December 16, 2017


I read Ethan Brown’s Murder in the Bayou

"Murder in the Bayou" by Ethan Brown. Who killed the women known as the Jeff Davis 8?

I lived in Jennings, Louisiana, a few years back and the hottest topic in town was the unsolved murders of eight women in what has become known as the Jeff Davis 8. Over the past few years I read that an investigative journalist named Ethan Brown set about writing about the killings. His recently published book is the result of years of public record searches and interviews. So without doubt I was very interested to read Ethan Brown’s Murder in the Bayou: Who Killed the Women Known as the Jeff Davis 8? “As Jackson peered deeper into the Grand Marais Bayou, he spied the …continue reading

The novel Gone with the Wind

The novel Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

No book has been so absorbed into American culture, especially Southern, than the novel Gone with the Wind. In fact, with over 30 million copies printed, a 2014 Harris Poll found it to be the second favorite book of American readers, behind The Bible. A year ago I made a blog post about a few of my favorite books (TroysArt – A few favorite reads) in which I included Margaret Mitchell’s classic 1936 masterpiece. The story chronicles the struggles of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy Georgian cotton plantation owner, who uses all means at her disposal to claw …continue reading

A few more good books…

Winfield: Living in the Shadow of the Woolworths by Monica Randall

A few good reads (Troysart – A few good reads) recounted some of the books I read in 2014 up until I wrote the post in May of this year. I have never considered myself an avid reader but I do always seem to have a few books simmering on the bedside at any given time. So in the spirit of making this a yearly post I have compiled this list of books read since May. Here are my thoughts on a few more good books… and a couple not so good too! (And by the way, click on the …continue reading

What I thought of Go Set a Watchman

What I thought of Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee...

Controversy swirled around the release of Go Set a Watchman, the second work published by Harper Lee. Lee of course won a Pulitzer Prize for her beloved, best-selling American classic To Kill a Mockingbird. This manuscript was “recently discovered” in a bank vault in 2014 and, assumed to be lost, is the work Lee submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. And after some great advice and rewriting her important novel of race relations in rural America emerged. I pre-ordered my copy and would have been long finished if not for other novels on my bedside when it …continue reading

A few favorite reads…

Hemingway posing for a dust jacket photo by Lloyd Arnold for the first edition of "For Whom the Bell Tolls", at the Sun Valley Lodge, Idaho, late 1939, by Lloyd Arnold.

A few weeks ago I made a post about the books that I read over the past year (Troysart – A few good reads). And though I received no comments on the blog itself I received a few emails recommending books or even espousing favorites. That got my wheels turning in consideration of my all-time favorite books. And let me just say at the outset, that was no simple task narrow the list.  So here is a summary of what I consider a few favorite reads… “This wine is too good for toast-drinking, my dear. You don’t want to mix emotions up with …continue reading

A few good reads…

The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Over the Christmas holidays, which doesn’t seem so long ago, I was sipping wine and chatting with Sonya Dawson of San Antonio about books we read in 2014. I was hesitant to prattle off the list of what I had read over the year because of my unusual tastes in literature. I have never considered myself an avid reader, but I always seem to have at least one novel simmering on my bedside table at any given time. I like the classics. I also enjoy stories about art and artists, historical fiction, stories about vampires, books about Louisiana, stories about …continue reading

John Singer Sargent painted her Strapless

Unfinished version of Madame X by John Singer Sargent [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What does it take to scandalize someone today? Kim Kardashian has her big ugly ass plastered across magazine covers; every Hollywood starlet trying to stay relevant promotes a sex tape; Bill Clinton had sex with an intern in the Oval Office; but for a 23 year-old socialite in 1884 Paris all it took was for John Singer Sargent to paint her Strapless! Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau was the “it girl” of Paris during the late 19th Century. A wealthy  Creole from Louisiana, she was considered one of the most elegant and beautiful women in France; a celebrated personality, she powdered her …continue reading

She WAS John Singer Sargent’s Madame X

Madame X

There are few portraits by American painters as famous and recognizable as Madame X—perhaps American Gothic or Whistler’s Mother, or even Gilbert Stuart’s George Washington. But to most art aficionados, Madame X is considered one of the best portraits ever painted; and John Singer Sargent is considered by many connesseurs as one of the world’s greatest portrait painters. I just finished a novel about Virginie Gautreau—she WAS John Singer Sargent’s Madame X. Sargent pursued the wealthy and beautiful Creole socialite as a sitter for the portrait as a way to display his talents to Parisian society, hoping to build a …continue reading