Tuesday, February 25, 2020


WWW.WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt us to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.    

1. What are you currently reading? The Other Windsor Girl by George Blalock. Everyone seems to think that "Megxit" -- The Sussex's departure for a new life in Canada -- was instigated by Meghan. I'm not so sure. I've been reading about Prince Harry since (literally) before he was born and he's always seemed to struggle with his role as "spare" while Brother William gets to be heir. I wonder if stepping away from royal duties wasn't Harry's idea, and he found a willing partner in Meghan.

It was with Harry in mind that I reached for this historical novel about Princess Margaret. Like Harry, she grew up stuck a few steps behind her sibling, the future queen. Like Harry, she had looks and charisma, but lost out because of birth order. And like Harry, she struggled.

Set in the late 1940s, when Margaret was in her late teens, this book is told from the point-of-view of one of her ladies in waiting. Our narrator is a title-rich but cash-poor aristocrat with a secret life (she writes racy romance novels under a pseudonym) and this appeals to Margaret's naughty side. Both women have been unlucky in love, another bond. Margaret is bored, rebellious and imperious -- isolated because of her power but injudicious in wielding it. So far, it's a good read. 

2. What did you recently finish reading? No Judgments by Meg Cabot. Sabrina suffered a bad break up and wants to start a new life. So she changes her name (call her "Bree"), her hair (from blonde to pink), her job (she's waiting tables) and addresses (she's now in a tiny apartment in the Keys). Everything is going well, until a hurricane sets its sights on South Florida. Like many conchs, she decides not to evacuate but instead ride it out.

This book is chick-lit through and through, with a handsome man and lots of adorable pets to occupy our heroine during the storm. I thought, if I took it on those terms, I'd enjoy it. I was wrong.

There's too much unnecessary detail about our heroine. In addition to the bad breakup that's the catalyst for her move from New York to the Florida Keys, there are some complicated family dynamics that are introduced and derail the story. I see that No Judgments is the first in a series. I don't know why Ms. Cabot couldn't have explored Bree and her parents in a later book.

3.  What will you read next? I've got a couple baseball biographies here -- one about Gehrig, the other about Ruth. I don't know which one I'll choose to take me into spring training.

Have I cracked the code?

I've been at my wit's end when it comes to my dear friend, Henry. How can we continue to be close if lashes out at me all the time? How do I communicate with someone whose traumatic brain injury has left him by turns frightened, paranoid and aggressive?

I experimented this week with making this about me, not him. By talking to him about my problems, I reasoned, I was taking the focus off his. At least this week, it worked!

It began with an email. He invited me to watch a video of him singing a solo at church last Sunday. I told him it made me happy to see him go from nervous to confident and happy as the music moved him. (This was a diplomatic answer, as the video was clumsy and for some reason the microphone didn't really pick up his voice.) He thanked me with an over-the-top message about how much he loves me. So I get it. I know he's sorry we haven't been getting along and he understands he hurt me.

But now what?

I sent Henry an email about my prospective prison pen pal, Darius. I told Henry the truth -- that I'm feeling more than a little ambivalent about corresponding with a man found guilty of murder. I asked Henry for his thoughts.

Voila! He called me Monday night and told me I'm good and strong and he's sure my heart will lead me to the right thing. It was a very sweet message.

I'm glad I wasn't home Monday night to mess it up. Our give-and-take can't get overheated if there's no real time give-and-take.

And I think my asking him for advice not only distracted him from his own problems, it helped even the power differential between us, at least for a moment.