GENRES: Literary Fiction
We’ve had two full days off from school as well as four late starts. And it looks like we will have at least two late starts next week, and maybe more days off.
Many of these miserably cold days have not included snow, which makes it so much worse. Oh, we’ve had snow, and it hasn’t gone away, making it turn dirty and icy and and sharp-edged from all the wind. That’s what makes days like today so magical. Yes, it’s cold (although it got into the 20’s today!!!!) and windy. BUT we once again had a magical day without an activity. AND it SNOWED. Pretty much all day. I left my sleeping jammies on until noon. Then I took a hot bath. Then I put on my warm, polar fleece owl jammies. The girls are still in their sleeping jammies. And Ted had to go do a little work, but he is back in his fleece man-jammie pants. (We obviously have many classifications of jammies.) I even ran out to the store for wine (yes, wine) in my warm owl jammies.
So it was the perfect day for doing very little. I read, I puttered, I attempted to make healthy muffins (that tasted like doody, so I gave up that thought). I watched broke into the wine at 5:00 and I’m okay with that. Tonight we will do Family Movie Night and relax.
“There is such a thing as love not meeting a test, but that does not mean that it was not a kind of love to begin with. Love is not static. It changes and fluctuates, sometimes growing stronger, sometimes weaker and sometimes disappearing altogether. But still, I think it is difficult not to be grateful for the love one gets.”
In my literary trip across the U.S., I am now in Massachusetts, reading a book set in the Salem region during the witch craziness. So far, so good. That means I’ve traveled through Vermont and New Hampshire and I’ve learned a few things. First, there are not too many great books that are set in Vermont. Well, I guess there aren’t many that I haven’t read. I am really sorry that I read Donna Tartt’s The Secret History in December, because it would have been the perfect Vermont book. It was really good. But a lot of the books are written by Jodi Picoult, and I don’t like her that much, or Chris Bohjalian. I chose two Bohjalian books, but neither was actually set in Vermont, so I gave up on that vein. So, I decided to go for an unknown author. Usually a good idea. Not so much this time.
Now, Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy isn’t a bad book. When Sarah Lucas’s husband of fifty years dies, she is inconsolable. But her large Vermont home becomes a waystation for a bunch of lost souls, and Sarah suddenly finds herself becoming not one half of a couple. I think what bothered me is the ‘perfectness’ of it all. I know her husband died, and that would be sad, but they had such a charmed life. They did have rocky periods in their marriage when their children were young, and each had an icy relationship with a child, but that was about it. Everyone around her has a hard time, but Sarah is such a good person that she roles with the punches. Her big house on lots of land, her oh-so-liberal Vermont friends, her children . . . all seem perfect. I would have rather read a book about her soon-to-be daughter in law, who had quite a bit of loss and hardship. Or her granddaughter, even, going through some hard teen years. Sarah just seems a little one-dimensional to me. But it was a nice look at Vermont, with quite a bit of Vermont outdoorsy going on. I really enjoyed that part of it.
New Hampshire was better. I went with a book that has always intrigued me, Peyton Place by Grace Metalious. It was said to be oh-so scandalous, the 50 Shade of Grey of its time (which was the 1950’s). And I can see that. It is the story of Peyton Place, New Hampshire, and its ups and downs from 1939-1945. Mostly the story of Allison McKenzie, her mother Constance, and her friend (at the beginning of the book) Selena Cross, but it does delve into the other characters in town. It had to have been shocking in the 50’s, opening the curtains and revealing the town secrets: unwed motherhood, incest, teenage sex, even abortion. It was banned in many towns but still managed to be a bestseller, setting records for sales for the time. I enjoyed this book, although I cannot say it was great literature. It was fun, knowing I was reading something ‘scandalous’ for its day. It wasn’t particularly shocking, just normal scandal in today’s novels. But that’s okay. I can cross it off my list.
So far Massachusetts is going well. The Heretic’s Daughter is interesting, and Kathleen Kent tells a great story. I’m glad I had this snowy day to really get into it.