Anne Perry, The Sheen on the Silk (2010)

Anne Perry, The Sheen on the Silk
This is an interesting book, similar to the Ariana Franklin books I have just finished reading. It is however all Perry – intricate plot, complex characters, intrigue, incredible detail and wonderful historic setting. Constantinople and Constantine 1100s. A girl who masquerades as a physician to restore her twin brother’s name/reputation. A girl with a complicated past, uncertain present and nearly no future. Constantine is equally fascinating, leaving one wondering if he did indeed realise how corrupt he had become, and the implications of his power designs. And all those lost souls.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Helen Simonson

Helen Simonson Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand 2010
Delighted that Gail recommended it. Debut novel, and absolutely delightful. Has the perfect pitch sense of time and place for modern England, while also delving into small town / village politics, tough issues of immigration, cultural abyss, inter-racial marriage, death, and class. All in a book that is charming to read! The Major has a terrible shock with the death of his brother by massive heart attack. Mrs Ali is collecting paper money and shares a cup of proper english tea when he truly needs one. She is kind, understanding how he feels, what he is going through, but also because her world is changing as she is being forced back into her culture, no longer being allowed the english freedoms after the death of her husband. Everything reads true here – the voice is just right – several of the language idiosyncrasies of both Indian and English, how to brew the tea, what the neighbors will say, the gardening, the vicar, the silent disapproval, the club…. He has stood for all things English his entire life, honor, duty, decorum. He had such joy with his wife, while disapproving, but not knowing what to do about it with his son, his brother’s wife, some friends. It is as if Major has put on a new set of eyeglasses and is finally measuring his life and deciding to LIVE large, not just be English (this could be American, European, etc). The point is how we live. And it is so delicately and joyously described for us. This novel flowers.

Quilt, Threads of Our Community, RACE Exhibition

The Rochester Library has a fabulous new display that was created by many people within the Community. This Quilt illustrates the diversity within our town and is a lovely supplemental event to the RACE exhibition. Be sure to read about each artist in the accompanying book that was so beautifully put together by Gail, Purna and Ginny. Thanks for all your efforts!

Friends’ Bookstore Volunteer Opportunities

Each One Reach One
Our second Friends’ Bookstore initiative for the year is to increase the number of volunteers that work as cashiers, sorters, and pricers. Right now we are in need of all three types of workers. Our “Each One Reach One” campaign is simple: each current Friends’ Bookstore volunteer should try to recruit one other volunteer. We’d really like to see all ages represented, from high schoolers through empty-nesters. If you know someone who’d like to volunteer, have them stop in the store and pick up a green application form.
They will need to be interviewed by Gail or Marilyn before they can officially work in the store, and we hope to have the new volunteers trained and in place so we can create a new schedule in the fall. We hope that each volunteer will be able to work at least two shifts per month, but the work schedules can be flexible – as you know.

Friends’ Bookstore-WOW

The Friends’ Bookstore has undergone a transformation! WOW! We have been very fortunate to have a wonderful volunteer (John Hunziker) make us a variety of shelves which have increased our shelf space. We are able to display so many more new arrivals in a very pleasant setting.
Mary Barrett has worked so hard in cleaning, rearranging, restructuring and reordering the Bookstore. She has a great team of people who are helping in many ways. I am sure you will appreciate all the changes. Please revisit the Bookstore soon – you will be amazed!



A bluestocking is an educated, intellectual woman. Such women are stereotyped as being frumpy and the reference to blue stockings refers to the time when woolen worsted stockings were informal dress, as compared with formal, fashionable black silk stockings.
The term originated with the Blue Stockings Society – a literary society founded by Elizabeth Montagu in the 1750s. Such women have increased in number since, as women now enter higher education in large numbers. For example, in Britain, women are now 55% of new entrants to university and outnumber men at every level up to PhD.
Women are still under pressure to dress fashionably and an old saying is “women don’t become bluestockings until men have tired of looking at their legs”.

What is especially odd about the term, though, is that the first bluestocking was a man. He was a learned botanist, translator, publisher and minor poet of the eighteenth-century named Benjamin Stillingfleet. He wrote an early opera and also published the first English editions of works by the Swedish botanist Linnaeus.
The story starts in the early 1750s, when a group of independently minded women decided to break away from the stultifying sessions of card playing and idle chatter which was all that tradition allowed them. They began to hold literary evenings, in direct imitation of the established salons of Paris, to which well-known men of letters would be invited as guests to encourage discussion.
One of the leading lights of this group was Mrs Elizabeth Montagu, a powerful and rich figure in London society (she was the cousin of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who brought smallpox inoculation back from Turkey). Literary and theatrical luminaries like Samuel Johnson, David Garrick and Lord Lyttleton attended what she and her friends referred to as conversations, but which Horace Walpole, a frequent guest, called petticoteries. Another regular visitor was Joshua (later Sir Joshua) Reynolds, who painted a portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, in 1786. Mr Stillingfleet was asked to attend by Mrs Vesey, one of the group. He felt he had to decline, as he was too poor to afford the formal dress then required for evening events, which included black silk stockings. According to Fanny Burney, who told the story later, Mrs Vesey told him to come as he was, in his informal day clothes. Which he did, wearing his blue worsted stockings, and started a trend.

Another name was the French form Bas Bleu, which Hanna More, another member, used in her poem, The Bas Bleu, or Conversation, which gives a lot of information about the group. A very fine bookseller is also called Bas Bleu (

Send in your photos or comments of your group of Bluestockings. I know you are out there!