This past Sunday’s New York Times included a fun article, The Evolution of the Book Review. I appreciated reading about how it developed and changed through the years. For 125 years, it has been a celebration of literary journalism.
Becoming Duchess Goldblatt, A Memoir by Anonymous
My sister sent me this book several months ago, but it kept going to the bottom of my pile while I plowed through library books that I wanted to get returned on time. Luckily, I finally picked up Becoming Duchess Goldblatt. The book is two stories. One of a real-life author who is suffering through a life crisis. Her husband has left, she loses her job and is in a custody battle over her son. The second story introduces us to the fictious but fabulous Duchess Goldblatt, a Twitter persona, who dispenses worldly wisdom in 280 characters or less.
“Are children still taught to diagram sentences? Are sentences allowed in schools, or is it all smiley faces and snuffling about for treats?”
“What’s that beautiful Japanese word that means both “regretting your lost youth and beauty” and “too hungover to make coffee”?
This is not a self-help book, but the story of how the author heals herself through the process of creating Duchess Goldblatt, her alter ego who is more forthright in her commentary than her, and gathers a community of loyal readers that includes her secret crush, Lyle Lovett. It may sound a bit confusing, but I assure you it is a splendid book. I found it magical and enchanting and I highly recommend it.
My personal favorite Duchess wisdom:
“Sometimes I tie your words in linen with a little lavender and mint and use them as a poultice for my weary old heart.”
AN ENTHUSIASTIC FIVE GRANDMAS:
The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd
When I asked my friend Cindy if she had read anything lately that she would recommend, she quickly responded with this title. The Indigo Girl is historical fiction based on the life of Liza Lucas. During the mid-1700’s, she was a key contributor to the development of indigo crops in the American south.
In 1739, 16-year-old Eliza is left in charge of the family’s three plantations in South Carolina while her father goes off to pursue his military ambitions while he bleeds the estate dry in the process. Meanwhile, her brothers are being schooled in England and it is assumed that they will eventually take over as women aren’t allowed own land.
Knowing how much the French pay for indigo dye, Eliza realizes that growing indigo and producing dye is a way to save her family. I found it fascinating how a teenage girl produced indigo dye, which became one of the largest exports out of South Carolina and laid the foundation for the incredible wealth of several Southern families, but not for the slaves who did the manual labor. This is the struggle for me. I greatly admire the 16-year-old who had the vision and fortitude to follow through on her dream, but I also know she wouldn’t have succeeded without a reliance on the labor of enslaved people, a historical example of white privilege.
The book is well researched and uses excerpts from Eliza’s own letters, The Letterbook of Eliza Lucas Pickney. In an Afterword and A Note from the Author, Natasha Boyd shares what is fictional in the book and what she found through her research.
It introduced me to a part of history I wasn’t aware of and made me think a lot about the institution of slavery. While Eliza is portrayed as a kind person with strong opinions against slavery, there can never be such a thing as a benevolent slaveowner. For making me think, it receives four grandmas.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANOUNCEMENT!
The CNN Original Series “The People V. The Klan” from Blumhouse Television, premieres Sunday, April 11 at 9pm ET. The four-part miniseries tells the story of Beulah Mae Donald, the Black mother in Alabama who took down the Klan, featured in my blog. I’ll be watching…
C’est la vie.