I just finished reading The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. A historical fiction, based on the real actions of Louise de Bettignies during World War I, The Alice Network is haunting and incredible. Unapologetic in its depiction of war and the suffering of occupied France, this book grips the reader from the first pages.
Louise de Bettignies, known as Lili in the book, was fearless and witty, quick and brave. Her network was one of the most efficient and effective operations in France. Operating in and around Lille, France, her network of informants could bring down new German fortified positions within days of their being established. The major information revelations in the book were pulled from real reports from de Bettignies. I don’t want to spoil major plot points, but this story had me reflecting whether I would have had the courage to do what these women did… Risking their lives to serve their country. The intimacy of their work, being close to information and power, knowing that getting caught would mean death but not necessarily a quick death. The solitude..the razor’s edge. The constant effort to remain hidden in plain sight. Perhaps my life situation now precludes me from truly knowing what I could do, and for that I am thankful. I hope I never have to know what I’m capable of but I do recognize the courage and sacrifice of women like Louise de Bettignies. Heroes, all. Lest we forget.
This week I watched Cocktail, the 1988 Tom Cruise movie. Of “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys fame. Watching this movie was a topic of conversation the night I found out I actually like (pink) gin. Judge me. The movie is terrible but it’s still some delightful 80’s confectionery. They just don’t make soundtracks like they used to…
Case in point, the soundtrack to Stand By Me. Or Dirty Dancing.
Name one song from something you saw recently. The Star Wars theme does not count.
I read The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns. It was a loan from my lovely Great Aunt. The Hoodlet has it now. (That’s a reminder for me to collect it from her and return it. In case I ask you who has it.) This was a really interesting story of an American woman learning about her father’s time in the Navy in the early 50’s. Lots of water and all the connotations that come along with it.
What I’m reading: Resonant Leadership
In health news, my back continues to be a bastard. However, I did walk 3km on the treadmill while watching The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel and I didn’t take any prescription strength pain medication today! Extra strength Tylenol and Advil are still very much on the menu…
It’s the end of the year, a time I always do some reflecting.
The last 20 months have been busy and demanding. I finished my Masters degree, dealt with the most debilitating injury I’ve ever experienced, started a new job, and generally tried to hold it together. I’ve been moderately successful… Some of life I’ve handled better than others… I am planning to be better next year.
Rehab for my super sexy herniated disc, focusing on core work and hip flexibility. Measure of success: Run regularly again.
Find a board of directors to help me with career planning, development and progression. Measure of success: Four directors.
Read for fun again. Measure of success: Document it here.
Slow my roll with The Next Thing™. Don’t rush into the next big thing… Measure of success: Knit a sweater.
Yes, I know those aren’t exactly SMART goals and the measures of success are unique but it’s all meaningful for me. You are invited for the ride!
What I’m reading
Philip Pullman’s The Secret Commonwealth and it’s being consumed with some Muscato.
Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being by Brian R. Little
I’m currently reading this for school and only at chapter three. Learning about the Big Five Traits of Personality and the continuum of each (versus the ‘x not y’ approach of other personality tools such as Meyers-Briggs) has helped explain why I get varied results on other tools.
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
Part two of the duology that started with Strange the Dreamer. Fanciful and fluid writing. Both were so good. Don’t knock YA until you read some!
This isn’t a genre I’ve read much of and as I write this sentence, I actually can’t name another espionage thriller I’ve read. Since I’m admittedly ignorant of the genre, I googled “best espionage thrillers books” and John Le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold came up as the first result. Book selected.
I actually quite liked this book and ripped through it in under five hours. It’s a great travel read… Engaging but not overly complicated. No huge cast of characters to keep track of but still many plot twists to keep you interested.
Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan, was the perfect marriage of the internet age with a Dan Brown-style adventure mystery. I loved it. Plus it was about books…
It is in the romantic setting of a tall, narrow bookstore with three storey ladders- that roll– that this book is set. I mean, how could I not fall in love immediately? That is my dream, to own a rolling ladder in a my library. Layer in codes, puzzles, Ruby and Google and I couldn’t put it down.
“Your mom is your blood and bone before your body even knows how to make any.”
This. This quote, it settled in my heart and has not left my head. For days. It’s simple and perfect and so true of motherhood. That Ms. Koul has the talent to put words to this truth is astounding. It makes me so jealous of her talent.
Go read this book. Support a Canadian woman. Learn about her experiences as the child of immigrants, what it’s like to have her skin, her hair. Recognize your own privilege and then look around you. Where can you give a hand up?