IN THE MIDST OF MY WRITING FLURRY this summer, I was able to read more than I thought. Skim through for a range from historical to Victorian to fantasy.
The Flight of the Sparrow by Amy Belding Brown
Brown conveys the brutal legalism of religion alongside the harsh adaptation to native life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the late 1600s, and though I don’t agree with every description of Native Americans or the colonists, I do appreciate Brown’s ability to place us, the readers, in the midst of Rowlandson’s story. It is a fiction after all. The historical element carries such weight to the harrowing journey of Mary White Rowlandson that I could not easily put this down. Did Rowlandson really think all of English life was repressive and likely worthless? Did she, a woman, speak out about the sin of slavery in a male-controlled society? It’s possible, but we will never really know. Rowlandson’s Native friend James the Printer expresses best that "We must learn new truths or die,” and I agree. Without having read this accounting, I would not have reconsidered the “truths” of the historical accounts from this era in the early colonies.
The Wild Muir: Twenty-Two of John Muir’s Greatest Adventures
This was a new collection for me, and frankly, it caught my eye because of the word “adventure.” I delight in Muir’s grandiose poetical landscapes, but this collation is all about those near-misses. Bears, glaciers, rock climbing, avalanches, wild weather. Think Muir v. Wild. It might be limited in scope by design, but this grouping is a great introduction for new Muir readers.
Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
In a straightforward autobiographical style, the youngest Bronte writes of the lonely yoke of being a governess working among a bad breed of families who refuse to discipline their children or establish moral thought. Comforts are few, but our central character Agnes encourages herself and her readers: "I determined always strictly to fulfill the threats and promises I made; and, to that end, I must be cautious to threaten or promise nothing that I could not perform." She speaks of that determination, even in the midst of multiple failures, as "unshaken firmness, devoted diligence, unwearied perseverance, unceasing care."
The novel is surprising in that it most boldly criticizes the aristocracy and gentry. "But some people think rank and wealth the chief good; and, if they can secure that for their children, they think they have done their duty." The final third contrasts from the darker and somewhat preachy beginning in a most hopeful way. No spoilers here.
The Last Good Day by Robert Kugler
I would consider this a research read for me because I am writing a young adult novel and want to be more than just familiar with popular writing. With that said, if you enjoy Nicholas Sparks, you'll like Kugler's YA debut. Young love, deep thoughts, friendship, talent, humor in batches. Though I've never been to Jersey or Wildwood, I delighted in walking the streets, the beach, the clubs, goodness, even the Christmas shop, with Angela and Avery.
The Wounded Shadow by Patrick W. Carr
It so happens that the novel I’m writing is considered fantasy, so what better way to inspire myself than to read a Christian fantasy author I admire? The entire Dark Shadow series was thoughtful and action-filled, a rare combination. The war of good versus evil was never plain or simplistic but as intricate as the world Carr built so effectively. To maintain this world and each character's development requires so much as a writer. I am in awe. What an amazing ending to the stories of so many characters. I especially want to meet Custos some day!
. . . more books and poetry to follow next week.