Saturday, August 4, 2012

August 4: Nerves and Books

Today is the Echo Lake Swim, a 1.5 mile "race" (ahem) in a lovely lake on MDI. This will be the second time I've participated, and I *know* I can complete it, but still--the water is deep, and I really don't want to be hauled in via kayak. . . . So of course I woke up at 5 and have been up since. Additionally, the two big cats need to go to the vet's office for their shots, so we have to 1. ignore their pleas to go outside, 2. jam them into their boxes, and 3. Lyle's friend Neal will come pick them AND Nate up to drive them to the vet's, since I double-booked myself for this morning (see above note about the Swim!) and Andy is in Boston, having put Lyle on an early plane to CA for 10 days.   <=that sentence seems to summarize my recent days. Maybe it's having no real set schedule; maybe it's the otherwise happy fact that Nate has gotten a job at Blueberry Hill Dairy Bar (but has no license); maybe it's the fact that it's August so we've scheduled a lot of "got to get this [visit/meeting/appointment/other] done" events. . . . but I'm feeling a tad scattered. I need a good, fat, cheerful read and an afternoon of luxurious sitting around in which to do it. Mission set!

*Found a Susan Phillips which was cheesy but certainly fat and cheerful. Yay! Also did the swim in 57:03, down from 64:plus 2 years ago. Yay!

The ChaperoneThe Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. The Chaperone is a pleasure, a great example of the joys of historical fiction. Unlike The Paris Wife, which felt like it was trying to be non-fiction done without research to back it up, lacking originality, The Chaperone, through the character of Cora Carlisle, creates a vivid, warm picture of what life was like in the 1920's, as well as providing a more general, but equally fascinating, picture of how people adapt their true selves to society's rules and expectations. Throughout the book, the characters reveal more and more layers and nuances, making for an absorbing and interesting read.

The Chaperone was on a lot of summer's best reading lists, and now I know why. If you have three more weeks of summer left, I urge you to pick this one up!

Great lines: "She was grateful that life was long."

. . . "The train windows had been open for most of the trip from Chicago, and she felt as if she'd been basted in grease, thoroughly heated, and finally dipped in dust."

When Cora's grandniece interrogates her about the Klan's development in Wichita, Moriarty writes, "Were people just stupider then? Meaner? Maybe, Cora allowed. But it was foolish to assume that had you lived in that time, you wouldn't be guilty of the same ignorance, unable to reason your way out. Cora herself had only escaped that particular stupidity because of her special circumstance. Other confusions had held her longer."

Aside from her skillful writing and perceptive imagination, I think what makes the book stand out is Moriarty's ability to show how people "reason their ways out" of various conflicts--the book is, overall, a hopeful picture of human nature and what life really is like between the lines of history.

View all my reviews

Right now I am mostly through "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide", by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, but I do need another good piece of fiction for the rest of the weekend. There IS the Olympics, but the coverage is driving me crazy, as they hold the events we want to see till after 10 pm, and, frankly, Scarlett, I'm in bed by then. Ah well. Here I am reveling in summer, all other issues notwithstanding: 

I am off to prep for The Swim--and the Cat Stuffing Event, degree of difficulty 7.8. Hope I survive both unscathed! 

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