Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Only Best Place & Alexander Hamilton

Today we have a Lockstein family wedding, so the line for the shower is forming. Someday we'll have more than one bathroom, and by that time we probably won't need it! It's going to be a beautiful outdoor garden wedding, and it looks like the weather will cooperate for them.

Last night we picked up Mia's school supplies and backpack. She is so excited about being in school. She calls it her "pwa-school." However it's pronounced it works. It's pre-school, pray-school (it's a parochial Lutheran school), and it's play-school. She can't wait; I think I'll probably cry after I drop her off. My baby is going to school!

The Only Best Place by Carolyne Aarsen is one of the finest books I’ve read this year. Leslie VandeKeere gives up the job she loves in Seattle to follow her husband to his family farm back in Montana, and she has to decide if dealing with a meddling mother-in-law and living out in the middle of nowhere is worth her marriage. Aarsen writes Leslie’s thoughts in an unbelievably real way. Leslie is easy to identify with; even when she’s wrong-headed you can’t help but empathize with her. She captures the uneasy intricacies of an in-law relationship while making sure that everyone is portrayed evenly. Along the way, Leslie watches her husband renew his faith in the Lord, and she finds some herself. The quick emails at the end of a few chapters introduce the Leslie’s sister, the main character in the next book in the series. I’m looking forward to it.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow is a hefty 700+ pages but makes for a fascinating read. I didn’t know much of anything about Hamilton before reading this book other than seeing him on a $10 bill. Chernow handles this biography with such deftness, I feel like I received a complete education not only on the American Revolution but also the Constitution as well as lessons in economics and foreign policy. Hamilton’s life starting with his illegitimate birth in the West Indies and subsequent rise to power and fame within the court of George Washington sounds like something out of a novel. His misguided affair with Maria Reynolds, complete loss of power, and death by duel with Aaron Burr make him even more intriguing. Hamilton was a strongly opinionated man unafraid of letting his feelings be known. He spent much of his life defending attacks on his honor while struggling to establish the Federal Bank and writing thousands of words about the formation of the government. Chernow gives brief biographies of the other history makers of the time. The biographies are insightful and flow well with the narrative. Hamilton really settled many of the foundations of our government today, and Chernow puts to rest many of the controversies surrounding Hamilton. I wish all biographies were this well done.

More reviews tomorrow, after the next coat of paint goes on the bathroom!