Off the Shelf: Fall 2012


Independent for Life cover

University of Texas Press

Independent for Life: Homes and Neighborhoods for an Aging America
Edited by Henry Cisneros, Margaret Dyer-Chamberlain, and Jane Hickie

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Cisneros, Smith College alumna Dyer-Chamberlain, Hickie, and other experts on aging, architecture, construction, health, finance, and politics offer what’s being billed as the first comprehensive overview of the possibilities and challenges in helping seniors live independently to a very old age.

V. Jane Hickie ’70 is senior research scholar and director of the Politics, Scholars, and the Public Program at the Stanford Center on Longevity.


Adelaide Herrmann cover

Bramble Books

Adelaide Herrmann, Queen of Magic: Memoirs, Published Writings, Collected Ephemera
Edited by Margaret Steele

(Bramble Books)

Herrmann (1853–1932) is recognized as the world’s first great female magician. Her memoir disappeared after her death and resurfaced in 2010. Steele’s tribute includes the first publication of Herrmann’s memoir as well as 145 rare photos and ephemera gathered from major magic-history collections. “A must-own for fans of magic,” Kirkus Reviews says.

Margaret Bungay Steele ’75 is a professional magician, magic historian, and writer specializing in the lives and careers of early female magicians.


Things I Wish I'd Known cover


Things I Wish I’d Known
By Deborah Cornwall

Created on the premise that family caregivers are silent and often hidden protagonists in the war on cancer, this book is based on confidential interviews with a broad sample of cancer caregivers from across the country. Cornwall shares the practical things new caregivers need to know as well as the emotional stories that led to their knowledge.

A breast-cancer survivor, Deborah Handloff Cornwall ’68 has been a volunteer leader for the American Cancer Society and its Cancer Action Network for nearly two decades. Things I Wish I’d Known is her first book.


My Life Map cover


My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Future
By Kate and David Marshall

This self-help journal explains why and how to create a visual road map of your past and future. It offers writing prompts, exercises, and charts to help those at any stage of life, and covers major areas including family, friends, work, play, service, and learning.

Kathryn Lacy Marshall ’81 and her husband, David, have written six other journals. Their eighth book, What I Love About You, Mom, comes out in 2013.


The Smart Guide to Understanding Your Cat cover

Smart Guide Publications

The Smart Guide to Understanding Your Cat
By Carolyn Janik

This comprehensive handbook aims to offer new insights into the feline in your life, addressing everything from interpreting a cat’s body language to caring for an older cat.

The Smart Guide to Understanding Your Cat is the twenty-third book of nonfiction by Carolyn Lech Janik ’62. Of her many pets, Janik’s favorite was a feline named Emily Dickinson Kat.


Ella Grasso cover

Wesleyan University Press

Ella Grasso: Connecticut’s Pioneering Governor
By Jon E. Purmont

Purmont, an emeritus professor of history at Southern Connecticut State University, served as Grasso’s executive assistant when she was governor of Connecticut, from 1975 to 1980. This biography draws on Purmont’s diary, research in Grasso’s archives, and interviews with Grasso’s family and friends.

Ella Tambussi Grasso ’40 was the first woman in the United States to be elected governor in her own right.


Exploring the Decolonial Imaginary: Four Transnational Lives cover

Palgrave Macmillan

Exploring the Decolonial Imaginary: Four Transnational Lives
By Patricia Schechter

This book focuses on race and racialization in the lives of four women whose careers crossed national borders between 1880 and 1965: Liberian missionary Amanda Berry Smith, author Gertrude Stein, feminist arts impresario and publisher Josefina Silva de Cintron, and labor activist Maida Springer.

Patricia Schechter ’86 is a history professor at Portland (Oregon) State University. Her book Remembering the Power of Words: The Life of an Oregon Activist, Legislator, and Community Leader was published last year.


Peril in the Ponds cover

University of Massachusetts Press

Peril in the Ponds: Deformed Frogs, Politics, and a Biologist’s Quest
By Judy Helgen

During the 1990s, thousands of deformed frogs suddenly and mysteriously appeared across the country. Many had missing or extra limbs, missing eyes, or misshapen jaws. As a government biologist, Helgen led her state agency’s investigation into the widespread deformities and developed a biological rating system for evaluating pollution in wetlands.

Research scientist Judy Cairncross Helgen ’60 is retired from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.


The Sexual Life of English cover

Duke University Press

The Sexual Life of English: Languages of Caste and Desire in Colonial India
By Shefali Chandra

This book examines how English became an Indian language. By drawing attention to sexuality and power, Chandra argues that Indian English was shaped by conflicts over caste, religion, and class.

Shefali Chandra ’94 is an assistant professor of history at Washington University in St. Louis.


Terror and Reconciliation cover

Lexington Books

Terror and Reconciliation: Sri Lankan Anglophone Literature, 1983–2009
By Maryse Jayasuriya

Jayasuriya’s first book explores the English-language literature that emerged from Sri Lanka’s recent ethnic conflict between government forces and Tamil separatist guerrillas. It looks at the various ways in which writers of poetry, short fiction, and novels have represented the violence and terror of the fighting and offered solutions for reconciliation.

Maryse Jayasuriya ’97 is an assistant professor of English at the University of Texas at El Paso. She holds a doctorate in postcolonial literature and theory.


The Orang Asli and the UNDRIP cover

Center for Orang Asli Concerns

The Orang Asli and the UNDRIP: From Rhetoric to Recognition
By Colin Nicholas, Jenita Engi, and Yen Ping Teh

This book looks at gaps in the application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on Malaysia’s indigenous Orang Asli people. It traces the fate of the Orang Asli in history and explains how they came to be in their present circumstances.

Yen Ping Teh ’12 interned at the Center for Orang Asli Concerns in summer 2010, during which time she coauthored The Orang Asli and the UNDRIP with the center’s founder and coordinator.


Issues of Ageing and Disability: International Perspectives cover

NGO Committee on Ageing

Issues of Ageing and Disability: International Perspectives
Edited by Mary Mayer and Florence Denmark

Developed under the auspices of the Non-Governmental Organization Committee on Ageing at the United Nations, this publication comprises ten articles chosen from submissions by scholars from around the world. It was supported by the UN Focal Point on Ageing and the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Mary Levy Mayer ’45 represents the International Federation on Ageing at the United Nations.


Shadow of Night cover


Shadow of Night
By Deborah Harkness

When A Discovery of Witches, the first novel in Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy, debuted at number two on the New York Times best-seller list, it set the stage for Shadow of Night, which bested its predecessor by debuting at number one. The second installment in the trilogy finds witch historian Diana Bishop and vampire/geneticist Matthew Clairmont time-traveling to Elizabethan England in search of a magical alchemical manuscript. The Hollywood Reporter calls Shadow of Night “Twilight for grownups—only better.” Entertainment Weekly says, “The joy that Harkness, herself a historian, takes in visiting the past is evident on every page.”

Deborah Harkness ’86 is a professor of history at the University of Southern California. Her most recent scholarly book is The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution. A Discovery of Witches was her fiction debut.


We Sinners cover

Henry Holt

We Sinners
By Hanna Pylväinen

Pylväinen’s critically acclaimed debut novel explores the consequences of leaving one’s religious community. The book follows each member of a large fundamentalist family after two of the children reject the church. Kirkus Reviews calls We Sinners a “lovely, lyrical debut novel of a family in slowly unfolding crisis.” Melanie DeNardo, Henry Holt’s associate director of publicity, tells the Quarterly, “We are absolutely thrilled to publish Hanna’s book; it is truly one of the best works of fiction I’ve had the pleasure of reading in years.”

Hanna Pylväinen ’07 holds a master of fine arts from the University of Michigan. She left the Finnish fundamentalist faith of her youth; We Sinners is drawn from her own life experience.


The Stars Shine Bright cover

Thomas Nelson

The Stars Shine Bright
By  Sibella Giorello

Two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee Giorello returns with the fifth installment in her Raleigh Harmon mystery series. For her newest assignment, Harmon, an FBI special agent, forensic geologist, and MHC alumna, goes undercover to find out who’s fixing the races—and killing the horses—at a thoroughbred track called Emerald Meadows. “My protagonist always mentions Mount Holyoke in every book,” Giorello tells the Quarterly. The Seattle Times has noted that while the Harmon series explores Christian themes, it does so “lightly, in a way that will appeal to crime-fiction fans along the religious/spiritual continuum.”

Sibella Connor Giorello ’85 is a former features writer for the Richmond (Virginia) Times-DispatchThe Stones Cry Out, the first Raleigh Harmon book, won a Christy Award for Christian fiction in 2008.


Self-published Books

Destined cover


Destined: A Novel of the Tarot
By Gail Smith Cleare ’72

This book of “magic realism” follows protagonist Emily Ross as she takes a job at a curio shop owned by an occult scholar who recognizes Emily’s psychic talents. Publishers Weekly says, “Cleare offers a little bit of self-help and a little bit of chick lit, packaged together with a positive, make-your-own-destiny message: a pleasant, comforting read.”

Gail Smith Cleare ’72 is a writer, photographer, and designer. She hosted a tarot chat room on AOL for many years, and has done thousands of tarot readings. Destined is her first novel.


Most Likely to Murder cover


Most Likely to Murder
By Carole Shmurak ’65


The fourth installment in Shmurak’s Susan Lombardi mystery series finds Lombardi—college professor, educational consultant, and amateur sleuth—returning to her hometown for a reunion of her high-school class. When a member of her old gang ends up dead, Lombardi and her friends team up to find the classmate “most likely to murder.”

Carole Shmurak ’65 is an emerita professor at Central Connecticut State University. She is the author of eleven books.


Healing, Romance, and Revolution cover

Book Publishers Network

Healing, Romance, and Revolution: Letters from an American Nurse in 1926 China
Compiled by Carolyn and Dennis Buckmaster

Idealistic nurse Harriet Smith 1918 went to China from 1921 to 1924 to work with the Yale in China program. She returned in 1926, at the height of the Chinese revolution, and this book compiles the letters she wrote home during that year.

Carolyn Buckmaster is a great-niece of Harriet (“Aunt Hat”) Smith 1918. Dennis Buckmaster is her husband.


Acting Means Doing cover


ACTing Means DOing!!
By Jim Cavanaugh

This book promises “all the techniques you need” to carry actors confidently from auditions and rehearsals to performances and curtain calls. “Jim is an expert at breaking down an actor’s work into manageable steps and clear, doable lessons,” says Susan Daniels, chair of Mount Holyoke’s theatre-arts department.

Jim Cavanaugh is an emeritus professor of theatre arts at Mount Holyoke. He taught at the College for twenty-three years and is credited with founding its summer theatre.

This article appeared in the fall 2012 issue of the Alumnae Quarterly.

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