I don’t usually publish my posts this time of day, but things have been a little upside down since the holidays. No complaints and nothing bad, just different! I’m capitalizing on a surprising free moment to scribble out this post and to share my weekly book update with you all. This year’s reading has started off wonderfully and I hope it’s a sign of good things to come.
FINISHED THIS WEEK:
Fellowship Point was a delightful way to start the year! Set in Philadelphia and Maine, we meet Agnes and Polly, two 80-somethings who have spent their entire lives as friends. Their families have both owned summer homes on Fellowship Point in Maine for generations and they’re worried about what’s going to happen to the land after their deaths. Polly has spent her life as a wife and mother and Agnes is a writer known for a popular children’s series, When Nan. Agnes is also the author of an anonymous book series set in Philadelphia, but she has never told anyone about her secret identity.
Through old journals, we learn about events that Agnes experienced in the ’60s that led to a lifetime of heartache and regret. When a young editorial assistant, Maud, tries desperately to get Agnes to write a biography of her life, Agnes shares the journals with Maud to give her insight into why she would never tell her story.
This book is about so many of my favorite things, including family secrets and regrets from long-ago. The plot twist at the end of the book was quite obvious, but it didn’t spoil the enjoyment of watching it unfold.
I was itching for more Louise Erdrich and Future Home of the Living God was available on Libby without a wait – perfect! And friends – I.Could.Not.Stop.Listening. This book was published in 2017 and it made me worry about Erdrich. This is set in some sort of post-apocalyptic Minnesota and just three years later we all experienced the covid shutdowns and she wrote The Sentence, her pandemic novel. This woman was sunk into darkness for quite a stretch!
I am not sure how to describe this book. The main character is Cedar, a woman who is pregnant when it’s unsafe to be so. The government (?) is monitoring all pregnancies and births because of some change in the babies being born and the entire country is falling apart at the seams. Rioting, chaos, neighbors turning in neighbors. Was this book a response to the 2016 election? I can see how it could be. I really enjoyed it and it kept me good company during some late night sewing sessions and while mopping the floor. Highly recommend!
“Is this what it means to be a mother then? To be in constant irrational conflict with one’s own child? To be constantly challenged by the stubborn will of a creature who doesn’t respond to logic or reason? And who always wins?”
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Chouette, other than people telling me that they were anxious to hear my thoughts on it. I loved it. It’s another that I couldn’t stop listening to and I had to push pause multiple times to write down quotes. In this book, Tiny has taken an owl lover and becomes pregnant. No one believes her when she says she’s expecting an owl baby, but my goodness. Here it is. As Tiny described her experiences with this baby, they felt very familiar. This baby takes all of her energy and attention from the very beginning and is extremely challenging to care for. She is constantly feeling the push/pull from those around her to seek help, find early intervention, and to change her daughter’s natural tendencies in order to fit in with the children around her.
“My life’s work as your mother will be to teach you to be yourself and to honor however much of the wild world you have in you, Owl Baby, rather than to mold you to be what I want you to be or what your father wants you to be.”
Her experiences felt so familiar to me – the violent tantrums, the irrational repetitions, the extremely picky and messy eating, the constant cleaning of poop in unexpected places. Watching Tiny’s entire life and interests fall away from her because of all the energy it takes just to keep this little creature alive. Her home falling apart and being unable to keep up with its daily demands. On and on. I kept thinking that this was my experience of having a child with autism. And when I finished the book, I was so fascinated by the author that I looked her up, which I don’t usually do. And wouldn’t you know? This book is based on her experience as a mother of an autistic child. She gets me. She saw me. She wrote a perfect allegory to my life and I am in awe.
“I’m trying to say that she’s already perfect. She’s a small perfect thing in this world. She doesn’t need to change for you to love her.”
Slow & Steady:
I’ve started my slow and steady read, War and Peace. I’m aiming to read 20 pages a day but have only read one day so far. That’s okay — I’ve given myself plenty of wiggle room with my daily page goal and am hoping to fall into a routine soon. I read the first 400 pages a couple of years ago so it all feels familiar. I’m cringing at some of the characters because I know what’s in store for them! But I’m glad to be starting from the beginning because I wouldn’t want to jump into the middle of this epic story.
And I’m laughing at myself — no wonder I thought of this so much while reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell last year. It’s set during the exact same time period. I forgot that this was the Napoleonic Wars as well, which is quite silly of me. I hope that I’ll have more read by next week and will have something new to say about it.
I went to the library today and have a fresh stack of books waiting for me. I am so looking forward to diving in and sharing more with you next week! I hope to be back on Friday with a stitching update. Until then — take good care.