The Lake House by Kate Morton a short review

lake house

Kate Morton’s novels all share a similar plot–a secret that has been kept for years, a child at the center of the mystery, and a lovely country estate.  This much we know going in.  Characters are sympathetic.  We like them.  Misunderstandings abound.  Long-standing beliefs are called into question.   Morton is adept at creating the mystery and keeping us reading in order to solve it.  Usually it’s something we’ve suspected, but red herrings rear their heads at frequent intervals.

The Lake House is no different.  Published in 2015, it is Morton’s most recent, follows her writing recipe, and is a pleasant read.  However, the denouement of The Lake House is so chock full of unbelievable coincidences, I was sorely disappointed.  Readers are willing to suspend their disbelief to a certain point, but she crosses that line and keeps on going.  If you don’t mind a disappointing, wholly unconvincing ending, you will probably enjoy this book.

$9.50 at The Book Shop

Faeries And Demons and Other Magical Creatures

Elves, faeries, mermaids, spirits, spectres, dwarves, ogres, giants, imps, poltergeists and any other fantasmagorical creatures.  With beautiful illustrations.  $9.99.



On missing the essence of a story: The Revenant

The producers of Hollywood films apparently think revenge is a much more compelling movie subject than is forgiveness.  I just finished reading The Revenant by Michael Punke, the book on which the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu movie, starring Leonardo Di Caprio, was based.

While Punke has no problem admitting  that he used a great deal of poetic license in his telling of the story, his book fails to come to terms with the fact that though Glass may have initially been compelled by revenge after being abandoned and left to die after his mauling by a grizzly bear in 1823, in the end, he did not choose to exact revenge when reunited with the two men who left him to die.

Frederick Manfred’s novel Lord Grizzly, on the other hand, written in 1954, did not shy away from Glass’s ultimate forgiveness.  But that theme did not attract the attention of a director who was the recipient of multiple Academy (and other) Awards.  In Hollywood, revenge is apparently considered much more riveting.

When the movie first came out, the Argus Leader interviewed Frederick Manfred’s son Fred. “Fred, who lives in Luverne, says that he has no plans to see the movie, which he sees as a lost opportunity. In embracing the notion of bloodthirsty revenge for DiCaprio’s character rather than forgiveness, as Manfred espoused in his work, he believes the filmmakers missed the essence of what makes Lord Grizzly so special.

‘We’re a little more enamored with Hugh Glass out here because he did the right thing in the long run,’ says Fred, 61.  ‘Whether it was a spiritual awakening or the way we grew up, we admire him for going through that crawl, finding the guys who left him behind and then ultimately deciding to let it go.'”

Maybe being mauled by a Grizzly and left with what should have been mortal wounds, being abandoned by one’s companions, crawling hundreds of miles to the nearest fort through what is now South Dakota, only to be subsequently attacked by hostile Indians, nearly frozen to death, and narrowly escaping starvation, has more of an impact on those who grew up in the northern plains.  Fredrick Manfred, from Luverne, MN, perhaps understood the transformative impact of putting oneself through even more trauma in order to exact revenge than does Punke.  Perhaps he was more aware of the kinds of decisions that a violent, relentlessly difficult environment demands of all who are at its mercy, even those who make a choice to survive at the expense of others.

What would Hugh Glass have done if he had had to make that choice?   What if he had been the one in imminent mortal danger, having to choose whether to save his own life or the life a man who, by any rational estimation, would die anyway. We don’t know.  But maybe that’s the conclusion he came to in the end.  To forgive an act he well might have chosen himself had the roles been reversed.

The Revenant, $8.00 at The Book Shop.


Soft Gold

The word “Pashmina” has become the description of any large scarf that can be worn as a shawl, regardless of what fabric it’s made of. But a true Pashmina is made of “the finest type of cashmere wool. The textiles made from it were first woven in Kashmir. The name comes from Persian: پشمینه / pašmina, meaning “made from wool” and literally translates to “Soft Gold” in Kashmiri.” (Wikipedia)
The Book Shop and Gifty Things Vintage has three genuine pashminas today. Two are 100% Kashmir and one, the black and gold, below) is 55% kashmir and 45% silk. $30.00 in like new condition.005003

The Cold Nowhere by Brian Freeman: A fifteen-second review



Jonathan Stride hits his stride in this story of a traumatized young girl running for her life in Duluth.  Not only do you become familiar with Duluth’s environs, but the story is taut, well-paced, and will keep you turning pages far into the night. I’ve read it twice and couldn’t put it down either time!   $7.50

Books to read before you see the movie: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

From the LA Times:

Steve Jobs: Michael Fassbender stars in the second biopic about the Apple founder since his death in 2011. Seth Rogan will play Steve Wozniak. Adapted from the biography by Walter Isaacson. Oct 9.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson in hardcover is in stock here today for $12.25.

Mid Century Desk & Saturday Evening Post


Another great vintage desk is now available! It looks so very mid century mod. We also have a nice selection of Saturday Evening Post issues (1940s-1960s) displayed on it at the moment!

Saturday Evening Post$10.50 per issue