Friday, December 10, 2010

A Holiday Treat/An Irish Country Girl

Happy Holidays, to all my fellow Bibliophiles! As a special treat, as a list of Nancy Pearl, Seattles doyenne of books and book lore, picks her favorite memoirs:

Then, a quote that I know that I can relate to, as an book lover who still feels the thrill of anticipation every single time I delve into a new book:
(From Shelf Awareness)
"I learned to read at the age of five, in Brother Justiniano's class at
the De la Salle Academy in Cochabamba, Bolivia. It is the most important
thing that has ever happened to me. Almost seventy years later I
remember clearly how the magic of translating the words in books into
images enriched my life, breaking the barriers of time and space and
allowing me to travel with Captain Nemo twenty thousand leagues under
the sea, fight with d'Artagnan, Athos, Portos, and Aramis against the
intrigues threatening the Queen in the days of the secretive Richelieu,
or stumble through the sewers of Paris, transformed into Jean Valjean
carrying Marius's inert body on my back.

"Reading changed dreams into life and life into dreams and placed the
universe of literature within reach of the boy I once was. My mother
told me the first things I wrote were continuations of the stories I
read because it made me sad when they concluded or because I wanted to
change their endings. And perhaps this is what I have spent my life
doing without realizing it: prolonging in time, as I grew, matured, and
aged, the stories that filled my childhood with exaltation and

--Mario Vargas Llosa in his Nobel Lecture,
"In Praise of Reading and Fiction," which he delivered yesterday in

I just finished reading "An Irish Country Girl" the 4th book in the series by Patrick Taylor, a physician from Northern Ireland. This delicious volume was even more appropriate, as it is set during the Christmas season in the tiny town of Ballybucklbo in Ireland. The Irish are, as everyone knows, talented storytellers to a man and woman, and in this case, we hear the story of Maureen "Kinky" Kincaid; her family life, her development of the 'second sight' and her marriage to the love of her life, who died at sea after only a year of marriage. The story begins with Kinky telling the 'fairy tale' of her elder sisters love, who didn't believe in the wee folk and was taken by those selfsame fae when he cuts down their favored tree on a cold night in November that is dedicated to the 'good folk.' As Kinky tells the tale to a group of young carolers, you can almost hear the brogue and feel the chill winds and snow set out by the fox and the raven, harbingers of the faeries, or Bean Sidhe, pronounced Ban Shee. The only problem with this, and the whole book, is that Taylor draws the story out longer than need be, padding what would make a nice short story into many chapters, and then adding on what seems like a whole different story in the middle and trying to cap it with the same ghost story at the end. Though it ties up well, the ending seems rushed, and we don't learn more about things that the author could have embellished, like Kinky and Paudeen's first year of marriage, or their wedding, or the storm that took Paudeens life. Still, I'd give this book a solid B+, and recommend it to all who have read Patrick Taylor's Irish Country Doctor series and often wondered about his miraculous housekeeper and cook.

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