Hi Ho! It’s the end of August–the end of a very interesting summer because our 20 year old granddaughter spent 10 weeks with us while she had an intern job nearby. She’s a doll, and we were the lucky ones most nights after dinner when she sat down at our piano and played from my big stack of old sheet music: Paper Doll: Make Believe: It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie; Smoke Gets in your eyes; A you’re Adorable, and Dinner for One Please, James. She’s an accomplished pianist and a great sight-reader! We marveled at the clever lyrics from days gone by and realized we were mesmerized by the tunes and words years and years after they’d been written—clever enough to be true American standards.
And the summer reading plan? Well, the biggie on the list was Anna Karenina which I had already read—a book club selection. It’s about 800 pages and I only reread about half of it—and then I tired of Anna feeling sorry for herself after she had thrown herself at Vronsky, left her marriage, and abandoned her little boy. She moped about because people no longer respected her. Well! Anna—before you take actions, consider the consequences! And how did the book club like the book? I don’t know because no one came to the meeting!!!!
So that leaves us with second best classic type–The Trees by Conrad Richter. I bought a copy from my favorite used book store and later found out that it was a first edition, so that was nice.
A family from Pennsylvania with 7 children goes west to Ohio to start a new life—but the trees!! the forests!!! Momma doesn’t last long in this book–a hard life, but Sayward, the eldest girl takes over and keeps house and takes care of the family. After awhile, she’s of marriagable age, but she finds out that among the new settlers is a young lawyer from the “Bay State” and she sets her cap for him.
It’s a harmless, slightly interesting sort of pioneer story and it was pleasant reading. I found out that Richter had written a threesome set in the series:
The Trees, The Fields and The Town. After I finished the first, I moved on to The Fields. Sayward and Portius are married and they promptly have eight children: Resolve, Guerdon, Kinzie, Huldah, Libby, Sooth, Sulie and Dezia. Rumor has it that there is to be a town built nearby with brick houses and the kids are anxious to be ‘town kids’ with all the fancy frills and leave the hard life of pioneering behind. But, Sayward is sentimental and doesn’t want to leave the land and homestead she has built. I don’t know about you, but after clearing land and plowing and planting and weeding and grinding corn for every morsel of food, I’d be ready to move to town ! and I’d be figuring out the curtains . . .
I finished The Fields and am not at this time, tempted to read The Town.
But! have spent many good evenings reading the Mitford series by Jan Karon. I simply can’t say enough good things about these books about a little town in North Carolina where an Episcopal priest, Father Kavanaugh, lives and follows his little flock of parishioners. He falls in love with his neighbor, Cynthia, and they marry—there are about 9 books in the series—and each is endearing and full of bits of literature and Biblical quotes—Father Tim is always praying the “prayer that never fails”. I thought that would be a handy one to have in mind, (!) but it took me eight books read before it was revealed that the prayer that never fails is “God’s will be done.”. Now there is a brand new Mitford book—In the Company of Others wherein Father Tim and Cynthia go to Ireland. I’ve started that now and it’s very good. I especially like the wisps of Irish lingo brought in and in last night’s reading, Cynthia was quoting Yeats:
“I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry on a thread,
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little trout.” Lovely! reminds me of Elizabeth Bishop. or
maybe Elizabeth Bishop reminds me of Yeats.
The first book in the series is At Home in Mitford, but really, you can read any of them in any order. The author, Jan Karon, catches the reader up to date in almost each one. Add in to the mix, a big old stray dog, Barnabus, that attaches himself to Father Tim, as well as an eleven year old boy outcast from his family–Dooley Barlowe, and you have along with the rest of the characters in Mitford, a very readable pleasurable array of companions to read about before bed each evening.
Then I read AND RECOMMEND The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonsen (author of Major Pettigrew). That’s World War I and the setting is a small town in England, Rye. There is Aunt Agatha and her two nephews, Hugh and Daniel for main characters and then Beatrice comes to town—as an aspiring applicant for the position of Latin teacher. The town is aghast that a woman (not a man) might be teaching Latin and when she arrives, she has a trunk full of books and in some minds, is prettier than a Latin teacher should be.
The book is witty and well written in my opinion. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
And now, The Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett is the September book club selection—spy thriller–goes along quickly and will let you know more about it when the club meets.
That’s the catch-up news for summer reading—and you?