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 Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

A New Steel Curtain Is Rising

Will the new Steelers zone at Kennywood Park be ready in time for opening day?

Refucilo Winery Brings a Taste of Argentina to the North Side

Dr. Juan Antonio Lora's passion project is linked to youthful memories.

After Dark Hall of Fame: Spirit

The lauded Lawrenceville hotspot is the latest inductee in the After Dark Hall of Fame.

The 400-Word Review: Us

Jordan Peele's new film is terrifying, essential viewing.

Why These Pittsburgh Brides Said Yes to the … Jumpsuit?

Comfort, mobility and style were all considerations for these brides’ perfect wedding wardrobe.

Pittsburgh Tops the List For First-Time Homebuyers

The report from Bankrate.com touts Pittsburgh’s affordability, job market and culture.

On Trend: Add a Touch of Velvet to Your Decor

Local designers say the fabric can give a room a luxurious feel. Here’s how to incorporate it into your home.

Spring Clean Your Attic at This Reuse Festival

Just in time for Earth Day, local organizations are giving you the opportunity to recycle, learn about sustainability and get rid of unwanted stuff at home.

Dish Osteria Will Reopen This Spring

After a two-year hiatus, Michele and Cindy Savoia's beloved restaurant and bar returns to the South Side.

7 Scenic Day Trips with Spectacular Views

By car, train, bicycle or foot, head outside to take in these unforgettable vistas.

Restaurant Review: LeoGreta is a Gem in the Making

With a few tweaks and a little time to settle in, LeoGreta will be the restaurant we all wish we had in our neighborhood.

The Pittsburgh Pirates' Last World Series

Forty years removed from the Pittsburgh Pirates’ most recent championship, the “We Are Family” Pirates reflect on the myriad differences between their game and the one played on the North Shore today.

Foreign Investment: Pittsburgh's Business with Israel

Pittsburgh has a robust Jewish and Israeli community, with scores of programs, both social and academic, bridging the ocean. The relationship, however, is increasingly about business.

Grandstand Gear: The Ultimate Baseball Scoring Pencil

A Pirates fan says she designed the perfect pencil for keeping score at baseball games — and it’s a hit.

Giving the Little Ones Room to Learn

An expansion at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf will allow the storied institution to better serve the needs of its youngest students.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


A New Steel Curtain Is Rising

A New Steel Curtain Is Rising

Will the new Steelers zone at Kennywood Park be ready in time for opening day?

Comments

Pittsburgh Tops the List For First-Time Homebuyers

Pittsburgh Tops the List For First-Time Homebuyers

The report from Bankrate.com touts Pittsburgh’s affordability, job market and culture.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Refucilo Winery Brings a Taste of Argentina to the North Side

Refucilo Winery Brings a Taste of Argentina to the North Side

Dr. Juan Antonio Lora's passion project is linked to youthful memories.

Comments

Dish Osteria Will Reopen This Spring

Dish Osteria Will Reopen This Spring

After a two-year hiatus, Michele and Cindy Savoia's beloved restaurant and bar returns to the South Side.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The 5 Best Seats at PPG Paints Arena

The 5 Best Seats at PPG Paints Arena

From ultra-premium experiences to bargains with great views, here are five perfect places to watch the Pens.

Comments

Fitness: Five Great Trails to Run in the Fall in Pittsburgh

Fitness: Five Great Trails to Run in the Fall in Pittsburgh

Don’t resign yourself to the gym treadmills just yet – fall is one of the best times of the year to get outside and pound the pavement, surrounded by falling leaves and the possibility of grabbing a hot latte on the way home.

Comments


After Dark Hall of Fame: Spirit

After Dark Hall of Fame: Spirit

The lauded Lawrenceville hotspot is the latest inductee in the After Dark Hall of Fame.

Comments

It's 2019. We Need a Modern, Dine-In Cinema

It's 2019. We Need a Modern, Dine-In Cinema

Pittsburgh is long overdue for a new movie palace where you can get an actual meal brought to your seat.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Brown and Bell are Gone – What the Steelers Need to do Next

Brown and Bell are Gone – What the Steelers Need to do Next

Whether the Steelers are better or worse off, whether they’re culpable or deserve to be applauded for finally resolving two of their biggest problems remains to be seen.

Comments

‘The Most Exciting Sporting Event in the Country’

‘The Most Exciting Sporting Event in the Country’

“March Madness” is as cruel as it is compelling. Just ask Robert Morris Head Coach Andy Toole, who has been there and hoping to go back again.

Comments


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

The 400-Word Review: Us

Jordan Peele's new film is terrifying, essential viewing.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Triple Frontier

The 400-Word Review: Triple Frontier

Netflix's action flick is pretty good. It's also exactly what the streaming service should be providing.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Why These Pittsburgh Brides Said Yes to the … Jumpsuit?

Why These Pittsburgh Brides Said Yes to the … Jumpsuit?

Comfort, mobility and style were all considerations for these brides’ perfect wedding wardrobe.

Comments

The Big Fake Wedding Offers Everything But the “I Dos”

The Big Fake Wedding Offers Everything But the “I Dos”

This nontraditional wedding showcase gives couples real-world insight into planning their big day.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
On Trend: Add a Touch of Velvet to Your Decor

On Trend: Add a Touch of Velvet to Your Decor

Local designers say the fabric can give a room a luxurious feel. Here’s how to incorporate it into your home.

Comments

Leanne & Steve Dish on Season 2 of "Restored by the Fords"

Leanne & Steve Dish on Season 2 of "Restored by the Fords"

Siblings Leanne and Steve Ford talk renovating Steve’s new warehouse, Leanne’s new baby — and their two new HGTV shows.

Comments