Richard Derus's Reviews > Goodbye Mr Chips

Goodbye Mr Chips by James Hilton
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's review
Nov 17, 2011

really liked it

Rating: 4.75* of five

The Book Report: Old Mr. Chipping, nearing ninety and still telling his hoary old jokes from sixty years ago to the newbies at Brookfields school, spends his last few days on earth wandering among the many well-furnished rooms in his head. We see the events of his entire career as a schoolmaster, his brief, brilliant career as a husband, and his long, glorious sunset as a School Institution. As he passes through the portal made for one (bet Chips'd know the source on that one), he I hope and pray all who read this will feel on their own long was good, it was good.

My Review: I read this book tonight because, for far from the first time in my life to date, I learned that I lost an old, old friend: My mother's best friend, my heart-mother, finally let go of her life barely short of her 92nd birthday on January 4.

I know it was only her body wearing down, because dementia had long since taken her essence from the living world. But tonight, forty-two years after I met her and began to love her, I feel she is here. And I promised her I wouldn't cry, she told me it hurt her to see me cry once a lifetime ago, but I can't not. It's for myself, for my heart growing old and curling inwards from surprisingly fresh hurt. I don't miss her, or miss her more than I did yesterday; death is a release when someone is already no longer themselves; but the days ahead number fewer than the days behind, and I can see my own end like a hill far away, instead of the comforting illusion of horizons hiding it. It's not scary. It's just...real.

I am now the age she was when I met her. My memories are so real! The Pirate's Den, the junque shoppe on North Lamar, parking under the pecan tree and racing everyone to be the first to see what was new; cold, cold Bull Creek, flat hot rocks, the folds of the Balcones Escarpment and their fossil shells; laughing, crying, talking, always with a silver-bunned, trifocalled, green-eyed artist teaching the only things she knew to teach. I needed them then, I treasure them now, and there is no one else to whom these memories mean one single thing except an old guy reliving his past.

She was Mr. Chips, and I listened the way those schoolboys did; now it's my turn...sic semper tyrranis, oh wait that was the assassin but that's good too, sic transit Irenaea mundi...hail and farewell, dear, now you go on home to Mother and Daddy, walk safe!
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Quotes Richard Liked

James Hilton
“When you are getting on in years it is nice to sit by the fire and drink a cup of tea and listen to the school bell sounding dinner, call-over, prep., and lights out. Chips always wound up the clock after that last bell; then he put the wire guard in front of the fire, turned out the gas, and carried a detective novel to bed. Rarely did he read more than a page of it before sleep came swiftly and peacefully, more like a mystic intensifying of perception than any changeful entrance into another world. For his days and nights were equally full of dreaming.”
James Hilton, Good-Bye, Mr. Chips

Reading Progress

Started Reading
December 1, 2010 – Finished Reading
November 17, 2011 – Shelved

Comments (showing 1-9)

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message 9: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Richard, that was wonderfully, beautifully said and (on a very personal note) I am very sorry for your loss.

Richard Derus Thank you, Stephen. It was two years ago now, and re-reading the review made it all real again.

Getting older is a series of takings away. If we're lucky, what's left behind is a better version of what was there before. Irene and other dementia sufferers aren't given that opportunity. It makes me mad as hell at the disease.

message 7: by mark (new)

mark monday wonderful review

Richard Derus Thank you, Mark!

message 5: by Shovelmonkey1 (new)

Shovelmonkey1 Sorry, forgot to read this when you originally pointed me in this direction on my Nine parts of desire review - apologies. It has been a hectic week. Hopefully I'll be back with it this week though!

Anila Jayakrishnan Happy to see this book has achieved that beautiful purpose.. connecting us to the one Mr. Chips that most of us have the privilege of experiencing.

message 3: by Chris (new)

Chris Beautiful review. One of the best I have ever read. I will think of it as I read the book.

FoodxHugs it's great this book affected you in such a way. I know this was a couple of years ago, but sorry for your loss.

I read this book ages ago, when i was 12/13 (i can't remember) but it's a great book, rich in characterization and emotion. Character-driven stories are a real treat.

Richard Derus FoodxHugs wrote: "it's great this book affected you in such a way. I know this was a couple of years ago, but sorry for your loss.

I read this book ages ago, when i was 12/13 (i can't remember) but it's a great bo..."

Thank you, I miss my dear old friend even yet. I'm always thrilled to find books that make a deep impression on me, and then to learn that they make as deep an impression on others.

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