And I shall about the two biographies of Louisa May Alcott and Lucy Maud Montgomery. However, the two books add up to almost a thousand pages and may take a little time to devour. The Alcott book was written by a screenwriter, while the Montgomery was written by a scholar who has been involved with her life for decades. The later reminds me of the book my friend Judith Thurman wrote about Colette's life. Judith spent years in research and her book is a testament to her skill as a researcher, writer, and literary critic. A subject can take over one's life.
This morning, I spoke on the phone with a research librarian at Washington Irving's home, Sunnyside, in Irvington, New York. I could tell by her voice what enthusiasm she has for her work. Catalina Hannan will be exciting to work with. She, too, is working on a book about life in the 19th century, having discovered a cache of letters in Irving's family. "It is the everyday life that fascinates me," she said in our long conversation. "And I always know that the avenue I am taking will lead to so many more things to discover." I am beginning to think there is a "fine madness" about rediscovering the past, and those of us engaged in it keep turning pages and in every one there is the possibility of revelation.
And so, we will not be rushed. I have to give Mary Henley Rubio her due on her Montgomery biography. It will take some time to truly appreciate it. But what I can say, is that such an endeavor is in itself admirable. I have questioned before whether biographers chose their subjects, or if it the other way around. I'm inclined to think the latter. This is the book that Rubio was meant to write and to which she had pledged the very best she has to give. What is also important is to tell the story so that the reader comes along with the same passion as the writer. That is what I will be looking for in this book.
I am delighted by the comments I have been receiving from those of you on this blog. Anne, of Green Gables fame, was the one who gave us our kindred spirits reference. (I even adore being called to task for loving Daniel Green slippers. And I admit that this season's shoe with puppy faces give me pause...) What I love about our recent book discussions is that these are
works that have given us a common language with which to communicate; We can talk shorthand when we deal with things that have become so much a part of our lexicon.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning has been in mine since I memorized her poetry when I tried out for the drama club in high school. I didn't get in, but How Do I Love Thee? has never left me. And how much I liked doing the story in Victoria magazine that brought her world to life. I am touched that it was so meaningful to some of you.
And so, in the words of Robert Frost, I have promises to keep, and hopefully will fulfill them as we blog on.