Let The Hurricane Roar

I’ve just finished rereading Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder. I adored the ‘Little House’ books from a young age, and borrowed them from the library again and again-I only read the whole series as an adult when I bought them for myself. As a child I didn’t put too much thought into how the books came into being and assumed they were as true to life as they appeared on reading them for the first time.

Her daughter, Rose, had a lot to do with the books, in terms of style, editing, story and writing. That’s not to detract from the books in any way, or to diminish them in my eyes or anyone else’s-they are classic historical fiction and my father enjoyed the farming descriptions as much I enjoyed reading about the daily lives of girls my age who lived so long ago.

Rose, one could surmise, repackaged many of her mother’s memories into her own prairie based novel, Let The Hurricane Roar, also called Young Pioneers. I read it once as a child but hadn’t thought about it for many years, until we had our own hurricane today. We got off lightly and managed to get many small jobs done as we headed the warnings to make only essential journeys and stayed inside once we’d secured anything that might blow away.

We have had running water all day, there hasn’t been a power cut (yet-I’ve jinxed that now) and we aren’t living miles from anyone who might be able to help in an emergency. I’m not feeling even slightly in the same category as the fictional couple in Rose’s book or the Ingalls family weathering months of blizzards in a wooden house more than a century ago.

Ophelia has left its mark here. I’m very glad we’re lucky enough to live in a place where hurricanes are such a rarity that it was back in 1961 where we had a day like this.

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Let The Hurricane Roar

Tiny Sparks of Joy

An easy week in work and a not so onerous one next week.

Getting to the gym every time I wanted to.

More new to me Chalet books on the way to complete my collection.

A reorganised bookshelf and finding a book I was afraid I’d decluttered in my zest for organisation.

Nowhere to be this weekend. Last weekend was busy, it’s nice to have absolutely no plans for a change.

Tiny Sparks of Joy

Tiny Sparks of Joy

Organising our filing system. By system, I mean the drawer wherein resides the Important Stuff we need to hang onto. Shredding is immensely satisfying.

Making six eggs stretch to cover baking, tea time sandwiches, lunch time fritters and breakfast pancakes. I’m determined to empty our fridge before we do more food shopping.

Hibernating in the house today and having a relaxing time of it, in between the various jobs we’ve meant to do for ages, like sorting out our attic which is currently our laundry room.

A week off work. Planning on some gym time, working on the photo books I’ve told myself to get going on and leisurely coffees with a book.

Knowing another unabridged Chalet School book is on the way. The collection nears ever closer to completion.

Tiny Sparks of Joy

The Day I Met Maeve Binchy

I was a voracious reader as a child. From the time I was able to read ‘proper’ books, I read everything I could get my hands on. We were near great libraries and I would borrow four on a Saturday, then return on Monday evening to borrow four more. If I found a book I liked, I would reread it over and over.

I have very mixed feelings about the MS Readathon, partly because I’ve become very cynical about the charity sector in general and partly because I have some hangups about it from my childhood. However, when I was about 11 or 12 years old, I was sent along to the launch of the contest as a representative of my class in school. I didn’t really know what to expect and it was always nice to be able to escape school for a bit.

The launch was held in a large hotel function room – for the life of me I cannot remember which one – and it was a hot, busy, noisy affair. There were press photographers and, most important for me, free books! Some of the authors of said books were there, and I got a copy of Wildflower Girl signed by Marita Conlon-McKenna, which is still on my bookshelf today.

Back then, I hadn’t a clue who Maeve Binchy was, but I overheard one of the teachers talking about her and I decided she must be important enough to get to sign a poster we were all given and which other authors had signed for me, so I plucked up the courage to go over to her. She was sitting down and I have no idea what I said to her but she signed the poster and had a little chat with me, and as I thanked her and turned away she commented on a red bow I had in my hair because I felt I should probably dress up a bit for a Big Day Out like this.

I’m sure I got rid of that poster in a decluttering session years ago because I certainly don’t have it now. I do, however, have a big collection of Maeve Binchy books on the same shelves as the well read signed copy of Wildflower Girl. The first Maeve Binchy book I ever read was Circle of Friends and my favourite bit of the novel is where a nearly 10 year old Benny is dreaming of getting dressed up for her Big Day, her birthday, only to have her dreams of velvet and frills dashed when a practical, boring ensemble appears.

I reread that section a lot, and I think of me getting dressed up for my own Big Day, and it reminds me that long after the humdrum days of school are over there’s some high points, even if they don’t seem significant at the time. I think of me, and Benny, and I relate to Benny’s feelings of not being pretty enough and worrying about what she might wear and I think back to that red bow and meeting Maeve and I wish I could tell her just how much pleasure that day gave me and that I’m sorry I didn’t keep the bow and the poster.

The Day I Met Maeve Binchy

Miss Pettigrew

Some years ago, I went to see Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, starring Amy Adams. I hadn’t read the book, or even heard of it before the film was released. The film was very enjoyable, light and funny and nice to look at. I read the book long after seeing it, and there’s some differences, as is the case with any adaptation. One scene which isn’t in the book involves Miss Pettigrew and her romantic interest comment on signs of the impending Second World War when seeing planes overhead. It frames the story as something of a last hurrah before terror and suffering would come to everyone’s door.

The book is one I return to when I need to escape. And this is something I’ve felt the need to do more and more, given the state of various nations these days. The story isn’t all roses – Miss Pettigrew thinks fearfully of having to resort to the workhouse and there’s references to her slimness being due to short rations rather than pursuit of fashion – but it has enough lightness and airiness to keep my mind on happier things than The Real World.

Winnifred Watson, who wrote the book, knew a thing or two about The Real World, given that the Depression of the 1930s stymied her plans to attend university. She also must have known about the need to escape through reading, be it from the boring job that allowed her to write or the dreams of further education dashed because of world events. I think of her, weathering the Second World War, her son escaping a bomb and surviving, and going on with life. And I thank her for giving me a book that allows me to escape from things during these days.

Miss Pettigrew

Another Marjorie

One of the lovely things about having only books on my shelves that I love is that I know every time I reach for one it will be one I will enjoy. I tend to reread the same ones over and over, skipping the bits I don’t like and savouring the parts I have grown to love. One such book is Marjorie Morningstar, a book a friend recommended and loaned to me and one which I loved so much I had to buy a copy of my own.

I am not jewish, or living in New York, or dreaming of a career as an actress, but I can relate to the other Marjorie as she tries to figure out who she is, where she’s going, and what she’s going to do with herself. I reread it again recently and it still sparks a lot of joy.

And, it turns out, Herman Wouk is still alive, and will turn 102 in a couple of weeks. I am sure he knows how much joy this book still brings to people, decades after he wrote it.

Another Marjorie

The Heiress

Last night we went to see The Heiress. I haven’t read the book on which it is based, but the play was extremely enjoyable. I love live theatre and I’m already looking forward to next month when we’ll be back to see Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, about which I know nothing. We ate beforehand in one of our favourite spots, Hop House. I love the food there, but be under no illusions, it isn’t for a fancy meal one goes here. I have Washington Square on my list of Books I Want To Get Around to Reading This Year list. One of my resolutions is to use my fantastic local library more and expand my reading.

The Heiress