Echoing the mood of the music video and the film, it seems that beginnings start from a moment of inspiration or chance. So does blog names, I guess. I’m back to where I started where nostalgia and picturesque postcards fill my mind.
Flowers are blooming and subtly leaves turn a little bit of color and start falling as end of classes loomed. The bougainvilleas on our street are a tangle of hues and trails. Heat is felt now even on early mornings and, though most definitely look forward to the hot months, I look forward to it with a sense of mixed dread and exhilaration.
It’s spring in the Western hemisphere and the cherry blossoms are in flagrant display. In my corner of the country, it is high summer and, oh my, here comes the allergies. I’m afraid I would most likely become a homebody for the rest of May until the rain comes to signal the wet months.
I shall be digging to my summer books; stories that mirror the engulfing dry air and blazing sunlight of April. Perhaps, a reread of Mary Stewarts’s The Moonspinners and The Gabriel Hounds or some historical novel in the Australian bush like Barbara Wood’s The Dreaming. Stories set somewhere in Morocco and India will do just as well. Just for now, I shall resist the call of the beach and the sea.
P.S. If you haven’t noticed, I do have more than a couple of blogs and if you make time, you’d find it sort of works like a messy puzzle. It appears I am still fond of hiding (or making cabinets whichever) though it is much possible it relates to me being, even after all these years, just an ordinary amateur blogger who doesn’t take it much seriously. In time I may yet put them all together but all in good time.
You know when they say something is too beautiful, too close to the heart it hurts. That is how I see this book. In piercing waves that could be brought only by sharp truths and bittersweet recollection, this book owned me. Dusty Answers is nostalgia in its purest form, of memories stirring with fleeting delights and drawn-out melancholy.
It may be that its wistfulness is what makes it appealing. Its characters remain with you (and I could almost not let go of the last page). It enthralls not with the plot but in the beauty of Lehmann’s prose and how she draws scenes, the characters and their sentiments. She captures on point those young delightful years of childhood and that seeking sense of belonging in each of us.
Dusty Answer is a coming of age story about a solitary girl whose journey is at best a gradual course to the threshold of adulthood and realizations. It is growing pains as we call it and naturally passing to this rite entails the taste of regret and pain and reluctant absolution.
Lehmann’s writing style (and I can’t get over it) reflects an idyllic atmosphere but tainted with shades of melancholy. I could get lost in her descriptions and wistful musings. She draws out the emotion and expressions of each character through their gestures, body language and, in some cases, their silence and unspoken words; which hits far deeper than mere utterances. It is a kind of book that gives one a different take on every re-reading (and I myself can’t wait to do but as their presence lingers still that I could hardly get around to it).
It was published in 1927 and in the following years, the book seemed to go out of the radar. I’m quite grateful to pick this book in an arbitrary chance, as I dig through forgotten modern classics, especially British literature (like Barbara Pym, Elizabeth Taylor, and other colleagues). Apparently, this particular book was mentioned in Ian McEwan’s Atonement (which I obviously haven’t read yet) and enjoyed a little spurt of recognition once again in the late 20th century.
Judith’s world seemed so distant now but the sentiments on her journey to womanhood still rings true at present time. Near the end, in her knowing eyes and stance, I almost mourned the child she was just like in all of us. This one will definitely have a place in my bookshelf.
This review is part of my original post from our book blog, Deluged with Books.
A happy coincidence would be reading book characters or places consequently mentioned or related to the last book I’ve read. In the image, I was reading Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson on my Nook while looking at a map of British Columbia from a page of Susan Vreeland’s The Forest Lover which was set in the same place.
Last month, I was on the first few pages of Left Turn at Paradise by Thomas Shawver reading about a forgotten memoir of a sailor who sailed with the renowned Captain Cook. Five days later, I started A Flower for the Queen by Caroline Vermalle and, lo and behold, there is Captain Cook in living flesh. It brought the stories into a different dimension reading a small part of his life riding the seas and knowing one of his men must be in some remote corner of the boat writing a journal to be discovered in the distant future.
In my readings, there also comes a dawning pause in the onslaught of familiar feelings relating to two or more books expressing odd parallels. A travel memoir about India, Sally Tisdale’s Great Buddha Gym for All Mens and Womens is one of those light-handed works, refreshing in its narrative on the delights and uncertainties of travel and spirituality. Perhaps there is something to touching the surface lightly. Though most expressions would deign to disagree, serving to encourage us to delve upon the depths of strange places and the pulse of culture. As I read this, there floats, in the outskirts of my mind, another book about India, Kanyakumari by Hazel Manuel. One character remarked about a traveler not dwelling on impressions, that she just becomes someone who leaves people behind, which was delivered in a rather sad and bittersweet note the way truths sometimes are. I might be off the tangent here but Tisdale’s writing reminded me of that passage.
It leaves me in a bit of a loss to realize I agree on both points, to see myself rather ambiguous. It is indeed important, for a deeper understanding, to embrace and seek the heart of a land or of a moment in unfamiliar grounds. On the other hand, we always return home and what we have tasted is just a blip in the entirety of this another world.
It’s been slow going with sporadic delightful moments as the first leg of the new year kicked in. Some days were filled with tours among botanical prints in the museum, a week long trip out of town, bursts of inspiration, Mary Stewart book finds, small reunion of old friends, art fairs and lecture, good last minute decisions, and food trips among other things. Some days are quite tough but I find dawning realizations a welcome relief.
Tonight, I write this while in the background T.S. Eliot reads his own poem, Ash Wednesday. Nothing like poetry reading to perk up my mood and stir my brain. Methinks, I’ll spend this Friday night listening to poetry readings.
Of late, I’ve been looking into spaces (in the web world). It is just one of those recurring phases of delight that comes to me along with my moods. Last time it was the frenzy for rolling gardens and landscapes. I adored the home of Gisèle d’Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht and Claire Basler’s floral art and amazing studio (I can’t get over it!).
The post was on my draft corner for weeks and only just now posting it up. Ironically enough, it’s Friday again and Elton John’s Tiny Dancer plays against my ears. What a suitable song to end the week worthy of a shrug-off.
Sentimentality, choices not taken and hope merged in this little classic. After the death of her husband, Lady Slane, in her late eighties, moved out of the London family home, to the surprise of her children, and decided to spend her remaining days away from the bustle and clamor of her old life.
Vita Sackville-West, like her friend V. Woolf, echoed the inevitable ends of women in this thoughtful novel. By way of nostalgia, she expressed the ruminations of a life found wanting. She spoke further of how easily women’s lives (or selves) could be swallowed up in the wake of marriage, children and social responsibilities, their true desires forgotten and set aside as they get caught up in a current much stronger than them.
I was a bit surprised for it wasn’t what I expected all along. Noting the tone of wryness in the beginning, I thought it’ll be a satire. Then there was a hint of romance so I waited for it. But as I read further on, I discovered it was more than that. The book felt like it drew out thoughts I had philosophized in my head from time to time, thoughts I could not articulate very well and Vita wrote them in a plain easy manner with such delicate metaphors. She seemed to peek inside our souls and laid open our regrets and yearnings.
I liked immensely the more eccentric characters like Edith the youngest daughter (whose view of the world is rather on point but she struggles in making people around her understand), Mr. Gosheron and perhaps even Mr. Bucktrout, last name and all. In the end I was left with a dull melancholy mixed with a flicker of hope but it was negated somewhat with subtle bristling affectation as the last dialogues were uttered. Filled with wisdom and musings, it allows us to see the world with its sometimes inaccurate perception, with its facades that hid broken spirits.
As a novel that engages a lot of discussion on women, All Passion Spent is a good companion to Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and Townsend Warner’s Lolly Willowes.
This review is part of my original post from our book blog, Deluged with Books.