Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

Lilly and Molly have been obsessed with My Little Ponies for months now. In fact, during the summer, all of the kids were a little bit addicted to the show. I have been forced to sit through one episode. That's enough for me. 

For months, the girls have been planning to be Princess Celestia and Princess Luna for Halloween. I tried by non-crafty best to create their costumes. The girls were happy, so I was happy.

Last Saturday, we got together with lots of my family to celebrate Halloween and show off our costumes. My nieces and nephews are so cute but no one really loves posing for pictures. Obviously.

 Amberly couldn't decide what to be for Halloween. At the very last minute, she asked me to paint her face. We still don't know what she is--other than "cute".

After dressing up for the ward Halloween party last night and for school today, the kid's costumes looked a little bit hammered. The weather was perfect for trick-r-treating tonight. Chilly but not too freezing and there wasn't any rain. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset to the west and rainbow in the eastern sky. We visited with our friends and neighbors as the kids ran excitedly from house to house gathering candy.

Amberly was a deliciously wicked Black Widow Spider.

Lilly is just so darling. I pretty much want to eat her up all the time. (Their unicorn horns/crowns made running through the neighborhood tricky. So I had to carry them.)

Always extra creative, Thomas was an injured (my version) or dead (his version) basket ball player. Last year he was a dead soccer player. I'm not going to argue with him.

The sling on her not-broken-but-being-conservatively-treated-by-the-doctors arm really fit in with Molly's costume this year. Molly loved being Luna. A couple of days ago, I casually suggested that she dress up as something different. Incensed, she shouted "I want to be Lilly's sister for Halloween!" Molly adores her sister and it was perfect for the two of them to dress as the sister ponies/alicorns.

Neal (still out roaming the neighborhood with his pack of friends) was not cooperative when I tried to take a pictures of his ghouly face.

Our friends (Perry's #1 fan and the local Cub Scout Wolf Leader) joined us for trick-r-treating.

And Amberly met up with her BFF--Wonder Woman--the most underrated super hero ever. She had an invisible plane--how cool is that?

Really hoping you all had a Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Returned - Book Review

Jacob Hargrave was eight years old when he tragically drowned on his birthday in 1966. Decades later, his parents, Lucille and Harold, are confused and grateful when Agent Bellamy from the Bureau of the Returned accompanies their still eight year old boy to their home. Jacob is one of the many "Returned" coming back to visit those they love and left behind.

Is he really Jacob or a perfect facsimile of the boy they loved? Is it a miracle? A sign of the end? Chaos erupts as people around the world have various reactions and opinions on how to handle the "situation" and the Hargrave family, recently reunited, is caught in the center of the alternating turbulence, danger and joy.

I have been hearing glowing reviews of The Returned by Jason Mott from trusted online book friends. You can read their reviews *here* and *here*. I looked forward to reading it and wondered just what to expect. I've been involved in conversations where we tried unsuccessfully to determine the genre that would best fit The Returned. Since I don't really like labels anyway, I'll just say that The Returned defies all categories.

While full of intense action, The Returned by Jason Mott is ultimately very emotional and made me think and feel. How would you react to the return of a loved one? Do we live with regrets? Guilt? Have we moved on so much that their return would make our current lives uncomfortable? The characters in The Returned deal with the confusion, pain and grief of the death of their loved ones again as they struggle to heal and love.

With enchanting prose, unforgettable characters, intrigue and danger as well as thoughtful narrative, The Returned by Jason Mott is one novel you shouldn't miss this year.

The Returned by Jason Mott was published by Harlequin in August 2013.

** I received a complimentary copy of The Returned in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. No additional compensation was received. **

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Songs of Willow Frost - Book Review

I've been anxious to read Jamie Ford's next book since I read and enjoyed his debut novel The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet a few years ago. You can read my review of that book *here*. His newest novel Songs of Willow Frost was FINALLY (I'm not always very patient) published in September this year.

William Eng, a 12 year old Chinese American boy has lived at the Sacred Heart Orphanage for five years since the night he watched his unresponsive mother taken away from his apartment. He hasn't heard from her since and has assumed that she died until he sees a movie featuring the actress Willow Frost and becomes convinced that she is his mother. Determined to meet her, William runs away from the orphanage and attempts to track down the famous actress and his own story.

In Songs of Willow Frost, Jamie Ford weaves a tender and painful story set in Depression-era Seattle. Weeping Willow, as the actress is known for her ability to cry real tears on screen, holds a life-time of bitter memories and a heart-breaking love for the boy she has lost. Both William and Willow are sympathetic characters. They are both victims of circumstances and evil people who would take advantage of them. They have a lack of choices but seek to better their situations and maintain a will to live and love.

While the story is stirring and should be emotionally charged, the writing is at times passionless. Scenes between Willow Frost and the man she falls in love with are bland and there is little to move the reader to root for their relationship or to feel Willow's pain in it's loss. Perhaps this is intentional to the meaning of the story.

Overall, I enjoyed Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford. It is an engaging story of love, loss, repentance and forgiveness.

Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford was published by Ballantine Books in September 2013.

**I received a complimentary copy of Songs of Willow Frost in exchange for my honest review. No additional compensation was received.**

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

Little Witches Pictures

Five years ago, I was contacted by a friend of a friend and hired to take pictures of her girls at the Witches Festival at Gardner Village. I had never met her before and I wasn't sure what to expect. As soon as I saw these three little girls in their colorful and most amazing witch costumes, I knew we were going to have a lot of fun.

This morning I met the girls for the fifth year. Every year their mom helps them make some amazing costumes for their annual trip to Gardner Village to attend Breakfast with the Witches. I am always astonished by how Heather keeps out doing herself every year. It's been so much fun to watch the girls grow up and watch their personalities blossom. I am sad that the oldest girl is too big for dress up this year.





This year, instead of wearing fabulous witch hats, the girls were witch hats. One is decorated as the potions cabinet and the other one is the witch's spell book. Totally creative and awesome.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thomas's Baptism

Thomas stole my heart the minute he was born. With gigantic sapphire blue eyes (it's as if God stuck two of Thomas's birth stones in place of eye balls), a sprinkling of freckles and a sticking up tuft of hair, to know Thomas is to love Thomas. He's sensitive. He sympathetic. He loves his family. He's terribly honest.

Thomas turned eight years old in September. Eight is a pretty exciting age. He's become a cub scout and loves attending his den meetings each week. He was excited to attend the Sunday morning session of General Conference with us at the Conference Center and hear President Monson speak. He loves President Monson and when it was his turn to prepare and present Family Home Evening last week, he and his dad acted out the President Monson's story about nearly burning down the canyon when he was a boy. He's been so looking forward to his baptism and has helped plan the event

Thomas was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last Saturday. We prepared for days. We picked out a new suit and tie; met with the Bishop and the Primary President; sent announcements; planned the program; cleaned the house; prepared copious amounts of food to feed our large extended family and talked with Thomas at length about what to expect and how to prepare.

Saturday was a beautiful, crisp and sunny fall day. Thomas dressed in his suit and went to the church with is family. His grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and many friends were there to support him. He requested that Neal and Amberly give the prayers. His grandfathers gave the short talks about baptism and the confirmation of the Holy Ghost. Thomas has learned much over his first eight years in Primary and at home during Family Home Evenings and our evening scripture study. He's now accountable for his actions and old enough to make sacred covenants with his Heavenly Father to be obedient to his commandments and to always remember Jesus Christ.

Thomas was baptized by his father. His was the last baptism of the day and the water was chilly. He was so excited and cold that he could hardly keep from bouncing. His siblings and cousins gathered close to watch. Being the last one, Thomas also had to pull the plug to drain the font. He had to dive down a few times. Cheered on by his cousins, it might not have been the most reverent moment.

Thomas and his dad changed back into their suits and the spirit returned as Thomas's grandfather shared a message about the Holy Ghost. Then he was surrounded by his father, grandfathers and uncles, who hold the priesthood, as his father confirmed Thomas a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and gave him the gift of the Holy Ghost. Beaming, Thomas gave each person a hug. He was so excited. Later, when I spoke with him, he mentioned that even the talks were just for him. It was his day.

Afterward, our family and friends joined us at our house for a luncheon. We had Hawaiian Haystacks (Thomas's favorite) and cake. The kids had fun playing with their cousins even though they got in the mud. Not sure all their parents went home happy that some of the smaller kids got their "Sunday" clothes muddy. Otherwise, it was a lovely day and Thomas was happy.

It's still hard to believe my tiny, little boy is eight years old. I'm so proud of the boy he is and the choices he has made.

Hush Little Baby - Book Review

Jillian Kane is a successful architect. She has a handsome, well-respected and well-connected husband and two lovely children. To all who know them, the Kanes seem to have the perfect life.

For years, Jillian has been hiding her husband's physical and emotional abuse. She wears scarves and long sleeve shirts to cover the bruises and makes excuses to keep co-workers and friends from suspecting. She wants to leave but it won't be easy. Her husband threatens to keep her from her children and the violence escalates. Jillian is willing to do anything to keep her children safe. After initially, making some instinctive yet not careful choices, Jillian finally realizes that she must be wise and cunning to defeat her husband and rescue her children.

Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfearn is an emotional and thrilling ride from the first page. I was nervous for Jillian constantly and Redfearn expertly creates the tension that makes the reader worried that Jillian will be caught at the turn of every page. There were times, as Jillian narrates her story, that I felt like the disbelieving friends and relatives, certain she is exaggerating. Can he be that bad? Could he get away with that much? Jillian's character is also an oxymoron--at once a successful and strategic architect and next a terrified wife making impulsive and hasty decisions. This might actually be indicative of a woman in a long-term abusive relationship and if so, is an eye-opening study.

The ending is a bit rushed as many short chapters advance the plot at a breakneck pace. Some of the tension and build-up is actually lost in the speed. Other than that, Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfearn succeeds as an exhausting yet thrilling read.

**I received a complimentary copy of Hush Little Baby in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.**

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Life List - Book Review

Brett's dear mother has just passed away and Brett is nervously looking forward to filling her mother's shoes as owner and CEO of Bohlinger Cosmetics. However, Brett's life is about to undergo a change even bigger than she initially anticipated. At the reading of her mother's will, Brett finds out that she will have to "earn" her inheritance by completing the "Life List" that she wrote when she was just a teenager. Some of the goals seem nearly impossible and certainly lead in a different direction from where Brett's life was currently heading.

During the year in which she must complete the goals, Brett will struggle with the overwhelming feeling of failure and frustration at her mother's last wishes and then slowly, come to see that her mother had her best interests in mind.

The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman is a feel-good story reminiscent of P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern or the movie The Ultimate Gift, where dead loved ones leave messages and advice to help change and/or heal the lives of the living. The Life List takes off on this theme by writing a story full of twists and turns and a few surprises. Brett Bohlinger is a likable character and one worth rooting for. The writing is solid and it's easy to get lost within the plot. I was definitely emotionally invested in Brett's story from the first page and I really couldn't put it down.

We're discussing The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman over at Traveling with T as the Book Lover's Unite selection for October.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Life List in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.**

Winner of the Wacky Apple Give-away

I know! I'm late announcing the winner of the Wacky Apple Give-away. Better late than never.

Anyway, the winner of a gift pack from Wacky Apple is . . .

Blogger Sarah Walker said...
I have never heard of this brand but all the products pictured look delicious. I'm sure I and hopefully the rest of my family would enjoy them. Thank you!
October 10, 2013 at 11:58 PM

Congratulations! Contact me as soon as possible with your contact information. Thanks for participating.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Uplift Families Parenting Conference

This summer, I was privileged to join with several of my fellow Utah Bloggers at a luncheon hosted by the First Lady of Utah. Jeanette Herbert graciously gave us a tour of the beautiful Governor's Mansion and downtown Salt Lake before we went up stairs for lunch.

During lunch, we visited with board members from Uplift Families, Mrs. Herbert's personal initiative. I was impressed by the family issues that concern the First Lady and how her foundation plans to help not only the families of Utah but families every where. Not only did we learn about this valuable campaign but Mrs. Herbert and her staff were genuinely interested in the thoughts of the women attending the luncheon. 

Uplift Families offers resources to help families be safe and healthy as well as offering tools to help them stay free from drugs, alcohol, violence, pornography, etc. I felt strongly about this initiative and offered my support.

Tickets are now available for the Uplift Families Parenting Conference. They can be purchased at this link : Don't miss out on this opportunity to learn more ways to teach and protect our children. The line-up of speakers is exciting and the evening promises to be truly inspiring.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Paris Architect - Book Review

Synopsis of The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure :

"In 1942 Paris, gifted architect Lucien Bernard accepts a commission that will bring him a great deal of money – and maybe get him killed. But if he's clever enough, he'll avoid any trouble. All he has to do is design a secret hiding place for a wealthy Jewish man, a space so invisible that even the most determined German officer won't find it. He sorely needs the money, and outwitting the Nazis who have occupied his beloved city is a challenge he can't resist.
But when one of his hiding spaces fails horribly, and the problem of where to hide a Jew becomes terribly personal, Lucien can no longer ignore what's at stake. The Paris Architect asks us to consider what we owe each other, and just how far we'll go to make things right.
Written by an architect whose knowledge imbues every page, this story becomes more gripping with every soul hidden and every life saved."

My Thoughts :

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure was an emotional and dangerously thrilling novel. Belfoure places his characters in the most harrowing and frightening situations and allows them to be dynamic and grow. Lucien is certainly not a perfect leading man and is often unlikable in the beginning of the novel. Yet, his heart is touched and he increasingly makes choices that put himself in danger in order to save others. It is heartening to read of his evolution from narcissistic architect to unselfish humanitarian.

Belfoure, an architect himself, understands his subject and writes fascinating details about the ingenious hiding places. He has also crafted a magnificent story which is well plotted and intriguing. He succeeds at building on the fear that his characters live with daily. At times the writing is sophomoric, specifically in the dialogue and the relationship between lovers. However, the overall emotional significance of the story and characters overcome the minor faults of the novel.

I started reading The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure immediately after finishing The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. The Girl You Left Behind is set during the German Occupation of France during World War I. The Paris Architect is set in Paris during the German Occupation during World War II. Since I am more familiar with World War II history, the sudden switch wasn't too difficult. I was reminded of several other works that help illustrate the psyche of the French people during this period of time, including Suite Francaise and All Our Worldly Goods by Irene Nemirovsky and Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure was published by Sourcebook Landmark and was released yesterday, October 8, 2013.

** I received a complimentary copy of The Paris Architect in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own. **

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Wacky Apple - Review and Give-away

Wacky Apple is a family owned and operated brand, dedicated to organic farming and producing delicious applesauce’s, fruit juices and fruit snacks. Wacky Apple products are made from naturally sweet organic apples, free of pesticides; contain no added water, no artificial colors, no preservatives and no added sugar! 
Our products are, gluten free, vegan, and contain NO GMO’s. Wacky Apple makes delicious, fun, organic food your on-the-go family won’t stop eating - and our mission is to get healthy snacks into the hands (and mouth's) of kids so they may develop their own nutritious & healthy living habits!  Wacky Apple is available in all Utah Whole Foods, and Good Earth

My family tried out several of the products from Wacky Apple recently. We tried the apple sauces, juices and flat fruit. The kids loved the taste and products. In fact, they devoured them so quickly that I only got to try one small piece of the Flat Fruit. It was delicious.

My kids are always hungry when they get home from school and beg for snacks. Since by then, I already have dinner planning on my mind, the last thing I want to do is spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing their snacks. However, I do want them to eat something healthy. The Wacky Apple Organic snacks are perfect. The kids can help themselves; like the taste and I can rest easy that they are getting a healthy snack.

The Wacky Apple Flat Fruit is especially convenient for traveling and school lunches. They would be great to throw in the back pack on our hikes up the canyon to see the fall leaves.

The nice folks at Wacky Apple had a few snack ideas :

Grilled Cheese Applesauce
Grilled Cheese and Applesauce

Use your favorite bread and cheese and whip up a quick and delicious grilled cheese. Panini press pans can make it super quick and easy. Remember, low heat, for a longer time makes for grilled cheese perfection.  Slice your freshly grilled sandwich into wedges and serve with Wacky Apple Golden Applesauce for dipping! Sounds odd, but tastes great! A delicious and easy treat for everyone!

Grilled Cheese with Sliced Fresh Apples

Use your favorite bread, cheese, and sliced apples to make one of falls best lunches! Lightly butter the outside of each slice of bread. Layer your favorite cheese and apples inside, grill/griddle on medium heat slowly to ensure melted cheese and non-burnt bread.    Enjoy with a nice cold Wacky Apple Juice!
Don’t forget all the other fun toppings you can add. Try Nitrate free turkey and Swiss, local organic peaches with brie or provolone, or even avocado, cheddar and turkey!


Wacky Applesauce Cake in Cup

Applesauce cake in a cup

Do you ever have a craving for cake, but don’t want to make a whole one? Try this awesome idea for a single serving, quick, cake in a cup!
-1 Tbsp butter
-2 Tbsp sugar
-2 Tbsp Wacky Apple Cinnamon Applesauce
-1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
-2 drops pure vanilla extract
-1/4 Cup flour
-1/8 tsp baking powder
- pinch of sea salt
-Chopped fresh apple chunks
Soften butter in microwave until soft, but not melted. About 10 seconds. Stir in sugar and mix well. Stir in Applesauce, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract until incorporated. Now stir in the flour, baking powder, salt and apples. Mix until combined and smooth out top of batter in cup. Sprinkle your favorite granola on top, for an easy and delicious crumb topping. Pop it in the microwave for 50 – 80 seconds. Every microwave is different and weather conditions will also effect cook time. I suggest after 50 seconds, proceed at 10 second intervals. Enjoy warm, right out of the microwave, they really do taste their best right away. Careful not to microwave too long, they can get rubbery.
Use basic recipe for an easy platform to add nutrients. Try adding flax seed, Chia seeds, cranberries, walnuts, granola, or chocolate chips! These make a great way to hide delicious nutrients in a “cake form.” Try combining granola, apples and flax and microwaving in a non-waxed paper cup for a quick breakfast while running out the door in the morning.

Wacky Apple is sponsoring a give-away. One reader can win a gift pack full of the delicious and healthy products from Wacky Apple.

To enter leave a comment on this post. The contest will be open to entries until Friday, October 11th at 11:59 pm MST. One winner will be chosen randomly from the comments and announced on Saturday, October 12th. Open to residents of US only. Good luck!

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Girl You Left Behind - Book Review

Synopsis from book cover :

“France, 1916: Artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his young wife, Sophie, to fight at the front. When their small town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Edouard’s portrait of Sophie draws the eye of the new Kommandant. As the officers dangerous obsession deepens, Sophie will risk everything—her family, her reputation, and her life—to see her husband again.

Almost a century later, Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv Halston by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. A chance encounter reveals the paintings true worth, and a battle begins for who its legitimate owner is—putting Liv’s belief in what is right to the ultimate test..."

My thoughts :

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. Immediately following the reading of a book I found dull, this novel was a welcome read. The reader just doesn't have to work hard to enjoy the story. The style is comfortable and easy, making the novel a joy to snuggle with on the chilly and snowy days we had last week.

With any novel using the popular split narrative device, one section often becomes stronger. In this case, I was more intrigued by the carefully plotted and interesting story of Sophie. The historical aspects of the occupation during World War I were engrossing. I cared deeply about Sophie and the decisions that she had to make in a world that had ceased to be black and white.

Liv's story didn't resonate as strongly with me, initially. I didn't fully appreciate or understand her determination to keep the painting and risk losing so much in the fight. Her character does grow during the court case and of course, I was always curious to find out more of Sophie's story as Liv does her own digging into the past to uncover the truth behind the painting.

Overall, I would highly recommend The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes to my friends looking for an exciting, emotional and intriguing read. I'm anxious to find and read the other novel by Moyes.

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes was published in August 2013 by Pamela Dorman Books.

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes in the SheReads Selection for the month of October. Check out SheReads to enter to win a copy of The Girl You Left Behind and other novels by Jojo Moyes and then read the reviews from my fellow SheReads book reviewers.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Girl You Left Behind in exchange for my honest review. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cafe Zupas - Review

Fall weather is upon us. There is a crisp chill in the air in the mornings. I love this season. I love it when the world starts to cool off; we snuggle inside and enjoy the flavors of rich soups. I do love soups.

Utah Dad and I decided to take Molly and go to lunch yesterday. We never do this since the closest restaurants are at least 10 miles away from home. But the day was sunny, the kids were in school and Utah Dad had a little break in the middle of his work day.

We were surprised when we arrived at Cafe Zupas and it took us awhile to find a parking spot way at the back of the lot. The line of patrons stretched out the door and down the sidewalk. With trepidation and a bit of wonder, we joined the line. While we waited, we had time to peruse the menu so that when we arrived at the counter (the line moved along at a nice pace) we were ready with our order.

Utah Dad always panics when he orders food at a restaurant. Too many choices! He is often disappointed by what he chooses. He decided to trust my skill at ordering. We both ordered the Turkey, Bacon, Avocado sandwich on Panini bread.

I ordered a cup of the Lobster Bisque for myself and a cup of the Thai Lobster Curry Soup for Utah Dad. Molly got the kids meal--a grilled cheese sandwich and her choice of Tomato Basil Soup.

As we moved down the line, I just couldn't help adding the Salted Caramel Creme Brulee to our tray. The dining area was crowded but we found a booth near the window and settled in to enjoy our lunch.

The sandwich was perfect. I especially liked that the avocado was smooshed up and smoothed over the sandwich so that every bite had its deliciousness.

I've had the Lobster Bisque at Cafe Zupas before so I knew what to expect and that I would love it. While Utah Dad enjoyed the unique flavor of the Thai Lobster Curry, it had a bit too much kick for him. We ended up trading soups and I was delighted by the Lobster Curry. Absolutely delicious.

Molly thoroughly enjoyed her food and loved the soup. She allowed me a taste and the Tomato Basil was just right.

The complimentary chocolate covered strawberries were a nice touch. Utah Dad and I shared the creme brulee though I swear he took more than his share.

With the cold weather here to stay, I'm sure I will be visiting Cafe Zupas more frequently. I'm anxious to try their New England Clam Chowder and Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo.

Cafe Zupas serves soup, sandwiches and salads at several locations in Utah, Nevada and Arizona.

**I was treated to lunch in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Fountain of St. James Court or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman - Book Review

The title of Sena Jeter Naslund's newest  novel is exceptionally long because it is actually intended to be two novels in one. The Fountain of St. James Court is about an author, Kathryn Callaghan, living near St. James Court in Louisville, who has just finished the rough draft of a novel about celebrated painter Elizabeth Vigee-Le Brun. Every other chapter is from the Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman which is actually Callaghan's novel about Vigee-Le Brun, the artist. While the style is heralded as unusual and "groundbreaking" it is really not that different from the many recent novels that employ a split narrative--one section historical fiction period and a connected modern day piece.

Elizabeth Vigee-Le Brun painted the portraits of Marie Antoinette and many of the other royals and nobles during the treacherous French Revolution when many sympathizers lost their heads. Elizabeth and her beloved daughter flee France. She is able to continue painting and garners much praise and wealth in her lifetime. Any casual student of art history will immediately recognize her paintings after a Google search.

Kathryn is aging and has just been divorced for the third time. She wanders aimlessly about her neighborhood, worrying about her grown son's safety, visiting briefly with a myriad of acquaintances and friends and letting the reader get into her head as she simultaneously celebrates the completion of her novel and mourns the loss of her marriage.

By far, the more interesting section is about Elizabeth but even with the promise of her relationships with the doomed royals, her unfortunate marriage and her necessary and treacherous escape from the country, it is terribly slow and more often a description of a painting, rather than a picture of her life. The novel about Kathryn is tedious and frankly, depressing.

I longed to learn more about Elizabeth. There were many passages that were inspiring and I intend to pull several books from my shelf to reread the works of Virginia Woolf and The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man and finally read a biography of Marie Antoinette that's been waiting on my to-read shelf for a few years.

Naslund is a beautiful writer with a talent for gorgeous descriptions. I read and enjoyed Ahab's Wife and was amazed at the constant action so I was surprised by the heaviness and lack of plot in the disjointed and ultimately disappointing The Fountain of St. James Court or Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Fountain of St. James Court of Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman in exchange for an honest review.**