All Posts for February 2008

Two Book Reviews

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

These are both books about love and both completely different. I couldn’t decide which one to choose, so I am posting both. The first is an ebook; the second a regular hold-in-your-hand hardcover book. Enjoy!


The Heart of the Matter by Mary Margaret Woods is my first ebook review. As Mary explained in a Freshlife FreshMail ( on January 30th of this year:

As much as I loved my work there, I followed my heart to what felt like an exciting new chapter in my life. One week after I took this leap of faith, I began enthusiastically writing a book. It felt like an idea whose time had come, as the words flowed easily and effortlessly, I was inspired to write, The Heart of the Matter.

This is the key to Mary’s new book, hot off the Internet, fully illustrated with colorful collages and original poems by the author. Her inspiration is apparent on every page of this short, but powerful ebook.

Early on she asks us: “How can we become wholehearted?” I don’t think I have ever been asked that question. Mary develops this bold concept with the use of quotes, visuals, and text that challenges us to look at the state of the world with a whole heart in order to heal the planet.

Mary’s vision is clear and concise: “I have a vision of Love awakening with our whole hearts through a quickening of consciousness is so needed on our planet.”

The books chapter are like the cover of the book, hearts within hearts within hearts, until we get to the “heart of the matter.”  The chapters reflect this deeper and deeper delving into our own hearts:

Chapter One: A Change of Heart (Shift Happens)
Chapter Two: Revolution of the Heart (Empowerment)
Chapter Three: The Spiritual Heart (Awakening the Heart)
Chapter Four: The Compassionate Heart (Love Heals)
Chapter Five: The Intelligent Heart
Chapter Six: The Biological Heart
Chapter Seven: Humor and the Heart
Chapter Eight: The Heart of the Matter

While the book delivers a powerful message, it is actually written “lightly,” that is, with positive overtones, humor, wonderful quotes from people from all walks of life, and original graphics and poetry, such as this excerpt from her poem called Renaissance:

We now have found within us
The meaning of our rebirth
To live in peace right here and now
And teach love upon the earth.

Some of you might think this book is what we used to call “pie in the sky,” (Not even sure what that means!) but if you met Mary Margaret Woods, as I have, you will know that her ebook truly reflects what is in her heart. When you are in her presence, you can easily understand how this book reflects her vision, her dreams, and her hope for love and peace on our planet.

Mary’s message is simplistic and heartfelt: “The heart is the key to our hearts.” After reading it, I think you will be inspired to look within your own hearts to foster Love of self, Love of others, and Love of the planet. We all need this Love more than ever—Love with a capital L.

Mary, and her husband Dave, who helped Mary with her creation, invite you to preview the book and its “wholehearted” message. You can preview excerpts from each of the eight chapters in a four-minute, forty second flash presentation read by Mary herself, who has a wonderful voice.

Click onto: to read and hear Mary’s excerpts. Since this is an ebook, there is no paper, no postage, and no waiting to read it. (This in itself is a new experience for me.) Mary’s book is a perfect Valentine’s Day gift and a message that is perfect for every day thereafter. The cost is $8 (plus $.48 tax in PA only), an amount that won’t lighten your pocketbook, but will definitely enlighten your heart.

Charlotte and Lionel: A Rothschild Love Story

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008


Dismissing the arranged marriage of Lionel Rothschild to his first cousin, Charlotte Rothschild, as simply a business decision brokered to insure a financial empire would be easy. That it is a happily-ever-after love story makes a merely interesting story irresistible.

In Charlotte and Lionel: A Rothschild Love Story, author Stanley Weintraub, Evan Pugh Professor Emeritus of Arts and Humanities at Penn State University, tells of a marriage of influence. The two Rothschilds he writes about lived in different countries: Lionel lived in England and Charlotte in Germany. (She moved to England after the marriage.) The marriage was arranged by both the “shrewd and formidable” mother of Lionel and the “elegant and society-focused” mother of Charlotte.

While the Rothschild name is synonymous with great wealth in banking, the book focuses on two other important aspects of the London Rothschilds: Lionel’s eleven year fight to be a Jewish member of Parliament without taking a Christian oath, which he eventually won; and Charlotte’s untiring efforts to help the poorer Jewish families in England. Both believe in good work and doing “good works.”

The book chronicles the life of the two cousins, including the death of a beloved daughter and Lionel’s declining health from rheumatoid arthritis. Lionel died in 1879 and Charlotte survived him by five years.

The marriage between Charlotte and Lionel, while arranged, endured and was enriched by the adversity and challenges they faced as one of the most powerful families in England. In the first sentence of the book, Lionel, upon meeting Charlotte for the first time, thanks his mother for his bride. The book also ends on a loving note. Charlotte had said: “Wealth was not enough. Love abides.”

Charlotte and Lionel is an extensively researched book that brings the Rothschilds to life, making them real people, not just wealthy aristocrats with lots of leisure time. Truthfully, I expected the book to be dry, but Stanley Weintraub’s writing and the story itself was extremely engaging and a heartwarming love story.

The book was released in February 2003 by The Free Press. The hard cover book sells for $27.50 and contains 336 pages— A good read for Valentine’s Day.

Note from Ellen Sue: On March 9, 2003, a longer version of this review appeared in The Centre Daily Times in State College. Previously, I had met the Weintraubs when they were guests at our local writers’ group and I received a review copy of the book. Weintraub, and his research partner/wife Rodelle, spent many hours reading the Rothschild family papers housed in the Rothschild Archive in England. These include letters and children’s books written by Charlotte. The many personal details in the book are proof of this extensive research.