Author: Tracee de Hahn

Reading to escape. . . to India.

For years my husband and I traveled to India in the winter. More recently, we have gone in the summer – mainly to accommodate the schedules of friends who wanted to join us. New Delhi during the great heat wave of 2017? Yes, we were there. Needless to say, I’d have given nearly anything to be there this year regardless of weather – at this point, heat, locusts, wind storms. Bring it on. Instead, I’ve revisited some of my favorite books set in India. Among them is the wonderful mystery series by Sujata Massey featuring the crime solving adventures of Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s first female lawyer. Her award winning novels capture the place and time, and her protagonist is a delightful mix of traditional respect and modern know how, perfect for the changing world of 1920s India. While awaiting Sujata’s next book I discovered Alka Joshi, author of THE HENNA ARTIST. Set in Rajasthan in late 1955, it is a vibrant, beautiful book about a woman earning her personal financial independence at the moment when India has declared it’s political independence from the United Kingdom. Her beautiful prose transported me immediately to the Pink City of Jaipur, where the story […]

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Summer reading while (not) at the beach.

What to read for a get away when you can’t get away? I would have taken Hank Phillippi Ryan’s latest thriller on a long plane ride and felt the hours flit by as I turned pages – for it is literally a page turner! THE FIRST TO LIE lives up to expectations with twists and turns that made me want to sit Hank down and get more details about her own life as an investigative reporter. Trust me, my former life in architecture wasn’t nearly this exciting. (Hmm…. I’m now reminded of her book TRUST ME. Another page turner.) If THE FIRST TO LIE made it into my carry-on bag for my imaginary holiday travel, then BECOMING DUCHESS GOLDBLATT by Anonymous would have been nestled into my suitcase. Since it’s all imaginary this year with COVID quarantine, I’ll take the Duchess to Jodhpur, India and she can delight me on the terrace of my favorite hotel as we overlook the ancient city fortress. Since the duchess hails from Crooked Path, New York, where the weather seems to be perennially perfect we can enjoy the heat of India together.  I was late to the Duchess party on Twitter, which means I’ve […]

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News and the future. Or is it news that there is a future?

Thinking about my fellow MissDemeanors as this week draws to a close. Lots of good work going on among them, including tales of domestic suspense, far away places, ghosts, Christmas, and some very interesting tech things (but no spoilers here). There is also news of one of our very own preparing to attend the Naval War College (big applause here for the multi talented Alexia Gordon on earning her spot at this prestigious institution.) Given that she’s going to study strategy I was reminded that having a strategy for the second half of 2020 might be a good idea. After all, I have a pretty good idea about the general scope of things: basically stay at home. (On the other hand, and no offense to all those studying at war colleges around the world, sometimes strategies don’t play out as intended. Schlieffen Plan, anyone?) Part of my Fall plan is to incorporate NaNoWriMo. (Again, hat tip to our resident strategist Alexia, whose participation in NaNoWriMo has inspired me.) Any other NaNoWriMo veterans out there? You know better than I do that the idea behind it is an online community of support to write a novel in one month. This is […]

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My months of trying to rest and relax: a Covid induced baking frenzy.

Over the past months I’ve managed to meet obligations noted on my calendar– although they don’t exist in the scope of a day or even a time of day. They simply are appointments which must be tended to. Rough translation: if it’s not on my calendar it won’t happen. Because something had happened the second week of the month my entire life or every Tuesday for years doesn’t assure it cutting through Covid self-quarantine fog. Even trash and recycling days must be marked on the calendar. In fact, every day is Saturday in the sense of hours untouched by the strains of external life. Although I’ve yet to miss a meal.  That’s not to say I haven’t been productive. I’ve turned a manuscript in to my agent, and have advanced on details of two other ideas. I’ve also learned how to bake many forms of bread and manage to tend to my own sour dough starter. How can I remember to feed sour dough starter when I can’t remember to do much else without a prompt? Perhaps the answer lies in the ‘not missing a meal.’ There’s a psychological study in there somewhere, along with the psychology of toilet paper. […]

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Reading India

I first traveled to India nearly twenty years ago. Like a traveler arriving in the United States for the first time, one is conscious of what there isn’t time to see. Imagine claiming to have ‘seen’ America with a stop in New York, a visit to Boston, maybe Miami and San Francisco. What about the deep South, or the Badlands, the New England coast, the west coast. The list goes on. That’s how I feel about India.

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Off limits words?

Recently one of my fellow MissDemeanors mentioned that her family doesn’t like the word chortle. I’ll admit that this made me chortle. After all, it’s a word about laughter. Or is it? Perhaps there’s been a bad moment of exultant singing / chanting that simply should not be repeated.

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Reading for Black History Month

This weekend, happenstance led me to my dog eared copy of Chinua Achebe’s amazing book Things Fall Apart. It was an old friend, the story of Okonkwo’s exile from his tribe, and the shattering changes that come to him and his family with the arrival of European Imperialism. 

February is Black History month and after revisiting Okonkwo’s story I wanted more ‘local’ voices. 

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Food and memory

Proust immortalized the madeleine cookie in his seven volume In Search of Lost Time (A la recherché de temps perdu). Eating this simple French dessert he relived the memories of his childhood through his senses: tasting, smelling, touching and seeing this treat in both the past and the present.

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Tis the season… for books.

Tis the season and I’m looking for favorite holiday books to give and receive. Certainly the classics come to mind, including Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, a whole host of children’s books, such as Rudolph and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And I must add Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, a fantastic locked room mystery.

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