Saturday, May 01, 2021

Things that are stuck in my head

In the comments section of the last post, blog readers helpfully suggested some books I might like, and I have ordered three. Illyrian Spring arrived in the post today.

In the first few pages there is a paragraph that amuses me hugely. The main character, Grace Kilmichael, is running away from her husband, her grown up children and herself. It is the 1930s. She is on the Orient Express, leaving Victoria Station, and reading that day's edition of The Times...

It struck me that for high society in the 1930s, the personal column of The Times was obviously like Twitter or Facebook.

But also, I love the sentence: 'No correspondence will be forwarded.' In other words - 'Leave me alone and bugger off.'

I am going to enjoy this book. And in the future I will always remember those hilarious two sentences. And that made me think about short paragraphs or sentences in other books that catch my attention and linger in my memory long after I have finished the book.

SPOILER ALERT for The Age of Innocence and Even When They Know You

There is such a paragraph in The Age of Innocence in the last few pages -  when Newland finds out via his son Dallas, that Newland's wife knew of his affair with the Countess Olenska;

Every time I read the book this paragraph makes me cry. And I stole the idea and used it in my book Even When They Know You:

There is a sentence I adore in another book that I have shared with you in the past. It's from Nora Ephron's Heartburn:

" 'Now you can sing these songs to Sam' was part of the disgusting inscription and I can't begin to tell you how it sent me up the wall, the idea of my two-year-old child, my baby, involved in some dopey inscriptive way in this affair between my husband, a fairly short person, and Thelma Rice, a fairly tall person with a neck as long as an arm and a nose as long as a thumb and you should see her legs, never mind her feet, which are sort of splayed.”

I love it because her writing is so skilfully funny.

Then there are two paragraphs from Garrison Keillor's Leaving Home that mean a lot to me:

It speaks for itself. Images of the past - wonderful or sad - stick in my mind in a very visual way. And I sometimes feel blissfully overwhelmed by a moment of natural beauty aligned with a feeling of happiness or rightness.

This is from Willa Cather's Shadow of the Rock:

When Jacques and Cécile ran out into the cold again, from the houses along the tilted street the evening candlelight was already shining softly. Up at the top of the hill, behind the Cathedral, that second afterglow, which often happens in Quebec, had come on more glorious than the first. All the western sky, which had been hard and clear when the sun sank, was now throbbing with fiery vapours, like rapids of clouds; and between, the sky shone with a blue to ravish the heart,--that limpid, celestial, holy blue that is only seen when the light is golden.

"Are you tired, Jacques?"

"A little, my legs are," he admitted.

"Get on the sled and I will pull you up. See, there's the evening star--how near it looks! Jacques, don't you love winter?" She put the sled-rope under her arms, gave her weight to it, and began to climb. A feeling came over her that there would never be anything better in the world for her than this; to be pulling Jacques on her sled, with the tender, burning sky before her, and on each side, in the dusk, the kindly lights from neighbours' houses. If the Count should go back with the ships next summer, and her father with him, how could she bear it, she wondered. On a foreign shore, in a foreign city (yes, for her a foreign shore), would not her heart break for just this? For this rock and this winter, this feeling of being in one's own place, for the soft content of pulling Jacques up Holy Family Hill into paler and paler levels of blue air, like a diver coming up from the deep sea.

I think that perhaps such moments where I feel 'there would never be anything better in the world for her than this'  are what I would like to capture in my paintings.

Cece (8) just sent me this photo she took of her sunrise in Colorado - oh, those colours!


marmee said...

Thanks sue! These excerpts will send me back to Garrison Keillor and Willa Cather for sure. Illyrian Spring had been niggling at me since your last post. I know I have a copy of it! So lovely to think that nothing you do for children is ever wasted. And no I know it is true ! I can recall a wonderful interaction with a beloved uncle when I was a young child that made me feel so loved.

Anonymous said...

Lovely to se a reference to 'Illyrian Spring' , a library book of my mother's which I read as a teenager and have often wondered about it since. I'd love to know what you think of it.

Sue Hepworth said...

I am really enjoying it. There is a little too much description for my taste, but I like the characters and the story very much, and I am interested in the references to painting and drawing.