Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tide Road by Valerie Compton - A review.

Tide RoadTide Road by Valerie Compton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This novel grabbed at my heart. A woman mourns the disappearance of an adult daughter and the book intertwines narrative from the mother's past and present as she struggles to come to terms with this tragedy.

Set mainly in the 1960s on Prince Edward Island, Valerie Compton describes island life with fondness and care. Life is speeding up with the coming of colour television and direct-dial telephone service, but the deep emotional threads in this novel take time to untangle. Alternately meditative and jarring, this story is difficult to put down. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the publisher Goose Lane for my copy.

View all my reviews

Monday, June 20, 2011

First foray to Stratford this season.

Last Thursday, I headed to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival with a couple of friends to see Richard III.  I had heard some months ago that Seana McKenna had asked to play Richard, that he was a character that she had wanted to inhabit for a long time.  So it was with great anticipation that we purchased tickets.  In the intervening weeks, some failry negative reviews came out in the press that had me second guessing myself.

Well, the play completely blew me out of the water.  It was in the Tom Patterson Theatre that has a long thrust stage.  It's a smallish space with no poor seats.  McKenna was brilliant.  Garbed all in black, sporting a hump and wig with long stringy hair over a bald spot, she limped on stage, seething with hatred and mockery of her rivals. It only took a few phrases to dismiss the slight incongruity of her voice which did not sound as if she was lowering it. The play is noteworthy in that Richard shares a lot of commentary with the audience in asides, often adding to, or completely contradicting, information he gives to his court.

A little excerpt:

It was lovely, if overcast, day.  We left Toronto around 10 am, had a picnic lunch beside the Avon River before the play at 2:00.  Afterwards, we visited the theatre shop and then enjoyed an excellent dinner at Down the Street before heading home.

I'm looking forward to returning to Stratford later this summer to see a few more productions including Jesus Christ Superstar and The Grapes of Wrath.  McKenna is also doing a one-woman play called Shakespeare's Will which I hope to catch.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The neutrality of facts?

From Chapter 2 of my current audiobook The Last Summer (Of You and Me) by Ann Brashares. Alice and Paul are lifelong friends.

[Alice] knew things she shouldn't have known.  She knew things Paul had not told her, things he probably didn't know. Alice hated that, and faulted her mother for having ever told her. Her mother was too keen on information, too quick to belive in the neutrality of facts, just because they were true.

"It's the journalist in me" her mother claimed, managing to praise herself even in apology.

This jumped out at me as I was listening, so much that I rewound and transcribed the text.

I suspect that I have this tendency myself, to use facts in ways that might be gossipy or hurtful or in other ways that have the potential to break trust. The passage reminds mne that sometimes there is a burden placed on the receiver of such facts, that are so very often far from neutral.

WWW Wednesdays...and book giveaway!


Haven't participated in this recently,  All you need to do is answer these three questions, and post your link over at Should Be Reading:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Here goes!

Currently reading:  I've got three four books currently ongoing:

  1. Richard III by William Shakespeare.  Trying to get through this before my trip to Stratford on Thursday.  I really need to buckle down and make a serious effort to get at least through the first two acts. Then Act III can be a surprise, LOL!
  2. The Likeness by Tana French.  This is a big book, clocking in at just under 700 pages. It's the second police procedural by this author and is set outside of Dublin. An intriguing premise: a young woman is found dead, and she is the spitting image of a police officer who used to work undercover. The ID on the body is that of the undercover officer's "persona" and said officer ends up going back into character, pretending that the woman didn't actually die, and moving in with her housemates. Hard to put down!
  3. The Last Summer of You and Me by Ann Brashares. I've just started this audiobook and don't have much to say about it yet. It's the first adult novel by Brashares who wrote the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and other YA titles.
  4. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain. I'm reading this via DailyLit and am about 15% of the way in. There are funny bits interspersed with boring bits.  

Recently finished:

  1. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (audiobook). Excellent fantasy adventure, and that's high praise from me as I don't usually enjoy fantasy literature. I'm looking forward to the rest of the trilogy. Philip Pullman narrates the novels and there is a cast of other readers which makes the audiobook very enjoyable.
  2. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin.  Beautfiful novel about a young woman who immigrates from Ireland in the late 50s. If any of my readers would like my copy, drop me a line and it's yours. First come, first served! Email, comment, Facebook, whatevs...
  3. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. Loved the format of this novel set at an international newspaper headquartered in Rome.  Tells the story of the paper in chapters, each the story of an employee or reader of the paper. Chapters are interspersed with third person narratives about the history of the company.  Funny, poignant, and well-deserving of the accolades it's received.

Up next:

  1. Needled to Death by Maggie Sefton.  This is a book from the "Knitting Mystery" series. It'll go quickly after I finish The Likeness. Got this one from Value Village a few months ago.
  2. Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay. This novel's been getting some great buzz. Got it from the library.
  3. Black Rose by Nora Roberts. This is my next audiobook. It's the second in the "In the Garden" trilogy and a follow-up to Blue Dahlia that I read a couple of weeks ago. It's a romance novel with some gardening and genealogy thrown in to keep it moving forward. Can't beat a good romance in the summer!



Friday, June 10, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Friday


  1. The boys are both away from home this week and it's been nice, in a wierd kind of way. Alex is up at the cottage witih his girlfriend and they're due back sometime today. Michael is working at the Toronto District School Board's Music by the Lake camp for elementary school students. He's a junior staff assistant, asked to work sort of last-minute-ish as they needed a trombone player. From the few texts we've received, it sounds like he's having a good time. We'll pick him up tomorrow around noon and then he needs to study for his exams next week.
  2. Saw the absolutely thrilling production of Alice in Wonderland last night at the National Ballet of Canada. I'm not a big ballet afficianado...I've only ever been to The Nutcracker (multiple times, from childhood) but this got such raves that I thought it was worth checking out.  I'm a convert! Originally a production of the Royal Ballet, it's full of surprises with stunning sets, props, and effects, and the score by Joby Talbot is terrific.
    <Image courtesy of National Ballet>
  3. Saw an old friend from high school on Wednesday evening. It's been years, yet we fell into conversation as if it had been a few days. Isn't it wonderful how that happens?  I'll see her again tonight as we're both attending Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera, courtesy of Opera By Request, in which a mutual friend (also from high school) is singing.
  4. The annual Luminato Festival starts this weekend and we've actually lined up tickets to some events this year! On our calendar:
    One Thousand and One Nights, a new theatrical production of these Arabic folktales. It's actually being staged in two three-hour segments, but we'll see one of them.
    - We tried to get tickets to hear Lebanese author and creator of the script for 1001 Nights Hanan al-Shayk, but they were sold out. I'm hoping maybe they'll repeat the event. 
    - Next weekend, we'll see "a raw and shocking re-imagination of Racine’s classic play [Andromache] from provocative Scottish director Graham McLaren." Z studied the play in school, but I am completely ignorant, so I should probably do a little reading about it ... 
    - I'm keen to take in the free installation by architect Philip Beesley called Sargasso. It was at the Vienna Biennale. There's a little promo video about it at the link that's well worth a watch.
    - Next Friday is a free outdoor concert in David Pecaut square featuring kd lang. Yay! 
    Can you see why I love Toronto?! 
  5. Next Thursday, I'm heading to Stratford with two gal pals to see Seana McKenna in Richard III. As Richard III. The play did NOT get great reviews, but I'm looking forward to it nonetheless.
    <Image courtesy Stratford Shakespeare Festival>
  6.  Our garden is actually looking somewhat acceptable this summer. There is still a whole section to tidy up, but I've started putting mulch down after I pull weeds, and the grass seed I picked up at Costco on the spur of the moment is doing really well in filling in some of the patchiness of the lawn. Being on a corner lot, everuthing is basically exposed, so it's been kind of embarrassing to have this wild and wooly thing happening on our property.  
  7. Just finished a terrific book, Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin. It's the story of a young Irish woman in the 50s who emigrates to Brooklyn and finds herself stuck between her old and new lives.  It's a compelling portrait of that time, relations between Irish, Italians, Jews, and African-Americans in this bustling city of immigrants. As a genealogist, it gave me some insight into what it must have been like for single women to come to the "new world" for a better life, without family, having to make new friends and find their way on their own (or, as in this case, with help from her parish priest.)  I highly recommend this quick read.
  8. Bonus: I am desperately trying to break my habit of putting two spaces after a period. There has been so much mockery of old-school people like me who were taught that in the last century, and it's terribly ingrained. But I'm trying.

Visit Jennifer over at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!


Monday, June 6, 2011

It's Monday....what am I reading?

Well, I finished up last quarter's Seasonal Reading Challenge with my best score ever!  So I'm on to a new reading list and heading full steam ahead. Last week I finished up a couple of Peter Robinson mysteries and The Silver Pigs on audio, just under the May 31st wire for the challenge.  I already had a bunch of books checked out of the library for the new challenge and whipped off a few right away:

  • The Sunday Wife by Cassandra King.  A middle-aged woman discovers who she is apart from her role as a minister's wife.  Set in the South, I really enjoyed this novel. 
  • Lovers by Vendela Vida.  I didn't know what to expect from this and came away thoroughly satisfied.  A middle-aged widow returns to a villiage in Turkey where she and her late husband spent their honeymoon.  She meets a peculiar cast of characters and has insights into this stage of her life.  Hard to put down.
  • The Eternal Smile: Three Stories by Gene Luen Yang. A collection of appealing graphic stories, light on text.
  • Thrifty: Living the Frugal Life with Style by Marjorie Harris.  I wanted to like this, and the sections with stories about Margaret Atwood are interesting, but there's not much new here for someone already actively pursing this kind of lifestyle.
  • An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender. An odd little book, one that I should have loved given the protagonists peculiar relationship with numbers (something like mine), but I had difficulty "getting" it.  Loved her novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake though.

Currently on board are

  • Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts.  A guilty pleasure, Roberts' stories.  I'm listening to this gardening-oriented book (first of a trilogy) on my iphone. Besides gardening, it's got love, lust, a ghost, children, a dog, and Southerners....all great subjects for a romance novel!
  • An Experiment in Love by Hilary Mantel.  I picked up Wolf Hall when I was in England and found it in a seaside cafe, used, for a pound.  I've had An Experiment in Love on hold for a while, so want to get this one read before it's due back at the library.
  • A Connecticut Yankee At King Arthurs Court by Mark Twain.  My friend Kathleen is just about through War and Peace via DailyLit (the email-based service that sends you a short bit of a novel every day to help you get through the classics.)  I read a couple of books this way years ago, but she's encouraged me to give it another go. I get the bits in my feed reader every morning. This book has 142 parts and I'm reading two a day do it will take me about 10 weeks to read.

Up next:

  • Richard III by WIlliam Shakespeare.  I'm heading to see the play at Stratford with some girlfriends in a couple of weeks and had better get this under my belt by then
  • How Shakespeare Changed Everything by Steven Marche.  This is a quick read and has been widely (and well) reviewed, so it's in my bag.
  • The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. A debut novel that's getting raves.
  • The Likeness by Tana French.  A great new-ish voice in the police procedural genre.  Looking forward to this, her second book.

As always, you can check out the settings of my books on this google map Where Am I Reading 2011?


Vox Cantoris: The Somerville Letter

Originally blogged by Vox Cantoris, but worth reproducing.

Father Stephen Somerville is well known in Canada. A priest of Toronto, many will sing his New Good Shepherd Mass and his Responsorial Psalms in Canada and other places using Catholic Book of Worship II or III. Father Somerville was active for many years at St. Michael's Choir School in Toronto before moving into parish ministry. In his later years he was "suspended" from active ministry by the then Cardinal Archbishop Aloysius Ambrozic. Father Somerville had celebrated the Usus Antiquior (1962 Missal) without an "indult" which we now know was never necessary and unfortunately, he did so in the Toronto chapel of the Society of St. Pius X. He is now long retired and living in New York State.

<Snip - click on link below for full version>

With the corrected translation of the Roman Missal coming this November, it is worth reading the repentance of one who assisted in giving us such a wretched forty years of liturgical banality and theological weakness.

The letter below is presented as a reference and as a historical curiosity; the recommendations made are those of its author--Vox

An Open Letter to the Church
Renouncing my Service on I.C.E.L.
By Father Stephen Somerville, STL.

Dear Fellow Catholics in the Roman Rite,

1 – I am a priest who for over ten years collaborated in a work that became a notable harm to the Catholic Faith. I wish now to apologize before God and the Church and to renounce decisively my personal sharing in that damaging project. I am speaking of the official work of translating the new post-Vatican II Latin liturgy into the English language, when I was a member of the Advisory Board of the International Commission on English Liturgy (I.C.E.L.).

2 – I am a priest of the Archdiocese of Toronto, Canada, ordained in 1956. Fascinated by the Liturgy from early youth, I was singled out in 1964 to represent Canada on the newly constituted I.C.E.L. as a member of the Advisory Board. At 33 its youngest member, and awkwardly aware of my shortcomings in liturgiology and related disciplines, I soon felt perplexity before the bold mistranslations confidently proposed and pressed by the everstrengthening radical/progressive element in our group. I felt but could not articulate the wrongness of so many of our committee's renderings.

3 – Let me illustrate briefly with a few examples. To the frequent greeting by the priest, The Lord be with you, the people traditionally answered, and with your (Thy) spirit: in Latin, Et cum spiritu tuo. But I.C.E.L. rewrote the answer: And also with you. This, besides having an overall trite sound, has added a redundant word, also. Worse, it has suppressed the word spirit which reminds us that we human beings have a spiritual soul. Furthermore, it has stopped the echo of four (inspired) uses of with your spirit in St. Paul's letters.

4 – In the I confess of the penitential rite, I.C.E.L. eliminated the threefold through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault, and substituted one feeble through my own fault. This is another nail in the coffin of the sense of sin.

5 – Before Communion, we pray Lord I am not worthy that thou shouldst (you should) enter under my roof. I.C.E.L. changed this to ... not worthy to receive you. We loose the roof metaphor, clear echo of the Gospel (Matth. 8:8), and a vivid, concrete image for a child.

6 – I.C.E.L.'s changes amounted to true devastation especially in the oration prayers of the Mass. The Collect or Opening Prayer for Ordinary Sunday 21 will exemplify the damage. The Latin prayer, strictly translated, runs thus: O God, who make the minds of the faithful to be of one will, grant to your peoples (grace) to love that which you command and to desire that which you promise, so that, amidst worldly variety, our hearts may there be fixed where true joys are found.

7 – Here is the I.C.E.L. version, in use since 1973: Father, help us to seek the values that will bring us lasting joy in this changing world. In our desire for what you promise, make us one in mind and heart.

8 – Now a few comments: To call God Father is not customary in the Liturgy, except Our Father in the Lord's prayer. Help us to seek implies that we could do this alone (Pelagian heresy) but would like some aid from God. Jesus teaches, without Me you can do nothing. The Latin prays grant (to us), not just help us. I.C.E.L.'s values suggests that secular buzzword, "values" that are currently popular, or politically correct, or changing from person to person, place to place. Lasting joy in this changing world, is impossible. In our desire presumes we already have the desire, but the Latin humbly prays for this. What you promise omits "what you (God) command", thus weakening our sense of duty. Make us one in mind (and heart) is a new sentence, and appears as the main petition, yet not in coherence with what went before. The Latin rather teaches that uniting our minds is a constant work of God, to be achieved by our pondering his commandments and promises. Clearly, I.C.E.L. has written a new prayer. Does all this criticism matter? Profoundly! The Liturgy is our law of praying (lex orandi), and it forms our law of believing (lex credendi). If I.C.E.L. has changed our liturgy, it will change our faith. We see signs of this change and loss of faith all around us.

9 – The foregoing instances of weakening the Latin Catholic Liturgy prayers must suffice. There are certainly THOUSANDS OF MISTRANSLATIONS in the accumulated work of I.C.E.L. As the work progressed I became a more and more articulate critic. My term of office on the Advisory Board ended voluntarily about 1973, and I was named Member Emeritus and Consultant. As of this writing I renounce any lingering reality of this status.

<Snip - Click on link below for full version.>

15 – I thank the kindly reader for persevering with me thus far. Let it be clear that it is FOR THE FAITH that I am renouncing my association with I.C.E.L. and the changes in the Liturgy. It is FOR THE FAITH that one must recover Catholic liturgical tradition. It is not a matter of mere nostalgia or recoiling before bad taste.

16 – Dear non-traditional Catholic Reader, do not lightly put aside this letter. It is addressed to you, who must know that only the true Faith can save you, that eternal salvation depends on holy and grace- filled sacraments as preserved under Christ by His faithful Church. Pursue these grave questions with prayer and by serious reading, especially in the publications of the Society of St Pius X.

17 – Peace be with you. May Jesus and Mary grant to us all a Blessed Return and a Faithful Perseverance in our true Catholic home.

Rev Father Stephen F. Somerville, STL.

This is important reading for Catholics of good faith. If learning from the past helps us move forward, go to the link to read the entire letter (and introductory remarks by the blogger).

Thanks to Vox Cantoris for reproducing this letter in it's entirety.

Friday, June 3, 2011

1860 Death Notice: Thomas Young, Toronto Architect

As part of my volunteer work for the Ontario Genealogical Society's Toronto Branch, I do some look-ups at the Ontario Archives for enquiries that come in to the Branch.

This week, I had three sets of look-ups to do.  One involved finding a news item in the Toronto Leader for Thomas Young.  Young was born in England in 1805 where he trained as an architect, and emigrated to Canada where he taught drawing and produced some of the earliest images of the growing city.  He soon became active as a working architect and was commissioned to design a number of significant municipal and private buildings.  HIs career foundered and he died of "apoplexy", a general term used to describe cardiac or cerebrovascular events.

The article about his death appeared in the October 4th edition (1860) of the Toronto Leader:


It reads:

Sudden Death

Yesterday morning a gentleman named Thomas Young, and old resident and well-known architect of this city, was found dead in his bed at the Grand Trunk Hotel, Palace street, where he had been staying for the previous week. On Tuesday night, he retired to rest apparently in good health; but not appearing at an advanced hour in the morning his room was entered and he was found a corpse. An inquest was held in the afternoon by Coroner Scott and a post mortem examination made by Drs. King and Alkin.The result of the medical inquiry showed that death had been caused by apoplexy.The jury returned a verdict accordingly. The deceased, who had no relatives in the city, occupied at one time an eminent position in his profession, but for some cause or other he unfortunately gave way to the seductive but destroying influence of liquor.

(Note:  Palace Street is today's Front Street)

Source:  Entry for Thomas Young in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.