a good book

In the wild heart of winter, I am keeping myself warm with cardigans, tea, toast, small wanderings in search of flowers, and lovely old books. I read a few pages of Anne of Green Gables then lay it down to dream the words deeper into my heart, where blossoms and brambly woodland walks have long made a nest of peace.

I've said this before, I'm sure - about how, when I mention that particular book, or when I'm carrying it out with me, people tell me how much they themselves love it, and what it means in their memory. Women, men - it seems universally beloved. Which makes me wonder why there are now so few books like it. I am especially confused when I watch the various tv programmes based on LM Montgomery's series and see how the gentle beauty of the stories has been increasingly mangled for the sake of drama and conflict. Why change something so beloved? Why force uncalled-for darkness and grit on us?

Certainly there is grit in Maud's books - more than most people might suppose. More than enough in Maud's own life too. But she set her art against bleakness (although it overcame her in the end.) She rejoiced in the world and in finding everywhere a possibility for imagination, beauty, hope. I can't remember the last contemporary Young Adult book I read that lavishly described, for its own sake, a beautiful garden, or the glide of light over fields. (I'm sure they exist though, and I simply haven't found them.)

I know many young people these days lead troubled lives, and it helps them to see that reflected in literature. If only there was more balance. If only more writers these days offered tales of beauty, charm, and the goodness of the world. After all, isn't that what we all want in real life? So why not in books?


  1. I truly believe all things come full circle
    they will return
    perhaps when the age of electronics calms.
    Beautiful, thought provoking post.

  2. Oh I feel the same way. I look and search for those books that fill me with beauty. I love how the Anne books makes me feel. I was an adult when I first read Anne of Green Gables, but I was going through a hard time, and that book made everything seem lighter. It felt like a treasure. A treasure I had found at a yard sale :)

  3. Oh, that photo is pure magic!

  4. Ilove your photo of the blossom trees by the river, it almost looks unreal.

  5. mmm, yes, and i was just wondering about this myself a day or two ago. i grew up reading voraciously, reading anything and everything; but my childhood books that stayed with me as comforts and touchstones are mostly older books which have that charm you mentioned. i wonder if the erosion of kindness and consideration, of manners in daily interactions, and also of tranquility, might be influenced by the absence of it in the trappings of modern childhood.

    i remember thinking at some point in later childhood that i was nostalgic for a world that ceased to exist long before i was born...

  6. I feel the same way. I picked up Anne after the recent unpleasantness of a panic attack, and since then, I've been aware of how in books and movies and television, truly interesting-but-not-violent stories are very hard to find. I so enjoy British mysteries, but they are getting grittier and more dark each year and I find myself staying away from them now. I am certain all of the darkness in story is contributing to the world's darkness...