My mom, at a café in New York a few weeks ago
My mom and I have our own private Mother-Daughter Book Club. Which makes it sound much more formal than it actually is, but I think it's a fun way to think about it. My mom and I both happen to love reading and over the years we've told each other about the books we're reading, recommended books to each other, and often, we read books together and talk about them over the phone. I think that qualifies as a Mother-Daughter Book Club, don't you think?
This started back when we lived under the same roof and, therefore, had access to the same bookcases and only one library. So instead of having the luxury of reading two copies of the same book at the same time (as we do now) we often had to find ways to share the same book! I remember, more than once, that one of us would begin a new book, the other would pick it up as it was laying somewhere in the house and get hooked on it, and we would have to negotiate how to share it (because once you start a good book, it's hard to put it down!).
I was thinking back to this because I recall that this happened with one particular book, Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. I was remembering this book because my mom and I are now reading another of this author's novels, called Caleb's Crossing. My mom just finished it and I'm a few pages from the end. We both agreed that the book started out rather slowly, but that by the middle it comes to life and is so captivating. It's a beautiful story of a Puritan girl who grew up in 17th-century Martha's Vineyard, when it was a wilderness filled both with Native American tribes and English Puritan settlers. Caleb, in the novel, is an Indian man she befriends who becomes the first Native American graduate of Harvard College.
Here's a passage from the book that I read twice because I thought it was breathtaking and so beautifully written:
The island cried out to me. I longed to feast my senses on its light and air, and restore my spirit with its peace. If I answered its call, soon enough I would live again the familiar rhythms of its seasons--wincing winters and dappled summers, its shy, reluctant springtide and gleaming, bronzed leaf fall. I would be cradled by the known world of kine and crop, the heaviness of each day's familiar chores lightened by love of the very place in which I did perform them. I knew that life; I knew my place in it. If I threw my thoughts forward I could see myself at every age. To be sure, parts of the picture were wreathed in fog--the goodman beside me did not turn his face to show me who he was; the number of children at my board ebbed and flowed--but the woman at the center of the vision was clear; in bud, in blossom, and blown. I did not fear even the last of these visions: the frail old crone, hands gnarled and claw-like from a lifetime's toil, cheeks, etched and hollow, billowing forth a final breath. I knew that even as her petals withered, a good fruit ripened: the fruit of a life lived for family and faith and the rich harvests of a fertile place.
I highly recommend this book, and urge you to start your own Mother-Daughter Book Club! If you have any suggestions for what we should read next, please do let me know.