Tuesday, November 14, 2023


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

PS I no longer participate in WWW.WEDNESDAY via that link because her blog won't accept Blogger comments. I mention this only to save you the frustration I experienced trying to link up.

1. What are you currently reading? An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena. I'm looking for escapism, and this one neatly fits the bill.


When the guests check into Mitchell's Inn in the Catskills, they're looking for days of cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing, nights of good food and wine and relaxing by the fire. Then a massive, sudden storm hits. They lose power and their ability to even go outdoors.

And these stranded guests start getting dead. 

Yes, it's very much like And Then There Were None. I loved And Then There Were None. So far, I like this, too.


2. What did you recently finish reading? Bogie & Bacall by William J. Mann. This book starts with the premise that Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall are the most iconic, most romantic Hollywood couple of all time. I simply don't agree. Taylor and Burton, Lucy and Desi, Newman and Woodward were all, I believe, sexier and more talented, more tempestuous and interesting, and those unions created more work that I enjoy. 


But maybe the fact that I'm not a major fan enabled me to approach this with clearer eyes. This big (650+ pages) book is a dual biography of the stars and I now like each of them less but respect them more.

I learned that Bogart, the on-screen tough guy, was a New York blue blood who failed at all the best schools, while Bacall, who presented herself as the epitome of elegance, was the daughter of a struggling single mother and she grew up knocking around the Bronx and Brooklyn. 

Their great love story was real but it was frequently not so great. He was 45 and she was 20 on their wedding day. He was an established, Oscar-nominated, world-weary, thrice-divorced alcoholic who married an unsophisticated model-turned-actress just out of her teens. Naturally this union would have problems. He was set in his ways and reluctant to change. He still indulged in boozy nights out brawling with the boys and weekends away on his boat. She enjoyed socializing with celebrities in high style and much, much preferred dry land. They both sought emotional -- if not sexual -- comfort outside their marriage. Neither of them appears to have been especially involved as parents.

Then he got cancer, and shit got real. He needed her, and she was there. Bed pans and bandages and oxygen, she handled it all. I found this part of the book very moving. It may not have been sexy or romantic, but it was love.

She reinvented herself after he died. It took her awhile. She made lots of mistakes -- astonishingly heedless of the trauma her son endured, being 7 and right there when his father died at home -- and was not especially likeable. But she endured. I may not have ever wanted her as a friend, but when I put the book down I had admiration for her.


3. What will you read next? I don't know.