Some books make you want to be good. Old books, usually, with garish blue and yellow covers and heroines named Lucinda. The lines that swell your heart are part treacle, part truth, and remind you of the importance of C.S. Lewis’, "It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between."
The Year of Jubilo is the sequel to Sawyer’s Newbery-winning Roller Skates, where Lucinda grows and flourishes despite--because of--hardships in the cool, crisp state of Maine. I’m an enormous fan of both novels and the simple pleasures they provide. Rich prose, as befits a writer raised on the stories of an Irish nurse. Plenty of allusions to Shakespeare and the King James Bible, as becomes a 70-year-old tale. “…holding these things we have in common as being more precious than rubies.” “I’ll be shield and buckler against Carter.” “Lucinda, who hated sewing as Tybalt hated the devil, all Montagues, and Romeo, gave of her time religiously to help her mother on.”
Sawyer is an author to read slowly and steadily, with a pencil in hand.
“Duncan brought up the matter of studies…. They would inaugurate the Oxford system. Each man for himself and as hard as he could go it.” A reminder of what used to dominate a good college education: reading.
“Early in the morning the stars drop so close to earth—no, water—that you feel if you cast up in the sky you could hook enough for breakfast…. There you have us, sitting for half an hour, talking in whispers, why whispers I don’t know. Perhaps because the world is enchanted and a loud, harsh voice might break the spell. And as we sat, there came from the four corners of the earth a hush, you know, finger to lips. I’ve sat that way with you so many times waiting for the curtain to go up. And we were waiting for the day’s curtain to go up, and for five minutes no one even whispered.”
It may sound Elsie Dinsmore, but it isn’t. And in this fast-paced publishing world, we can’t forget to enjoy a few hours with good, strong, old stories once in a while.