Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bookish Images Monday

I'd love for you to participate in Bookish Images Monday.

Remember, you do NOT have to post a ton of images--one will be fine if that's all you want to do! (I just tend to go a little crazy.)

They can just be interesting or pretty book covers if you want. Or just pictures of books, bookcases, libraries or bookstores. Or they can be humorous, or vintage, or related to movies based on books. They just need to be book-related in some way.

Feel free to grab this button:

Book Images Monday

If you participate, be sure to leave your link in the comments!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Review of Marilyn Monroe: The Biography, by Donald Spoto

Such was the staggering fame and notoriety of Marilyn Monroe, that even my Sunday School teacher mentioned her as a sort of cautionary tale the Sunday after she died.

I was only 5 and a half years old, but I clearly remember my teacher pointing out that riches and fame had not brought Marilyn Monroe happiness...that she had killed herself despite all that.

I must admit, I've been curious about this legendary sex symbol/icon for some time. I've only watched a couple of her movies, but if you grew up a latter-fringe baby boomer as I did, Marilyn Monroe--even dead--was just there.

Even now, there are myriads of blogs, many of them by young people, devoted to iconic images of the movie star.

As Elton John famously sang about her in "Candle in the Wind," her "candle burned out long before her legend ever did."

I picked up Donald Spoto's Marilyn Monroe: The Biography somewhat at random at my public library. Turns out, I probably picked the least sensationalized, earnestly-endeavoring-to-be-accurate Marilyn bio out there.

Spoto presents a detailed, factual account of Marilyn's life. Apparently, to gain sympathetic publicity, she exaggerated the poverty and pitifulness of her early life--but the truth is bad enough.

Norma Jeane Baker (her real name, as most people know), never knew who her father was--it could have been any number of her mother's boyfriends. That mother, Gladys, was an unreliable and infrequent visitor in Marilyn's childhood, showing up occasionally to whisk her away from her foster family and then disappear again.

As Spoto relates, her entire early life was characterized by being regularly abandoned by the people who mattered most to her and who she most wanted to please.

As a teen-aged Norma Jeane Baker, Marilyn married 21-year-old Jimmy Dougherty to escape the orphanage where she'd been living. The marriage was short-lived as she became popular as a model and hungered for stardom

Spoto seems to almost minimize two disturbing childhood incidents of sexual molestation--one by a trusted surrogate father, the other by a boy around her own age. But there's no doubt that the magnitude of these incidents can't be ignored when it comes to their lifelong impact on her.

There's a sadness in her eyes here

As far as conspiracy theories about her death--that the FBI killed her, the mob killed her, Kennedy cronies killed her to hush her up--Spoto convinced me that these were all pretty much rubbish.

Far from carrying on any liasons with the Kennedy brothers (Spoto does admit to at least one physical encounter between Marilyn and JFK; none with Bobby)--at the time of Marilyn's death, she was happily planning remarriage to baseball star Joe DiMaggio--the one man in her life who really seemed to love her. (That despite the fact that during their marriage years earlier, his extreme jealousy and hair-trigger temper caused him to physically abuse her.)

Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio. He never talked about her after her death, but for 20 years afterward, he had flowers placed on her grave every week

Spoto also convinces me that Marilyn did NOT commit suicide...but that a lethal cocktail of accumulated drugs, administered by her controlling and unethical psychiatrist, actually did the deed unintentionally.

Despite my disapproval of Marilyn Monroe's lifestyle, choices, exhibitionism, whatever--this book left me with a profound sympathy for her. Here was a beautiful girl, actually smart and talented beyond what her dumb-blonde image often portrayed, who was completely unable to find joy in her short life.

Dying at 36, still in the prime of her beauty, she will remain forever young in the many iconic images of her that still circulate perpetually.

I don't think Marilyn Monroe committed suicide, but my Sunday School teacher was right about one thing.

Riches and fame didn't bring her happiness.

I'm participating in Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

National Young Reader's Day: Some of My Favorite Childhood Books

Today is National Young Reader's Day--"... a special day to recognize the joys and benefits of reading."

I've been a voracious reader since I was able to string words together. Interestingly, I don't have much of a memory of the books that were read to me before I could read myself, but I vividly remember the books I loved as a child.

Here is a nod to some of them.

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, is the first full-length book I remember reading. I was eight years old.

This is a picture of the actual version I read. It was an abridged version, but I loved the illustrations. In my mind, that is still what Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy look like.

My Aunt Jean (sadly no longer with us) had recommended it to me, saying "You'll cry your eyes out and back in again!"

This was just before my family went to Beirut, Lebanon as missionaries. We were in New York City for several days before our ship sailed, and my parents bought me beautiful hardbound copies of "Little Men" and "Jo's Boys." I was in heaven.

This book laid the foundation for my lifelong love of The Chronicles of Narnia. I saw British friends reading it at Manor House School in Beirut, and that sparked my interest.

Even as a child, I was able to see the spiritual parallels. Years later, I made sure my own children read them.

I received this book as a Christmas gift when I was a little girl, and it was a treasure trove for me! I also loved Blyton's "Mallory Towers" series.

Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

This was the first Noel Streatfield book I read, but I think I probably ended up reading all of them. They were all about children who were very talented, either as skaters, dancers or actors. I enjoyed them immensely.

I was delighted when the books were actually mentioned in the movie, "You've Got Mail."

Those are just a few. You can read here about my other favorites, Auntie Robbo and Red Knights from Hy Brasil...and here about what my love of a childhood book has to do with a murder in an English village!

Reading enriched my childhood and continues to do so today!

What were YOUR favorite books as a child?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Review of When Sparrows Fall, by Meg Moseley

When Sparrows Fall: A NovelWhen Sparrows Fall: A Novel by Meg Moseley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was one of those books that was almost impossible to put down. I read it in record time, even for me, because the subject matter was so engrossing.

When Sparrows Fall: A Novel is a vivid illustration of what happens when pastors and husbands/fathers cross the line from Biblical leadership to tyranny.

I've seen several instances of this in real life, and it never fails to sadden and sometimes anger me. As a Christian, I know that there is abundant life and freedom in Christ. It's frustrating to know that some people weigh the Christian life down with oppressive, burdensome man-made standards, many of which are never even mentioned in Scripture and have little to do with true holiness.

Either author Meg Moseley has firsthand experience of this, or she's done her homework well, because the depiction of Miranda Handford and her family rings true.

Miranda is a young widow with six children whose pastor suddenly decides he wants his entire congregation to re-locate with him to another city and state. No ifs, ands or buts.

Miranda, while largely submissive and compliant, does have a small rebellious streak, and it kicks in here. Her late husband (a man even more rigid and controlling than the pastor, if that's possible) had stressed that he didn't want her to give up their house and land, which had always been in the family.

Besides, she just doesn't want to leave her home, and doesn't understand why she should have to do so.

The pastor is insistent, though. He wants Miranda to join the rest of the congregation in selling their homes and uprooting--and it's obvious he has something to hang over her head as a threat.

Then a serious accident happens that brings Miranda's brother-in-law into the family's lives. Her husband had never wanted anything to do with him, but he's the one she turns to in this crisis.

I won't tell you any more, because I don't want to give too much away, but it keeps you turning the pages as the story unfolds and Miranda's family will never be the same.

Meg Moseley is respectful of people with strict convictions, and never belittles or negates true Christian faith.

But the men who allow egotism, arrogance, entitlement and sheer pride to turn them into despotic control freaks don't get a pass in this book.

And they shouldn't.

View all my reviews


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