Saturday, December 09, 2006
What I do on a COLD Day
The best books for my reading chair!
So what do I do when I'm not spinning, and it's way too cold to shear rabbits or work outside, and barely warm enough in the store to work on the computer? I've been delving into the wonderful pile of books that my aunt sent; running across great new titles and wonderful old favorites. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and The Secret Life of Bees are both old friends, although they were both written fairly recently. My young friend that I walk with in the mornings had loaned both books to me when they came out, and I was pleased to find them in my aunt's generous gift!
There have been so many good books written about Southern women, and even though the backgrounds of most of the characters are very different from mine, I find myself identifying with many of them. Or at least I've known someone very like the delightful people that live in the pages, particularly of these two books. Both of these books might be considered light reading, and I'm sure that they fall into the "chick lit" category, but the themes the authors struggle with are very much a part of every woman's life. The relationships of mother to daughter, friend to friend, sister to sister, mistress to maid, as these women deal with the challenges of loss, mental illness, alcoholism, estrangement, and each other are portrayed with warmth and humor. Both books are set at a time when the younger generation is growing aware and uncomfortable with the place of black and white in the South. Oddly enough, in both books a Black Madonna figures in the story.
I'm one of those people that when asked if I saw the movie will reply, "No, but I read the book." Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood made a good movie, with wonderful actresses portraying the characters. When the daughter of one of the Ya-Yas becomes dramatically estranged from her mother, the women pitch in to bring the two together and heal old wounds. Along the way much is revealed about the traumatic past of each of the Sisterhood, and of the bonds of friendship that supported them through the struggles and joys of life.
The Secret Life of Bees is mystical in the magic of three black women who are beekeepers, that take in a runaway white girl and the black woman who has looked after her most of her life. The Divine Feminine is revealed to the lonely girl through the mystery of beekeeping and the friendship that the three black women offer, contrary to the culture that surrounds them.
And now I'm reading Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns, another book about the South and human relationships. One common theme in all of these books shows how a Southern woman holds her head high, no matter what the neighbors say!