Book of the Week: Martha Washington



While visiting Mount Vernon, my husband and I had the opportunity to meet our nation’s First Lady,  Martha Washington face to face. Our meeting with Martha Washington occurred at Mount Vernon’s Interpretive Center on a hot, May afternoon. During the thirty minutes we spend with Martha Washington, we were entertained with stories of the life she shared with George Washington and news of the Dandridge-Custis-Washington family members.
To explore the world of Martha Washington, click on the “Meet Martha Washington” link.

After concluding our visit with Martha Washington, our family perused the Mount Vernon gift shop and book store. While combing the shelves,  I came across Patricia Brady’s biography, Martha Washington: An American Life.

bowmarthawashingtonFrom the publisher, Penguin Random House: With this revelatory and painstakingly researched book, Martha Washington, the invisible woman of American history, at last gets the biography she deserves. In place of the domestic frump of popular imagination, Patricia Brady resurrects the wealthy, attractive, and vivacious young widow who captivated the youthful George Washington. Here are the able landowner, the indomitable patriot (who faithfully joined her husband each winter at Valley Forge), and the shrewd diplomat and emotional mainstay. And even as it brings Martha Washington into sharper and more accurate focus, this sterling life sheds light on her marriage, her society, and the precedents she established for future First Ladies.

As I pursue my study of American History, I look forward to reading about the woman who originated and shaped the role of First Lady of the United States of America.
Kathy Alphs

Book of the Week: Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy

Last April, after touring the exhibit The First Ladies Dresses at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History,
I became intrigued with not only the dresses which represented each first lady, but their lives as well. While perusing the Smithsonian Bookstore, I purchased a copy of Kate Anderson Brower’s book, First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies.
bowfirstladieskbaUpon completion of the book, I decided to begin reading biographies of each of the First Ladies covered in Brower’s book. The first lady on the list was Jacqueline Kennedy. After perusing through a pile of books, I chose Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy by Mary Van Rensselaer Thayer.
Thayer’s biography covers Jacqueline Kennedy’s life from her birth to the Inauguration of President John F. Kennedy. What sets this biography apart from others is the personal tone conveyed by the author as she presents her subject to the reader. It is interesting to note that Jacqueline Kennedy worked closely with the author in the production of her biography. The book also contains a gallery of thirty-five photos outlining Jacqueline Kennedy’s life. The biography is available in Kindle format as well as hardcover and paperback via second  hand book shops.
Kathy Alphs

Book of the Week: Forest of Dreams


When our daughter was a preschooler, Rosemary Wells and Susan Jeffers were her favorite author and illustrator. One of her favorite picture books was Forest of Dreams. 


Forest of Dreams 
tells the story of a little girl who explores and experiences the wonder of God’s creation as the season of winter transitions to the season of spring.
The combination of Rosemary Well’s melodic prose accompanied by Susan Jeffer’s oil paintings present a feast for the eyes and ears.
Kathy Alphs


Book of the Week: Pollyanna


As a child, my favorite Walt Disney movie was the re-telling of Eleanor H. Porter’s children’s classic Pollyanna. Porter’s novel features a fledgling orphan named Pollyanna, who comes to live with her wealthy, but frosty Aunt Polly. Upon Pollyanna’s arrival she begins to infect the town’s people  with her optimistic attitude, which she contributes to her late father and the game he invented for her: The Glad Game.  The Glad Game consists of “finding something to be glad about in every situation, no matter how dismal it may be.” One by one through her positive attitude and The Glad Game, Pollyanna impacts the lives of Aunt Polly, Nancy, Jimmy Bean, Mrs. Durgin, Old Tom, Mrs. Snow, Millie Snow, Pastor Malden, Mr. Pendleton, Dr. Chilton. and Dr. Meade. And even in the end, Pollyanna herself is the recipient of what she has so freely given to others.
In the end, the message of Pollyanna is a simple one: Cultivating an attitude of gratitude which produces contentment.
Kathy Alphs

Quote of the Week


“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was.”
Ernest Hemingway

(Photo Credit: Jodi Harvey-Brown)