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Robert Knox
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Coming home from a few days away last week we discover that the month of May in Massachusetts has achieved its major statement in our absence. Come on, May, say it with flowers. 
         I've been hoping that our streetside lilac bush would actually blossom in a way that produces the immediate undeniable pleasure of lilac scent. The blossoms have been on the plant for a month, but didn't seem to want to open. Now: a parfumerie.

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The Garden of Spring's Abundance: No Maybes in May
Coming home last week from a quick visit to New York -- including two perfect weekend days, with irises blossoming in the back lanes between Henry Hudson Parkway and, considerably downgrade, the actual Hudson River, so quiet and lyrically vernal that you ca...

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When I was in graduate school we were certainly aware that the change from the Elizabethan period to the Stuart dynasty upon the ascension of James I to the throne of England in 1603 had consequences for Shakespeare and his crew. But "The Year of Lear" tracks the composition of three of Shakespeare's major tragic masterpieces against the pulses of the news cycle in the fraught transitional year of 1606.

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The Garden of Literary History: The Mind of England, and the Pen of Shakespeare, When James I Wore Two Crowns
             What else don't we know about
"history"? Every time I pick up a book as well-written, researched
and formulated as "The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606," I walk
around in a cloud of 'wow, imagine that, who would have known such-and-such?'    ...

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The first weeks of May offer the pleasure of looking closely for that fine class of small blossoms growing close to the ground on plants that hug the earth and take their share of sunlight while they can, before the bigger boys grow over them and hog it all.

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The Garden of the Seasons: Little Pleasures of Spring
        The first weeks of May are the best of times in many ways. Including the pleasure of looking closely for that fine class of small blossoms that grow close to the ground on plants that hug the earth and take their share of sunlight before the bigger ...

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          Thank goodness for libraries.           Where else can you go as often as you want and it's always free? Sometimes they even have people standing up in the front of the room reading things for you.             That's what I'll be doing next month ...

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If you've read "Jane Eyre" but, like me, knew nearly nothing of the author's life, this account of her life and what the book tags 'the story of the Brontes' makes for fascinating reading --  generally sad, often bizarre, rising to a triumph rare in any lifetime, and unique in the author's own times and circumstances. If you haven't read "Jane Eyre," reading this account of the author's unlikely life will surely prompt you to do so. To put Charlotte Bronte's accomplishment in perspective, "Jane Eyre" was a 19th century literary sensation rivaled only by Dickens.
            To explain its originality, biographer Harman describes the book as the first realistic novel written from the point of view of a child. The character grows up in the course of the book, but her early life, with its losses and traumas is told in the voice of the defenseless, but courageous child who experiences them.

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The Garden of Literary Biography: "Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart" by Claire Harman
             Queen Victoria, then a young woman, stayed up late
reading "Jane Eyre."             Much of the reading
public did so too. Its author was the fictional Currer Bell, since actual author Charlotte Bronte, the reclusive elder member of a household...

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