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Word from the Library … Recent reads, new titles shared

Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 7:31 am

Jill Rael

Jill Rael


library director

This week I would like to share with you some of my recent reads as well as some titles of interest newly arrived to our library.

First, “The House Girl” by Tara Conklin is a captivating story of forgotten fictional artist and slave Josephine Bell of Virginia, house girl to Luanne Bell, an artist of mediocre talent whom later became well known for paintings finished by Josephine. This story weaves the tales of Josephine, the Bell Plantation, and the Underground Railroad with that of New York City attorney, Lina Sparrow, who finds herself on a career path diverging from that she had intended and leading her into a reparations lawsuit. Along the way she finds love and her long lost mother, all the while bringing to light Josephine’s’ contributions to art history. “House Girl” is a wonderful novel, particularly if you love historical fiction as much as I do!

I just finished Maya Angelou’s new autobiographical installment, “Mom & Me & Mom” and I am hooked on a new favorite author! I actually listened to this wonderful story of motherhood on audio read by Angelou, which seemed to add a layer of sincerity in hearing her voice recall her memories.

I am sorry that this was my first Angelou piece, but it won’t be my last! In her narrative, Maya Angelou tells of the hardships she faced growing up, how she found a way to adore a mother that abandoned her and somehow managed to become a wife and mother while juggling a career, education and the pursuit of her dreams. I rarely find much true inspiration in autobiographies, but I found myself sitting in my car during my lunch breaks just to hear a bit more and feeling a sense of awe and wonder at what this woman was able to achieve under the hardships she faced. So excited was I over this book that I gave a copy to my own mother for her birthday.

New books of interest include a work of nonfiction entitled “Poe in Love”, which will pair well with the forthcoming novel “Mrs. Poe” due out in September. Recently released and currently at my bedside is “The Wives: The Women Behind Russia’s Literary Giants” by Alexandra Popoff.

As a lover of classic literature, as well as Women’s Studies, this book has proven to be an interesting and inspirational read, revealing both the obvious and sometimes abstract ways that these women contributed monumentally to their husband’s successes (all the while receiving either no credit, or, in the case of Sophia Tolstoy, animosity and hostility).

Finally an exciting new work of history entitled, “Gettysburg: The Last Invasion” by Allen C. Guelzo, which is calling to the southern historian in me from its new home on the shelf!