These are two of my non-fiction 'reads' this week and though so different, I enjoyed them both.
The book, Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey, is more information about Highclere Castle, the magnificent home of the Carnarvons and how they lived. Lady Almina, the 5th Lady of Carnarvon, interestingly, was very similar to Downton's Cora in that she was a wealthy American, perhaps married to help infuse much needed funds into the estate. Lots of details about the visitors, meals, events, etc. that occupied the owners at that time are included and presumably all very accurate. After all the author, the current Lady Carnarvon, had access to the collection of personal letters, files and records from Lady Almina's day. If you love all things Downton, you will enjoy this book.
A very different book is Small Wonder, Essays by the wonderful author, Barbara Kingsolver. I love her fiction and should take the time to write about The Poisonwood Bible sometime as it is one of the very few books I have read more than once. Of course, these twenty-three essays are well written, interesting and thought provoking, no surprise given who is doing the writing. I think I like her descriptions of the natural world the best as that is a topic I too love. The way her knowledge of biology and ecology get woven into all her writing intrigues me. She also tackles heavy subjects such as the effects of 9/11, and America and its place in the world today; topics that are very important to her.
Barbara is an avid gardener and food harvester of much determination and skills. She chronicled in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle-A Year of Food Life a year long experiment she undertook with her family to eat only what they could grow themselves or find in their local neighbourhood. Along the way, a lot of lessons about the earth and healthy eating and sustaining world populations are learned.
It would come as no surprise then, to discover that Barbara is a knitter too. In fact she raises sheep on her farm and loves the connection between the grass to feed the sheep, wool, fiber and eventual clothing. The most marvelous article of hers appeared in Orion Magazine and one of my Facebook friends, a wonderful knitter herself, posted it. It is titled "Where It Begins" and I urge you to take a peek. The writing is beautiful and people who love wool and knitting will especially feel an affinity.
A link to that article is HERE.