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The neighbor behind me owns a teeny strip on our border, right behind his garage, where he planted a row of bamboo Eek I was nonplussed, but he assured me it was a special low-& slow-growing variety. (He was doing it to stop the English Ivy on my side in its tracks-- having spent yrs once upon a time trying to thwart the pest, I'd given up). This strange variety true to its blurb is only about 2.5ft hi after 3 yrs, stays in its lane, & is winter-hardy like a nice little evergreen hedge.
 
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I highly recommend my book club's next selection, too. It's a memoir [written at age 29!] by Tara Westwood, called "Educated." She was raised in a remote corner of Idaho by parents whose personal & idiosyncratic brand of Mormonism included absolutely zero truck w/govt including doctors/ medicine, & even birth certificates. It is a hair-raising story yet told with clear eyes and empathy.
 
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How many of you are re-reading plague-themed books right now? The Decameron, La Peste, Love in the Time of Cholera, etc... Somehow I bet they're popular!
 
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At our [abortive, google-please-hang-me] April book club mtg, the host's 4 recommendations included 2 on plague/ influenza themes, 1 on a nunnery experience, & a debut mystery novel. We chose the mystery: nunnery runner-up, zero votes for the others.

I FB w/a former-librarian cuz whose book club lurched between March & April from a comprehensive bio of a female spy to... another mystery debut! Big Grin
 
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Has anyone read Anne Tyler's new book? As I've written here, I love her writing and was ecstatic when I found she has a new book out. Can't wait to read it!
 
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--
Gosh I hate to dominate a thread. What are YOU reading?

Kalleh, have you ordered/ started reading the new Ann Tyler yet? I'll stand by to see what you think. Have to say I was turned off by her '70's novels tho I can't quite remember why... I vaguely remember a sort-of downbeat perspective, characters I found it hard to relate to, & plots that went nowhere. However I'm sure I read one in the 90's that I liked.

Right now I'm having a gas w/current book club selection, Cousin Bette by Balzac [1840]. A friend & I are reading it in the original French & "zoom"ing 2-3x/ wk to go over the bumpy parts. She's also perusing an Eng transl by Kathleen Reine [late 1940's copyright]. I HIGHLY recommend (any translation)! This was an interesting French era: 10 yrs after the Restoration ended; bourgeoisie was flowering & beginning to dominate the Parisian scene, much to Balzac's [monarchist] chagrin.

Balzac is rich, multi-layered, & just too funny at skewering all the pretentious types-- the Napoleonic hangers-on who got their govtl positions & "aristocratic" titles as rewards for military exploits; parvenus & arrivistes (mostly former small shop-owners & purveyors) pepper the scene w/gaudy interiors & the equivalent of today's McMansions. Lots of shrewd psychological analysis & startlingly realistic details, including $s, cts, & fin details on hair-raising transactions.
 
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I'm planning to read the new biography of Cecilia Paine-Gaposchkin when it arrives - she was my professor af Astronomy-1 when I was a college freshman a million years ago. (She certain didn't look like her cover photo, either, not even then...)
 
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Originally posted by haberdasher:
(She certain didn't look like her cover photo, either, not even then...)
Better or worse? A star astronomer regardless.

I wonder what gasses politicians are composed of?
 
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I was 17 then. She looked like a grandmother with her white hair in a bun.

Meantime, having finished 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson, I just started The Three Musketeers.

If this keeps up too much longer I might even get to reading Charles Dickens.
 
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Just seventeen?? Wow, you musta been a child progeny!

I've got my nose stuck in Victor, Vodka and Raw Fish, a poorly written book recounting the author's flight across the old Soviet Union with a Russian friend. A Tale of Two Cities it's not, but it does recount "the best of times, the worst of times."
 
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Poorly written? Not sure I'd finish it.

Anne Tyler just released another book, "Redhead by the Side of the Road." I love the way she makes her very mundane characters come to life. It was an easy read, humorous, and perfect for these trying times.
 
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Originally posted by Kalleh:
Poorly written? Not sure I'd finish it.

Anne Tyler just released another book, "Redhead by the Side of the Road." I love the way she makes her very mundane characters come to life. It was an easy read, humorous, and perfect for these trying times.


One man's "poorly written" is another man's "stylistically quirky". As I haven't read it I couldn't say which side of the fence I'd sit.


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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Yes, I suppose you are right. That's why one person loves a book, while someone else hates it. I happen to love WW2 stories, but others find them too dark. They can be, yes, but there is usually some bright spots in them too.

I tend to feel guilty if I start a book and don't finish it. So if I don't like it, I struggle through it. But I wonder if that is a good idea.
 
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Originally posted by haberdasher:

Meantime, having finished 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson, I just started The Three Musketeers.

If this keeps up too much longer I might even get to reading Charles Dickens.

Wow hab I'm impressed! Have you read "Kidnapped"(Stevenson)? I have a gorgeous 1st ed Simon & Schuster w/NCWyeth color plates I used to read bits of to my boys. Have many other beauties collected because of art interest/ illustrations: have to admit the only ones I've read thro (multiple times) are the Oz books, Beatrix Potter, Thornton Burgess. But Dickens (& Hugo & Balzac) are a step up & love them sans illustrations...
 
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One doesn't realize just how much a good illustrator can enhance your reading experience. Case in point is Moby Dick, with (and without) drawings by Rockwell Kent. Even though the illustrated version may be 900 pages and the "standard" edition 500, the bigger book is amazingly easier to immerse yourself in and read faster.
 
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Originally posted by bethree5:
the only ones I've read thro (multiple times) are the Oz books,


Just the L Frank Baum or the Ruth Plumly Thompson too? I have all of them by both authors except for a couple of the Thompson ones which are really really difficult to get. I also have a dozen or so by other later authors.


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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And on the subject of illustrators...

Start here and scroll through my old blog.

Just keep clicking Newer Posts until you get to the end of the story. Enjoy.

I have spent the last hour and a half looking through it all myself and a well-spent time it was too. One thing to ask, many of the Alice posts, and many of the other posts too, ask for information about the illustrators or ask questions that I never found answers for. If any of you want something to do while in lockdown please feel free to try to answer any of them."

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"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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Originally posted by BobHale:
quote:
Originally posted by bethree5:
the only ones I've read thro (multiple times) are the Oz books,


Just the L Frank Baum or the Ruth Plumly Thompson too? I have all of them by both authors except for a couple of the Thompson ones which are really really difficult to get. I also have a dozen or so by other later authors.

Oh yes Bob, the Ruth Plumly Thompson too! So glad to meet another fan! My earlist editions are ragged, in some cases even missing one of covers, but have those beautiful early color plates protected by vellum, & [most importantly] pencilled signatures by great-uncles when children before 1920... My mother kept adding to my [/her] collection, so I also have many of those white-backgrounded-covered editions from '50's. I re-read them many times throughout my childhood, & John R Neill is one of my faves of 20thC children's-book illustrators, along with Beatrix Potter, Harrison Cady, the whole Brandywine School.. Maxfield Parrish.. the Wyeths.. & other lesser-knowns & European illustrators.
 
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I highly recommend my current book-club read, "Girl Returned" by Donatella Di Pietrantonio, "pitch-perfect translation by Ann Goldstein, Elena Ferrante's translator." A short read at 176pp; prose is terrific, the "show-don't-tell" variety. It's a year in the life of a girl in early teens raised in a comfortable coastal Abruzzo life, suddenly & inexplicably "returned" to her "real" [poor, mountain village] family (learning only then that her 'parents' were actually a distant female cousin of her father, & that woman's husband). Told in simple daily moments - no commentary - marking the building of new relationships, the gradual collection of info leading to understanding what happened. Truly remarkable as a debut novel.

But here's the exciting part for me!!: through another zoom collaboration, I am LEARNING ITALIAN with this book. Again thro bkcb members, this time a 3-way.

My collaborator on "La Cousine Bette" (see above) has mid-level Italian skills without having studied it much. She's a retired ESL teacher fairly fluent in Spanish, w/hisch French. She started her teaching career as a yr-long sub for a teacher of Spanish and Italian, during teacher shortage in Boston (1st yr of school desegregation), so she had to study up on it. But her money connection: she was born in Greece [moved here at age 5], & over the yrs often visited elderly relatives back there. Because her Greek-speaking ability is negligible, they always communicated via Ladino-sprinkled Italian.

Our 3rd was born in a poor Abruzzese mountain village like the one in the novel - family moved to S Africa early on, then NYC when she was in teens. Italian was spoken at home. She has maintained strong fluency because her Mom moved back to Abruzzo when kids were grown & my friend spends weeks there annually [mom now in 90's].

So our Italian-American friend - not a grammarian, but full of cultural info - simply reads aloud to us two teachers. We pepper her w/questions & piece it together. In just 4 sessions I've got a 1st/2nd-yr grasp of the grammar, & have almost mastered the pronunciation. [Now we're beginning to read text aloud to her, for her correction.]

It will take some serious study to begin to actually express myself in Italian, but I think I'm on my way...
 
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Wow, Bethree5, I'm impressed!

I'll see if I can find that book.
Update: Got it, and am impressed with her descriptive language. I'm a bit confused by the vignette-like chapters which occasionally lose me, but it's an impressive generator of tension, melancholy, and, somehow, hope. So far, mostly, so good.

PS: Bethree5, does this make sense? On page 63 it says, "I didn't use to do that." That really grates on my sense of grammatical propriety. Did the translator goof?

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La Cousine Bette

Ooops! I thought you said, "La Cuisine Béte" so I ate a steak. I'm now reading an old history of the Civil War, and bits of Freud's Cilivlization and Its Discontents.
 
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My daughters and I are reading some books on race relations. Currently, I am reading "So You Want to Talk about Race" by Ijeoma Oluo. It is an easy read and has really made me think differently about racism.
 
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Reading is just one of the many things I am having trouble getting enthused about I am occasionally dipping in and out of a complete Sonnets and Poems of Shakespeare which, rather unusually, includes the various things attributed to him later but of dubious provenance. I also have the Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry that I look at now and then.
I am reading Wind In The Willows with my private student but that's not really reading as such. A few paragraphs per lesson with some discussion of the new vocabulary for her. I have a few books a departing colleague left behind but none of them particularly appeal.
So I suppose the main thing I am reading is a large collection of Doctor Who comics I downloaded.


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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I'm into classics and thrillers. Just finished The Last of the Mohicans. I'm afraid I read it too fast, and I have to go back and do some parts over again.

Then I picked up a David Baldacci potboiler - which one doesn't matter, 'cuz they're mostly interchangeable. Eventually I'll get to the latest Daniel Silva volume, featuring the illustrious Gabriel Allon, the Israeli artiist/restorer/superspy with the high pain threshold.
 
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The Last of the Mohicans. I'm afraid I read it too fast, and I have to go back and do some parts over again.


Dyslexia, not speed, made me sh
slow down on that one. I initially expected it to be about an Irish Cobbler. "The Last of Mo Higgins."

I've just begun to read "These Truths" by Jill Lepore. THAT WOMAN CAN WRITE!!! She seems to be as much poet as historian. Now if I can just get through this tome before it's due at the library...

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Originally posted by BobHale:
Reading is just one of the many things I am having trouble getting enthused about... the main thing I am reading is a large collection of Doctor Who comics I downloaded.


Big Grin You're honest to a fault. I have returned to my childhood bookworm habits on vacation - stuffing myself non-stop with what a friend calls "book-candy." All Scandinavian noir all the time. We brought cartons of it. Our dinner conversation consists of comparing plot-driven vs character-driven series, which ones have the best scenery, most camaraderie among the cops, etc.
 
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Originally posted by haberdasher:
.. the Israeli artiist/restorer/superspy with the high pain threshold.
Ugh I hate torture. Unfortunately it shows up now & then even in Scan noir (those happy people! who have a crime rate of next to zero!) I just squint and skim through those parts.
 
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Originally posted by Kalleh:
My daughters and I are reading some books on race relations. Currently, I am reading "So You Want to Talk about Race" by Ijeoma Oluo. It is an easy read and has really made me think differently about racism.


Hi, Kalleh. Have you read Wilkerson's "The Warmth of Other Suns?" It's about the great northern migration. A wonderful read.

It's hard to find a book that really puts you in the other person's shoes when it comes to racism. I found that with "The Sellout" by Paul Beatty. Bonus: it is often hilarious.
 
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I second the recommendation. Wilkerson is someone there ought to be lots more of! I started reading her newest book, "Caste," but had to return it to the library before finishing it. It, too, is superb.

Now, on a different subject, something funny: My spouse checked out ""Slaughterhouse 5" recently. When she looked at the cover, she realized that the library sticker covered the "S" in the title. What a blooper!
 
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I had a college roommate who used to take a perverse pleasure (or was it pride?) in relating how when he was much younger he wondered why people should be punished for man's laughter.
 
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Get your old roommate on this site. We need him!
 
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Well, September didn’t bring back teaching – but it did bring back serious reads courtesy of my book club. “Circe” by Madeline Miller is a fascinating & accessible novelistic jaunt into Greek myths. It has been fun refreshing my memory of the collections I read long ago. A “bio” of one of these long/ immortal lives offers a better view of the family & other intersections among the Titan & Olympian characters. I hear her “Song of Achilles” is excellent as well.

Then we jumped into “Fleishman in Trouble” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. You might love it or hate it. I had my problems with her construction/ choice of viewpoint(s), but on the whole definitely a new author to watch. Right now we’re reading “Light Years” by James Salter [pub 1975]. Both are novels of quirky marital relationships, and could not be more different from each other. Salter’s is a throwback in a sense [“ 'New Yorker' fiction”], but he’s a writer’s writer with prose to die for. Next, I won’t even have to sandwich in “book-candy,” as for some unknown reason we’ve picked “Eye of the Needle” by Ken Follett!
 
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I just finished The Understory. He gives Tom Clancy a run for his money when it comes to technical savvy. Annnnnd, it's very timely - IF you think we can still save the world for human habitation.
 
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Originally posted by Geoff:
I just finished The Understory. He gives Tom Clancy a run for his money when it comes to technical savvy. Annnnnd, it's very timely - IF you think we can still save the world for human habitation.


I just read a book that has Tom Clancy in very large letters on the cover but (in much smaller letters) says "written by Jerome Preisler". It's apparently part of a series created by - again NOT Tom Clancy - Tom Clancy and Martin Greenberg. The book is called Wild Card and is in the top ten worst books that I have ever read list. It might make more sense if you are familiar with the series but to me it read as if someone had written a batch of very poor short stories and then cut them up and reassembled them with a page from one followed by a page from another and then another and so on, finally dashing off a couple of pages in an unsuccessful attempt to claim that they were all connected. (And I read it because when you are in a country where books in English are so difficult to get hold of you will read anything.)


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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I'm halfway through the third volume of the Broken Earth trilogy by N K Jemesin. Fantasy/Speculative fiction. Intriguing plot, wheels within wheels; well written, with a touch of the poetry of Patrick Rothfuss (I don't think he will ever finish his Kingkiller series). The viewpoint shifts among various characters without much warning, and I'm finding that a little disruptive...
 
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I've been reading contemporary books about racism (my daughter's suggestion), such as "So You Want to Talk about Race." However, I am ready to move on from those...

Does anyone know of a light-hearted fiction, not too sad? I am looking for a book for my youngest daughter for Chanukah.
 
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..and as it happens my three Broken Earth books also deal with not-so-thinly-disguised racism...
 
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Originally posted by Geoff:
I just finished The Understory. He gives Tom Clancy a run for his money when it comes to technical savvy. Annnnnd, it's very timely - IF you think we can still save the world for human habitation.
Perfect timing, Geoff! A book club friend just alerted me to Wed's NYT article on the woman who "Patricia Westerford" was based on!
 
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I got the new Obama book for my daughter for Chanukah, though she already had it. So I then ordered the new Erik Larsen book, which apparently is hugely popular, and it is sold out nationwide. We're awaiting the second printing. Sometimes you can't win for losing, as my father used to say. Roll Eyes
 
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Yeah, these days lots of non-readers have become readers, and readers have begun reading more - and we've been eating home-cooked meals again. Result: a nation of overweight, near-sighted homebodies.

As we know the Brits do love their murder mysteries. Here's one I'm reading: https://www.amazon.com/Mistres...-Novel/dp/0425219259
 
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Totally love the new African-American author who has appeared on the scene, Brit Bennett. Her 2016 book "The Mothers" was fantastic, so I got her 2020 book, "The Vanishing Half." It is even better. If you like novels, you will like these, I think.
 
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Shu just bought me a new book by John McWhorter, one of my favorite authors and podcasters:

"Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter: Then, Now and Forever"

Of course, right after we got it from Amazon, guess who confiscated it to read it? Wink
 
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Lexicon Valley is one of my top five favourite podcasts


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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It is one of ours, too. We often listen when we are in the car.
 
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I don't know what "podcast" means. People just assume that everyone knows such things, and some of us get left wondering. To me it sounds like predicting where whales will be.
 
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Like radio but on the internet


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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Originally posted by Geoff:
PS: Bethree5, does this make sense? On page 63 it says, "I didn't use to do that." That really grates on my sense of grammatical propriety. Did the translator goof?
Sorry I missed this [11 mos ago!] Geoff. I would sure say that was a translation goof, or more likely a typo. Did you end up liking the novel?

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Originally posted by BobHale:
And on the subject of illustrators...
Just keep clicking Newer Posts until you get to the end of the story. Enjoy.

Dear BobHale, so sorry it’s taken me an entire year to follow up on your fetching teaser here.

The John Bennet in the Alice book is a new one on me. But not researching it, because I don’t like the style. I am shameless with illustrators: it either appeals to me [i.e., I want to try to reproduce it myself in pencil/ watercolor], or it doesn't. Love the Margaret Tarrant. The Pitjantjatjara language, and this Australian version are entirely new to me. Ditto Luis Filella’s Spanish edition, & Boris Pushkarev’s Russian edition—but again for me it’s about the art, not the story. Very much like A A Nash’s classic mid-20thC style! This little blog post postdates your entry so you may not have seen it: [url=https://eyesonalice.wordpress.com/2016/04/14/aa[/url] Also found a few more illustrations thro google images search on “illustrator A A Nash.” But ofc if you have the book you’ll have seen all of these.

Very excited about Anthony Browne’s 1996 Aevintyri Lisu i Undralandi! OK, found it [English version, 1988 hardcover] on etsy & ordered it…

That’s it!! This is costing me too much!!

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Originally posted by Geoff:
I don't know what "podcast" means. People just assume that everyone knows such things, and some of us get left wondering. To me it sounds like predicting where whales will be.
Have to agree, Geoff. This means nothing to me. But one of my sons swears by podcasts. In 2018 he had to do quite a bit of driving [Uber & DoorDash] while between jobs, & seems to have learned a great deal, plus he found podcasts that helped him 'calm' instead of angsting over the job search...
 
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“Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi is definitely worth a read. This is a debut novel written when author was in her 20’s so forgive a slip-up here & there [mainly toward end]. Highly recommended nonetheless. In little more than 300pp, you get a close look at the African slave trade & its reverberations over nearly 300 yrs on both sides of the Atlantic. The author manages this by following the destinies of 18thC half-sisters & their descendants, each separated from the mother through serendipity: one stayed in Africa [forced through tribal trade to marry an Englishman], the other was ripped from her village during tribal feud & shipped to America. Characters are well-drawn. The structure is unique & [along with family tree diagram] keeps reader current with happenings on both sides of the pond as time marches on.
 
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