During the summer, we stayed in a cabin at Hungry Mother State Park just outside of Marion, VA. We have frequented this park over the years, as one of our favorite destinations to relax and recharge. There are walking trails, a lake for canoeing and kayaking, swimming and fishing, a restaurant and ranger lead environmental and animal programs. While visiting this year, I read, took long walks with our dogs, toasted marshmallows, and read more. I hope you enjoy this month’s books as much as I enjoyed my stay at Hungry Mother State Park.
Three Story House
By Courtney Miller Santo
What brings your family together? Meet the triplins, Elyse, Isabel, and Lizzie. The cousins are the same age, born in the same month, though Lizzie is a cousin by stepfather; thus, the pet name “triplins.” Santo has built a story around a condemned house left to Lizzie’s family by her grandmother. Through difficult circumstances, the triplins find themselves living in and renovating the house. In the process, they face their fears and attempt to rebuild their crumbling lives. (Included in this book are reading group discussion questions).
After reading this lovely novel from Courtney Miller Santo, check out her other book, “The Roots of the Olive Tree.”
By Sally Denton
I recently read the article “General Assembly Members Share Gratitude With Students at Catawba Valley Community College.” The partnership was established between the state government and the Catawba Valley Furniture Academy to build 50 love seats for the North Carolina capital building. The pieces will replace furniture from 1963. Amazingly, each piece only costs $250. What an opportunity for these students to put on their résumés! And for taxpayers’ no big government contract! It is a win-win for all.
However, when it comes to infrastructure, it takes a larger entity to accomplish the big stuff. Government-funded construction contracts are nothing new, and cover the gambit of roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and so much more. A staggering and endless amount of money is involved.
For the Iraq War, under the Bush administration, Bechtel and Halliburton were the main contractors. The big-government contracts continued under Clinton and Obama.
It all began when Warren A. “Dad” Bechtel got his break with a subcontract with Western Pacific Railroad, and later one to build the Hoover Dam. From there “Dad” and his sons built their company with government contracts. The list includes but is not limited to the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Extension, the Bay Area Rapid Transit System, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System and international airports. The list goes on to include ports, harbors, hydroelectric and nuclear plants, bridges and the futuristic Saudi Arabian city of Jubail. Bechtel is right up there with Cargill, Dell and Koch industries.
The private companies answer to no one, exude power and are responsible for multitudes of growth in the world. They are an invisible wing of the White House funded by taxpayers. The well-written and detailed-packed book is the story of the Bechtel empire.
Multi-award winner Sofia Grant has written books under the name of Sophia Littlefield. If you enjoy post-World War II fashion, or even learning a little more about fabric, I believe you will adore “The Dress in the Window.”
The story revolves around Peggy and Jeanne, sisters who live with Tommie, Peggy’s 7-year-old daughter; and Thelma, Peggy’s mother-in- law; in a small mill town outside of Philadelphia. It is 1949, and like most young women, the two sisters worship fashion. At a time when most women sewed their own clothes, the sisters excelled. Peggy is the artistic fashion designer, and Jeanne is the talented tailor. Though women did not own businesses, Peggy and Jeanne seemed to have carved out a small career of creating and constructing designs for woman with curves and hips. Nevertheless, tough times call for tough decisions, and the measurement of worth will divide the family.
I could not put this book down. It is the couture of books! (Bonus: Story behind the book and Q &A with Sophia Grant available at the end of the novel).
Featured Author of the Month
The Dakota cooperative apartment building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan is famous for being the former home of Beatle John Lennon. First erected in the late 19th century by Edward Clark, head of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, the place became purely known as “The Address.” Author Fiona Davis has used the location to design a fictional story about two families who are intertwined over the years through love, hardship and money.
In “The Address” Theodore Camden, his wife Minnie and their three children will be making their home at the Dakota, where Theodore has hired Sara Smythe to be the managerette. Over the next year, the duties of running this behemoth of a modern day luxury apartment building will cement Sara and Theo as a working duo in many ways. However, Theo has some secrets, and Sara’s love for him will drive her to some unthinkable decisions. The heirs of the Camden estate will eventually reveal part of their story, but will also change the fate of their own lives. “The Address” is Fiona Davis’s second novel, and it is a fascinating read. LOL
Janet Oliver is a retired librarian for NHC Public Library. Follow her on Twitter: @LovelyThingsNC