MissWatson goes down to the sea again. First voyage

Talk2023 Category Challenge

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MissWatson goes down to the sea again. First voyage

1MissWatson
Edited: Jan 5, 6:07am

My favourite holidays have been spent on the seaside or at least by a lake, and missing out on our trip to Lake Constance in 2022 made me realise just how much the sea means to me. It reminds me of my Dad, who would have had his 100th birthday this year. And so I'm going to visit the seas that were important to us. Some of them harbour several categories because I couldn't make up my mind.

I am not setting a goal, and I have no ambitions to read a book for every CAT or KIT every month. It's going to be a leisurely reading year. As usual, I'll be keeping track of the page count.

The photos are my own unless stated otherwise.

2MissWatson
Edited: Jan 9, 3:10am

Indian Ocean – Bay of Bengal: Portside Out, Starboard Home

That's me and my Dad frolicking on Puri Beach.

GEOCAT / economic history
Many European countries had an East India Company to trade with the orient, so this is the place for my staple category of economic history. And because they were also eagerly conquering territories, it seems like a good place for the GEOCAT.

January GEOCAT: Central and Eastern Europe
Die Flucht nach Ägypten by Otfried Preußler

3MissWatson
Edited: Jan 22, 7:29am

North Sea: Nordsee ist Mordsee

The view from our holiday apartment on Föhr

MysteryKIT, mysteries in general
This is the title of a seminal German movie from the 1970s, which in turn is taken from a famous poem by Detlev von Liliencron, about the fall of Rungholt. It calls the North Sea a murderous sea, so I'm counting mysteries here.

January MysteryKIT: TV detectives
Schutzpatron by Klüpfel/Kobr
Wachtmeister Studer by Friedrich Glauser
Fer-de-lance by Rex Stout

4MissWatson
Edited: Jan 22, 7:30am

Baltic Sea: If it's Tuesday, it must be Tallinn...

The Bay of Eckernförde

SeriesCAT
I live in Kiel which has grown into an important embarkation port for Baltic cruises over the last years. They usually involve several stops in various cities, so it seems like a good fit.

January: series new to you
Wachtmeister Studer by Friedrich Glauser
Fer-de-lance by Rex Stout

5MissWatson
Edited: Jan 23, 7:16am

Mediterranean – Aegean Sea: Thalassa! Thalassa!

Satellite image from NASA

ancient history / ClassicsCAT
The wine-dark sea of Homer. Need I say more?

January ClassicsCAT
The trampling of the lilies by Rafael Sabatini
The Sea-Hawk by Rafael Sabatini

6MissWatson
Edited: Nov 20, 2022, 5:27am

La Mer d'Iroise: Qui voit Molène, voit sa peine

St. Mathieu

seafaring / Celts, and Bretons in particular
The Iroise is the littoral sea that borders the Western part of Brittany. It's my favourite part, reaching from the Île Vierge to the Pointe de Pen'march.
The archipel of the Ouessant isles is one of the most challenging areas for navigation because of the rocks and the tide streams.

7MissWatson
Edited: Today, 9:49am

The Channel – La Manche: 1066 and all that

The coast near Etapes in Normandy

history and historical fiction / Katie's historical fiction challenge
Anglo-French rivalry since the Middle Ages has provided the material for tons of historical fiction. Allons-y!

1. Read a work of historical fiction set in the country you’re from
2. Read a work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one you’re from
3. Read a work of historical fiction set in your favourite historical time period to read about
4. Read a work of historical fiction set in a time period you’ll less familiar with
5. Read a work of historical fiction with a speculative element
6. Read a work of historical fiction about a real historical figure or a specific historical event
7. Read a classic work of historical fiction
Bonus: Read a work of historical fiction of over 500 pages

Set in a different country to the one I'm from
Der Himmel über Palermo by Constanze Neumann
The trampling of the lilies by Rafael Sabatini

Set in a time period you're less familiar with
The Sea-Hawk by Rafael Sabatini
Sommergäste by Agnes Krup

History
Der Wiener Kongress 1814/15 by Wolf D. Gruner

8MissWatson
Edited: Today, 9:49am

Atlantic – Canary Islands: Cristóbal Colón, con siete camisas y un pantalón

The place where we went swimming when on Tenerife. Yes, it was scary.

new books, new authors
I have been unable to find the source for this quote which my BFF cites with fond memories of Venezuela in the fifties. Columbus started his first voyage from the Canaries.

Die Vögel by Tarjei Vesaas
Sommergäste by Agnes Krup

9MissWatson
Edited: Jan 7, 5:36am

Pacific: If you're going to San Francisco, you're gonna meet some gentle people there

By pexels at Pixabay.

CATs and KITs that don't fit elsewhere
I went to California a long time ago, and that‘s the closest I‘ve come to the Pacific. Faint memories of hippies, communes, and general goodwill and fellowship.


January RandomKIT: hidden gems
Wachtmeister Studer by Friedrich Glauser

10MissWatson
Edited: Jan 18, 10:18am

The Caribbean – Leeward Isles: Full fathom five...

A photo of a paper photo, showing SS Sea Cloud in Soufrière Bay.

Diving for treasure in the TBR abyss / fantasy
We once went on a cruise along the Leeward Isles, on board a sailing ship. It's my greatest fantasy to do that again.

The Belton estate by Anthony Trollope

11MissWatson
Edited: Jan 5, 6:58am

Lake Constance: Jetzt fahr'n wir übern See...

Lindau Harbour

Authors from Germany, Austria, Switzerland
Lake Constance is known in Germany as the Swabian sea, and Germany shares it with Austria and Switzerland.

January
Die Muskeltiere : Hamster Bertram macht Schule by Ute Krause
Die Muskeltiere und das Weihnachtswunder by Ute Krause
Kurt : Drachen sind auch nur Einhörner by Chantal Schreiber

12MissWatson
Edited: Today, 9:50am

BingoDOG



Proudly presenting my Bingo card, courtesy of LShelby and christina_reads. Thanks a million!

8: Der Himmel über Palermo by Constanze Neumann
12: Sommergäste by Agnes Krup
14: Wachtmeister Studer by Friedrich Glauser

13MissWatson
Edited: Today, 9:51am

Any reading challenge that catches my eye in the next weeks

I have looked at the 2023 Popsugar Challenge, which suits my tastes very nicely (after some tweaking), so here goes:

Popsugar 2023 reading challenge: Read a book…
you meant to read in 2022
you bought from an independent bookstore
about a vacation
by a first-time author
with mythical creatures
about a forbidden romance Sommergäste by Agnes Krup
with “girl” in the title
with a colour in the title
with a fat lead Fer-de-lance by Rex Stout
about or set in Hollywood
published in spring 2023
published the year you were born
modern retelling of a classic
with a song lyric as its title
where the main character’s name is in the title Wachtmeister Studer by Friedrich Glauser
with a love triangle The Belton Estate by Anthony Trollope
that’s been banned or challenged in 2022
favourite prompt from a previous challenge
becoming a TV series or movie in 2023
set in the decade you were born
with a queer lead
with a map
with an animal on the cover Die Flucht nach Ägypten by Otfried Preußler
with just text on the cover
the shortest on your TBR list
recommended by a fellow LTer
you bought secondhand
your friend recommended
on a bookclub list
about a family
that comes out in the second half of 2023
about an athlete or sport
that is historical fiction Der Himmel über Palermo by Constanze Neumann
about divorce
you think your best friend would like
you should have read in high school
you read more than 10 years ago
you wish you could read for the first time again
by an author with the same initials as you

Advanced
made into a popular movie The Sea-Hawk by Rafael Sabatini
that takes place entirely in one day
that was self-published
that could count as fan fiction
with a pet character
about a holiday that’s not Christmas
that features two languages
the longest on your TBR
with alliteration in the title
written during NaNoWriMo: The Calculating Stars

And Judy (DeltaQueen) found this very tempting
Interconnected Monthly Challenge:
1. January: A Book That Starts with “A” or “The” The Sea-Hawk by Rafael Sabatini
2. February: The cover or spine of the book compliments the January book cover
3. March: The Title Starts with the next letter in the alphabet from your February book.
4. April: A different genre from your March book
5. May: The book is longer than the book in April
6. June: The title has half as many letters as your May book
7. July: Set in a different country or part of the world from your June book
8. August: The same genre as the July book
9. September: Turn to page 50 of the August book and your book must have one of the words on this page in its title.
10. October: The book’s title starts with the first letter of the author’s name from your September book
11. November: Set in a different time period from your October book
12. December: Book has to be within 20 pages of the book you read in November.

14MissWatson
Edited: Nov 20, 2022, 5:16am

Welcome to my wharfside bar!

15majkia
Nov 20, 2022, 7:15am

Lovely challenge. Wishing you great reading in 2023.

16JayneCM
Nov 20, 2022, 7:32am

Happy leisurely reading in 2023!

17NinieB
Nov 20, 2022, 7:55am

Great theme--looking forward as always to seeing what you read!

18mnleona
Nov 20, 2022, 8:19am

Beautiful pictures. I love the oceans and seas. I will follow your experiences and travels in books.

19MissBrangwen
Nov 20, 2022, 8:32am

What a wonderful setup, so special. I am looking forward to following your thread again.

20Jackie_K
Nov 20, 2022, 8:34am

That's a lovely, restful theme!

21rabbitprincess
Nov 20, 2022, 8:37am

Beautiful seaside photos!

22lowelibrary
Nov 20, 2022, 1:00pm

Good luck with your 2023 reading

23VivienneR
Nov 20, 2022, 2:33pm

Beautiful theme! I look forward to following your reading in 2023.

24DeltaQueen50
Nov 20, 2022, 2:49pm

I love your pictures and the categories you've matched to them. I've placed my star and I am looking forward to 2023!

25pamelad
Nov 20, 2022, 3:09pm

Beautiful pictures. I hope you add even more oceans to your visited list in the near future. And happy reading!

26clue
Nov 20, 2022, 7:58pm

I like the description of "leisurely reading" for the coming year. I think many of us are beginning to feel a bit burdened meeting plans we made months ago. Best wishes for a lovely year of reading.

27Tess_W
Nov 20, 2022, 10:01pm

Wonderful theme. May your 2023 reading year be leisurely!

28MissWatson
Nov 21, 2022, 5:30am

>15 majkia: Thanks, Jean. And the same to you!
>16 JayneCM: I hope I can keep up this attitude.
>17 NinieB: I am looking forward to many peaceful hours with the classics.
>18 mnleona: Thank you! Watching water is so relaxing.
>19 MissBrangwen: Thanks Mirjam!
>20 Jackie_K: Thanks, Jackie!
>21 rabbitprincess: The seaside is so photogenic that even I can manage to take some nice pictures.
>22 lowelibrary: Thank you!
>23 VivienneR: Thanks, Vivienne!
>24 DeltaQueen50: Thanks, Judy. So am I! Only six more weeks...
>25 pamelad: Thanks, Pam. I would love so much to see the Tasmanian Sea.
>26 clue: Thanks! The CATs and KITs are always so inviting, but there are only so many hours in the day.
>27 Tess_W: Thanks, Tess. I am preparing for retirement, so I need to practice leisure.

29christina_reads
Nov 21, 2022, 10:56am

I feel more peaceful just visiting your thread. :) Happy reading in 2023!

30LadyoftheLodge
Nov 21, 2022, 11:51am

Lovely photos! The sea just has some kind of magnetic attraction for some of us. I have a cool memory of standing on our veranda on the cruise ship at night when we were at sea, also a memory of the cliff walk at Newport, RI at night (scary!).

31MissWatson
Nov 22, 2022, 5:03am

>29 christina_reads: Seaside vacations are so wonderful for soothing the soul, aren't they?
>30 LadyoftheLodge: Ah, the sea at night! Such bliss!

32Helenliz
Nov 22, 2022, 6:53am

Love the seaside images. I grew up by the sea, but am now landlocked - I do miss it.
Hoping to follow along for another year of interesting reading.

33JacksonTalbot
Nov 22, 2022, 6:57am

This user has been removed as spam.

34MissWatson
Nov 23, 2022, 3:34am

>32 Helenliz: Nice to see you dropping in, Helen!

35dudes22
Nov 23, 2022, 6:38am

Hope you have a good reading year. Lots of great pictures.

>30 LadyoftheLodge: - I live near Newport and part of the Cliff Walk fell into the water this past year. (So - yes - scary) There are lots of great places to view the water in Rhode Island.

36mysterymax
Nov 23, 2022, 9:02am

I think we are all looking forward to a more leisurely pace in the coming year. I think we are all just worn out and need a year of peace and calm in which to curl up and read all we can. I hope your reading year is great.

37MissWatson
Nov 23, 2022, 9:21am

>35 dudes22: Oh, scary indeed! The winter storms are going to take some of the coastline with them on the Baltic, too.
>36 mysterymax: Yes, exactly. I hope we do get a year of peace and calm.

38markon
Nov 28, 2022, 4:04pm

>36 mysterymax: Peace and calm would be lovely.

What wonderful pictures and memories!

39MissWatson
Dec 1, 2022, 1:23pm

>36 mysterymax: Thanks! The seas have been on my mind a lot these days.

40kac522
Edited: Dec 2, 2022, 2:06am

Lovely photos and a great theme. I live in Chicago and I am ashamed to admit that I don't visit our Great Lake Michigan often enough. Your pictures and theme remind me to visit the Lake soon, before it is too windy and icy and cold.

Hoping for some calming seas of reading for all of us in 2023.

41MissWatson
Dec 2, 2022, 4:40am

>40 kac522: I'm the same with the Baltic, I could spend much more time exploring the vicinity, but then I cave in and curl up with a book.

42lkernagh
Dec 19, 2022, 1:36pm

Stopping by with best wishes for your 2023 reading.

43MissWatson
Dec 21, 2022, 3:45am

>42 lkernagh: Thanks, Lori, it's good to have you back.

44DeltaQueen50
Dec 21, 2022, 1:47pm

I'm happy that you are going to be joining me on the Interconnected Reading Challenge - I have a feeling that it's going to be harder than it looks at first glance. Hopefully it will help in choosing and moving those books along!

45MissWatson
Dec 22, 2022, 4:41am

>44 DeltaQueen50: Yes, I'm quite curious to see how this will work out!

46thornton37814
Dec 27, 2022, 9:21am

Wishing you a happy year of reading!

47MissWatson
Jan 5, 7:02am

>46 thornton37814: Thanks Lori!

48MissWatson
Jan 5, 7:05am

Lake Constance

I'm back from my holiday and full of pep to start my reading challenges. My sister always lays aside a few recent children's books for my holiday reading, and this Christmas these are:
Die Muskeltiere : Hamster Bertram macht Schule and Die Muskeltiere und das Weihnachtswunder by Ute Krause, and Kurt: Drachen sind auch nur Einhörner.
The adventures of the mousketeers have been adapted for TV, so there's been a flood of them lately, and it shows. Unicorn Kurt has a fabulous adventure with a dragon, and I liked this a lot.

49MissWatson
Edited: Jan 5, 7:17am

North Sea: January MysteryKIT

We also listened to Schutzpatron, a mystery set in the Allgäu. The first books have been adapted to TV, and the actor who plays the lead character, Kluftinger, also narrates the audiobooks. He was born in the region and speaks the local dialect, which is markedly different from Bavarian. This instalment, however, dragged a lot, there's too much preparation for the art heist, too much sideshow with Kluftinger's vanished car, and the solution is offered in a very unsatisfactory way. Not a good entery in the series.

50MissWatson
Edited: Jan 5, 7:17am

La Manche / Bingo: flower on the cover / Popsugar: historical fiction

Another book from my sister's library: Der Himmel über Palermo. It describes the time Richard Wagner spent in Palermo with his family, and where his stepdaughter, Blandine von Bülow, met and married a Sicilian aristocrat. The blurb promises a passionate romance, but it was anything but. They barely meet throughout the time Wagners spent there. Quite a few other real people also show up, and it gives a nice impression of Sicily's upper classes during the 1880s. But Il gattopardo feels much more real, the foreigners here remain foreign to the way of life on the island.

And now I'm ready to tackle the threads...

51MissBrangwen
Jan 5, 7:47am

>50 MissWatson: I gave Der Himmel über Palermo away a few months ago and it doesn't look as if I missed anything substantial!

I hope you had a good time at your sister's place!

52janiceeasterday7
Jan 5, 7:48am

This user has been removed as spam.

53lyzard
Jan 5, 3:51pm

Hi, Birgit - loving your categories! Best wishes for a great reading year. :)

54MissWatson
Jan 6, 8:23am

>51 MissBrangwen: Thanks, Mirjam, a few days of sleeping in and cuddling the cat do wonders! And I can assure you that you didn't miss an important book. It passed the time, but it didn't really move me.

>52 janiceeasterday7: Thanks for dropping in, Liz! I'll be over soon for The Belton Estate.

55MissWatson
Jan 6, 8:37am

Mediterranean / La Manche

The trampling of the lilies is an early novel set during the French Revolution and feels like a trial run for Scaramouche. We have a poor, humbly-born young man working as secretary to a marquis who falls in love with his daughter and suffers the consequences, falls in with Robespierre and rises to power during the French Revolution, and then saves the girl's feckless fiancé from the guillotine because he is much more honourable than those decadent aristocrats, of course.
However, it's not quite as black-and-white as my summary paints it, which is one of the reasons why I like these books. He can always see the other side, too.
This counts for the Adventure Classics in January and the "Historical fiction set in a different country to the one you're from".

56hailelib
Jan 6, 11:31am

You've made a good start on your categories!

I like the seascapes you are using especially >11 MissWatson: with the lighthouse.

57cbl_tn
Jan 7, 12:05am

Happy New Year! I love your theme and the photos. They're really beautiful!

58MissWatson
Jan 7, 5:32am

>56 hailelib: Thanks! Counting the holiday reading helps. And I love lighthouses, we have even climbed a few in Brittany.
>57 cbl_tn: Thank you, Carrie.

59MissWatson
Jan 7, 5:45am

MysteryKIT / SeriesCAT / RandomKIT / Bingo: rural setting / Popsugar: main character's name in the title

Wachtmeister Studer is the first in a series about a Sergeant in the Bern Police Force. Apparently, the author was inspired by Simenon's Maigret, and the book certainly has strong vibes of this. There are scenes with the locals of the small rural town that strongly reminded me of Maigret's forays into Normandy or Brittany, especially in the books set in the thirties. And yet it is also unmistakably Swiss, and I had to look up a few words. I remember that my sister recommended this to me years ago, and I really wish I had taken her up on it sooner. There are two more on my shelves, and I will seek out the others, too.

60MissWatson
Edited: Jan 8, 8:26am

Saturday notes

Yesterday, the FAZ had a report on re-reading Die Flucht nach Ägypten, to mark Epiphany. The story of the Holy Family's flight from Bethlehem, via Habsburg Bohemia, and I started reading it last night. Very odd, and very funny.

And today a very positive review of Neil Price's Children of ash and elm which screams "buy me!". On the wish list it goes. Also an essay to mark the centenary of Katherine Mansfield's death which reminds me that I want to read more of her stories. Oh dear, where will I find the time?

61MissBrangwen
Jan 7, 8:16am

>59 MissWatson: I haven't heard of this! Onto the WL!

62markon
Jan 7, 11:57am

>59 MissWatson: Wow, 5 challenges in one book! This Swiss series does sound interesting.

63LadyoftheLodge
Jan 7, 12:25pm

You did great with meeting those challenges with one book! I do not think I have ever been able to do that yet. Happy New Year!

64pamelad
Edited: Jan 7, 3:48pm

>39 MissWatson: I read Thumbprint because NinieB recommended Friedrich Glauser, and I really liked the oddness of it. For a book written in the thirties it's surprisingly modern. I've also read In Matto's Realm, which is even odder, and can recommend it. Your review has reminded me that there are three more of Glauser's books translated into English. I've been meaning to read them.

A Series in Translation is coming up next in the SeriesCAT, so I'm planning to read The Chinaman.

65MissWatson
Jan 8, 8:30am

>61 MissBrangwen: It's been at the bacl of my stack for some time and I'm sorry I discovered it so late. I really liked this.
>62 markon: It wasn't intentional, but it gives me a nice sense of accomplishment.
>63 LadyoftheLodge: Thanks, we all hope it will be a better year than the last one.
>64 pamelad: My copy says there are six books in the Studer series and I own three, including Matto regiert. I'm now looking for the other three, but my charity shop didn't have them. So I bought something else instead, ahem.

66MissWatson
Edited: Jan 9, 3:28am

GEO CAT / Popsugar: animal on the cover

Die Flucht nach Ägypten is a very odd book, and I am a little hesitant to count it towards the January GEO CAT, which is for Central and Eastern Europe. But the setting is so unmistakably Bohemian, in what is now the Czech Republic, and very much reminiscent of a lost world. The story is written as if it were told at a fireside to a family gathering, where an old man passes on the local legends about the Holy Family and the saints, and it has that unique sound of Habsburg Bohemia, with its prolific use of modal verbs and inverted sentences. I think the author uses stories here that were told to him by his own parents and grandparents, in an attempt to save them from oblivion.
And the animal on the cover is the donkey carrying the Mother of God.

67MissWatson
Jan 9, 3:25am

La Manche

And a non-fiction history book about the Congress of Vienna: Der Wiener Kongress 1814/15. I read this slowly and in stops and starts, it is a very dry matter told in an almost boring fashion. Numerous repetitions didn't help, and the most useful part was the final chapter where he sums up several other historians' works about the event, and the different ways in which they assessed it.

68MissWatson
Jan 14, 9:47am

Atlantic: new authors

Die Vögel caught my eye among the new releases last year and the blurb tells me that it is one of the most highly-rated Norwegian novels. And it is indeed an amazing book, told in deceptively plain, yet lush language – or so it seems in the German translation, but I'm pretty sure the translator caught the author's tone. He was nominated for the Translation Prize at Leipzig Book Fair for this. We spend nearly the entire book inside the head of Mattis, who doesn't think like other people. The author brings this across brilliantly. This book deserves its place on that notorious list.

69PaulCranswick
Jan 16, 4:27am

Stopping by to wish you a wonderful reading read, Birgit.

70MissWatson
Jan 16, 4:29am

>69 PaulCranswick: Thank you! And the same to you!

71beebeereads
Jan 16, 4:13pm

>1 MissWatson: Have a great reading year. I'll be following.

72thornton37814
Jan 16, 4:35pm

>59 MissWatson: I'll have to see if I can find the English version.

73MissWatson
Jan 17, 3:37am

>71 beebeereads: Thanks for travelling along!
>72 thornton37814: I hope you enjoy it, it gives an interesting glimpse of the German-speaking Swiss of the time.

74MissWatson
Jan 18, 10:22am

The Caribbean: from the TBR / Popsugar: love triangle

The Belton Estate is one of Trollope's shorter works, where Clara finds herself wooed by two very different men. I found Clara's stubbornness regarding money matters a trifle unconvincing, but otherwise Trollope delivers what I've come to expect of him.

75madhatter22
Jan 19, 10:37pm

Lovely photos. I'm with you on seaside vacations! Hope you have a great year of reading.

76MissWatson
Jan 20, 6:29am

77MissWatson
Edited: Today, 9:47am

North Sea / Baltic Sea / Popsugar: a fat lead

Fer-de-lance features Archie Goodwin as narrator and Nero Wolfe, who is described as enormously overweight. It's my first book in this series and it has been adapted to TV several times. I could have also added it to the RandomKIT as a hidden gem, but let's not get carried away.
Anyway, this shows once again that a book needs to be picked up at the right time and in the right mood, because the first time I tackled this I abandoned it after a few pages. This time around I appreciated the leisurely pacing, the enormous amount of legwork Archie has to put in, and the sudden twist halfway in was quite a surprise. I can see more of this in my future.

IF I find the time. Hugendubel have put up these grey boxes again, and I couldn't resist. I should make it a rule to read at least one in two books immediately if I bring home such a haul. They're mostly mysteries and shopuld be quick reads. Here's the list:

Allmen und der Koi
Der Mittagstisch
Kuckuckskind
Tochter des Geldes
Sommergäste
Sturmwand

78MissWatson
Jan 23, 7:27am

ClassicsCAT: adventure / Historical fiction: less familiar period / Popsugar: made into a popular movie / Interconnected monthly challenge

And I am returned, breathless, from my voyage with The Sea-Hawk among the Barbary pirates. This was quite a ride, and some minor anachronisms apart, well-researched as usual. I had to look up a few things, so it's educational as well, and the only drawback was that my Vintage edition was littered with typos. I am parting with it, but found a digitised replacement with pictures from the first movie version of 1924. I also find that Oliver Tressilian reminds me of Georgette Heyer's early heroes, especially from The black moth. Sinister ambiguous aristocrats, brotherly love etc.
The Vintage paperback has a distinctive red spine, and there are more like that on my shelves, so that will be my option for the February prompt of the interconnected challenge.

79MissWatson
Today, 10:01am

Historical fiction: a time period I'm less familiar with / new authors / Bingo: about art or crafts / Popsugar: a forbidden romance

I found Sommergäste in the bargain bins at my bookstore and what an amazing find it turned out to be!

It follows the lives of Ellen and Charlotte over decades, mostly during their summer vacations in their summer house on an island off the Canadian east coast. Charlotte is a Pulitzer winning author, her life partner gave up her career as a sculptor for her, but on the island she embarks on a friendship with a local ornithologist and learns the art of taxidermy from him. The three of them go on an expedeition to the Belgian Congo to find some rare bird, financed by a Chicago millionaire who wants to use the opportunity for big game hunting. Ellen and the ornithologist have an affair, but they go separate ways afterwards.

I pricked up my ears when the Pulitzer was mentioned, and yes, the author states at the end that this is based on the life of Willa Cather, to the point where you can recognise the novels she mentions here under fictitious titles. How much is real and how much the author invented never becomes clear, but she paints a marvelous picture of the early 20th century in Chicago and on the island. A great love for birds runs through the books, and the various parts of the books are named for birds. And it is also extremely well written.