Finding Balance and The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

When you become a wife and a mother, your life is no longer just your own. At first, it’s wonderful to give part of yourself to your spouse. And then another little piece to a child, and another to piece to each subsequent progeny. Two pieces or more if one of those children is a special needs child.

And, at first it seems natural and wonderful and you don’t mind giving up yourself. Good wives don’t mind forgetting themselves in order to create a happy, harmonious marriage. Good mothers are selfless; giving up themselves in order to ensure their offspring grow into caring members of society.

But, at some point that whole selfless stuff wears off (unless you were supposed to be a nun or if you’re on some kind of mood elevating drug), and you realize that you need time for yourself. Yes, date nights with your spouse is important, but at some point you need to recharge yourself as well.

I have many ways intime out which I recharge. I read (a lot). I write (as often as  possible). I work out (not as often as I should). I spend time with other mothers having mom time (which usually means copious amounts of wine and sometimes with a book in hand. Sometimes we all read the book, we usually make an attempt to discuss the book, but most of the time is spent discussing life and laughing).

All of these things are necessary to my well being. I think that these things are what Virginia Woolf was talking about when she said, “A woman must have money and a room of her own . . . ” She goes on to talk about writing fiction, and yes, I think that is true. But I think it also includes a woman’s well being in that she needs some SPACE to not be wife or mom. She needs a space to be herself.

I’m not a feminist, and I will save that rant for another day. But I do believe that I’m a better wife, mother, friend, and neighbor if I get a little time to myself every day. And every so often I need a whole day or an evening — and every few years or so, a weekend — either by myself or with friends.

I’m very lucky that I have a husband who realizes that I’m a better partner if I get this time off. He’s seen the alternative, and it’s not pretty.


 

As noted in my last blog, I waited patiently (or maybe not so patiently) for Deborah Harkness’s The Book of Life, the last book in her All Souls Trilogy. And it was well worth the wait.

Harkness does a great job of finishing off this trilogy, which is wonderful. In the first two books, we watched witch Diana Bishop discover the depth and breadth of her powers with the help of her husband, vampire Matthew Clermont. Together with a large retinue of family and friends, the two of them work to discover the secret in Ashmole 782, also known as the Book of Life, before other, nefarious ‘creatures’ can discover what is written in its elusive pages.

Harkness does a fantastic job of involving almost every character brought to light in this book. It’s enthralling reading; just as you’ve started to wonder what happened to a witch, or a vampire. or a daemon, Harkness brings them back into the story in a way that doesn’t seem contrived.

Another wonderful bonus of this trilogy is that this story is finished, and finished well, but there are many other stories left to be told. I don’t know if it was intentional, but I was left hoping that Harkness would take the time to write a book about some of the other characters. What will happen to Marcus and Phoebe? How about Gerbert? Agatha Wilson? What is Jack’s story? And Father Hubbard would be a book of his own. There are stories and stories of witches and vampires just waiting to be told.

But, if Harkness never told another story about any of these creatures, I would be okay. The trilogy had a definite ending, one that satisfied me.

Thank you Deborah Harkness for creating such an intelligent book about a fantastical world. I didn’t feel like a I needed to check my brain at the door to read about witches or vampires. Thank you for weaving a wonderful story that involves magic, history, adventure, and history. Thank you for giving me a place to lose myself, at least for awhile.

 

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