venerdì, settembre 29, 2017

Pennsylvania Germans An interpretative Encyclopedia edited by Simon J. Bronner and Joshua Brown

I downloaded time ago a book about Pennsylvania German baking and cooking with great soup recipes (yum!), and I read and reviewed thanks to NetGalley a book about German Baking.

When I noticed this book: Pennsylvania Germans An interpretative Encyclopedia edited by Simon J. Bronner and Joshua Brown published by Johns Hopkins University I couldn't resist.

This beautiful Encyclopedia is born as a new studies about the Pennsylvania Germans for remarking their characteristic identity and expression.

The book, very friendly, a great reading for everyone, I can tell you that, is very interesting and inclusive and starts with a first part dedicated to the Old World, the migration of Germans later in the USA, the reasons why they emigrated, their first communities in the various lands of the States.

The second part, both are cured by various teachers contributors will treat every single segment of American and Pennsylvania Germans, from food to folklore, from agriculture, to textile, from Amish to religion from education to medicine and much more.

Great farmers and workers, in love for agriculture, we can describe the Pennsylvania Germans like great workers, warm, adorable people in love for big houses, big garden, freedom, a good big stove (this one was a distinctive treat of a German family) during the long winter-time.
Their farms, from animals to plants and products rich and productive. One of the main characteristic of the Pennsylvania Germans farms were big colored barns another typical treats of their way of feeling and living in the USA.

Pennsylvania Germans people who loved to plant and to seeing growing any kind of seed.
Their food robust and yummy, passing through their favorite meat the pork one, although in love also for turkeys and chickens as well.
We find cows and many other animals in their farms with, of course, milk and butter of great quality.
They loved to cook many great specialties. Meat, pies, soups very relevant but...

The art of baking one of the most loved activities by the Pennsylvanian Germans women. Most of the American food influenced by their way of baking.

Many cookies baked for Christmas, with a lot of spices. Pennsylvania Germans ladies loved to prepare homemade candies.

Pretzels a very characteristic food in the USA is a German food imported in the USA by this group of people who wanted to keep something of the old world also in the new one.

Textile one of the main activity of ladies during the winter-time, and bed quilts (but you can use them also somewhere else) are one of the characteristic creations of the Pennsylvania Germans ladies, and a characteristic of Amish culture as well. The written words seen in many decorative objects for the house: "Home Sweet Home" spread thanks to them and their colored creations.

Their dresses characteristics, rigorous, large, lovely, precise, dreaming I would add, Pennsylvania Germans are also craftsmen, people in grade to enrich this world with beautiful creations thanks to their hands, some wood and their imagination.
Men loved wood and realized beautiful furniture for every corner of the house. Chairs, tables, chests, but also decorative objects, without to forget other materials like metal, ceramic. Their world populated by colors and a strong identity you could feel in every aspect of their social life.

The Amish are a religious group. They have chosen from their arrival in the USA a distant life from the progress and their world is old-fashioned, their life simpler in comparison with the one of common people but the community very united and in case of difficulty they all help their people in need.
There is a big portion of literature involving the Amish culture for the profound impact that this one has had and has in the USA.

The literature of the Pennsylvania Germans focused mainly about thematic like religion, at first their arrival in the New World, the Amish, without forgetting poetry.

This interpretative encyclopedia talks of diversified topics, for let us discover a world where people considered life very precious and every thing they did was done with great love and without forgetting a religious touch in their daily life. Every plant planted, every cookie baked, every animal they decided to keep, every meal cooked, every quilt completed was done with love. It was a moment of great beauty for the world and we can breath it reading through these pages the normality and beauty of all these families.

This book is also an example of a society in love for themselves and for the others and for the territories where they live in, in love for what they did for the society and for themselves, their houses, their animals, their products. Proud of their origins and friendly, Pennsylvania Germans were and are people with a great heart and industriousity and their impact in the USA as we have seen in various existential sectors is extremely relevant and crucial.

Proud of their origin the group founded also the The Pennsylvania German Society 125 years ago!

This book is highly suggested! to everyone.


I thank Johns Hopkins University Press for the beautiful physical copy of this book.



Anna Maria Polidori 



giovedì, settembre 28, 2017

Grimm Legacies The magic Spell of the Grimm's Folk and Fairy Tales by Jack Zipes

In this book  Grimm Legacies  The magic Spell of the Grimm's Folk and Fairy Tales by Jack Zipes in a collection of essays created because of the bicentenary of the first edition of Children and Household Tales in 1812 the author will reveal to the readers the various legacies left by the Brothers, in most cases very precious for all of us and our society.

Starting from the story of the Brothers Grimm.

I couldn't believe possible this, but it seems that in the USA Zipes says no one know exactly who the brothers Grimm are and what they did with their immense work although Americans know very well their fairy-tales thanks to the  Americanization of their stories, read and seen and lived under so many different aspects thanks to cinema, theater and various other mediums.

The Grimms changed de facto their destiny. At first they studied law but the premature departure of their dad left the family in disastrous economical conditions and the Brothers tried all their best for bettering the financial situation of all their family helping the siblings and receiving some help at first as well.

While they were studying at the university a teacher let them discover the importance of fairy-tales, verses, poems, and the Brothers started to be captivated by this topic. Not only. They asked for help for collecting them. Their friends, people they knew but also peasants were visited by the Brothers interested to discover the fairy-tales of the past and...present. Fairy-tales in fact are a tradition mainly oral. We must thank Dorothea Viehmann for example, the wife of a village tailor for more than 40 tales told to the Brothers Grimm.

These fairy-tales were impressive, sometimes pretty scaring or dirty, for an adult public, and so the Brothers the first ones who re-edited these tales trying to "modernize" them, trying to cementing them with the German culture, giving to them a new appeal.

The Brothers added some "sweetness" removing the adult part of the stories so that their availability could also be extended to a largest public and children although the success with children and fairy-tales was a casualty.
The first edition of their book published in 1812 a success and since there the brothers have worked for enriching and bettering their tales.

Not only. The news that there was an interesting fairy-tale book published in Germany arrived at the ears of a British young man Edgar Taylor. He was a lawyer but he discovered a great passion for fairy-tales and so he decided to contact the Brothers, translating the tales for the british folk.

There's to say that Taylor and his associates adapted the tales and created something different from the Brothers and their conception of these tales but it worked and it was a success.

But no one can be more grateful than Disney to the Brothers Grimm because the major has treated, adapted, modernized the various fairy-tales from decades giving to the viewers, and the spectators the sense of the current culture.

What Zipes remarks is  that he hasn't yet seen any good movie based on the biography of the Brothers Grimm in the USA while it would be suggestive! considering the global impact that this American major has in all the world and the fascinating historical moment in which the Brothers lived in.

Why reading this book?

Because you will find all that you want for understand where fairy-tales you tell to your children every night and someone told to you when you were little comes from.

Because it will be a discovery of a birth: the one of a fairy-tale. You will understand what it means for Hollywood the patrimony and legacy left by the Brothers Grimm like also for Germany and their culture.

Because you will understand there was an age when people dreamed of other world, other creatures.
People were in grade of dreaming, without to materializing their horrors, dreams or expectations but projecting them just in their imagination (thank Lord!) and there is nothing more beauty than dreaming.

They weren't rich people, they didn't do this for work. In  most cases they were peasants, sat close to their fireplace after dinner and a long day spent in a field, maybe with the companion of other friends, in their hand a good class of red wine and a piece of tart or cake, sharing stories old like the world is. It was because of the necessity of escapism from the reality they lived in maybe or it was because inventing, creating stories a wonderful process of the mind and a remind of what reality could be and mustn't be or sometimes should be. These stories reached the Brothers Grimm and thanks to them we can perpetuate them.

I thank Princeton University Press for the physical copy of this beautiful book!

Anna Maria Polidori

lunedì, settembre 25, 2017

Titanic The Last Night of a Small Town by John Welsham

Titanic The Last Night of a Small Town by John Welsham will let you live intensely and vividly the night of April 14 1912 when the Titanic the  biggest transatlantic of the world sank because of an iceberg during its inauguration trip.

It was hallucinating for all the people in that ship.

At first an idylliac trip, with some bad omens we must admit the first four days dreaming ones, in 48 hous the ship would have reached triumphantly New York City, while the end all the opposite.

The story seen under the perspective of various voices who, mixed all together will create an only chant and an only reportage looked under different respective "angolations" and places, from the first, second and third class, of the most horrible absurd tragedy of the seas in modern time.

The sinking of the Titanic has been shocking maybe because it was  its inaugurational trip, maybe because the historical moment delicate, maybe because this one the biggest ship of the world, surely because there weren't sufficient lifeboats for aesthetics reason and so most of the passenger and voyagers lost their life for this absurb reason. Anyway nothing returned to the normality for all the protagonists of this story after it.

The sinking of the Titanic meant metaphorically, for rich people the end of an age of certainty as written wonderfully well by the author regarding their future.

A modern comparison with this tragedy of the past can be 9/11.

The White Star from Belfast constructed the Titanic. This modern sophisticated, wonderful and apparently "unsinkable" translatlantic, decided for the inaugurational trip on April 1912. Everyone electrified and curious for the novelty.
Smith the captain chosen for the inaugurational trip. Very educated, nice man, everyone wanted to work with him because a man of peace.

Passengers and crew were in total 2.201, 1731 men, 470 women with little children.
At the end 1490 people lost, 161 women and children.
373 women and children in lifeboats, 338 the men.

These tales will enrich with details, facts, anecdots and memories what happened minutes after minutes after the collision with the iceberg in that little town that 'till the end no one would have thought that was sinkable.

There are histories of immigrants in search of fortune or in a trip to the USA for being reunited with their relatives, there are stories of rich and poor, of children and adults of the most diversified people.

And there is the Titanic lived like a dream by everyone and how could it be different? A ship and a trip means a new adventure in the unknwon and what is it more extraordinary than to travelling the Atlantic from the Old Continent for reaching the New World in an inagurational trip in the biggest transatlantic of the world?

A trip meant also the unknown for immigrants plenty of great expectations for the choice made: to try a new life in the USA and for the richest part of the world (there was also the constructor of the Brooklyn Bridge of New York City, many writers, intellectuals, writers and so on) maybe the curiosity and priviledge of a trip in this stunning transatlantic the biggest one of this world.

Every tale is in grade to add something more to the perception of each person during that night. A night plenty of stars, a wonderful sky that more beauty you couldn't search for sure and maybe later a consolation for the people in opposite case lost in the absolute oscurity and profoundity of the ocean once the Titanic sank and once also the latest cries ended up signing the end of any life close to the lifeboats and a new start for everyone. New widows, new orphans, a new terrible reality consumned in just few hours.

At first it didn't sound a tragedy that deaf sound felt by everyone in the first, second and third class and the interruption of all the engines at 11 and something of the night. A passenger injured also the index finger because of it. Other ones decided to going out for trying to see what it was going on although the weather was so cold. Stewards, very polite and in their role added that there wasn't anything to be worried about and it was better to return to the cabin considering the cold outside. But situation appeared dramatic from the beginning and that lifeboats slowly slowly plenty of people at first just for precaution "because we will receive soon some help" de facto after a while left for good the Titanic, and most people said good-byes to their husbands, wives, relatives forever.
Maybe the idea of sinking appeared more clear and vivid when from the Titanic they ordered of lunching rockets for signaling the presence of the ship. An extreme sign of desperation for not losing all that human lives.
The story was not a joke.
A ship was a ship but the departure of wagons of people a complete different and very sad story.

Some people choose of dying in the Titanic as well as another life-adventure.
While people were trying in general to understand what it was going on wearing life belts (there is an interesting story  about life belts in the book as well) jumping in some lifeboats at the same time, the Titanic crew tried all its best for reaching some other closest ships and trying to avoid what happened later: an immense tragedy caused by cold water and weather for the people who fell in the water once the ship sank without possibility of being saved.

People in lifeboats felt people crying desperately and searching for help for 40 minutes after the sinking of the ship. Later, nothing more.


The Carpathia although many other ships were also contacted the one closest. They assured a tempestive arrival. Captain Rostron couldn't believe at the news: "Are you sure you understood well?" asked the Captain at his man when he received the news that the Titanic was sinking. This one was the inaugurational trip...
But the Carpathia arrived.
Later for the people in water, because of the cold water there was nothing to do, but for the survivors - some of them died also in lifeboats - it meant the end of a nightmare and the beginning of a new and different life. Because this experience signed everyone forever.

When I looked at the picture of Edith Brown  it seemed to see the old Rose Dawson  from the movie Titanic with Leo DiCaprio  and Kate Winslet, but it is true: who survived the sinking of the Titanic and later experienced the first and second world war had this face: in peace with the world, with themselves and with the others.


I highly recommend to everyone this book.

I thank Oxford University Press for the physical copy of this book.

Anna Maria Polidori


venerdì, settembre 22, 2017

The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables by Catherine Reid

I do really appreciate the books published by Timber Press.

They are inspiring, botanically erudite, and they add something more to the knowledge of the environment.

With this sentiment and being a fan of Anne of Green Gables, I requested The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables by Catherine Reid.

I was waiting for sure a beautiful book but this one is not just beauty, this one is not just interesting, this one has been in grade to capture in a brilliantly, poetic, wonderful way the character of Anne and mrs Montgomery.
I guess that the writer is a fan of the writer and of Anne of Green Gables.

This book is simply amazing! Wonderful pictures, resonanting quotes from Anne of Green Gables or mrs Montgomery Journals, The Alpine Path or from poets she appreciated a lot like Robert Browning.

The book is a tribute and a compenetration of the essence of work of Montgomery that couldn't never be separated by her alter-ego Anne Shirley the character of Anne of Green Gables and her beloved island of Prince Edwards because an unicum.

Mrs Montgomery was a wonderful, optimistic lady in particular for other people presenting to them always a reason for going on, and as we will vividly see thorough this book she projected herself with all her best, in terms of encouragement, in terms of optimism in little Anne Shirley.
I was thinking that another modern actor with these extraordinary treats was Robin Williams.

There are many similarities with the personal life-story lived by Montgomery and little Anne. Yes: mrs Montgmery didn't have red hair and didn't suffer all the troubles suffered by Anne but she also remained orphan when she was 21 months old and although she developed a beautiful relationship with her dad she absolutely found the lady he re-married a very disgusting and horrible woman.

She continued to keep an intense correspondent with her dad 'till at the departure of her beloved father a terrible news this one for her.

Mrs Montgomery loved nature and in the nature of her beloved Prince Edwards Island she was in grade of going on and re-birth all the time from the various life-sufferences she was experiencing.

The island at the moment is more modern than the one Mrs. Maud knew but substantially it is possible to recognize very vividly the locations in part recreated of the places where Anne of Green Gables or also the author lived. The tourism  is one of the most important voices thanks to the books about Anne and Green Gables and the following notoriety brought to the island by mrs. Maud. Other important voices are agriculture and fishing. A land where it was possible to find peace, a beautiful land where nature was friend, and where to restore the soul.

The tourism is mainly a spring-summer tourism because later like for most other places in the world, fall and winter are pretty long and cold months. Population, if in the past diminuished became more interesting during these past decades.

Although Anne Shirley was a fictional character without doubt she also was the alter-ego of Montgomery, the person with which mrs Montgomery communicated her beautiful thoughts of encouragements, with the world, people and with generations of children and adults.

We will visit thanks to this book also the house of Anne of Green Gables, the bedroom where she lived in, the one of Marilla, the one of Matthew and we will see the kitchen and the most important spots re-created at the perfection. We will find Bonny the geranium Anne started to be so affectionted at immediately after her arrival at the farm of the siblings Cuthbert and all her world, for the joy of the estimators of the author and this legendary character.

The island is plenty of great resources regarding Anne and mrs.Montgomery.

Mrs Montgomery loved nature and she idealized it so badly. It was to her the best refugee where to escape  and to discover the harmony of this world. Spring, summer, fall and winter were beautiful for various different reasons, although we will find her discouraged in some part of her life for the arrival of winter. But all these personal state of her soul won't never filter outside if not in the pages of her journals or letters. She won't never ask for a help, she won't never ask for some joy. She will continue to tell to everyone how wonderful was the world to her.

Looking through the idealistic, dreaming eyes the world by Montgomery is an experience that you can't miss because this lady was in grade to capture like a radar mentally only the best sentiments, only the best part of the world, keeping out stress, sadness, unhappiness state that world can present to people, for de-stressing psychologically for example Anne when the situation was too ugly for going on.

In this book we will also discover the favorite gardens by Montgomery. The old-fashioned garden, where various plants and herbs planted in the remote past by the ancestors of the family; a wild garden, and a woodland garden. All these gardens for different reasons are important for the author, because they put her, and Anne of Green Gables in connection with nature.

Why Anne of Green Gables and L.M.Montgomery can be a very happy re-discover for the children but also for adults?

First of all because Montgomery speaks of universal themes like love, friendship, being happy with little things, appreciating life also when it becomes very hard, and at the same time finding harmony in a harmonic world where man has respect for this one and using and directing our mind at happy thoughts also when situations are difficult.

Second: because in a world always more confused there is not another voice more strong and secure, optimistic and certain than the one of Anne of Green Gables assuring ourselves that life will be good.

Third because Anne suffered a lot and for this reason her happiness is so important.
You can't discover real joy and happiness if before you won't have met the sufferance, although you must know that after a period of sufference happiness will return with prepotence. It's a life-lesson for everyone.

Anne didn't lose her smile because of her sufferances but she continued to stay positive, appreciating later all the joy life donated her and at the same time constructing into himself a parallel reality for surviving during the hardest moments.

So that's why she created invisible friends for chatting when too discouraged and why she re-named various locations with appropriate sunny names.
She wanted to feel that the places were part of her and they were also part of that Anne in search for approval in search for love, in search for friendship.

The beauty of Anne has always been the optimistic approach to life remaining open to the others and opening the door of her soul to everyone.
These people touched directly by Anne were lucky because they learned  how to cope much better with life thanks to the example presented them by Anne and her enthusiasm.


This book is a masterpiece because more than telling to you which plants and flowers there are in Prince Edwards, (of course it's explained by poetically) we will compenetrate the nature of L.M. Montgomery and her alter ego Anne and thanks to them we will see the world with different lenses, more beauty, more clean, more relaxing, more loving. I strongly encourage all parents to buying to their children Anne of Green Gables' books.

I surely thanks NetGalley and Timber Press for this wonderful book!



Anna Maria Polidori

Evergreen The Garrett Family, Collectors and Connoisseurs Evergreen Museum & Library

Welcome to Evergreen.
Located at 4545 North Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland, this house has been for two generations the house of the Garretts one of the most influential families of the area.
Their story is wonderful because the real realization of the so-wanted and so-dreamed American Dream.
It was 1790 when from Ireland a man, John Garrett with his wife and his numerous family, six children! left Ireland for the USA in search of more luck.
John died during the trip but the family was numerous and in grade to find a farm where to work once in the USA.
One of their son Robert, the youngest one, at the age of 16 left with his oldest brother the family for going to Ohio trading manufactured goods for furs with Native Americans.
This one was their great luck and the following years Robert opened the Robert Garrett And Company.
With the time the Garretts became one of the biggest philantropists families of the areas, financing every sector of the existence of the State where they lived in: from health to education.
Johns Hopskins was a very close family friend of the Garretts. Before to dying, the old philantropist Johns Hopkins decided to leave most of his money for the creation of the Johns Hopkins University and Hospital.
Time passed by in the while and the Johns Hopkins reality needed some more money for opening the medical school. Family Garrett agreed to put his money in the adventure but at a condition: that also women students could be admitted and that this institution a graduate level one.

The Garretts are people in love for books, culture absolutely! art, coins, Japanese culture, and everything beauty!

When they left this stunning, absolutely wonderful mansion at the Johns Hopkins University in the will they asked to keep Evergreen House "Open to the lovers of music, art, beautiful things and to qualified and competent students and investigators, who could make use of its collections, and in additions, that might be made to them from time to time...Certain traditions and ideals have been created and preserved (by my father and mother, my brothers and my wife and myself... said the donor). I am greatly desirous that these traditions and ideals be perpetuated."

The Garretts are not just generous but they want to continue to perpetuate who they are and who they have been so that they can be identified and recognized. A family is this one. The perpetuity of the value transmitted and lived during the existence.


It's a magnificent, beautiful trip in a mansion, a house plenty of story, culture, art, memories and desire to be a real mecenate for whoever interested to whispering what these walls and objects can tell.

Well the Garretts have been massive collectors and from the entire world. Objects, from chairs to tables, from glasses, to chandelier from votive objects to plate, from France, Italy, the USA, Persia, India, Japan, with always an exquisite great taste.

It was mainly T.Harrison Garrett at first the great collector one and his successor, John Work Garrett tried to preserve this treat of his family member. It's thanks to Alice Warrett Garrett the wife of John W. Garrett a hostess if the collection grew up with the time. Alice intertained very often actors, painters, musicians, dancers, sculpturs. There is a picture in the book with our Arturo Toscanini, when the couple hosted an event at Villa Taverna, the American Ambassador residence in Rome. It was 1930.

Alice Warrett Garrett loved to being portrayed by her painters and friends. She was portrayed by Zuloaga, like also by Leon Baskt and other ones as well involving also her husband.
From Walter Berry she inherited five works by Picasso, Degas, Vuillard. Her collections, and her friendships didn't end here. Thanks to these painters and Alice's wonderful taste now Everygreen can shows to the visitors a great collection of paintings.

It is called the Main Library the place where you can find the most beautiful and distinguish books by the Garretts collections.
The best of American and mondial literature including the Decameron by Boccaccio, the Rime by Petrarca, Plutarch's Moralia.

Other books you will love ornithologists' ones, historic ones. The library includes many important documents and manuscripts.

Amazing. Amazing to think that a house is still so alive like Evergreen continues to be: a cultural laboratory where people, artists, book lovers, students, continue the family Garrett's legacy.

I haven't never been to the USA but I hope with all myself to visit Evergreen one day!

I thank Johns Hoekins University for this wonderful book!


Anna Maria Polidori

giovedì, settembre 21, 2017

The Anne of Green Gables Cookbooks Charming recipes from Anne and her friends in Avonlea by Kate MacDonald

I guess that we all remember Anne of Green Gables's books, cartoons, movies, TV series and her sad at first, unhappy life as a orphan and her new wonderful life with Marilla and Matthew. One of the best books, cartoons, movies that a kid can sees, because they're plenty of encouragement, positive vibe, great values.

But... What kind of food Anne ate at the Cuthbert's house?

In this book by QuartoKnows, and discovered thanks to NetGalley a new edition with more recipes of: The Anne of Green Gables Cookbooks Charming recipes from Anne and her friends in Avonlea written by Kate MacDonald the grandchild of mrs. L.M.Montgomery and L. M. Montgomery the creator and writer of the various books about Anne of Green Gables.

We will discover dozens of delicious old-fashioned recipes that you can try for the joy of your loved ones, your neighbors, your children.
Chocolate caramels, the recipe of Marilla's plum pudding, a sunshiny corn soufflé, little rapsberry tarts, the rapsberry cordial, but also a good cake with delicious chocolate inside and outside.

We will find an italian recipe in Miss Stacy's baked macaroni :-) but also some recipes of biscuits for tea, like also Matthew Cuthbert's Yummy Biscuit Sandwich.

If you want to try, during the warm summer time, there is also an old fashioned lemonade recipe for restoring your body and soul.

Do you want to refresh yourself with veggies? Why not to eat a delicious lettuce salad?
If you want to stay warm or you search for a healthy dish goes for the a thick and creamy vegetable soup.

Mrs. Irving's delicious shortbread is waiting for you like also Miss Ellen's Pound Cake or a yummy orange angel cake.

During this season don't forget one of the best Montgomerys favorite's recipes:  Fire and Dew Sweet Potatoes.

The book is divided in four sections. While the first three follow Anne's books the last one the kitchen by mrs. Montgomery.

Enjoy this book. Pity that the PDF is so poor and frustrating in the visualization through Adobe Digital Edition.


Highly recommended.

I thank NetGalley for this ebook.

Anna Maria Polidori

domenica, settembre 17, 2017

Traces of Vermeer by Jane Jelley

It's a real love this one expressed Jane Jelley for the art and person of Johannes Vermeer in her latest book: Traces of Vermeer. The story public and private, artistic and human of the one of the Dutch painter who lived and produced 36 masterpiece in Delft,  in 1660s, and was part of the so called genre painters.

It was a  great joy to read her book: Traces of Vermeer published by Oxford Press is an extraordinary new book.

You can breath in every page Jane Jelley's passion, devotion and enthusiasm for this painter and I can tell you that, thanks to it this one has been the most beautiful, sunny art book I have ever read in all my life because it doesn't treat the topic with a cold analysis of the artist, but with a love and an intensity that it is pretty unusual. You can feel the warmth of that time, you can visualize thanks to the vivid, rich, loving description of the author the Delft of 1660s, you can imagine the painter while he works or he lives a day in his city.

There are also technical parts of course but the book is lovely and absolutely readable by everyone. In particular if you are a painter, or a passionate of painters and painting and art this book is for you! It's too beauty for not buying it!

Who was Vermeer?
A mysterious painter after all, but not too much distant from some painters I know, "bears" as Vermeer was after all.

He didn't leave a lot of traces of himself.

Van Gogh wrote wagons of letters, for example and we know a lot about him, his character, his thoughts, his feelings.

Vermeer didn't leave journals, letters, or anything else for the so-called posterity, nothing able to give us a real perception of the man and the artist.

The place where he worked in, a beautiful little city, was spectacular at that time and very cold let's add this, that's why there was an extreme richness of warm clothes and hats and other ornaments in Vermeer's paintings. The houses the one the painter described, and the heavy warm clothes because winters were long and rigid, very cold.

Vermeer's houses were also destroyed after his death and later re-built when local people discovered the genius he was.
Delft at the moment lives and breath Vermeer's atmosphere and the painter is lived like the greatest icon that they have had although the author remarks that there is not any painting in the city by Vermeer but just copies.

When Vermeer died abruptly and unexpectedly leaving a wife and so many children, a real soccer team! :-) he was poor and more important indebted, so the wife constricted to sell most of the items in the house.

Vermeer lived the second part of his married life in the house owned by the mother of his wife. It was a very large house with twelve rooms. It is not excluded that the lady helped financially Vermeer and his numerous family in the most critical economical moments of their existence.

Sure a man like him was busy in various directions: family first of all, work, business and the house was plenty of people most of the time.

Vermeer became painter after a long stage, we would use this word today with a master painter. It is unknown who was Vermeer's masterpainter.

The author describes also our way of living art now, in comparison to the historical moment in which Vermeer's lived in, the art of painting.
It's possible at the moment, it is still an expensive hobby, if there is sufficient money to buying canvas, colors and tools via internet for starting a career as painter without too many problems.

In 1600s this one for a Dutch boy or man was a serious profession and in general painters worked for rich people so that later they could have been paid for their work. An intelligent approach to life and art after all.

Vermeer's dad was a painter and maybe to him it was more simple to find a master painter. It is unknown if the same Vermeer has had a scholar and he was a master for some other painters.
There are not letters or anything written by any other contemporaries, painters in Delft in grade to reveal this particular so maybe Vermeer worked alone and in the "chaotic solitude" of his house.

As we will see also the famous painting: The Girl with a Pearl Earring although a movie traced a sort of romantic story between the painter and his muse can't give us a defined identity of this girl. It could have been also one of his numerous daughters. Yes we are in a sort of condition like Leonardo and his controversial Monna Lisa. A man, a woman and so on...

In this case without doubt we have a girl, very young, looking at the painter. The scenario is dark as loved by the genre painters for  giving big result at the main subject in a complete warm light.

The girl wears  an exotic clothe a turban and a pearl earring.
What it is more important to seeing is her facial expression.
There is tenderness, her eyes are vigil, the mouth is just open for giving at the expression more mobility.
In my personal interpretation of this painting maybe the painter wanted to portray an action as they always did in every paintings you will observe of the genre painters: there is never passivity, always mobility.

In this case to me the action of the girl was this one: she was called by someone and she was in the act of answering.

In fact the girl's mouth is open as if she would have wanted to saying something leaving the words suspended or not yet said, or like if she would have been called by someone and turning her back, she was in the act of answering and looking at the person at the same time.

Enjoy this book for discovering all Vermeer's world. From his techniques of painting, the colors he used and the differences between our colors and the colors of the past and the other tools used by Vermeer  for obtaining certain specific effects including maybe the use of lenses and a dark chamber. No, pictures were not yet invented...
Last but not least immerse yourself in the wonderful Delft of the 1660s. Magnificent book.

Highly suggested!


I thanks Oxford University Press for this wonderful book!




Anna Maria Polidori

Strange Glow The Story of Radiation by Timothy J. Jorgensen

Strange Glow The Story of Radiation by Timothy J. Jorgensen is a stunning book published by Princeton University Press. I waited it with trepidation.

You know, apart the daily base use and abuse of radiation we do everyday using PC and a cell phone, what moved me to read this book was the risk of a nuclear attack, so distant, an old phantom of the past unthinkable since at recent times, but now back to popularity (sic!)

I grew up with this horror, watching movies like The Day After Tomorrow and remembering very well what my teachers told us about Hiroshima and Nagasaki starting from the elementary school 'till the high school because it was necessary after that mess for the next generations to build a world of peace, nuclear-free.

No sure if teachers are still involved in telling to their students the risks of a nuclear war but I warmly suggest them to add this chapter, terrorism apart in their scholastic lessons because the senseless of a war like that one would mean the most horrible scenario that could be created by human beings and must be avoided.

Did we forget what it means radioactivity? Did we forget the risks for the humanity, for the environment, for fishes and plants, and every other human being? Did we forget what it meant for the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the survivors? Did we forget what said Einstein?
"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." Right.
It's impossible to experience another World War because it would mean the end of the world.

Also for this reason I decided to read this book.

I can start to tell you that this reading is captivating and simple also for the most profane person like me without too many intense and profound notions of physics. The purpose of the author: the creation of a book in grade to reach everyone. The masses and not just professors or scholars.

It's a story, this book. The history of radiation. One of the most fascinating stories of our modern age and this approach payed a lot because the book remains colloquial, historical, very clear and the exposition of the various facts is all the time attractive, brutal and interesting. There are no boring times.

At first you know it was electricity. Electricity can be seen and we know risks of electricity everywhere and dangers that an improper use can produce in our body, killing us at the instant as well, bloody hell.

Problem is that the rest of the big family of radiation is invisible at the eyes and so we don't know what to do or how to act sometimes in our daily life.

The story of radiation started exactly with electricity. After it someone discovered waves, and Guglielmo Marconi tried thanks to them to transmit a message via radio waves in the USA. It was a success and a new instrument of communication was born. When Marconi died it was a terrible loss for Italy and was paid great respect for the scientist.

Roentgen discovered that rays could pass through solid objects and bodies as well. We will see in the book the first r-x pic of the story. The hand of his wife with a ring.

Francis H.Williams and William H.Rollins a physician and a dentist from Boston thought that this intuition was great and they started to use this invention for medical purposes. Williams and Rollins because of this intuition became the fathers of diagnostic radiology.

Becquerel was attracted by uranium dividing the Nobel with the Curies at the beginning of 1900s. The couple was  working on the radium sadly famous for what happened in various factories in the USA at many girls.

But what is radioactivity exactly?

The definition given by the author:

"The ability of an atom to spontaneously release radiation without any stimulation from light, electricity or any other form of energy. It is a property intrinsic to the nucleus of an atom and resistant to modification by any outside forces."

When we will discover what can "neutralize" the radioactivity, thanks to an outside force in grade to giving us back the old state of things then we will be free from the most scaring experience that a massive radiation can bring with it.

Ernest Rutherford was the founder of the nuclear physics with his discovery about the atom. It is analyzed not just the composition of the atom but also the scission and fission.

After this first knowledge, mainly historical but also with some technical and physical notions, the second part of the book treats the health effects of radiation.

Yes: you will largely find  the story of the so-called radium girls.

I also reviewed months ago a wonderful and truly sad book published by Sourcebooks called The radium Girls. The link is this one if you are curious to discover more

https://alfemminile.blogspot.com/2017/04/the-radium-girls-dark-story-of-americas.html

These happy girls, plenty of life, expectations and with a great good pay  worked per years in several factories in the USA where they massively stayed at close contact, in particular their mouth, with radium.


Later most of them became very sick and died. The autoptic exam revealed that their bodies were radioactive. What an irony: radium was considered a magic "ingredient."

Some men experienced similar problems in particular the ones working in Schneeberg's mines. Doctors through autoptic exams discovered that twenty of these men died for the same exact reason: lung cancer.

The most scaring and of course massive and terrible example of an exposure with deadly results at radioactivity was the one of Hiroshima and Nagasaki where two bombs where launched by the Americans last second world war after the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor.

Sasaki one of the doctors still healthy immediately after the explosion of the nuclear bomb in Hiroshima tried to help all the people arrived to the hospital immediately after the explosion of the bomb.

The atomic bomb is the most horrible possible scenario for the humanity and no one should never think of using this bomb for a second according to my modest point of view because after it there is no return and the land can't be lived anymore.

What saw Sasaki with his eyes immediately after at the hospital ?

There were people with strange symptoms never seen before and although treated they died pretty abruptly and for horrible reasons.

Apart the ones disappeared immediately, there was the case of a family who discovered just the bones of their dear one, still yet sat where they had left him just few minutes before. Just he was disintegrated. His tissues, muscles, hair, gone.
Just the skeleton could tell that the man sat there, was the one of the dear one of that two ladies.

The wristwatch was not destroyed by the atomic bomb.

The survivors, in general would have been dead in a few days experiencing horrible pains and sufferance at various levels.

Some of them knew the destruction, disintegration of brain cells. These cells have a massive destruction when exposed so massively at radioactivity with the implosion of all the body.

There are people who vomited although no one knew at first the reason, other ones were treated because of horrible burns.
There was a man in company of a friend.
The friend apparently untouched by the bomb, the other man burned. But later, the burned friend the one who will carry the other one to the hospital because his friend developed much more profound problems.

Other patients suffered before to dying of severe diarrhea, hair loss, high fever, dehydration before to dying.

All the bodies accumulated in the hospital were burned.

We leave Hiroshima alone for a while.

If radiation kill outside they cure cancer as discovered the Curies inside.

Is it possibility to develop a new cancer because of the assimilation of radiations during chemotherapy and radiation from a person in cure? Yes it's possible and the author says that the period should be taken in consideration is ten years.
The author suggests everyone with this problem of continuing these cures because it's just a probability and anyway in an old person the possibility of re-develop a cancer diminish a lot.

Fukushima. The tsunami of various years ago provoked as we all know also a big environmentalist problem similar to the one Chernobyl lived in Europe in 1986.
A site like that one won't never be back at the normality, not for the people still alive and not in a very close future, because once a place is attacked by radioactivity can't be cultivated anymore, can't be secure anymore.
It's dead, dead. Fruits, veggies, milk, meat, tea, everything is radioactive. Nothing is anymore normal but altered and extremely dangerous for the health of people.
If people survive, the only answer is to going away forever and for good as it happened for the people living close to Fukushima.

The book later will also treat new technologies like cell phones and radiation in our daily life.

In conclusion Timothy J. Jorgensen is more than sure of something: that after we have read his book we will be more conscious of our daily life, of the radioactive instruments close to us in a daily base from the microwave to the smart phone and how we can use them. We will be in grade to make wisest choices for us, the community and maybe the world.
I agree.
He closes his foreword wishing to all of us: good luck!


I thanks Princeton University Press for this wonderful book!



Anna Maria Polidori

venerdì, settembre 15, 2017

The Obesity Epidemic Why diets and exercise don't work and what does by Robyn Toomath

The Obesity Epidemic by Robyn Toomath, analyzes the actual historical moment where, more than experiencing problems because we are starved, we have problems for an excess of food and most of people suffer of obesity.

What can we do?

Many the hypotheses taken in consideration by the author, from diets, most of them a real failure to pills able to reduce weight and drastic operations.
Unfortunately, in big obesity exercise is not a great answer. But sedentariety can conducts at the grave we must  remember this.

Food means a lot and what we eat today can also saying where we live, what we do, and what we decide to introduce in our body. Plus of course the quantity of food we introduce.

Big questions the one of the author like: urbanization reduced physical exercise?
It is in fact commonly known that when there weren't yet cars and it was necessary to afford to a city walking for 20-30 km  health was better for sure.

There was poverty but what it was cultivated was genuine, because there weren't yet tractors, there weren't pesticides and it says a lot again.

Then new life-style started to make the difference. The arrival of  TV for example. It absorbed people and people became and are still becoming fat watching the TV, adds the author. Lack of sleeping time but also food consumed without any kind of exercise doesn't help.

The author writes at some point: "The emergence of the processed food industry has resulted in our eating things which are no longer identifiable as foods."

But where it started this trend of eating too much food?
Global diet or, a new way of eating started, history, like a trend thanks to the appearance of supermarkets everywhere.
Supermarkets are the main sources where people buy the so-called junk food and all that beverages plenty of sugar and calories and so on.
It is estimated that an American ate everyday 3200 calories in the 1980s and 3900 by the year 2000.

The question will ask then Robyn Toomath is: are we free when we buy food?

Then the very interesting story of food rationing during the last Second World War and what happened later when peace was back to the normality.

Toomath flew from San Francisco to Boston once and she noticed in the city of Boston is banned the sale of sweetened drink and in general Bostonians don't tend to eat too much junk food.

The author will tell us what happened in Australia when Coca-Cola decided to start a war against obesity thinking that maybe she has a role in all of it.

Who is obese or better: who eat unhealthy food? Because everything starts from there.

All that women, people in general, children, of course who tend to stay outside (or too much inside without control from their parents for example if children) for work during the day and once returned home don't tend to prepare a good dish but just a hamburger and some french fries. Pretty quick and fried the second ones, if you have children close to you or a husband maybe something else would be better.

Food can be considered for the poorest like a reward for the work well done considering that this one is the only gratification that there is around. 
Maybe eating is also a sort of "revenge" for poor people against that  poverty they knew in the past.
There wasn't a lot of abundance of food decades ago just we must try to see if the food we ingest now is healthy like the one we ate 40-50 years ago.

It's a story of poor people but I would add also that sometimes people are not educated to eating well because it's also this one the problem.
These people tend to  eat cheaper and higher in calories.

For fighting the problem of obesity and the social costs that there is, governments are trying to provide answers in various directions.

In the while what to do for changing bad habits? The author is a doctor and she knows very well that a diabetic won't never want to lose weight, but of course she can tells him/her of eating more properly adding fibers, muesli during the breakfast, fresh fruits, veggies but mainly this doctor wants to encourage everyone to cook and eat all together home cooked-food.
Plus, again and again: if you have some land, plant! Plant veggies, plant tomatoes, some potatoes, zucchini, plant herbs you will need for your cooking because you won't add pesticides to them and you will eat healthily. Nothing is more good than eating your own food.

I want to add a poster the author keeps in her office.
It says:

1- Buy with thought
2- Cook it with care
3- Use less wheat and meat
4- Buy local food
5- Serve just enough
6- Use what is left
7- Don't waste it.

This poster the author remarks was printed by the US Food Administration in 1917. What did we become in the while?

Toomath suggests of walking per a hour everyday, asking us to influence our environment speaking about this immense problematic that food is.

Our area wants to return at the biologic and one of our priests wants to restore the old water mill. Maybe our little community has traced a good project.

Robyn Toomath encourages pregnant girls to eat healthily and later breast feed. Not only: it's better don't park our babies close to the TV, or PCS or smart phones, but it's better to read them fairy-tales, a book, baking something delicious with them, spending our time with them in a park.

The end of the book a great. I loved it. A motto that says a lot: good luck!

Highly highly recommended.

I thank Johns Hopkins University Press for this beautiful and informative book!



Anna Maria Polidori


Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala is the perfect synthesis between perfection and destruction, beauty and horror, happiness and devastation, joy and sadness, life and death, sanity and insanity, re-birth and new starts.

It was Dec 26th 2004, in Sri Lanka when a violent Tsunami destroyed the life of thousand people, citizens and tourists enjoying their vacations in sunny tropical locations.

Sonali, her origins from that distant land discovers soon the strange activity of the Ocean thanks to the worries of a friend and she decides to leave with a jeep the hotel with all her family. Sonali was married with a British man, Steve, and they had two kids, Vikram and Malli still little. Her parents joined them for the vacation as well.

The arrival of this wave doesn't give any chance to  Sonali's children and partner, and also her parents will die as well in the hotel.

What will follow will be the mental and physical reconstruction of an identity passing through the most horrible shock existing in this world: the massive departure of most of family members and the lack of important roots, in particular the one created with the partner: children.

The thematic of the survivors and feelings survivors have in their mind are explained with great lucidity and passion in Wave.
Sonali's ideas are clear at first: giving up,killing herself, and then the perception of being lonely, and not helped at all by Steve who left alone her with all of this devastation...
The sweet memories of her two children, pieces of her heart, their habits, voices, favorite food and games, sports, and school activities, the most moving part of the book.

What I found terrible and magnificent at the same time is the description of the normality Sonali lived with Steve and their two sons, their tender moments all together and then all the time in the book again: Splash! the reader is back to the most brutal reality, the disappearance of normality,  joy,  happiness, tenderness, life for re-discovering again horror, death, disappearance, destruction.
Because the horror is this one: the disappearance of dear ones in this way create a dark hole in the soul, and a deprivation of reality. Our reality is made by normality and reassurance moments.

In the case of Sonali and Steve their family was the perfect one you can find in the most romantic book: the couple in love from the years of university, happily married with two children, a beautiful life, the possibility thanks to the double citizenship of Sonali of spending time both in Europe than in Asia, permitting to Vickram and Malli to grow up breathing an international citizenship in this world.

When all of it ends for the devastation of an event like a tsunami in this case or a quake or any other natural devastation, of course the survivor must fight against a lot of demons.

Sonali describes the first phases of shock, the terrible moments when she drunk too much assuming too many pills, and when she started slowly slowly to return to life, re-visiting the places once she loved so badly, re-discovering in the London's house and in the garden her children, her husband thanks to their drawings, writing, clothes, normality, habits, webs.
I loved a lot the chapter when she tried all the best for creating mess to the people who lived after the tsunami in the house of her parents, a powerful place rich of memories, of her old life.

The book of Sonali wants to be also a celebration of life. Her life spent with her family in a relaxing normality able to comfort the soul and body because close to the perfection, in a family where there was a lot of love and joy and harmony and where possibilities endless.

This books speaks also of delicious Asian food, traditions, exotic animals, and what can keeps calm your soul.

But remember that there is a wave and this wave will transform all of it. The book is like a wave: violent and calm, destructive and incredibly harmonic, it depends what you will read, if the after or the before, but this mixture creates where possible a less stressing impact to the soul of the reader according to my point of view, because there is also a past, there was happiness, there was joy. There are plenty of great memories to remember for Sonali and this is incredibly important.

So let's speak of transformation. Now Sonali lives in NYC because London to her is still too painful and rich of memories.
Her London-house is still speaking too much of her kids, of her husband of that past that was her life, her daily life, people she loved the most, of her creatures she brought in her belly. A chapter forever closed to her.
That one was her life. At long she thought she was born cursed, she was born with some lack and this one had to happen to her because maybe in another life a horrible person.
At the moment Sonali doesn't think anymore that this horrible Tsunami destroyed her life because of her past lives but she tries thanks to her work at the Columbia University of going on.
I guess Sonali will always feel the voices of her beloved ones because they have been part of her life-project, part of herself, but I want to hope for her that with the time these voices will become great guidance for a re-born and new joy and happiness because our dead ones want the best for us. May Sonali's sufferance be like the one of a big tree able to give with its big shadow some rest to everyone tired of sufferance or too sad for going on. With this book she started to do that wonderfully well.

Highly recommended.

Edizioni Mondolibri.

Anna Maria Polidori




giovedì, settembre 14, 2017

The Sorcerer's Apprentice An Anthology of Magical Tales edited by Jack Zipes and illustrated by Natalie Frank

The Sorcerer's Apprentice An Anthology of Magical  Tales edited by Jack Zipes and illustrated by Natalie Frank is a beautiful hardback book published by Princeton. The cover, precious, is spectacular, iconic, mysterious, legendary. It seems to travel in the mystery of humanity thanks to fairy-tales all dedicated at the thematic of the sorcerer's apprentice.  Why this book?
Jack Zipes worked at this book for several years, discovering the high potentialities contained in  these fairy-tales for the modern society and he doesn't have any doubts. These fairy-tales can be truly helpful in a moment of great stress and confusion in a moment where hope appears distant, where values don't count anymore and where there is a big confusion and chaos.
Plus we can't live without magic. Magic is a dimension man searches to return in for reassuring himself. There is not just the world we see and where we live in.

Fairy-Tales speak in profundity of values, morality, of injustices, slavery, they're brutal sometimes in their messages, but they don't never confuse the roles of the protagonists.

These strong fairy-tales are here for remembering to all of us something precious and important: that magic exists and that we must be careful with it, because no one can steals for example a power bigger than their forces at someone else. The result will be devastating.

Fairy-tales chosen by Zipes includes all the world and the imaginary, and the perception of the world in its legendary beauty, in its ugliness, in its being mean or big is similar in every fairy-tale and it's not important if these fairy-tales are from Europe, North America or Asia or Africa.They speak at the heart.

It will be shocking to read these fairy-tales for discovering the connections we can find with our reality.

Fairy-tales were born centuries ago and transmitted in general orally. They were or they had to be admonitions, life-lessons. In the old times in particular people living in countrysides enjoyed to spend time all together after a hard day spent in the fields. It was common to share or create old and new legends and myths, maybe each time enriching them with more details or preserving the story for the posterity.

We will discover which scheme has been used by J.K. Rowling for writing Harry Potter a long fairy-tales for Jack Zipes.

Personally as a fan of Harry Potter I can tell I fell in love for these books because Harry was such an unlucky teenager. He was totally misunderstood by the uncle and the aunt, hated, I would want to add,  by their son as well. It was for this reason I loved Harry Potter so badly. Harry was very unlucky but then he found his own dimension discovering many wonderful friends, different maybe by him, but after all Harry Potter couldn't tell of having anymore any kind of root after the departure of his parents. That hell was his life but was a satisfying life?
Then he discovered he was loved and appreciated and waited by wise men like Dumbledore, but also by new friends, the family Weasley, my favorite characters, and yes in the parallel world where he fell in, Hogwarts, a place I just adore for the magical atmosphere, he understood soon that he was in good company and that he was the key for trying to defeat Lord Voldemort.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice is divided in the Humiliated Apprentice Tales, where we will also find a very interesting tale by Sir Walter Scott,  the Rebellious Apprentice Tales, and the Krabat Tales.

There is to learn a lot from these fairy-tales in all these sections. We will discover what it means to try to surpass wisest men, receiving big punishments and sometimes losing everything for a caprice.They're also fairy-tales about transformations and expectations, mutations and changes, sly actions for trying to defeat the sorcerer and going away as for example in the story of The Wonderful Trade.

I consider this book tremendously actual and I highly suggest it to everyone children and adults. Children will appreciate these stories and will ask a lot of questions to their parents. Be ready for it.
Parents must explain to them ethicity, honesty, friendship, being good in a world where in most cases these values are disvalued, and what these tales can tell us also in these modern times very complicated.

Nothing is more powerful than a fairy-tale for let us galloping in imaginary worlds, in other dimensions and for keeping inside these treasures told by generations of people orally.

We live in a society where there is a great immediacy but fairy-tales must be continued to be told because they will save our life, our existence and for extension our world.

First of all: let's continue to dream and believe in magic!

I thank Princeton University Press for the beautiful physical copy of this book.

Anna Maria Polidori

mercoledì, settembre 13, 2017

The Girl in the Picture by Kerry Barrett

Kerry Barrett's latest book: The Girl in the Picture released by HarperCollins this month is a book you won't never be able to put down before to arrive at the end because the story is truly fascinating permeated by mystery, an old house, some murders and a lot to be discovered by the various protagonists.

We are in the fascinating Sussex where Ella and Ben decides to start to living their existence, after their metropolitan life in London.

Ben in fact has been hired by an important sport team, he is s physio and of course this prestigious work will make the difference also in economical terms in their life.

They have two children and their family is very happy.
Ella decides it's arrived the moment of writing full-time and she thinks that a house immersed in the Sussex countryside can be just helpful.
Her relationship with her dad a bit conflictual because her dad grew her  up after the departure when she was still in very tender age of her mom.

Ella tried all her best for not upsetting her dad in any ways, and sometimes choosing to be also too good for not let him feel a bit sad or discontented. This behavior of course caused her own unhappiness but after all she built up a beautiful family and obtained what she wanted from her life.

She doesn't know why but when she meets her dad for explaining their big changes in their life and their idea of not selling OK, the house in London but deciding for a big new start she feels she must tell him her frustrations during all these past years, and her behavior, for trying to accomplish him making him happy and cheerful.
Her dad didn't know all of it. In the while he re-married another lady, Barb, very nice with Ella, a lady in grade to encourage the writing skills of this talented crime novel writer.

The discussion with her dad left Ella a bit perplexed and her dad astonished because he didn't imagine the sentiments of Ella or what she did for his psychological stability.

At the arrival of their house in Sussex, the shock of discovering a lot of silence, a different environment where Ella and Ben's children could have played a lot also outside.

At the same time Ella sees like a shadow close to the attic and she feels a presence.

Who is there? Ben assures her: there is no one in the house.
But Ella will discover soon thanks to the help of a great police-woman and other connections that the story of the house where they live in it's more complicated than what it appears at the beginning and she wants to discover all the truth.

In that house a lot of time ago in 1855 lived a girl called Violet. Her dad was a philanthropist and as also in the case of Ella, Violet grew up just with the paternal character because the mom died when she tried to give at birth another baby she was expecting.

It was a common story at that time, but sure, the obsessive dad of Violet caused a lot of problems to this poor daughter. He caused her isolation and so the girl growing up didn't know what to do and how to interact healthy with other people and with boys as well.
Not being in grade to go out, not being in grade to conduct a normal life she was more unconscious of the risks of life.
And so an opportunist married man Edwin will try to court her winning the poor young girl very soon.
The wife of Edwin, Frances didn't love him anymore. She lost the first son because of the violence of him on her, and when she discovered she was waiting again she decided to keep for her this secret.

Edwin will be dishonest 'till the end. The two girls will try to help each other...

At the same time, Violet was a great painter and she wanted to be a painter. Sure: she would have wanted also to marrying someone at some point but first of all she would have wanted to give priority to this passion but what to do?

Problem was that at that time it was impossible for women to be taken in consideration by men.

She went to London and she discovered Edwin had intellectually stolen two of the paintings she decided to give him for being valued by some critics and seen if it was the case of going on with painting or not.

I loved the end of this story, because it will give complete rest to Violet and the other protagonists and I can tell you that this one is one of the most amazing stories I read recently.

There is the thematic of dishonesty, again the art of stealing intellectual property this time under the aspect of paintings, then there is the segregation lived by Violet (never experienced by Ella), and of course a genuine and unfortunately not happy approach to life from her and so the arrival for this pure heart without too much malice of just dishonest and opportunist people in grade to destroy, stealing from her the beauty that there was, and at the end ruining her forever. There is also the thematic of friendship between women. A lover and a wife united together against their common violent man. The idea of escapism in physical sense and the thematic of help but also in recent time the beauty friendship between Ella and the police-woman.

Of course the main thematic is the one of a research. A cathartic research conducted by the modern protagonist, Ella. The book is divided in chapters dedicated to Ella, her life, her researches and the other ones to the past protagonists of this story and their life in 1855.
It is wonderful to seeing sorted out an old mystery thanks to the great connections and help Ella found. Real good, honest people close to her will help this strong lady to sort out this mystery. A great and beautiful team.

Very well constructed, perfect times, you can see the making of a book in progression in the real sense of the word because Ella is a writer but also how to conduct a great, good and fruitful research. Being a reporter I know what it means to do these researches and they're always pretty stimulating.

I finished to read this eBook at one o'clock of the night. Capturing, beautiful, fantastic. Pity I can't tell you everything! because it is truly moving and maybe Violet in a way will return....



Highly suggested for sure!


I thank NetGalley and HarperCollins for this ebook.


Anna Maria Polidori

martedì, settembre 12, 2017

Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone

Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone is a sophisticated, new cookbook by ABRAMS on bookstores soon.

Athena's origins are Italians and she will talk a lot about it and the influences played by the first foods her family loved to eat all together, from macaroni to veggies in the USA for trying to re-create an italian atmosphere.

Growing up Athena became a model in NYC although later she discovered in her early 20s the man of her life and very soon the arrival of a baby.

It was from this different perspective that Athena started to think and re-think at her concept of food for her and her family.
Good, genuine, nutrient, and healthy.
Travelling she became an addicted about cookbooks, I agree, and everything involving the world of cooking and baking.

Athena discovered very soon her wonderful own style in her kitchen sharing her delicious recipes with her family, friends.

This book is divided in sections following all the stunning seasons of this world: spring, summer, fall and winter, with great recipes all the time and the best ingredients for every season of the year. Athena suggests very warmly of using only seasonal food, because fresher and more natural.

From first dishes, I noticed a lot of delicious polenta dishes, sweet as well! I want to try it! to seconds, veggies, desserts, it's a wonderful in part unusual trip in the food. Athena adds a lot of sweetness and warm in her dishes and fantasy and tenderness according to my point of view.
Each dish is illustrated so that you can figure out the final appearance because also the eyes want its part in the final process of creativity and when we start to serve it to our family.

Why buying this cookbook and other ones by ABRAMS?
Because of their philosophy of eating, because there is the research for the best quality food, because the reader is not a passive reader but someone stimulated and involved to cultivate, where possible his/her own herbs or veggies and orientated to eat with knowledge. The importance of what we introduce is essential for this publishing house, like also the importance of developing a new conscious in all the people regarding food. A leisure to share together paying attention to every ingredients and researching where and if possible quality and good food. Because, food is important exactly like our health is.

I thank NetGalley and ABRAMS for this eBook.


Anna Maria Polidori

The Flat Stanley Collection by Jeff Brown and illustrated by Macky Pamintuan

Flat Stanley: my first approach with this fantastic character on 11/12/1997 when I received the letter from Maria a dear correspondent from the USA.
With her latest news and letter there was enclosed a letter   of one of her little relatives, Rebecca, asking for a picture or a postcard of the place where I lived in and the request of re-sending Flat Stanley to someone else in the world. I kept Flat Stanley that time as you can see.
No sure why :-) Maybe just I didn't know this character and I didn't know this project. Maybe I just liked this curious sunny character for re-sending it.

This year on March I was contacted by Trina from Kentucky another friend with a niece in the State of Washington. "Can I send you Flat Stanley? It's called in her case Flat Zadie, the name of my niece." I was enthusiastic: "Of course, please do that! I want to participate."
Once arrived Flat Zadie  I wrote down few lines about the place where I live in, I wrote my name and last name, and the day after with a postcard of Umbertide sent separately (that one flew in the school in Washington) I re-sent Flat Zadie in the new envelope at Trina.
I also took pictures for reassuring Trina I did it everything!

Time passed-by, months passed-by and my letter was received only after two months by Trina! In the while I fell in panic, contacted the post office, talked with some people who reassured me, exchanging e-mails with Trina.Thanks to Flat Zadie I discovered that Flat Stanley was a book.

A book... Why not to search for this one as well?

I discovered that trying to request this book was like to climbing a mountain and I decided to give up.
Recently I noticed a book from Harper Collins I want to read and review and I remembered...
"They have Flat Stanley! I am sure of it!" I thought and I asked to the publicist, very kind and  helpful if she could made me this pleasure as well.

Hooray! Close to me in the netbook I have The Flat Stanley Collection a box of four of the most important and hilarious stories written by Jeff Brown and illustrated by Macky Pamintuan: Flat Stanley His original adventure, Invisible Stanley, Stanley in Space, Stanley Flat Again.

You can't understand my enthusiasm!

So what can you expect from this eBooks of adventures? First of all the first eBook will introduce us Stanley. His last name is Lambchop :-) and he has a brother, Arthur. His dad is George, Mrs Lambchop is a very nice lady. One day they discovered that their son became flat.  Surprise was high but how can you stop to love your son also if he became flat? The family brought Stanley by the doctor, but the doc didn't find anything wrong in him. And now what to do?

Sure the life of Stanley, so flat became under many aspects simpler than before. He could travel in an envelope sent to California for spending some time with a friend of him. After the vacation Flat Stanley was just re-sent to his parents via envelope saving a lot of money spent in opposite case for an airplane ticket.
I guess that the idea of keeping Stanley traveling around the world was born thanks to this passage of the book. Not only: our little sunny hero can pass under doors, and can be really helpful thanks to his ability and flexibility for sorting out a myriad of little and big problems.

He will discover dangerous criminals and in an episode he will fly to the Space with a lot of surprises. He also talked with the President of the USA, ending up in newsmagazines thanks to his characteristic of being flat and he also became a hero when in particular Flat Stanley saved a "terrible" teen-ager under the ruins.

Flat Stanley will also live some serious crisis: why did it happen to me? Why did I become flat? He asked to himself and to his parents. He wanted to return to be normal because being special can be tiring and so a friend of him will help him with a special instrument.


Why reading Flat Stanley? It's first of all a quick reading, plenty of sunny illustrations but you mustn't think that it's just a light reading. The opposite.
First of all the meaning of "different" is analyzed under all the aspects, because Stanley when flat is different from the other children but accepted by everyone, at school, at home, into his family, by his brother. Plus there are thematic like help, generosity, attention,connections, without to forget the role of the media in our society so wonderfully well portrayed by the author.

I warmly suggest to your children all this book set, eBooks or physical ones suggesting at the parents  a discussion about the role of diversity and the role of being someone different in our society. Another topic I would suggest can be this one: how can we all better this world for better without to be Flat and giving the best or ourselves? Which are the important values of our life to cultivate and give importance at?

Now that schools are open I just hope that Flat Stanley will re-start to traveling in the world with the same enthusiasm, joy that this character brings with him in every adventure.

One of the most joyous and positive children's books I have ever read!

I thank Harper Collins for this eBook.



Anna Maria Polidori

sabato, settembre 09, 2017

If You Give a Man a Cookie A parody by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Brian Ajhar

I received If You Give a Man a Cookie A parody by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Brian Ajhar this Thursday in a warm envelope, handwritten and containing also a card written by the publicist. How precious it was! Many thanks! I adored it so badly.

If you Give a Man a Cookie is a hilarious parody. It can be read according to my point of view in a "dirty" way and in a cleaned way. It's up to you, but both the ways are funny!

You can present the book at your partner for laughing and smiling of his existential condition and crisis to my point of view if he is a funny man! (The man portrayed in the book is very pacific.)

You can also try with your kid. Then of course he/she would discover the real nature of men and their dynamics. You would explain a lot of facts. Maturity, changes, identity...You would end up with some philosophic thoughts, while your kid would think: "Oh no, God will I experience all of it?" ending up in a little 4-5 years old existential crisis ;-) in which all his securities will become terrible fears for a very remote future. Because story repeat itself we know it so badly.
Surely this one is an illustrated book for women!

The story is simple: there is a man in his 50s, a bit fat, a bit in love for cookies the specialties of his wife and milk (you know that there is nothing more good than sweet chocolate cookies with some milk) and trying to prove to himself he is always the best. Surely he is into a sort of existential crisis. He likes to exercises just for some seconds before to return to spend some time on the coach watching the TV and in the time falling asleep.  In general he is an innocuous man.

The life of his wife is pretty busy cleaning the house, cooking and baking, and trying to keep under control this husband pretty lazy under certain aspects, but plenty of desires for some cookies :-) and a lot of milk :-))
At the end of the book you will laugh a lot I am sure of it!

I loved the wonderful illustrations, portraying a man in crisis and in search again of an identity, the part of the hair is spectacular, but, you won't never forget the last illustration of the sardonic dog thinking: "Man you lost your battle, I am still here in the bed with your wife sleeping in your pillow while you must go somewhere else in the house to get the milk by yourself."

Oh, read it, you will love it!


I surely thank Andrews McMeel Publishing for this eBook I also thank Shelf Awareness because thanks to them I discovered this publishing house.


Anna Maria Polidori








giovedì, settembre 07, 2017

Christmas in London by Anita Hughes

Beautiful and dreaming . If you want to dream of beautiful locations, great and delicious food, appreciating sumptuous descriptions of places, food, people, living in the magical atmosphere of Christmas in one of the most beautiful European cities, go for this book.
It's one of the best one you can find around. What I loved the most were the delicious recipes of the various desserts, I think I put on some kilos just while reading about them, yum! and the fresh protagonists of the story add a special touch.

The story is this one: Louisa works at a bakery in NYC and one day a young man seeing she baked wonderfully delicious cinnamon rolls asks her to giving them to him for the set of a production discovering later that everyone appreciated her cinnamon rolls, but surprises are not finished because her cinnamon rolls with a special secret ingredient in it convinced everyone also for something else:  Louisa is a great baker and she will fly to London with all of them for being part of the annual Christmas Eve Dinner TV.
Louisa will accept, leaving for London...

I thank NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for this ebook.

Anna Maria Polidori

Gilded Suffragists The New York Socialites who Fought for Women's Right to Vote by Johanna Neuman

Gilded Suffragists The New York Socialites who Fought for Women's Right to Vote by Johanna Neuman in bookstores these days is a wonderful book. If you are a woman you must read it. It's very clear, bubbling, entertaining and plenty of informations, book, dreaming in some part, but mostly, while you will read it, you will "live" the sensation of being transported thanks to the light, sunny writing-style of the author at the beginning of 1900s.
It's a story of women this one and of women of the best and most influential families of NYC, the richest part, wonderfully "painted" and described.
There are the Astor, Belmont, Harriman, Tiffany, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, including many intellectual great names and of course the creative women and girls working in the city, for a total of more than 200 girls and ladies all ready for starting the suffrage movement.
A trip in the past but also in that rights so forgotten and neglected. If we are more free is also thanks to these women.
An anecdotes for all: problems like the sinking of the Titanic was in 192, didn't create just polemics because of the lack of sufficient lifeboats but also because most men left their place to a lot of women and children with a profound discussion between the various parts.
John J. Astor IV died in April 12  with other 1503 other souls.
He accompanied his pregnant wife to a lifeboat leaving her alone because the motto was is and always will be: "Women and children before" and then he died. When the Titanic sank.
Some men asked: "Would the suffragette have stood on that deck for women's rights or for women's privileges?"

Read it: it's a wonderful tale, plenty of informations, funny, electrifying. You'll just adore it!

I thank NetGalley and NY University Press for this eBook.



Anna Maria Polidori

mercoledì, settembre 06, 2017

Washington Square by Henry James

An emotive prison and a complete subjection to his dad.

It was this one the relationship established by Catherine Sloper, the daughter of a very well known New Yorker doctor, Mr. Sloper. The title of the book from their house at Washington Square.

An emotive prison where Catherine couldn't go away, in which searching for some escapism and realization impossible and not because impossible financially.

The family of Mr.Sloper, his wife and another child dead, was pretty rich for giving comfort to everyone. The "mental paralysis" and inability of escapism of the main protagonist derived by his dad's behavior. He will avoid any kind of great development in her existence. One of the best books by James regarding the profound, mysterious and cruel dynamics existing into a family. Henry James doesn't offer in this sense any answers, no and if you search for hope, nope. You won't find it reading his books. What Henry James does wonderfully well is registering the fluidity of the life, of the various protagonists in their singularity, in their being unique and in their little, big hypocrisies.

Mr.Sloper created a luxurious emotive prison for his daughter, developing in the soul of this girl thanks to his cruel phrases, rich of sagacious taste psychological insecurities so that the girl couldn't fly away but remaining there, close to him.

Most important for Mr. Sloper she would have always thought of being less than anyone else. At the same time Mr.Sloper didn't forget of educating her at a profound, mystical great respect for himself. He couldn't be put in discussion.

Mr Sloper considered his daughter from the point of view of a man: a very unattractive girl.

Maybe according to Mr. Sloper who knows? she didn't have the right to create her own existence and to be happy with a man close to her although in some final passages we saw him telling her that he would have been pleased if she would have found someone. Of course he knew that it wouldn't never been possible because the girl too scared for starting other big fights with his dad.

Mr Sloper didn't love his daughter according to my point of view. Not very happily and not in a healthy way.

The British humor when he speaks with her is pretty sarcastic most of the time and it tends to mortifying her in every possible way for trying to diminish her beauty and her intelligence. Catherine is a common girl. not too beauty, not too intelligent, but with feelings for sure.

Problems, for this dad and doctor started when for the occasion of the engagement feast of a relative of Catherine, Catherine meets Morris Townsend and the two falls in love.

Or better: Catherine falls in love.
Morris is a too much intelligent and beautiful boy according to Mr.Sloper for losing his time with Catherine. He persists just because he knows that she would have inherited a great amount of money. In a few words: they wouldn't never slept under a bridge. A comforting idea.

Mr. Townsend was at the moment of his first meeting with Catherine unemployed and in search of a job. He lived with his sister. This news was seen negatively by Mr.Sloper who would have wanted to see someone different close to Catherine, although he wouldn't never wanted to see anyone close to her because to him the girl not too interesting for finding someone just interested to her and not to her money. Just this consideration would have put down anyone discouraging from continuing to hope and being optimistic .

Mr. Sloper in case of a positive relationship of her girlfriend dreamed someone more active and in grade to bring food on the table and not someone there ready to dilapidated his fortune. And of course he was right of being worried but if the doctor wanted to help in this sense Catherine and Morris he could, donating to someone else (as he did!) some of the fortune destined to her, and making them much more poor. Real love would have resisted.

In these long months of meetings between the two, Catherine could count only in the loyal friendship of her aunt Mrs. Penniman, a loving lady who grew up this girl after the death of Catherine's mom with great affection and someone who wanted to see Catherine happy.
Romantic, plenty of optimism, Mrs. Penniman tried all her best to build bridges between the two lovers, also when Mr Lodger brought her daughter in Europe for a year for the so-called Grand-Tour very loved by the American elite.
What it appeared sad was that Catherine lived isolated by everyone else and couldn't share any impressions of this love-story with other girlfriends of her same age, for some suggestions.
To me another symptom of the great isolation the family choose for this girl and her existence.

Townsend was attracted by the money but he also took in consideration other options. Less rich but happy together. At the end tired of Mrs.Penniman, tired of Catherine's dad, tired of Catherine, he will give up and will leave New York City.

Catherine won't never forget this young love but more she won't forget a promise she did to her dad later: of not marrying after his death Mr Townsend in case of a re-appearance of this man considering maybe the daughter hadn't never forgotten him considering she refused a lot of other men. Another act of respect and subjection to her devoted dad, who, de facto ruined her life.

If this one is not subjection what other else is it?

Henry James works psychologically and can be cruel, sophisticated, tremendously real in the exam of life, people and mainly the psychological moves during the existence of the actors in the scene of Life.

Highly suggested.



Anna Maria Polidori