Tuesday, February 23, 2021


Rita Hayworth feeling bookish
WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To
participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

1. What are you currently reading? If This Was Happiness by Barbara Leaming. "Men go to bed with Gilda but they wake up with me." That was movie star Rita Hayworth's rueful observation about being trapped by her sexpot ("Gilda") image. In the 1940s, magazines literally referred to her as "The Love Goddess." How does a girl with little self-esteem, even less education, and no training as an actress live up to international fame and the pressure to be a seductress?
She doesn't. 
This is a glamorous, but terribly sad, story. The title came from her second husband, Orson Welles. When told she referred to their failed relationship as the happiest time of her life, he responded: "If this was happiness, imagine what the rest of her life had been!"

I like this author's style. I've read several of her other biographies and she's serious and respectful. There's a lot of sex in this book, but Barbara Leaming is not salacious in the retelling, which I appreciate. Also, since she'd already written a biography of  Welles, she's familiar with the terrain.
2. What did you recently finish reading? The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie. Pretty and imaginative, Anne Beddingfield has led a sheltered and rather sad life up until now. So when she finds herself the witness to a sudden death in the London Underground, she convinces herself that she has not seen a horror but instead an opportunity. When Scotland Yard declares the death an accident and not a homicide, she sets off to solve the mystery herself. Soon she's onboard an international ocean liner, involved with diamond smuggling against a background of political revolution.

You thought the plot of Murder on the Orient Express was complicated? Well, buckle up. This short book is filled with so much action in so many locations -- London, the Riviera, Johannesburg, a deserted island, a luxury liner and more than one train -- and has so many characters that it's easy to get turned around. 
Yet I'm proud to say I figured it out (though one warm and engaging character I thought was involved wasn't; shame on my cynical nature). As you read, strip away the extraneous and you'll be able to unmask the villain right along with Anne.
3. What will read next?  I don't know ...

February Blogging Challenge -- Day 23


Visit Kwizgiver for the prompts

23) Who gets on your last nerve? What do they do that bothers you so much? Why does it bother you so much? Why do you think they do that? Now what is an endearing quality they have?

Dizzy Betty from movie group! 

What does she do that bothers me so much?

•  We meet on Zoom now, and she is forever adjusting her monitor to use it as a mirror to fix her hair. This detracts attention from the person who is talking. 

•  There's a sameness to her comments.. "How about Cary Grant [or Joan Crawford]? Wasn't he [she] gorgeous?" Yeah, Betty, that advances the conversation. 

•  You can count on her to miss MAJOR plot points.

Betty: Was anyone else surprised that the cowgirl didn't marry her childhood sweetheart in the end?

Moderator: Um, Betty? The sheriff hanged him, remember?

Betty: Oh. Missed that!

Why does it bother me? Because she sucks up all the oxygen and adds nothing.

Why do I think she does this? She's a woman of a certain age (at least 55) who has told me about her days, 30+ years ago, as a beauty pageant contestant and a model. She had some success, and you can tell by her reminiscences that these were happy times. I think she misses having all eyes on her.

What is an endearing quality of Betty's? She reminds everyone to pay our moderator, Will, for these online meetups. He used to charge $5/person, but since we no longer meet in person, he doesn't have to pay venue rental. He's embarrassed to ask for payment and sporadically asks us to give what we can to keep the group afloat. But he works hard to find the films online for free, research them and run the group. PLUS he works trade shows for McCormick Place and clearly, with Covid, he's not working. I think it's nice of Betty to pipe up and spur us to pay up.

OK, I get it. She's a faded beauty queen in an unhappy marriage (she told me that, too) and it gives her some small pleasure to have all eyes on her. Would it kill me to show her some compassion? No. (<<< Hanging my head.)