Friday, July 8, 2011

A Paris Themed Summer

My first meeting of M. Lisa.
It's a Paris themed summer. Driving between Virginia and Vermont, I listened on CD to R. A. Scotti's Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of the Mona Lisa. Okay. True confession. I didn't know that the Mona Lisa had once been stolen! I tell you, if this tidbit had been included in high school history classes, I would have engaged.

Mary Jo Murphy's New York Times review of the book is itself a literary work of art. She begins: "Four hundred years before Picasso reassembled women with eyeballs where breasts should be and noses poking out of ears, Leonardo da Vinci put a smile on a woman’s face — right where nature intended and yet unlike any smile before it or since. It was Mona Lisa’s, and on the morning of Aug. 22, 1911, it wasn’t there."

Scotti's well researched account of the crime and its abundant suspects is a history lesson of the Western art world of the early 20th century. We're also introduced to the development of forensic science, the history of the Louvre, and the biography of Mona Lisa -- the painting the French call La Joconde. Since the reader makes or breaks an audio book, I'm happy to say that Kathe Mazur does a good job.

I read Vanished Smile after I'd seen Woody Allen's Cannes applauded Midnight in Paris. The book provides historical details which compliment the film.  They're a great match for a Paris themed summer.

For more on Paris:
Keeping a Personal Promise
Mysteries in Paris
Almost French
The Sweet Life in Paris
What Should I See in Paris?
The List of 35
First Day in Paris!
Paris Jour Deux
Joyce, Hemmingway and Ujka Larson
An American (Library) in Paris
My Birthday in Paris
J'aime Paris!
My Last Night in Paris

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Mount Lives On ... for Now

A few winters ago driving through Massachusetts to Vermont, I looked to my right while at a traffic light and made a surprising discovery. There was the sign for Edith Wharton's home, The Mount. I'd read a few of Wharton's books, and loved them. I had no idea she'd had an estate in Massachusetts. I couldn't visit then because it was closed for the season.

When I returned home, I Googled "The Mount." I was shocked to learn that the estate was threatened with bankruptcy, and I a wrote a blog post about how to help save it. Fortunately, gifts have enabled the historic site to remain open. At least for now.

Returning from Vermont this week, I made my long awaited visit to The Mount. Needless to say, I was thrilled to walk in a favorite author's footsteps and imagine her living there, and awed by the beauty of the home and gardens she designed. In the coming days, I'll take you on a virtual tour with my words and pictures.
Read More At:
Save The Mount
First Woman to Win Pulitzer

Friday, July 1, 2011

Kellogg-Hubbard Library, VT

The Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier, Vermont, was dedicated on January 2, 1896. The Classical Revival style building is built of light-colored granite from Dummerston, Vermont. The library is named for Martin M. Kellogg, a New York real estate baron who was born in Barre, Vermont, and his wife Fanny M. Hubbard Kellogg, a Montpelier native. The couple willed their money to build the library. Fanny's nephew John E. Hubbard at first contested the will, but in the end contributed $30,000 more toward the library than the will provided. The Kellogg-Hubbard Library continues as a vibrant center in Montpelier.