Tag Archives: Hermione Lee

And where have YOU been?



I had planned to write at least a couple of entries on this Ozarks getaway.  But life intervened.  First, I got sick.  In fact, the entire family got sick, to the extent that you would have thought that there was a competition to see which of us would cough up a lung first.  Mornings around here have been a veritable symphony of hacking that is only just finally winding down.

But it wasn’t the flu or anything serious.  Just a hard core cold making the rounds and a general malaise that made me feel like doing very little except lying around reading and looking forward to my next Sudafed.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to.  Do much, that is.

Next, our internet connection started getting weird, no doubt related to the fact that the condo’s connective wire was loosening.  You can only be tripped over by a seven-year-old a certain number of times before your connection starts to go.  So the knowledge that while I was writing a post, the internet connection might suddenly disappear, as it has been doing in the last few days, was a powerful disincentive to write.  Finally, I just decided to write a simple entry to get back in the game, and paste it in.  Ergo. . .

Reading.  I have done a lot of reading, which I was hoping for, and a lot of “not answering the phone,” because it doesn’t ring!  Whee!!!!

We have holed up in a nice condo with two story windows that look out on Table Rock lake.  We’ve read (more on that below), watched more tv than usual (Enchanted, the Parent Trap, Spiderman, Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties (sigh) and HGTV out the wazoo), and spent way too much time on the computer when the connection was good (me on Ebay and the kids on Yugioh Cardmaker).

I have gorged on shelter magazines and finished Love and Consequences and Finding Your Child’s Strengths.  Love and Consequences, a is gang “memoir” that managed to make it to the Faulkner County library in spite of the fact that Penguin pulled the hardcover from the shelves, a la James Frey, just days after it was published.  Turns out it is utterly fictional.  Not just a few “characters combined here and there, some names and places changed,” but entirely made up.  Check out the controversy here.

Conclusion:  It stinks in any genre, fiction or non.  I can’t believe it got published.  The writing is horrible.  Nuf said.

Finding Your Child’s Strengths.  Pretty good if you’re interested in the material.  Check out the strengths movement here.

Now I’m heavy into the Hermione Lee’s Edith Wharton biography which is living up to expectations—well done, Ms. Lee! (she’s British).  It is definitely the best bio yet.   But here’s the issue.  It’s 750 pages of dense stuff.  Normally this wouldn’t be a problem if I hadn’t already read a bio of Wharton, during what could be called my “Edith Wharton period,” some years ago.  I must confess I am someone who is spurred ahead by suspense and new information.  Which is rather subtle when you’ve already got a pretty good idea of the author’s life.  But on page 50, I’m not giving up yet!

I’ll end with an update on the crusade to save Ms. Wharton’s historic house, The Mount.  They got a $30,000 grant which has meant a reprieve until April 24.  They have raised $550,000 ish on their way to 3 million dollars.  Spread the word, people.  This property desperately needs saving.

Till we’re back in Conway tomorrow,

Bye y’all,



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A Special Message: Save Edith Wharton’s Home!

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SOS! Edith Wharton’s Berkshires home, The
Mount,  which has been a museum for many years, is pending foreclosure! They
have put out an all-points-bulletin to save her house. They need
about 3 million dollars before the end of March.
I urge all of you who love her and her work to consider donating to
this cause–her home has recently gotten back her considerable
library and it would be a crime to see this national treasure fall
back into disrepair or worse.

If they get the 3 million, they have a pledge to match it, which should put them in the black again.  Every little bit counts.  They’ve done some wonderful things to the home in the past several years, turning it into a truly historic museum and monument all things literary and artistic.  It would be terrible to lose it.

You can donate and find out more information at


A few important points:  if you go to that link and make an online pledge, they are very clear that they won’t actually call in your pledge until they reach their goal.  So it will not be money wasted.  Also at that link are some before and after photos that show the amount of work they have put into the house in the past ten years.

If you’re an Edith Wharton fan , or even a fan of gardens and design, you can imagine why this mansion is special.  I’ve been fortunate to tour it twice, once at the very beginning of its rennaissance in 1993 and just this past summer.  Even before its current revival, touring the gardens and the majestic rooms and seeing Wharton’s design ideas put into practice, the symmetry everywhere and the Gatsby-esque wedding cake ceilings fifteen years ago, as a newlywed, was what got me interested in design in the first place.  And in Wharton’s work.  Before then, I’d just read Ethan Frome.  Soon after I devoured Age of Innocence and House of Mirth as well as her biographies. I just got the new one by Hermione Lee, for my birthday but haven’t had a chance to read it.  Reviewers say it’s the best yet.

Recently, they re-purchased her entire book collection from a collector in London and have reconstituted it in her library.  Imagine being able to visit a beloved writer’s home and see the very books that they read, that interested them.  I stood as close to them as they would let me and it took my breath away.  Readers, we have to make sure others can have this experience too. 

I am going to post some photos below that I took there this summer.  But to truly appreciate it, you should see the professional photo on the website.

Donate, donate, y’all.  Save Edith Wharton’s home! Save The Mount!

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