A visit from an old imaginary friend
Monday, October 11, 2010
I have a habit of re-reading certain books over and over. Some of them I re-read seasonally - the Horatio Hornblower novels are a late fall/early winter fare, while E.F. Benson and P.G. Wodehouse are more of a spring/summer cocktail- some I read when I am stressed or so busy in my own life that I seek solace in literature - Jane Austen fits that bill as do Tolkien and Tolstoy - some books I read because they speak to me in a way that nothing else does - pretty much all of William Trevor, E.M Forster, certain Neil Gaiman novels, and some James Joyce. Some of these books I have read literally dozens of times - in fact, I know whole passages by heart. They are my imaginary friends and companions of my life. I will never switch to electronic books - no offense to those who love them - because I just love books too much. I like the smell of them, the feel of the covers and the paper, I notice the font choices and find out who did the cover design. I have in some cases purchased several copies of the same book just because I found the edition I liked especially well. It's a small scale obsession as of now - I live on a tight budget so I can't really go full speed crazy : )
This week, I happened to find a book I had lost for a while - it got hidden among some unrelated volumes on a book shelf and I did not see it there - and it happened to be just the book I needed to read again. A few years ago they made film of it with Frances McDormand and Amy Adams, which is truly lovely - a dark chocolate truffle with a port chaser of a movie - Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. I cannot express how much I love this book. It's witty, fast-paced, ripping good fun, Cinderella fantasy set in the late 1930s London. It's charming and beautifully written, but it's also thoughtful and kind and humanistic and touching in it's love and care for the heroin, Miss Pettigrew - a middle aged spinster, unsuccessful governess, an insecure, downtrodden, vulnerable woman, who , through a roller coaster of misunderstandings and lucky accidents, gets to "live as the Other Side does" and finds her happy ending (or a beginning, as one chooses to look at it). I can inhale this book in about two hours flat if given the opportunity. It sets me right with the world, it reminds me of all the latent possibility in myself and in each moment, it inspires me to dream beyond the nearest horizon.
I have been starting to feel a bit humdrum this past week. The weather has been changing, the chill has been more noticeable in the morning air, darkness has been coming on earlier. I was not feeling totally well, either, and so the forecast has been "mostly cloudy, rain turning to showers" (that being my favorite Seattle weatherman phrase). Now that I got my Miss Pettigrew fix, I got the tap back into my toes and a new snap to my fingers - who knows, it may even go so far as wearing makeup this week... well, at least lipstick.
Walking on the sunny side of the street - gratefully.