Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Book Reviews: Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything, The Abundance

Nancy Martin's latest comic whodunit is a worthwhile summer vacation read.




 

If there is one thing we can all agree on in this contentious political season, it’s that summer vacation will help us endure the long lead-up to the general election. It’s awesome!

But before we can indulge in all that fun in the sun, first we must pack. And packing for vacation is fraught with many potential pitfalls. Just as you don’t want to find yourself knee-deep in the Hawaiian surf adorned in a chinchilla fur coat or striding around Burning Man in mukluks, you surely don’t want to have inadvertently packed the wrong book with which to laze away your languorous downtime. So here are suggestions that will help avert a total vacation disaster.

Highland Park’s grand dame of mystery Nancy Martin strikes black gold, that’s Texas tea, with her latest comic whodunit Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything. Sunny McKillip is the victim of academic downsizing. After arriving in Mule Stop, Texas, she loses her college gig only to land the position of personal assistant to Honeybelle Hensley, a bigger-than-life oil dynasty matriarch.

Most of Sunny’s duties entail looking after Honeybelle’s prized pooch, Miss Ruffles. That’s easier said than done, when the dog in question, “a Texas cattle cur — a small but powerful dog with the speed and temperament for driving cows over a cliff, if need be,” is as troublesome and rabble-rousing as Miss Ruffles.

When Honeybelle dies under mysterious circumstances, rather than provide an inheritance to her family, she leaves her fortune to her preferred pup — and she leaves the wealthy canine in Sunny’s care. Is there a killer on the loose? Is Miss Ruffles the next target? Did Honeybelle’s waspish daughter-in-law have a hand in her death? Will Sunny find true love with the roguish cowboy attorney? Will Miss Ruffles ever be house broken? Sunny will have to turn sleuth and learn the truth about her former employer’s demise all the while protecting her unruly charge.
 


 

Martin’s waggish tale of maybe-murder and mutt mayhem deep in the heart of Texas is an antic good time. A breezy read that will perfectly complement beachside margaritas.
Perhaps you’re of a more serious nature, though, and you’d like a book that will get your imagination humming and your brain flexing a few of those flabbier neurons. Look no further than Annie Dillard’s The Abundance, a selection of the East End native’s personal essays.

Dillard won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” a luminous meditation on life, nature and solitude. In 2015, she was awarded the National Medal of the Arts and Humanities. The present collection is an excellent entry point for the uninitiated and a handy compendium of some of her finest prose. Only the finest vacation companion observes, as Dillard does, “the world through the window, is an illuminated manuscript whose leaves the wind takes, one by one, whose painted illuminations and halting words draw me, one by one, and I am dazzled in day and lost.”
 


photo: shutterstock
 

Speak Up
July 12/ Judy Blume’s novels “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing,” “Blubber” and “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” among many others, have been rites of passage for several generations. Blume’s stories about adolescent insecurity, puberty and angst have provided comfort to many boys and girls who felt terminally misunderstood. Her latest novel, “In the Unlikely Event” is written for adults and brings her to town for a rare appearance. (Carnegie Library Lecture Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/622-8866, pittsburghlectures.org)

July 5, 12, 19, 26/ Hemingway’s Summer Poetry Series wraps up its season this month with a monster line-up of local greats including Jason Mendez, Ann Curran, Celeste Gainey, Timons Esaias, Kelly Andrews, Jennifer Jackson Berry, Lori Jakiela, Bob Pajich and many more. Readings are in the back room and are followed by an open mic. (Hemingway’s Cafe, 3911 Forbes Ave., Oakland; littsburgh.com) —KC
 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

5 Great Ways to Enjoy Picklesburgh

The city’s fourth annual pickle festival will feature more food, more music and even pickle-inspired beers.

Wow Factor: Empty Nest Inspires Timeless Makeover

When her last child graduated from college, Ingrid Meenen did something she had been wanting to do for 20 years — renovate the first floor of her Upper St. Clair home.

Perfect Proposals that Flashed Back to First Dates

Return to your roots before your relationship blooms into a beautiful marriage.

Three of Pittsburgh’s Green Spaces Nominated for National List

Some of the city’s parks could earn a spot on the National Register of Historic Places by 2020. So why should you care?

Watch: Mister Rogers' Wonderful Sense of Humor

We stumbled upon this old clip of Fred Rogers' appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman” in February of 1982. It includes an amusing clip in which Mister Rogers loses a wrestling match with a tent.

Stop Using Uber and Lyft, Renting a Bike is Better

You'll save money and have an easier time hopping between neighborhoods on a Healthy Ride bicycle.

America’s “Gratest” Celebration of Cheese is Coming to Pittsburgh

Sample cheese of every rind during the American Cheese Society’s annual Festival of Cheese.

The 400-Word Review: Skyscraper

If you want "Die Hard" with half the brains but three times the building, the new Dwayne Johnson flick will do a passing job.

A Pop-Up Bar in Pittsburgh that Serves a Sober Alternative

Empath provides the vibe and social space of a bar, as well as stepped up beverage service ... without the alcohol.

Watch: 12 Questions with WTAE's Sally Wiggin

The WTAE anchor was voted Best Journalist by readers of Pittsburgh Magazine. She answers 12 random questions ranging from her most memorable vacation to who should portray her in a movie.

Tax Credit Brought Mister Rogers Flick to Pittsburgh

The granting of the credit means the majority, if not most of the movie starring Tom Hanks, will indeed be shot in the Pittsburgh area.

Compelling World Cup Worth a Periodic Embrace

The competition is as fierce as the fans are passionate and both can be appreciated without a firm grasp of the details.

Jeff Goldblum Day is Causing a Stir in the ’Burgh

Local venues will be celebrating the native actor Friday with Goldblum-themed merchandise and events.

Willow Restaurant in the North Hills Lands a New Chef

Aaron Allen comes to Willow by way of 2-star Daniel in New York City. Plus, Greta Harmon joins the staff of the Ohio Township hideaway as the restaurant's new bar manager.

Pittsburgh Developer Offers Location for Riverfront Swings

A developer in the South Side may fulfill KDKA anchor Ken Rice’s wish for shaded benches along the city’s riverfronts.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


5 Great Ways to Enjoy Picklesburgh

5 Great Ways to Enjoy Picklesburgh

The city’s fourth annual pickle festival will feature more food, more music and even pickle-inspired beers.

Comments

Three of Pittsburgh’s Green Spaces Nominated for National List

Three of Pittsburgh’s Green Spaces Nominated for National List

Some of the city’s parks could earn a spot on the National Register of Historic Places by 2020. So why should you care?

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
A Pop-Up Bar in Pittsburgh that Serves a Sober Alternative

A Pop-Up Bar in Pittsburgh that Serves a Sober Alternative

Empath provides the vibe and social space of a bar, as well as stepped up beverage service ... without the alcohol.

Comments

Willow Restaurant in the North Hills Lands a New Chef

Willow Restaurant in the North Hills Lands a New Chef

Aaron Allen comes to Willow by way of 2-star Daniel in New York City. Plus, Greta Harmon joins the staff of the Ohio Township hideaway as the restaurant's new bar manager.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Six Underrated Kennywood Rides You Need to Try Again

Six Underrated Kennywood Rides You Need to Try Again

Leave enough time in your next visit to Kennywood to revisit some old favorites and these underrated gems.

Comments

The Five Best Spots to Get Pittsburgh-Themed Merchandise

The Five Best Spots to Get Pittsburgh-Themed Merchandise

Looking to show off your Pittsburgh love? Get your favorite city printed on basically anything at these local shops.

Comments


Stop Using Uber and Lyft, Renting a Bike is Better

Stop Using Uber and Lyft, Renting a Bike is Better

You'll save money and have an easier time hopping between neighborhoods on a Healthy Ride bicycle.

Comments

Five Essential July Events in Pittsburgh

Five Essential July Events in Pittsburgh

Parking-lot punk, polished Potter and other July attractions.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Compelling World Cup Worth a Periodic Embrace

Compelling World Cup Worth a Periodic Embrace

The competition is as fierce as the fans are passionate and both can be appreciated without a firm grasp of the details.

Comments

Pirates Can Be Show Stoppers if They Follow Brault's Lead

Pirates Can Be Show Stoppers if They Follow Brault's Lead

A Broadway musical about the life and times of the Pittsburgh Pirates? The idea might not be as farfetched as you think.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Skyscraper

The 400-Word Review: Skyscraper

If you want "Die Hard" with half the brains but three times the building, the new Dwayne Johnson flick will do a passing job.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter

The 400-Word Review: The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter

The Netflix exclusive Josh Brolin flick is pleasant enough, but light on laughs.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Perfect Proposals that Flashed Back to First Dates

Perfect Proposals that Flashed Back to First Dates

Return to your roots before your relationship blooms into a beautiful marriage.

Comments

I Do, Now Let’s Have Some BBQ

I Do, Now Let’s Have Some BBQ

A five-course meal doesn’t fit with every wedding. These laid-back couples opted for casual — and delicious — cuisine perfect for their outdoor and barn receptions.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Wow Factor: Empty Nest Inspires Timeless Makeover

Wow Factor: Empty Nest Inspires Timeless Makeover

When her last child graduated from college, Ingrid Meenen did something she had been wanting to do for 20 years — renovate the first floor of her Upper St. Clair home.

Comments

Head to the North Hills for Two Blooming Garden Tours

Head to the North Hills for Two Blooming Garden Tours

The Wexford Garden and Pond Tour and the Southern Butler County Garden Club tour both take place this weekend.

Comments