The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki

Marjorie Merriweather Post

Dear Fellow Reader.

Finally. a book I enjoyed!  I have been on a terrible dry spell. Reading along but I did not find anything that I liked. I’m not even talking about books that you want to stand on the corner and shout about. I was just ready for a book that I liked. (I was given a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion about the book.)

I found happiness in the book The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post. (Publication date 2/1/5/22) It is a historical fiction book that covers the life of Marjorie Merriweather Post. Ms. Post lived from 1887 to 1973. Quite a span of history!

Easily. I picked the book due to the subject matter. I recognized the name right away but not with any context – I just knew that I had heard it before. Upon reflection. I connected it to the Post Cereal Company but that was about as far as I could get.

Marjorie Merriweather Post (MMP) was the only daughter of C.W.Post. the inventor of Grape Nuts cereal and Postum (a warm morning drink that is a coffee substitute). The cereal and drink were invented by C.W. as a result of a “cure” that he took from Dr. Kellogg of Battle Creek. MI. The two, Post and Kellogg, battled over the new cereal industry for many years. (Okay. they probably still do…)

Marjorie and her father were very close. He had her working on the original company when she was a young teen. When they finally started making money. he sent her to a private school in Washington D.C. where he also moved. He had a huge influence on her life.

The book is divided into four sections. These sections are uneven time periods. but they reflect the several large changes in her life. It could be said that Marjorie was not lucky in love. She was very good with business and the company prospered under her (distanced) guidance. She was not allowed to take over the direct management of the company because she was a woman. Her husbands served on the board and oversaw the day-to-day decisions but she was always involved and made several of the major changes even over her husband’s objections.

She was also a philanthropist. Not only contributing to worthy causes but also fundraising for various charities. She was an art collector and had an extensive collection of Imperial-era Russian art. (This collection is on display at Hillwood. one of the properties that she owned.) She owned a yacht (which she loaned to the Navy during WWII) and a jet. She built several mansions. including Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. FL. She knew how to spend her money on jewelry and property but did resist some of the excesses of the 1920s.

I found the story fascinating. It was a fairly quick read, and it was interesting until the very end. And I was interested enough after I read the book to lookup more about Marjorie Merriweather Post. A few interesting tidbits:

  1.  Glenn Close is the granddaughter of MMP’s first husband. Edward Close.
  2. Dina Merrill was the daughter of MMP and E. F. Hutton. She was an actress
  3. MMP’s third husband was the Ambassador to Russia before WWII.

There are so many other little things that made it an interesting read.

Thanks for reading!

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Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal

Dear Fellow Reader,

I am reviewing this book a bit early. It will be available on February 1, 2022, for purchase. I was given an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

This book is another in the continuing saga of me not knowing why I requested this book. What was it about the description of this book that interested me? I have no idea.

Circus of Wonder takes place in 1860s England. Nell was born with birthmarks covering her body. When her drunken father sees a chance to sell his daughter, he eagerly sells her to Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders. At first, Nell was understandably upset about this but then with the circus, she finds her family. Jasper Jupiter makes her famous and she falls in love.

But was loving a man enough?

When Jasper’s insecurities and jealousy overtake him, he sets in motion a series of disasters that may doom all of them.

Okay, the author had me for a long time in this book. But… then I just could not really buy what happened at the end of the book. I was disappointed by Nell’s choice.

I could see where this would not encourage you to read this book. On the other hand, it was absorbing and interesting. I read it fairly quickly and did enjoy it until the end. Perhaps that isn’t bad. The fact that I have seesawed about the end could be the mark of a good book. And it is possible that you will feel that Nell’s choice was right and not surprising. We would have to discuss it.

So, you will have to read it and let me know if you agree or disagree with me.

Thanks for reading.

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The Nantucket Beachfront Inn by Ainsley Keaton

I wish I was on a beach reading!

Dear Fellow Reader,

It is only mid-January, and I am ready for winter to LEAVE. I am just over it. There is something about the cold and the dark days that are bothering me this year. Okay, let’s be honest, it bothers me almost every year. I suppose with Covid, it is just worse. I want to be back in the yard. Back digging up the garden.

But there is something to be said for burrowing under a blanket and reading. The whole world spins without me and I am lost in a book. Which brings me to tell you about the book I read over the weekend. It is a book that was given to me in exchange for an unbiased review.

The Nantucket Beachfront Inn is an easy quick read. The story moves along well and the characters are engaging. Are you waiting for a “BUT”? Yes, there are one or two. Overall, though, it was quick and fine. There were plenty of characters to keep you busy.

The story introduces us to Ava Flynn. As the story opens, Ava has had it with her job. She is a successful attorney with a firm that defends million and billionaire tax cheats. She has been in this position for 23 years and has done well. Unfortunately, her last husband cleaned out their accounts on his way out of town and hasn’t been seen for a while. Her first husband died in a car crash when she was 8 months pregnant with triplets. She works endless hours and has a large mortgage on a condo in New York City. She sleeps in her office most of the time. But on the night the book opens, she has just had it. She tells the demanding billionaire in front of her what she thinks of his efforts to avoid paying taxes. That is the end of her job. While she tries to find a new position, the combination of her age and her high salary are not leading to any offers.

She then receives a call from an attorney asking her to come to his office because she has received an inheritance. The inheritance comes with some strings that she will have to work her way through with her two close girlfriends and her children.

As far as the plot goes, it is good. Here are my problems with this book. First off, the author did a lot of research for things that happen in the book and goes into WAY too much detail. (One of the characters suddenly develops bacterial meningitis and the medical description goes way beyond what the audience needs). Also, there are at least two places where the same explanation is given twice within a few pages. And I think that at one spot one of the characters is referred to by the wrong name.

BUT probably my biggest complaint is the end. It is like she was only allowed so many words and so she must throw three huge curveballs in the last three pages. I was reading an eBook version of the book and I could not believe the story was over. It seems there are more books to come in the series and she had to get you set up to want to read the next books. It was just irritating.

Am I sorry I read it? No. I think if you know going into it that there may be some redundancy and a few little things that should have been cleaned up in editing, that you will be fine. It is a beach read. There is nothing here to change your life. It will give you some enjoyable reading time.

Thanks for reading!

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The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk

Dear Fellow Reader,

Why is it I end up so behind on reviewing books? I have a stockpile of books to tell you about. I will admit that I have read a lot of cozy mysteries lately, but I think that is just to avoid doing other things.

Today’s book will be published on January 25, 2022. I was given an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

In contrast to most of the books that I review in exchange for a review, this book is a mystery. I’m not sure why I don’t generally get mysteries since that I what I read most of the time. But I have a mystery for you today.

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk introduces us to Liesl Weiss, who has just been elevated to acting director of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at the university library where she has worked for many years. Her boss has had a stroke and she suddenly has to step in. The first thing that happens is that a book that the library just purchased is missing. This is a problem not only because of the money spent but the money had been raised from donors who are anxious to see the book. Where is it? Liesl was on sabbatical when the book arrived, so she has never seen it. She wants to call in the police, but the University President tells her not to that they will have to have an internal investigation – i.e. Liesl should find the book first. She doesn’t feel that he is right but does try and find the thief herself. While she is looking for the thief, we get to meet the other library staff with all their quirks. In this process, we find that another book is missing AND a library staff member commits suicide.

Will she be able to solve the crime, or will the police be called in to help?

With this book review, we have something that doesn’t happen very often. As you may know, I do not generally review books that I don’t like. I know that the author has worked very hard on their book and I don’t see any reason to say that their hard work wasn’t worth it.

I did NOT like this book. I thought Liesl was a horrible character. I didn’t like anything about her. She was so insecure and selfish. I can’t recommend it. Harsh, huh? I know and I don’t like to say it but there are other books that are more enjoyable. I did finish it, which I guess says something because I have taken to not finishing books if I don’t like them. (too many books, so little time)

So, I will leave it up to you, fellow reader. If you read the book and think that I am completely wrong, please let me know.

Thanks for reading!

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Hidden Treasures by Michelle Adams

Dear Fellow Reader,

The new year is around the corner waiting to bring us surprises. What will you be reading? One of the things that I find very helpful is that I set a reading goal at www.Goodreads.com. Not only do I see how many books I’ve read during the year but also, if I can’t remember if I read a book, I can check there. That happened just last week. I was reading the new book by Anne Patchett (These Precious Days) and I could not remember if I had read The Dutch House. I was sure that I had but I just checked with Goodreads, and I had read it. Goodreads also tells you the longest book you have read for the year (Fresh Water for Flowers) and the shortest (The Beautiful Struggle). I find it interesting to see my stats for the year.

I was given a copy of this week’s book in exchange for my honest review. (Yet another free book in exchange for a review.)

Hidden Treasures is about Francis (although we never meet her in current time), Harry, and Tabitha. Francis is Harry’s mother. She had left him on a park bench when he was 4 years old. This desertion by his mother has affected Harry throughout his life. When he sees her house one day, he knows it is the house he grew up in and goes to the door. And there she is. He moves in with her and walks away from Tabitha, who he loved. He wants his mother to tell him two things. Why did she leave him and who is his father?

As the story opens, ten years have passed since he moved into his mother’s house and she has just died. Harry must clean out the house and move. There is no money for him to be able to stay in the house. He is lost as to how to start to clean out the house. His mother was a hoarder and the house is full to the brim with things. As he is sitting contemplating what to do, there is a knock on the door. When he opens the door, there is Tabitha. She has received a letter from his mother asking her to come and help Harry find an antique jewelry box that is hidden in the house. She is intrigued by finding the lost jewelry box and comes to tell Harry about the letter. After looking around in awe of the job ahead of them, she announces that she will help Harry find the box.

The story moves back and forth between Harry and Tabitha and Francis. How did Francis end up in this house with all this stuff? Why did Francis leave Harry behind and who is his father? Will Harry and Tabitha find the love they had previously? They both have secrets that will be revealed that might break apart any re-kindling of their romance.

And then another knock on the door brings in a surprise character that will lead to most of Harry’s questions being answered.

Communication was apparently not a big deal in these relationships. Does Harry ask Tabitha what she has been doing for the last 10 years? Does Tabitha ask Harry about how he “found” his mother and why he didn’t know about her before? Of course, the lack of communication causes problems between the characters.

I like the premise of the book. I found it to be a little slow from time to time and the characters’ lack of communication was frustrating. How does Harry not ask Tabitha what she has been doing for the last 10 years? How does Tabitha not know anything about Harry’s life – like that he was in foster care? And poor Francis. If only she had known that she was being protected and not hunted, what a difference it would have made in her life.

This is yet another book with chapters that switch back and forth in time. Are there books that don’t do that anymore? It is easy to follow whose story is being told.

So, do they find the box? I’ll let you find out for yourself.

Thanks for reading.

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