[Review] Writers: Their Lives and Works, Foreword by James Naughtie

Publisher and Publication Date: DK, Penguin Random House. 2018 is the first American edition.
Genre: Nonfiction. Biographies of writers.
Pages: 360.
Format: Hardcover. 8 by 10 1/2.
Source: Public library.
Audience: Readers who want to read about the lives and works of writers.
Rating: Excellent.

Link for the book @ Amazon.

Link for the book @ Barnes and Noble.

At this link, you will see several pages from the inside of the book. DK.


Writers is a delicious hardcover, large book to pour over.

Beginning with Dante Alighieri and ends with Arundhati Roy.

Six chapters in total. “Chapter 1 is Pre-19th Century.” “Chapter 2 is Early 19th Century.” “Chapter 3 is Late 19th Century.” “Chapter 4 is Early 20th Century.” “Chapter 5 is Mid-20th Century.” “Chapter 6 is Writing Today.”

My Thoughts:

Overall I love this book. I poured over it and devoured each page.

Several of the writers I’d not heard of before because they are from countries that I’d not read fictional works (at least very little.) For example, Mo Yan, Chinese. He was awarded the Noble Prize in Literature in 2012.

Writers is a compiling of writers from all over the world and through the centuries. It is an eclectic group. I like this. I appreciate this. However, the compiling is organized not by who I would chose. For example, J. R. R. Tolkien is given only a snippet and located in the Directory section. I am shocked! I’d like to see him given six pages. Not a mere snippet. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book. It gave me an education on a broad range of writers that I had been unfamiliar.

And, one more thing I am disappointed about: C. S. Lewis is not mentioned.

What I love:

1. Visually appealing with illustrations on most pages.
2. Some of the writers are given four to six pages for a write-up. Most have two pages.
3. I enjoyed reading about their early life, writing journey, personal lives, and other experiences in life. For example, their journalism work during wars or travel adventures. I also enjoyed reading about those writers who were friends. They encouraged one another. A few had disagreements and went their separate ways.
4. Several, if not most of the women writers, were trail blazers. I admire their tenacity and perseverance.
5. Small personal stories are shared. For example, a writer friend came to visit Charles Dickens in his home. He overstayed and Dickens became impatient. The guest became embarrassed.
6. I love the desks and writing spaces that are included.
7. I love reading about the impact of writings that led to other writings which led to screen adaptions.

Quote of the Week

“I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.”

“My Shadow” Stanza 1.

Robert Louis Stevenson [1850-1894].

From Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations by John Bartlett.
Published by Little, Brown and Company, 1955. Page 750.

[Review] The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

Publisher and Publication Date: Custom House, HarperCollins Publishers. July 6, 2021. First published August 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 361.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase at Target.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction, stories of women.
Rating: Good.

Link @ Amazon.
Link @ Barnes and Noble.

Website for Christina Baker Kline. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Goodreads.


The Exiles is the story of three females who are exiled from their home. When the story begins only one of the females is a young woman, the other two are young girls. Two of them are convicted, imprisoned, and sentenced. They are sent by ship to Van Diemen’s Land which was the original name for Tasmania. The three of them come together in support of each other as their lives intersect.
Their names are Mathinna, Hazel, and Evangeline.
The time period begins in 1840.

My Thoughts:

There are things I like about the book and things I dislike.

What I like about the book:

1. I like the unique personalities and backgrounds of the three females. Each of them are different ages. Evangeline is in her early 20s and from England. Hazel is a teen and from Scotland. Mathinna is a young girl and is from an Aboriginal tribe.
2. The story shows me the prejudice and abuse of the Aboriginal people that the British inflicted upon them.
3. The story taught me how female convicts were treated in the prison, aboard the convict ship; and once they reached the destination-their living conditions, rules, and jobs.
4. While in London I felt engaged into the story immediately because all of the senses are apart of the storytelling.
5. I love the transformation in age and maturity of each of the female lead characters.
6. I see a sweetness and tenderness of those outside the prison system; and I see those who were selfishly bent on their own agendas.
7. I learned how the female convicts cope with their lives. Some took pleasure and comfort when offered. Some turned away from these relationships and became introspective.
8. A fulfilling closure.

What I do not like about the story:

1. One of the females took a lead part in narrating for the first half. I felt a huge investment in her outcome. I felt such a huge let down when she died mid-way through the book! I laid the book down for several days because I didn’t care to read about the other two females. It is not that I dislike them, but felt annoyed that the main character was dead! For me, that was the end of the book. I later picked back up with the book and finished.
2. Mathinna needs her own book. A book about her whole life. I read snippets (it felt like) in the story. Towards the end there is a perspective through Hazel’s eyes about Mathinna which left me in tears.
3. I’d love to read more about the geography and culture of Tasmania. I’d like vivid descriptions of the landscape. I’d like to envision where and how they lived with more description.

Final Thought:

I feel Kline tried to represent women (most-broad range) in The Exiles. All those women who were transported and relocated to a new world. I’m glad Kline gave one of them a satisfying life.

Themes in the story: Death and dying, courage, compassion, loyalty, obsession, power of love, bravery, acceptance, wisdom, trust, charity, injustice, justice, empowerment, grief, good and evil, innocence, suffering, survival, and greed.

Quote of the Week

“Let us alone. Time driveth onward fast,
And in a little while our lips are dumb.
Let us alone. What is it that will last?
All things are taken from us, and become
Portions and parcels of the dreadful Past.”

“The Lotos-Eaters”

Alfred, Lord Tennyson [1809-1892]

Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations by John Bartlett.
Published by Little, Brown and Company in 1955. Page 547.