…. AKA, The HG’s most recent book list.
1) Persuasion (free for Kindle!) ~ an umpteenth time re-read. Every time I read this book I think, “I want to be like Anne Elliot when I grow up” or “I want Strider and me to be like the Admiral and Mrs. Croft when we’re older.” You can tell Austen was more mature when writing this book, compared with several of the others. There’s a strong sense of perspective… how do things actually look when we’re older? What decisions do we wish we could go back and change? Some unwelcome changes are forced upon us because we *won’t* adjust our perspective (think of Anne’s father and sister). Sometimes our adjusted perspectives makes us bitter and unhappy (again, Anne’s sister); sometimes it makes us wiser and sweeter (Anne’s friend, Mrs. Smith). And sometimes when we think we’ve lost all opportunity for revisiting the wrong choices that plague us most, God gives us another chance to seize the joy we missed before. That’s Anne’s story, and it’s a good one.
2) Adam & Eve After the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution by Mary Eberstadt ~ This is a very good introductory text about some of the unintended consequences of our society’s attitudes about sexual relations after the introduction of birth control. Pornography has become more prevalent and defended; homes are falling apart; those in our society who were supposed to be emancipated by the pill are instead suffering more because of the objectification of sexuality. Instead of being directly tied to procreation, children are seen as controllable outcomes, easily disposed of. This leads to higher rates of abuse and lower rates of appreciation toward women; instead of being valued for the role they play in bringing forth children, their value is determined (by too many, but not all) men simply by how good they are in bed.
This book was shorter than I expected and Eberstadt rushes through her material… hence the phrase ‘introductory’ text. This book should be considered as stepping stone material only; her sources are hugely important, and I also highly recommend Wendy Shalit’s A Return To Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue (with a not so modest cover, unfortunately) and Girls Gone Mild: Young Women Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It’s Not Bad To Be Good.
3) Nurse Matilda Goes To Town by Christianna Brand ~ Okay, so I have not read the first Nurse Matilda book at all, thus I don’t know how this one compares. Judging it on its own… yes, funny moments and, yes, clever writing, but altogether too much chaos and a bit too outlandish. It happens rarely, but I do so prefer the Nanny Mcphee movies.
4) A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl’s Journal, 1830-1832 by Joan Blos ~ This book only has 3/5 stars on Amazon, which saddens me. This is a wonderful, clean junior fiction/young adult novel. Blos did her research extremely well and delivered a book that shows (as best it can) what a 13/14 yo girl of the time period must have thought like, instead of merely imposing twentieth century sensibilities on someone who wore long skirts in the days before electricity. Complaints on Amazon talk about the story being “dull” (which shows, I think, a distinct lack of empathy on their part… the story does briefly involve a runaway slave, a teenaged girl dying, and a girl and her stepmother getting to know each other…hardly dull) There are lots of fictional diaries of girls from the Revolutionary War period and the Civil War period.. but to have this time period covered, and covered well, is not common.
I read this book first when I was about 10 or 11. When we were sorting books most recently, this was one I requested. I barely remembered any of the story… I knew there was a sad part in it, and something about a stranger, and that I’d loved it as a child. It was hilarious to read it all over again and see how quietly and early the seeds were being planted for my interest in anti-slavery, migration, and the citizens of the early Republic. *I* thought that I’d first heard of William Lloyd Garrison in early high school, yet he and his newspaper are referred to in the book. There was talk of moving “out west” (Ohio, at that point).
The other thing about this book is how it ties into my love affair with journals, dating from when the DHM had us keep one on a road trip across the AlCan highway as small children. In college, my honors project was to transcribe, edit, and research the manuscript journal of a couple who moved from a Northern State to a Southern one in 1858 (someday, btw, the dream is to revise this paper even more and turn it into a book…. yeah. big dream). I may not have remembered the stories from the novel I read as a ten year old, but I remembered the passion and the fervent knowledge it imparted about how all people live so far beyond the pages of history books or the lectures of professors. Children need books that feed this vision of history, and this counts as one. Don’t let the Amazon reviews sway you if you haven’t read it yet, please.