What I’m reading this week


Here’s what I’m reading this week:

I am about three-fourths of the way through San Miguel. It is interesting, but sad, and is told from the points-of-view of the women who lived on this rocky, windswept island, westernmost of the Channel Islands just west of Santa Barbara and Ventura. There is a fascinating video on the Channel Islands National Park website.

Before I read this book, I did not even know of the existence of these islands, nor that anyone had ever lived there. The islands actually have an intriguing history. San Miguel is small, roughly four by eighy miles, and must be amazingly isolated. I like isolation maybe more than most people, but I think even I might begin to feel a bit unhappy there after a time. The photo above, from the National Park Service, gives you some idea just how empty it is. The first family in the book went there in the 1880s, so you can imagine how far away from everything it must have felt.

The photos I have found of San Miguel show a beautiful, if lonely, place. This is not at all how the book portrays it. Point of view tells you a lot, and Maranatha Waters, the book’s protagonist, saw it as a filthy, lonely, windy, muddy, rocky, thoroughly miserable place. This article in the Santa Barbara Independent, reviews another book about all of the islands. It looks like a really interesting read!

This is what I imagine the “road” must have been like in the book, only muddier and rockier

I have read tons of stories and diaries of women who followed their husbands across the Plains in the mid- and late-1800s, in search of a better life. We, today, have absolutely nothing to complain about. I often think how many of these women, dealing with deprivations, loneliness, illness, and a life far more difficult than we can begin to imagine, very slowly went mad. Many did not, of course, and that’s not the fate of the women in this book. They were definitely made of stern stuff.

I’ll have finished the book by next week so will be able to tell you more, but judging from what I’ve read so far, I do recommend it.

Yesterday I finished the Amelia Peabody book, The Curse of the Pharoahs, that I was listening to while I cut out the canning season quilt. While I was listening to it, I thought how very like the Agatha Christie novels these books are. And are not. They are much more humorous, and I think the mysteries are slightly easier to solve. Either way, I enjoy them. (I also enjoy Agatha Christie!)

These photos, found on Pinterest (sadly, without attribution), probably not of exactly the same timeframe, made me chuckle. The clothing in particular seems so incredibly unsuited for the environment! Poor ladies!

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Today I will be starting A Man Called Ove. I have wanted to read it for ever but recently read several reviews that mentioned it being better listened to than read. Those made it easy for me to buy it from Audible and have it waiting in the wings. I love listening to one book and then reading another (not at the same time, mind). It makes me feel like I am really burning through my book list. Of course, when your TBR list is pages long, burning through is really the only way.

I’m off for a haircut and some, ahem, embellishment today, so may not get in too much sewing. We’ll see!

What’s on for your Thursday?


  • Wendy Tuma

    In my mind, I think I’m a pretty strong woman; however, when I read stories of the women who crossed the plains, I realize that it’s a good thing I was not born in that time! San Miguel sounds intriguing. That might be my next read once I finish Rules of Civility.

    • I agree. I think I could withstand a lot, but when I really think about what those women did, I am not so sure.

      I’ll be curious what you think of Rules of Civility. It’s waiting patiently for me to get to it! As usual, I can’t read fast enough.