Thursday, August 5, 2010


Right now one of my students is reading Middlemarch.  He is wrestling with Dorothea's fierce opinionated independence set against the gloriously layered strata of the seething, gossipy town.  The blurbs on the back are from Henry James and Virginia Woolf.  Another student is reading The Red Tent.  This and the Caged Bird are the required reading for her new school.  Not such easy subjects for the first week.  In at the deep end--diving only.  All these books promise big themes, sweeping scope, epic drama.  A list actors would take the leading roles.

I just finished The Castaways by Elin Hildebrand... not quite the same sphere of seriousness.  Up and coming actors would take these small jewel box parts and re define their range.  I like it when you read exactly the book you wanted.  I was lured in by the beachy, summery, East Coast island cover and the shipwrecked title.  It is a small story of loss and redemption in a fragmented un-whole, whole way.  I like the smallness, the preciseness.  I like the Nantucket-ness and the sand dunes and the grey shingled summer houses.  I like the way the author circumscribes her story.  It is clearly defined.  It is about this.  I like the strength of her choice.

Eight friends.  Four couples.  One couple dies.  The other three shift and reshape.  Simple, truthful.  Bare, raw but unexpectedly hitting the mark dead center.  I like when a book does exactly what is sets out to do.  There are a series of promises from author to publisher to reader.  The cover.  The blurbs.  The back cover copy.  I like when a book meets these obligations.  It makes me like a book that I already like, even more.


  1. Coincidentally, I wrote a loving post about Middlemarch today!

  2. I was just going to say, coincidentally bibiophiliac wrote a loving post about Middlemarch!! Hi Bibliophiliac. In fact, she has made me so want to read it that I drove out to Tybee Island to get the book...only to find they were closed for the day. But, as Scarlett opined, "Tomorrow is another day," and so today's the day.

  3. ooh! off to read your post about middlemarch! i have told wyatt to go and find your blog!

    grad, it is wonderful!

  4. Hadn't heard of The Castaways, Priya, but I like everything you say about it! I'm especially interested in the strengths it possesses that my own MS presently does not share - it sounds like a good one for me to pick apart so I can better grasp its different pieces!


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