Nonsensical Geometry: The Two Love Triangles of Jane Eyre

The central romance in Jane Eyre resolves happily. (Do I need to mark that as a spoiler? Surely not! Surely, if you haven’t read Charlotte Bronte’s triumph of a novel by this time, you’ve at least watched a movie version?) Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre overcome every obstacle, including those within themselves, to meet as equals at last in the eyes of all, marry, produce offspring, and live happily ever after. Good for them. Continue reading

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An Unconventional Life

The particular relationship between Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, her husband William, Duke of Devonshire and Lady Bess Foster has fascinated historians for generations. While married women often had to tolerate their husband’s mistresses, it was unheard of to place her in the same house as the wife. The scandal was even more juicy because Georgiana and Bess were best friends… or could they have been something more? Continue reading

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

One reading subject dominated my growing-up period–The Hardy Boys. Most little girls I knew were reading either Nancy Drew, which I get because my mother is a huge fan even today, or Goosebumps, which was not up my alley. No, my passion was to be one Frank and Joe’s “chums,” off on crazy and reckless adventures with them. Continue reading

Fight the Nothing: The NeverEnding Story

Experiencing stories not only exercises a child’s imagination, it also progresses their emotional development. When a child reads (or watches) a tale that touches them, they can learn more about the world around them and how to deal with the things in it. Particularly the difficult things. Many children’s novels do this. One of them is The NeverEnding Story. It serves an important purpose by providing kids with a fantastical way to process true life problems. Continue reading

More Than a Kindred Spirit: Ramona Quimby

I don’t remember the first time I encountered Ramona Quimby. My mom read me one of Beverly Cleary’s books when I was probably five or six—so long ago, Ramona has always been a part of my consciousness. Why? Because, though I didn’t know how to phrase it that way, I knew from the start that Ramona and I were kindred spirits. Continue reading

The Wonder of Little Boys: Stranger Things

I have a particular fondness for little boys. Their humor, their antics, the orneriness. I love it when my dad talks about his boyhood antics. Never in a million years would this girl have thought about dropping a cherry bomb down a chimney or hopping on a train! I enjoy reading about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn because Mark Twain knew what it was like to be a little boy. He wrote what he knew. He was, most probably, an ornery little kid. And the best fictional boys come from those who were ones. Continue reading

The Lion, The Witch, & the Wardrobe

My Dear Lucy,

I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result, you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still…

Your affectionate Godfather,

CS Lewis Continue reading

Life in a Dark Room: Lydia Deetz of Beetlejuice

Sure, I loved Disney Princesses. I loved watching Aurora wander through the forest and talk to magical owls; I sang along with Ariel as she swam through her grotto; I flew on the magic carpet ride with Jasmine. Although I loved them, I aspired to be them; I never saw myself in them. The first character in whom I saw myself reflected was decidedly not a Disney Princess. Continue reading

Something Out of Nothing: The Kitchen Madonna

Few authors capture the magic of childhood as well as Rumer Godden.

Until a year ago, I’d have argued the finest example is Godden’s Christmastime classic, The Story of Holly and Ivy, dual-narrated by a lonely orphan girl and a lonely doll without an owner. Now, though, I have to admit another Godden story, The Kitchen Madonna, might just give Holly and Ivy a run for their money. Continue reading