Color: A Natural History of the Palette

Thoughts cbyvf Color by Victoria Finlay, Random House Trade 2004 (orig 2002), 448 pages

Satisfies the COLOR category of the What’s in a Name 8 Challenge.

“Up until then I had always believed that the world was getting better and better and more and more clever. But that day my tender theory about the Evolution of History fell on its head, and it has – for better or for worse – never been quite right ever since.”  p. 1

Wow – what a wild ride! This book is nuts.

I learned a lot and I marveled at what the author went through to gather stories to fit into this book. She wanted to find India Indigo so she went there. She wanted to find Tyrian Purple, so she went to Lebanon. She just had to see the blue Lapis Lazuli mines of Afghanistan, so off she went. Think about that last one…

She is fearless!

My only complaint might be that she really is all over the place at times and I wondered why she would mention that. (off on a tangent much?)  I had to go look up SO MANY THINGS. It is hard – she mentions this, too – it is very hard to describe colors with words.

This is a 4 slice of pie book. fourpie If you like travel books and author-involved nonfiction adventures, I recommend. If you are an artist and are curious about how artists got their colors, you must read this book.

I still have my receipt from purchasing this in 2010. Why? What prompted this book then? I have no records except the date. HOWEVER, in looking for other reviews out there in blogland, I found that Eva of A Striped Armchair was extremely enthusiastic about this book, so that is a clue. And since I seem to be on a linky-love binge, I should include Fyrefly’s discussion of another Finlay book that am now wanting to read next/soon/someday.

Colors are fascinating; this book makes me crave the colors of the entire world and makes me wonder what others really are looking at – do we see the same thing? Is the blue I see the blue you see? What color of purple do you think Cleopatra dyed her sails? And how exactly did she do it? So many mysteries.

Tyndall’s explanation of why the sky is blue is one of the best ever. Page 305.


Lots of Copley Connections for me, too.  Of course, she mentions Simon Garfield’s Mauve which I read in 2009. Or the mention of the English town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne being known for its beer exports. (I read all about that in Hops & Glory.) And then on page 384, Finlay describes a cave with a ‘millenia of snail trails’; surely those of you who read All the Light We Cannot See, recognize Marie-Laure and her hiding place?

Do you have any nonfiction books about colors to recommend? Just one more of my favorite things to learn more about, I guess. AND, I will send this book to anyone who comments and says they want it. If more than one person wants it, I will select somebody at random. Must comment before Valentines Day.





* Copley Connections are the random connections and coincidences that link books that I have read.


Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Armchair BEA

[updated… TODAY IS ALSO Day 1 of Citizen Reader’s Book Menage. We will be discussing The Birth of Love by Joanna Kavenna and Sherwin B Nuland’s The Doctor’s Plague.]

Having just returned from a girls trip to Charleston SC to meet a book blogging friend, I will not be traveling to NYC to attend this year’s Book Expo America and Book Blogger Convention.   I was thrilled to attend last year, the BBC’s inaugural year and I truly am thrilled that BBC continues, bigger and better.

But in the meantime, I will be staying home and thus am eligible to participate in Armchair BEA!    Today’s post prompt is to introduce myself.

I am Care, short for BkClubCare which was my attempt to shorten Book Club Care without losing its meaning.   I began this blog in 2007 solely as a way to keep my mother, aunts and cousins in touch and discussing books.   We are scattered all over the country and I thought it would be fun to try and all read the same books and have a place to share what we thought.    I didn’t think I needed a cutesy clever blog name, so ‘Care’s Online Book Club’ was born.

HOWEVER.   However, the family involvement component failed to get off the ground and this became my place to ramble on about the books I have read.  I have attempted to actually host a few online read-alongs but these, too, have not caught on and I have abandoned all hopes of being an inspired book club leader.    Sigh…

A photo ‘borrowed’ from Book Journey of us last year in NYC:     Kim, Sheila and me.

I read most anything and everything. I love to explore genres and new authors – debuting or dead. I tend to more cerebral contemporary literature, but love historical fiction, light womens’ fiction, and nonfiction.   Before book blogging, I rarely read new releases and I’m already amazed how many books published in 2011 I’ve read so far this year.  Before book blogging, I couldn’t tell you my favorite authors because I rarely read more than one book by anyone!   Now I can list off Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Virginia Woolf, Ian McEwen, Sarah Allen Addison, David McCullough, Sarah Waters, Tracy Kidder, Daphne Du Maurier, Anna Quindlan, John Green, Jennie Nash, etc.

I rarely accept ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) so please don’t ask.

I try to avoid series books.

I buy cookbooks for my husband.

I love dogs.  

I am buying a boat to sail the ocean blue.

I like pie.   Purple is my favorite color.   I collect lobster things.

I love to read and chat about books and thus, I am a book blogger.   (Read this for more.)



Copyright © 2007-2011. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Holiday Crafting

Photo Wednesday!   Today IS Wednesday, yes?    At lunch yesterday, Hub and I made plans for a ROAD TRIP for TODAY and then by dinner, it all fell apart.   And I’m sad.    SO now the day will end up wasted, sort of.   I intend to fill it with blogging and laundry and puppy training.   Maybe I’ll clean out a closet.

So while I bemoan my change in plans – I was SO looking forward to hours in the car* chatting and viewing new territory, let me share pics of what I did last night!   I made a Holiday Box Elder (I think that’s the plant?!) Tree**:

With flash…    Of course, I made a PURPLE one.    I’m not much of a photographer.

With Esther Pup.

To match my big purple Christmas tree…  Yes, it’s set up in the dining room.

And finishing with a photo of Oscar and Esther – kids are precious when they sleep, yes?


And if you are wondering about my lobster tree, you will have to refer back to last year’s photos.    And thus I’m reminded that I need to get out my Holiday Lobster Flannel PJs…

*   Hub and I are good travelers together and always have fun on road trips.    So, yes, I really was looking forward to this little day trip.

** Thank you Jody for inviting me to CRAFT NIGHT at the local Florist and thank you to Kate (Cate?) for showing us how to make this tree.   I had fun.    AND to make this book-related, we talked a LOT about books and bookclubs.    Woo hoo!


Copyright © 2010. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Fingersmith Update & Reminder

I completed my reading of Fingersmith last night – I was a bit bummed that I couldn’t get it into July’s book count but whatever.    I have quite a few page corners turned down, too!

So, rather than a review or thoughts post right now, I thought I would just list the few lines and quick impressions.    Ask away if you have any questions you would like me to answer.      I will hopefully post this weekend or Monday.

In the meantime, keep reading YOUR copy of Fingersmith and come back here on August 10!

Page 117 – is this foreshadowing or right out ‘foreTELLING’?

“We were thinking secrets.  Real secrets, and snide*.  Too many to count.  When I try now to sort out who knew what and who knew nothing, who knew everything and who was a fraud, I have to stop and give it up, it makes my head spin.”

Page 202 – on the status of women:

“Had they been gentlemen, and rich – instead of women – then they would have passed as scholars and commanded staffs.”

page 293 – How thoroughly fascinating is poor Maud’s ‘education’ –

“…  I thought desire smaller, neater;  I supposed it bound to its own organs as taste is bound to the mouth, vision to the eye.”

page 302  – I don’t quite understand the last line of Chap 10, Part Two.

“And so you see it is love – no scorn, not malice; only love – …”

Page 376 – on deadly fabric dye!   I read all about this in a book about the color mauve:

“Only a touch of arsenic in that green – won’t harm you at all, so long as you keep from sweating too hard in the bodice.”


* snide – Brit term for counterfeit.


Copyright © 2010. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Last Night in Montreal

Review  lnmesjm Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel, Unbridled Books 2009, 247 pages.

MOTIVATION for READING:    Finally, I have someone to blame!    And please don’t feel bad if I didn’t like it as much as you did – I liked it, just not as much.   But it’s fun to know that I read Violet’s review and then Nancy the Bookfool’s review and timing was right.   I ordered this and read it right away.    PLEASE click on these two reviews or click here for Fyrefly’s Google Search.

Violet says:    “This book had so many layers and emotions that it’s difficult to describe what exactly this book is about. All I can say is that I loved it. There is Eli who wants to find his love, Michaela who wants some answers and then there is the private investigator who watches his family fall apart in front of him but does not do anything about it. The writing is beautiful.”

Nancy says:   “Till the final pages of the novel, the reader is given little hints and it’s a bit like trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together but finding that someone has removed a third of the pieces and is returning them bit by bit until the last piece falls into place at the end of the story, when things become clear and then there is a jaw-dropping bit of action. That hint of mystery made the pages fly.”

My favorite thing about this book was the actual physical color of the hardback binding.


of course, the photo doesn’t show the truest awesome purple that I see… Sir William Perkin would be proud.   I also love that the cover photo does have something to do with the story.    Well done.

I don’t want to write a negative review – I want to write something that shares my misgivings and annoyances and yet still encourages you to read this book.     I don’t want any comments that say “I’m sorry this didn’t work for you.” because I’m not sorry I read it and you certainly shouldn’t be!    I don’t want any comments that say “Well, cool.   I can skip this one now.” because it is NOT my intent to dissuade you and or save you from wasting time reading inferior crap.    This IS a cool book and extremely well-written.   The mood the author creates.  The suspense!   The mystery that unfolds slowly – you’ll just have to read it to find out.    I hope what I write isn’t spoilering but rather inspires interest.

But gosh darn it.     This is NOT a book of good parenting skills.    I was stunned by Christopher’s behavior.   And, early in the story, I can’t quite imagine a house that is so cold that a glass of water on a bedside totally freezes solid and I suppose I should just be grateful for that, but it stopped me – really?  that’s COLD.   I was annoyed that I couldn’t figure out how old the brother was, and this made me stop and flip and try to find what I missed.    It bugged me – I didn’t figure it out until the end that he was an older brother and I suppose it could have been the design of the author to do so, but it bugged me nonetheless.     The word ‘pedantic’ – do people really USE that word in spoken conversation?   Maybe I just don’t hang in high-vocab circles but this bugged me.    And I wish I knew more about the story of Icarus.    I suppose I should have STOPPED and gone to find it because it is a theme of the book – so I just might encourage you to learn of it to help NOT trip up the story; like tripping on a rug in a room but not falling – you still cross over to the kitchen but the timing gets ‘off’, ya know?     And…  this is a big one:     if Eli was so scared she was leaving, could he really have forgotten the events from the night before and just got so lost in his work when it seemed, overall, he really wasn’t all that into it!??!?!??!?!??!?!??!?!??!    that bugged me, too.

Sigh.     icarus

However, did you see the bit in my latest review post where I tell you that THIS book referenced the Dakota language?!    I loved finding this!   I love random connections from one book to the next when they really have no obvious relation.

And from the very first sentence, “No one stays forever.” to the very last scene, I was hooked.  Bugged and tripped up occasionally, but HOOKED.

Lilia swallowed and found her voice, “You sound happy.”
“I am.”
“Where are you going?”
“Far away,”  Michaela said.  She smiled then, already leaving, and walked away down the platform to meet her train.



I can’t decide – between 3 and 4 pie slices…

Happy May Day’s Eve


It’s the last post of the month!    I successfully posted every day in April (and I’m ready to stop…)    I had grand ideas for this post that I would link to everyone who commented and cheered me on this April, but I have a big day planned already and so I will just offer this:

I hereby commit to less posts – not daily, maybe 2-3 per week – for the month of May.   I hereby commit to visit everyone and comment in some fashion: inspired and profound or witty or… TIDDLYPOMS!


I hereby give notice that the upcoming Weekly Geek will feature yours truly as a guest poster so you may want to check in on that for Saturday.

I hereby resolve to plant a few spring flowers tomorrow to celebrate May Day and I just may invite my new pair of poppets to assist.   They are quite photogenic, don’t you agree?

I am absolutely in love with Enzo the dog and hope to finish the book today.


I am so happy that Kris was not voted off American Idol last night and have been reading too many blogs already today about the drama of Adam being in the bottom two.  This tragedy was the result of split votes, in my opinion, and not so much conspiracy.   I haven’t voted this season; I guess I’m more in for the fun of it only.   PS My favorite AI site for critical music review is Masterclass Lady.

I wish you all a very happy last day of April.


“That which you manifest is before you.”

– Enzo’s mantra

Review MAUVE

Review  mauve Mauve:   How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World by Simon Garfield, 2000, 200 pages.

William Perkin was a young English lad who wanted to be a chemist.   However, chemistry was a pure science and his father did not see a future in chemistry (it wasn’t ‘practical’)  – why couldn’t he study architecture and go into the family construction business like his big brother?

Fortunately, Will was lucky enough to be in a school that encouraged his pure science interests and he was able to learn with some of the best instructors around…     In 1856, he was barely 18 years old when he was ‘playing’ in his personal laboratory attempting to create an artificial version of quinine for the treatment of malaria.

What happened, however, was a result that was just too pretty to be dumped in the trash as a failure.    Repeating the process and sharing it with a buddy, he wondered if he could indeed have found a marketable product: a dye –  a vivid new color for clothes, drapes, wallpapers, what have you.

He called it mauve.

Once Queen Victoria (and the Empress Eugenie in France) discovered mauve, the concept of must-have NEW and EXCITING colors took off like wildfire.    William eventually became Sir William Perkin, a father of industrial chemistry and a very wealthy man.

How it happens and the history of all the other factors* of the times, including commercial competition, environmental and health issues, technological advancements, and the fickle fancy of consumers makes this a fascinating study of a subject we take for granted now.

What color would you like that sweater? Before the late 1800’s, it was an issue of whether or not such colors even existed!      At least, the process of recreating colors into dyes.      And the process that started it all was due to Mr. Perkin and his use of coal-tar, the sludge left over from burning coal.

And not only color for dyes, but his process helped understand the relationships of molecules and elements and formula which eventually advanced into syntheses for all sorts of products – each year brought new findings and the chemists like to appreciate Sir William Perkin as the guy who started it all.    Of course, some would say ‘he sold out’ but his impact on the field of chemistry was more than profound.

Garfield really did his research.   He started each chapter with fun and clever quotes of the word mauve throughout history.     He gave terrific examples of many aspects of the dye industry both then and now and as a way to explain the wealth of nations.     I had no idea the extent and importance of color dyes and the companies that control them.      My only complaint would be a few references that were not thoroughly explained – or perhaps I missed it somewhere prior?   Anyway, I will accept half the blame on these minor distractions.

This is the kind of book that when you read it, you want to share every interesting tidbit with those around you (and thus bore and distract them from whatever they are doing!)

“Hey Hub!    Perkin got his Honorary Oxford degree at the same ceremony that Mark Twain got his for literature!”

“Hey Hub!   Remember those annoying BASF commercials years ago when they never ever said what the heck they did?      WE DON’T MAKE THE PRODUCTS, WE JUST MAKE THEM BETTER.”    huh?     They were one of the very first commercial dye companies.”

“Hey Hub!   This dude’s son did some great chemistry stuff, too.   He invented a way to make cheap flannel cloth flame-retardant.”

“Hey Hub!  Cheap dye companies didn’t rinse out enough of the arsenic and since they were cheaper, poorer people bought the fabrics and since they didn’t bathe very often, they would DIE when they sweat and thus arsenic absorbed into their bodies!   DOUBLE WHAMMY – another example of how the poor are taken advantage of for the sake of profit.

Oh, just go read the book.

Please click on this website featuring the color in question (I prefer to re-direct you in case of copyright issues…), the true Perkin Mauve,  the color discovered by Sir William Perkin.

Very pretty, isn’t it!


notice:   I can’t find the link to the Science Book Challenge – perhaps their server is down?   Will fix as soon as I am able.

naff – Considered to be poor taste; Bad; tasteless; Something that is poorly thought out, doesn’t really work, or is otherwise not very good.   “No more sauve mauve creations turning naff pink in daylight.”

parvenu – nouveau-riche: characteristic of someone who has risen economically or socially but lacks the social skills appropriate for this new position.  “By today’s standards, his family would be judged parvenu middle class.”

mordantblack: harshly ironic or sinister; “black humor”; “a grim joke”. A reagent, such as tannic acid, that fixes dyes to cells, tissues, or textiles or other materials.

pittical – a deep blue

too many other fun color names – it boggles the brain!

*  A friend who had just read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, told me that many wildly successful people were not only intelligent but also at pivotal points in time and space and opportunity.      Just from knowing that, I would make a bet that Sir Perkin would easily fit in Gladwell’s book as an Outlier.    The right time, the right place, the right ambition to exploit it all.

Library Loot

Eva at A Striped Armchair (you all do know and love her, right?  if you don’t know her, please go now and discover her world of bookish delights) and Alessandra at Out of the Blue (I don’t know Alessandra too well but I love her bright sunny smile that greets me when I open this blog.)    Anyway, these two sharp young ladies co-host Library Loot,


for us to highlight what great finds we hauled home from the library each week.  Since I tutor my Brazilian* friend on Thursdays, I get to hunt and look for books while I’m there.

Here’s what came home with me:

1.  mauve Mauve:  how one man invented a color that changed the world by Simon Garfield

I am reading this for the Science Challenge because I would like to think I like science but can’t think of many sciency books I’ve ever read and I really love color.    I am very excited to read this.       One thing I’m most interested in and hoping this book addresses is the word ‘mauve’ itself.    How is it different from purple?   From pink?   from all other interesting variations in color tones between red and blue?    The text includes a picture of a silk dress died in the original mauve and it is GORGEOUS!    approximately 1862; the photo has this quote:  “Luring on foolish bachelors to sudden proposals.”      This is going to be G.O.O.D.    (Going On and On Delightfully!?)

2.  rotdbki Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

I’m reading this for the Chartroose Challenge (and I have to note that she is now twisting my arm to read about mean scary non-pretty vampires, damn her) and this book & movie will count for my Lit Flicks Challenge which ends this month and I want to win the prize so I have to get bizzy-bizzy on this one.    Do you like run on sentences?   That was too good to fix.


Oh, thanks for asking.  I wasn’t sure how to bring this up.   While at the library to pick up the Mauve book that I had cleverly reserved online, I realized that I forgot to bring my library card.     I thought that it surely couldn’t be a big deal, could it? to just have them look it up with my driver’s license?    Well, no and yes.    All it costs is $3 for a temporary new additional library card to be issued.  But I didn’t lose my card – I just failed to bring it with me today…

I thought about it for 3 seconds.    THREE DOLLARS?!    Heck, that’s less than a fancy coffee at the book store cafe.    I said yes – $3 is not a big deal to contribute to a library that is in the middle of a town financial crisis.

It reminds me of the time I knew I had late fees and asked how much with wallet handy.  The cost for being late a few days was less than a dollar.   I was shocked and handed her a twenty.   “Put the change in the library fund, please.  And Thank You, Dear Librarian.”

* Eva?  What was that word you mentioned once to describe… either someone from Brazil or someone who spoke Portuguese?    I can’t find it…  THANKS!

Mini Review Anne of Green Gables

Review  aogglmm Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

This Reader’s Digest edition (1992) contained the complete text, originally published in 1908.  Canadian, 256 pages.

Anne is ‘good for what ails ya’.     I can’t help but think that this little story is like medicine for the mind and heart.    Anne is lively, the language is lively.   Anne is imaginative to the nth degree, the scenery is idyllic.   The story of how Anne moves to Green Gables, Avonlea, Prince Edward Island is not without struggles and hardships, but always has the overcoming.   For all the little moral lessons and a bit of wondering how the trials of Anne’s early years produced such a wonderful girl, the thing to remember is that love is it. Love is everything, love makes the world go round.    It is easy to see why this book is treasured by so many.

Montgomery is amazingly descriptive and colorful.   She is also very clever in her character assessments.   I dread reviews of classics knowing that most have read this and the ones who haven’t probably know quite a lot about it already.    I won’t say much more, other than I recommend you get this book, meet Anne, go to school with her, get caught up in her adventures and explore her world and times.   You won’t be disappointed.

First book towards completion of the Dewey Challenge.  (Dewey’s review here.)

Other reviews:

So Many Precious Books
The BlueStocking Society
Becky’s Book Reviews
Bookfoolery & Babble
1 More Chapter
Nymeth’s Things Mean A Lot <—-  Nymeth has found even more reviews!   so I think I’ll stop linking now…

one more:    The group read blog to celebrate the 100 year of Anne:   Blogging Anne of Green Gables

Anne came dancing home in the purple winter twilight across the snowy places.  Afar in the southwest was the great shimmering, pearl-like sparkle of an evening star in a sky that was pale golden and ethereal rose over gleaming white spaces and dark glens of spruce.  The tinkles of sleigh bells among the snowy hills came like elfin chimes through the frosty air, but their music was not sweeter than the song in Anne’s heart and on her lips. page 121