Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Virginia Festival of the Book March 26-30

"Five Days, Hundreds of Authors"
Plus, Tuesday, March 25 is the Pre-festival day.

The annual event is sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Walter Mosely, Adriana Trigiani, Margaret Coal, Jacqueline Winspear, Homer Hickman, David Ignatius, and many others will be participating this year.

For a complete listing of the schedule of events, go to

The Festival Luncheon with Jan Karon has already been sold out, but not to worry,
Virginia Public Television (WVPT) will record the luncheon and broadcast it on Wednesday, April 16, at 7:30 pm and again Sunday, April 20th at 1:30 pm
For more information about their schedule see

Also sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities is
The Big Read
The title selected for 2008 is To Kill a Mockingbird.

The library has many
copies of the book, including DVD and audio versions.

Check out the recent
biography about Harper Lee, Mockingbird

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Women in History

Four queens : the Proven├žal sisters who ruled Europe by Nancy Goldstone
Traces the lives of the four daughters of the count of Provence who eventually became the queens of France, England, Germany, and Sicily, from Marguerite's cultural clashes within the Palais du Roi and Eleanor's civil-war-provoking political aspirations to Sanchia's lonely life and Beatrice's life-risking ambitions.

Born to rule : five reigning consorts, granddaughters of Queen Victoria by Julia P. Gelardi
Traces the stories of five of Queen Victoria's most famous and powerful granddaughters, drawing on unpublished letters, memoirs, diplomatic documents, and interviews to reveal how their life events and marriages to reigning European monarchs directly influenced history

Bess of Hardwick : empire builder by Mary S. Lovell
Chronicles the life of a sixteenth-century impoverished nobleman's daughter who rose to become one of England's most wealthy and powerful women, in an account that describes her four marriages, witness to four monarchies, and building of the great house at Chatsworth

The Pirate Queen: the story of Grace O'Malley, Irish pirate by Alan Gold
A meticulously detailed, fictional portrait of the legendary Irish pirate describes how Grace O'Malley built a powerful empire that became the terror of the English on the high seas and chronicles her daring exploits in defiance of English rule during the Elizabethan era.

Patriot hearts : a novel of the founding mothers by Barbara Hambly
The triumphs and turmoil of early America are revealed through fictional portraits of four women--Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Sally Hemings, and Dolley Madison--who played key roles during four presidential administrations

The Peabody sisters : three women who ignited American romanticism by Megan Marshall
Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia Peabody were in many ways our American Brontes. The story of these remarkable sisters — and their central role in shaping the thinking of their day — has never before been fully told. Twenty years in the making, Megan Marshall's monumental biograpy brings the era of creative ferment known as American Romanticism to new life.
Elizabeth, the oldest sister, was a mind-on-fire thinker. A powerful influence on the great writers of the era — Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau among them — she also published some of their earliest works. It was Elizabeth who prodded these newly minted Transcendentalists away from Emerson's individualism and toward a greater connection to others. Mary was a determined and passionate reformer who finally found her soul mate in the great educator Horace Mann. The frail Sophia was a painter who won the admiration of the preeminent society artists of the day. She married Nathaniel Hawthorne — but not before Hawthorne threw the delicate dynamics among the sisters into disarray.
Marshall focuses on the moment when the Peabody sisters made their indelible mark on history

Inspiring African American women of Virginia by Veronica A. Davis Includes Jennie Dean, founder of the Manassas School, Bessie Thorpe (Tharps), physician, Maggie Lena Walker, bank president and Virginia Florence, first African American female librarian, singer Roberta Flack and poet Rita Dove among many familiar and not so familiar names.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Biography finalists from National Book Critics Circle

Five Important Biographies according to the National Book Critics Circle:

Stanley: The Impossible Life Of Africa's Greatest Explorer by Tim Jeal Selected as the winner by the National Book Critics Circle
Many think of Stanley as a cruel imperialist who connived with King Leopold II of Belgium in horrific crimes against the people of the Congo--and the journalist who conducted the most legendary celebrity interview in history, opening with, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" But these perceptions are not quite true, as biographer Jeal shows. With access to previously closed Stanley family archives, Jeal reveals the extent to which Stanley's career and life have been misunderstood and undervalued. Few have started life as disadvantaged as Stanley. Rejected by both parents and consigned to a Welsh workhouse, he emigrated to America as a penniless eighteen-year-old. Jeal re-creates Stanley's rise to success, his friendships and romantic relationships, and his life-changing decision to assume an American identity. Stanley's epic but unfairly forgotten African journeys are described, establishing the explorer as the greatest to set foot on the continent

Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee A critical biography of one of America's greatest writers describes Wharton's adventure-filled travels in Europe, the literary and artistic circles in which she lived and worked, her heroism during World War I, and the evolution of her writing.

Ralph Ellison by Arnold Ramersad The definitive biography of an important American cultural intellectual of the twentieth century--Ralph Ellison, author of the masterpiece Invisible Man. In 1953, Ellison's explosive story of a young black man's search for truth and identity catapulted him to national prominence. Ellison earned many honors, but his failure to publish a second novel, despite years of striving, haunted him for the rest of his life. Rampersad, the first scholar given complete access to Ellison's papers, provides a complex portrait of an unusual artist and human being. This biography describes a man of magnetic personality who counted Saul Bellow, Langston Hughes, Robert Penn Warren, Richard Wright, Richard Wilbur, Albert Murray, and John Cheever among his closest friends; aman whose life and art were shaped mainly by his unyielding desire to produce magnificent art and by his resilient faith in the moral and cultural strength of America.

The Life Of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932 by John Richardson
The third volume of a major study of the artist.

Thomas Hardy by Claire Tomalin
A seminal portrait of the enigmatic nineteenth-century novelist and poet, written by the Whitbread Book of the Year-winning author of Samuel Pepys, discusses his humble origins, rise through the London literary scene, and efforts to challenge the sexual and religious conventions of his time.

Tim Jeal's book on Stanley was selected as the winner this year, as announced on March 6.