I know this is crazy, but usually around a third of the way through a novel, I flip to the back to check out the ending. If the book is in traditional genre romance, they always have a happy ending, so I pretty much know where the book is headed anyway, but I still have a guilty thrill by hopping ahead. On the other hand, women’s fiction or historical novels don’t always end happily, and I want to brace myself for what is coming.
Last year I read a book which I had mistaken for a genre romance book, and foolishly neglected to read the last few pages. It had a great historical setting with a magnificent challenge for the hero and heroine to overcome. By the end of the book, not only have the hero and heroine split up, but the heroine’s daughter was tragically killed in a laughably bizarre accident. I was so mad! That was not what I bargained for when I invested a weekend delving into that novel. I actually thought the girl’s death was handled clumsily, as if the author was grasping at straws to up the emotional ante. As a reader, I felt manipulated and I really wished I had peeked at the end of that one.
Anyway, I know that I can’t be the only one who indulges in this little quirk.
The only author I refuse to hop ahead for is Ken Follett. I actually paperclip the final pages together so I don’t let myself down and cheat. So far he has been really good about delivering “the right” ending, but I can never be 100% certain.
I hope you all have some wonderful reading scheduled for this long holiday week…… and you’ve got my permission to peek ahead!
I used to struggle every year at Christmas with the problem of finding gifts for people. It can be a real struggle to find something the recipient will like, need, or welcome. My parents have down-sized to a tiny retirement apartment, and don’t want anything. Other people have very particular tastes in books or music and are a challenge to buy for. Don’t even get me started about the dangers of buying clothing….
A few years ago I stumbled upon the ultimate solution. Monasteries, convents, seminaries, and other religious communities often support themselves by selling gifts such as homemade soap, candy, jellies, candles, pottery, and notecards. Some even sell beer and wine! A jar of home made blueberry jam or rose-scented soap is a wonderful and inexpensive gift, at the same time you are helping support a religious community. Who wouldn’t like some homemade candy or preserves?
There is a website that serves as a clearinghouse for many religious orders. You can do a little online at Monastery Greetings here.
Summer never seems to end in Florida, and we’ve got about two more months of the growing season. I’ve been very lax in regards to the backyard (also known as The Jungle.) This weekend I attacked it with vigor!
This week, Bill and I have are celebrating our ten year anniversary. I can say without a doubt, it has been the best ten years of my life (and I make him say the same thing to me!)
It doesn’t seem like ten years. It seemed like only last year we were moving in to our house and figuring out who would get to use the shower first in the mornings. Now I can’t imagine a life without him in it.
I got married relatively late in life, and I think this was an odd sort of blessing. After all those years of flying solo, I have become deeply, profoundly appreciative of having a partner in life.
We don’t really have any special plans. I have been warning Bill for a couple of years that I might want to get a nice ring or something (you can see from the picture that I wear a plain wedding band, and I have a grand total of four pairs of earrings to my name, so jewelry has never been a big thing for me). We went and looked at rings, but well…..meh. I think what I am enjoying about hitting the ten year mark is simply the ability to SAY that I have been married for ten years. It seems like such a nice, solid number. It expresses the sense of strength and solidity that I feel being Bill’s wife. I can’t wait for the next ten years…
I have always loved the theme of people being able to forge their own path in life, especially if it involves defying expectations. In America we often take this for granted, but I think it was a fairly new concept in the course of human history. Throughout the ages, most people simply followed in the well-worn paths that had been carved out for them by generations of their forefathers. If your father was a farmer, you became a farmer. A blacksmith? A printer? You began learning the trade as you grew up and worked alongside your father until you were ready to take over the reins.
I admire people who defy expectations. In The Lady of Bolton Hill, Daniel was destined to work in a steel mill until he was an old man…..but with an immense amount of work, a bit of ingenuity, and a lot of luck, he broke free of the mold that had been built for him. Clara also defies expectations. Despite her father’s determination that she become a world-famous composer, she breaks away to forge her own path as a journalist. It is not always easy to break out of those expectations, but if a person is true to him or herself….has a level of introspection and faith that they are on the right path….forging your own destiny is not only possible, it is the best way to live.
We have so much more freedom now. This can be a mixed blessing, which I see on my college campus every day as young adults struggle to define themselves. Panic begins to set in during their senior year when they realize that reality is looming just a few short months away and they are still uncertain about what they want to be “when they grow up.” The temptation to dive into graduate school is intense. In many cases, it is a mistake.
I don’t think we can blame young people for struggling with what kind of career they want to pursue. In the course of history, this is a very new concept. I tell the my students that there is nothing wrong with “treading water” for a few years while you decide what you want to do. I certainly did. After college with a degree in history (and what precisely do you do with that?) I worked in an entry level position as a data entry clerk. It was during those two years of self-reflection that I determined what I ultimately wanted to do with my life. To my dismay, I learned that becoming a librarian would require a master’s degree in Library Science. This was in the early 1990’s, before the era of online education, and since there was no graduate program in Virginia, it required me to move to Indiana for my degree.
Leaving everything I knew behind to trek out on my own was scary, a financial burden, and a lot of work, but I had the gift of freedom to forge my own destiny. And that turned out to be a very good thing.
Photo courtesy of James Walsh