Some of our summer weekend adventures included popsicles on the porch, fun at a splash pad, and paper plate crafts. (I admit that last one is not summer-specific. But cute; it is cute.) That blue dress I'm wearing? That has been a summer staple for me. It's better made than your average summer sundress, it's cool, and it's very forgiving in the mid-section area. I wore it to the grocery store the other day and had the oddest conversation with a womanabout it:
Woman: I used to be able to wear dresses like that. Enjoy it while you can.Me: I do!Woman: You're letting it all air out.Me: ???
I moved on at this point, but the line stuck with me. I guess she thought the dress was revealing? I consider the dress perfectly respectable, especially since it's lined and nearly hits my knee. But the conversation has definitely made me reflect on how passing comments I make may be interpreted to others.
And I read this book and really enjoyed it. First of all, I am biased towards Gail Godwin and her WNC settings (Asheville this time, though she calls it Mountain City). But I loved the narrative form of this story (which is explicitly stated by the narrator as one employed by her grandmother) of circling through events in a not necessarily chronological order, revealing more and more each time the event is narrated. And I thought she very cleverly wove the themes through all the characters and their experiences and even the settings. Basically, it's a story of a ten-year-old girl quarantined in her dilapidated old house for the summer of 1945 with her mother's cousin as guardian. She's conflicted between her grandmother's example of how to live (superior, witty, clever, restrained) in which she's been carefully trained and the example set by her mother's cousin, who is transparent, emotional, generous, and naive. The events of this summer, coupled with the climax of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, have a profound effect on her overall development.
When I read enough of an author, I can get used to (and even tired of) certain repeated elements. For instance, John Irving loves strange sexual encounters, but I find them unoriginal. Gail Godwin often handles grief, abandonment by parents, and theological or ecclesiastical details, but I appreciate her repeated handling of these themes and others. It may be that she's just a better author, or it may be that I just like those themes better.
However, I would love to read a happy book for a change. I can only do so much grief and sadness. Any recommendations?
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