Tuesday, July 28, 2020


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1. What are you currently reading? Cloche and Dagger by Jenn McKinlay. This is the first in The Hat Shop Mystery series, set in London. Scarlett is a Tampa woman who is ready to make big changes in her life, and her extended family offers her a solution -- join her cousin in London to help run the hat shop established by their grandmother. Eager to escape both ennui and a broken heart, Scarlett hops on a plane.

Only Cousin Vivian isn't there to meet her. In fact her cousin has gone missing, leaving Scarlett to run the business on her own. Vivian's friend/business associate tries to reassure her that spontaneously taking off on holiday is just the kind of thing Vivian would do, but Scarlett is not pacified. Things get more intense when a high-profile millinery customer is found murdered. Are these instances just a coincidence? Or is Vivian in real trouble somewhere ... and why won't anyone take Scarlett's concern seriously?

I like the "fish out of water" aspect of the book. Scarlett is dealing with jet lag and unfamiliar surroundings, so naturally we can't expect her to be a sharp and savvy sleuth. Jenn McKinlay is an experienced practitioner of the cozy mystery genre, so I know I'm in good hands and expect to continue enjoying this book.

2. What did you recently finish reading? The Nine of Us: Growing Up Kennedy by Jean Kennedy Smith.The eighth of Joe and Rose Kennedy's nine children, and the last one left (she died this summer at 92), Jean Kennedy Smith wrote an affectionate and highly readable memoir.

It's a completely uncritical book. If you've read anything about the Kennedy family, you've heard about the scandals and tragedy. This is not the book for anyone curious about growing up in a family that faced grand-scale gossip, womanizing, murder, substance abuse, rape allegations and even a lobotomy. 

As I read this, I kept hearing Streisand and "The Way We Were" in my head. For Jean, nearing the end of her life, it's the laughter she remembers. It's the love she shares here. I respect that.

While her stories are positive, they're still unique and intimate. Her memories of "Brother Bobby" (future Attorney General and Senator) were especially touching. I knew that, as an adult, he remained the most devout of the Kennedy kids. I wasn't aware of that it began with the connection he felt to St. Francis of Assisi. His middle name was Francis, and he felt it explained (excused?) his passion for animals, including the pet pig who rode beside Bobby en route to school in a chauffeur-driven limo.

The Kennedys were known for their family football games and Jean recalls one game in particular: Wednesday, November 9, 1960. The six remaining sibs (by now Joe, Jr., Kathleen and Rosemary were gone) played on the lawn, blowing off steam and trying to relax after one of their number had just won the White House. Their father called them to lunch, and the six began making their way to the house. Jack and Jean brought up the rear and Joe, Sr., who could not abide tardiness, told them in no uncertain terms to hurry up. Jean recalled how her brother grinned and enjoyed the absurdity of the moment: the newly-elected leader of the free world scolded for letting his chowder get cold.
So, if you want a book that's heavy on smiles -- and sometimes I do -- reach for this light and loving memoir.

3.  What will you read next? Something with a bit more grit and substance. I've got two possible candidates: Road to Jonestown about Jim Jones and The Girls, a novel based on the Manson Family. (When I go dark, I go dark.)


  1. Oh, yes, you are in for some darkness with The Girls! I haven't read The Road to Jonestown, but I might have to at some point.

    I am also still eyeing the book about the Kennedys...despite how it is not the usual book about scandals; and Cloche and Dagger looks tempting.

    Enjoy! Here's MY WWW POST

  2. You aren't kidding. Either of those two potential reads sound interesting. I've read and watched so many biographies about Jim Jones and I always find something new there. Happy reading!

    My WWW Wednesday post.

  3. Both of your potential next reads sound so interesting!!


  4. I love the premise of your cozy mystery--I'll have to check the series out.

    I couldn't decide if I liked The Girls or not--it's a compelling coming of age story for sure.