True Love

August 9, 2009 at 10:41 pm (Book Commentary) (, , , , , )

I had two different posts planned for today and then a book made me cry three different times today. šŸ˜¦

I should have stopped reading the first time it made me cry!

It wasn’t going to become a happier story. It was a realistic fairy tale – I should have known there would be more tears.

The subtitles alone foreshadowed this: Follow, Gone, Swan, Iron, Rose, Snow, Thief, Changeling, Confession, Faithful. Ten words. Ten images. Ten short tales reminiscent of the Grimm Fairy Tales. Old and ancient. Reeking of history.

Story sistersThis is the book. Doesn’t it have an enchanting cover. It is The Story Sisters written by Alice Hoffman. I don’t read everything she writes but both Practical Magic and Green Angel are particular favourites of mine.

According to the list in the front of this book, she’s writtenĀ  twenty-five other books. I’ve read a few more of hers but these are the ones that tear at my heart.

These books about sisters, family, true love (which I do not believe in); these are the ones I can’t put down, that fill me with regret, that I want to buy for all my sisters and nieces – to force them to read.

I want to shake these girls, these women (both the real and the fictional) and say : “pay attention, this is important.”

“In every fairy tale there were always three sisters: the eldest was brave, the middle one was trustworthy, and the youngest had the biggest heart of all.” (p. 52)

According to this, I should be the kind one, the caring one: I am the youngest of three original sisters in a family composed of two sets of sister (the three from the first marriage, the three from the second, and interspersed between us three boys). This is a fairy tale – things appear in threes or sevens or nines. Pay attention.

I am not kind or good; I am mostly nice. “She’s so nice.” It’s such an insult because to be nice is to ignore the core of who I am – to choose to put everyone else before one’s self.

“[the mother] should have never allowed a separate reality to be constructed. (p. 88) The world they lived in should have been enough.” (p. 89)

I’m a day dreamer. A maker up of stories. A reader. A bookworm. These imaginary worlds have always been saver then reality. This was the greatest gift my elders gave me – they allowed me my books and my dreams and this is what kept me alive, content, blessed.

“A secret, after all, was only a secret if no one heard it.” (p. 91)

Secrets are dangerous. Secrets change things. A secret is only a secret if someone knows you have one and wants to know it too. If no one cares that you are keeping secrets then no one cares about you. Remember, this is a fairy tale. There will be challenges. There will be secrets. There will be pain.

“In fairy tales, people rescued each other. They made their way through brambles, trickery, witchery, spells.” (p. 191)

“I only own myself, but all of me is mine.” I don’t wait for rescue. I can’t wait for rescue. I don’t believe in Princes. I save myself. Only. Always. It is scary to be alone, to not trust. To be pragmatic not romantic. In my deepest heart there are kisses and sorrow and wishes and dreams. I remember. I want.

“Maybe some love was guaranteed. Maybe it fit inside you and around you like skin and bones.” (p. 289)

Maybe it doesn’t devour you. Eat you up alive. Haunt your dreams. Break your heart and soul and being. I’ve not found out yet. I don’t think I ever will.

So, I cry over a book about risk and sisters and love in all its many guises.

And oddly enough, a book about tomatoes. Tomatoes that are green and pink and yellow and gold.Ā  Heirloom Tomatoes: Cherokee chocolates, Golden Jubilees, Green Zebras, Rainbows.

Tell me a story. Save me. Make me cry.

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1 Comment

  1. avisannschild said,

    Wow, this is a fantastic review! I love love love the way you wrote it. (Ha! I’m supposed to be the brave sister? Not so much!)

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