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Books Maketh Life Better….

February cometh, it means winter soon endeth and that makes me sadeth!

Apologies for the really bad prose, but as all my regular readers know, the potential demise of winter season take a toll on me. There was great mismanagement at the time I was born by the powers above and instead of being born in the cold Alpine Tundra, I was born in the wonderful, albeit extremely HOT Tropical lands! Such are the ironies of life, but we have books to fortify us and help us imagines lives, very different form our everyday mundane reality! My February reading plans fortunately are exactly suited for such flights of imagination from 17th Century Restoration England to 19th Century France to Middle Earth….its all there!

To begin with, as part of Reading England 2016, I read Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier, which is set during Restoration England, specifically Cornwall. (One place I really really want to visit in person, despite exhaustive imaginings of the place, thanks to various Authors who wrote about Cornwall and Jane with her lovely descriptions of her hometown!). Moving on, I am reading The Fortunes of the Rougan’s by Emile Zola as part of 12 Month Classic Challenge; the February theme being A classic you’ve always dreaded reading. Sigh! Everybody assures me that I will love Zola, but so far I have been kind of wary about reading French authors as my experience with Flaubert and Hugo have not been too successful. Though I love some Victor Hugo’s works, but I could not abide by Les Miserables, but then I read it at a very young age and I have a feeling, should I re-visit it again, I will end up liking it. But that is another project for another day! I am reading Miss Marjoriebanks by Margaret Oliphant for my Women’s Classical Literature Reading Event.

This month, for my Lecito List Read which got an impetus from my having absolutely no self control, I start a re-reading of Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien with Cleo. The plan is to read the entire three volumes in piecemeal fashion from February to June. I am also continuing with the Metamorphoses by Ovid ReadAlong, again with Cleo, O and Jean. (I have been fascinated with whatever I am reading and so far, while I am not sure of Ovid as a person, I am very glad I am reading the book!)

Finally while there is no definitive plan and no special efforts, I did realize that over the last couple of years, I have been reading the novel variety of fiction and some poetry; I used to love Dramas in my undergraduate days and it seemed a good time as any to re-visit some of them. I am almost done with Shakespeare’s Richard III and for the month of February, I am re-visiting another old favorite of mine, She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith.

In easy readings I still have the he Lake House by Kate Morton and , I also got The Book of Human Skin by Michelle Lovric, books I could not complete in January (Yep! I finished all the heavy Classics and could not finish the more contemporary reads!) because I was too busy reading things on the fly, like W.M. Thackeray and Agatha Christie.

Overall, I had a really good reading month in January and I hope I able to keep up my gutso of sticking to the plan in February as well!

Until then next post then, Happy Reading

 

 

Dystopia from the Past

As part of my 12 Month Classics Challenge, I  began the year by reading A Classic I have always wanted to read and therefore settled on 1984 by George Orwell. I absolutely loved his Animal Farm and was intrigued by what his take on 1984 would be based on his imagination and understanding of when he actually wrote the novel in 1949. Being born a sometime just before 1984, I did not think of the year as a great futuristic time, but rather as a thing of the past. Therefore I was even more intrigued to find out, how Orwell perceived the future 40 years ahead of his time!

1984 begins with the introduction of our primary protagonist Winston Smith, who is a resident of Airstrip One, the erstwhile England, which is now part of the Oceanic Empire and his secret diary keeping, which violates every norm of the Oceania and for which Smith can he arrested under the guise of Thought Crime. The world is divided into  Oceania, consisting of Americas and England and Australasia, Euroasia made up of Europe and parts of Asia and Eastasia, which is Eastern Asia. These three supra-states have been in a continuous state of warfare with each other with shifting and  ever changing alliances. Oceania is ruled by the Big Brother, a single man – single party dictatorship, that closely governs all its people with various spying techniques including telescreens in every room that capture all movements of its citizen and hidden microphones. The society is divided into Proles, the outcasts or the blue collar citizens, then the more exclusive but deary outer party people and finally the most exclusive and privileged inner party people. The government is divided into 4 organizations that run the nation – Ministry of Peace dealing with war and peace and more former than latter; Ministry of Plenty that manages the economy of country and is continuously imposing ration on its people; Ministry of Love that manages law and governance and is responsible for horrific torture and disappearance of its citizens and finally the Ministry of Truth that deals with media and is constantly re-publishing and changing the party stance as and when required. At the start of the novel, we are made aware that Winston is not convinced with the overall benevolence of Big Brother and his regime and wonders about life before the regime took over and its claims that life is better now. Winston wants to find out the conditions of life before the regime took over, but since the regime has destroyed all references to the life before it came to power, he has no way of knowing what was what. He is aware that the regime continuously changes its stance to adapt to the new events and all records are destroyed or re-published to show case the fact the the regime was aligned to the change from the very beginning. At the ministry, he meets Julia, whom he initially was suspicious off and who confesses her love for him. They soon begin a secret affair, since all kinds of relationship with sexual import is not sanctioned by the regime. They rent a small room in the Proles zone, through a kindly antique shop owner. They soon discover their mutual abhorrence for the regime and in an effort to find out if there is another way out, they seek out O’Brian a Inner Party member, about whom Winston was convinced that he is actually working for Goldstien, the rebel who was constantly threatening to overthrow the regime. As Julia and Winston reach out tor O’Brian, they become more and more involved in actions that violate the laws of Oceania, leading to final, inescapable end.

What can I say about the Dystopian novel, that spoke of the most possible Dystopia before the word became fashionable? Written in clean, clear and powerful prose, the plot grips you as a reader as you turn page after page of  the book without a pause; all the while feeling the creep and the discomfort of a Winston and Julia and of living in a society that is constantly watching your moves. The thing is one cannot dismiss this as a work of fictive imagination, because Stalin’s Soviet Union and the cultural revolution of China are infact live proofs of what can and does happen when the government becomes far too strong. The doublethink, which is a philosophy of Oceania, brings home clearly the ability of regimes to say things with several meanings and not be held accountable for any or can be interpreted as per the current requirement, with its ability to appear contradictory in the same instance.There is a passage where Winston and one his colleagues discuss the development of NewSpeak, the language which is expected to replace Old English and the about the deletion of the verbs and nouns , an act that in itself seeks to destroy individuality and expression of people. The censorship and the surveillance and the constant fear of persecution, brings home the fact that we are truly blessed to live in societies that do many flaws, but are democratic nevertheless. Orwell’s depth of imagination just blew me away and his ability to create a whole new society that lives in terror is as realistic and horrific. The characters are ordinary people who want to do ordinary things – come home, drink good coffee and read a book but for which they have to take extraordinary paths. Even Goldstien’s manifesto, reads for what is – a trading in of the deep blue sea for the devil with no realistic improvements and changes called out.

A brilliant read, that again testifies, just how good George Orwell was.

 

 

The Summer Home On Isle of Skye

I have been wary of Virginia Woolf for some time. I read Orlando at a very young age and did not like it one bit and since then have been very anxious about any Woolf related works. Though how I could possibly be attempting to read classics, especially Classics written by Women (Women’s Classics Literature Reading Event) without reading Woolf was something I often wondered about and finally Ali came to my rescue with her #WoolfAlong. Now seemed like a good time as any to start reading a Woolf; after all, the stars were propitiously aligned so to speak. I chose what is considered Ms. Woolf best work To The Lighthouse and plunged in.

The novel is divided into 3 sections -The Window, Time Passes and To the Lighthouse. The Window opens with Mr and Mrs Ramsay and some their friends visiting them in the summer house of Isle of Skye. They have eight children between them and there are tensions between them as well between them and the children. James the youngest of the Ramsay children wants to go to the Lighthouse, but his father crashes his dreams by saying that the weather will not be clear enough for the expedition,  a statement that causes James to resent his father and creates tensions between Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay. Lily Briscoe, a young under confident  artist is a friend visiting the Ramsays ,as is William Banks, a scholar and Paul Rayley, a young man about town and Minta Manning, along with Charles Tanney, a young upcoming scholar, whose views that women cannot write, cannot paint, greatly undermines Lily’s confidence. Each guest has their own assessment of the Ramsays and vice-versa. The section ends with a dinner party and an engagement of Paul Rayley and Minta. Section 2 is a series of images of time passing, there are deaths and Mrs. McNab who keeps the house for the Ramsays informs us of the decay in the house over a period of 10 years, that includes the World War I years, during which the Ramsay’s have cease to visit the house. Section 3 opens with the return of some of the members of the Ramsay family and some of their old friends, including Lily Briscoe. The Ramsays, especially Mr. Ramsay and James finally set out for the Lighthouse and Lily Briscoe finally finishes the painting she had started 10 years ago.

I had heard much about Woolf’s stream-of-consciousness approach and the fact that especially in this book there is not too much of an action and I was not sure if this was something I was going to really enjoy! Goes to show that unless you try something, you will never know. I loved the book. I am in complete awe of how the whole process of thinking and thoughts connected and held the entire novel together. I completely mesmerized by the fact that the these thoughts reveal the characters as well move the novel forward. I loved Section 2 where there are no distinct characters and just a sense of time moving and as it moved, my heart broke for the change and the loss; but the ending fortified me and the triumph of reaching the Lighthouse was significant at so many levels.  There are enough philosophical debates for the reader to ponder over, long after the novel is read – for instance the transience of work. Mr. Ramsay is constantly worried that his work will be forgotten once he is dead and oblivion is the inevitable end, no matter how  great you are. The concept that art as portrayed in Lily Briscoe’s painting is only means of truly capturing the memories and happiness.The question of marriage as a means of true happiness – Mrs. Ramsay, herself in a happily married state, despite minor irritations is convinced that marriage is “the” thing for women to attain true happiness; however Lily is convinced that women may have other resources outside of marriage to find happiness and containment and not all marriages lead to happiness.The characterizations are wonderful and  even the inanimate objects like sea and the house and the lighthouse are integral and characters unto themselves moving the story along. Most of all I was completely bowled over by prose, the colors that described an image and at the same time spoke of emotions experience by the central characters – “she had known happiness, exquisite happiness, intense happiness, and it silvered the rough waves a little more brightly, as daylight faded, and the blue went out of the sea and it rolled in waves of pure lemon which curved and swelled and broke upon the beach and the ecstasy burst in her eyes and waves of pure delight raced over the floor of her mind and she felt, It is enough! It is enough!”Another instance of so,e vivid prose where the natural phenomena describes the agony of the protagonists “The nights now are full of wind and destruction; the trees plunge and bend and their leaves fly helter skelter until the lawn is plastered with them and they lie packed in gutters and choke rain pipes and scatter damp paths. Also the sea tosses itself and breaks itself, and should any sleeper fancying that he might find on the beach an answer to his doubts, a sharer of his solitude, throw off his bedclothes and go down by himself to walk on the sand, no image with semblance of serving and divine promptitude comes readily to hand bringing the night to order and making the world reflect the compass of the soul. The hand dwindles in his hand; the voice bellows in his ear. Almost it would appear that it is useless in such confusion to ask the night those questions as to what, and why, and wherefore, which tempt the sleeper from his bed to seek an answer.” The only thing I felt that kind of stumped me is that we in the end do not know what happened to Mr. Banks or even some of the other children of the Ramsays. It was like being left in the middle of road, without even knowing which direction to head in. But that is only a minor deterrent, not taking anything at all from this brilliant book

What more can I say, except that unless your read it, you can never really experience it. I know I will keep coming back to book again and again!

More Classics…

I mentioned this is in my first post of the year, that with temptations and much hand wringing I have given in and decided to participate in yet another Reading Challenge (I seem always to forget that I have a highly stressful day job and reading is not the  primary vocation of my life…Sigh! If only things could be reversed! If wishes were horses and all that!) Anyway, Lois at You, Me and a Cup of Tea is holding a fabulous reading event called The 12 Month Classics Challenge. She is extremely flexible about the rules, her only guiding principle being, read and enjoy good Classics over the next 12 months. She has set some wonderful themes for each month, which affords variation and destroys any sense of sameness or monotony. It was this theme of the month thing that really got me hooked and convinced me that I NEED to be a part of this. Therefore without any further ado, I bring you the themes for The 12 Month Reading Challenge along with my selections for the month –

 

  • January-A classic you’ve always wanted to read- Start the year off with a bang! 1984 by George Orwell
  • February-A classic you’ve always dreaded reading- Get that book out of the way… and who knows! You may end up loving it! The Fortune of the Rougons or La Fortune des Rougon by Emile Zola
  • March-A classic you’ve been recommended- We all have those The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti
  • April-A classic you’ve seen the movie/miniseries/TV show of- If you’re like me you’ve probably seen quite a few film versions before being able to read the book. It’s time for that book to get read! I am not much of a TV/Movie watcher so this one was tough, except I just recollected having watched The Murder at Rue Morgue a couple of days ago and thinking it would read better. Therefore The Murder at Rue Morgue by Edgar Alan Poe
  • May-An American classic –  Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis
  • June-A British classic –  Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
  • July-A European classic (non-British) The Dolls House by Henrik Ibsen
  • August-A modern classic- Up to your interpretation – The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
  • September-A children’s classic – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis (This one is especially for you Cleo and your devotion to CS Lewis)
  • October-A classic by a female author – O Pioneers by Willa Cather
  • November-A classic by a male author- Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
  • December-A classic written under a pseudonym- If you don’t know which books were written under pseudonyms here’s a few names to help you out. Jane Austen wrote her books under a pseudonym (by a lady) as did the Bronte sisters (published their books under male pseudonyms), George Elliot (real name Mary Ann Evans) and Agatha Christie also wrote a few books under the Pseudonym Mary Westmacott.  Men who also have written under Pseudonyms are Mark Twain (real name Samuel L. Clemens) and Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). I’m sure there’s more out there but there’s a few to start you out. – Out of Afrika by Isak Dinesen aka Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke

So that’s list and the plan…Some books I have been really looking forward to reading and some which I have been dreading! But this challenge is a good place to get me started and finish some books that have been on my TBR forever! Hang around and I will keep you all posted of my endeavour!

Once Upon A Time in Vermont…

I have not done much reading from my Lecito List for sometime and I really did not want to give it up. After much self motivation and several introspective conversation with my bookish soul, I finally returned to the List and started the New Year with one of the book from the list that I had never read – The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I was not particularly keen on the book – it was set in present age in an all American exclusive college with a bunch of rich kids and a murder in between – a cross pollination between The Class by Eric Segal and I Know What You Did Last Summer (Yes! I am aware that this was published way before I Know What You Did!) However resolution had been taken and I plodded on!

The book opens with the prologue where the narrator, Richard Pappen tells the reader how he and 4 others, killed Bunny, one of their friends. Wikipedia tells me that this was what critic A.O. Scott called a  “a murder mystery in reverse.”. We then go back and learn of Richard Pappen , a lonely lower middle class Californian boy, who dreamed of getting away from the humdrum and non intellectual and non conducive atmosphere of his home, which he shared with his gas station owning father and clerk mother. In a quest to get away from them and their society, he finally applies to Hampden College in Vermont. Once selected he applies for continuing his studies for Ancient Greek; however he is turned down by the enigmatic Professor Julian Morrow who teaches the course, because Morrow claims his class is already full , which Richard discovers to consist of 5 students only. He starts following the students and soon begins to asses each one’s personality – scholarly and unapproachable Henry Winter, the charming and ethereal twin, Charles and Camilla Macaulay, the stylist Francis Abernathy and the group joker Edmond Corcoran, aka Bunny. A chance encounter at the library enables him to interact with the twins, Henry and Bunny, post which he again approaches Julian Marrow and is accepted in the class. Richard initially feels isolated from the group and to hide is low middle class background, he invents a colorful past of Hollywood parents, cocktail parties and similar high life. However, he does not actually become part of 5 until he is asked by Camilla to join them at Francis’s country home, which acts as the retreat and getaway for the 5. He soon becomes part of what seems to be an exclusive group but finds the inner dynamics of the group mystifying, especially the friendship between Henry and Bunny. Henry seems to be always bailing Bunny out and constantly paying for the latter. Infact, Henry barely seems to tolerate Bunny, but yet they plan to go to Italy for the summer together. After the winter break, Richard detects a new tension and distance between the Bunny and himself and the other four. 4 days before the start of the term. he discovers, by accident that Henry, Francis and the twins are planning to leave for Argentina. Bewildered and confused and hurt, he is surprised and relived to find all of them in the class when the semester starts. Henry and Francis later disclose all to Richard as to what had transpired, involving him as well themselves and the 3 others  into a series of actions and events, that would spell tragedy for them all.

This is NOT a happy book, but it is a great book, very much in lines of one the core themes of the novels, Greek tragedy. The writing is harsh, bleak, unrelenting and yet as a reader, you keep going, because the power of the words and the strong plotline. The descriptions mostly describing unhappy events, walking through heavy snowfall into a broken roofed home, the lonely childhood of a scholarly child in a low income and culturally deprived surroundings etc are so strong and potent, that not only can you visualize the images, but they are seared into you. The constant battle of the desolate physical climate and the constant darkness that crept into the soul of the characters, just took my breathe away! The loneliness and the confusing morality standards the protagonists, which I still cannot understand at all (Black is black and white is white),  but was nevertheless unwillingly  empathizing with, is a testimony to the brilliance of Ms. Tartt. The loss of idealism left me along with everybody in the book, heartbroken! The characters are all very charismatic, compelling and convincingly drawn and they blend together as a cohesive unit and at the same time stand independent of each other. The plot while not a mystery of who has done it, is more of why it was done and is fast paced and keeps you as reader gripped though you know what will happen in the end. The only time I felt that Ms. Tartt went OTT was in last 100 pages bringing in the whole angle between the twins and Henry; I believe the end would have still come the way she planned, but  this tangle, in my view kind of lowered the high literary standards and brought it down. It was like going from high brow to plebeian in a matter of pages; there is nothing wrong with either types of literature, but they should not cut into each other’s genre! Also the constant mention of alcohol and drugs got me high just by reading! I have been in a University campus for a long time; from my undergraduate days to my M.Phil and I do understand that alcohol and drugs are a constant way of life, especially in a liberal university like mine or the Hampden college of the book. However the constant drinking even before the crisis hit the protagonist’s lives, made me swear of alcohol for a while!

Its a difficult book to like and put down as a all time favorite for me; but it did take my breathe away and I am still reeling from its fiery prose, therefore without liking liking the book, I really liked the book. Go figure!

Traveling in Time

The Classic Club announced its Classic Club is doing Spin#11 and I came up with The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Wells has been on my TBR for sometime and I was really happy to finally get the right inspiration to read his work.  I got hold of the book and was surprised to see that it was less than a 100 pages; but then most adventure novels of that era were slim reads ( King Soloman’s Mine to cite an example ) and thought it would be an easy read. However I did discover that, do not judge a book by its cover and what appears may not be a true reflection of what is and all those homilies can very much be applied to The Time Machine!

The novel opens with a gathering of gentleman at the Time Travelers house, where the latter introduces them to the Time Machine, which he has invented. To further understand and discuss the machine he has invented, the Time Traveler invites them for dinner next week. The group meets on the appointed day, but there host is missing. While they are about to finish the dinner, the Time Traveler finally staggers in with torn clothes and a bruised appearance and declares that he had traveled to AD 802,701 and narrates to story of the future of the earth. He tells them of two races that inhabit the future earth, the beautiful, simple childlike Eloi and the dark and ape like creatures that stay in the subterranean regions of the earth, called Morlocks. He tells the group how he had found himself stranded in the future and how his time machine had been hidden away and he shares his efforts to befriend these creatures and his efforts to finally get back to his own era, and the tragedy that was the price for this tryst.

The novel is  for sure a Victorian adventure tale, very much in spirit of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, King Soloman’s Mine and such like. It is in essence as stiff upper lip as it gets as the British narrator assess his situation and takes action that would for sure impress Her Majesty, the Great Queen Victoria. In terms of plot construction, the story is very linear and it follows the usual pattern of introduction, discovery, crisis and the end. However the concept of Time Machine in 1894 was in itself an originality and an innovation that H.G.Wells  richly deserves all the credit. The concept of Time Travel though something bandied about very commonly today, was unique concept, when Wells wrote his novella. There is much to be said about the author’s imagination as creates a world of Eloi and Morlocks as well the variations of earth in future that the time traveler stops at before finally reaching back to his own time. There is a sense of dread and darkness and fear in the narrative as well as a distinctly humane tone as the author gently tells us that the creatures of the future are  the culmination of all the actions of the man, partly good and partly bad. The only problem is the boyish adventure tone in which the hustle and bustle of Great Britain meets the dysptopian world. The very English prep school narration seems incongruous with the dark and creepy future world. There are times when the plot sags and there is just too much of discovering this and discovering that….one of the main reasons, why the book lay on my bedside for more than a month after the initial pages had been read!

Overall, its a good novel, but not a great literature. It deserves it cult status because of the uniqueness of the concepts rather than any literary brilliance.

 

The Family from Devonshire

Jane has a history and a very successful history at that, of introducing me to authors, I would never know off or read about, had she not encouraged or posted about their works. She alone has the credit and therewith my gratitude for introducing me to the wonderful works of Margaret Kennedy, Martine Bailey and  Hélène Gestern among many others!Going by this kind of track record, it made good sense that I follow her directions, when she decided to host the Margery Sharp Reading Event to celebrate the authors 110th birthday; and got down to reading Ms. Sharp’s  works.

The only challenge and I bemoaned to Jane enough about this was getting hold of one of her works. There are no printed books available and nothing on Kindle or Gutenberg. The Open Library has some of her works, but they refuse to download as epub, therefore I could only read it online and could loan the book online for only a certain number of days. All in all, there was limited choice and limited time to read and the whole exercise was exhausting.

But as the wise men of the past have told us, that the fruits of hard labor are very sweet. Those wise guys really knew their stuff and suspending all the suspense, let me state up front that The Gipsy In The Parlor was totally worth the hard work. Returning the book by the stated date was no problem, because I read it through 2 days; whenever I got time to get on the internet for recreation purpose as in no work! (Funny, in my parallel life of imagination, reading is the primary purpose of my life and can hardly be termed as recreation, but as usual I digress.)

Back to The Gipsy in the Parlor….

It is 1870 Victorian England and the Sylvesters, large in stature and less in words, run a rich farm in Devonshire. Originally, the clan consisted of a father and his 4 sons who led a wild and barbaric life until the eldest son Tobias married Charlotte. Charlotte , a big blonde woman, took the men under her wing, civilized them, cleaned up the house and generally made life as good and comfortable as possible for the clan. She even found wives for the second and the third brother, Grace and Rachel. The three women got along brilliantly, working together, laughing together and managing the concerns and joys of the Sylvester as one. They all in time gave birth to boys, seven in all and they were all sent to Australia and Canada to better the fortunes, while Tobais and his brothers ran the farm. Things went on splendidly and finally in 1870, the youngest brother Stephen, brought home a girl whom he intended to take as a bride, whom he had Plymouth. Fanny Davis was nothing like the Sylvester woman, she was not built like them, small to their large and dark to their blonde. Nor could she seem to do the kind of back breaking work that the Sylvester women seem to do; however the Sylvester women, kind and gracious, let her alone and managed their lives as before. The date of wedding was fixed after two days of the Assembly, which was a great social event of Frampton, the town around which the farm was located. To add to the atmosphere of gaiety, Charles, the eldest son of Tobais returned form Australia. There was a new peacock colored brocade cloth bought so that Fanny Davis could look splendid on the night of the ball and the Sylvesters could take pride from the same. The much awaited ball finally happened and was as much of a success as was expected. However, things began to go downhill from the very next day and the Sylvesters, especially the women were put to test like never before, threatening the home and the joy they had worked all their lives to build.

This is a lovely novel with wonderful characters and fast paced plot, that keeps you turning to the next page. The novel again goes to show that while stories about human relations are old as hill, the ability and the craft of the author can make the book not only readable, but lovable! The characters took my breathe away – you cannot help but cheer on the great Sylvester woman, especially Charlotte and wish you had an aunt like her …kind, generous, patient and decisive. Fanny Davis and Clara Blow are two characters that wonderfully and in a very unique manner showcase two spectrum of human nature. The only character I could not abide by was Charles, but as the narrator said “Charlie was incorrigible”. Speaking of the narrator, Ms. Sharp makes a very innovative choice of telling the story through the voice of now much older, but then an 11 year old niece of Charlotte who visits the farm every summer for her health. There is constant balance of the 11 year old acting and the older adult version telling us of that action and what led to that particular. The reader gets a constant sense of how the child perceives  something and how the same child would interpret the same event/action as an adult! The language is simple and beautiful, and the portrayals so vivid ….I could see the farm, I could see the much prided parlor, I could see Jackson’s Economical Saloon and I could see Charlotte riding the omnibus in London!

Sharp, funny, witty and heartwarming…..you cheer the Sylester women on, from the beginning till the end and you close the book with warm, fuzzy feeling of goodwill all around!

 

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