The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell: Review

When Elizabeth Gaskell was announced as the winner of the Classics Circuit, I saw the opportunity to finally read The Life of Charlotte Bronte. Jane Eyre is my favorite book and Charlotte Bronte- actually the whole Bronte clan- is fascinating a person. However, I felt I didn't really know much about her except for bits and pieces.

The Life of Charlotte Bronte is written as much by Charlotte as it is by Gaskell. Much of her life is told in her own words through her letters to friends. It's actually quite heavy on the letters. I had to take frequent breaks from the book since I found it was hard to read letter after letter. Still, reading her own words is a something I appreciate. It gave me a view of her I never had before, both the good and bad.

Elizabeth Gaskell

Gaskell had plenty of source material to work from for the biography. To Ellen Nussey alone, Charlotte wrote over 500 letters. Gaskell could pick and choose what or what not to include. While I found she covered much of her life, I couldn't help but feel that much was left out. Her marriage to Arthur Nicholls mystifies me. She turned down three marriage proposals and says many times that she is content to be single. Yet, in her late 30's she agrees to marry her father's curate. None of her letters about him are glowing with love. She's very quiet about the whole thing. Gaskell herself is the one who says they were happy. I felt there was much missing from this part of her life.

As a biographer, Gaskell has a few disadvantages. First, she was a friend of Charlotte. This may seem like an advantage since she knew the woman and have first hand account of her. But, in fact, Gaskell has a conflict of interest. She has a loyalty to her friend, even though she had died. After reading The Life of Charlotte Bronte, I read the introduction by May Sinclair. It seems that Gaskell left out some embarrassing facts about her, like her crush on her married professor, M Heger.

Constantine Heger

Gaskell is also a novelist and as May Sinclair says in the introduction of novelists writing factual accounts:
"His imagination, that only knows itself as creative, has to become passive. There are moments when he must repress it entirely in the interests of truth. And yet there is the impossibility of keeping imagination altogether out of it."
She does get carried away at a few points and turns to down right editorializing when it comes to the fall of Branwell. He was Charlotte's brother, an opium addict, who nearly ruined the family with his debts before he died. Gaskell lays much of the blame at the feet of his married lover. She demonizes the woman when it's obvious that Branwell was no angel to begin with.

 Charlotte Bronte

Still, Gaskell provides a vivid picture of Charlotte. She's fiercely loyal to her family and friends. After the deaths of her two elder sisters as children, she takes the place of eldest sister to her motherless siblings. She clucks over them all like a mother hen. She was never separated from them for long until their deaths. The hardest letters to read are the ones during and after the deaths of Emily and Anne. They are heartbreaking letters. Within a year, Charlotte lost all her remaining 3 siblings.

After their deaths, Charlotte felt the responsibility of caring for her father alone. He didn't seem like the easiest person to care for and his failing eyesight didn't help matters. He required a lot of care. Even success as a writer didn't free her from this task, as Gaskell points out:
"a woman's principle work in life is hardly left to her own choice; nor can she drop the domestic charges devolving on her as an individual, for the exercise of the most splendid talents ever bestowed."
I'm sure many women today have similar feelings. No matter what career she has, there are always matters at home to take care of and it seems to always fall on the woman.

All through Charlotte's life, she suffered from nervous disorders. If she were alive today, she'd be on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications! I think much of this stems from her father's odd child rearing beliefs. The children were so lonely and isolated that by the time they went to school they were painfully awkward and shy. Charlotte was never comfortable in social situations and understandably this became worse after her last sisters' deaths. Her letters are riddled with references to her headaches and declining health. Was this real or imagined sickness?

After her marriage, Charlotte became pregnant and what little good health she had quickly deteriorated. She became violently ill with morning sickness (which for many women is 'all day sickness') and died either from the effects of it or pneumonia.

It's clear that Gaskell admired Charlotte Bronte as a person and a writer. She gives her praise and often there is a defensive tone in her writing. You wouldn't want to cross her. Glimpses of her own personality show through even though this is about her friend. This is my first Elizabeth Gaskell and I'm not sure if it's the right place to start but if you are a Bronte fan, I highly recommend it.

My thanks to the Classics Circuit for the opportunity to review The Life of Charlotte Bronte and my local library for the book.


This is also a great choice for the All About the Brontes Challenge and the Women Unbound Challenge.

In Defense of Classics

Lately, people have been defending their favorite genres, especially from the much hated 'fluff' term. I read a lot of different things. Take a look around here. This year especially I've been reading outside my comfort zone. Some might even suggest many of those books fall into the fluffy category but my real love is classics. Yes, I read dead people.

Now most of the commenting on these blog posts are of the 'fill your boots' variety. People don't care what you  read, as long as you read. I agree with that but I'm also feeling people are quick to write off the classics. It's okay to diss classics but hands off everything else. I feel almost like people think I'm a literary snob for liking them. I'm starting to feel guilty about liking them and trying to defend them. I feel like people are taking what I'm saying the wrong way and it's frustrating.

Classics aren't just for pipe smoking guys in tweed jackets (pardon me if you like tweed jackets). They're for everyone. And here's the thing if you read one classic you haven't read them all. It's not a genre. If you read Jane Austen and hated it that doesn't mean you hate classics, it means you hate Jane Austen! There's a wide variety to choose from and you might have a favorite book that you don't even know is a classic.

Finding a definition for classic books is a hard one. I like this definition it's pretty much what I think but I'll tell you mine. I've been part of an online classics book club for years and are selections have a huge time range, and cross all genres. To qualify it must be at least 20 years old and be readily available to most members (I say most because it's not always easy to find even the common books everywhere). Meaning it's never gone out of print because if it hasn't there is a reason why.

So knowing this you got a lot of choices. Like sci-fi? Mary Shelley, HG Wells are for you. Romance? Gone with the Wind. Want to feel that your life is fantastic? Read Thomas Hardy- everybody dies. Women's issues? The Handmaid's Tale. New York society? Edith Wharton. Dystopian? 1984, Fahrenheit 451. Just want to have fun? The Three Musketeers. Young people making bad choices with little parental supervision? Wuthering Heights. There is something for every taste, 'literary,' 'fluff' whatever. Bleak House by Charles Dickens has spontaneous human combustion! For reals!

Want to try a classic? Tell me what you like and I'll make you a suggestion. If you don't like it, that's fine. I won't be too hurt. And it goes both ways. Do you feel that I'm missing out on something? Suggest it to me and I'll try to read it next year. But make it a good one. I only want your best picks.

Or you can tell me:

What is your favorite classic book?

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Cranberry-Blueberry Muffins

These yummy muffins were a recipe I adapted from December's Homemakers magazine issue Sweet and Sour Bran Muffins. I made a few changes because of the ingredients I had at home. You could use any berries you have. They're really good right out of the oven and quick to make up. Perfect for breakfast.

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup Red Fife** flour (or whole wheat)
3/4 wheat germ
1/2 packed brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 salt

1 cup milk
1/4 vegetable oil
1 egg
juice of half a lemon + about tbsp of lemon zest

1/2 cup frozen cranberries (thawed & chopped)
1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Whisk dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients separately. Stir both together until combined. Fold in berries. Put batter in muffin cups. Bake in 350* F oven for 35 mins. Makes 14 muffins.

**I used Red Fife because that's what I had. It is similar to Whole Wheat. The recipe calls for Whole Wheat.

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All About the Brontes Challenge

Yes, shut up, I know I said I was going easy on the challenges but I couldn't pass this one up. I love the Brontes so I must do All About the Brontes hosted by Laura's Reviews. Besides it doesn't really start until January. I have buckets of time.

Here is my list for All About the Brontes:
  • The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
  • Either Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys or Jamaica Inn by Daphne DuMaurier (said to be inspired by Wuthering Heights)
  • Watch my Jane Eyre DVD again
I'm reading The Life of Charlotte Bronte now so I already have a head start. Yay me! Will you join me?

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Louis Riel, A Comic Strip Biography by Chester Brown: Review

Okay, so I didn't know what to make of Louis Riel, A Comic Strip Biography by Chester Brown  when I started it. It's a biography in graphic novel form of Canadian hero/rebel Louis Riel, depending on your point of view. It seems like complicated material for a graphic novel. Can you really break this topic down into tiny black and white boxes?

I admit I don't know a lot about Louis Riel. I couldn't have been paying attention in history class. All I know is that people tend to get cranky whenever someone wants to put up a monument to Riel. He's a hero to some, a traitor to others. Riel was a Metis (a unique ethnic group with French and Native ancestry) in the Red River area of what is now Manitoba. When the Canadian government makes attempts to force the Red River Settlement to become part of Canada, the locals turn to Riel, an educated man with the ability to speak English to negotiate for them. That's when a tale of corruption, insanity, rebellion and racism begins.

Brown admits that he took some liberties though he points out that he makes note of this in the Notes sections. For awhile, I thought he would make Riel a Super Hero who can do no wrong but things got a little weird when he has a vision and believed he was a Prophet. At least, he became a fallible hero after this point. I wouldn't write a term paper with this book as my only source but it is an interesting look at the man. Brown suggests other books for those who are interested in reading more.

The art itself is simple and stark but also not intimidating for this Graphic Novel newbie. Even though it's a serious topic, there is dark humour throughout the book. And every time I saw guys on horses I smiled. (They just looked so cute! Yeah, that probably wasn't the intention.)

Anyway here's an example from the book:

Even though it's a fairly long book, I read most of it in one afternoon and I get to count it as a book for the Canadian Reading Challenge. Yay!


Thanks Library.

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Rory Gilmore Books Project

This is an interesting project from Shona, a new to me book blogger: the Rory Gilmore Books Project. If you don't know Rory Gilmore was the bookish daughter from the Gilmore Girls TV series. I absolutely loved that show. It's now rerun on the Women's Network here in Canada.

I don't think I'll do as Shona is doing and read them all. Rory mentions 270 books over the series' run. Shona has listed them in a google docs spreadsheet. There are quite a few that I have read already and some I have no interest in but many are on my ongoing reading list. Anyway it's a fun project with no time limit. You might like to check it out.

Here's a clip from the show where Norman Mailer visits:

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Chris vs Martha: Cookies!

I had a craving for oatmeal cookies this week. So I hunted around for a recipe. I finally settled on Martha's Stewart's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from her 2005 Holiday Edition magazine. Thing is I HATE raisins so I opted out of those and the cinnamon and replaced it with chocolate chips.


Martha Stewart Omnimedia

I guess it depends on your preference. Raisins are a bone of contention at my house since my husband loves them and I hate them. But I was making these so I got to decide.

These were so yummy right out of the oven. They have gotten very chewy now but still good. Give them a try yourself!

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Talk About Nuts

This is not an issues blog. I rarely get involved in controversy, especially the kind unrelated to books but something has come up that has so upset me that I haven't been able to discuss it coherently with anyone but my husband. I've put it on the backshelf of my mind until now, even though my hands are shaking as I write this.

Chatelaine magazine is a Canadian publication for women. I've always bought their issues over Cosmo or Women's World because I felt I could relate to it. That will change. In December's issue, right on the front cover is an article called "The Making of the Peanut Allergy Myth" by a woman named Patricia Pearson. This came to my attention through my Anaphylaxis newsletter.

Pearson starts off her article with an axe to grind, her son is a picky eater and she'd like to send him to school with a peanut butter sandwich. She can't because she thinks the school are overreacting to other children's peanut allergies. I sympathize with Ms Pearson, I really do, because my daughter is a picky eater too but she will never have a peanut butter sandwich at school or at home because she has a life threatening peanut allergy.

I'm glad that my daughter's school is an "overly cautious" peanut free school that requires her to wear an Epipen and a Medic-Alert bracelet. I don't know how many times I've had to go up to the school because I forgot her Epipen on the counter! At least, when she's there I have one less thing to worry about.

Why are food allergies so dangerous? They are unpredictable. The first reaction is generally the mildest reaction. There is no telling whether the next attack will be mild or severe. A severe reaction is one in which a person's throat closes over and death from asphyxiation can occur without the intervention of adrenaline (in the form of an Epipen shot). This is called anaphylactic shock.

My daughter's first reaction was the first time I gave her a peanut butter sandwich when she was 2 years old. I wondered why she wasn't eating it (I love peanut butter) until I took a look at her. Her face had puffed up like a balloon and her eye swelled shut. Her face was covered in blotches. You can imagine my reaction. Since then we've had Benadryll and an Epipen with us at all times. Then her only other reaction she had was this past summer when she had skin contact with peanut butter at the playground. She broke out in hives. That surprised me because she did not ingest peanut butter.

I know my daughter has to take responsibility for her own health; I'm trying to teach her that but right now she's not even ten. The way kids of that age spread viruses and lice the way they do doesn't give me confidence that they will be diligent enough to wash their hands. What if one of them picked up a crayon? What if then my daughter did? What if she put her fingers in her mouth? I can't even think of the consequences.

Pearson's heartless article is like a slap in the face. I'm shocked that a mother would be so dismissive of a known medical condition and so careless of the lives of other mothers' children. Of course, that is her opinion. This is a free country and anyone with any foolish, misguided opinion can stand on any street corner and proclaim it to the world. Go free speech! But I am very disappointed with Chatelaine magazine for being irresponsible enough to print it. As Gwen Smith put it in her rebuttal on the CBC News Website,
In Canada, getting taken down in Chatelaine is as close as it gets to being kneecapped by Oprah.
Chatelaine still stands behind this writer and as long as they do I will make a statement with my wallet. Instead of buying Chatelaine I will spend my money on some other publication. Maybe I need to know how to please a man in the bedroom as Cosmo is always shouting from the cover. Not long ago, lover's of Young Adult fiction sent a message loud and clear to the publishers of Liar by Justine Larbalestier that the cover showing a white girl for a book about a black girl was unacceptable. The cover was changed. If the reaction on the Chatelaine message boards is any indication, Chatelaine will follow suit and publish a retraction, though I believe the damage is already done.

If you'd like to more about Food Allergies go to:

Anaphylaxis Canada

Allergic Living Magazine

If you'd like to learn about the No Child Without program for schools (they provide Medic-Alert bracelets for children with any life threatening medical condition) see this website.

And for fun, here's Binky Goes Nuts (Arthur series):

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Decisions, Decisions

I'm foreseeing a busy couple of months ahead with Christmas coming. I have several projects on the go, including making Christmas gifts. I also decided to spend a little more time on my sad Etsy shop and actually put some items in it. Then there's the concerts, parties, cleaning and baking that will need to be done. Last year, I caught a really bad flu and ended up in bed for a couple of weeks. I hope that doesn't happen this year.

At least I'm thinking ahead and even managed to get my Christmas shopping started. I bought a lot of books this past week as gifts. I'm doing my part for Buy Books for the Holidays! I also was tempted by the cashier to buy their member card so now I must buy more books. Oh and the library sale is next week so I'll be stocking up on old books as well.

So what does this all mean? Well, I might be a worse commenter than I already am now though I'm always reading your comments and blogs. I'm already spending less time on Twitter and on the computer in general. As for reading, I have a couple of books to read for the Classics Circuit tours but other than that I'm keeping a relaxing reading pace until the new year. I'm going to try anyway.

Hopefully by the new year, I'll be refreshed and full of new ideas!

I finally decided on some of the books I'll be reading for the Women Unbound Challenge. I'm going to be a Bluestocking and read 5 books:
  • Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte (Fiction)
  • The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell (Non-fiction and also a Classic Circuit tour book)
  • Governesses: The Lives and Times of the Real Jane Eyre's by Ruth Brandon (Non-Fiction)
  • The Blythes Are Quoted by L.M. Montgomery (Fiction)
  • The Custom of the County by Edith Wharton (Fiction)
I might change one of two in the future but for now that's what I want to read.

Anyway I have lots to do! If you do the holidays, have you thought about it yet? Done any shopping?


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Remembrance Day 2009

National War Memorial

More Wordless

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No Wind of Blame by Georgette Heyer: Review

Wally Carter's been murdered. Shot dead in his backyard. The people with the motive to kill Wally are numerous. The Russian Prince in love with his wife, the disgruntled brother of his pregnant lover, or his angry wife; the list is endless. But they all have alibis and Wally's end is a head scratcher for the local authorities of this small English village.

Enter Inspector Hemingway from Scotland Yard. He's been around his fair share of murder cases but even he's stumped. Every lead comes to a dead end. One way or the other, the Inspector will get his man- or woman.

No Wind of Blame by Georgette Heyer
is my first Heyer mystery. Unlike her Regency or historical novels, No Wind of Blame is contemporary- for Heyer that is, written in 1939.

No Wind of Blame is not just a mystery; it's funny and entertaining. The characters are quirky and the dialogue witty. Retired actress Ermyntrude (how's that for a handle?) is the epitome of the word diva, with her hysterics and drama. Her daughter Vicky is following in her footsteps. She never enters a 'scene' without being in character, complete with the appropriate costume. Mary is the straight man in this comedy trying to wrangle the characters together and make them act sensibly. The women are the stars of this story, even Inspector Hemingway takes a backseat to the ladies.

As for Inspector Hemingway, we know he'll solve the case, of course, but although I suspected the who, the how surprised me. Everyone had a reason to kill Wally; he wasn't a well loved guy. The Inspector is never fazed. He knows that there is much that the suspects aren't telling. The evidence will solve the case.

If you enjoy mystery, humour and a pinch of romance, you'll be entertained by No Wind of Blame.

Highly recommended.

Thanks to Sourcebooks for this review copy.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger: Review

Elspeth Noblin has died and left her apartment in London to her estranged twin sister's twin daughters in the US. The 20 year old twins, Julia and Valentina, can only be described as 'precious' with their childish outfits and looks. They do everything together- everything. Their mother is reluctant to let them go. She suspects Elspeth wants to get back at her for a falling out they had 20 years earlier, even if she has to do so from her deathbed.

Once in London, the girls find that the apartment building is more than just a place to live. One neighbour is the bereaved lover of Elspeth and another an OCD sufferer trapped in his apartment by his own illness. The twins are drawn into the lives of these lonely people. The apartment itself isn't vacant. Elspeth hasn't left. She watches the twins and grows in strength until the girls can't fail to notice her. What happens when they do sets a bizarre series of events in motion.

Okay, so I was looking forward to reading Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger long before it was released. I'm a big fan of The Time Traveler's Wife so I had high expectations. That's my own fault.

Things started out promising. I loved the writing style and the plot was interesting. I liked the atmospheric setting of Highgate Cemetery. I was reading along quite happily and then *BAM* Valentina has a Very Bad Idea, I mean an Unbelievably Bad Idea, and things just fell apart for me there. I can suspend my disbelief to a certain extent but it was too much for me. But let's look at what I liked first.

One positive aspect was the complexity of the relationships. There are so many. Obviously there is the 'twin thing' between both Julia and Valentina and Edie and Elspeth. Seeing how unnaturally attached Julia and Valentina are I kept wondering what the rift was between Edie and Elspeth. It's hard to imagine twins never speaking to one another. Then there is Robert and Elspeth, who are attached even in death but it's an unhealthy attachment if you ask me. One of the most interesting relationships was Martin and Julia's friendship which I enjoyed watching develop. Julia was a better character when she was with him.

In the end, I pretty much disliked every character except for Martin. Elspeth is just nasty and selfish and even Robert, who I liked in the beginning, wussed out. Did any of them know the difference between right and wrong? When I finished I had this overwhelming sense of disappointment mingled with an appreciation for what Niffenegger was trying to do. But still I kept coming back to that turning point in the story that made me so angry. I think that if you can get around that then you will probably enjoy the book more than I did.

I might eventually feel differently about it as time goes by. That happens. In fact, I'm not nearly as emotional about it now as I was when I finished the book a week ago and have started thinking about it with a little more distance. I've stopped muttering to myself about the book anyway.

I predict that if you haven't read it yet you will either think it was brilliant or will be supremely pissed off when you do. It's that kind of book.

You can read some of more of my and others' thoughts on Carl's Spoiler post for HFS if you want to get involved in the discussion.

Recommended? Use your own judgement here people.

This Old Thing?: The Endless Steppe

When I saw The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig  on my shelf, I knew it was perfect for today. See that through my window? That's snow. Snow! The cover of The Endless Steppe is appropriate for the day.

There was another reason I chose it though. With the Buy Books for the Holidays campaign underway, we're starting to think of books for our loved ones. My parents bought me this book for Christmas when I was a teen. I've kept it all these years, I loved it so much. Esther tells of her experience of living in a work camp in Siberia during World War II. She was Jewish and her family very wealthy but after the Russian occupation all that changed. Even though Esther and I are different people, I related to her. She had the same teen angst I had. She worried about her looks, she had a crush, and a frenemy. Of course, these trials are small in comparison to the harshness of life in the camp. After all this time, so much of it stands out in my mind. I really should reread it.

If you have a young person in your life, I encourage you to find The Endless Steppe and buy it for them.

Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado:Review

Confections of a Closet Master Baker is the day in the life of a popular bakery owner. Gesine Bullock-Prado never imagined herself as a professional baker. When her sister, Sandra, hit the big time and started her own production company, Gesine headed to Hollywood to help out. She was successful, making big deals and meeting celebrities, and also unhappy. She felt incomplete.

So Gesine started doing what she loved. She baked. And baked and baked. This didn't make her popular in the land of liposuction. So after a trip to Vermont, she decided to move there and open her own bakery. There were bumps along the way but she found happiness doing what she is most passionate about.

My confession: I requested this book from Shelf Awareness because of the cover (chocooooolate!). I had no idea what it was about. I think I was into the second chapter before I realized that the author is Sandra Bullock's sister (duh) even though she talks about her in the first chapter. I was hooked though by Gesine's breezy writing style. It was like talking to a broad at a bar who just happens to have a killer cheesecake recipe.

Gesine recounts her childhood obsession with sweet confections. Her mother was a fabulous baker of German goodies but believed they should be enjoyed only on special occasions. Gesine couldn't understand why her mother was so against the chemical filled treats from the supermarket until she opened the bakery. It's not just a snack, it's an experience. There ain't nothing like the real thing, baby. Running a bakery has been bittersweet. Many of the goods she makes were made by her mom who died of cancer a few years ago.

Confections is an interesting mix of memoir and cookbook. While Gesine tells us how she got where she is, she offers us her recipes to try ourselves. She's unapologetic about her ingredients. It's butter and eggs or nothing. Although I sometimes found the narrative meandered a bit, it's forgivable when the writer has such a passion for the topic. And she's funny. For me, that's the best kind of non-fiction.

I'm going to put this one on the cookbook shelf. I really want to try that Espresso Cheesecake recipe. Be warned. If you are on a diet, you will be tempted.


PS- I liked this Book Trailer. I got to see the bakery I had been reading about.

Confections of a Closet Master Baker Trailer from Raymond Prado on Vimeo.

French Milk by Lucy Knisley: Review

I read French Milk Lucy Knisley during the 24 Hour Read-a-thon when I needed something quick and light. I enjoyed it so much I read it in one sitting.

I never read graphic novels. I haven't had much experience with them and most of the ones at the library just didn't appeal to me. French Milk was something different. Lucy was just finishing up her schooling and thinking about the future when she took a trip to Paris with her Mom. And what a trip! They spent 6 weeks exploring Paris with an apartment as their base. They could come and go as they pleased and really marinate in the French culture. I was so jealous. French Milk is the illustrated journal she kept during this trip.

They wandered around looking at the sites and art, eating, shopping, sleeping and just enjoying themselves. It wasn't all fun and games though. Lucy couldn't help thinking about her future. She reminded me of myself at 22; a ball of indecision just wanting to get out on my own. (I'm still a ball of indecision.) She has moody moments where she draws manatees all day.

I enjoyed this book so much, I want to save my money and take my girl to Paris for a month when she's 22!

So I loved my very first graphic novel. I loved the style and the format. I'd like to read more like French Milk. Do you have any recommendations for me?

Thanks to my local library for carrying this book!

Challenge Roundup for October 2009

Another month, another challenge complete. I actually picked up my reading pace and finished the RIP 4 Challenge just in time.

*Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (Sept)
*Haunting Bombay by Shilpa Agarwal (Oct)
*We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (Oct)
*Rises the Night by Colleen Gleason (Oct)
*Short Stories by Daphne DuMaurier

I read just one book for The 3rd Canadian Book Challenge this month, The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood.

Lastly, I'm joining the Women Unbound Challenge. I try not to join too many challenges but this one speaks to me. I'm not sure whether I'm going to be a Philogynist or a Bluestocking. I haven't made my list yet but I do want to read Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte.

The ladies on the Women Unbound blog have a meme for participants:

1. What does feminism mean to you? Does it have to do with the work sphere? The social sphere? How you dress? How you act?
2. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why or why not?
3. What do you consider the biggest obstacle women face in the world today? Has that obstacle changed over time, or does it basically remain the same?

1. These are some big questions. I guess feminism to me means promoting the freedom and rights of women around the world. Men and women are different, yes, but equal. Both sexes have a right to happiness without one dominating the other. It doesn't matter how you choose to leave your life as long as it's the life you've chosen and not forced upon you by someone else.

2. According to my own definition then yes I am. The word itself often conjures up negative stereotypes that are unfair. I think one can be a feminist without sacrificing one's femininity.

3. It might be controversial but I think women themselves can be the biggest obstacle. I wish that women could be more accepting of one another. No matter what choices you make, there will always be people out there ready to criticize you. And often those people are female. Someone always thinks they can do it better or their way is the right way. There are so many important women's issues that we should be focusing on. All that energy wasted picking on each other could be used to help each other. Your issue might not be my issue but I should support you because it's a "women's issue".

I hope that made sense.

So that was my month in challenges. How was yours? Please leave a link.