BOOK & BLOG
November 14, 2011
Books of the Week:
I have to admit that Death in the Stocks is not Georgette Heyer’s strongest book. Any Heyer fan will enjoy her characteristic touches, but the conceit of putting the body in the stocks is quite unlikely for the person discovered to be the murderer. However, Heyer is always a pleasant read. She has a charm that has lasted for decades for thousands of readers.
Finally, after much procrastination, I’m attempting George R.R. Martin’s epic beginning to his series A Song of Fire and Ice. Book One, A Game of Thrones, is enthralling and full of unexpected but riveting occurrences. There’s no sentimentality in Martin’s books. The good don’t always live, and the bad sometimes triumph simply because they’re good liars and deceivers. Naivete can be deadly in the Martin’s world. Of course, A Game of Thrones is not a quick read, and I’m not quite through with it yet.
Finally, the trees have turned color. The roses are still blooming, though. We don’t have much of a Fall, here, but I enjoy what we have. Some day I want to go see the leaves in New England; I remember my father finding that wish absolutely bizarre, that I’d travel to see a natural process.
Somehow, perhaps because of Halloween and its connection with All Souls Day, I always find myself thinking of the people I’ve lost at this time of year. My grandparents, my mother and father, my brother. It’s both melancholy and enjoyable to remember them.
I remember my paternal grandmother’s stockings, with seams! They were always absolutely straight. I remember my maternal grandmother’s habit of stowing away the presents she received, in their boxes, to save for “good.” I never knew my paternal grandfather, who died just after I was born, but my maternal grandfather was always sweeping out the lobby of the hotel he ran with my grandmother. He listened to me play hymns one afternoon. I was bored, and I knew how to play the piano, and he sat and listened to me. When I saw he was enjoying himself, I picked the oldest hymns I could find in the book, and we had a few minutes of being together that I will never forget.
My mother was the best woman in the world, and a great example to me always. My father did his best to be a good father. I now realize that he was constrained so many times from being what he wanted to be that his life must have sometimes disappointed and thwarted him. Of course, I never thought of that as I was growing up. My brother died before either of them, he and his wife together, and I am sorry he never had the chance to find what he was meant to do. He was a complex man, and not always easy to understand: but he was the only person in the world who remembered what it was like to grow up in our house. I’m the keeper of the memories, now.
I often wonder if they see me now, if they know what I’m doing and what befalls our family. I wonder if that would be a burden or a pleasure, and if earthly considerations are important any longer to the souls of the departed. These are unanswerable questions, and pointless to consider, but this is the time of year when I think about such things, apparently.
It’s not painful to remember my family, but comforting, in many ways. I do have some memories that I wish I could erase: don’t we all? But on the whole, when I think of Mother working at the kitchen table and Father coming in from the farm for lunch, when I remember how awe-struck I was by my brother and his cool friends, I think having such memories makes me rich.
© 2011 Charlaine Harris