy is the beauty, Nate is the criminal, Cooper is the jock. Simon is the campus gossip columnist, whose app, About This, is notorious on campus. By the end of the afternoon, Simon is dead. The police suspect it might not be an accident, and when damaging information about the other kids in detention is revealed on About This soon after, it looks like everyone might have a motive. This was sort of the literary equivalent of candy. It was an enjoyable guilty pleasure, but no nutritional value.

Survive the Night by Riley Sager – It’s 1991. Charlie is devastated after the murder of her best friend and roommate at the hands of a serial killer know, rather uncreatively, as the Campus Killer. Charlie wants to get away from campus. She finds a ride back to her Ohio home via a ride share board. Josh is also headed to Ohio to care for his sick father. But as they drive down secluded roads late into the night, Charlie begins to suspect that Josh might be the Campus Killer. This was a fast, diverting read. Nothing brilliant, but it’s not really trying to be.

Top Ten Tuesday: Geographical Titles

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

I just realized I did next week’s topic for this week! I’ll do something different next week (maybe this week’s topic!)

September 13: Books with Geographical Terms in the Title (for example: mountain, island, latitude/longitude, ash, bay, beach, border, canyon, cape, city, cliff, coast, country, desert, epicenter, hamlet, highway, jungle, ocean, park, sea, shore, tide, valley, etc. For a great list, click here!) (Submitted by Lisa of Hopewell)

I’m also counting fictional place names here. I just used my recent reads and I noticed a lot of bodies of water:

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill by Maud Hart Lovelace

Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Beyond the Wild River by Sarah Maine

The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick

Top Ten Tuesday: School Freebie: Teacher Characters

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

August 30: School Freebie (In honor of school starting up soon, come up with a topic that somehow ties to school/education. The book could be set at school/college, characters could be teachers, books with school supplies on the cover, nonfiction titles, books that taught you something or how to do something, your favorite required reading in school, books you think should be required reading, your favorite banned books, etc.)

I decided to go with teacher characters here. I tried to stay away from children’s books (because there are a lot of teacher characters there!) but I had to include a couple.

Villette by Charlotte Bronte – Yes, I know Jane Eyre is a teacher too, but since this book focuses more on school life, I went with it. Though now it strikes me that The Professor was also a possibility…

11/22/63 by Stephen King – In this one the main character is a teacher and a time traveler. He has to stop Kennedy’s assassination, but he gets to the 60’s early so he spends two years teaching high school. To say that isn’t the most exciting part of the book is sort of an understatement.

Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman – I have a feeling that trying to teach in a classroom that’s falling apart, while buried under paperwork, with no supplies, is, sadly, timeless. This book is funny just as often as it’s sad though.

Matilda by Roald Dahl – Obviously Miss Honey is an example of teaching at it’s best, and the Trunchbull is teaching at it’s worst. As a adult though I do wonder: Miss Honey is so sweet, how does she handle kids when they’re disrespectful? It seems like they’d walk all over her…

Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery – Miss Stacy breathes new life into school in Avonlea. She opens up the world for her students. Later in the series Anne becomes a teacher herself.

The Magic School Bus by Joanna Cole – Ms. Frizzle is, well, let’s call her a truly unique educator. Though, as an adult, I do have to wonder: who approves and funds those field trips!? What kind of an administrator does that school have?

The Magus by John Fowles – Nicholas Urfe is an Englishman who accepts a teaching position on a remote Greek island. He doesn’t spend much time teaching though. He spends far more time playing bizarre mind games with a local reclusive millionaire.

The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman – Twenty years ago, Jane Hudson left her girls private school after a tragedy involving her friend. So of course she accepts a teaching position at that school many years later. What could go wrong?

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown – Three sisters raised by an English professor who speaks almost entirely in verse. Of course they’re weird!

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson – Beatrice Nash is the attractive new Latin teacher in Rye in 1914. She’s also a struggling writer and a forward thinker, which means she may bring some change to the small town..

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I’m Glad Are Completed

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

August 23: Completed Series I Wish Had More Books

I changed this one up a little bit. These are series I’m glad are over. That’s not necessarily a bad thing! Some of them I really liked, and thought that they ended in just the right places. Others I felt went on a bit too long…

Tarien Soul by CL Wilson – I really liked the first two or three books in this series. But it was a five book series. If it had been a trilogy I would have really loved it. It just went on way too long.

Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden – A rare series that was just the right number of books. It developed everything without dragging anything out too much. Actually it was also rare in that I liked the second two books more than I did the first.

Wilderness series by Sara Donati – Depending on my mood I sometimes think this series (six books) outstayed its welcome a bit. But I did really enjoy a few of the later books. Either way, it ended in a pretty good place.

Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier – Initially this was a trilogy. Then Marillier revisited it with a second trilogy. I loved the first trilogy and liked the second. But I’m happy where she left things, and I don’t think she needs to revisit it.

Anne series by LM Montgomery – This one is eight books, but I actually consider the last two books to be sort of spin-offs because they’re about Anne’s children more than Anne, herself. I actually considered going with Emily for this one, but I do sometimes wish there were more of her books. I think Anne got the right number, even not counting the last two.

Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray– This is also a rare fantasy series that didn’t really have a weak entry. Even more rare, I felt like Bray really stuck the landing.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy by Jenny Han– I read these for a book club. I enjoyed the first one a lot, liked the second, and was kind of “meh” on the third. Basically, I felt like the material was enough for one to one and a half novels, but not three.

Earth’s Children by Jean M. Auel – Another example of a series that went slowly downhill with each book. I usually finish series for the sake of closure, but I skipped the final one here.

Night and Nothing trilogy by Katherine Harbour – Again I think a trilogy here was the sweet spot. Not too long, not too short.

The Best Faerie Tales (That Aren’t For Children)

I was honored to be asked to write an author list for Shepherd.com. Since Beautiful is a faerie tale (I explain why I used that spelling in my intro!) I went with a list of other books that portray faeries as ambiguous and “other” in some way. Basically these aren’t your butterfly-like creatures hopping around gardens! Check out my list here, and let me know what you think. Do you agree with my picks? Disagree? Is there anything I should have included?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Love That Are 10+ Years Old

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

August 16: Books I Love That Were Written Over Ten Years Ago

Since many/most of the books I love are 10+ years old, I decided to do the last ten five star readers from ten years ago or more. Since I only give five stars to the best of the best, this was harder than I thought (there were other five star books but not written in the past 10 years). I ended up going back quite a while!

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (1998)

Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce (1958)

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier (1938)

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1921)

Mariana by Monica Dickens (1940)

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim(1922)

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton(1905)

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (2011)

Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski (1949)

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman (1998)

Which Adaptations Does the Austen Get Lost In?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen fans both love and hate adaptations of her work. We’re eager to see a new interpretation of a beloved work, but when it’s not done right, we get angry. Sometimes, very angry.

Image Credit: Chicago Public Library

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that Netflix recently released an…um… controversial, adaptation of Persuasion. When the trailer first came out, there was an outcry: people were not happy about direct to camera addresses, modern dialogue and language, and what looked like slapstick humor, in an adaptation of Austen’s most delicate, subtle work.

Image Credit: Netflix.com

So I knew going in, that whatever I’d be watching, it wouldn’t be Persuasion as written by Austen. I tried to let those expectations go and watch it with an open mind. As a standard Hollywood romantic comedy, it was fine. No more, no less. I certainly didn’t find it as offensive as some did! The historically anachronistic elements didn’t bother me because they seemed intentional. But there’s no Jane Austen there, and when I wanted her, I felt her absence. For example, when Anne reads the note that Captain Wentworth has written her, that beautiful love letter comes off like a note jotted on a post-it with a number two pencil. Actually, I won’t say there’s no Jane Austen there. Rather it’s the wrong Jane Austen. While Austen is known for satire, Persuasion isn’t where those elements primarily come out.

Not long after, I happened to catch Modern Persuasion. This 2020 film is, as it sounds, Persuasion set in the modern day. Wren Cosgrove fell in love with Owen Jasper in college. After graduation he wanted to move to California, and asked her to come with him. Wren’s godmother didn’t think it was such a good idea, and told her so, in no uncertain terms. Years later, wealthy and successful, Owen hires Wren’s company to promote his new app… This movie is very…OK. Again, it’s fine as a romcom but it’s not the best of Hollywood’s romantic comedy offerings by a longshot. It’s not a Hallmark movie but it feels very “Hallmark-esque” (yes, I did make up that word.) Even though this movie is set in contemporary New York City, it feels similar to Netflix’s version. Both try to force Persuasion into a romantic comedy “box.” While much of Austen’s work fits in that box, Persuasion (despite a beautiful romance and a happy ending) doesn’t.

So I thought about some of the other adaptations of Austen’s work that I’ve seen. I think my first Austen exposure was rather obliquely through the film Clueless. If you’re not in the know, Clueless is an adaptation of Austen’s Emma set in a high school in Beverley Hills in the 1990’s. I saw it for the first time when I was about ten, and I was sure that’s what high school would look like for me (reader, it was not.) It wasn’t until I was in college, years later, that I actually read Emma and it became my favorite Austen novel. I still maintain a great fondness to Clueless for being a sort of instruction to Austen’s themes albeit in a very different milieu. I’m still surprised that Clueless managed to pull off what it did, as well as it did.

A multitude of Emmas. Image credit: eonline

But it’s far from the only time that Emma has been done well onscreen. I’m probably the only Austen fan who is partial to the 1996 film with Gwyneth Paltrow, but she always always struck me as very Emma-y. Plus I really like Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightly and Toni Collette as Harriet Smith. But the 2020 film has a lot to recommend it. So does the 1996 ITV film with Kate Beckinsale and the 2009 miniseries with Romola Garai.

Bridget and Lizzie Image Credit: era.org.uk

In 1996 Helen Fielding introduced the world to Bridget Jones. Bridget was the single, thirty-something, Londoner who launched a genre. She also inspired a hit motion picture in 2001. But before there was Bridget, there was Lizzie. Lizzie Bennet to be precise, heroine of Pride and Prejudice. Lizzie and Bridget were different. Aside from the nearly two centuries between them, Lizzie was country girl, a nonsmoker, didn’t work in publishing, and didn’t get drunk five nights a week. But they both loved a Mr. Darcy. Lizzie’s was Fitzwilliam Darcy and Bridget’s was Mark Darcy. Both Darcys were played by Colin Firth in notable adaptations. Both got sidetracked and prejudiced by Mr. Wrong (Wickham and Cleaver respectively) before realizing that Darcy was right there all along.

Pride and Prejudice on Film Image Credit: Silver Petticoat Review

Pride and Prejudice also has a history of being adapted well. Any Jane-ite can tell you which she prefers: the 1995 BBC miniseries or the 2005 film. Just for the record, I’m all about the miniseries! But if you’re not looking for a literal adaptation perhaps you’d like zombies with your Austen? Or would you prefer it Bollywood style? Maybe a sequel done as a murder mystery?

Is Bridget Lizzie? No, not by longshot. Just like Clueless’s Cher isn’t Emma. But regardless of how faithful adaptations are, the unfaithful ones don’t usually feel as gratingly “off” as the recent adaptations of Persuasion. That’s because Pride and Prejudice and Emma are both very different books from Persuasion. On the surface, that’s not so clear. All three are set in the same geographic location, at the same time period. All three deal with issues of love, marriage, money and family, among the same social class.

But Emma and Pride and Prejudice are both what I’d call coming of age comedies. Emma and Lizzie are both naïve at the beginning, despite both thinking they’re very wise. Wisdom is developed in both their stories, through life, and mistakes, and being humbled, and falling down, and getting up again. In Persuasion much of that has already happened before we meet Anne. She’s loved and lost before we open the first page. She’s changed as a result of suffering, taken responsibility for her mistakes and been humbled. She’s more an adult that Austen’s other two heroines, she’s more introspective and brooding. Actually, characters in Persuasion repeatedly comment that Anne has lost the “bloom” of her youth. Therefore it feels more wrong and jarring to see her act like a perky heroine in a romantic comedy. It’s not that they’re no humor or wit in her tale. There is. But there is also a hard-won wisdom. That’s what feels missing in the most recent films.

I, personally, would recommend the 1995 film for those seeking Persuasion out onscreen. But if you prefer there’s also a 2008 TV movie. While neither is perfect, both feel far more like they’re based on the novel Jane Austen wrote than either of the more recent versions do.

In thinking about my favorite Austen adaptations, and the less successful ones, it seems like the ones that do well, understand that there’s more to Austen’s work than just a funny love story. You could read Jane Austen for political commentary. You could read her for life lessons. And some of the more successful adaptations recognize that. Clueless has a lot of social satire. By it’s very title, it’s telling us that Cher is, at the beginning, “Clueless” about the real world. Bridget Jones highlighted a period of life that didn’t really exist for women in Austen’s day: after college and before marriage. It highlighted trying to establish oneself in a career just as much as in romance. Those are things Lizzie Bennet might do if she lived 200 years later (even though Bridget does a lot of things she probably wouldn’t do!). Neither are the stuff of great literature mind you, but they realize that their source material is.

A lot goes into whether or not an adaptation works. It’s not just about sticking closely to the events on the page, and making sure each character looks exactly as described. It’s about knowing your medium; understanding that what works on the page might not work on the big screen. What works on film, might not work as a four part miniseries. But I think a big part of it is also about respecting the complexity of your source material, rather than trying to push it into a pre-cut genre shape. It’s about recognizing what makes it unique from others in it’s genre rather than trying to hop onto a successful bandwagon.

And yes, I know I haven’t even gotten to Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility! Not to mention how wide this topic can be if we start including things like Love and Friendship (Lady Susan), Sanditon (TV series and novel fragment), bio pics, etc.

What do you think? Have you seen any of these movies? Did you like them, hate them, something in between?

Top Ten Tuesday: Hilarious Books

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

Posting a bit late today, but it’s still Tuesday!

Today’s topic was:

August 9: Hilarious Book Titles

But I decided to just skip the titles and go with some funny books all around. I know I’ve done lists like this before, but laughs are always needed!

Lud-In-The-Mist by Hope Mirrlees -This was a recent read that I enjoyed more than I expected to (fair warning, the first two chapters aren’t promising, but stick with it!) It’s sort of a fantasy/sociopolitical satire/courtroom dramedy.

Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke – This novel is written all in Slack messages. It’s hard to explain, but it’s about a guy working from home who accidentally uploads his consciousness into Slack. I didn’t love the book overall, but it did have some amusing parts that made me chuckle.

Enough Rope by Dorothy Parker – I think that “sardonic” would be the best word to describe Parker’s wit. But there’s a bit of real sadness beneath it too. I think that’s what makes her poetry effective. It marries cynicism with genuine feeling

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis – This had been on my TBR for years and I finally got to it this year. It was worth they wait, not only for the SFF plot but also as romantic romp. It’s sort of a comedy of errors involving timeline disruption, a cat, and (of course) a dog.

Crazy Salad by Nora Ephron – Some of these essays do occasionally come off as rather dated. But they were written in the 1970’s so that’s somewhat expected (and humor aside, it’s interesting to get her impressions of the era’s feminism). Steve Martin’s intro is also good for a laugh!

Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays and Other Writings by Shirley Jackson – Before reading this, I mostly knew Jackson as a horror writer (though I’d argue there’s certainly dark humor in something like We Have Always Live in the Castle) but when I read some of this I was surprised to laugh out loud at times. Her writing about her family life and her small town are really funny.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling – Yes it’s another series of essays by someone in Hollywood, but I felt like this wasn’t trying as hard to be funny as others in genre, and that made them funnier. I especially liked her childhood stories, but then I like childhood stories generally. I think I just like to get a sense of people’s beginnings.

Top Ten Tuesday: All the Single Ladies

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday

July 19: Freebie (Come up with your own topic!)

As I enter into my own spinsterhood, I’m more aware of the representation of unmarried women of a certain age in media. Some literary spinster are great. Others are…less so. One book that I would recommend on the subject is Kate Bolick’s Spinster: Making A Life of One’s Own, a book I read several years ago. But in this list I’m primarily looking at novels

Rules for this list:

  1. A romantic history doesn’t automatically keep a woman off this list, but if her happy ending involves a romantic relationship, it does. Nothing against romance! But it’s not the only plotline a woman can have.
  2. No Miss Havisham-like lunatics on here. Don’t get me wrong, Miss Havisham is a great character, but hardly anything for single ladies to aspire to!

Mildred Lanthbury in Excellent Women by Barbara Pym – Actually a lot of Pym’s work applies but when I think of Pym this is the first book that comes to mind. In it Mildred (who’s only 30, so I suppose by today’s standards she wouldn’t be considered a spinster at all) gets overly involved in her neighbors lives, with comic results.

Miss Marple books by Agatha Christie – I love her. Yes, she doesn’t have much in the way of family, so she solves crimes instead! I love that she’s not very judgmental though. She uncovers a lot of secrets in these books, but unless they involve murder, she’s pretty accepting of peoples vices and foibles.

Mrs. Rumphius by Barbara Cooney– I loved this children’s book about the title character whose mission in life is to add a bit of beauty to the world. No more, no less.

Marilla Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery– She didn’t look for or ask for motherhood, but she becomes a mother to a 13 year old orphan nonetheless. Despite her stern demeanor she’s kind and loving.

 The ladies of Cranford in Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell –  Miss Matty and Miss Deborah are spinsters living in rather modest circumstances in a small Victorian English town, full of many single women. They face the upheaval in spite of their resistance to it. “In the first place, Cranford is in possession of the Amazons; all the holders of houses above a certain rent are women … For keeping the trim gardens full of choice flowers without a weed to speck them; for frightening away little boys who look wistfully at the said flowers through the railings; for rushing out at the geese that occasionally venture in to the gardens if the gates are left open … for kindness (somewhat dictatorial) to the poor, and real tender good offices to each other whenever they are in distress, the ladies of Cranford are quite sufficient. ‘A man,’ as one of them observed to me once, ‘is so in the way in the house!’”

Circe by Madeline Miller- Yes the character showed up in Homer’s Odyssey before Miller got her hands on her, but Miller made her better (IMO) She spends a lot of the book isolated on the island of Aiaia but she turns her solitude into empowerment.

Miss Honey in Matilda by Roald Dahl– Yes, she’s fairly young when the book ends, so there’s no way to know if spinsterhood is her ultimate fate, but she gets a happy ending that doesn’t involve a romantic relationship in any way shape or form. We have the sense that if that never comes, she’ll be just fine.

Aunt Ada Doom in Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons- Forever traumatized by “something nasty in the woodshed” she nonetheless rules the Starkadder family with an iron fist. Her happy ending involves a trip to Paris rather than a trip down the aisle.

Edith Hope in Hotel de Lac by Anita Brookner– I went back and forth with this one since the main character, Edith, does have some romantic drama going on in her life and her ending is sort of ambiguous. But some of the choices she makes support my perception of her as a single lady.

Benny Hogan in Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy – In the film adaptation of this book, a pretty major change is made to the ending that makes it ineligible for this list. I actually like the film and think the ending works in that context. But in the novel, based on the way the characters are portrayed, I definitely think Benny makes the right choice.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Associate With Summer

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

July 12: Book Covers That Feel Like Summer (Submitted by Ellie @ Curiosity Killed the Bookworm)

For this one I decided to go with books that I associate with summer rather than just covers. For many of them, they were books that I read in the summer and with which I have strong seasonal memory associations.

Sweet Valley series by Francine Pascal- In this case the setting, sunny California, feels very summery. I read these books throughout my childhood (Kids first, then Twins, then High.) I was about ten when I read the Sweet Valley High books and they, along with other things (looking at you, Saved By the Bell) set up some very unrealistic expectations about what high school would be like!

Chain Letter 2 by Christopher Pike – I read this on a camp trip to a baseball game when I was about eleven. I was never much of a sports fan, but I think I actually found a copy of this on the bus on the way to the game. I never read the first one. I read this on the bus ride, through the game, and on the way back. It was dark by then, but I only had a few pages left so I squinted. I remember being scandalized by some of the content!

Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene – Did anyone else live for summer reading at the library? I did, and I remember one summer they were doing some remodeling/reorganizing at the library and these were being kept in what was essentially a large closet. I was really into these books at the time though, so whenever I went to the library I’d have to ask special permission to go to the closet and get these!

Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati – I worked in a library the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, and I think I may have read more than I worked! This is a standout from that summer. I remember feeling resentful when I had to stop reading to help patrons.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling – I was working at a Barnes and Noble the summer this was released, and it was all hands on deck! I remember it was July 21, 2007 (yes, fifteen years later I remember the exact date) and we had a midnight release party at the store. It was packed with people (probably a fire hazard) and at one point I had to dress up as a witch for some kind of a potions skit. I may have blocked that part out!

The Dive From Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer – One summer when I was in college, I got some kind of insect bite. It was itchy and annoying at first, but no big deal until it got infected. They put me on a medicine for it that didn’t work, so it started to spread. That lead to me being put in the hospital for three days so they could give me meds through an IV. I was reading this at the time, and will always associate it with summer in the ER: lots of waiting and lots of injuries!

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid – My book club picked this as our latest read because we got beachy, summery vibes from the cover. It was a fun book that would make a good beach read, but a bit of a let down for me personally after I loved Daisy Jones and the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I didn’t feel like this quite reached that quality.


Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel – I read this one the summer before I started high school. And by “read” I mean devoured in about two days. It lead to a fascination with anthropology, ancient societies and human evolution ( all of which I still find very interesting.) I read the rest of the series that summer – well all except the last which hadn’t been released yet – and found the quality to vary, but this was definitely the best of them.

The Other Side of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon – When I was about 12 or 13, my cousins and I went to Florida to spend a some time with our Grandma one summer. I picked this book up in her apartment, and I don’t think I put it back down for the rest of the trip! In retrospect, it was probably pretty rude of me to have my face buried in a book the whole time…

Beautiful by Fran Laniado – I went back and forth about putting this on the list, but I finally decided to do it! Beautiful was released on July 4, 2018. It was supposed to have a book sibling by now, but the best laid plans… But I will always associate the fourth of July with a dream come true for me.