However, Thing 2 finally decided to start sleeping through the night right before the holidays, so I picked up a few novels that have been collecting dust on my bookshelf. After seeing a movie preview for Water for Elephants, I decided to read the book: a) before the movie comes out, and b) to pacify my sister's nagging me to read it so we could discuss it. I was a little slow getting into the plot, but I absolutely loved this book!
There are many things I adore about a good book -- characters in whose lives you become invested, an amazingly vivid setting, suspense, an enduring love story, a search for one's true self... I could go on and on. What I thought I loved about this book, set in the gritty circus culture of the Depression era, was that it transported me to a place and time of which I have no intimate knowledge. I always delight in getting lost in something completely outside of my experience, which is why I enjoyed books like Angela's Ashes or Memoirs of a Geisha so much, even though they were sometimes difficult to read.
And then I came to the passage below about three pages from the end, and I felt like I had been socked in the gut. The book is told from the point of view of Jacob, an elderly man in a nursing home looking back on his adventures as a young man. Here he is describing the early years of his marriage:
"Those were the salad days, the halcyon* years! The sleepless nights, the wailing babies; the days the interior of the house looked like it had been hit by a hurricane; the times I had five kids and a wife in bed with fever. Even when the fourth glass of milk got spilled in a single night, or the shrill screeching threatened to split my skull, or when I was bailing out some son or other from a minor predicament at the police station, they were good years, grand years.
But it all zipped by. One minute [we] were in it up to our eyeballs, and the next thing we knew the kids were borrowing the car and fleeing the coop for college. And now, here I am. In my nineties and alone."
Wow. Cue the lump in my throat.
I'm exhausted. Seriously, the girls have not both slept soundly through the night at the same time since around Christmas. Hannah's had a constant stream of colds and recurring ear infections, followed by a serious bout of teething and recent attempts to become mobile. Meanwhile, Lucy's been battling a cough as well as nightmares (apparently there are ladybugs and scary robots in her bed). Andrew and I have been
A friend once posted on Facebook that she doesn't read novels because there's too much out there to learn from works of nonfiction. Those books most certainly have their place, and Lord knows I could stand to read less fluff and more history, but... in this particular instance, I'll have to respectfully disagree.
|Enjoying the Friday afternoon sunshine in the front yard|
*Webster defines halcyon as calm, golden, or prosperous. The term is used as an adjective to "refer to a happy and successful time in the past that is remembered as being better than today."