Eeee! Guess who just got a new Kindle?! My dad actually bought it for my husband and I (our third anniversary is in a week), since we were so enthralled with his Kindle. I thought I’d be sticking only with paper books forever, but the allure of being able to collect many old books in one portable place was very enticing. Awwww, thanks Dad. 🙂
Before I knew about that though (and that my two new Louisa May Alcott books are free on Project Gutenberg), my husband and I were off in Saskatchewan (the next prairie province east of Alberta), where it’s likely we’ll be moving this fall to take some college courses. I’m planning to study for medical transcriptionist and my husband for something similar, since the health care field will only be growing and even though both of us have bachelor’s degrees in the humanities, there’s not a lot we can do with them that doesn’t involve customer service (I was last working at a library and he managed a bookstore) and we’re really introverts who’d prefer to work alone and are too stressed and depressed by regular life to want very high powered or ambitious jobs. So it’s something we’ve been discussing for a few months now and it seems like a practical plan (especially since I still have a lot of student loans I need to pay off somehow) — typing is one of my few actually useful skills that I enjoy doing. (And I actually learned how as a teenager, on a real typewriter! It’s since proved very handy for all of my internet adventures.)
But I certainly don’t mind having paper copies of Alcott’s Eight Cousins and An Old-Fashioned Girl (which I had to get after hearing Claire rave about it!), since she was one of the authors I read in my teen years after I was mostly through L.M. Montgomery and I haven’t read much of her in decades. It’s delightful to explore good books from my childhood (though as much as I adored Nancy Drew back in the day, those books are really only fun to read as a kid, they’re too woodenly written to stand up to adult rereadings. Sigh. I of course have a copy of The Mystery at Lilac Inn though) and since my husband will want to also use the Kindle once in a while (he’s into classical mythology now, so I’ve already downloaded The Iliad and The Odyssey for him, in free translations by Alexander Pope, who knew?) so paper books are still mighty swell. I also finally got a copy of We Two: Victoria & Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals by Gillian Gill! I’ve been eyeing it for a while. It was so nice to explore good bookstores in both Saskatoon and Regina (the two main cities in Saskatchewan, we’ll be moving to one or the other of them) and I also spent a lot of time reading parts of The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, which is wonderful. I wasn’t as obsessed with Laura Ingalls and Little House on the Prairie growing up as the author is, but I could still laugh and relate to many of the things she mentions. I’ll have to get it from the library or something to finish it.
I’ve also been indulging in a bit of Miss Buncle loveliness — I reread (my very own new dove grey copy from the Persephone Secret Santa exchange, last time I only had it from interlibrary loan and then kept longing for it the rest of the year) Miss Buncle’s Book and then got the next one from the library, Miss Buncle Married, which has also just been published by Persephone! It’s really lovely too, in fact I may like it a teensy bit more than the first book. The reason is that Miss Barbara Buncle, now married (obviously), finds a home. (Having been parted from my childhood home on our farm at the age of ten, I love books about people finding a home. I love old houses too.) In the first book she sasses all the overbearing people who overlooked her all her life through writing a bestseller exposing all their faults, now in the second book she comes into her own, finding a town with neighbours she can mostly really like and feel part of a welcoming community:
It was a very satisfactory friendship, for Barbara profited by it too. Jerry enlarged Barbara enormously. In a new friend we start life anew, for we create a new edition of ourselves and so become, for the time being, a new creature. Barbara had never done this interesting thing before. She had lived all her life in Silverstream and her neighbours were people who had known her from childhood, and therefore had a preconceived idea of her, so engrained, that they never saw her at all, any more than they saw the sponge which accompanied them daily into their baths. In creating a new Barbara for Jerry Cobbe, Barbara created a new facet of herself and was enlarged by it. She had no idea she was doing anything of the sort, of course, she merely felt that life had become very interesting, and that she, herself, was more adequate to its demands.
There’s another sweet romance with her husband’s nephew too:
“And they’re frightfully devoted to each other,” continued Sam eagerly. “It’s rather nice, isn’t it?”
Jerry nodded. “It is, rather,” she agreed. “It makes a nice sort of atmosphere, doesn’t it? I don’t mean soppiness, of course — that sort of thing always gives me the creeps — but real friendly love.”
There was silence on that. “Real, friendly love,” Sam thought, that’s exactly what I feel for her.
Awww. One thing I loved about both books was that the romance wasn’t exaggerated, it felt natural. No one swooned with passion, they simply liked and felt comfortable and right with a certain person (Barbara’s husband greatly admires her ability to eat a great many hot buttered crumpets, for a refreshing change!). It’s not anti-romance at all, it’s just letting it be simple and normal instead of needing to blow it up into something overheated and ridiculously out of all proportion. I share a ‘real friendly love’ with my husband and was delighted to come upon the phrase and a refreshingly real and innocent portrayal of love. D.E. Stevenson’s prose may be slightly simplicistic, but her stories are always heartwarming and comforting.
Now do I keep downloading more free books onto my Kindle (whee!) or pick one to read — perhaps The Solitary Summer by Elizabeth von Arnim? (It’s on Project Gutenberg, hoorah hooray and so on, I’ve been wanting to read it ever since discovering her other lovely books earlier this year!) I’ve been reading a beautiful new Oxford edition of Wilkie Collins’ No Name, which is actually quite good, but who knows. Perhaps I’ll e-read it instead.