My Life in France

From Margaret Mezzacapo

My Life in France

Author: Julia Child

Of the many books on Julia Child’s life that have come out in the past year or so, this is one of my favorites, possibly due to the many photographs sprinkled throughout. While not possessing all the minute details presented in Dearie, another Child biography, this gave you the gist of her life plus some viewpoints from Julia’s side of the story.

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author: Anna Quindlen
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
Here’s a collection of vignettes dealing with various aspects of everyday life as experienced by Ms. Quindlen. If you enjoy reading people’s blogs, you’ll like this book.

 

Some girls, some hats and Hitler : a true love story rediscovered

From Jackie Cantwell
Author:  Trudi Kanter
Some girls, some hats and Hitler : a true love story rediscovered
This is the almost impossible-to-believe memoir of a woman who barely escaped Vienna, Austria after the Nazis took over. Trudi Kanter was an only child and successful milliner with her own shop. Her idyllic life was filled with café dining, dating eligible men, and trips to the Paris fashion shows. She paints prewar Vienna very vividly with sparkling descriptions such as: “Vienna was preparing for spring. Green shutters on white villas were painted greener. Black railings had their pointed gilt tops regilded. At the coffeehouses, newly white-painted chairs and tables were hopefully put outside. Waiters in white linen jackets carried white napkins over their arms. They welcomed the sun and invited customers to be the first ones to sit outside. The city looked crisp and polished, full of goodwill and expectation, full of romance. Even strangers greeted each other with a big smile and a bright, ‘Good morning’. ” Luckily, due to her connections, she knows earlier than most that the Nazi threat is near. The suspense is absolutely excruciating as she awaits the visas for herself, her husband Walter and her parents. You can see that she was either very lucky, or very good at reading people. On the train ride from Austria to Czechoslovakia: “A man in a navy blue suit enters our compartment, looks at us, and closes the door. ‘Passkontrolle!’ the German says. He holds out his hand to Walter. ‘Pass?’ Walter gives it to him. He scrutinizes each page and hands it back to him. He repeats this procedure with everyone in the compartment, leaving me to the last. I feel faint. He takes my passport, looks at each page, looks at me, checks each page again. Our lives depend on the whim of a single Nazi”.

Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women as I Knew Them

From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author: Frank Langella
Dropped Names:  Famous Men and Women as I Knew Them

Dropped Names:  Famous Men and Women as I Knew Them.  Frank Langella chronicles his encounters – some fleeting and some long-term – with various celebrities, in a series of vignettes. The format seems a bit choppy at times as it moves from celebrity to celebrity. Add a star if you’re a fan of show-biz gossip.

No time to lose : a life in pursuit of deadly viruses

From Andrea  Kalinowski
Author:  Peter Piot
No time to lose : a life in pursuit of deadly viruses
No time to lose : a life in pursuit of deadly viruses by Peter Piot is an autobiography of his life. Peter was a medical student who wanted to specialize in Infectious Diseases. A professor of his told him, “There is no future in infectious diseases. They’ve all been solved.”
I, the reader, found the idea that all Infectious Disease has been eradicated highly suspect. I believe that there are still new, undiscovered organisms out there. Peter was a tireless advocate for AIDS research, education and treatment. Many countries denied the existence of AIDS in their populace and if they did acknowledge the existence of this killer, they underestimated the numbers affected. Then, as now, it is a struggle to get people to agree on a specific course of action. He remains concerned about the sustainability of the response for the AIDS epidemic and for people living with this disease.  “(Peter) learned that our human capacity to survive and find meaning in life is beyond imagination …”  This book was a highly informative medical biography of both Peter Piot and the AIDS epidemic.

Klonopin Lunch: a Memoir

From  Jackie Cantwell
Author:  Jessica Dorfman Jones
Klonopin Lunch: a Memoir
What happens when a married lawyer with a hum-drum life gets a taste of Sex, Drugs, and Rock-n-Roll? Read this well-crafted memoir to find out. Jessica, a product of New York’s Upper East Side, always played by the rules, which included excelling at the finest schools and marrying her college boyfriend. Enter a handsome guitar teacher, and at the age of thirty, she forgets the life she knew. Their flirtation becomes a full-blown affair, and she starts to take illegal drugs, gets tattooed, and fancies herself a rock star. She writes songs with the guitar teacher’s pal, becomes the lead singer of a fledgling rock band, and stays out ‘til all hours of the night, thus testing the limits of her husband’s understanding and support. This tale of sexual obsession and codependency is painfully honest. She often doesn’t come across as very likeable or sympathetic. Yes, she’s selfish, and yes, she ought to know better. There are very funny sections, including the lunch with her gay pal, where the book gets its title. It could be said that New York City is another character in the book; the evocative descriptions of Manhattan are such that you can almost smell the spilled beer and cigarette smoke in the clubs. There are graphic depictions of sexual activity and drug use, so this book is not for the squeamish or the prudish.

And I Shall Have Some Peace There

From Margaret Mezzacapo
And I Shall Have Some Peace There
Author: Margaret Roach

I finished And I Shall Have Some Peace There by Margaret Roach. If I had to sum it up in one sentence, it would be, “My, Margaret, how you do go on.”

Ms. Roach waxes metaphysical to the extent that I just wanted to ask her to get to the point. I read this one first because, as a gardener, I had read her columns in Newsday. Glad I read it, but it really could have been condensed.