This is an impossibly gorgeous book, filled with truths about love and loss and how imperfect we are as parents--the impossibility of perfection, in fThis is an impossibly gorgeous book, filled with truths about love and loss and how imperfect we are as parents--the impossibility of perfection, in fact. It is a quiet and short book, but I cared very much about all its characters, people doing their best. Aren't we all just doing our best?
Its three sections are difficult to describe without giving away the plot.
In the first section, we follow Tabitha, a 10-year-old girl in Beaufort, North Carolina, in the 1790s. She loves boats and the sea, is brave and fearless, and when she contracts yellow fever, her panicked father can only think of taking her to sea.
The second, longest section skips back 20 years, to when Tabitha's mother, Helen, turned 10, and her father gave her a slave girl. Helen was motherless, and Asa, the father, thought a slave girl might be a good idea. Helen would have preferred the ribbons in the slave girl's hair, and once the two are alone she grabs them. The two girls wrestle for the ribbons. Moll, the slave, wins. And so begins the complicated relationship between the races and between these two girls in this layered story. When they are teenagers Moll is forced to marry. Helen, who has become religious, piously tells her that it's our lot here on earth to accept what God has decreed.
Helen says, "I think that after we die there's only goodness." "I don't see why there can't be goodness before we die," Moll sensibly tells her.
In another scene, Helen tells Moll that even though she lost her mother before she could actually form memories of her, her mother gave her her faith. "I can't see how she would have left you with anything like faith, you not even knowing her." "We choose what to take," Helen says. "From people and God too," Moll says.
In a far less metaphysical conversation, Helen asks a servant if she doesn't miss her dead husband. "I mostly miss the money he brought in," the woman says. "He was a good father to the little ones and did well by us, but there's something rather nice about one's own life. Making decisions without someone telling you no, best not do that. He never thought I could do much for myself."
Everything changes for Helen when she falls in love with and takes off with a man her father disapproves of. By then Helen realizes, "People want what isn’t given to them. And this is not sin, but hope. What if God didn’t put us here to accept, but to struggle? Isn’t love itself built on that precise impossible hope?"
The third section jumps back into the 1790s, and largely follows Moll and her son Davy, who has been sold away from his mother. When Moll begs Asa to set her free so she can go find her son he refuses. He feels bad about that decision the next morning, but then rationalizes that despite all his losses "...he hasn't lost his sense of justice. You cannot simply free a slave because you love them in a way. There is an order to the human system; you are born in a certain stratum, and you work very hard with your hands and with your wits so that your children are wealthier, happier. You cannot just ask for favors."
Those are the threads, and a glimpse of the language and truths of the spirit this book offers. Those truths touch upon chasms between us, between the sexes, the races, and generations. A widowed father tells his daughter, "You're always the home I want to return to," and another father, bereft, wonders if a son would have been easier. "There is something unprotectable about a boy." As this father ponders his losses and decides his losses were his fault, that he should have been more protective, he "scrambles to climb out of that thought." Part of the book is about how little control we have over our lives, and part of it is about how the control we seize so often hurts others. And maybe the best quote of all: "Regret only exists once the opportunity for change is gone."...more
This is on both contemporary and HF shelves because, so far, it's mostly a story told in rich retrospective, a writer thinking on the first years of hThis is on both contemporary and HF shelves because, so far, it's mostly a story told in rich retrospective, a writer thinking on the first years of his marriage and his very first year teaching at a university: Madison, WI.
Gorgeous book about a recognizable protagonist - he's me, sometimes - in the midst of trying to make a life of his life.
I finished this book a couple days ago, and cannot stop thinking about it. It's almost life changing, it feel so immediate and important. It's about love, power in relationships, and friendship. It's about how people rise above the tragic in their lives, and about how someone blessed with many gifts can make a tragedy of their life.
If I could give it more stars I would. I loved this book....more
A nearly perfect novel, Cape of Storms is the story of three Russian half sisters finding their way in a world that constantly threatens to tear us doA nearly perfect novel, Cape of Storms is the story of three Russian half sisters finding their way in a world that constantly threatens to tear us down. The youngest sister, Zai, has a stark choice - to go the way of her sister Dasha, who has chosen happiness, or the way of sister Sonia, who has chosen unhappiness. Sonia would today be diagnosed as clinically depressed - and some readers may rebel at Berberova's depiction of her life as a "choice." That is, after all, part of the definition of mental illness - that depressed or schizophrenic have no choice. Here's Dasha, in the opening lines of the novel: "It often seemed to Dasha that inside herself it was like a starry sky. And in fact, when she looked inward she4 seemed to be standing at the brink of a great chasm. There, at her very core, deep down, where her thoughts were anchored, reigned calm, quiet, and clarity... Sometimes Dasha felt as if she were sitting above a precipice with the stars beneath her; often she would linger with them for a long while..." Later on, Dasha thinks, "the world was carved up a long time ago, not length-wise, between good and evil, but cross-wise, between happiness and unhappiness..." ...more
I remember loving these books in high school - I read them about the same time as Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I haven't revisited them (as I have via theI remember loving these books in high school - I read them about the same time as Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I haven't revisited them (as I have via the movies for Lord of the Rings, and simply re-reading C.S. Lewis), but I remember them being in the same category of timeless classics....more
Beautiful book, beginning in 1848 Rome, with an American missionary bishop urging several cardinals to appoint a priest he works with as bishop of theBeautiful book, beginning in 1848 Rome, with an American missionary bishop urging several cardinals to appoint a priest he works with as bishop of the area around Santa Fe. The territory has been part of the Diocese of Durango, 1,500 miles away across rough, roadless country. As a result of the brief war with Mexico, it's now part of the United States.
This is the fictionalized story of the great Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy, 1814-'88, who built the cathedral in Santa Fe, ended corruption amongst the priesthood in the area, and was beloved by the people. That's quite a feat, following as he did on the heels of several massacres of priests and other Europeans. ...more
This is as good as it gets for an entertaining introduction to a classic text that you know you wouldn't read otherwise.
The Book of Five Rings was aThis is as good as it gets for an entertaining introduction to a classic text that you know you wouldn't read otherwise.
The Book of Five Rings was a fad/underground classic for businessmen in the 1990s or maybe the early Bush years. To make its lessons work for business, you need to imagine your competitors as your enemies, and your first goal, upon picking up your long sword, is to cut them. A worldview that may or not benefit the world, eh? Other titles from SmarterComics are The Prince, by Machiavelli; The Art of War, by Sun Tzu (I think he's the "shock and awe" guy); and Fortune Favors the Bold, by Franco Arda (SmarterComics' publisher - it's yet to be seen if his name goes into history amid the infamous ranks of Musashi, Machiavelli, and Sun Tzu).
I don't know about you, but I'm seeing a trend here, regarding these messages. Do you think they'll also do Khalil Gibran? How about A Book of Courtesy: the Art of Living with Yourself and Others, by Sister Mary Mercedes? Me either. My brother saw this book and declared that the idea to make a comic from it was "pure genius... with maybe a bit of evil thrown in...."
In any case, the cartoons are well done, crisp and vivid. I'm not sure how the long sword vs. the short sword relates to business (or farming or carpentry), but I'll bet it does, and I intend to get the Cliff Notes at some point, and figure that out.
One especially well done aspects of the book was how Musashi's words were illustrated by drawings of samurai warriors, and then those same few words were illustrated with modern business situations. Not all of them made sense to me, but enough of them did that I have faith that the rest do as well. It's actually a comic book to go back and meditate upon - to take a section, take your questions about it to Wikipedia, and then think about how and if you might apply them (judiciously) to your own life. One of my favorites was the allegory of how you sometimes need to set sail, even though your friends are staying back in a safe harbor. Then comes some advice on what to do should you hit stormy seas, as is likely. In other words, take some risks!
It's not a book for children. Really. Besides being bloody, with warrior's throats being cut, guts impaled upon long swords, and arms getting cut off, it's is not a narrative, but rather a book of philosophy.
I was pleased to see that I'd won this book through a Firstreads giveaway. I received it almost immediately - making me think that the people behind SmarterComics are not only talented but also good business people. Obviously taking the lessons in The Book of Five Rings to heart!...more
I loved all the Madeline books. When you love books, one of the best things about becoming a mother is finding great books to read to your children. II loved all the Madeline books. When you love books, one of the best things about becoming a mother is finding great books to read to your children. If I had it to do over again, I'd start in on chapter books sooner, and I'd never have stopped reading to them. never.
The Madeline books are exciting and have lovely drawings and characters. And a vine-covered house, where the twelve little girls live, in Paris. Ahhhh. ...more