Twice a year I attend a used book fair put on by the Friends of the Loveland Public Library. My delight during the outing is finding little gift books to give to my friends throughout the year. At each event, I fill a big bag with gift books. When I return home, I sit in my over-stuffed chair and place all the books on the ottoman that goes with the chair. I then proceed to read through the books and match up the books to the special people in my life.
Occasionally, I come across a book in the pile that I simply cannot pass along and I end up adding it to my own collection. This year, as I was reading through the pile of books on the ottoman, I discovered Everyday Matters a Memoir by Danny Gregory. The memoir starts out with an extreme tragedy. I had the thought that this book couldn’t possibly have any bright moments if it revolved around the tragic event that occurs in the beginning of the book. I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was filled with bright spots.
The illustrations in Everyday Matters are whimsical and inspiring. They encourage me to start carrying a journal and begin to draw the everyday things in my own life; the little things that are easily overlooked. I have become an instant fan of Danny Gregory and will now look for other books he has written.
I have just finished reading the book, The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve. What led me to this book was reading another book by this author, The Pilot’s Wife. I acquire many of my books at the semi-annual Friends of the Loveland Library book sale. To be honest, I grabbed The Pilot’s Wife because it had the Oprah’s Book Club stamp on the cover. I never have the amount of time that I would like to read novels. So I added this book to the many other books that I intend on reading one day.
During the course of the year, I get into purging moods to keep up with the clutter that so easily accumulates. I have moved The Pilot’s Wife book to quite a few different locations over the years. During my latest purge, I was tempted to pass this book along to someone else since it seemed I was never going to actually read the book. But then I said to myself, “This is a short read, just stop what you are doing and read the dang book.” I finished the book a few days ago. When the last page was turned, I headed to the library to find another book by this author. I chose The Weight of Water; I liked the title and had no idea what to expect.
The Weight of Water revolves around the brutal murder of Karen Christensen and her sister-in-law Anethe Christensen by Louis Wagner. Speculation as to whether someone other than Louis committed the murders continues to this day. I tend to enjoy historical fiction and biographies for my reading pleasure. This book was right up my alley. Anita Shreve uses great artistic license in creating the characters of the book. She has said the book is opposite of what is traditionally known as historical fiction. Historical facts interwoven into the story line will wet your whistle and entice you to explore further.
At one point in the book, Maren and Anethe were sleeping in the same bed on the night of the murder. The intimate interaction between them seemed to cross a line, with regards to how the author embellished their personalities. These were real people and the author portrayed them in a way that could cast a dark shadow on how they are remembered. Anita’s writing is intriguing and the author does give fair warning that it is a fictitious story; albeit based on actual events. Read the book yourself and come up with your own conclusions.
After I finished reading The Weight of Water I went searching on the internet to find out more about the gruesome murders. The articles that I found captivated me as much as the book did. A Memorable Murder by Celia Thaxter was published just one month before the convicted murderer, Louis Wagner, was hanged in Maine. Celia’s style of writing was magnificent. Do a Google search for Maren and John Hontvedt or the Smuttynose Murders. You will find plenty of fascinating articles about the events that occurred on May 6, 1873.