13 February 2017
Awakening the Charm
"He says it's how you learn to love books; it's got a lot to do with memory. He says that when men fall in love with women they learn their faces by heart so they can remember them later."
"It's the same thing with books," continued Teseris. "In lessons we learn bits by heart and recite them. Then we read the books and discuss them and then we read them again."
I do not recall being so charmed by a new (modern) book of fiction in a long time. This book absolutely delighted me. It was smart, full of references to literature, and all about learning about relating to one another in deep ways. The main characters have some growing to do, especially Miss Prim. She leaves her city life to go work as a librarian in a big house of a gentleman, who takes care of four children who live in the house. Will she become accustomed to the slow life in the tiny village? I was sad to reach the last pages. It needed to be longer. The best kind of books always need to be longer.
Life was discussed in every chapter with direct, unapologetic frankness by the characters, which meant there was nary a dull conversation.
The story moved and folded over conversations that centered on things like Greek texts, which somehow became much more than a study of literature. Miss Prim, uptight and taciturn, slowly softened as time went on. Her Employer, who was unnamed through the whole book, was the intelligent, unsentimental gentleman who wasn't going to give her an easy chat. He debated with her by the fireplace on cold nights as they drank hot cocoa. He infuriated her as she cataloged books in the house library, questioning her modern-education mind with his old-fashioned one.
The contrasts were indelible, and yet they could all compliment if their hearts would become more pliable to a gentle change. It's obvious, as a reader, to see certain things, and yet, realistically, each person has issues to deal with deep within. And sometimes those issues must be dealt with before the heart can truly open up. Issues of the heart are usually a longing that cannot be filled. The searching may continue for ages, but it's only when Miss Prim learns to look beyond herself to something much bigger than she begins to feel filled.
All the tea times with buttered toast and cakes had me longing for a daily tea time, with conversation overflowing with the people of the village. Why don't we do this sort of thing often in real life? Perhaps I need to have some lime cake or a tart on hand at all times.