Wednesday, July 20, 2016

In Which Steampunk Alice Throws a Literary-Themed Mad Tea Party #MadTeaParty

As a child, Alice had her fill of adventures in Wonderland. Now that she's all grown up, she's ready for more excitement, traveling through time and space.

For this year's Mad Tea Party, Time-Traveling Steampunk Alice traveled through history to gather her best literary friends and brought them all back to 2016 for a book-themed summer tea party.

The friends all sat down to sweet treats, tasty drinks, and some fun reading. I think Alice had a little too much fun when choosing book selections for her friends. Prissy Charlotte Bronte was absolutely scandalized when she read the details of Jane Austen's Letters!

Jane, never one to worry much about what people think of her, just shrugged it off saying, "Hey, it was the 90s!" 

Miss Austen did get nostalgic when she noticed her tea cup featured the same Blue Willow pattern that her family used in their home in Steventon when she was growing up. "How thoughtful, dear Alice," she remarked.

When Alice asked Miss Jo March of Little Women fame if she was enjoying the party, she said, "Of course! There's books!" Rebel Jo asked for lemonade over tea---and Alice was happy to oblige.

She was especially interested to browse what Ms. Alcott had written about her future in, Jo's Boys, but she was careful not to read too much---spoilers!

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz's Dorothy Gale amused herself at this corner of the table with a copy of Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales.

Bookish Belle spent the entire time just like this---with her nose in a book. Belle is somewhat of a time-traveler herself as some researchers believe the Beauty and the Beast story to be over 4,000 years old! No wonder she's such an avid reader---she's had a lot of time to enjoy the best works throughout history!

Sweet Laura Ingalls was the youngest at the party---I'm surprised Pa and Ma let her come along. I guess Time-Traveling Alice can drop her back into history a short time before she left and they'll never know she was gone!

After the party, the girls gathered outside for a group photo before Alice took them all home to their proper places in history. What a lovely idea for a tea party, Alice! Goodbye, friends!

**Would you like to see more from Steampunk Alice? Visit my daughter (and character model) Lynzie's blog for her Mad Tea Party featuring several Steampunk friends!

Be sure to check out my parties from previous years:

Mad Tea Party 2015
Mad Tea Party 2014
Lynzie's Steampunk Alice Party 2016

Be sure to check out my parties from previous years:

Mad Tea Party 2015
Mad Tea Party 2014

This is just one of many Mad Tea Parties going on this weekend in Blogland! Check out the whole list at A Fanciful Twist to see what else Alice has been up to!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Forgotten Bookmarks -- A Book Review and the Home Library that Just Happened

I love finding things in old books---and I'm obsessive about keeping the finds exactly where I found them. When I was two years old, I received a Bible with gorgeous illustrations. As a child, I stuck special things into it over the course of my first nine or ten years. I was always really careful to keep all my little treasures in the same spot in that Bible---so careful that I had to get a second Bible to read because I was afraid of messing up my Bible-with-the-stuff-in-it. There's a pressed butterfly bookmark that was my grandma's, a letter from my Dad---I can't remember what all, but they're treasures!

Author Michael Popek enjoys finding stuff in books, too. His family runs a bookshop in New York and he's been running a blog for the last 10 years, chronicling his finds. His books, Forgotten Bookmarks and Handwritten Recipes are full of interesting, odd, whimsical, and memorable ephemera---all things important enough for someone to keep but probably long forgotten.

This was really a fun book. Now I want to go through all my old books looking for treasures! I think I'll make an effort to leave a little something behind in the books I pass on---just for fun. Who knows? Maybe the Garfield playing card I left in this one will show up in a publication someday.

Some of my favorite finds of this book include a photo inscribed by Sara Teasdale's father, the very old letters from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and the family temperance pledge from 1899. My mom, brother, and I signed a similar pledge around 1988 or so.

A few days ago, I shared some of my old books with you all and talked about my new favorite place to buy antique books. {By the way, I stopped in yesterday to check...Little Lord F. is still there waiting for me! Only one more day til payday!} Last night, while contemplating this fun book I'd just finished, I thought I'd better start going through my old books to see what may have been left behind. {update: I did find some interesting things in one...details to come!}

Which led me to desiring to have these all in one place so I can start reading them...

Which led me to wrangling my two oldest sons into moving a shelf into my sitting room and hunting around my books and crafts area in my bedroom for all my antique books.

Which led to me seeing a ton of books I'd forgotten I had---like this 1947 first edition of Mrs. Mike that my mom gave me in the sixth grade because I had a crush on Mike Powell.

After filling the spot behind the brown recliner with the bookshelf and books, I realized that this room has pretty much become a library. So that's what I'm calling it now---my library. But I'm gonna work on pronouncing it "lie-bree"...'cause it sounds so Miss Marple.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune -- Book Review

I first read about Huguette Clark on Facebook in 2011 when she passed away and the headlines screamed that she'd left her fortune to her nurse. I remember thinking that it was likely her family didn't take much interest in her until after she'd died and a nurse who cared for her for 20 years would probably seem more like family anyway. According to authors Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr., I was right.

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune is a non-fiction book chronicling the lives of heiress Huguette Clark (1906-2011), and her father, copper baron and United States Senator William A. Clark (1839 – 1925), one of the wealthiest men in the world in his time. It's a stranger-than-fiction story of both William and Huguette's lives, including healthy, able, and very very rich Huguette's choice to spend the last twenty years of her life in New York City hospitals.

I really enjoyed this excellent story that spanned the lifetime of the two long-living individuals. I've spent the last few days experiencing 172 years of history---the lifespan of this father and daughter. Unimaginably, Huguette lived long enough to remember and narrowly escape the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 AND the attack on New York's Twin Towers in 2001.

I love reading stories about America's "Gilded Age" and this one is probably as good as it gets. I can't even imagine what it would have been like to have so much wealth that...well, I could do anything. Yet Mrs. Clark, in my opinion, lived humbly and with integrity.

Still, her generosity didn't always have the greatest consequences. For instance, her nurse takes no issue with admitting that she gave her life away to care for Huguette---missing many years of her children's growing up time and putting her husband in a position that he didn't feel the need to or see the point in earning a living to support his family. It would be difficult to know who was a true friend in that situation, I think.

There's so many neat and interesting bits of history in this book---especially nuggets of art history, which I love. It was also fun to see the many photos included. The publishers followed up with a great website about the book full of more photos and info.

Do you have a favorite Victorian or Gilded Age book? Let me know!

Empty Mansions fulfills the following Reading Challenges:
Victorian Reading Challenge at Belle's Library
Victorian Reading Challenge at Becky's Book Reviews for "Book About Property, Inheritance, Economics"
Full House Reading Challenge for "You Didn't Want to Put it Down"
Mount TBR Reading Challenge -- #10
Women's Fiction Reading Challenge---Book 1

You can see all the Reading Challenges I've joined here.