As December comes to a close, I’d like to be optimistic that 2018 will be a more civilized year. This year has been challenging on the national level and reading the daily newspaper an exercise in anger, frustration, and discouragement. Just perhaps, things will get better in the new year, and we can again be proud of our country and not cringe when we travel abroad.
On a happier note, for us personally, it’s been a year filled with the joy of watching our granddaughters thrive while appreciating our son and daughter-in-law as wonderful parents; of savoring the adventures of international travel; of enjoying the stimulation of the local arts and culture scene; of loving being a part of a warm and caring island community; and of being thankful for continued good health! Here’s to a healthy, happy 2018 for all!
SPEAKING OF POLITICS
I read a good review of Nicolas Montemarano’s new novel, The Senator’s Children, so when I saw it in Three Lives & Co., I snapped it up. And read it immediately and quickly. It’s inspired by John Edwards’ failed presidential campaign and his trials and tribulations. But it’s told from the perspective of the children, primarily Senator David Christie’s older daughter Betsy (in her mid-30’s during much of the action) and his younger daughter, Avery, product of an affair, and whom he doesn’t really know and who’s now a college student. There’s a little bit of son Nick who dies in an accident. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful, and you feel for all the members of this damaged family.
PAEAN TO THE WEST VILLAGE
Manhattan, When I Was Young by Mary Cantwell was published in 1995. It’s a memoir of her life in the city as a college graduate, then wife and mother, and magazine journalist in the 50’s and 60’s. The book is divided in sections labeled with her address at each point. Most of her abodes were in the West Village and, for me, her descriptions of these streets and their noted buildings were remarkably familiar and enjoyable. This is also a coming of age story. Cantwell lacked self confidence and spent much time questioning herself and her purpose. She married young, but was not always willing to share her thoughts or herself with her husband, and she wasn’t even sure initially about her job and whether she liked it or not. Much of what she reveals is painful and raw, but articulately put forth.
I’m aware that The Crown is not a documentary and there have been quibbles about some of what is presented, but I’m finding the second season fascinating and wonderfully entertaining. Seeing events that I recall somewhat from my youth (Suez Canal crisis, e.g.) played out in detail is re-visiting the personalities of history. I’m especially fond of Tommy Lascelles who gets called back in from retirement to deal with tricky crises and found Queen Elizabeth’s interactions with Jackie Kennedy believable, even though I don’t think the actress who plays Mrs. Kennedy is completely convincing.
A Place to Call Home. I was concerned that this Australian series (on Acorn) was verging on soap opera-ish, but Season 5, while looking that way in the early episodes, redeems itself and presents a cast of complex characters and some high drama in the late 1950’ and early 60’s. Racial prejudice against the aborigines, silence around homosexuality, and the lingering scars of the Second World War are all here. One of the best episodes, “The Anatomy of His Passing,” is about Douglas Goddard and is so very sensitively done—and highlights how medical times were and were not changing.
Paola’s is around the corner from where we stayed on the Upper East Side. It was so good that we had dinner there twice! Standouts are the pasta dishes. The agnolotti with veal and spinach in a veal reduction with black truffles was outstanding. Equally good was the trofie offering we shared on our second visit. This twisted pasta shape is served with green beans and chunks of potato in pesto. A classy dining room with white glove service. Definitely a keeper!
Note: All photos ©JWFarrington (some rights reserved).