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A lively, informative tour of the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home (one of the best tours I’ve had at any historical site) reveals insights into the writer’s early years. She was born in Savannah, Georgia, on March 25, 1925, and lived in the house until she was thirteen. The abode was recently restored thanks in large part to a donation from literary enthusiasts Linda and Jerry Bruckheimer, the film producer.

O’Connor was a precocious child, writing comments in the margins of her books—some of which are on display with her notations, such as Alice in Wonderland, which she panned. Her childhood in Savannah later provided inspiration for some of her short stories, like “A Circle in the Fire,” which features a child eavesdropping on her mother’s conversation from a second-floor window.

While living in Savannah, O’Connor developed a lifelong affinity for domestic birds. The news organization British Pathé once reported on a pet chicken that 5-year-old O’Connor had taught the unusual feat of walking backwards, captured on video. The writer later called the event “the high point in my life.”

The Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home is located along Lafayette Square (above right), one of the city’s 21 historic and picturesque squares. Named for the Marquis de Lafayette, the French hero of the American Revolution, it was laid out in 1837. The water in the fountain at its center, which was donated in 1984 to mark the 250th anniversary of Savannah’s founding as a colony, runs green on St. Patrick’s Day.

O’Connor was baptized at the French Gothic-style Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (below), and she later attended services and made her first communion there. Religion is a central theme in much of O’Connor’s fiction, which she combined with dark comedy. “My subject in fiction,” she once said, “is the action of grace in territory held larely by the devil.”

 

Another historic dwelling on Lafayette Square is the Hamilton-Turner Inn, where rooms are named for famous Savannah figures. Located in a carriage house, the Flannery O’Connor Room features bright blue walls, a decorative iron bed, and French doors opening onto a courtyard patio.

The French Empire mansion was built in 1873 by the city’s mayor (and a blockade runner) and opened as a B&B in 1997. The abode was featured in John Berendt’s 1994 bestseller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil as the site of some notorious parties. Tours related to Berendt’s true tale of murder in Savannah have brought literary travelers to the city in droves and are still a big draw. –Shannon McKenna Schmidt

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“The goal of this book is to triple the size of your To Be Read pile,” claims Jane Mount in Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany. I’m always thrilled for new reading suggestions, and there are plenty of them in this gorgeous and fun book, from Coming of Age novels to 1800s Brit Lit. There are place-themed pictorials, too—beloved bookstores, striking libraries, and literary sites like Thoreau’s one-room cabin at Walden Pond and the West Yorkshire parsonage where the Brontë sisters lived and wrote. 📚 But my favorite section is Writers’ Pets, with drawings of Mark Twain’s black cat Bambino, Flannery O’Connor’s peacock Limpy, John Steinbeck’s travel mate, the standard poodle Charley, and other classic writers’ companions. #animalsrock #booksrule #readingsuggestions #literarysites #bibliophileanillustratedmiscellany #janemount #chroniclebooks
Favorite reads of 2018. So many blue covers are a coincidence, although it is my favorite color. All of these stories are tinged with sadness but also hope and humor. Two of them I loved so much that I didn’t want them to end. I set them aside for weeks before going back to finish the final chapters (The Death of Bees and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine). One made me cry and curse (A Man Called Ove). Two were book club selections (Another Brooklyn and An American Marriage). The latter inspired our most in-depth discussion, bringing up issues of marriage (of course), loyalty, race, and more. And Dickens’ storytelling stands the test of time. Originally published in serial form, Oliver Twist is a roller-coaster of a read. I fell hard for Oliver and the people that band together to keep him out of villainous hands. #somuchgreatstorytelling #books #bookish #bookstagram #bookrecs #read #reading #eleanoroliphantiscompletelyfine #thedeathofbees #anamericanmarriage #amancalledove #anotherbrooklyn #olivertwist
The last three of my book group’s picks for 2018, all of which are great reads. We take turns choosing what we’ll read each month, and the person whose turn it is has sole discretion over the selection. It’s a fun way to do it, as each time it’s a complete surprise. I’m already mulling over options for our February meet-up when it’s my turn to select. Suggestions welcome! #bookclub #bookgroup #greatreads #greatdiscussions #bookstagram #igreads #bibliophiles #pachinko #thesympathizer #thelefthandofdarkness

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