Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Beyond Her Family . . . In The World


Lucinda thinks to herself:

"But beyond her family, in some vague place in the world,
she had always hoped there would be
people who would like her,
who would want to have her 'round."


Taking a look back at 2011, I finished off the year's reading with a couple of good strong girl novels, recommended by friends recalling childhood favorites that I had somehow missed along the way.

Roller Skates (1936)
by Ruth Sawyer "East Side West Side
All about the town . . . [she]
Tripped the light fantastic
On the sidewalks of New York!"

This dear old song goes hand in hand with the spirit of Sawyer's novel! In addition to roller skating all around 1930s New York City, ten - year - old Lucinda is also a literary prodigy, well - versed in Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, Lewis Carroll, William Cullen Bryant, Swedenborg, and Beethoven!

Some lovely seasonal passages that I must remember to share in the coming year:

"Fall weather was the best weather for making friends. You met everybody coming or going; met them alive and eager and made friendly by the gently keen September air. . . . There was a flooding of sunshine, but the air had a knife's edge to it; you could feel winter on its way" (32, 71).

Like me, Lucinda is a girl who just loves Christmas: "Lucinda had the gift for festival. She spread out Christmas to last from Saint Nicholas Eve until Twelfth Night; and burned the greens on the hearth with a choked feeling of utter desolation" (103).

Baby Island (1937)
by Carol Ryrie Brink

Stranded [like Gilligan's Island] and resourceful [like Little House on the Prairie], twelve - year - old Mary and her sister, ten - year - old Jean, think of everything when it comes to taking care of the babies! By the same author as brave, adventurous Caddie Woodlawn (1935).

The above novels feature real - life girls, facing real - life conflicts; if, instead, you are in the mood for the fantastic, try time - traveling with Peter and Mollie, to the sometimes scary world of make believe:

The Magical Adventures of the Wishing - Chair (1950)
by Enid Blyton

. . . and a few "grown - up" stories . . .

Borrowed Finery by Paula Cox
A poor little rich girl memoir; repeating decimal of disgraceful parenting; some great lines:

"Could you escape from a divorce the way you could from a marriage? Was it possible to get a divorce from a divorce?" (18)

" . . . one of those blue American days full of buoyancy and promise that seemed to occur only when I was small." (19)

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
Far-fetched, odd and sad; some elegant imagery:

"He paused before Kay's tulips, focusing in close, thinking how much they really did resemble the delicate tissue of lungs and how interesting it would be to frame shots of both and stand them next to each other, exploring this idea he had that the body was, in some mysterious way, a perfect mirror of the world. . . . This was what he yearned to capture on film: these rare moments where the world seemed unified, coherent, everything contained in a single fleeting image. . . .

Cultivated tulip – Floriade 2005, Canberra

Sometimes I think the entire world is contained within each living person. That mystery and the mystery of perception -- I care about that. So I understand what you mean about music. . . . It was true that he'd once sought unity, as if the underlying correspondences between tulips and lungs, veins and trees, flesh and earth, might reveal a pattern he could understand. But they had not. . . . He had given it up, art and craft, the intricate and exhausting task of trying to transform the world into something else, to turn the body into the world and the world into the body" (149, 157, 201 - 02, 319).

Miss Garnet's Angel by Salley Vickers
A touristy Venetian walkabout.


Interestingly, this is not the first novel I've read that revolves around the central imagery of Tobit and the Angel; there's also Stella Benson's novel, published in the U.S. in 1930 as The Far-Away Bride, and as Tobit Transplanted in Britain in 1931.

[Hey, check it out: I'm in Wikipedia!]

And two further titles from authors mentioned
earlier on this blog, in books from 2006:

Ariel: Grace Tiffany's compelling retelling of Shakespeare's Tempest.

Superfreakonomics: Levitt and Dubner, as before, somewhat eye - opening, somewhat annoying.