My Summer Reading, Part One

Woman reading a book, summer relaxing

Reading, reading, reading. I always have a book going. And for a writer, that’s a good thing since Diana Gabaldon’s (Outlander) advice to writers is: Read. Write. Don’t stop.

Here are some highlights from my summer reading.

Wild Highland Home Alexandra Raife

I learned of this author from British friends who knew her (Alexandra Raife is a pen name). I picked The Way Home off the bookshelf in their guest room for bedtime reading, and I was just starting to enjoy it when I had to leave. When I got home, my library had only one book by Alexandra Raife, Wild Highland Home.

What a delight Wild Highland Home is! The romantic Highlands vividly described in all its varied and maddening glory. A broken woman seeking she-doesn’t-know-what in isolation in a wreck of an old cottage. And a broken man. Romance in the Highlands hinted at, then longed for, frustrated, then…And a community cast of Highland characters. Five stars!

I’ve scoured local used bookstores to find more Alexandra Raife, but I haven’t had any luck so far; I don’t think her books got as popular in the US. Too bad for us. I’ll keep looking.

The Stormy Petrel Mary Stewart

Mary Stewart wrote The Moonspinners, therefore Mary Stewart made a big impression on me as a young teen; I devoured the book and the movie with Haley Mills and Peter McEnery. So, when The Stormy Petrel appeared on a list of romantic books set in Scotland, I jumped on it, since I can’t ever get enough of Scotland.

Stewart created the fictional island of Moila off the coast of the Isle of Mull where Professor Rose Fenemore intends to get away from it all in a remote cottage and catch up on her side job of writing. One dark and stormy night, two men show up and plans change. What’s the connection between the two men? What’s their connection to the cottage Rose is renting? And how does any of that involve her? Eventually the police show up.

Stewart’s rich description had me feeling the biting midges and hearing the cries of the stormy petrels…and worrying for Rose’s safety.

Captain Blood Rafael Sabatini

Captain Blood ruined me for life. I first read it at about age eleven and I loved it—swashbuckling pirates and romance. I’m sure if the adults knew I was reading it, it would have been discouraged, but somebody left it on top of a pile of books and magazines at my grandparents’ cabin, and I just picked it up and disappeared into 17th century adventure. My uncle saw me put the book back when I finished and groused something about “kids your age shouldn’t be…,” but the damage was done; I was a romantic.

So reading Captain Blood again was revisiting a memory I’ve always cherished. And I wasn’t disappointed. Published in 1922, Captain Blood isn’t an easy read because of the antiquated language, but the story is richly drawn, as is Peter Blood’s sword! I was glad this reading was on a Kindle app—I surely skipped over a lot of words as a sixth-grader—grateful for the Kindle dictionary feature.

I’d also watched the Errol Flynn movie of Captain Blood many, many years ago and revisited that as well. I realized how truncated and condensed the story was in the movie to fit the format. So much of the richness of Sabatini’s tale left out.

Not a book most people would think of reading because the movie is such a classic, but as is often the case, the book really is better. The book gives the full impact of the political and social context. Captain Blood is more than a swashbuckler, it’s a powerful statement on man’s inhumanity to man and hope for a better future. Maybe it was good that I read Captain Blood at such an impressionable age.

What have you read this summer?


2 thoughts on “My Summer Reading, Part One

  1. “The Stormy Petrel” isn’t one of my favorite Mary Stewart books, but still worth the read. And I think you mentioned “Captain Blood” earlier, maybe? I really need to read it. Still on my Patricia Wentworth and the intrepid Miss Maud Silver kick. Getting my nerve up to read “1984.” I’ll let you know if that happens 🙂

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