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Chapter 9 - Savannah 2019

Once again, I was lucky enough to attend the Savannah Book Festival over Valentine's weekend. This is a wonderful event in a remarkably beautiful city. If you don't know about it - it is a book lover's dream. For the last 10 years authors and readers have been meeting and greeting in different venues throughout historic Savannah. Generally there are seven locations and this year, 45 authors who spoke about their books and writing.

While there are three "paid" events with keynote, opening and closing speakers, most of the activity takes place on Saturday where all admission is free. The Saturday schedule is posted ahead of time and I usually go through and pick the authors I wish to see/hear. Then I read the book they are speaking about . It is a lot of prep work but I do it so I can have a better understanding of the author and his/her work.

Here are a few of the books I read for this year's festival.

The Only Woman In the Room by Marie Benedict - While Benedict has written other books, I had never read her before this one. This is a novelized account of the Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr. For political reasons she left 1940's Austria and came to the United States. Lamarr was a very prolific actress appearing in over 30 films and television shows but, more importantly, she developed frequency hopping spread spectrum, a technology still in use today.

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal - This wonderful book is a Pakistani retelling of Pride and Prejudice. The Binat family has lost their fortune and have no marriage prospects for their five girls. Alys, the second and most practical of the group, isn't convinced this is a problem but culture and society demands differently so Mrs. Binat dreams and schemes to get her girls married. This book is a great mix of culture and modern manners.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens - I had heard so much about this book that I had to read it. I can see why it has become such a hit. The setting is tangible, the characters rich, and the story one which you will follow with interest as it is both a mystery and coming of age novel. It has been optioned for a movie and Owens has stated that she is working on her next novel.

Southern Discomfort by Tena Clark - I am a sucker for memoirs and in Southern Discomfort Clark tells her tale of family dysfunction and the black nanny who raised her in 1950's Mississippi. If you enjoyed The Help by Kathryn Stockett, you'd probably like this real life tale.

The Shattered Lens by Jonathan Alpeyrie - Alpeyrie is a photojournalist who was kidnapped in Syria and finally ransomed after 6 months. While treated mostly civilly by his captors, he lived daily, uncertain if he would live or die. His story is profound and his geopolitical observations worth considering.

Next week I'll tell you more about Savannah. Until then, let me share some beautiful pictures of one of my favorite places.

You can order these and other books at

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