The Life-Book of Uncle Jesse.
First sentence: Uncle Jesse! The name calls up the vision of him as I saw him so often in those two enchanted summers at Golden Gate; as I saw him the first time, when he stood in the open doorway of the little low-eaved cottage on the harbour shore, welcoming us to our new domicile with the gentle, unconscious courtesy that became him so well.
Premise/plot: A rehearsal piece for Anne's House of Dreams. In this one, a young woman befriends a retired sea captain whose written down--in bits and pieces--his life story. It's full of adventure, drama, and heartache. He needs a writer to polish it up and make it a 'real' book. With a little help, he finds such an author and he gets to see the book published before he dies with a smile on his face.
My thoughts: This is the second 'rehearsal' for one of my favorite characters.
His tales were all literally true, and Uncle Jesse had the gift of the born story-teller, whereby "unhappy, far-off things" can be brought vividly before the hearer and made to live again in all their pristine poignancy.
A man can't pick his time for dying, Mary—jest got to go when the Captain gives his sailing orders. But if I could I'd go out when the morning comes in there at the Gate. I've watched it a many times and thought what a thing it would be to pass out through that great white glory to whatever was waiting beyant, on a sea that ain't mapped out on any airthly chart. I think, Mary, I'd find lost Margaret there."
The Little Black Doll
First sentence: Everybody in the Marshall household was excited on the evening of the concert at the Harbour Light Hotel—everybody, even to Little Joyce, who couldn't go to the concert because there wasn't anybody else to stay with Denise.
Premise/plot: Joyce is being raised by her grandmother. She is not her grandmother's favorite; in fact, her grandmother has little affection for her. Joyce is nursing 'the French girl' Denise who is dying. Denise's 'dying' wish is to hear Madame Laurin sing. Of course, she cannot go to the concert. But can Joyce convince Madame Laurin to come to their house and sing?! She's heard that the famed singer LOVES to collect dolls and her 'little black doll' is one of a kind--a find from an Egyptian tomb.
My thoughts: Joyce gets a chance to shine in this one. It was okay for me. But it wasn't a WOW that is the best short story ever reaction either.
The Man on the Train
First sentence: When the telegram came from William George, Grandma Sheldon was all alone with Cyrus and Louise. And Cyrus and Louise, aged respectively twelve and eleven, were not very much good, Grandma thought, when it came to advising what was to be done. Grandma was "all in a flutter, dear, oh dear," as she said.
Premise/plot: GRANDMA stays a-flutter in this amusing short story. She travels by train and is a bundle of nerves especially at the start--because you never know WHO you might meet on a train. But at one point she takes to a stranger. She talks his ear off essentially. He listens, but doesn't contribute much. But he is friendly enough to pay for her ticket--when her own gets lost--and to make sure she arrives safely to her destination (a family member's house). It isn't until a few days later that she learns WHO she met on a train.
My thoughts: Enjoyed this one very much!!!
"I shall fall and break my neck getting off the train," said Grandma pessimistically. But she was wondering at the same time whether she had better take the black valise or the yellow, and whether William George would be likely to have plenty of flaxseed in the house.
Why, she was just as comfortable as if she were in her own rocking chair at home! And there was such a lot of people to look at, and many of the ladies had such beautiful dresses and hats.
After all, the people you met on a train, thought Grandma, are surprisingly like the people you meet off it. If it had not been for wondering how she would get off at Green Village, Grandma would have enjoyed herself thoroughly.
© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews