Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

Interested In Maine History? July 4, 2017

IMG_3646  Here’s the book for all history enthusiasts.  In a book store in Mystic Connecticut, I found this book about the history of Maine – titled The Lobster Coast, Rebels, Rusticators, and the Struggle for a Forgotten Frontier, by Colin Woodard.  As one would expect, there’s quite a bit of detail about fish and the fishing industry, particularly  lobsters.  But there is also a lot to make one think about the rights of Native Americans and the rights and relationships between the original settlers and the subsequent waves of  “newcomers”, right up to the present day transformations of land use and the questions of distribution of wealth.

In my genealogy research I have been able to trace most of my ancestors back many generations.  At present I am trying to concentrate/focus on the immigration experiences of these branches in my family tree.  These would be the 6th-9th great grandparents.  About 90% of these forebears came to New England.  I have one case of an abrupt end of the trail with my 3rd great grandparents Joseph Reed and Sarah Maddox.  They were each born in Maine in the late 1700’s.  Joseph died in Maine in 1850.  Their daughter Abigail was my great great grandmother.  She was born in Gloucester in 1804.  But I do not have any information re Joseph and Sarah’s forebears, my 4th great grandparents etc.  Did they come to Maine as immigrants?  What happened to them in this remote and harsh part of the American frontier.  Did they perish in an encounter with one of the many tribes of Native Americans who raided the settlers villages and isolated dwellings.   I wonder.


Binge Reading April 24, 2017

IMG_3020   Alexander Hamilton – yes I finished it.  A bit slow at times ……but the concluding chapters made it all worth reading.  Now I want the music!


Reading Surprise April 22, 2015

Filed under: Authors,Book covers,Book Reviews,Books — Janet @ 5:31 am

stephen king 003   Joyland by Stephen King.  A good author but going by the cover I had my doubts about this one.  Much to my surprise it turned out to be a potboiler or a cheap thriller/horror.  It was a very GOOD READ.   I liked it a lot.  And it’s small size made it easy to carry about.  A good one to have for airplane travel.  I’m still an old fashioned reader of paper copies.


Per Petterson April 14, 2015

Filed under: Authors,Book Reviews,Norwegian language — Janet @ 5:02 pm

I went to a very interesting event last night – an author, Per Peterson, reading from his own work.  It turned out that he read from his lasted novel to be published in English, I Refuse.  For those readers unfamiliar with this author, he is a Norwegian writer who has won many awards, including the Dublin IMPAC Award.  He is possibly best known for his first book to be translated into English, Out Stealing Horses.  I enjoyed the evening in hindsight.  At the event itself, I found Per hard to hear and hard to understand.  I was basically disappointed.  In the row in front of us (us  being daughter-in-law Susan and fellow norskis  Jill and her cousin Karen), a woman was knitting – I dearly wished I had brought my knitting as well.

Now this morning upon reflection I enjoyed the evening.  I looked up Per Petterson in Wikipedia and following is part of the entry:

Per Petterson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Per Petterson
Per Petterson vinnare av Nordiska radets litteraturpris 2009 vid utdelningen i Stockholm under Nordiska radets session (1).jpg

Per Petterson, winner of the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2009
Born July 18, 1952 (age 62)
Oslo, Norway
Occupation Author, novelist
Nationality Norwegian
Genre Fiction

Per Petterson (born 18 July 1952, Oslo) is a Norwegian novelist. His debut book was Aske i munnen, sand i skoa (1987), a collection of short stories. He has since published a number of novels to good reviews. To Siberia (1996), set in the Second World War, was published in English in 1998 and nominated for the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize. I kjølvannet, translated as In the Wake (2002), is a young man’s story of losing his family in the Scandinavian Star ferry disaster in 1990 (Petterson himself lost his mother, father, younger brother and a niece in the disaster); it won the Brage Prize for 2000. His 2008 novel Jeg forbanner tidens elv (I Curse the River of Time) won The Nordic Council’s Literature Prize for 2009, with an English translation published in 2010.

His breakthrough novel was Ut og stjæle hester (2003), which was awarded two top literary prizes in Norway – the Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature and the Booksellers’ Best Book of the Year Award. The 2005 English language translation, Out Stealing Horses, was awarded the 2006 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the 2007 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (the world’s largest monetary literary prize for a single work of fiction published in English (€100,000). Out Stealing Horses was named one of the 10 best books of the year in the December 9, 2007 issue of the New York Times Book Review.

Petterson is a trained librarian. He has worked as a bookstore clerk, translator and literary critic before becoming a full-time writer. He cites Knut Hamsun and Raymond Carver among his influences [1].

Petterson’s works have been translated into almost 50 languages.


Losing Count – Scarf Number …… March 23, 2015

Filed under: Authors,Book Reviews,Books,Spanish Civil War — Janet @ 6:47 pm

IMG_6370       IMG_6367   I seem to have a COD (Compulsive Obsessive Disorder) with regard to knitting these simple scarves.  Here is my latest and the empty needles and the yarn waiting for the next one.  My stash seems endless.   Color combinations have a fascination for me – hence, on I go knitting scarves with many changes of color.

I’ll slip in a book recommendation as well.  Both my husband Ian and I enjoyed the latest book by Alan Furst – Midnight in Europe  In fact I thought it was Furst’s best book ever.     IMG_6341

Maybe I was just in the right mood for it after struggling to read Then We Take Berlin by John Lawton.IMG_6379


Book and Film Recommendation October 12, 2014

Filed under: Book Reviews,Films,Riddles — Janet @ 5:21 am

It is rare for me to read a particular book and also see the film.  This was particularly special because one of my granddaughters has reached an age where we can  enjoy sharing our reading and viewing choices.  She and her mom recommended both the book and the film – so I read the book and then five of us watched the film  together (husbands and grandfather were included). *

200px-The_Fault_in_Our_Stars  This is the book and Wikipedia has the following to say about it.

The Fault in Our Stars is the sixth novel by author John Green, published in January 2012. The story is narrated by a sixteen-year-old cancer patient named Hazel Grace Lancaster, who is forced by her parents to attend a support group where she subsequently meets and falls in love with the seventeen-year-old Augustus Waters, an ex-basketball player and amputee. The title is inspired from Act 1, Scene 2 of Shakespeare‘s play Julius Caesar, in which the nobleman Cassius says to Brutus: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” A feature film adaptation of the novel directed by Josh Boone and starring Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort and Nat Wolff was released on June 6, 2014.[

Fault_in_our_stars filmHere is a photo from the film.


I enjoyed both the book and the film and they both received critical acclaim. Five stars to both from me.


“This makes me think of a riddle which my father used to pose – “This man’s father is my father’s son but brothers and sisters I have none.  Who is speaking?  I must ask my sisters for the answer to see if I am remembering this correctly.


Curious Philatelic Activities June 26, 2011

  a curious book about an eccentric Englishman who enjoyed challenging the postal system

  if you can read the fine print on the back cover of this book, you can find out a bit more about this man W. Reginald Bray (1879-1939).  He really was eccentric.

My philatelic activities are a bit more mundane.  Here are several postcards I found recently.

  I don’t know what breed of dog this is.  For some reason I have a feeling it’s Belgian.  The seller of the card thinks the card dates from 1907 but there is no message or stamp to give any more clues.  It will go  into the album with my other dog postcards.

  “The Return of the Oyster Fishers”, original painting by Francois Nicolas Augustin Feyen-Perrin (1829-1888).  According to the inscription of the card, the painting hangs in the Luxumbourg Gallery in Paris.  Again no message or stamp on the back to give any further clues.

  this is a card of the Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College in Oberlin Ohio.  I bought this card (for the princely sum of 50 cents) with Oberlin friends in  mind, but they are not postcard collectors so I am quite happy to keep it.  I think that building is just magnificent.


Generations of Reading January 15, 2011

Filed under: Book Reviews,Books,Norway,U. S. History — Janet @ 10:50 pm

Regular readers of this blog have probably gathered that I am an avid reader – and have been ever since childhood.  I have just finished reading a book that might well have been read by my parents and grandparents.  The book was Giants in the Earth, a Saga of the Prairie by O. E. Rolvaag, a Norwegian immigrant to the U.S. writing about the Norwegian experience in Dakota Territory in the 1870’s.  The book I de dage was originally published in Norwegian in 2 volumes in 1924 and 1925.  It was translated into English for publication in the U.S. in 1927.  

In 1927, my maternal grandparents had moved back East after living for almost 20 years in Minneapolis Minnesota and then in Omaha Nebraska.  Their attention might well have been drawn to this book since it was about a part of the U.S. that they were familiar with.  Not the Prairie itself, theirs had been a more urban existence, but they would certainly have been aware of the geography around them.  The time setting for  Giants in the Earth is about life on the prairie around the time that my grandparents were born.   They might have read the book when it first came out in English in 1927.  And given that my parents were keen readers, they may well have read this book also, but maybe at a later date.

This is a very powerful book.  Extremely well written.  And so human in its character portrayal.  The immigrant experience is writ large and many of the experiences and reactions and feelings of the characters are as true for today’s immigrants as they were for Rolvaag’s people of 150 years ago.  Particularly striking though are the very harsh climatic conditions that these immigrants endured living in isolated tiny settlements and in sod huts.



















A New (Old) Detective Series July 13, 2010

Filed under: Authors,Book covers,Book Reviews,Books — Janet @ 2:40 pm

My husband Ian has discovered a great newly published detective series.  A while ago he was sent on a mission to buy a Henning Mankell book for me in Hodges Figgis in Dublin.  On said mission, the Hodges Figgis man told him about another series which preceded Henning Mankell and which had a significant influence on him.   Ian acknowleged the recommendation and made a note of it and in turn passed it on to me.  That little piece of paper passed back and forth from pocket to pocket etc. and we had a look for those books next time we went to HF – and each subsequent time for many weeks.  But no, neither the books nor the man who had recommended them were there.  Last week, suddenly, as if by magic, the whole series of 10 was there and Ian bought 3 of them.  We have now been discussing them on the phone.  Bingo, yesterday was the trip to Barnes and Noble here in Glastonbury and I had a good browse (and a cup of coffee etc.).  I wasn’t thinking of the new detective series though. What I intended to buy was another book by the Sicilian author, Andrea Camalleri.  He has a wonderful series, Inspector Montalbano, and I was in the mood to read another one.   I had a hard time working out which of the Camilleri books I didn’t have but I chose one and then later confirmed with Ian that it wasn’t the unread one I have sitting on the bookshelf in Dublin.   I was also happy to find a new Larry McMurtry, a 2nd and 3rd book in a series that I didn’t know was a series by Nancy Turner, a new Ivan Doig (which I didn’t buy), a new book by Linda Greenlaw (nor did I buy that one).  As I went to pay for my books, a prominent display hit my eye – none other than the whole Martin Beck series by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo.  I knew Ian had bought numbers 1, 2, and 3, so I bought no. 4, The Laughing Policeman.

  The Help by Kathryn Stockett     

When we got home I finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett – an excellent excellent book. And then moved on to The Laughing Policeman.  Read it cover to cover last night.  What a super book.  Off today I hope to get no. 5 in the series The Fire Engine That Disappeared.

 The Laughing Policeman – photo of cover from Amazon – not the same as the cover on the copy I found at Barnes and Noble


Elizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie May 17, 2010

Filed under: Authors,Book Reviews,Books — Janet @ 9:13 am

  this is my current reading.  I have been a fan of Elizabeth Bowen’s work for years but now reading this, I see her in a new light.  I am in the process of editing the manuscript (high-faluting word) of my autobiography (for a fun explanation of high-faluting click here).   I wrote a good bit of the autobiography 10 years ago and I find in writing about the books I have enjoyed, I was sharing my love of Elizabeth Bowen’s books with my sister Nan.  So I was probably first reading EB’s books when I was in high school in the early 1950’s.

(For a while I had another blog called Travels with Janet or www.8countries62years.   I set up that blog to keep my miscellaneous recollections separate from Janet’s Thread which was supposed to be about knitting.  The entries I made are still there but I abandoned the blog back in 2008.  The idea was to more or less publish my autobiography there.  The manuscript I’m editing still bears that name.)

Back to Elizabeth Bowen and Victoria Glendinning’s book Love’s Civil War.  I found a wonderful review of the book written in the Guardian.   The love affair seems very one sided but I think part of the problem is in the material that was available – mainly EB’s intimate, highly expressive, and flowing letters juxtaposed with Charles Ritchie’s rather terse entries in his diary.  Of special interest though is that so much of Elizabeth’s writing was fueled by this love affair and the social background and history are fascinating.

  photo of Elizabeth Bowen from the review in the Guardian.