There are times when the dark of winter seeps into your thoughts and the dark soul books are just to much to read. This week the light is beginning to return as the days get longer but the cold, dark still lingers in me and I a bit haunted when I read books that are spooky.
So I am not sure what got into me when I picked up a copy of a book called The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge. I am not even sure where I heard about it. (It has to have been a blog I read last week – I am sure one of you lead me down this path.) If you love reading about the old world, dark and thrilling books for kids this is one for you.
The setting for this mystery quickly puts you into the mood of the dark and scary. The days are grey, short, wet and the cold of late winter. It is the time of early exploration where science and faith cross many boundaries. (Think Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) The men gather in heavy discussions about Darwin’s theories, faith and the finding of fossils that might lead to greater understanding. The woman are considered to have inferior brains so are excluded from deeper learning and these discussions all together. Then we have Faith a young girl coming of age who is bright, curious and not one to be left out of the learning or exploring.
Faith and her family move quickly from London to an island for her father to help with the excavation and identification of some fossils. It is clear with this move that all is not well. Faith learns a bit of her fathers secrets as he has her help move a plant into a sea cave and makes her promise to never tell anyone just before his death. She knows she can not tell what she has learned so feels it is up to her to prove her father was murdered. She begins to explore his papers and journals to learn more about the tree they have hidden and the state she found her father in the night before his death.
This books shares the early thoughts between science, faith and superstitions. Faith struggles with the expected role of woman during this time and there is just a plan old fashion mystery in the middle of all of it.
It is a great read but I have to admit in my own dark late winter nights I am only about half way through it. I needed to shift gears to something a bit lighter for a few nights. I promise I will return to Faith’s story – I need to know what really happened but for now I wanted a bit of light, green and sunny days in my reading. S0…
I switched over to Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life (The plants and places that inspired the classic children’s Tales) written by Marta Mc Dowell. It is an adult look into the life of Potter. She was not only a writer and painter but an excellent business woman, and gardener/farmer. She, like Faith, stepped out of the expected roles of woman to explore the world around her. The book is divided into three sections.
- Beatrix Potters: Her life as a Gardener
- The Year in Beatrix Potter’s Gardens
- Visiting Beatrix Potter’s Gardens
Mc Dowell does a wonderful job of intermingling Potter’s writing using quotes and images from her books, journals and letters to help us see where she found inspiration for her work. If you are a gardener this is a fun read and if you just need a bit of sunshine before diving back into the dark mysteries of science and superstition this will work wonders.
I am also almost finished with Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell which is great fun and a mystery also. A great article about Rundell can be found Here.
Ok, so as I write I realize all my books this week are connected to the past, England, mysteries and a bit of science. Do you have others that might fit into this odd mix of reading?