Lifetime passions contained in small packages

By Nora Vasconcelos

Surprises in a box.
Surprises in a box.
Loving books is a passion that makes absolutely impossible to pass by a bookstore and not going inside. Once inside, it’s like the readers paradise. Time just passes by as if it were not actually passing by.

The bookstore becomes an imaginary maze in which it’s really easy to get lost and the desire to go somewhere else simply disappears. And then when the clock says it’s time to go, the pressing feeling of trying to gather as much as it’s possible in the very last minutes at the bookstore, makes the eyes become a hunter that see as far as possible to see if there’s one more book to be bought before the line end at the cashier.

It’s there when these lovely small books and little boxes containing amazing and unbelievable topics appear, And it’s there when I’m always unable to resist the temptation to see what last-minute novelty I can find.

Of course, I never get dissapointed, and of course, I’m always very satisfy with my acquisitions once I finally manage to leave the store.

My last three little purchases are about three of my dearest passions in life: books, coffee and chocolate

Quick look at great books, by W. John Cambell, is a little box that contains 48 cards with literary references to the same ammount of classic titles of all times literature. On one side of the card there’s information about a book and an author, and on the other side there’s a diagram that helps the reader to have a clear idea about the plot of the book.

All About Coffee, by Evelyn Sinclair, is a quiz deck, also with 48 cards, but in this case, on one side of the card there’s a question related to coffee, and on the other side, the answer.

And, Chocolate, the Exquisite Indulgence, printed by Running Press, is a lovely small book that manages to contain 126 pages with photos, history, recipes and quotes, all related to choclate. It’s so beautifuly presented that it’s hard not to get hungry while going through it.

So, now that I’m very pleased with my little treasures, I just want to say: Cheers to little literary surprises contained in small packages!

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Marie Antoinette, when life works against a princess destiny

Unexpected turns in life.
Unexpected turns in life.
While staying in an inn, Sena Jeter Naslund found a biography of Marie Antoinette. Then the idea of writing a novel based on the life and death of the French queen came to her mind. However, the author was really interested in showing a more humane side of Marie Antoinette as for the readers to have the opportunity to know a more complex character and not only the one that has often been known, as someone who was purely superficial.

To achieve that, Jeter spent a lot of time researching and reading several biographies of Marie Antoinette. Then she traveled to Europe and spend a good deal of time visiting the places that were important in the life of the queen who was born in Austria and then spent most of her life living in Versailles and Paris.

All this work allowed her to get to know Marie Antoinette, her life, her favorite things, her hobbies, her worries, her hopes and dreams, and how she went from being an enthusiastic girl who married the futuro king of France when they both were really young, and was eager to please the people of France, to being the queen of a country that was changing and that found on the destitution of the royal family a symbol of that change.

Jeter was able to reproduce in great detail all this in her novel Abundance, a novel of Marie Anotinette in which she shows how a girl who was born to being a princess and become a queen, had to face a life that she hadn’t expected, which ended later on at the guillotine.

As the book is written in first person, all the story is told by Marie Antoinette hereself which makes the reader feel really inside of the story.

As the end of the novel approches, it’s hard not to wonder how the author will manage to present the last minutes on Marie Antoinette’s life, as the story is told by herself.

In the end, Jeter works it out very gracefully, and the idea of having known Marie Antoinette as a person beyond the crown lingers for a long while.

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