Book recommendations are one of my major weaknesses. Especially when someone I admire suggests a particular book, I have little-to-no resistance. Given the number of books on my bookshelves (many still unread), it seems I’m dealing with an obsession – a costly one!
If I were blessed with unlimited resources, I envision “my” library looking something like the image above from Prague … maybe I’d add a comfy chair or two since the straight-backed chairs on the right don’t look terribly cozy! Give me a cushy chair and footstool (plus a cup of coffee or cinnamon tea) and except for refills, I might not venture out for days (or weeks).
When I heard recently about a new book series (also being adapted for a series of movies), I was intrigued. Imagine, if you will, the youthful days of Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of the fictional Sherlock Holmes and his confidant Dr. Watson). The prolific writer of crime fiction comes to life as the youthful character whose escapades are chronicled in The Improbable Tales of Baskerville Hall, Book 1, written by Ali Standish.
Though I haven’t yet finished reading the book, I wanted to share my initial impressions. In the world of “must-have series for children” compiled by goodreads.com (which offers a list of 100 series including Harry Potter, Narnia, Little House, Anne of Green Gables, etc.), I anticipate the Doyle series (now just Book 1) will eventually find its spot.
This book is engaging though its boarding school motif seems clichéd. We’re first introduced to Arthur’s large family, but in quick order, the book transitions to Baskerville Hall where a completely fresh set of characters enter the scene. They’re quirky, some sympathetic while others are predictably set up to clash and challenge Arthur along the way.
When the school mates are initially introduced, each one stands out with unique background and interests. I was struck by Grover, a boy who states he wants to be a necrologist. My first question was whether or not children in the middle grades (9-12) would even know what a necrologist is. My next question (quick on the mental heels of the first) was whether or not Grover’s fascination signaled a gruesome path focused on death. That wouldn’t appeal to me.
As I said, I haven’t completed the book, so my questions don’t yet have answers. However, I thought this would be a timely post in which to place one of my sonnets (titled Obit). I wrote this several years back but it’s not a sonnet that fits comfortably into any ordinary blog post. Grover’s necrology aspirations seemed the perfect spot for it!
One other small complaint I have should be mentioned here. Arthur contemplates his mother –“mam” – and her selfless love for her family. He acknowledges she has been “slaving away over a hot oven” nearly her whole life. He asks himself the question: “What could she have been in the world, if given the chance?” This moment of reflection provides motivation for Arthur to excel. He resolves to be something.
It saddens me when the idea (in this case, implied) of being a mom becomes fair game for overt disparagement, even contempt. If only she could have become something more, but she never had the chance! One character asserts:“It’s not easy … to be a woman with dreams.”
Without apology, I contend being a mom is the best job a woman will ever have. It’s time the culture acknowledges how vital moms are! I could say much more but I’ll step down from my soapbox … for now.