Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Secret Adversary

Finished The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie. This is the first novel in her Tommy and Tuppence series. Cousins and life long friends Tommy and Tuppence run into each other in London after World War I. Both are down on their luck. They devise a scheme to make money by offering their brains and legwork to anyone who might need it. And someone does. They are drawn into an international plot. They meet many people who are eager to help them, but whose loyalty is suspect. Their cleverness and quick thinking get them out of numerous scrapes and in almost losing each other, they realize their true feelings. This was a fun, quick, adventurous book.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Betsy's Wedding

Finished Betsy's Wedding, the tenth and final book in Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy series. Betsy returns from her trip to Europe on the cusp of World War I. Joe is there to meet her at the dock. They have a lovely day together in New York City and Joe proposes. He wants to get married right away, but Betsy worries what her family will think of this idea. She returns to Minneapolis and breaks the news to them. They are skeptical of the rush, especially her father. But Joe soon arrives, secures himself a journalism post locally, and the two are quickly and happily wed.

Betsy enjoys most of her early attempts at housekeeping, with the exception of cooking. She has no experience or flair for it. On the one hand this is understandable since the "hired girl" Anna did most of this when Betsy was growing up. On the other hand, Betsy's father knows his way around the kitchen, hosting and preparing Sunday Night Lunch for all and sundry every week. It also seems odd to me that Betsy's mother and/or Anna left her so unprepared in this area. Betsy's friends Tacy and Tib can cook. But looking back over the series I do not remember Betsy lifting a finger in the kitchen. Needless to say, she has many failures, but Joe is patient and cheerful and is pretty good in the kitchen himself. With time and help Betsy learns her way and even has several "company dinners" in her repertoire.

Betsy and Joe buy a little house and are so very happy in it. Joe works nights and Betsy adapts her own schedule to have meals and slumber with him. Their next challenge comes when Joe's Aunt who raised him decides to retire and sells her country home and store. She has nowhere to go. Although Betsy hates to give up their private little nest, she and Joe invite Aunt Ruth to come and live with them.

As always, I enjoyed this installment in the series. Betsy and Joe grapple with budgeting and family obligations, like any newly married couple. The book is cheerful, and interesting in context. I'm sorry the series is over, but there are three related books to read next, Carney's House Party, Emily of Deep Valley, and Winona's Pony Cart.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt: 55 Letters and the 111 Blocks They Inspired

Finished The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt: 55 Letters and the 111 Blocks They Inspired. Once upon a time there was a magazine entitled The Farmer's Wife. Back in 1922 they asked their readership, "If you had a daughter of marriageable age, would you, in light of your own experience, have her marry a farmer?" The response was overwhelmingly positive.

Women wrote letters about the fresh food, clean living, fresh air, good books, recordings of fine music, games, etc. that occupied family evenings once all the chores were done. They saw farming as a noble profession and mentioned the many time and labor saving devices that had improved the lot of the farmer's wife. This book features many of these letters as well as quilt block patterns, that when sewn all together, comprise The Farmer's Wife Quilt. The letters are charming and uplifting. The illustrations and quilt block assembly instructions clear and easy to follow. The book also includes a CD with pattern templates for quilters to print and use. The cover and the illustrations show drab, dark fabrics. I cannot wait to make one of these quilts with bright, happy, vibrant fabrics.