I Remember Mama…

Songs my mother taught me
In the days long vanish’d
Seldom from her eyelids
Were the teardrops banish’d

Now I teach my children
Each melodious measure
oft the tears are flowing
oft they flow from my mem’ry treasure (Anton Dvorak)

My mom and I used to sing this together. It was a heavily marked song in my great grandmother’s song book. It is an old timey tune, full of pathos and emotion written back in the days when people’s lives were more precarious than our own. It is my favorite.

One of my favorite old movies is “I Remember Mama” with Irene Dunne and  Barbara Bel Geddes. I have made my own little movie to remember my own mom, Nancy Ann. She was my rock and my best friend. My mom loved the Metropolitan Opera and listened to the radio broadcasts every Saturday. She had a gorgeous soprano singing voice (think Kathleen Battle) and was sunny and bright, always eager to listen to YOUR story and an amazing voice teacher. She was the best grandmother ever and I want to share her with you here. I used music which represented the era she came from, she and my dad loved Andy Williams, hence the Moon River and she enjoyed a classical music career with her wonderful second husband, a composer in his own right, Eloy Fominaya. The final song is Mi Chimano Mimi, her favorite aria, from Puccini’s La Boheme, sung by her favorite soprano, Renee Fleming.  I think the internet is a wonderful way to highlght the lives of people who deserve to be known by others.

An Index of Jane Austen Biographies

Here is a list of good Jane Austen Biographies:

Obstinate Heart – Very good. I had forgotten about this one. I think I will re-read it.

Jane Austen – A Life – My favorite Jane Austen bio. I put it on my Kindle so that I could read it while sitting around in doctor’s offices

Jane Austen – A Life – The first bio I ever read about Jane. At the time it was released, the reviews all teased that it contained shocking assertions about Jane’s father being connected to the slave trade. It was very sketchy at best – the slave trade info, that is. Otherwise it was a good book.

Jane Austen – A Life (Penquin Lives) A good, short quicky.

(hmmmm … Jane Austen – A Life seems to be the title of choice)

Jane’s Fame – A different kind of bio. Very Interesting.

Becoming Jane Austen – Another favorite – but for a different reason. This book focuses on the literature intermingled with the life. It also has some new info that was not contained in the other books about her ancestors. Very well written.

It is a Charles Dickens Trend


I am soooo behind on my blogging. There seems to be a renaissance in Charles Dickens biograhies these days. It has been twenty years since the last one was written. Claire Tomalin (my favorite biographer) is currently working on a book and Michael Slater has just released his. It will be available in the U.S. November 10th.

I have not read everything Dickens ever wrote. Not by a long shot. I think Masterpiece Theatre is partially responsible for this. Many of Dickens greatest novels have been expertly serialized for the ‘small screen.” My sense is that this TV-ization of Dickens has led to a decline in his readership. Yet, I would be willing to wager the number of people who could give a synopsis of one of his novels without having actually read one is huge.  It is also fascinating to think the TV versions were presented to the public in the same form Dickens came to the public in the mid 19th century: serialization.

My great grandfather’s complete set of Dickens is housed in my family’s cottage in Wisconsin. This is my preferred place to read Dickens. When I was twenty-something, I chose to read Little Dorrit because it was the one Dickens novel I had not seen rendered in some sort of film version. Happily, that has been rectified (twice, in 1988 and in 2009, I never saw the 1988 version, young motherhood and all that) and the recent BBC production was wonderful. I am looking forward to this biography. I will probably pick up Bleak House as a result. Biographies have that effect on me.

I found this bit of information to be very validating, since I am guilty of the same: “The sinister villain who entraps Oliver was named after his (actually friendly and helpful) workmate in the blacking factory, Bob Fagin.” The T-shirt admonition is apparently spot on. Be careful, or you’ll end up in my novel!

You could walk my marble halls and rest your head on my sacred bed …

My daughter, the inveterate music detective found this group – The Blue Hit. This song is ‘If I could’ … I love her sweet, sweet pure sound. I link this song in particular because the poetry is beautiful. It puts me in mind of the Lady of Shallot and mythical kingdoms… enjoy!