Tag Archives: writer

2023 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: “Agatha Christie”

“Agatha’s legacy is clearly her work, but I think there’s another legacy too that’s hiding in plain sight. Not only was Agatha Christie the most successful novelist of the twentieth century. She was also someone who redefined the rules for her social class and gender.”

I am used to reading memoirs, so I was a bit apprehensive in reading a biography again, especially because I have read some pretty dry ones over the years. But Lucy Worsley’s book about the bestselling writer is an intimate, satisfying read, with Worsley delving into the mysteries of Christie from childhood to after death, often tucking in her own well researched opinions.
“It’s been rightly said the greatest character Agatha Christie ever invented…was ‘Agatha Christie’.” Worsley unpacks the complex Christie throughout her many manifestations, whether it’s during her first marriage or her second marriage (which included stints at archaeological digs), as loving daughter or distant mother, or as collector of houses. Worsley’s treatment of Christie’s disappearance in 1926 is compassionate, suggesting that the writer may have been suffering from a condition called “dissociative fugue”.
Interwoven throughout the whole book is Christie’s journey as novelist. Whatever you may think about her books, she certainly left behind a legacy, including capturing the history of her current times in the pages of her mysteries and thrillers. Most of the murders penned in her pages were done by poison, informed by Christie’s time working at a hospital pharmacy during WWI.
True Confession: I have never read an Agatha Christie book. I decided to read this biography only because the blurb sounded so appealing. I definitely wasn’t disappointed to read about this complex writer, and I have been convinced to read a book or two of hers. First up, one of Christie’s most famous, “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd”.
Recommended to those who are fans, to writers curious about reading about other writers’ lives, and to those who want to read about a complex woman who flouted the social conventions of her day.

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2023 Linda Schueler


On Writer and Botanist Diana Beresford-Kroeger

Have you ever seen the movie “Call of the Forest – The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees”? I saw it several weeks ago, and this film was my introduction to Irish botanist Diana Beresford-Kroeger, who now lives in Canada.

According to the movie’s website, “The film follows Diana as she investigates our profound biological and spiritual connection to forests. Her global journey explores the science, folklore, and restoration challenges of this essential eco-system.” I was surprised to learn about the link between deforestation and the decline of fish. 

I particularly like Beresford-Kroeger’s bio-plan. She believes that we can turn around climate change by replanting our forests. According to her, if everyone planted one native tree each year for the next six years, we can save our planet. If you are interested, you can spend some time exploring the website connected to the movie, which is full of advice related to tree planting and introduces a related app.

After watching the movie, I wanted to read some of Beresford-Kroeger’s books. I had wanted to start with “To Speak for the Trees”, which is an account of her life and how it led her to her ideas, but, unfortunately, it is not yet available in my local library. Instead I decided to read “The Sweetness of a Simple Life”, a book with “Tips for healthier, happier and kinder living, gleaned from the wisdom and science of nature”.

The book is a collection of essays. In the introduction, Beresford-Kroeger writes about how the biggest gift we can give ourselves and others is the gift of time. In order to do this, we need to learn to live more simply. So Beresford-Kroeger has written the book in order to help us to “reset the clock”.

The book is divided into three sections: “health and food”, “home and garden”, and “the larger world”. Each essay is full of practical and doable advice, such as how walking 20 minutes per day is beneficial for the pancreas and what plants can benefit you for certain ailments. One essay called “Bee’s Knees” discusses the benefits of bone broth. In the essay the author writes about how a lot of generational wisdom—wisdom handed down—has been lost, because of delayed births. This means that the wisdom of the elders is not being passed along, because often they are not there or too elderly to do so. This is followed by the essay called “Marriage Menopause”, which sheds some insight on “the long game of marriage”. Indeed, when I was reading the book I often felt like my grandmother was passing on things I would have loved to have known.

You also can read more about Beresford-Kroeger’s bioplan in the last chapter of the book.

I am looking forward to reading another of her books called “The Global Forest” (40 ways trees can save us).

What about you? Have you ever read any of Diana Beresford-Kroeger’s books or seen the film? What wisdom did you glean?

On the Trail of L.M. Montgomery

Normally I do my blog post on Sunday—it is, after all, called “Shoe’s Sunday Stories””—but I have a good excuse this week for being late. I spent the weekend in Prince Edward Island (PEI) celebrating my birthday with my bestie. It was fantastic!!

One of the reasons we chose PEI was because we wanted to visit the place where L.M. Montgomery found inspiration for her books. Almost all her novels are set in PEI. L.M. Montgomery wrote not only “Anne of Green Gables”, one of my favourite childhood books, but in total 20 novels, 500 short stories, and 500 poems. Now that’s a prolific and inspirational writer!

We decided we would cover as many of the sites as we could on Saturday. Our first stop was “Green Gables Heritage Place”.

Love the quote!

The heritage place is the site of the house of Montgomery’s grandfather’s cousins. It was the house that Green Gables in the Anne series was based on. The place is currently decorated how Montgomery describes Green Gables in that series of books. Check out Anne’s room. See the carpetbag? While they were living there though, Montgomery’s relatives would not have decorated the house as extravagantly.

Anne’s room

Next we ambled down the path that inspired the “Haunted Woods” in the Anne books. I love the “A Glimpse of Beauty” statue that we discovered during our walk. It depicts Montgomery in her late 20s during a moment of inspiration, which she called “The Flash”. 

“A Glimpse of Beauty”

A little further on we arrived at our next site, L.M. Montgomery’s Cavendish home. The site is where Montgomery lived with her maternal grandparents after the death of her mother. These days it is now mainly ruins, although recently the original kitchen section of the house that contained the post office where Montgomery served as assistant post mistress has been added. In the picture you can see some of the devastation from the hurricane of last month: most has been cleared, but there is still a tree laying over the ruins of the house.

Just the foundation remains

It is a surprise that the apple tree, which is over 100 years old and under which Montgomery wrote some of her stories, survived the storm.

The old apple tree

We also stumbled across a “Project Bookmark” plaque on the site. Although this organization, which is creating a literary trail across Canada, has been in existence since 2009, it was the first we had ever seen it.

We stopped briefly in Avonlea village, but most of the stores were already closed for the season.

Next stop was the birthplace of L.M. Montgomery, the house where she lived for the first 21 months until her mother died. Highlights there were a replica of Montgomery’s wedding dress, as well as the room the author was born in.

The final stop was the Anne of Green Gables Museum. The house was owned by Montgomery’s mother’s sister, whom Montgomery used to visit. There we saw the enchanted bookcase that made its way into “Anne of Green Gables”, as well as the blue chest that was in “Story Girl”. Montgomery was married in this house, and we visited the room where the ceremony took place. Also the lake there was the inspiration for “The Lake of Shining Waters”.

L.M. Montgomery considered PEI to be her spiritual home, which is why most of her novels were set there. Although she lived in Ontario after her marriage, she still went back to PEI as often as she could.

I can understand why Montgomery loved PEI so much. It is serene, the scenery is stunning, and the people are very friendly.

As I mentioned before, “Anne of Green Gables” is one of my favourite books from childhood. It seems that I am not alone. At the heritage place, we learned that just days after its first printing, the book went into its second printing, and there were 10 printings in the first year. In fact, the English version has been in continuous print for over 100 years. The first translation was in 1909, which was into Swedish. I love this wall where the book is shown in so many different languages.

Have you ever been to the sites I talked about? Was there a highlight for you? Have you been to any of the “Project Bookmark” sites?

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2019 Linda Schueler