Jennifer's Journal


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Reading Matters


There was a time when I cared not at all for biographies.  I was too busy leading my own life to be become involved in someone else’s, felt too removed in place and time to see life lessons in whatever may have happened to them.  Lately, however, I’ve been fascinated by the lives of several women from the 18th and early 19th centuries and the scandals that rocked their worlds.  “Unwise Passions, a True Story of a Remarkable Woman” by Alan Pell Crawford is the story of Nancy Randolph, a woman from an old aristocratic Virginia family with ties to Thomas Jefferson, who was tried on a charge of murdering her illegitimate child with the aid of its father who happened to be her sister’s husband.  “Mistress of the Elgin Marbles, A Biography of Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin”, details the story of this lady, wealthy in her own right, who helped her diplomat husband rescue the so-called Elgin Marbles (friezes and other pieces of the disintegrating Parthenon and various other Greek historical sites) and bring them home to England during the Napoleonic Wars.  She gave birth to four living children and one who died in infancy, then separated from her husband after falling in love with his best friend.  The subsequent divorce action, argued before the parliaments of both Scotland and England in the required form of the day, was one of the most celebrated of the Regency period.  Then currently on my bedside table is “Victoria’s Daughters,” by Jerrold M. Packard, the remarkable stories of the five daughters of Queen Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert, each of whom made a royal marriage with consequences which still affect the world.  One of the things that attract me to books of this sort now, I think, is the proof that, regardless of how futuristic our lives may become, human nature remains the same.


Blogger creative1 said...

I too enjoy Biographies. I reviewed them for a number of years. From past Presidents to Jane Austen and Edgar Allen Poe, all have fascinated me. My favorite though has to be "Sailor on Horseback" by Irving Stone. It is the Biography of Jack London. I have always loved London's books and short stories. Perhaps I like his biography so much because it gives me insight as to how he thought as a writer.
It is said London's book, "Martin Eden", is his attempt to write his autobiography. Read both and then you decide.
BTW, all this conversation about biographies begs the question, Ms. Blake, where's yours?

4:29 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Blake said...

You reviewed biographies? What fun! I'll have to look for the London bio by Stone and also "Martin Eden"--I do agree that the biographies of authors have a special fascination. Their influences, mental and environmental, are just as interesting to me as how and why they write. As for my bio, there are dozens of "papers" floating around, done by high school and college students for class credit, but no official biography. My life has been too normal and boring to make a really saleable story!

9:26 AM  

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