Women Volunteers in World War: The War-Workers, by E. M. Delafield

E. M. Delafield is best-known for her charming Diary of a Provincial Lady books, but have you read The War-Workers, her bracingly intelligent novel about women volunteers who do war work during World War I? I was absolutely glued to this page-turner and recommend it highly..

You can read the post here at my new blog.


At the Mall

“I’m having a hair emergency,” I told the young woman.
Usually I stick something in my desperately-in-need-of-a-haircut before I go out, headband, barrettes (it hardly matters), but I’d hurried to catch the bus without bothering with my electric hair.

You can read the rest of this post at my new blog, Thornfield Hall Redux.


New Post at Thornfield Hall Redux: “The Etiquette of Prayer Requests: Larry David on ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm'”

Rob Morrow and Larry David

What should agnostics and/or atheists say when someone requests a prayer? “Pray for me,” a self-centered friend begs on many occasions.  Sometimes she is traumatized by the prospect of meeting the ancient ballet teacher who criticized her pas de bourré years ago.  Other times she has lost her favorite socks. 

On a recent episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm (Season 11, Episode 5), Larry David attacks the subject of prayer requests hilariously and obnoxiously.  He is at the club when Saul Berman has a heart attack. Everyone stands awkwardly, waiting for the ambulance to come –  except Larry, who sits down to finish his lunch. Saul’s son Hal glares at Larry.  But a few days later, when Larry asks Hal how Saul is doing, Hal says Saul is not doing well, and asks Larry to pray for him.  Larry refuses. ” I can’t do that. How do you even do it? Do you get on your knees? Do you put your hands together? “

You can read this post at:


Flair and Compassion: Marian Thurm’s “Pleasure Palace: New and Selected Stories”

I love Marian Thurm’s new collection of stories, Pleasure Palace.   These delightful short stories, published between 1979 and 2021, are graceful, witty, and vigorously engaging.  In “Banished,” Cliff, a widower, bonds with a retired English teacher over a comma.  In “Today Is Not Your Day,” Lauren falls and breaks her kneecap after her fiance Alex breaks up with her.  In “Pleasure Palace,” a new widow is enraged to find the contractor botching the remodeling of the “pleasure palace” of a bathroom she and her late husband had planned.

Great stories!  You can read my review here at the new blog:


New Post at Thornfield Hall Redux: “Delightful Weekend Reading: Molly Keane, Colette, and E. Nesbit”

Looking for weekend reading? Mine usually consists of something published after the 18th century and before the 21st. I recommend Molly Keane’s Time After Time, Colette’s My Apprenticeships, and E. Nesbit’s The Story of the Treasure Seekers.

You can read the post here:


A Low-Stress Holiday: The Peace of Thanksgiving

Jewel Tea Company dishes

Thanksgiving is a low-stress holiday, a celebration of food and football.  The history books in school claimed that in 1621 the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag shared the first Thanksgiving, a peaceful, abundant meal.  This historic episode or legend may have been revised or reinterpreted since my schooldays.  But to me Thanksgiving embodies the spirit of Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men.  It is without the capitalist pressure of buying gifts for a perfect Christmas.

Before the big football game on TV, you can set the table with your grandmother’s Jewel Tea Company china, which she bought with coupons in the ’30s or ’40s, and summon everybody to the table. Last year you retired the Pilgrims tablecloth, because someone found it politically incorrect and “offensive.”  Heavens, it was not an heirloom, and I certainly was not attached to it. Let it go!  It’s like that turkey centerpiece you made at school out of a potato and toothpicks. Not an heirloom.

You can read the rest at the new blog, Thornfield Hall Redux.


The Eerie TV, Romulus’s Ascension into the Heavens, and Where the Heck Is the Paper?

On a retreat at a hotel, I enjoyed the luxury. The room was clean and devoid of personality, as such places should be. I planned to read and nap, nap and read. But there were a few hurdles. The TV screen grotesquely greeted me, HELLO, KAT. And then there was no note paper in the hotel room. Fortunately, I did get to read – but I now have experienced the paper shortage!

You can read the post here:


Spitting out One’s Tea: Cornelia Otis Skinner’s “Excuse It, Please!”

Cornelia Otis Skinner (1901-1971), the actress, playwright, and humor writer, is my favorite writer after Tolstoy and Doris Lessing.  I laughed so hard over her 1936 collection of humor pieces, Excuse It, Please!, that I spat out my tea.  This is not unheard of:  I guffaw uncontrollably over humor columns of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. 

You can read the rest here:


Loneliness, Heirlooms, and “House of Mist”

I recently discovered the charming novel, House of Mist (1946), by the Chilean
writer Maria Luisa Bombal, which proved to be a gentle Cinderella story crossed with Wuthering Heights. I also complain about the family fight over a will.

You can read this post here.


New Post at Thornfield Hall Redux: “Reading in a King Size Bed: Short Reviews”

It was  my first vacation in two years, and I had my choice of rooms at the hotel (and beds). While I lounged in a King Size bed, hurried through Shena Mackay’s ironic, surreal, horrifyingly violent novella, Toddler on the Run; a too-clever, disappointing fantasy novel; and Margery Allingham’s brilliant Golden Age mystery, The Fashion in Shrouds.

I hope you’ll enjoy the post. You can read the rest here:


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