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Archive for August 8th, 2017

Aphra Behn: A Secret Life

The Secret Life of Aphra Behn by Janet Todd

Aphra Behn (1640-1689), poet, playwright, novelist, traveller and spy, was the first woman to earn her living as a writer. This biography uses recently-discovered documents in England and the Netherlands to unmask this elusive author whose works include The Rover, The Fair Jilt, Love Letters Between a Nobleman and his Sister, and The Forc’d Marriage.

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 Janet Todd

Author’s Bio

Janet Margaret Todd is a Welsh-born academic and a well-respected author of many books on women in literature. Todd was educated at Cambridge University and the University of Florida, where she undertook a doctorate on the poet John Clare.

She is currently the Herbert JC Grierson Professor of English Literature at the University of Aberdeen. On 1 September 2008, Professor Todd took up the post of President of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. She is the seventh President of the college.

Janet Todd’s research concerns literature and culture of the Restoration and eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Over a long career, primarily in the US and the UK at Cambridge University, University of East Anglia, Glasgow University and University of Aberdeen, she has published and contributed to more than 38 books, mainly on women’s writing, cultural history and the development of fiction. She also edited full scale editions of Mary Wollstonecraft (with Marilyn Butler) and Aphra Behn, as well as individual works of women such as Helen Maria Williams, Mary Shelley, Mary Carleton and Eliza Fenwick.

She is the General Editor of the nine-volume The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen, editing the volume Jane Austen in Context and co-editing Persuasion and Later Manuscripts.

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My Review

3 Stars

Aphra Behn is the first woman to make her living as a writer of plays during the Restoration period. But the knowledge of her is very limited because over her years she had many versions of herself that she told from her parents, her name, and such. Janet Todd has done a great job of filling in the possibilities of Aphra’s life from what is known. But with intense review of her work, Janet Todd has done a great job of putting together a story about Aphra.

Aphra was many things over her years and a study in complete opposites seemed to be the main thing. She wrote plays, translated books, was a spy, loved both men and women, and although she was famous she also wanted her privacy. But the thing I liked the best about her was that she didn’t knuckle down to the critics and the men that expected her to write a specific way just because she was a woman.

Janet Todd does break down Alpha’s plays but I’m sorry to admit that I don’t mind reading things but when you start analyzing them like a high school English class my mind shuts off. I did think this was a well written story of Aphra Behn and it introduced me to an author that I had never heard of before.

I received The Secret Life of Aphra Behn from the publisher for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller

In this story for readers of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and A Man Called Ove, when all seems lost, he finds what matters most.

Walter Lavender Jr. is a master of finding. A wearer of high-tops. A maker of croissants. A son keeping vigil, twelve years counting.

But he wouldn’t be able to tell you. Silenced by his motor speech disorder, Walter’s life gets lonely. Fortunately, he has The Lavenders—his mother’s enchanted dessert shop, where marzipan dragons breathe actual fire. He also has a knack for tracking down any missing thing—except for his lost father.

So when the Book at the root of the bakery’s magic vanishes, Walter, accompanied by his overweight golden retriever, journeys through New York City to find it—along the way encountering an unforgettable cast of lost souls.

Steeped in nostalgic wonder, The Luster of Lost Things explores the depths of our capacity for kindness and our ability to heal. A lyrical meditation on why we become lost and how we are found, from the bright, broken heart of a boy who knows where to look for everyone but himself.

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 Sophie Chen Keller

Author’s Bio

Sophie Chen Keller is the author of The Luster of Lost Things. She was born in China and raised in Ohio and California. Her short fiction has won several awards and has appeared in publications such as Glimmer Train and Pedestal. After graduating from Harvard, she moved to New York City, where she currently resides with her husband and a not-so-secret cabinet of sweets.

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My Review

5 stars

Walter Lavender Jr. is a special boy that has a motor speech disorder that keeps him from speaking. Because of being bullied for it, Walter doesn’t talk which limits his world. He finds peace in his mother’s store, The Lavenders amount the clients and staff. The Lavenders is an enchanted bakery where the pastries come to life, which is what it did until the special book that powers these creations is stolen and a new landlord decides to close down the shop. Walter decides to brave the world with his Golden Retriever Milton and hunt down the magical book. This is going to be an adventure where Walter finds more than just the book and opens up to the world.

Walter is a great kid that is so special yet bullied to the point of silence. My heart just broke for him but I knew that this little adventure would be the best thing for him. He finds lost and forgotten things and comes across several people that fit into that category. I love how the people he meets adds to this widening world of his.

This is a magical story, quite literally of a boy finding his place in the world as he tries to rescue his mother’s bakery. It’s also so sad when you hear the different stories from the forgotten and abandoned people that he meets. It was a great read and one that I think most people will enjoy.

I received The Luster of Lost Things from Penguin Random House for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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