Monthly Archives: February 2014

Tricky T

T is Tricky. There are almost too many choices for a T-woman author. I might have to go with two or three even. I’ve written about three nineteenth-century women who are T-authors! There we are, Three Ts from The Women.

Tcelticis for Trimmer, Tonna, and Tucker.

I wrote my dissertation on Sarah Trimmer. If you are interested and are connected with a university library, you can download the dissertation as a pdf from the UMich online dissertations website. Please excuse the egregious error of fact where I get Trimmer’s birthdate wrong in the first chapter. She was born 6 January. I think I have 20 January or some such thing. Ergh. Anyhow, Trimmer. She wrote lots of books in the late eighteenth century on teaching the Bible to children in various settings. She also wrote a story about talking birds called Fabulous Histories. She’s a big deal in my humble opinion. Of course I think she’s a big deal. I wrote my doctoral dissertation on her.

Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna wrote using the name Charlotte Elizabeth. She was deaf. She lived in Canada for two years. She wrote books about women, the Irish, and the Bible. I’m still trying to parse her theology. She had an interesting life and was very opinionated. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote an introduction to an American edition of Tonna’s collected works, so she was widely read. Interesting, interesting, interesting.

Charlotte M. Tucker wrote under the pseudonym A Lady Of England (A.L.O.E.). She also visited Canada, including Niagara Falls. After her father’s death, she went out to India to live and do mission. Tucker also writes interesting books that teach the Bible to children.

Women! Writing on the Bible! Theology! History! Isn’t it exciting?



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Snaky, slithering, slimy S

I like the letter S, despite the description in the title of this post. S is kind of fun. It has potential. It can be Sunny or Sneaky, you never can tell. It has a shape that turns back on itself. And the upper- and lower-case S are the same except for size. That is not usual in the Roman Alphabet.

celticsis for Sutterfield, Diane Sutterfield, author of The Thirteenth Tale. Oh the wonders of this book. I recommended it to 1Mom — actually I think I gave it to her for Christmas — and she said she’d been intrigued by the book because it looked interesting. One day she was sitting next to a woman who was reading The Thirteenth Tale as they got their nails done. 1Mom asked whether the reader liked the book or not. The woman rolled her eyes and confided that the only reason she was finishing it was for her book club. She thought it was the most boring book ever. 1Mom thought this odd. Then she read it after I gave it to her, and she loved it. We rolled our eyes at the manicure-woman who didn’t get the book.

The trick is that this is a book-lovers book. If you don’t really love reading, you might not get it. Also it has Secrets in it, Family Secrets. 1Mom and I like books with Family Secrets because we get those. We live in Family Secret land. Both of us thought The Thirteenth Tale Sensational. You should read it and let us know what you think.


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An Olympic Excursus

Now that the Winter Olympics of 2014 are over, and we know that Team Canada got the coveted Double-Double (gold in both men’s and women’s curling and men’s and women’s hockey) I would like to give out my personal awards for TV commentary during the games. Understand that I watch Canadian coverage on the CBC. I’ve got four awards to give out. I know you are all waiting with some impatience, so onward.

1. The Grammatically-challenged Commentary Gold Medal goes to Jen Heil for her incompetent use of words meant to be adverbs which were not actually adverbs. This was a rather stiff competition. Other than the #adverbfail commentary of Ms Heil, there were also the #verbdeclensionfail of many colour commentators. Please note: the past tense of the verb to dive is dove, as “she dove for the puck.” Clear? Excellent. Moving on.

2. The I-Can’t-Hear-You Award goes to Becky Scott who mumbled into her mike for the whole of the cross-country skiing competition, even when her husband did that thing with giving the Russian guy a non-broken ski.

3. The Coaching-On-Air Award goes to Kurt Browning who just couldn’t help himself, especially during the men’s figure skating competition. “Watch Out” he yelled at us instead of at the skater who needed to watch out. It was actually rather charming, the on-air coaching, as well as funny.

4. The Not-Brian-Williams-Alleluia Award goes to Ron McLean for his humble, funny, and very competent anchoring of the prime-time Canadian highlight show. He got out of the way, remembered the show wasn’t about him, but about the athletes and the competition, and didn’t feel it necessary to tell us what time zone he was in every thirty seconds. Great job Ron.

And that is all for this Sunday from the land of the Maple Leaf Forever.

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What is a pirate’s favourite letter?

Arrrrr matey!

I hear you laughing. You know you want to laugh. C’mon, it’s funny. Except when you yell the question to 75 small girls in order to get their attention and they all yell back ARRRRRRRR and fall about laughing. Five or six times a day. For a week. Then it gets a tiny bit old.

But the letter

rletterin this context has nothing to do with pirates. It stands for Rimington, Stella Rimington, former spy, now spy novelist. I’ve written in this space about Rimington before. I could have written about Rendell or Rivers or Reichs or even Rowling for the letter R, but Rimington doesn’t get the press those other writers do, plus she writes in a genre that not many women have attempted — and with a female lead character as well. I think Rimington deserves some attention in this #readwomen2014 alphabet.

(There’s a chance that you haven’t yet read the Booker-Prize-winning novel The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. If not, take that as your R recommendation from me. Go find it now.)


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Q = Quality

Q presents another difficulty: I’ve not got a Q author in my books-read database. None. Though there are Quinns and Quicks and Quiller-Couches writing books out in the wide world I’ve read exactly none of them in the last twenty years. Thus the letter

Q swirlstands for Quest. I am on a Quest for Q-authors. 

Of course, Q can stand for lot of things. There are more Q-words in common use than you think. If you think quietly a quality list can quite quickly be assembled. If your quarry is scientific words, quartz, quantum, quark, quarantine, q.e.d. If you find science quashes your imagination, and you are looking for something more quirky, I won’t quibble. Pick up your quill and quiz yourself — what other words qualify for our Q-list? I’m sure you can come up with a large quantity of words. Don’t quit!


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P, poke, poke.

P is a cheeky kind of letter, always sticking its tongue out at someone. ;-P

Pis for Parish, Peggy Parish, author of the Amelia Bedelia books. You haven’t heard of these books? What kind of childhood did you have? Parish’s books were the first comedy I remember reading. They were funny in a silly way that kids and adults both enjoy, plus Parish plays with language. I liked the language play, the misunderstandings, and the hilarity that ensued when Amelia Bedelia got the wrong end of some instruction or other. Parish wins the cheeky-P author prize for giving me lots of laughs and lessons on playing with words.


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The Sunday Excursus

On Sundays I’ve been taking a little break from the Alphabet series. I’ve heard from some readers who mentioned that they appreciate the series very much. Thanks! But I’m pretty sure we can all use a small break on a weekly basis.

This week’s rabbit-trail takes us past some graffiti/urban art that I particularly like. I was thinking about why I like this wall so much as the subway went past it this morning, then as I walked from the subway station toward the parking lot next to the wall. It hit me on the station platform. I see the glory of God reflected in this wall, particularly the two parts of the wall shown here:

Keele Stn both

Really? I hear you saying. The Glory of God? C’mon. Yes, the Glory of God.  I’m pretty sure that is not what the artist’s intended, but that is, I think, what I particularly like about them. The bottom one has a cubist feel to it. Here is a closer shot:

cubist grafPart of that glory thing might come from the smokey thing that ties together parts of the wall. I’ve avoided showing the large old man with a beard and a book also on this wall lest you think that he represents God to me. No. He does not. But this part of the wall next to the Keele Station parking lot reflects this:

Psalm 104

Lord my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
    and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind.
He makes winds his messengers,
flames of fire his servants.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works—
32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

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O always looks surprised

Oh! I never saw that coming. The letter

O surpriseis for O’Flynn, Catherine O’Flynn, author of What Was Lost. The newspaper review for this book caught my eye. I am not sure what it was about the review that made me start reading it, as I am very selective about reading book reviews in the newspaper. I think the book was called Harriet the Spy for grown-ups. This caught my attention. I got the book. I wouldn’t compare it to Harriet the Spy, so don’t go there. It stands on its own merits — and it is full of merit, not to mention surprises. You should track this one down. What Was Lost, Catherine O’Flynn. It will get in your head.


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N the Nay-sayer

N is a bit negative really. Possibly a nihilist. Nobody & nothing: both are aspects of N.

N with mermaidis for Niffenegger, Audrey Niffenegger. Niffenegger has written two novels: The Time Traveler’s Wife infamous book, made into a movie, book club favourite. Of course I like TTW, it is about time travel. I like time travel. It is the coolest thing in books. But I really like Niffenegger’s second novel. That one really got in my head. Her Fearful Symmetry is nothing like anything else you’ll read. It sneaks up on you and then the ending just — well I can’t even describe it. I haven’t had the opportunity to talk with many people about HFS because hardly anyone has read it. Everyone read TTW and loved the tragic romance, but HFS I haven’t heard much about. I thought it the stronger of the two books, but I could be wrong.

Have you read Niffenegger’s other novel, HFS? Tell me what you think.

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M is smaller than you think

Micro, Mini, all small words. Mash, make it small. But

Moldis for Maron, Margaret Maron. Hey that’s two Ms!

Most of you haven’t heard of Margaret Maron. She writes mysteries (another m). Her main character is a judge called Deborah Knott. There are so many layers of meaning in that name and her profession that it boggles the mind. Just roll it around in your head for a while. Deborah works in rural North Carolina, not far from Raleigh-Durham. I like her. Maron paints a great picture of Deborah and her colleagues working in their particular setting, and sometimes away from their own patch. There are sometimes issues with the point-of-view in the writing, but that gets better after a while. I enjoy these. They are like M&Ms — crunchy chocolatey treats but for your brain. Brain candy!


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