Book Review

Tobit’s Dog: Book Review

I recently finished Tobit’s Dog by Michael Nicholas Richard. I had great hopes for this historical fiction, as one always sees it pasted in the Ignatius Press catalogue near the likes of Sigrid Unset and Michael O’Brien–both both excellent authors.

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Essentially this novel is a retelling of the biblical book of Tobit, but with an American, racial spin, being set in North Carolina during the Depression.  Now, I love the biblical book of Tobit, so as I said, I had great hopes for this modern twist.

Alas, I was disappointed–not disappointed enough to quit reading it, mind you, but just disappointed.  It’s like getting all psyched up for a run in the wintertime.  You know, when you commence putting on layer upon layer of clothing, pull that face mask on, and then realize the wind’s whipping at 30mph with the thermometer hovering at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.  What to do?  Suck it up and get going, of course.  Realizing that you’re in for a doozy and that things might not end well.

So as I say, I was disappointed in Tobit’s Dog, and here’s why.

Firstly, the characters were all limp and toneless.  I mean, there was no real depth to Tobit, Tobias, Anna, Sarah, Gaston Walker, Judge Oliver, Mason Newberry, Del Gaines, Ben Cobb, Crafy Forgeron, Doc Mack…well, all of them.  There were too many characters in this book.  It was distracting.  Like on page 9, not kidding, I had to start writing them down.  When I got to 20 names, by the first third of the book, I just quit with it.  And let me tell you, there were many more to come.

Secondly, I was dissatisfied with the plot.  I didn’t mind it when Richard downplayed the great fish miracle or lowered the number of husbands killed by the demon, or used blessed water from Lourdes to cure Tobit’s blindness, but throwing in that disturbing suicide scene and adding the sodomy bit was…too much.  Not too much as in I can’t handle grotesque situations, no.  Too much, as in it was too hasty, barely scratching the surface of human nature, and corny and hackneyed.  In fact, the whole book had a deplorable element of triteness.

That said, would I recommend it?  Maybe, if you’re desperate for a read that won’t assault your Christian morals.  Richard does get that right, and I commend him for it.  You know, the good is good, and the bad is bad.  And good wins.  Thanks be to God.

A Note on Moving

Lastly, we’re in the final stages of packing a household of 9 and about to sail across 500 miles of prairie to disembark in a forest.  It’s rather exciting around here, and I’m a bit distracted.

In other words, it’ll probably be a few weeks before I can offer another post.

 

Life is Worth Living

January Picks

Here are some of my favorite things lately.  Is there anything you’ve been enjoying?  I’d love to hear about it.

January Picks

Favorite Children’s Book on Audible:  Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Brink.  Since we’re moving to Wisconsin, we thought this book pertinent, which it is.  But, seriously, it’s very entertaining too.

Favorite Read Aloud:  Rebecca Caudill’s Tree of Freedom, which we’re in the middle of.  The children groan every time I put it down.  “Ah, Mom!  Can’t you just read one more page?”  But a girl’s gotta have Quiet Time; I can’t read aloud all day long.

My Favorite Read:  Hands down, Hilaire Belloc’s Path to Rome.  Every time I read it, I just chuckle and laugh to myself.  He’s so witty!  Everything I’ve ever read by him is a gem, including this travelogue.

Best Amazon Purchase:  Besides my new dress with pockets?  The board game Catan.  We can’t stop playing it; our whole family is addicted.  In fact, we should really consider purchasing the 5-6 player Expansion.  And Sea-Farers.  Or Cities and Knights

Favorite YouTube Video:  Yes, I just made this a category.  But if you haven’t been watching Dr. Taylor Marshall, you’re missing out.  We especially enjoyed THIS one.

Best Movie Seen in an Actual Movie Theater:  Yeah, I know, right?!  I actually saw a movie in the movie theater.  It’s the first time that’s happened in about ten years, and it was worth it, even if there were jabs at marriage and the plight of women in the 1800s.  The ironic thing is, is that in this movie (and the book) all the women end up married.  Go figure.  In any case, go see Little Women.  You’ll sob.  (And thank you to my mother-in-law for inviting me!)

Favorite Drink:  A Gibraltar.  This is a double-shot of espresso with an ounce or so of steamed milk served in a tiny tumbler.  You gotta try it.  If you live in Bismarck, North Dakota, go to Anima Cucina and order one.  Jason makes the best drinks there.

Best Idea Ever:  Pay your children a dollar for every lesson in the Baltimore Catechism that they memorize.  Our children are on a learning frenzy, thanks to my husband.  I guess money can be a good motivator…

Happy January!

 

Book Review

“Nope” to Sarah’s Latest

I recently started reading Cardinal Sarah’s latest book The Day is Now Spent, but I had to quit, for I’m spent.  Why, oh why will he insist on everlastingly quoting Pope Francis?  I got to page 97 and was about to swallow another Francis quotation, but I couldn’t.  I chucked the book across the room instead.*

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Here is a helpful guide for you.

It’s not that what Sarah is quoting is controversial or bad.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.  Sarah goes out of his way to find decent quotations out of Francis’s mouth.  (That had to take some time.)  Then Sarah will go on pretending that he and Francis are on the same page, which just isn’t true.

For example, Sarah is arguing and calling for the reform of corrupt clergy.  Just what has that to do with Francis?  Nothing.  In fact, Francis has only intentionally surrounded himself with very controversial and corrupt clergy.  Let’s remember that Francis knew about Pope Benedict’s censure on Ex-Cardinal McCarrick, but that didn’t stop Francis from hobnobbing with McCarrick and sending him on a public mission to China.

Let me repeat, it’s misleading to quote a conspicuously subversive man and pretend your minds are one.  I don’t think these two men could be more different from each other.  I’ll grant that Sarah probably has the sincerest of intentions, perhaps hoping that Francis is only naive or stupid or something, but I’m weary and done with it all.  Why not quote someone with a clear track record of ousting corrupt clergy?  Why not quote the Council of Trent on that?

Apparently I’m not the only one thinking these things either.  If you want more, check out this article from Dr. Jeff Mirus at the CatholicCulture.org.  I especially appreciate the second half of his article.

Parting Note on Sarah

Please note that I still would recommend Sarah’s God or Nothing and The Power of Silence.  He’s got some pertinent and profound things to say, especially about the primacy of prayer and silence.  (Not silence in the face of corruption, but rather silence as regards to the interior life.)  Sarah also has a miraculous and astounding personal story of growing up in Africa.

Truly, you should read his first two books.  I’ll warn you, though, he does quote Francis in both books, but it’s more forgivable, if you will, because these books were written earlier in Francis’s pontificate.

As it is, my book club is currently reading The Day Is Now Spent for November.  I can’t wait to hear what these other ladies are going to say.

What Else Am I Reading?

Books in Brief

Recently I finished Gertrud Von Le Fort’s The Song of the Scaffold.  This fictional novella is based on the real-life tragedy of the death of 16 Carmelites during the French Revolution.    If you want a short, but moving read, I strongly recommend it.

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The end, wherein the Carmelites are brought before the guillotine singing Veni Creator Spiritus, is very dramatic to say the least and inspired me to teach our children that ancient chant.

I also just finished a biography of J.R.R. Tolkien written by Humphrey Carpenter.  This was a very enjoyable read, and I also recommend it, especially for you Lord of the Rings fans.

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I picked this old paperback copy up at a local, used bookshop.

And lastly, I’m currently reading The Catholic Guide to Depression by Dr. Aaron Kheriaty.  (No, I’m not suffering from depression.)  I’m only a half of the way through, and I appreciate Dr. Kheriaty’s insights thus far.  Perhaps I’ll post more on this book later.

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Really, though, I can’t wait to read some more James Herriot.  He’s light; he’s funny; he’s pre-Amazon Synod…

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This is lovely reading.
*Ok, fine.  I didn’t actually chuck it across the room.  If I would have, the children would have looked askance at me, for we have a rule about throwing books: No Throwing Books.  It obviously damages them and anything else they might happen to hit, like their sisters.
Kim's Kitchen, Life is Worth Living

Chopping Tomatoes With Patrick Coffin

I have a tomato problem.  I didn’t think it would come to this, but it has.  There are just too many tomatoes in my garden.  Every day the children are bringing in buckets of them.

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The Latest Bucket

I thought that having six tomatoes plants would be manageable because I treated them so poorly.  In fact they’re just lying all over the ground in a tangled mess.

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Remember this photo from early September?  Utter neglect.

But I guess one can mistreat tomato plants, and they’ll still produce.

This is a problem because I don’t “can.”  I don’t know how to can, nor do I have any desire to can, but I do hate wasting good produce, so lately I’ve been making fresh salsa every day.

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Making fresh salsa.

But that still didn’t get rid of all these tomatoes.

So I sallied forth and made my very first pot of homemade tomato soup.  I did this by roasting a bunch of tomatoes, onions, and garlic first.

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Here’s a pan ready to go into the oven.

Then I blended them all in batches with basil from the garden.

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Blending.

My husband loved this soup, but the children thought it needed a little cream cheese.  Me?  I don’t care, I’m just trying to decide what I’m going to do with these:

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More tomatoes

In the meantime, what have I been listening to while chopping tomatoes?  The Patrick Coffin Show.  Have you heard his September interview with Joseph Pearce?  It’s soooo entertaining!  He and Pearce talk books for an hour and a half.  It’s delightful, especially because they’re mentioning such great books like Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and Belloc’s The Path To Rome.

Speaking of good books…if you’ve never read Joseph Pearce’s autobiography Race With the Devil, you should.  I have a tremendous respect for that man.  He went from being the leader of white supremacist group to writing Catholic biographies and editing a series of literature books for Ignatius Press.

Incidentally, my local Saturday Morning Book Club will be reading Pearce’s book Unmasking of Oscar Wilde in a few months.  I can’t wait for it.

 

Life is Worth Living

Cardinal Sarah’s Latest & a Note on Paul

I just received my copy of Cardinal Sarah’s latest book in the mail yesterday.

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Robert Cardinal Sarah’s The Day Is Now Far Spent

I can’t wait to get at it.  Fr. Z has pulled some tantalizing quotations HERE.  When I get a chance to read it, I’ll be sure to let you know my thoughts.  I have no doubt that this will be an excellent read.  His other two books were.

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Have you read this one yet?
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Or how about this one?  No?  You’re really, really missing out.

I did notice that Sarah’s new book begins with a Part 1 titled “Spiritual and Religious Collapse.”  He quotes Luke 18:8, “When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Indeed, will he?

Paul is Recovering

We are now home again after two more surgeries and a week-long stay at the hospital in Rochester.  Paul’s doctors are now experimenting with two shunts.  He’s got one that sits in the arachnoid cyst on his brain, and the other is in his spine.  The hope is that these two shunts will better regulate the fluid in his brain.

We hope this works, as it’s a difficult strain on our family to be separated so much–to say nothing of watching Paul tremble in pain during periods of incredibly high levels of pressure.  I really cannot describe the agony one experiences just watching him.  I have a new respect for Mary at the foot of the Cross.

In any case, thank you all for the prayers.  Truly, we are grateful.

Life is Worth Living

Summer Vacation: Weddings & Books

Dear Readers,

I will be taking a break from this blog for about 3 weeks.  Firstly because we’ll be doing some traveling in the tropics of South Dakota, and secondly because I have a few books that I’d like to get through.

Firstly: A Wedding

My brother is getting married on the Feast of St. Martha, July 29th.  He and his fiancé have a devotion to this great saint, hence a Monday wedding.  We are very excited for them both and will be traveling down a few days prior to and then staying a few days later.  I am looking forward to toasting glasses of wine and visiting with my family.

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My mom snapped this photo of The Eldest, me, and my dad when we last visited for the Bridal Shower a few weeks ago.

After the wedding, we’ll be driving to my parent’s lake house to watch the children splash around, and then after they go to bed, we’ll play endless card games.  It promises to be a lovely few days of no internet.

Secondly: Lovely Books to Read!

Lately I’ve been enjoying a number of James Herriot’s books.  It all began when I stumbled upon a cheap paperback of his at a used bookstore.  It was All Things Bright and Beautiful.  I picked it up because my children and I love to read his Treasury for Children.

Anyway, All Things Bright and Beautiful was such a charming and entertaining read for summer that I decided to check out every book I could find at our library.  I can’t wait to get at them.  If you need something light and bright, then definitely read some Herriot.

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Lastly, A New Book Club

Lastly, I’ve started a new book club for moms in my area.  I had been thinking about doing this for awhile now, but I just never did for the logical reason that I already belong to a book club–a good one, too.  My current book club follows the reading suggestions of the Well-Read Mom website.  They’re generally great reads, but even better are the women in the actual group.  But the meeting time is very difficult for me, and so I’ve done it.

Saturday Morning Book Club

Yep, you guessed it, we’re meeting on Saturday mornings, once a month.  I chose Saturday mornings because this is when I happen to have free time.  In fact every Saturday morning, once I finish my cleaning chores, I leave for the day, and so I thought, why not see if other mothers would like to join me to discuss books?

I didn’t think there would be much interest, as many families tend to be busy.  In fact, I really thought I’d only have one to two other moms interested.  But I was wrong.  I’ve got 12 moms on the email list.

For those of you who might be curious, I’ll list this year’s selection of books below.  I chose these books for the simple reason that I wanted to read them, or reread them in some cases.  I’ll try to post a word or two about the books, when we get to them.  Maybe you’ll want to read along with us?

August:  Michael O’Brien, Father Elijah
September:  Taylor Marshall, Infiltration
October:  Gertrud von Le Fort, Song of the Scaffold
November:  Cardinal Sarah, The Day is Now Far Spent
December:  Sigrid Undset, Ida Elizabeth
January:  Joseph Pearce, The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde
February:  Hilaire Belloc, The Path to Rome
March:  Michael Richard, Tobit’s Dog
April:  G. K. Chesterton, St. Thomas & St. Francis
May:  Gereron Goldmann, The Shadow of His Wings

 

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Happy Summer!

See you all in 3 weeks.