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Sunday, January 31, 2016

#4 - In the Midst of Life - Jennifer Worth

Title:  In the Midst of Life
Author:  Jennifer Worth
Genre:  Non-Fiction - Memoir
Rating:  B
Published:  2010
Dates Read:  12/22/15 - 1/23/16
Pages:  420

Jennifer Worth's real life stories about midwifery and nursing in England inspired the Public Television series, Call the Mid-Wife.   In her latest book, about end-of-life illnesses and decisions regarding dying, Worth gives us a first hand account of nursing people with cancer, dementia, and other terminal diseases.  With grace and straight-forwardness she relates the hardships patients and their families endure when faced with decisions regarding how to deal with these hard issues.  While doctors deal with diagnoses and prescribing medicines, it falls upon the nurse to counsel the dying patient and their family.  Sometimes palliative (ease without curing) care is an option that keeps the patient comfortable and gives the family a sense of peace.  Other times, as Worth describes, people will go to countries where they can end their own lives.

Worth recalls people like her grandfather who died before modern medicine and how families drew around and allowed dying to happen naturally without heroic measures to save their lives.  Modern medicine has progressed to where things like CPR have successfully brought people back to life in cases of near drownings, electrocution and the like.  For this we are thankful.

This comprehensive book is a must for the nursing student or lay person who want to understand options about end-of-life decisions.

Footnote:  While Worth's information about end-of-life directives and resource material is geared for the United Kingdom, similar information may also be available in the United States.

#3 - The Interruption of Everything - Terry McMillan

Title:  The Interruption of Everything
Author:  Terry McMillan
Read by:  Desiree Taylor
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  B
Published:  2005
Dates Listened to: 1/4/16 - 1/22/16
CDs/Hours:  10/11:49

As the book opens we find Marilyn in a bathroom stall at work contemplating her current life.  Before the book is over with if you're like me you'll see yourself in many of her 44 year old situations -- a husband who is having a mid-life crisis; her mother whose memory is failing; her younger sister who spends more time finding her next fix than with her two four and seven year old children; her live-in mother-in-law who has a boyfriend and may be moving out.  Like many of us, Marilyn has put her life on hold as she helped raise the kids and now as an empty-nester, sees so many possibilities that she'd like to pursue -- a masters degree in design, a body that needs to shape up and just generally wanting to feel better about herself.  She's such a positive, motivated and strong person in how she handles each complication in her life that you'll be rooting for her as you learn how she deals with The Interruption of Everything.

#2 - At the Mountains of Madness - H. P. Lovecraft

Title:  At the Mountains of Madness
Author:  H. P. Lovecraft
Read by:  William Roberts
Genre:  Science Fiction
Rating:  B
Published:  1936
Dates Listened to:  1/10/16 - 1/21/16
CDs/Hours:  4/5

This is a book recommended by Jeopardy winner, Tom Nissley, who wrote A Reader's Book of Days.  In his book Nissley suggests a few books for each month of the year and provides a brief summary.  "As the southern summer opens up the South Pole for exploration, a scientific expedition led by professors Dyer and Lake discovers behind a range of unknown Antarctic mountains a vast, dead, and ancient city, one of the most evil and benighted of Lovecraft's inhuman horrors." 

The story is spooky and not for everyone.  It's told from a first person point of view and is strictly narrative.  I hung onto all the nefarious words Lovecraft used to describe the mountains, the city, the inhuman encounters.  So if you want your spine to tingle and your toes to curl, enjoy!

Monday, January 11, 2016

#1 - The Dressmaker - Kate Alcott

Title: The Dressmaker
Author:   Kate Alcott
Read by:  Susan Duerden
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  B
Published:  2012 
Dates:  12/31/15 – 1/10/16
Cds/Hrs:  9/11

Kate Alcott – my new most favorite author – has done it again.  This time it is April, 1912 and Titanic is leaving Cherbourg, France, one of the first stops on her maiden voyage.  Tess, an aspiring seamstress, can’t believe her luck when famous designer Lady Duff Gordon hires her.  On board, Tess proves herself as a competent seamstress and rubs shoulders with the rich and famous.  Her bed is in steerage yet her time is spent on the upper decks answering the beck and call of Lady Duff Gordon, as her personal maid. 

On the fourth night of the voyage, disaster strikes in the form of an iceberg and Titanic sinks.  Tess is one of the last to escape into a fully loaded lifeboat.  Many others including Cosmo and Lucille Duff Gordon also survive yet at the alleged expense of people in the water clambering to get aboard their less than full lifeboat.

Once the survivors are picked up by Carpathia and arrive at New York, an immediate investigation is started.  Not only are the circumstances surrounding the lack of lifeboats, dangerously high speed of the vessel through the ice-floes questioned but also the business of not picking up victims stranded in the frigid waters of the North Sea.

Not only do we get the full flavor of what it’s like to be aboard the unsinkable ship we also view the court room scenes where the proceedings reveal the truth of what really happened that night.

I have a vested interest in this event since my mother’s ship, the Saturnia, was also on the sea at the same time as Titanic.  She and her three older sisters were bound for St. John, New Brunswick, Canada to meet their father in Vancouver, British Columbia.  In my research of this event I have read Canadian newspaper clippings from that tragic day, April 15, 2015, in support of what was being reported.  I treasure the research done on various aspects of this tragedy.   And Alcott’s book is among those treasures.