Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton. Rich beautiful fluffchick sacrifices other people’s lives to her happiness. Of course, this can also be done by those who are neither rich nor beautiful. What’s amazing is how much can be done to people without them wising up.
Kidnapped! by Robert Louis Stevenson. If there breathes a kid or an adult who hasn’t read this novel — read it! READ IT! Seriously, a darned good action book that also thinks about the consequences of actions. Almost a noir for kids, what with the kid being put in a as series of bad and false positions by enemies and bad luck — not to mention politics, history…. Besides, who doesn’t like a book about being on the run in the Scottish heather? READ IT!
The Swoop! by P.G. Wodehouse. In a short but sweet parody of all the INVASION-ENGLAND! science fiction thrillers of the early 1900’s (and even of Chesterton’s amusingly homey one), Wodehouse pictures England invaded by so many enemies at once that they don’t have room to stand.
Portrait of a Lady (Vol. 2) by Henry James. They read Henry James, so you don’t have to! (I know, he’s not that bad. But man, I’ve never read a great writer that was colder.)
Japanese Fairy Tales by Theodora Yei Ozaki.
I think I’ve covered Ozaki’s fascinating story on my blog — how she was the daughter of a Japanese nobleman, one of the first to study in the West, and an Englishwoman who was the daughter of one of his Western teachers. Her parents separated. She lived as Theodora with her mother until adolescence. Then her father suddenly took an interest in her again and she lived in Japan as Yei. This turned out to be all in service of getting her into an arranged marriage for his prestige. She rejected the whole scheme and went off to live and work by herself as an English teacher/translator. This was a hardscrabble life for a sickly young woman, although she received many kindnesses from both the Japanese and European expatriate communities, and ended up doing a lot of world-traveling with employers. She also, as you can see, wrote books.
However, fate kept delivering her Ozaki Yukio’s mail and vice versa. (He was a Japanese politician, and served as mayor of Tokyo for many years. No relation to Theodora Yei’s dad.) Friends wanted them to meet, which they resisted. (He had had a very unhappy first marriage.) When they finally did meet, they realized they were a great match. They remained happily married until her death, many years later.
And the Japanese cherry trees that bloom in DC every spring? They were a gift of Ozaki Yukio and Ozaki Yei Theodora. See? You knew them already.
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