Subject: Women

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict

Who knew that Agatha Christie, famous British mystery writer known for the infamous Mrs. Marple Mysteries, mysteriously disappeared for 11 days? This caused a small sensation and headlines but was never covered in her autobiography and biographies.

The first portion of this book is rather a manuscript of how she met and married Archie Christie. Did you know she was one of the first Europeans to learn to surf? The second portion of the book concerns the disappearance. She was found 11 days later in a spa. Mention of what was going on with her social set was made, but no big explanation of why.

This led to a discussion of others who “disappeared” for a short time, Aimee Semple McPherson for one. People found out what happened with her, but evidently not Agatha Christie.

Lands End by Frederick Pohl and Jack Williamson

A comet brushes the earth nearly extinguishing life. Undersea cities and some enclaves survived.  Naturally there is a woman involved somewhere under the sea. No, I don’t think it was Ariel. Our reader said it was a good book.

Discussed was if anyone has anyone attempted to find out why we are landlubbers? Why haven’t we tried cities under the sea?

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Our reader knew nothing about Michelle before she read this book. Michelle told of instances that happened to her as a child because she was black. Our reader had similar instances because she was poor and found that an interesting comparison.

Michelle tells of meeting this skinny student whom she married. She also has sections on “more” when he became president and “where I am now.”

Discussed was how others have been ill-treated because of things other than the color of their skin as well as  what led to this treatment and how to overcome it.

Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America by Catherine Kerrison

The author of this book teaches courses in Colonial and Revolutionary America and women’s and gender history at Villanova University.  Our reader would love to take one of her classes.

This book tells of Thomas Jefferson’s marriage.  His wife died after having six children, two girls of whom survived, Martha and Marla. He was made ambassador to France in 1782 and took the eldest, Martha, with him.  He left the younger, Marla with relatives.

Martha was put in the best school that was recommended to him, which was a boarding school taught by nuns.  Martha spent weekends and school holidays with her father.  Four years later he sent for Marla, and because his relative was unable to leave her family she sent a slave girl to accompany her.  That slave was Sally Hemmings, still a teenager.  Sally’s brother was a chef to Mr. Jefferson and told Sally that they did not have to return to America, that French law would stand behind them if they wanted to remain in France and be free.

It sounds like Mr. Jefferson proposed she become his mistress and Sally negotiated with him.  She would return as a slave but any children would be freed at age 21 and would never be field slaves but would be taught a trade and educated. Jefferson lived up to that agreement and when the children, one of whom was the third sister Harriet, were of age they moved to Washington, DC and “disappeared.”

There were no birth records then as we now have them, so they could simply change names and family history and no one knew. They looked white.  It was said James Hamilton saw them socially said they “married well” and he never gave up their secret to anyone. The book was very heavily researched through correspondence Martha and Marla had records of the rest of the Hemmings family.

Survivors in Mexico by Rebecca West

The author of this book was married to H,G.Wells  She received many, many honorariums for her writing including Dame of the British Empire and is listed as one of the foremost women writers in the United States. This is selection of essays on Mexican History. She covered many timelines in its history and gave a broad view of the country. One mentioned the Aztecs did not have iron, or horses, but yet had a very great civilization.

Next meeting: June 8, 2021, at 10:30 AM at the library at 240 North 9th Street, Grover Beach. 

TOPIC: Exploration, Discovery