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 Battle of The Hollywood

Dormont's historic Hollywood Theater faces an uncertain future after news of a potential sale prompted an immediate public furor.

Three Rivers Champion: Cecile Springer

A self-proclaimed “loudmouth,” Springer says her favorite part of volunteering is meeting other people and persuading them to do what she wants them to do.

Phantom Thread Is, Somehow, Both Unpleasant and Lovely

Reviews of "Phantom Thread," "Call Me By Your Name," "Den of Thieves" and new animated releases, plus local movie news and notes.

Nominate the Best! Pittsburgh Magazine's 2018 Readers' Poll

What is Pittsburgh's best breakfast joint? Dive bar? Yoga studio? Local singer? Meteorologist? It's time to nominate your local favorites in multiple categories.

Amazon Includes Pittsburgh in its Top-20 List for HQ2

The list of 20 was narrowed from 238 proposals Amazon received in October. So which other cities made the cut?

Restaurant Review: or, The Whale

The Downtown restaurant is a captivating, if costly, catch.

Celebrating 5 Pittsburghers Who Built Careers Behind the Bar

Pittsburgh is a city that celebrates its neighborhood bars. In some of those spots, second- and third-generation regulars are pulling up their stools to be served by someone who started pouring drinks decades ago.

Second Chances: Crossroads in the Kitchen

People working to overcome substance abuse problems and ex-offenders discover a welcoming environment in restaurant kitchens.

How to Pamper Yourself in Pittsburgh

Looking to beat the winter doldrums? We round up the best places and experiences for a little personal indulgence.

Miss Pusadee's Garden? We Have Some Good News.

The Tongdee family now operates Burgh Thai in Verona.

The Growing Popularity of Shooting a Clay Pigeon

Skeet shooting is taking off as a favored western Pennsylvania hobby.

Steelers' No. 1 Problem Makes Others Pale in Comparison

Until they solve it, the Steelers are more of a Fantasy League team than they are a Super Bowl team.

New series ‘$1’ to be filmed in Pittsburgh

The mystery thriller is latest to cash in on the city’s filming opportunities.

Andrew McCutchen: Thanks for the Memories

It's hard to overemphasize McCutchen's impact on the Pirates and its fan base.

How to Make a Mt. Washington Wedding Proposal Even Better

A lot of grooms-to-be propose on Mt. Washington. Not many decorate beforehand.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Amazon Includes Pittsburgh in its Top-20 List for HQ2

Amazon Includes Pittsburgh in its Top-20 List for HQ2

The list of 20 was narrowed from 238 proposals Amazon received in October. So which other cities made the cut?

Comments

New series ‘$1’ to be filmed in Pittsburgh

New series ‘$1’ to be filmed in Pittsburgh

The mystery thriller is latest to cash in on the city’s filming opportunities.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Miss Pusadee's Garden? We Have Some Good News.

Miss Pusadee's Garden? We Have Some Good News.

The Tongdee family now operates Burgh Thai in Verona.

Comments

Bitter End’s Chicken Dinner Fundraiser

Bitter End’s Chicken Dinner Fundraiser

Chefs Becca Hegarty and Rick Easton to cook comfort food to help Hegarty’s mother.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Nominate the Best! Pittsburgh Magazine's 2018 Readers' Poll

Nominate the Best! Pittsburgh Magazine's 2018 Readers' Poll

What is Pittsburgh's best breakfast joint? Dive bar? Yoga studio? Local singer? Meteorologist? It's time to nominate your local favorites in multiple categories.

Comments

Best of the ‘Burgh Gift Guide for 2017

Best of the ‘Burgh Gift Guide for 2017

Here are some of our favorite ‘Burgh-inspired gifts for him, her, kids, foodies and more.

Comments


The Battle of The Hollywood

The Battle of The Hollywood

Dormont's historic Hollywood Theater faces an uncertain future after news of a potential sale prompted an immediate public furor.

Comments

Tequila Cowboy: Fine For Some, Apparently a Bad Idea for Others

Tequila Cowboy: Fine For Some, Apparently a Bad Idea for Others

The bar, which hosted a bizarre incident involving a top Steelers coach, is fine enough for the post-collegiate set.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers' No. 1 Problem Makes Others Pale in Comparison

Steelers' No. 1 Problem Makes Others Pale in Comparison

Until they solve it, the Steelers are more of a Fantasy League team than they are a Super Bowl team.

Comments

Steelers Must Avoid ‘Captain Ahab’ Approach to the Jaguars

Steelers Must Avoid ‘Captain Ahab’ Approach to the Jaguars

The Patriots are to the Steelers what Moby Dick was to Captain Ahab and that kind of obsession can backfire.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Phantom Thread Is, Somehow, Both Unpleasant and Lovely

Phantom Thread Is, Somehow, Both Unpleasant and Lovely

Reviews of "Phantom Thread," "Call Me By Your Name," "Den of Thieves" and new animated releases, plus local movie news and notes.

Comments

The Post is Quite Good, I, Tonya is Even Better

The Post is Quite Good, I, Tonya is Even Better

Reviews of "The Post," "I, Tonya" and "The Commuter," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
How to Make a Mt. Washington Wedding Proposal Even Better

How to Make a Mt. Washington Wedding Proposal Even Better

A lot of grooms-to-be propose on Mt. Washington. Not many decorate beforehand.

Comments

These Elaborate Proposals Were Sure to Get a “Yes”

These Elaborate Proposals Were Sure to Get a “Yes”

Thinking of popping the question? Take a note from these grooms-to-be who set the bar high.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Former Art Institute Housing to Be Converted into Condos

Former Art Institute Housing to Be Converted into Condos

Downtown is booming as plans develop for yet another new apartment building.

Comments

Lesson Learned: How Design Changed a North Allegheny Classroom

Lesson Learned: How Design Changed a North Allegheny Classroom

Frustrated by his sterile white classroom, teacher Greg Geibel earned an A+ from students when he transformed the space into something resembling a modern coffeehouse.

Comments