Saturday, 2 January 2016

Weekend Wrap-up 2 January 2016

I cannot believe we are in a new year but I love it. It is like sleeping in new bedding, eating off from clean plates and running down hills with the dogs in fresh grass.

This is the inaugural post of Weekend Wrap-up where I share what has been and what might be each and every weekend.

First things first. Sheila of Book Journey (here) wants to know where all of her readers are from and what is the first book of the year they are  reading.
1.  I live in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia so I hope to add this continent to her list of other reader's countries and continents.
2. The book the Penguin and I are travelling through today is the Gilded Hour by Sarah Donati.


We are in New York City in the1880's. We are still hearing stories about the American civil war.
Sophie and Anna are half cousins who live in a large family home in New York with their aunt.  But...Sophie is an obstetrician and Anna is a surgeon.  Sophie is a woman of colour and Anna is a caucasian. Sophie has come from Louisiana to live in Manhattan with Anna and her aunt and their housekeeper and gardener (who are a married couple). 

Sophie is in love with Cap who has tuberculosis and although they do marry they stay on separate sides of the room from each other. Cap is dying and Sophie and Cap are about to go to Europe for a new experimental treatment program Cap will participate in.

Both physicians work with the poverty stricken New York new immigrants and birth control is the biggest issue. There is an important man in town, Anthony Comstock (an evil do-er) who tries to trap physicians into giving women birth control information. The doctors he uncovers end up in prison for a couple of years because distributing this information is currently illegal.  This side of the story is very interesting and makes one realise how very difficult it was for women who kept producing children whether they wanted them or not.  

On a fluffier side Anna falls in love with a police detective of Italian descent.  There is a lot of walking together, hand holding, sneaking away for quiet interludes and Anna trembles a lot. The trembling actually gets a bit over acted. The Penguin and I roll our eyes. But we like both of them and want them to be happy.

The story began with Anna, covering for Sophie in checking the newest immigrants that have come into New York on a ship. There are four young children from Italy who have lost their parents onboard due to the typhoid epidemic that swept the ship. Many of the immigrant children arrived in New York as orphans. That is when the protestant and Catholic churches stepped in and farmed the children out. In this case there are two girls and two boys who are immediately separated by the church.  Because there is such chaos at the wharfs a police officer needs to be there. This is when DS Jack first spies Anna (across a crowded room?) 

Anna cannot help think about these children and manages to adopt the girls into their household. But...the quest is now on to find the boys. The sisters cannot be consoled until their brothers are with them. The story continues.

I usually talk about a book just before I finish it because that way there are no accidental spoilers being talked about by the Penguin and I.  We do have loose lips at times when it comes to books.

This book is for my new book club I have joined and I meet with them (meet them all) at the Grand Chanceller Hotel lobby the last Wed evening of January.  I am to walk around the lobby and look for a book in the middle of a table.  Is that exciting?  I want to make a good impression so I am reading the book.  I have mixed feelings about the book. We are enjoying it very much. It is a serious topic. The themes are around the poverty of the New York immigrants (in this case Italians and Irish). The themes around women's rights has a lot to offer. Female surgeons in the 1880's gets a lot of discussion. Birth control, illegal abortion, wealthy vrs the poor. The role of the churches in determining what happens to these orphaned children. They end up in work houses, sent west to farms, put into orphanages where quite a bit of abuse happens.

Then there is the fluffy side.  Will Cap recover from his tuberculosis? What will happen after Cap and Sophie move to Europe?  Will they actually make it because now one of their patients has died of a botched abortion and old what's his name, Mr. Comstock, wants them tarred and feathered. The legalities have delayed the European cruise for them.

Will Anna stop trembling and enjoy her marriage to the detective? Will the sisters of Cap accept a sister in law of colour even though she is a well respected doctor?  Will they find Lea's and Rosa's brothers? All they have to go on is the curly black hair and blue eyes, unusual in Italian children.

This book is a romp through American history, in lovely New York city- did I also say this is the decade the Brooklyn Bridge is being built and the grand opening is spectacular with fireworks? I liked that part. The Penguin loves fireworks.
I will finish this book before too long and then onwards we go into the tunnel that is to be 2016.
Next up for the Penguin and I this coming week. We need to read two short stories related to the Deal Me in Challenge and see if they have anything in common. They are from two different books, one being a World Short Story read so that might be fun. The stories have been picked. I will read them in the next day.
I have a 7 day photography game going on with the Hobart Photographic Society on our Facebook page.  We have to submit an image a day for 7 days. I  have uploaded for 4 days now. That has been fun. I have been taking my two dogs, Molly and Odie on walks along with my camera and photographing things that grow along the walk.  Odie is so bad on the leash, pulling my arms out that this is good for him. I walk him for about two or three minutes, tell him to "Wait!"  He must hold still while I focus and snap the camera and then "Walk on".  He is getting better but we have a ways to go. It is very hard to focus on a bird on a wire, you have one shot before it flies away and Odie is pulling on my camera arm. I am getting very good at taking pictures of blur.  However I did mange this beautiful maroon red leafed tree. It didn't fly off and I was happy with this photo. 

What does Odie and the wind have in common?   
Just look at that face. 
Next week?

Well let the good times roll. More reading. 
  1. Finish The Gilded Hour. 
  2. Review the 2 short stories. 
  3. Start on my Fuller's Book group book for first week of February. (All the Light We Cannot See)
  4. Finish two lessons from the Photoshop course. (I have 6 more lessons to go, however I might only do one as I have forgotten quite a lot over the Christmas period and need to review the past two lessons. The layering is really tricky.
  5. I just remembered, I also have the non fiction vintage Penguin book about New South Wales to finish for the Classic Club spin.  aaahhhgggg
  6. Meet my friend Kate for a coffee while her daughter does a driving lesson Wednesday (so we don't have to think about Sarah on the road in a car..another ahhhhhggggg)
  7. Finish the photographic challenge (3 days to go). 
That should do it.   In closing:   May the Penguin Go With You.


  1. I haven't heard about "The Gilded Hour" but it sounds fascinating!

    1. You might enjoy it if you light historical fiction.Thanks for dropping by.

    2. I have 10% to go. The second half really takes off as the author seems to establish more of a rhythm. I am enjoying it.

  2. Happy new year! I've not read this but there is something special about these sweeping historical novels set in New York... sounds wonderful, enjoy.

    1. Thanks Jo, I haven't read an historical fiction book in quite awhile and must say I am enjoying it. That is the good thing about book clubs. You read books you normally wouldn't for yourself.

  3. Loved your post. Happy 2016 Reading!

  4. uncle wiggly(our 4 lb. chihuahua)says to say hello to molly and odie. sounds like an ambitious and complicated schedule; i find i am intimidated lately by having to do more than one thing at a time; it's nice to hear about others who can handle it-gives one a bit of a cheer up, don't ya know. tx and good luck with all of it!

    1. Love the name Uncle Wiggly. Our cats are called Uncle Buck and Cousin Eddie. We'll see how I go with all of this.

  5. The Gilded Hour sounds really good...a totally new title to me. I enjoyed reading this post :)

  6. ENJOY your first book of the year.

    I had a giveaway for this book, but have never read it.

    Happy New Year and Happy Reading!!

    Silver’s Reviews
    My First Book Of The Year

  7. Happy New Year, Pam - enjoy your reading and travelling!


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