Friday, January 22, 2010

Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks: Week 3

I've been reading all the time (which I do anyway) to get caught up in the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, as I started a bit late.  The first three titles I selected are by the same author, Miss Read:  Village School, Village Diary, and Storm in the Village.  All three are set mid-twentieth century in the environs of Fairacre, a small village in the English countryside and are narrated in the first person by the character Miss Read, the village school's headmistress.

These warm, wise, and funny stories were exactly the tonic I needed this winter.  My friend, Jackie, who recommended them to me was "on tenterhooks" awaiting my reaction (I'm going to write about the dangers of book recommendation at some point), but her anxiety was needless.  I am now a Miss Read fan.

There are no plot crises, no denouments, no grand resolutions, although there are plenty of scrapes, conundrums, and sticky situations.  There is no Grand Question that is asked and answered (or, in the case of many modern works of literature, asked with no answer apparent).  What there is, in abundance, is life: the everday ups and downs of living on this planet and being in relationship with other human beings (and animals, as it were).

The author (whose real name is Dora Jessie Saint) has an extraordinary gift for creating characters.  These people are not characters; I'm convinced they are real.  Beyond that, her descriptions are so vivid (no minimalism here, thank goodness) I had no problem at all visualizing each scene:  I could hear Mrs. Pringle "mooing" a hymn "lugubrious contralto" as she cleans the school; I could see the children making their straw bunches for the harvest festival.  Each detail is perfect, and I was sad when I came to the end of the third book.  Happily, Miss Read several more books, and I look forward to reading them all.

Now.  This does not mean that I am going to chuck all contemporary fiction from my To-Read list on Goodreads.  And I'll always love a good, shadowy gothic tale.  Life may not be always sweetness and light, but it's not all bitterness and dark, either.  The Fairacre novels do a wonderful job of reminding me of that truth.

1 comment:

  1. I am sooo glad you liked them! I cant wait for you to discover Thrush Green!


I love reading comments! And I appreciate the time you take to leave them. Thanks!