Tuesday, July 07, 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? Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory. A frothy Christmas story, set among the Royals (!), has captured my attention in these hot, sticky July days. It's a light and charming relief. 

Vivian is a 50-something social worker from the Bay area who finds herself whisked away for a few days in London. Her daughter Maddie has a dream assignment, working with the Royal Family, and invites Mom along. (After all, mother and daughter have never before been apart on Christmas.) While moving in the Royal circles, Vivian enjoys a holiday romance.

This is my first time with this author, who keeps the action moving. The Royal setting is glam (I just read the passage where Vivian gets to touch Queen Victoria's sapphire and diamond crown), and I'm enjoying that in this love story, our heroine is middle-aged.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Being Elvis: A Lonely Life by Ray Connolly. What a sad book! Connolly tells Elvis' story chronologically, and rather matter-of-factly, giving no greater weight to the career highs than to the lurid personal lows. It's this even handedness that makes The King's descent into depression and addiction inexorable and heartbreaking.

There's little that's new here, but it's the context Connolly creates for Elvis' oft told tale that's important. This is a sympathetic portrait of an average man with an extraordinary gift. He could perform and he loved it. And the world loved him for it. At times, Elvis seems confused and overwhelmed by his talent, questioning why all this success came to him. He was still trying to figure it all out when he died.

Manager Col. Tom Parker is the villain of this piece. To him, Elvis wasn't a sensitive and naive artist, he was a cash cow. Without the Colonel, would Elvis still have died young, overweight and addicted? Perhaps. His mother died in her 40s, her passing hastened by weight, pills and liquor, and there's a genetic component to those diseases. But I doubt The King would have ended up as disillusioned, frightened and confused without his scammer manager. 

When I was done, I listened to my favorite Elvis song ("Kentucky Rain"), and wished for his sake that I'd never heard it ... that he'd somehow remained a regional artist, making music he loved for the Sun label, happy to hear his songs on the local radio station and thrilled to be recognized while buying new threads at Lansky Bros. Menswear in Memphis. Of course, if I never got to hear Elvis, neither would The Beatles or Bruce Springsteen and the landscape of modern music would be the less for it. I'm just sorry his pain matched his talent.

3.  What will you read next? A mystery. I'm looking at one called Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt. Do you know it?

Another Beatle post

Sir Richard Starkey, MBE, was born on July 7, 1940. 80 (gulp!) years ago today.