Weekly Reading Round-Up

I’ve mostly been doing background reading for the next book, which is set around the activities of a gallant group of Smith alums who went over to France to aid French villagers right behind the front lines during World War I.

I’ve been wallowing in their letters, which read like Rilla of Ingleside— so tongue-in-cheek and clever and earnest all at the same time!– and reading tomes like Lynn Dumenil’s The Second Line of Defense: American Women and World War I.  And sobbing over the Peter Jackson documentary.

I can’t resist: here are two of my favorite excerpts so far.

The Smith women on traumatizing French bureaucrats:  “The poor man stayed over his lunch hour before he knew it and I don’t think he will ever quite recover…. He shook his head and said something about Americans.”

And on the peculiarities of the British:  “I have never seen anything more amazing than the British officers. Long, clean-cut, absolutely trim in appearance, well-tailored, they stalk along at the head of their companies through miles of mud in the most casual way as though out on a Sunday afternoon walk; it wouldn’t seem to occur to you that they had any idea of fighting. I believe they are said to go into battle in the same casual way….”

Do not even get me started on their battles with livestock.

When I haven’t been just behind the trenches with my Smithies, I wound up accidentally skipping over a couple of Bruno books and landing on Book 6 in the Bruno, Chief of Police series, The Devil’s Cave, in which our favorite French local policeman must solve a mystery involving a recreation of a 17th century Black Mass and a very modern property scam.

Right now, I’m thinking I might take a Bruno break and return to one of my favorite Georgette Heyers– or possibly read some of the ARCs that have been piling up!

What have you been reading this week?


  1. Karen Townsend on July 19, 2019 at 10:57 am

    I’m reading The Golden Hour. I got to meet Beatriz at a luncheon here in Central Ohio. I told her I just need to meet you to get my W trifecta! I enjoyed The Summer Country and this new one you’re researching sounds very interesting. Hope to meet you on a future book tour!

  2. Kristen A. on July 19, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    I’m reading an ARC of The Nobody People by Bob Proehl, which is basically a take on the tropes behind X-Men. I’m a bit more than halfway through and it’s very good.

  3. Diane LaRue on July 19, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    I’m reading two nonfiction books- Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women and Say Nothing, about the Irish Troubles. Both are riveting.

  4. Pat Dupuy on July 19, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    Just finished The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair. Good historical mystery! Before that, an ARC, The Philosopher’s War. A historical fiction/fantasy that takes place during WW1. The author nails the emotional toll the characters suffer.

  5. DJL on July 20, 2019 at 12:27 am

    Finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which was very good, now reading the next in the series.

  6. Tara on July 20, 2019 at 7:22 am

    Reading Tolkien’s Return of the King and Leigh Bardugo’s King of Scars. So excited for a book set in France and The Great War!

  7. Jessica on September 20, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    Have those letters been published, or are you getting them from an archive somewhere? I did a little internet searching and found a book on Amazon, but I can’t tell if it includes the letters from the description. They sound fascinating!

  8. Lauren Willig on September 23, 2019 at 10:25 am

    Jessica, there are heavily edited snippets that have been published– and they make great reading! If you can find a copy of “An Irrepressible Crew”, a 100+ page pamphlet, that will give you the flavor of them. You can also find back issues of the Smith Alumnae Quarterly from 1917 and 1918 online (for free!) that include a bunch of letters. (And it’s rather hilarious, in the unedited letters in the archives, you start seeing people admonishing their relatives back home to STOP sending their letters to the alumnae mag!).

Leave a Comment