The official pub date for Sophie’s House of Cards is October 15, which is still a few days away, but the first reading for the novel was on Sunday, October 5th, at Bookworks Bookstore here in the North Valley of Albuquerque. To promote the book launch, I gave a three-minute interview on Good Day New Mexico, and you can see that interview here.
This past Wednesday and Thursday, National Geographic photographers visited the D. H. Lawrence Ranch. Unlike most folks, who go to the Ranch during the daylight hours, these photographers trekked up to the Homesteader Cabin after nightfall, when nocturnal animals emerge under the cover of darkness.
The owls and coyotes must have been watching as the photographers set up their tripods around the Lawrence Tree and aimed their cameras skyward, through tangled tree limbs and toward the stars. Eighty-five years after Georgia O’Keeffe lay back on a carpenter’s bench and got lost in the stars, National Geographic photographers made the journey to see what she saw and record it for the rest of us.
I will be writing more about O’Keeffe’s famous painting in weeks to come. To get a quick lesson and two minutes of splendor, visit this site.
On July 31st, I received similar e-mail messages from three different friends–Katherine Toy Miller, Bill Haller, and Feroza Jussawalla. These friends wrote to alert me to an article in the New York Times entitled, “Circle of Artists in Taos.” Tucked into the “Art and Design” section of the Times, the article begins this way:
The only property owned by the British novelist D. H. Lawrence, which he called Kiowa Ranch, near Taos, N.M., reopened to the public in early July after years of being a shuttered health hazard.
Interested readers will find the complete article is available here. (Note that you’ll have to first scroll past–or read if you so desire–the article on delicate Chinese albums in order to find the piece that references the Ranch.)
But, the article in the Times is not the first or the last word on the reopening of the Ranch.
A quick search on Google took me to several others. The most recent appears today in the Los Alamos Daily Post. West Texas television stations carried the news as well, but for me, anyway, the most startling fact is this one. On July 31st, three days ago, the Albuquerque Journal carried a short article on the reopening–nothing much, no more than 120 words or so. But get this: In the three days since the article appeared, 43,367 people have “liked” the article on Facebook.
Over 43,000 readers of the Albuquerque Journal have signaled the article’s importance by “liking” it. In just three days!
Those of us who care about the property and who live in the area already know that the credit for the reopening goes to the Taos Community Foundation and the D. H. Lawrence Ranch Alliance. The Alliance is funding the docent program which will train volunteers to offer tours of the property. This class is being offered through UNM Taos, and potential docents can find more information here.
I’ll be writing more about the D. H. Lawrence Ranch in coming weeks. For now, I’ll simply thank the Taos Community Foundation and all those in Taos who made the reopening possible. Bravo!
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Margaret Wrinkle gave me a copy of her novel at this year’s (2014) Taos Summer Writers’ Conference.
Back in 2003, while she was writing an early draft of the novel that would become Wash, Margaret took at class at the Taos Summer Writers’ Conference. She got the inspiration and support she was looking for and even ended up moving to New Mexico!
I found the novel both challenging and emotionally affecting. The title character will stay with me. This book belongs on the shelf with Beloved, The Confessions of Nat Turner, and The Known World.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I did love this book, particularly the first half of it. Longbourn begins beautifully, with a clear-eyed description of the life of servants in the Bennet household.
All of us know the Bennet sisters–Elizabeth, Jane, Mary, Kitty, and silly Lydia–and we know their parents, too. Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite books, and the idea of experiencing the “upstairs” story from the vantage point of the servants “downstairs,” well, I thought it was a marvelous idea.
But, the author, Jo Baker, had something else in mind. Quite rightly, she wanted to create her own story, her own characters, and she does so brilliantly. Austen’s story serves as a place marker of sorts. We know vaguely what is happening upstairs because the servants downstairs are forced to make adjustments to accommodate the vagaries of their employers. Elizabeth’s petticoats must be scrubbed when she strides off to the Bingley’s to see after her sister, Jane. But, the intrigues of the haves are not the point here. Jo Baker’s story is focused entirely on the have-nots.
Did I miss Mr. Darcy? I must admit that I did. He is referenced several times, but only makes one brief cameo appearance near the end of the book. However, I did appreciate the depiction of Mr. Wickham, the one Austen character who gets a real role in the drama unfolding downstairs at Longbourn.