Daily Archives: May 24, 2009

Sunday Salon – May 24, 2009

Sunday Salon

May 24, 2009

I have missed the last two Sunday Salons as I have been out of town visiting friends and family on the east coast. My travels took me to The Berkshires where I was thrilled to spend time with my bookish friends from Library Thing (including well-known bloggers Laura and Terri) and some of their significant others. Our time together included a tour of Edith Wharton’s home The Mount. Please check out my post about this amazing place.

Since my last Sunday Salon post, I’ve read and reviewed the following books:

Follow Me, by Joanna Scott (read my review)

The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, by C.M. Mayo (read my review)

Christine Falls, by Benjamin Black (read my review)

The Silver Swan, by Benjamin Black (read my review)

In The Woods, by Tana French (read my review)

I really loved the Benjamin Black novels (Benjamin Black is actually John Banville, the award winning literary novelist). They are moody and very well written mysteries set in Dublin. I also liked In the Woods, but I wasn’t thrilled with the ending. Apparently I am not alone – many readers have gushed over this book, but many more have also voiced their displeasure with a mystery that leaves the truth unrevealed. Have you read the book? What did you think?

I started reading Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie while on vacation and read through 150 pages before setting it aside. I keep going back to it and reading it in bits and pieces. This is my first Rushdie novel and I cannot say I am enjoying it. Rushdie tends to be anything but linear in his writing, and he uses a fair amount of magical realism…both attributes I don’t typically like. Even still, the writing is quite brilliant on many levels. I will not pretend that I am understanding all the connections to Indian history or the analogies and references to historical figures. Luckily, this book is being discussed in one of my Yahoo book groups, so I hope to finish it with a greater understanding by the end of the month.

In between my struggles with Rushdie, I am reading The Laws of Harmony by Judith Ryan Hendricks which I will be touring for TLC Book Tours on May 29th. So far I am finding it an easy and enjoyable read. The main character is a strong, likable woman who finds herself on Miguel Island after a personal tragedy upends her life. Because I am invested in the character, this book is practically reading itself.

I have a book giveaway going right now. Michelle Richmond is generously offering a signed edition of her latest novel No One You Know. The giveaway runs through May 26th, so there is still time to enter. Go to THIS POST to leave me a comment.

In non-bookish news, I have posted a recent update (with photos) on little Raven and her first encounter with swimming. She is now 30 pounds of silly, confident, highly active dog. She sleeps through the night now, and has (for the most part) stopped jumping on the cats…so things are going well!

What are you doing over this beautiful holiday weekend? Whatever it is, I hope you find some time to spend with a good book.

Edith Wharton’s Home: The Mount

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I recently had the pleasure of visiting Edith Wharton’s amazing home – The Mount – located in The Berkshires, Massachusetts. Not only was the house and its grounds gorgeous, but I had the added pleasure of sharing it all with a wonderful group of women who I met on line through Library Thing. The entire weekend we spent in New England together was full of book talk, laughter, great food, and the warmth that comes from spending time with friends. I thought it would be fun to write a post about Edith Wharton and share the photos I shot while visiting her estate. (*All photos are clickable for a larger view)

Although Edith Wharton never had any formal education, she not only was a prolific writer and the first woman to win the prestigous Pulitzer Prize for Literature for her book The Age of Innocence, but she was also an extremely talented designer. Wharton designed The Mount and the gardens surrounding it in the early part of the 20th century, incorporating symmetry and light to create a home unique  in its detail and pleasing to the eye.

themount010001 Front view of the home – Some windows are “false” and there simply to create symmetry.

themountsymmetry10001 Edith Wharton’s sitting roomagain a good example of symmetry and light. There is a large mirror opposite the fireplace which reflects back the light and makes the room look larger.

themount1stfloorhall10001 Entry Way of Main part of the house – Wharton used arches and architectural elements to create an inviting space to welcome guests.

Wharton filled her home with splendid artwork. She used mirrors to create the allusion of space and to bring more light into the rooms.

themountentry020001 Sculpture located in the entry way.

themountsittingroom10001 Artwork in the living room.

 

Wharton entertained guests in her living room where they could enjoy the warmth from a fire while looking out at the gardens.

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The dining room was one of the most light-filled rooms in the home as Wharton believed that light aided digestion.

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Wharton’s library was one of my favorite rooms in the home. Bookcases were set into the walls so that the book spines would blend into the walls, creating their own art feature.

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Each morning, seven days a week, Wharton wrote longhand in her bed until 11:00 AM. Her bedroom was the plainest room in the home as she did not entertain there and it was primarily for sleeping. Views from Wharton’s bedroom and adjacent sitting room were of the gardens and distant hills.

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Wharton and her husband Teddy had no children, but instead relished attention on their little dogs. There is a small pet cematary on the property where Wharton’s dogs are buried, each with their own headstone engraved with the animal’s name.

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In the early part of the 20th century, people used ice boxes to store blocks of ice for the preservation of food. The pond on Wharton’s estate provided ice to the surrounding towns as well as overseas.

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Several million dollars have been invested in restoring The Mount. All of the floors except in one room are original. The cabinetry in the kitchen is original.

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The gardens surrounding The Mount replicate the symmetry found throughout the home, using repeated patterns, colors and materials.

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To read more about The Mount, visit the official website. More information about Edith Wharton and her work may be found here.