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July 21, 2006



I realize that this is your space, but you can't expect me to leave this uncommented-upon! I confess with some timidity (but not to YOU) that one of the most worn, velvety books in my library is "These Happy Golden Years" -- yes, it was the most romantic and grownup of all Laura's childhood stories, but there was much more to its siren-song, which called to me repeatedly from the age of about 10 until oh...now? Her childhood, her world, her entire life, were unbelievably removed from mine in suburban Australia, and yet I felt like I was right inside her head every step of the way. From a little half-pint nibbling maple-sugar candy in the Big Woods of Wisconsin and weeping over a frozen rag doll on the prairie, to her newly-wed joy in the delights of Almanzo's purpose-built pantry on their new claim. (Those neat drawers filled with different kinds of sugars and flours!) I think why I loved this one the most...no, why I kept returning to it most often, is because it was the culmination (for then) of her life, from teaching her own school in the most miserable, terrifying of conditions, to her surprised realization that she had herself a beau! I felt like I'd grown up with her, although separated by over a hundred years, half a planet, and innumerable cultural differences. It's also the reason I still have a (theoretical) fondness for pearl-and-garnet rings. I suppose the next-most-velvety books in my collection are my 1973 imprint Narnia collection (held together with Scotch tape and love, like my Ingalls Wilders) and my one-volume 1968 paperback edition of 'Lord of the Rings'. You can see what kind of a world my inner child lived in! The funniest part is, I have new editions/sets of all of these favorites, but I often go back to my old, soft ones, perhaps to revisit a feeling, or a world, rather than simply to read the stories. It IS possible to travel through time, if you keep your standards quite reasonable! Speaking of time-travel, my Douglas Adams trilogy (in five parts) is pretty beaten-up, too.


What a fun exercise in nostalgia... I agree with Helen that These Happy Golden Years is wothy of being read til its worn to pieces, as is Little Town on the Prairie. My copies were literally falling apart by the time I had children, so I used that as an excuse to buy new hardback copies as I read through the series with my daughter when she was around six. She's read through the series hersef, but not with the same passion that I had I'm a little sad to say.(For some reason, she has a mind of her own with her own favorite peices of literature.) My copies of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich are also almost beyond salvaging. I was attracted, obviously, to books about stereotypically "simpler" times. I think that my interest in knitting and cooking stems from those books. Francie's mother in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was too busy trying to make sure that the family didn't starve to sit quietly in the evening and knit, but the other books had domesticity as central elements, even though Laura wasn't crazy about a lot it!


What a joy it was to see a picture of Franz Werfel's SONG OF BERNDADETTE on your stack! That was a book I loved and also read several times during my high school years, along with THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. Somehow, however, everyone I know loved Anne Frank, but very few people I know read Bernadette.

Thanks for a lovely trip down memory lane.


Oh, I don't know. I've always kind of liked Cinderella, and think the Disney version always had a certain amount of spunk. I liked that about her! (Same with Drew Barrymore's version a few years ago.) And yes, Anne Frank got me trying to write a diary, too . . . not that it lasted!

I loved the Scholastic books, too, and still have some of mine. I loved the Ruth Chew books...

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  • “Compassion is not religious business, it is human business; it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability; it is essential for human survival.”

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