“But she observed her sister, hoping to learn something. All she could find out, though, was that Lucy took an absorbed interest in things she herself could take no interest in at all; endless books for instance, tame solitary pursuits like gardening and walking, domestic drudgery like cooking and working in the house, in silly things like hens, and in going to the help of tiresome people in the village who were always appealing to her about something. Lucy also took an open, and in Vera’s opinion, eccentric interest in God. She wanted to know more and more about God, she said. She said life was discovery and that was why you didn’t need to mind about growing old, because the older you got the farther you walked down the road of life and the more you found out. She thought that after death you went on learning. She really believed it, you could see it in her face, glowing with an interest which merely surprised Vera who felt nothing of it at all.” – from They Were Sisters
This passage neatly sums up the character of Lucy and is why I love her so. I admire her seemingly simple view of life, her uncomplicated interests and her idea that life is all about discovery. I’ve read this paragraph several times and it thrills and appeals to me each time.
Is there a character from a novel whose philosophy of life resonates with you?
“What a blessing it is to love books. Everybody must love something, and I know of no objects of love that give such substantial and unfailing returns as books and a garden. And how easy it would have been to come into the world without this, and possessed instead of an all-consuming passion, say, for hats, perpetually raging round my empty soul! I feel I owe my forefathers a debt of gratitude, for I suppose the explanation is that they too did not care for hats. In the centre of my library there is a wooden pillar propping up the ceiling, and preventing it, so I am told, from tumbling about our ears; and round this pillar, from floor to ceiling, I have had shelves fixed, and on these shelves are all the books that I have read again and again, and hope to read many times more – all the books, that is, that I love quite the best. In the bookcases round the walls are many that I love, but here in the centre of the room, and easiest to get at, are those I love the best – the very elect among my favorites.” -from The Solitary Summer
Isn’t this a great idea? Do you have any “pillar” books? Which ones are the very elect among your favorites? My pillar authors are Elizabeth Von Arnim herself, Barbara Pym, Mary Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor, Elizabeth Bowen, Willa Cather, and my Persephone collection.
“The things you think are the disasters in your life are not the disasters really. Almost anything can be turned around: out of every ditch, a path, if you can only see it.”
-Hilary Mantel from Wolf Hall
“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavour by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” – Washington Irving
Happy Mother’s Day!
“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” – Anne LaMott