Saturday, February 17, 2018

Keep It Short #7

I have read two L.M. Montgomery short stories this week. Both were good. One was fantastic.

A Soul That Was Not At Home

First sentence: There was a very fine sunset on the night Paul and Miss Trevor first met, and she had lingered on the headland beyond Noel's Cove to delight in it.

Premise/plot: Miss Trevor meets a young imaginative boy, Paul, who is being raised near the shore by his single father. His best company is his father and the ROCK PEOPLE he meets daily--or near daily. Miss Trevor is charmed and wants to adopt him, but, can Paul leave the shore behind him? Or would Nora and the other rock people miss him too much. (His 'father' is not his biological father, more of a foster father.)

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this first glimpse of Paul. He is not quite the same Paul Irving we later meet in Anne of Avonlea or the same Paul that would come back to visit in Anne's House of Dreams. But you can recognize this story as being the birth of him. Miss Trevor is not of any great importance. She is no Anne Shirley or Miss Lavendar.

Abel and His Great Adventure

First sentence: "Come out of doors, master—come out of doors. I can't talk or think right with walls around me—never could. Let's go out to the garden." These were almost the first words I ever heard Abel Armstrong say. He was a member of the board of school trustees in Stillwater, and I had not met him before this late May evening, when I had gone down to confer with him upon some small matter of business. For I was "the new schoolmaster" in Stillwater, having taken the school for the summer term.

Premise/plot: A young school master learns life-lessons from an old soul, Abel Armstrong. The two meet together often in his garden.

My thoughts: I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. Abel Armstrong relates most clearly and strongly to Captain Jim from Anne's House of Dreams. 

Quotes:
This man had given up much and felt it deeply; but he had outlived the pain and the blessing of sacrifice had come to him.
"Now, you needn't talk if you don't want to," he said. "And I won't. We'll just sit here, sociable like, and if we think of anything worth while to say we'll say it. Otherwise, not. If you can sit in silence with a person for half an hour and feel comfortable, you and that person can be friends. If you can't, friends you'll never be, and you needn't waste time in trying."
"Great place for dreaming," said Abel complacently. "Being young, no doubt, you dream a-plenty." I answered hotly and bitterly that I had done with dreams. "No, you haven't," said Abel meditatively. "You may think you have. What then? First thing you know you'll be dreaming again—thank the Lord for it. I ain't going to ask you what's soured you on dreaming just now. After awhile you'll begin again, especially if you come to this garden as much as I hope you will. It's chockful of dreams—any kind of dreams. You take your choice. Now, I favour dreams of adventures, if you'll believe it. I'm sixty-one and I never do anything rasher than go out cod-fishing on a fine day, but I still lust after adventures. Then I dream I'm an awful fellow—blood-thirsty."
Abel shook his head. "I had a dog once. I cared so much for him that when he died I couldn't bear the thought of ever getting another in his place. He was a friend—you understand? The Captain's only a pal. I'm fond of the Captain—all the fonder because of the spice of deviltry there is in all cats. But I loved my dog. There isn't any devil in a good dog. That's why they're more lovable than cats—but I'm darned if they're as interesting."
Do you think any man could keep mad if he sat and looked into the heart of a pansy for ten minutes? When you feel like talking, I'll talk, and when you feel like thinking, I'll let you. I'm a great hand to leave folks alone.
You're young and I'm old, but our souls are about the same age, I reckon, and we'll find lots to say to each other.
Pain should not depress us unduly, nor pleasure lure us into forgetfulness and sloth.
Abel used to say. "My father held that we should never talk of things we couldn't understand. But, lord, master, if we didn't the subjects for conversation would be mighty few."
Life may be a vale of tears, all right, master, but there are some folks who enjoy weeping, I reckon.
But when I reached the arbour I saw that he was not asleep. There was a strange, wise little smile on his lips as if he had attained to the ultimate wisdom and were laughing in no unkindly fashion at our old blind suppositions and perplexities. Abel had gone on his Great Adventure.
© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

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