Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1910)

What an outstanding book.
I didn't know what to expect but it is such a pleasing story. A children's book yes, it has that feel but it covers many of life's major problems much of them with fine Yorkshire honesty.

This is an excellent book for children to read and discuss; so many spot-on life lessons are laid out clearly and plainly. 

Found this when I ran out of reading material up north.
It has a beautiful cover made of some faux leather like material.
The characters are great, and the 1st half is with out flaw, the second half brings in the power of positive thinking; a new concept in the early 1900s and it gets just a little thick at times.

Ben gives a little insight into his opinion on authority:
“Th’ best thing about lecturin’,” said Ben, “is that a chap can get up an’ say aught he pleases an’ no other chap can answer him back. I wouldn’t be agen’ lecturin’ a bit mysel’ sometimes.”

Mrs Sowerby steels the show at times with her wisdom.
“Two worst things as can happen to a child is never to have his own way - or always to have it.”

“The robin flew from his swinging spray of ivy on to the top of the wall and he opened his beak and sang a loud, lovely trill, merely to show off. Nothing in the world is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows off - and they are nearly always doing it.”  
I have noticed this year especially that the Robins are some of the most friendly and least fearful of the birds in the neighborhood.

“Listen to th' wind wutherin' round the house," she said. "You could bare stand up on the moor if you was out on it tonight."
Mary did not know what "wutherin'" meant until she listened, and then she understood. 

  Martha may be the most fun to read of all.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Overland to Cariboo: an eventful journey of Canadian pioneers in 1862 By Margaret McNaughton (1896)

Found this old gem recently, payed $2 for it, can't find any better on the net for under a $100.

It is an "account" of what happened in second hand by the wife of one of the adventurers.

An astonishing account of perseverance, blind stupidity, and luck (by most) in trying to get to the Gold rush site in Cariboo.Once again greed is a substantial motivator. The Great Expectations of many are met in spades but only after substantial hardships.

And as in Great Expectations these men have forged life long alliances with their fellow travelers that served them well through out their remaining years.

The book has many pictures (some useless) but all intended to capture the moment which they do.

Really nice condition copy.
The stout looking Margarete.
Let's go!
Are you kidding me? Wooden wheels NO metal parts, what a nightmare.

The Canadian Indians of the day were much friendlier than our Western Indians; Canadian Eh?
Without their help at critical points some of the travelers would not have made it.

A 50hr trip by car!

The Panama Canal was under construction at the time of the writing but the only other way to get there in 1862 was around the Horn.

I didn't count how many times "the boat overturned and they lost every thing" came up but it was a lot.

The book ends with a one page Bio for some of the key players and illustrates how hardship can make the man. And how hardship endured together can forge a future

Kudos to all the Canadians and the Immigrants that accomplished this dream.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1861)

I did not like it as much as David Copperfield however it is very good. As relevant today as when written.

As with all Dickens it has the Good, the Bad, the Ugly, the Evil, the Kind, the Smart, the Dumb, the Intelligent, and the Common folks depicted in very insightful ways. Oh, and redemption too.

I would say that the 1st half sort of plods along but it takes all that to set the stage for the second half.
The 2nd half becomes a whirl wind of action, intrigue and adventure.

Got tired of waiting to find a better one at the estate sales so I picked this one up.

No date, maybe early 1900's

Pretty good condition.
Don't know how they served themselves or the readers by leaving out the details but this is all you get when it comes in a set.
The only illustration was a very poor choice but, they often are.

Amazing contrasts between city and country characters.
The city characters all have a forced duplicity in that they are play acting when at work and more real to their nature when at home. Wemmick is so likable at home and I wish he were a friend of mine; able to switch from business to personal and keep the two in their own compartments. I guess I have known many who can and cannot make this transition; if required it is the better way to go, duplicity that is.

 One of the searing quotes:
"All other swindlers on earth are nothing to the self-swindlers" never heard it put so sharply.

Pip to me becomes a good "every-man" in-spite of his (and others for him) Great Expectations. Oh to recall my own Great Expectations and to now confront the reality of a life where much good has been achieved, many missteps taken and my Great Expectations won't be achieved.

The young many about town, having fun spending all his money, getting in debt and finding out he is a fraud. So as soon as he discovers his benefactor's real identity we as readers are forced to decide what we would do; keep riding the gravy train comes to mind. Pip has a young man's idealism and decides otherwise.

Although he never "goes back to the farm" he admits several times he may have been happier staying there.

Magwitch is one character that is a product of his upbringing (this of course could never happen today) but strives to good for his own legacy. He however is chained to his inescapable past doings, as are we all.

The concept of a benefactor is the only device that on the surface seems rare however social privilege has in fact a similar effect. And too the benefits of making and retaining friends through out the course of life is a critical take away and should be heeded well by the young reader. Loosing all your formative years friends is a mistake. FYI by formative years I mean your late teens and twenties, friends after that (in the words of my stepfather) are most likely just acquaintances. 

Several times we wish Handel would stop over thinking things and consider the better option or just take it all in instead of coming to things with a preconceived notion.

The book has many lessons for those of you living a dream. I think the hardest lesson to see is how each life event is going to force a future upon you, and how to shape that event outcome for the best; the forest for the trees issue. The old adage: life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it, could be calculated for each of the characters in the novel, it would be fun to place each of them on an X Y chart.