I've had the pleasure of reading another book by Helene Hanff thanks to Cath who recommended it. Apple of My Eye is somewhat difficult to describe. It is subtitled A Personal Tour of New York which is, I suppose, what it is. Helene and her friend Patsy become tourists of their beloved city and experience life as tourists. I think this is an interesting perspective because no matter where you live, there are probably sights that you've never visited just because you figure "well, I live here, I can go anytime". The book is filled with wonderful photographs of NYC and even though this book was published in 1977, everything looks very modern - except for the automobiles. The book is written in the style of a journal and is similar to Duchess of Bloomsbury in that way. Naturally, Hanff's wonderful witticisms are all there, and the book is full of humor and fun. This book would not serve as a guidebook, not now or in 1977, but would be a wonderful read if you are visiting New York. It is full of eclectic bits of history. The only thing I didn't like about this book and I'm speaking of the exact library copy I hold in my hands, is that some horrible person has torn multiple pages out of it! They seem to be pages that had photographs on one side and text on the other and it is very disconcerting to be reading along and then not be able to finish the author's train of thought. This rude person actually tore out the last page of the book- text included! Grrr. I'm going to try to find an inexpensive used copy of Hanff's book Q's Legacy. This book looks like it ties all the bits of Hanff's life together.
I've also finished Bad Blood by Lorna Sage which has a very different tone from the above. I came across this memoir in one of my favorite used book stores - they tend to have a small selection of UK publications. Sage had a very dysfunctional and poor childhood, living with her grandparents and mother in a vicarage while her father was away fighting WWII. The main thing that struck me about this book was the treatment of children. I've mentioned this before in other books, but in these very child-centric times (I'm not saying this is the best way - only the way things seem to be right now) it's difficult to read about caregivers being so neglectful. All the instincts I have make me want my child to have the things she needs to be happy and healthy. Sage mentions several times that she had lice for years - her caregivers felt she'd just get it again so didn't treat her. She writes about her insomnia due to chronic sinusitis. The doctor recommended that Sage be allowed to stay up late and read but I can't help but wonder if penicillin or other treatments would have helped. Sage finds solace in books and education, both of which she knows will be her ticket out of her present life. Sage becomes pregnant in her teens and makes the decision to marry and take her exams after the baby is born. I liked this book. It was a fascinating portrait of a girlhood during a time that is forever gone, yet so many of the themes are the same today.