The Garretts take their first and last family vacation in the summer of 1959. They hardly ever leave home, but in some ways they have never been farther apart. Mercy has trouble resisting the siren call of her aspirations to be a painter, which means less time keeping house for her husband, Robin. Their teenage daughters, steady Alice and boy-crazy Lily, could not have less in common. Their youngest, David, is already intent on escaping his family’s orbit, for reasons none of them understand. Yet, as these lives advance across decades, the Garretts’ influences on one another ripple ineffably but unmistakably through each generation.

Full of heartbreak and hilarity, French Braid is classic Anne Tyler: a stirring, uncannily insightful novel of tremendous warmth and humor that illuminates the kindnesses and cruelties of our daily lives, the impossibility of breaking free from those who love us, and how close—yet how unknowable—every family is to itself.




Our story begins in 2010 as a couple starts a train journey from Philadelphia back to Baltimore. Serena Drew is having mixed feelings about her boyfriend at this point. French Braid takes us from this journey to many others, and we follow individual members of this family over the years. From 2010, we jump back to the late 1950s and a week-long family vacation, in which we meet several characters and get to know them a little.

I liked learning about the family members, many of whom were quirky, while others were ordinary. Ordinary moments in a family life illustrate how much families are alike at the core. I liked this description of the book title’s significance stemming from a discussion between David and his wife where he explains that families are like French braids. When you undo the braids, the hair is still in ripples, leftover squiggles, like families are. You’re never really free of them; the ripples are crimped in forever.

The tale unfolds until the year 2020 and how the Pandemic changes their family, even as they still hold onto each other and memories of life before. And the ripples are crimped in forever. 5 stars.



Today I am thinking about more of my special and sentimental objects, like dolls, books, and even my special dishware that I left behind.  Yes, boo-hoo, but thankfully I have plenty of photos.

The doll in the middle of the header, and below,  is one that I found in Barnes & Noble several years ago.

The books I gathered from bookstores and online outlets over the years.  The Disney characters were collected from favorite neighborhood stores.

After I moved from my foothill house in 2007, I began collecting Franciscan Apple dinnerware, and by the time I moved again last May, I had a complete set.  My daughter sold them to a dear friend for a minimal price.  In my photos, I often spotlight a few pieces, like the cup and saucer below.

Plates I used for a casual lunch at the coffee table, surrounded by books…

A mug to showcase my Madeline Hatter doll, also lost in the move…

A favorite image of coffee in the mug, alongside a miniature “days of the week doll” that often sat on my desk and next to my laptop…this image has shown up in various blog headers over the years.

My sentimental journey keeps me smiling. 


Do you enjoy photos of favorite objects or events?  Do you savor the moments they bring to mind?  Come on by and share.




Lately, I’ve been sentimentally looking back at some of my previous places and spaces.  A favorite of mine:  this cozy room that felt like an apartment/getaway in my two-story A-frame house.

Note the mini fridge, microwave, coffee pot…and that white wicker bed tray.  I could stay in that room all weekend, if I wanted.  And since I was still working at my high-stress career, I often chose to do that.  My kids were grown, and while the two youngest took turns living in the guest house next door, they had their own private lives.

Except when they needed to use my laundry room.

When my daughter was in the guest house, she had colorful decor, and I enjoyed visiting there, too.  I loved the bathroom she created, with red-orange on the walls and playful images.




Later, when both “kids” had gone, I used it as a real guest house.  I bought some Coca Cola furnishings, which I took with me to my current residence when I moved.  The sofa/bed now resides in my guest room/office at the condo.



Sometimes the memories take me back, and while I’m enjoying my smaller space now, I do miss having those “kids” pop in from time to time.  Now they are scattered everywhere…except for my daughter, who is half an hour away.

My eldest son, who really enjoyed staying in the guest house when he visited, is coming in mid-May for a short visit.  We’ve had some good visits in my current space, too.  Watching Netflix and eating popcorn.



Do you ever traipse down Memory Lane?  What fond memories and photos make you smile?


I’m currently reading Someone Knows, by Lisa Scottoline, and really enjoying it.




More blog header changes!  In this newest one, I kept the lofty photo on the left…one of my favorite places to live, over the years.  My bedroom was in that loft, and I loved the look of my “resting place.” The brass header, the wicker pieces, and the framed 1920s image over the bed.

Downstairs, I loved the coziness of the fireplace and the wing chairs, like this one my eldest son chose for his photo op. My daughter loved curling up next to him, since his visits were rare back then…in the 80s and early 90s.

Here she is in my loft space. Up there, I had chairs, a TV, a stationary bicycle…and a view of downstairs.  Plus…I could see when the teenagers came home at night.  LOL.

And downstairs, by the sofa and desk, she is contemplating what will happen next.  The photos in the background:  compliments of eldest son.  The heart-shaped clock:  my daughter’s creation.



A couple of years ago, my eldest son, who lives in Prague, visited Amsterdam…and the photo on the right side of my header was captured there.  A coffee shop with an interesting sign.


The middle image in the header came from my Bitmoji Collection…Unicorns are “unexpected treasures,” the tagline of this blog.


I have probably displayed some of these photos in the past, but I loved bringing them together today to tell a different story.

What stories are you showing us this week?

Check in at A Web of Stories.




teacups for teaser tuesdays

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Should Be Reading.

Today’s featured book is an ARC I’m reading…and enjoying.  Elizabeth is Missing, by Emma Healey, is a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also a heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and aging…


Intro:  (Prologue)

“Maud?  Was I boring you so much that you’d rather stand outside in the dark?”

A woman calls to me from the warm light of a cluttered dining room.  My breath curls towards her, wet and ghostly, but no words follow.  The snow, sparse but bright on the ground, reflects the light on to her face, which is drawn tight in an attempt to see.  I know, though, that she can’t see very well, even in the daylight.

“Come inside,” she says.  “It’s freezing.  I promise I won’t say another word about frogs and snails and majolica ware.”

“I wasn’t bored,” I say, realizing too late that she’s joking.  “I’ll be there in a minute.  I’m just looking for something.”  In my hand is the thing I’ve already found, still clotted with mud.  A small thing, easily missed.  The broken lid of an old compact, its silver tarnished, its navy-blue enamel no longer glassy but scratched and dull.  The mildewed mirror is like a window on a faded world, like a porthole looking out under the ocean.  It makes me squirm with memories.


Teaser:  “The bath is filthy,” she says as I come into the kitchen.  “And there’s a big lot of dirt on the lawn.  What have you been doing?”

I wince at the question.  Why is it I can remember the garden and the soil and the dew, but none of the reasons for being there?  (p. 71).


Amazon Description:  Maud, an aging grandmother, is slowly losing her memory—and her grip on everyday life. Yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth, whom she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger.

But no one will listen to Maud—not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth’s mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend.

This singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud’s rapidly dissolving present. But the clues she discovers seem only to lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II.

As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more fifty years ago come flooding back, Maud discovers new momentum in her search for her friend. Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth?


What do you think?  Would you keep reading?  I know that I am loving it, even as I feel frustrated for Maud…and annoyed with the people in her life who dismiss her, not giving any credence to her quest for her friend.








Marta’s life seems to be on the verge of something: a place somewhere between the past and the present, except that her past is lost to her. She has been married to Hector for many years, and their grown son Kylan has moved out, leaving her alone with her husband and the tasks that seemingly consume her. But don’t fulfill her. And threading through her days, as she completes her duties, excerpts from a book about being a good wife filter through, reminding her of her mother-in-law who gave her the book. And of a kind of imprisonment that seems more and more real with each day.

What is happening to Marta? Why does her husband keep handing her pills to swallow? Why does he “explain” her to friends as having “empty nest syndrome” and having a “vivid imagination”? Why does she fear him?

Yes, lately, images seem to slip into her awareness. Images of a blond girl, a place that seems familiar, and feelings that seem all too real. Are they visions? Or are they memories?

And then suddenly, Marta decides to find out, and escapes the stultifying home she shares with Hector, to go to a city that she feels she knows…to find out more. But an unexpected outcome will lead her down a completely different path.

How To Be a Good Wife is set in an unknown place, possibly a Scandinavian country. There are villages and cities, unnamed, as if the reader must feel the same blankness that Marta experiences. A feeling of being untethered, uncertain. A frightening and captivating read that I could not set down until the very end. And then I wanted to read more. Recommended for anyone who enjoys psychological suspense. Five stars.