Maurice’s November Musings

It’s November already. Tomorrow is opening day for Maurice On The Move.  Maurice will be on the move. My first stop will be in Estero where I’ll be visiting the great readers at  the Estero Newcomer’s Annual Book Lecture. I’m excited to show and tell all about my favorite books of the season.  And to see all my book friends and hear what they’ve been reading.

There’s a lot going on in my life right now and it’s not just about the books. We’ve bought a new house and are preparing to move. We will begin the new year in our new home. Still on the Cape, just moving to the SW Cape from the SE Cape. Still, all the books and pets have to be packed up along with all the “stuff.”  We are downsizing somewhat. The house is smaller. But not tiny. And it’s still a house. Looking forward to spending time on the porches that are on the front and back of the home. The kitties are going to love it.

We’re also preparing for a big vacation. We’re cruising the week of Christmas. Our anniversary cruise to Cuba was cancelled due to new sanctions about cruise ships in Cuba. So, I found this amazing holiday cruise with Princess and we booked it.  We really need this getaway. And are looking forward to some big R&R. Once we are back on dry land we will be hitting the ground running so we can make sure to get into the new house before Jan. 1.

A little update about our

Wyatt

Woeful Wyatt

Wyatt. He’s been dealing with IBD. Even had a kitty cat colonoscopy. Ugh. It’s something he will have all of his life. It’s challenging to say the least. But we have discovered a diffuser that we plug into the wall in the room he spends the most time in. True to its word it helps calm him and that is helping so much.

I’m looking forward to being able to finally sell AMERICAN DIRT

American Dirt

by Jeanine Cummins. The publisher still has not announced the tour dates and locations. It’s very frustrating. But we are still hoping to be included at Copperfish Books.  You will see a big post when we find out. Pub date is set firmly at January 21.  Mark  your calendars.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

Copperfish Books is offering some amazing gift items this season. I will be posting pictures of some of my favorites. Also, you don’t want to forget Small Business Saturday which is Saturday, November 30. I will be working until almost two and hope to see you  at the store. We will be serving special drinks and treats and it is going to be very festive. I hope you will come in to visit.  We have specialty gifts you can’t find anywhere else.

I’m working on gift-giving lists and will have those ready for the December newsletter. Until then , Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tell Me A Story by Cassandra King Conroy

Tell Me A Story

Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for any length of time already know that Pat Conroy is my all-time favorite author. Meeting him a few years ago is one of the greatest moments of my literary life.  Now his wife, Cassandra King Conroy, has honored us by sharing  the story of their married life. I feel both humbled and very grateful.

Cassandra King Conroy is an established and best-selling novelist in her own right. She’s written several award-winning novels that include THE SUNDAY WIFE which is my personal favorite.  Cassandra was actually married to a preacher at one time. So she certainly knows of what she writes.

Cassandra King Conroy

Cassandra King met Pat Conroy in 1995 at a literary event in Alabama where Cassandra lived.  Their relationship was almost strictly by phone for a while. They actually began dating in 1997 but the traveling between South Carolina where Pat lived to Alabama quickly became old.  So in 1998 they married, both were divorced and over fifty.  Cassandra moved to South Carolina and has been living there ever since.  They were married for eighteen years before Pat succumbed to pancreatic cancer a few years ago.  Between them they each wrote five books during their marriage.

When asked recently by Suzanne Van Atten of Atlanta Magazine about how she is coping with life after Pat’s death, Cassandra says,
 ” I keep thinking, okay, one of these days, this is going to get better. I never want to tell recent widows, but, it’s been three years since Pat died, and it seems like yesterday. I think maybe it’s because I’m still here, where he was. I see him walk in the house. I see him where he would usually be waiting. He would come down the stairs to greet me when I’d been out of town, or he’d be back in his room. And I’d stick my head in to tell him I was back. I see him everywhere. We have this beautiful creek here, and it looks like the cover of a Pat Conroy novel. Everyday, there are reminders. “

Those words  speak volumes about the relationship between Pat and Cassandra. I loved hearing about their passion for food, books, literature and the Lowcountry.  Pat Conroy led a  pretty tumultuous life before marrying Cassandra.  He definitely found peace with his King Ray. (his pet name for Cassandra)

Rick Bragg says  TELL ME A STORY is deep and moving and funny.

Mary Alice Monroe says,  TELL ME A STORY is the best memoir she’s read.

This book is her tribute to her larger-than-life Prince of Tides, her husband, Pat Conroy.  He passed away from the horrors of pancreatic cancer in 2016 at the age of seventy. It’s hard to believe there will be no more wonderful novels from Pat.

I met Pat Conroy one night in Miami when he spoke to a large audience of around 1000 avid readers and fans. He made all of us laugh and cry with his stories about his family.  And he stayed and signed his books until every last book was signed.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Cassandra King Conroy, for allowing us into the inner circle of your amazing life with Pat Conroy!

Cassandra King Conroy still lives in Beaufort, South Carolina where she is honorary chair of the Pat Conroy Literary Center. I look forward to reading her next novel.

My review copy of TELL ME A STORY was provided by William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. What a great gift for the holidays. I loved it!

I have wonderful  news! Copperfish Books will be hosting an afternoon with Cassandra King Conroy on Monday, January 13th between 3 and 5. We are thrilled. You will have a rare chance to meet the author at Twin Isles Country Club in Punta Gorda and enjoy a glass of wine or tea and delicious appetizers. Truly an enchanting opportunity.  Of course your ticket price includes a copy of TELL ME A STORY.

You can purchase your ticket online  or at Copperfish Books. Don’t diddle daddle because these tickets are for the hottest event of the season.  You can also just call the store at 941-205-2560. Hope to see you there.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

We have copies at Copperfish Books. Come on in and get yours now. They are discounted 20%. I hope to see you soon.

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday From Rosy Tomorrow’s Heritage Farm Restaurant

 

Very happy ducks

I wanted to go somewhere unique for my birthday.  I remembered that a few months ago Tyler Florence had visited Rosy Tomorrow’s Heritage Farm while in Fort Myers for the big food truck race. Bingo! North Fort Myers here we come.

The farm is not far off the beaten path at all. In fact, we drove from Cape Coral down Del Prado extension and across 41 and we were in farm land. It was lovely. The driveway to the farm is long and lined with green pastures. In the distance you can see the cows lazily enjoying the  lush grass.  We were greeted by a bevy of pristine ducks that were so obviously happy that they even appeared to be grinning.  And we laughed along with them.  A bunch of turkeys were lurking but decided they really didn’t want to be photographed since it’s so close to Thanksgiving….

We were warmly greeted at the door by the colorful  host. The servers were friendly and knowledgeable.  It’s a very homey atmosphere. This place is filled with kindness and you can feel how much love goes into this venture.

Iced Kenyan Black Tea

I began my lunch with a lovely, refreshing  glass of Kenyan Black Iced Tea finished with a splash of lemonade. Such a treat.  And the table decorations are all fresh and made with food from the farm.

Homemade bread

 

 

I had read about the homemade bread served with farm churned butter topped with mangrove salt. Of course we HAD to have this. It arrived piping hot from the oven and was enjoyed by all.

Nicoise Salad With Shrimp

I  had to have the Nicoise salad when I read that the organic  long beans came from Worden Farm in Punta Gorda.  The Worden’s are longtime customers at Copperfish Books.  Not only was the salad delicious and healthy, it was finished with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette that was plate-licking worthy.

Jack and my friend Kit were not disappointed with their shrimp and grits topped with a gorgeous duck egg.

Shrimp and Grits with Sunny Duck Egg

 

 

Salted Caramel Beignets

I had decided before we even arrived that I had to save room for the Salted Caramel Beignets. I’m so glad I did. The others made oohing and aahing noises over their homemade pumpkin ice cream.

Rosy Tomorrow’s

 

Go for the food, but stay and  enjoy the surroundings. This is the real deal. What a great spot for a celebration! You can visit the animals and feel far from the urban population although you are so very close.  Don’t forget to make reservations. These people do it up right and they want to be prepared for you. You will not be disappointed.

 

Darling Baby Piglets

 

Q&A With Jojo Moyes, author of THE GIVER OF STARS

Still Me

Jojo Moyes

THE GIVER OF STARS is based on the true story of the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky. How did you discover this piece of history?

“I was reading an edition of the Smithsonian Magazine and came across an extraordinary series of pictures of women on horseback. They were on rough, mountainous terrain, clutching parcels of books, gazing out proudly. I read the accompanying text, about the real-life horseback librarians of Kentucky, and knew immediately that I wanted to write a book about them.”

What was your research process like?

“Oh, I love research. I don’t believe you can write effectively about a place without immersing yourself in it. I need the sights and smells and stories. I visited Kentucky three times between 2017 and 2019 and stayed in a tiny cabin on the side of a mountain, rode horses along the trails the women would have ridden, and talked to a lot of people, to try and get not just the facts, but the rhythms of the language.”

Giver of Stars

Libraries play a key role in THE GIVER OF STARS,  and keen readers will notice you often include a library in your novels. Why are libraries so meaningful to you?

“I was built in a library. My parents didn’t have much  money when I was growing up so the weekly visit to the local library was a key part of my education, and my love of reading. Libraries are one of the few resources where people can be sheltered, educated and entertained without having to pay, and it pains me that they are under such threat.  Without knowledge, people have fewer opportunities to move upwards.”

The protagonist in THE GIVER OF STARS, Alice, is a British woman who moves to Kentucky after marrying an American man. Why did you choose to include a British character in this very American novel?

“Well, it felt pretty audacious to be writing about Appalachia, even with research. I felt that if much of it was seen through the eyes of someone unfamiliar with that world, it made everything a little more accessible. Given it was such a closed world, I also liked the tensions inherent in introducing someone “foreign” into it.”

What does the title THE GIVER OF STARS mean?

“The Giver of Stars is the title of a poem that forms a pivotal moment of the story. It’s a beautiful, tender, romantic poem that spells nothing out but leaves you a little breathless and it was written by a woman who couldn’t express what she really felt–a little like Alice and Frederick. “

What are the main themes of the book? What do you want people to take away from reading THE GIVER OF STARS?

“I wanted to write a book about women who had agency, and did worthwhile things, rather than simply existing in a romantic or domestic plotline. These women achieved epic things, and, more importantly, supported each other while doing it. I reject the constantly pushed narrative that says women must always be in competition with each other; in my experience other women have been my greatest friends and supports and i wanted to show that. Mostly, I want to entertain and transport the reader a little, to make them laugh and cry. I really hope readers enjoy reading THE GIVER OF STARS as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.”

This is a portion of a Q&A sent to me from Viking to post on my blog. I think it’s important because it gives the reader a good perspective of how and why this wonderful new novel came about. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I have!!

Happy Reading. Cheers!

Two-Book Winner!

Giver of Stars

One winner; two books!! Great giveaway. Thank you all so much for taking the time to enter this giveaway.  I am so pleased to tell you that since I wrote the post last week I have finished THE GIVER OF STARS.  I absolutely loved it. It is superb. I will post the interview either later today or later this week.

Moyes has changed her game with this novel. It is all good.

Without further ado, here’s the winner. Jill Ducatman, you’ve won both books! Congratulations. I  know you are going to love these books. And a big thanks go out to Viking Publishers for providing both books! Thanks so much.

Peacock Emporium

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Olive, Again

I was thrilled to see a new novel from Elizabeth Strout.  She’s decided to share with us what’s going on in Olive Kitteridge’s life since the end of the first Pulitzer Prize winning novel, OLIVE KITTERIDGE.

I dove into this novel head first anxious to find out what’s going on in the small seaside town of Crosby Maine since last we left it. Small towns are notorious for goings on. And since several of these characters are already known to us it  brought back memories both good and bad.

OLIVE, AGAIN, is written in interlocking stories just as OLIVE KITTERIDGE was more than ten  years ago. That format was new then, but now we know Strout practically invented it and it’s ubiquitous nowadays. I love it.

Olive is now a widow at the age of almost eighty as her husband, Henry, died two years earlier. She’s lonely.  But she’s not the only lonely soul in town.  Even though Jack Kennison who is also recently widowed doesn’t understand why he likes Olive, he does. And soon they decide to tie the knot and not be so lonely.  It’s not that they’re madly in love, they are feeling the effects of the loss of their loved ones. So they cleave to one another.

Has Olive’s personality softened at all? Possibly.  We can see she is at least trying. Trying to be nice. Trying to not be so darned brash. We get a glimpse of a side of her we had not seen before. It’s refreshing.

Olive comes in contact with people who are suffering, or grieving, or being abused, or dying. So many issues.

E. Strout

Strout is brilliant at character study in all its complicated messiness. This novel made me think. Made me look aging right in the face. Let’s face it, we’re all going to get older, face challenges, and possibly deal with loneliness. How we manage it will tell the tale of our future. Happiness or despair.

There are disturbing scenes that might make you look away from the page. It is not candy-coated. Strout writes with honesty and great depth. I loved this novel.

The ending of OLIVE, AGAIN will stick with me forever. It’s so honest that it’s painful.

Come to OLIVE, AGAIN, for the rest of the story, and stay for the brilliant writing. Bound for greatness! Do not miss OLIVE, AGAIN by Elizabeth Strout.

My review copy arrived from Random House. It is superb.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

We’ll have copies of OLIVE, AGAIN for sale at Copperfish Books. On sale at 20% off. Come on in to pick up your copy of the novel. Then stay to browse our brand new gift items. We’re gearing up for the holidays and our season is starting to ramp up. Lovely!

On The Plain Of Snakes by Paul Theroux

On The Plain of Snakes

Along comes Paul Theroux with  a heart-pounding epic journey along the border between Mexico and U.S. It’s not a novel. It’s a tell-all travel documentary written in Theroux’s signature voice. I got so involved that I whipped out a big atlas of Mexico and the border and began to voraciously follow along….sharpie in hand.

Map Mexico-U.S. Border

This book could not be more timely. Surely, I can’t be the only person who’s been wondering about the border, lately. My mind  has pictured areas of crossing both legal and illegal. Immigrants so desperate they are swimming across the Rio Grande sometimes hanging onto the back of another.   Yes, this actually happens daily. And I have spoken to a woman who did just this.

As Theroux drives his personal car across the harsh desert and dangerous roads of Mexico ( and they’re all dangerous) we begin to understand the  potential for disaster around every curve. At one point he was told if  he had chosen to drive a truck it would most certainly have  been stolen. He’s stopped by corrupt government police and officials on every leg of his journey.  Each one extracts  payment for some ridiculous infringement they have cooked up. Non payment is not an option here.  One incident comes to mind where he  encounters a policeman on a motorcycle as he reaches Mexico City.  The policeman  pulled up next to his car and indicated with the fat finger of a leather-gloved hand that he must follow him.  He was lead through heavy traffic  and down a side road, then through a series of slummy streets and finally to the end of a dead-end street.  The policeman approached his car shouting at the top of his voice.  Theroux indicated that his Spanish was poor and asked that the cop speak slowly.  More shouting. The policeman wants to see the papers for the car saying he can take it. It’s illegal to drive this car in Mexico. On and on. Theroux tries to explain that he has the proper permits etc.  By now Theroux is actually afraid. And rightly so. And he writes: ” I have written elsewhere about how I have been frightened in travel, nearly always by someone with a gun–a boy in Malawi, a shifta bandit in the north Kenya desert, and three boys with rusty spears had accosted me in a logoon in the Trocriand Islands, threatening to stab me to death.” Finally, he asked the policeman ,”What do you want?” and that became the game-changer. Money, of course.  Not long after this first encounter, Theroux was again accosted by police for driving down a one-way street. Money was again extracted for the offense. And on and on again and again throughout the  entire adventure. This is a corrupt country.

Theroux gives you a birds-eye view of all that’s hellacious about this often gorgeous but harsh land.  When he teaches a writing class in Mexico City he introduces us to the delicious and unique foods specific to this area.  I enjoyed meeting the intelligent writers in his class. As he walks the streets and uses public transport you feel as if you’re there traveling with him and making new friends as you learn more about the culture and the quirks.

Theroux travels by bus, car, and plane, through the wild wild west of Mexico. Has it always been this way?  Is it more dangerous now than twenty years ago? He even goes so far as to  post about the new four-tier advisory system for travelers to the country.

  • Level 1, Exercise Normal Precautions ( much of Mexico )
  • Level 2, Exercise Increased Caution ( Cancun, Cozumel, Mexico City)
  • Level 3, Reconsider Travel ( Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco )
  • Level 4, DO NOT TRAVEL, ( Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, Taxco )

Theroux goes on to say he knew nothing about this new travel alert until after he returned from his trip. He had been warned repeatedly  to avoid driving in Guerrero state and not to visit Acapulco, warnings he heeded.

Paul Theroux

Reading through these above warnings is daunting. Some of you may remember that I’ve been writing about an upcoming novel called, AMERICAN DIRT, by Jeanine Cummins. It begins in that fine Mexican city of Acapulco. Yes, stay away, my friends!!

I will be talking about ON THE PLAIN OF SNAKES all season long and far into the future.  Get out your atlas and get ready for a wild ride that you will never forget. You need this book.

My review copy was provided by the generous publishing people at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for an honest review.  Absolutely on the top of my list this year!!! Loved it.