The Magic Apple Tree and Sunflowers

The Magic Apple Tree, by Susan Hill, is a magical memoir about her years living in the English countryside. I loved reading it, and will enjoy rereading it again before too long. One of the passages I highlighted from the book was about summer and sunflowers. It reminded me of my own sunflower garden from a few years ago, and I’m sad that I didn’t plant any sunflowers in our yard this year. Next year, for sure!

Summer means sunflowers – better called by their exquisitely apposite French name, tournesol. It is folly to try and grow them very tall here, of course, the wild winds of the early autumn nights bend and break their thick stems and bow their great shaggy heads to the ground, but I do try nevertheless, because I love them so, their bright faces and open-golden look, and the way the bees swarm about them, I should like a whole marching line of them up against the wall near the woodshed.

My sunflower garden patch from 2015.

Summer Morning

Bee Balm

It’s a beautiful summer morning here, and Hubby and I have both been working outside all morning. He is working on the new Bicycle/Garden shed — roof is on and the sides are all in. It’s almost time to install the windows and start putting on the siding. We’re excited about this big summer project — A “He/She” shed!

I’ve been watering and weeding in the garden, appreciating the milder-than-usual temperatures and loving the color and variety of flowers in bloom.

A perfect summer morning!

Howard’s End is on the Landing

The audiobook I am currently listening to is Howard’s End is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home, by Susan Hill. It’s a book that has been on my TBR list for a long time but I just never got around to moving it to the top of the list. When I discovered that it was available from Audible, I downloaded it and started listening. I am so enjoying it (!) but realized immediately that I needed the book itself to refer to, so I ordered it from the library. Happily, it came in quickly and I have been reading and listening to my double pleasure. But now I have realized that this is a book I need to own, so I have ordered my own copy and it should be arriving shortly. That’s high praise for a book, don’t you think?

73 Hours and 19 Minutes

My son, who has a long daily commute to work, listens to audiobooks to make the time in the car more interesting, meaningful, bearable. He often chooses his books by the maximum number of hours possible. It’s not unusual for him to tell us that he only has 60 or so more hours on a current audiobook or series.

Well, I decided to follow in his footsteps and just used my last Audible credit for this month to buy the Anne of Green Gables series, books 1-6, which is only 73 hours and 19 minutes long. I don’t have to listen to it all at once, one book right after the other…but it will keep me busy and happy over a long period of time (especially since I have no daily commute at all!)

My son is proud of me!

Cherry Ames, Nurse

Many many years ago, I found the book series Cherry Ames in the library. I read the first one and was hooked. I was determined to read every single one that was published, and I’m pretty sure I did.

During another trip to the library, 60 years later, I found the first one on the shelf and decided it would be fun to re-read it. It was fun! And since the library had a four-books-in-one ebook available for my Kindle, I went ahead and re-read the first 4 books in the series!

I can easily understand why the young me liked this character so much. She was an intelligent, independent, compassionate young woman with a strong sense of purpose. She wanted to be a nurse to help people, and that’s what she did, even if it got her in to trouble. She had a great sense of humor, and also a temper that would flair when she perceived injustice. She was a natural leader, and was not afraid to speak up to authority when she thought it was important. And she was an excellent nurse!

I thought I would describe her as a “woman ahead of her time,” but I actually think that she was vey much a woman of her own time. The first books were written during World War II, a time that called on the strengths of women as well as young men. It was so interesting to see the attitudes toward women at that time, and how doors of opportunity were opened to women because they were so needed during the war. I wonder if I keep re-reading the series if I will see within the stories the closing of many of those doors when the war ends and the men return home?

It was interesting to revisit something that had a powerful influence on me as a young person. Do we have series like this these days that encourage young people to make an impact on the world?

The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables

This beautiful book called to me from the library shelf just recently. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading it and am sad to have to return it soon. The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables, by Catherine Reid, is the story of the author, L.M. Montgomery, and her beloved fictional character, Anne Shirley. It is an exploration of place, creativity, and the inspiration of the natural world. I love reading books about authors, especially authors of favorite books, and this one was lovely. The place where L.M. Montgomery lived, Prince Edward Island, shaped and inspired the author in her own life and became central to her writing and to the life she created for her character, Anne.

In the journals she kept throughout her life, Maud Montgomery reveals so many similar experiences to those of Anne Shirley that much of the novel appears to be autobiographical.

I didn’t know that much about L.M. Montgomery, so it was very interesting to learn about her life. The photographs of Prince Edward Island were beautiful. That beauty was a driving force in Montgomery’s life and work.

What we do know of Anne is that her goal is to create something beautiful, something memorable, as she says in Anne of Avonlea, “I’d like to add some beauty to life.”

For Maud Montgomery, writing was all those things and more, as necessary as sleeping or eating, providing her the moments when she was most alive and happy. Through writing, she brought together her fertile imagination, her love of beauty, and her reverence for the natural world.

“Oh, as long as we can work we can make life beautiful.”

…photo from blackberryrambles.blogspot.com

It was lovely out this evening. I went up over the hill in the clear pure November air and walked about until twilight had deepened into a moonlit autumn night. I was alone but not lonely. Thought was quick and vivid, imagination active and bright. . . . Then I came in, still tingling with the strange, wild, sweet life of the spirit, and wrote a chapter of my new serial—wrote it easily and pleasureably, with no flagging or halting. Oh, it is good to feel well and vivid and interesting and all alive! ~ from THE SELECTED JOURNALS OF L. M. MONTGOMERY, VOL. 1

Learning more about the life and work of L.M. Montgomery made me want to visit Prince Edward Island and experience that beauty and inspiration firsthand. It also made me want to read and re-read all her works. Somehow I missed reading the Anne of Green Gables books when I was growing up. My Mom and I discussed that at one point and couldn’t figure out how we missed those wonderful books! What a lovely summer project it would be to read/re-read them all, one after the other!

If you love Anne Shirley, this book about Maud and Anne and Prince Edward Island is a must!

 

A Bit Obsessed

I have to confess that I’ve been a bit obsessed in the last few weeks. Pinterest does that to one, of course. One quiet afternoon, I decided to start a new Pinterest page dedicated only to my reading and connect it to this blog. It was so much fun setting it up and then searching for the photos I wanted! So if you have a quiet, lazy afternoon, perhaps you could check it out. It’s just another place to share the books I have read and loved over the years!

Click here to visit my A Fondness For Reading Pinterest page

Reflections: June 2019

My June reading was a total pleasure! I didn’t read as many books as I have in each of the last few months, but I enjoyed every minute of the books I did read. It was the beginning of my summer reading, and the weather was nice enough to allow me to sit in my favorite reading spot on the porch for much of the time. July will get too hot for afternoon reading out there, but for now it’s just perfect.

It’s hard to choose my favorite of the month because I read some terrific books! I absolutely loved The Ravenmaster, by Christopher Skaife, a book recommended to me by my bird-loving daughter. The audiobook is the way to enjoy this book because Christopher Skaife narrates it himself which adds tremendous fun to the experience. His stories of the ravens that live at the Tower of London are both fun and fascinating. I learned so much about ravens from him!

I just loved Cider With Rosie, by Laurie Lee, which I also listened to on audiobook and which was also narrated by the author. Mr. Lee’s voice was full of nostalgia and emotion, and I felt as if he was sitting right next to me sharing his memories with just me. I was reminded of my grandfather, and my father, both great storytellers.

A different type of memoir stole my heart next — Susan Hill’s The Magic Apple Tree is one of the loveliest books I’ve read in a long time. I was so captured by her beautiful writing and her remembrances of her life in the English countryside! Even before I finished the book, I started searching for two others that she wrote in a similar vein. They were hard to find, but I ordered them from Abe Books and was delighted when they arrived. More summer reading!

Some time spent reading The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy, and then re-watching the movie with my husband was fun. A light mystery, a classic science fiction novel, and a return to my childhood with a re-reading of Cherry Ames, Student Nurse rounded out the month.

I hope you are enjoying your summer reading as much as I am enjoying mine!