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grace

Uplifting Reading for Shut-Ins!

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Well one book that I find very uplifting was written during the 2nd World War, and is entitled "Paris Underground" by an American woman who lived in Paris during the occupation, named Etta Shiber.

A synopsis:

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At the time of the German invasion of France, Etta Shiber, American author of Paris Underground (1943), then in her 60's, lived in Paris with her good friend Kitty Beaurepos. They had met in a dress shop on a trip Shiber had made to Paris in 1925.

Yearly, Shiber visited Beaurepos in Paris and when Shiber's husband of 35 years died in 1936, she moved to Paris to live quietly with KB. In 1940, they resisted fleeing Paris until there was no hope and then they joined the jam of refugees fleeing south.

Her book graphically describes the confusion and fear felt by the refugees on the crowded roads, some on foot carrying what possessions they could, others in dog- or horse-drawn vehicles, and some like Shiber-Beaurepos in automobiles - all subject to being machine-gunned and bombed from German planes - and there was no food left anywhere.

The two old women stopped at an inn to search for food and found, instead, a British aviator who failed to get evacuated at Dunkirk. They hide him in the trunk of their car and when the Germans caught their refugee column and turned them back to Paris, the aviator - undiscovered - went with them. They hid him in their apartment, finally making contact with the underground to get him out.

They were told there were nearly a thousand starving British soldiers hiding in the woods around Concy-sur-Conche and Shiber-Beaurepos and the underground brought groups of four of the Brit soldiers to their apartment to house them while they prepared false papers and made arrangements to get them through German lines. In all they helped more than 150 English soldiers escape, but inevitably the Gestapo discovered their underground.

KB was sentenced to death - she was English and had had a French husband - and Shiber (the U.S. was not at war with Germany yet) was sentenced to three years at hard labor. On May 17, 1942, Shiber, ill and half-starved, was exchanged for Johanna Hoffman who had been convicted of espionage for the Germans in the U.S.

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Thank you Mme. Hermine - that sounds like an excellent book! I'm putting in on my own must read list, right now.

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It really is, BW, one of those hard to put down reads. Interestingly I found that Mrs. Shiber died in 1948 at her residence in NYC at the Beacon Hotel!

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How interesting! I wonder if she is listed in that book that WNYC is offering now as a "gift" for one of their membership levels...about authors and their homes in NYC...

I did check out Amazon for this book and, though it is hard to get new, there are some very inexpensive second hand copies for sale. :)

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Grace, another author your mom might like is Chaim Potok. He wrote a number of novels set in the Jewish Hasidic communities of Brooklyn. He was a natural storyteller; as soon as you start to read him, you feel like getting cozy in a nice chair and just settling in. His novels create a warm, positive feeling about the world, while not ignoring the dark side. His best-known book is The Chosen, which is very good, but my favorite is My Name Is Asher Lev, about a young Hasidic boy who has great gifts as a painter.

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And yet another author: Barbara Pym.

There are several novels by her.

She is a good observer.

Her books are well-written and humorous.

Usually I have not wanted the books to end.

-d-

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Diane, my sister is a HUGE Barbara Pym fan. She says the same thing about those books.

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here is the whole lot, as a list, in case anyone else wants to print it out, to go shopping (or to the library):

READING LIST:

True North by Jill Ker Conway

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Sylvia Townsend Warner's "Lolly Willowes",

Kenji Miyazawa's books of short stories

Claire Bloom's "Leaving a Doll's House."

84 Charing Cross Road/The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff

Lewis Thomas' "The Lives of the Cell"

"Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”

Bette Bao Lord's "Spring Moon"

Gladys Taber's books. There are at least a couple Stillmeadow books and one about Cape Cod, as I recall.

Trollope's Barchester Chronicles

Madeleine L'Engle's Crosswicks Journals. There are 4 books in the series but I like Circle of Quiet ,Two Part Invention , and The Summer of the Great Grandmother . The fourth book, The Irrational Season , doesn't appeal to me because it's primarily about her relationship to God.

a nice autobiographical book called Letters of a Woman Homesteader

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

C. S. Lewis, although he is very much a Christian author.His biography is excellent: Surprised by Joy. There is the seven volume The Chronicles of Narnia, a children's tale for adults.

The Screwtape Letters, in which an apprentice devil keeps failing to tempt people into Hell.

Ah, Ambrose Bierce -- now THERE'S some good summer reading

1) The Last Time I Saw Mother by Arlene Chai

2) Eating Fire, Drinking Water by Arlene Chai

3) When The Elephants Dance by Tess Urize Holthe

Maeve Binchy - most of her novels are set in Dublin/Ireland. Judy Blume, who is a children's book author has an adult novel called "Summer Sisters". Frances Chung has a book of poetry called "Chinese Apple, Crazy melon", which is one of my all-time favorites (poetry).

1) The God of Small Things, Arundrahti Roy

2) Jaroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

3) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

C.S. Lewis' book - "The Divine Comedy" entitled "The Great Divorce"

Thomas Merton's autobiography, one of my favorites, "The Seven Story Mountain"

Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith

All the books in the Mitford Series by Jan Karon

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

almost anything by Willa Cather and Rumer Godden. Cather's My Antonia, O Pioneers, Death Comes for the Archbishop, and Song of the Lark(about an opera singer) are real treasures.

Some good Godden books include The Greengage Summer, River, In This House of Brede, Episode of Sparrows, and China Court. I learned so much about Eastern cultures from reading her books.

Finally, Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and To Serve Them All My Days (about a teacher's life in an English boarding school - the story takes place in the first half of the 20th century) by R.F. Delderfield.

Angelas Ashes, A Monk swimming, A Fortunate Life. "The Winter Sparrows"

The James Herriot books

"Shadows on the rock" I'd recommend, and "One of ours" a great book but perhaps not very uplifting (as much of it deals with WWI).

the "Miss Seeton" series, by various authors (Heron Carvic, Hamilton Crane, Hampton Charles)? I don't find it very well-written, but it's quite funny. the main character is a retired female drawing teacher in a small English village in the 1970s, who gets involved in some crime stories but never really realizes what's happening, as she's very naive and thoughtless, and she helps the police find the criminals a bit by chance...)

Taylor Caldwell's novels, E.V. Timms, Sharon Penman Your hills are too high by Roslyn Taylor, James Herriot as suggested by some posters plus the latest (?) which is an autobiography, Michael Crawford's autobiography

Taylor Caldwell - "Dear and Glorious Physician"

"Paris Underground" by an American woman who lived in Paris during the occupation, named Etta Shiber.

Chaim Potok. He wrote a number of novels set in the Jewish Hasidic communities of Brooklyn. He was a natural storyteller; as soon as you start to read him, you feel like getting cozy in a nice chair and just settling in. His novels create a warm, positive feeling about the world, while not ignoring the dark side. His best-known book is The Chosen, which is very good, but my favorite is My Name Is Asher Lev, about a young Hasidic boy who has great gifts as a painter.

another author: Barbara Pym.There are several novels by her. She is a good observer. Her books are well-written and humorous. Usually I have not wanted the books to end.

Nero Wolfe by Rex Stout and the Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot series by Agatha Christie.

many things by Edith Wharton would be appropriate, but not The House of Mirth. Twilight Sleep is funny, and The Reef is a beautiful book. Roman Fever and Other Stories is witty and interesting, and The Age of Innocence is wonderful, though perhaps a little sad at the end. The Children is another good one. Probably not The Custom of the Country. There is also an adorable, funny book by Thomas Hardy that I can't for the life of me remember the title of--it takes place in a small English village and involves a love triangle between a rector, the church organist and a farmer's son. All right, that description makes it sound very immodest, but really it's sweet and amusing.

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just to say THANK YOU again. i printed off the list, and passed it to my mother, who agreed that it seems very appropriate - she says she has read maybe half of them, but that, of course, just confirms that you are on the right track with the 'other' half! thank you very much. :D

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Grace:

So sorry I'm such a dunderhead. I posted a reply to this in the thread having to do with what we're all reading this summer. It's not that my post doesn't fit for that thread -- the suggestions are appropriate for all people who love to read -- but I actually meant for it to be a direct response to your request for suggested readings for shut-ins. Hope you and your mother find it helpful.

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Last summer, when I was pretty much a shut-in myself, I spent a goodly amount of my hospital time reading the Bible, particularly Leviticus, looking for loopholes. :wink:

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Looking for loopholes -- that's funny.

In addition to the Mitford series by Jan Karon and the Emily Pollifax series by Dorothy Gilman (America's answer to Agatha Christie), which I discussed at length in the other thread (about summer reading), I'd also like to concur with the suggestion of Rumer Godden's work, including a wonderful ballet theme novel called "A Candle for St. Jude."

I recall one particular summer reading every novel of Elizabeth Cadell's I could get my hands on. She's been wriitng for decades. They're not exactly mysteries, not exactly romances -- just wonderful reads that typically take place in Portugal or England. Should be easy to find at the library (but not at a bookstore).

Phyllis Whitney is considered the grande dame of mystery writing in the States. She is about 90 now and still writing books that sell -- again, slim volumes of tales that combine mystery (not in the who dunnit style, but more to do with the complexities of human nature) and romance.

And -- I can't believe we've all forgotten to mention Rosamund Pilcher!!! What perfect reads for Grace's mother, if she hasn't discovered these yet. I read one of her latest, "Winter Solstice" this past winter and adored it.

All of the above contain nothing that could possibly offend. Personally, I like some edgier reading as well, such as that of Ellen Gilchrist or Faith Sullivan, but I'm limiting my suggestions to fit within the parameters of what Grace has described.

Hope this helps.

Edited by Funny Face

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I found the book Seabiscuit very uplifting (although the description of the jockeys' life in Mexico is pretty raunchy).

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I just finished reading 'The Shipping News' by E Annie Proulx. One of the best novels I've read and really satisfyingly uplifting. Not very much happens, it's all about the people. Has anyone read anything else by her?

Grace, has your mother got through all the books yet? Should we be suggesting more? :D

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has your mother got through all the books yet?

kate b - i'll ask! ...

i must say i AM surprised at HOW MANY suitable books WERE suggested. :thumbsup:

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Just a note of thanks here -- my mother-in-law is laid up after back surgery, and I passed this excellent list on to the Relative In Charge Of Collecting Reading Material.

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Have we mentioned Carol Sheilds? Me and my mother both just finished 'Unless', which we loved!

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I must agree with Vagansmom about both Wild Swans by Jung Chang and I capture the castle. If your mother enjoys films (you mentioned her friends) perhaps she'd be interested in seeing the film of I Capture The Castle.It was a really beautiful adaptation of the book, and made lovley uplifting viewing.

Also, Wild Swans is quite big so it might last a bit longer than some others. its frustrating when things end so fast!

I wish your mother a speedy recovery, Grace.

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