Rachel Crooks's Reviews > All This, and Heaven Too

All This, and Heaven Too by Rachel Field
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's review
May 19, 2012

it was amazing
Read in July, 2008

I read this book four years ago, but it still lingers in my memory. I don't know if it speaks to the excellence of the writing or just my book-worm nature, but I struggled to put it down even on a road trip through Yellowstone! There was something about it - the introspective quality of Field's language - that brought self-knowledge through the unveiling of Henriette's enigmatic character. A few quotes I still remember:

“Oh, well, it might look like a patterned world, laid out in prim design, but to those living there it could never be so simple. They were as alive as she: that old peasant contriving to outwit the cold, the woman anxiously counting her comical flock lest one goose escape her vigilance; all those who slept, or toiled, or loved under the low-hung roofs or the sharp turrets. Those people out there, if they caught sight of her own face pressed close to the windowpane, might be speculating about her. To them she was part of the pattern of the lumbering train with its trail of smoke and the little boxlike carriages.”

“For most of us one book is not enough to satisfy our minds, and so one life is not enough either. We want to experience more than can ever be crowded into seventy or even eighty years. I am too greedy, perhaps, but I want to catch at the meaning of different lives and different places. I want to find out what goes on under thatched roofs of cottages and behind the walls of palaces and hotels. I want to walk in old ruins and in new cities. I want to watch people everywhere, whether I can understand the words they are saying or not. It is too much to ask, perhaps, but I want to get behind the faces of men and women and feel what they are feeling.”

“And Henriette, who had dreaded the day, found herself moved by the sight of these generations that filled the rooms with a great press of life. Here, she though, past accomplishment and the promise of greater accomplishment met and paused for a brief moment. Tomorrow they would all be scattered again; today they lifted their voices in the Doxology and bowed their heads as the old minister rose to give them his blessing.”

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