Maud Lewis’s artwork lights up the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg

Art speaks to me or it doesn't. My tastes are not sophisticated, informed or educated. When I see a painting or piece of art that uplifts me or makes me feel happy, I like it. It's that simple. Which is why I don't like winter scenes, paintings of crowded city streets on rainy days or industrial landscapes. I'll never appreciate abstract art because I just don't get it.Canadian primitive folk artist Maud Lewis's paintings make me smile, fill my heart and give me hope, so naturally, I love her work.…

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Japanese occupation of Singapore still resonates today

Every so often we read a book that gives us a renewed appreciation for when and where we were born. That's what struck me the most after reading How We Disappeared, a novel by Jing-Jing Lee. I've always felt I won the lottery being born in Canada as a baby boomer after the end of the Second World War. Growing up in a free country that offers so many opportunities and privileges as well as a comfortable standard of living is truly a gift.The main character of this book, Wang Di…

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Cathy Guisewite is back with the opposite of a graphic novel . . . a narrative cartoon

There isn't a boomer gal alive who hasn't at one time clipped a Cathy cartoon out of the daily newspaper and attached it to her fridge, tacked it to her bulletin board at work, or sent it to a friend. We were devastated when she 'retired' from her daily comic strip a few years ago but she's back in the saddle with a new book that picks up where she left off. Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault by Cathy Guisewite is like reading her famous comic strip in narrative style—fifty…

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Canadian author Yasuko Thanh’s personal journey is a contemporary tragedy

Despite the proliferation of helicopter parenting these days, there are still far too many children who are unloved, unwanted, mistreated, and, tragically, abused. Mental illness often plays a major role in the lives of many parents and children who through no fault of their own are unable to negotiate a happy, fulfilling life. Canadian author Yasuko Thanh's Mistakes to Run With: A Memoir is such a story. I wasn't sure what to expect when I began reading her memoir but as the story unfolded I was alternately appalled and transfixed.…

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Leader of French network spying on German military installations during WW2 was a beautiful, courageous young woman

When I started reading Madame Fourcade's Secret War by New York Times' bestselling author Lynne Olson, I assumed it was a novel of historical fiction—a story built around the experiences of true-life heroes of the French Resistance during World War II. To my surprise and ultimately much more rewarding to read, it turned out to be non-fiction. This book is a history lesson that is long overdue. We've read a lot of stories over the years about the bravery and heroic efforts of French citizens who risked their lives and…

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The Alice Network shines a light on women’s bravery during both wars

It's natural when we enjoy a book to follow up by reading another book by the same author. After reading Kate Quinn's The Huntress I couldn't wait to dig into her earlier book, The Alice Network. Quinn has a gift for being able to weave real historical events into fictional accounts with characters based on real-life individuals and composites. The story spans a period of several decades with most of the action taking place late in World War I and the years prior to and just after World War II. The plot…

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