Book Thirtyseven: Anne of Avonlea

Anne of Avonlea , L.M. Montgomery

I think one of the things I love most about the Anne of Green Gables books is the way each season is described with such care and beauty. It's almost as if I can imagine Anne (or Ms. Montgomery) saying, "I love spring best... No, wait, summer is my favorite... but then there's autumn and it doesn't get much lovelier than that... but what about winter? I do love winter!" Or maybe that's how I feel when I read each description.

Consider late summer:

"A September day on Prince Edward Island Hills; a crisp wind blowing up over the sand dunes from the sea; a long red road, winding through fields and woods, now looping itself about a corner of thick-set spruces, now threading a plantation of young maples with great feathery sheets of ferns beneath them, now dipping down into a hollow where a brook flashed out of the woods and into them again, now basking in open sunshine between ribbons of goldenrod and smoke-blue asters; athrill with the pipings of myriads of crickets, those glad little pensioners of the summer hills; a plump brown pony ambling along the road; two girls behind him, full to the lips with the simple, priceless joy of youth and life."

Or winter:

"She had a good sleep that night and awakened in the morning to find herself and the world transformed. It had snowed softly and thickly all through the hours of the darkness and the beautiful whiteness, glittering in the frosty sunshine, looked like a mantle of charity cast over all the mistakes and humiliations of the past.

'Every morn is a fresh beginning,
Every morn is the world made new,'

sang Anne, as she dressed."

Or a description of a house in autumn:

"The house was a low-eaved structure built of undressed blocks of red Island sandstone, with a little peaked roof out of which peered two dormer windows, with quaint wooden hoods over them, and two great chimneys. The whole house was covered with a luxuriant growth of ivy, finding easy foothold on the rough stonework and turned by autumn frost to the most beautiful bronze and wine-red tints."

Or spring (which I believe Anne probably loved best):

"Early oats greened over the red fields; apple orchards flung great blossoming arms about the farmhouses and the Snow Queen adorned itself as a bride for her husband. Anne liked to sleep with her window open and let the cherry fragrance blow over her face all night. She thought it very poetical... 'It seems to me, Marilla, that a pearl of a day like this, when the blossoms are out and the winds don't know where to blow from next for sheer crazy delight, must be pretty near as good as heaven.'"

As for me, right now I am looking forward to fall and the crisp sunny mornings and dark cozy evenings, but I think I'll try to take more time to appreciate these still-beautiful waning days of summer just a bit more.

Book Thirtysix: Away

Away, Amy Bloom

This book suffers from a malady that, sadly, has been the demise of many a book (including the last book I read). And that is a plot that starts off strong, but slowly fizzles out and comes to a near halt in the middle. (I'll call it dropsy of the novel.) And sometimes that makes it irrelevant whether or not the ending is good or satisfying. But in this case, I was left with an overall feeling of, "I liked this!"

What I liked most about Amy Bloom's beautiful writing was the way you felt just as mystified by the actions and events and character motivations as the heroine. There was just something strange and other-worldly about the language and limitations of what was divulged. On the other hand, some of the characters she encountered were just too precious (e.g. Chinky Chang, the spunky Chinese grifter, or Gumdrop, the tough-as-nails African-American hooker with a heart of gold... I know, right?!).

But the ending... oh, the ending! With that ending, Amy Bloom got my heart back.

Book Thirtyfive: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Stieg Larsson

Oof. I wanted to enjoy this, I really did. It started off with a bang, but for me the explosion swiftly died down to a smolder. Pages 75 through 450 were pretty much a slog. Too much conspiracy-this and secret-government-agency-that for my tastes. More good action at the end, but it was a serious chore for me to finish this one.

I wonder if I would have been happier if Stieg Larsson lived to write the next episode in this series? Would I have been more or less satisfied? There are still lots of open ends here, but most of the main plot points from books two and three have been nicely resolved. Could we have moved on from all this yawn-inducing big-time government coverup stuff? Hmmm... Maybe Zombie Stieg can answer my questions?!