Friday, November 23, 2007

Reading Update

Book #67 was Guests, by Michael Dorris. It wasn't quite what I expected. I had an idea that it was a Thanksgiving story, but from the perspective of the Indians. It wasn't, really. It was still interesting, and had several good discussion-starting ideas which I can imagine working for my students. I didn't read it aloud last week as I'd hoped to, though.

Book #68 was The Writing Workshop: Working through the Hard Parts (And They're All Hard Parts) by Katie Wood Ray. I can't recommend this highly enough for anyone who is using a workshop approach to teach writing at any grade. This book is inspirational and encouraging first of all, and practical as well. I found myself using things from it right after I'd read them. I will keep this one handy and refer to it often.

Book #69 was The Flame Trees of Thika. It's Elspeth Huxley's memoir of growing up British in Africa early in the 20th century. I'd read this lovely book before and enjoyed rediscovering it. I have the next volume of Huxley's memoirs, The Mottled Lizard, to read next. There's a third volume, too, called Love Among the Daughters. It's all about the 20s; Huxley goes back to England and then to America, where she studies at Cornell. Fascinating stuff. Doesn't look like the second or third volume is in print, though.

Here are some quotes from The Flame Trees of Thika:

"'What happened then?'

'Nothing happened - and that's the way to tell a true story from a made-up one. A made-up story always has a neat and tidy end. But true stories don't end, at least until their heroes and heroines die, and then not really, because the things they did, and didn't do, sometimes live on.'"

"'You shall come on a safari when you're older,' Tilly promised, noticing my state of mind.

'I shall never be older,' I said gloomily.

'You will be older tomorrow. You will even be a bit older when you get back to the farm.'

'How wonderfully lucky you are,' Lettice added, 'to be glad of that and not sorry!'

'Children are always being told they are lucky to have things they hate,' said Robin, 'like plenty of time ahead of them, and expensive educations, and healthy food, and considerate parents. It must be very annoying.'"

"By the time Dirk had finished telling me all this, and much else besides, we had reached Londiani, or at least seen the roofs, which shone like a pool of water in a fold of the downs. The corrugated iron threw back the sunlight and we seemed to be arriving at a city of splendour and glory, like the ancient capitals of Lanka that were copper-domed.

Londiani shrank, however, on our approach, as if had drunk from the bottle Alice found at the bottom of the rabbit-hole; it shrank, withered, and turned into a single rutted street with a few dukas, some sheds beside the railway, a dak bungalow, and a D.C.'s office with a flagpole."

I love Huxley's evocative, yet understated, style.


Anonymous said...

These sound good. I've liked what little Huxley I've read too, but it's been a long time. I'm not familiar with these.

Nikki in Niagara said...

I loved the series with Hayley Mills when I was a kid and have wanted to read the book ever since. Thanks for the reminder!

SFP said...

The only thing I've read by Huxley is Red Strangers, which was wonderful (and, of course, is out of print, too). I've a copy of Flame Tree and will eventually get around to reading it.

Ruth said...

Janet, what have you read by her?

Nicola, I haven't seen the series but I really want to.

SFP, Red Strangers is great, too. It's essentially the same story as Flame Trees but from the Kikuyu point of view. That is, the settlers arriving, how things changed, etc.