You can’t run away from yourself.
Catherine Elbert has never been good at making decisions, whether it was choosing an ice cream flavor as a small child, or figuring out what she wanted to be when she grew up. The only thing Catherine knew for sure was there had to be more to life than being stuck on her family’s farm in Wisconsin.
While watching a PBS travel show, Catherine becomes entranced by Portland, Maine. The ocean. The lobsters. The rugged coast. Nothing could be more different from the flat, nondescript farmlands of Burkesville. Despite her parents threatening to disown her and her brothers taking bets on how many days until she comes home, Catherine settles on Peaks Island, off the coast of Portland.
She is finally free.
Or so she thought.
If you haven’t read for awhile, do any of you get antsy or a little jittery or feel like your world is out of whack? Me, too.
Starting with “Bread and Jam for Frances,” my favorite in the John Mills Elementary School Library at age six, books have played a major role in my life.
I used to sit sideways on my rocking chair, legs draped over the right arm, reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, warm breezes flowing through the open windows. When my mother nagged me to get out and enjoy the beautiful summer day, I merely moved to the front stoop of our apartment building, book in hand, so I wouldn’t miss any of Laura’s pioneer adventures.
Then came the horror phase with the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Anne Rice’s “Interview with the Vampire,” “The Amityville Horror,” and anything by Stephen King, junior high and all of its uncertainty played out in their darkness.
Sophomore year in high school, our assignment was to choose one author, read three of his or her novels, and write about a particular theme throughout the work. Very few females were on the list, but one caught my eye —Jane Austen and the synopsis of “Pride and Prejudice.” I ran up to claim this Jane before anyone else and quickly got to reading. I fell in love with Regency England that day, a love I am reminded of every time I open one of her novels.
Junior year and advanced English’s class discussion of “Moby-Dick” opened my eyes to the possibilities of majoring in literature and writing, amazed that there were college departments in which all they did was read and analyze great works of literature. What bliss! I eventually joined them, majoring in English and communications.
Since I had been writing alongside reading these wonderful works for all of these years, I guess the natural next step was writing my own book, though my novelist days would come many years after college graduation due to a large impediment called “the real world,” in which I was required to make money so I could move out of my parents’ home. Through editing two magazines, a wedding, freelance writing, and the birth of our two boys, I kept reading.
Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of Her Own” saved my sanity when I was struggling to write that first novel while staying at home with my two young children. I took over an extra room in our house and claimed it as my office, despite my family’s protestations to use it otherwise. “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction,” Woolf advised.
Books are like old friends, stories we have shared that have become a part of our society’s collective thought.
Imagine a world without books? I cannot.
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Genre - Contemporary Women's Fiction
Rating - PG13
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