Sunday, November 25, 2012

Christmas in Cornwall

An Anglican convent in decline brings together a host of characters in Christmas in Cornwall, a novel that explores the implications of loss, the complexities of family and friendship and the need to feel loved.

Taking place in the English countryside from the Feast of the Epiphany to Advent, Marcia Willett (The Summer House) stitches together tender stories about the bonds between ordinary people: Jakey, a five year-old boy who believes that a real angel is keeping watch over him; Clem, his father, a young widower who comes to work at the convent after the death of his wife in order to regroup and be closer to his own mother; Dossie, Clem's mother, a widow herself and a successful caterer who has concerns for the well-being of her son and grandson and her elderly parents - along with romantic woes; Janna, an eccentric, single woman, cast adrift from a broken past, who feels she's finally found a home by working for the aging, quirky nuns. When a stranger arrives in town claiming to be writing a book about the history of the region, rumors swirl that he actually has secret designs on taking over the convent - an old, Elizabethan Manor House. Might his quest change the future for everyone?  

Willett has written a perfectly balanced ensemble piece - a gentle, moving story about faith and trusting in God's presence via the generosity of strangers, the love of friends and family and the miracle of Christmas.

Christmas in Cornwall by Marcia Willett
Thomas Dunne Books, $25.99, Hardcover, 9781250003706,  320 pp
Publication Date: October 30, 2012
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Please note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (11/9/12), click HERE.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

High Fashion Hounds: Anatomy of a Dog Grooming

Happy Thanksgiving!

Taking time out from books to share a little slice of life...

Pam, the groomer of my Yorkshire terrier, just invested in her own mobile grooming van, and today, HIGH FASHION HOUNDS paid us our very first "house call." 
Awesome truck! 
Pam backed into the driveway with a little help from her  back-up video cam.   
A perfect park!

The mobile grooming center is like an ambulance without the oxygen, stretcher and defibrillator! It's equipped with everything Pam needs to undertake each individual grooming job - and also includes a great lighting system, heat, hot water, a washing and drying station, a first rate sound-system (Jimmy Buffet was cranking on the satellite radio during her visit with us) and even a traveling company mascot!

Let the games begin . . .
First up was a nail trimming and thorough brushing out.  

Next, a bath.

As the anxiety-riddled, pip-squeak of a Yorkie gets a soak in the bathtub, she gradually begins to calm amid a sudsy massage.  

In the meantime, Kitsy, Pam's lovable Welsh Corgi and the HIGH FASHION HOUNDS' roving mascot, looks on from behind the Plexiglas door that leads to the driver's cabin. 

After a thorough rinse, blow-dry and more brushing, out come the scissors and Pam gets down to the nitty-gritty, giving this fluffy, long-haired Yorkie a much needed make-over. 
Kitsy gets bored with all the fuss and finally just nods off and takes a little snooze! 

As Pam finishes up the grooming session, Kitsy suddenly stirs, realizing it's almost time for HIGH FASHION HOUNDS to take to the road yet again and set off for the next grooming victim canine make-over! 
And now for the finished product...
 complete with a little bow!
(and yes, that's Kitsy looking out from the passenger's side window)
You do beautiful work!
Link HERE to learn more about HIGH FASHION HOUNDS.
 Be sure to watch the video!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train

Her Majesty, The Queen of England, is depressed. She reads biographies about  The Royals and writes "Not true" or "Never happened" in the margins. To keep calm and fit and rail against aging, she takes up yoga and even tries to learn the computer. But nothing can dissuade her sadness over her children's marriages breaking up, the death of Princess Diana, the fire at Windsor castle and other woes. The Queen had "internalized the shock, stored it up, and now she was suffering," writes William Kuhn in Mrs. Queen Takes the Train, an affecting, yet amusing, fictitious look at the heart and soul of Queen Elizabeth.

When the Prime Minister informs that the government can no longer subsidize the Royal Train--an outdated, expensive mode of transportation dedicated exclusively for official business of The Monarchy--the 80 year-old Queen is delivered a final jolt. She gets fed up and walks away from Buckingham Palace, unattended, on a rainy day. Cloaked beneath a borrowed hoodie with a skull stenciled on the back, she sets off for King's Cross, London's busiest public train station, and sets off to the Royal Yacht Britannia moored in Scotland. Along the way, she encounters an array of ethnically diverse commoners - some who mistake her for a homeless person, others Helen Mirren.

Orbiting the suspense and excitement that swirls around Her Majesty's mysterious disappearance are engaging stories about the lives of those who work behind the scenes at the palace, those who know Queen Elizabeth best. Kuhn (Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books) delivers a clever, funny send-up mirroring all facets of contemporary British life while portraying The Queen as an emblem of " a secular era."
Harper, $25.99, Hardcover, 9780871404619,  384 pp
Publication Date: October 16, 2012
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Please note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (10/26/12), click HERE.