Review: A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle

A Swiftly Tilting Planet
by Madeleine L’Engle
Rating: *****
Read 9/29/2013

I’m spending a month away from home for work. I thought it would be lovely to listen to old favorites, and have whiled away many contented almost-sleeping hours listening to Louisa May Alcott and Elizabeth Enright. Then there was this. Which, don’t get me wrong, I love unreservedly. But in a strange place? In the middle of the night? There’s not a lot of sleeping going on.

This book conjures up my childhood, with the spectre of nuclear war, more cogently than nearly any other fiction I’ve read. L’Engle’s dialogue may be wooden, but her characters manage to overcome that and take up root in one’s psyche.

I can’t say anything objective about this, I don’t know why I even try.

Review: Return To Gone-Away by Elizabeth Enright

Return To Gone-Away
by Elizabeth Enright
Rating: *****
Read 9/29/2013

“Sometimes a story can open a world for you: you step into it and forget the real one you live in.”

I love these books. Not least because these two books were in the vanishingly small number of books that my son would deign to read. Not least because Enright understood boys right down to the bone. Not least because of the botanizing. Certainly because of the quality of the prose, which is unequalled. Certainly because of the characters.

Seriously, if you haven’t read any Enright? Stop dicking around on the internet and go read as much of her stuff as you can find.

Review: Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

Gone-Away Lake
by Elizabeth Enright
Rating: *****
Read 9/27/2013

09/13 Howling wildernesses! Tarquin et Pindar! Inner pie! How do I love this book? Let me count the ways. Having it on audio to listen to while I fall asleep is so splendid I can’t begin to say. Being far from home, waking in the deeps of the night, and instead of being disoriented, finding oneself on Craney Crow- well, the comfort is inexpressible.

12/12 Revisited this all-time favorite on audio during a road trip. I was stunned to learn that even though I reread it often, and I’ve read it countless times to my son, my husband had never heard of it. He loved it- to no one’s surprise. What’s not to love? It’s hilarious, it’s poignant, it’s got howling wildernesses, outer space and inner pie. It’s got The Gulper. So well-written, so evocative.

Review: The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright

The Saturdays
by Elizabeth Enright
Rating: *****
Date read 9/29/2013

I love these books. I hate, hate, hate the new covers. Hate. What in the world could be better than Maginel’s little girl’s watercolors? Ahem.

Oh how I love Enright’s books. This one has a special place in my heart, naturally. They all do. This one has the alligator! Oliver! The bob! The opera- though even Enright failed to make me appreciate opera in real life.

One must never forget Enright’s keen eye for botanizing. One can rest assured that if Enright says it’s blooming, then it is in fact blooming at just that season in just that locale. A virtue far to seek lately.

Review: Little Men by Louisa May Alcott

Little Men
by Louisa May Alcott
Rating: *****
Read 9/16/2013

9/2013 Yup.
1/2012 Listening to an old favorite on audio is a wonderful experience. There’s something so comforting about somehow sharing this with the narrator, who whispers softly into my ear as I fall contentedly asleep. This one’s my second favorite of the series, behind Jo’s Boys. I love the boys, I love the grown Little Women. I don’t like The Princess, though, I find her unbelievable and repellent. Dan, on the other hand, is my beau ideal in every particular. And I think that it’s in this book I found my justification for my staunch defense of Alcott’s choice to marry Laurie to Amy and give The Professor to Mrs. Jo. Laurie and Jo would never have been happy, and Plumfield is perfect.

Review: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott
Rating: *****
Date read 9/17/2013

I have whole swaths of this by heart, and somehow don’t much mind the preachifying and compartmentalizing of sex roles. Probably because I read it so young, love the characters so much, and know how to place it in the context of its times. And oh, how I love this book. The narration here is tip-top.

I revisit this book much less often than I do the third in the trilogy, but I am going through them in order this time, and I’m glad I made that choice.

Review: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle In Time
by Madeleine L’Engle
Rating: *****
Date read: 9/17/2013

I am hitting the audiobook comfort reads hard this fall. This is another that I know nearly by heart, that I love unreservedly. I never really finished my L’Engle retrospective a few years ago, but now I think I want to start over and read them all.

Meg is such a wonderful protagonist, so very real and angry and confused and earnest and maddening. Of course I love her family, but I don’t know now if I love them because of this book or because of all the books that come after.

Review: Ramona Quimby, Age 8/ Ramona Forever/ Ramona’s World by Beverly Cleary

Ramona Quimby, Age 8
by Beverly Cleary
Rating: *****
Read 8/5/2013

I love Ramona. The end.

Ramona Forever
by Beverly Cleary
Rating: *****
Read 8/7/2013

There’s just not a lot new to say when one goes straight through all the Ramona books. Except they are brilliant. And wonderful.

Ramona’s World
by Beverly Cleary
Rating: ****
Read 8/11/2013

Not quite so splendid as the first seven Ramona books, but still head and shoulders above so many books for this age group. I’m not sure when Mrs. Quimby started reading socially, but it was only a little jarring to see her personality change a bit. The way the relationship between Beezus and Ramona evolves feels very organic over the scope of the whole series. In this book they get along maybe a little too well.

Glad I revisited these on audio. Well worth a listen.

Review: Ramona and Her Father/Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary

Ramona and Her Father
by Beverly Cleary
Rating: *****
Read 8/5/2013

I liked this so much better the second time through. So much realness, so much fun. So many wonderful vignettes. Ramona in real life would be a little much, but Ramona in one’s ear is just perfect.

Ramona and Her Mother
by Beverly Cleary
Rating: *****
Read 8/5/2013

Well. I remembered not liking this nearly so well as I actually do. So many wonderful moments that read so brilliantly real. The quarrel! The haircuts! The scrimping and saving! And, oh, the pajamas. Cleary has a window into the hearts and minds of kids and I’m sorry I was too old for these when they were new. But I’m glad to have them now.

Review: Ramona The Brave by Beverly Cleary

Ramona The Brave
by Beverly Cleary
Rating: *****
Read 8/2/2013
Poor Ramona. First grade is not the walk in the park she’d anticipated. Her new room, her all-by-herself-in-the-dark room is also not what she thought it would be. But Ramona faces down all the perils in this book with her usual √©lan and one goes away smiling. Love the narration. Love Picky-Picky, which I think may be my next kitten’s name.