Book recovery: following up a hard book with an easy book
Markley, Stephen- The Deluge
Gallico, Paul- Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris
Yeah, I'm really pairing these two books. Bear with me, and I'll explain. But first, some summaries.
Is there a difference in extrapolation and prediction, for literary purposes? This book begins in 2013, and then skips a few years ahead to catch up to now, and then a few more years to detail the oncoming ecological disasters and deepening economic inequality that's going to hit us hard. I almost typed "if we don't do something," but sometimes I feel so pessimistic that anything being accomplished feels impossible. I mean, I'm trying to cut way back on the amount of plastic that I use, but does it matter when more and more fossil fuels are being burned all the time?
When I first began this book, I didn't think I'd like it. The first part was hard to follow- but I'd advise anyone to stick to it. Each chapter in the first part goes to a new character, and there's not explanation of if or how they're connected. Frankly, I was seriously considering dropping it, but something told me to at least try the second part. (I can't remember how many parts there are, and I've returned my copy to the library). When I began the second part, I saw that the characters from the first part were coming back, and by the third part, I was easily moving from one character's story to another, and the connections began to clear up. One thing that helped was that one character is in first person and another is in second, and a third has a format with lots of asides in text boxes. They help to differentiate.
One character is a scientist, another is a mathematician, and they help to explain some of the climate phenomena and the impacts those have. Another character is in advertising, working for an industry group trying to protect their interests from the tree-huggers, and that explains alot of the trouble with trying to improve conditions. It's incredibly frustrating.
While parts of this book were hard to read- violence, hopelessness, addiction, floods, heat, storms- I was hooked. It's hard to be captivated by a 850ish page book because I nearly put my back out carrying it around, but it was so good. And, I think that everyone needs to start seeing the crisis as a right-now-it's-already-happening emergency, which is hard to do with all the distractions.
Gimme a break
While I did get through the book with only a few nightmares, when it was over, I needed a refresher. My other book is Demon Copperhead, with a protaganist who has dealt with child abuse, and since it's a retelling of David Copperfield, I know that he has more trouble coming. I needed something easy, light. Usually books described as "heartwarming" nauseate me, but I found one that was pink and described as "uplifting."
So, on to Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris
This, frankly, got on my nerves a bit, but it's cute, and it served its purpose. If you've seen the movie trailer, then you know the plot, but here it is in case: a cleaning lady ("charwoman" in the book) sees a designer dress (Dior, specifially) in her employer's closet and falls in love. She must have one, even knowing that she'll never have anywhere to wear it. So, she saves up and overcomes several obstacles to get to Paris, where she finds and overcomes more obstacles. It's actually pretty good. It is supposed to be entertaining more than realistic, and I did read it pretty quickly.
That said, I didn't bother reading Mrs. Harris Goes to New York, which was included with the book. I thought about it, but it just wasn't very appealing. I have no idea what that one is about, except that she ends up in New York next time. I'm guessing that the first one made alot of money. There are two others.
I may watch the movie someday. I think it's the kind of thing that I'd want to watch when I'm sick. The book would probably go down well on a sick day, too, or if you just need a break, like I did.
I love to read to learn or be made to think about important things, and I've been thinking alot lately about how I shied away from emotionally difficult books for so long after reading The House of the Spirits many years ago. I recently watched a show about Thomas Hardy and remembered reading him in college, for fun. The show made me want to read him again.
But at the same time, reading is one of my hobbies, and it's a great comfort. That makes me want to reach for an old familiar, or something easier. So these two books that have nothing to do with each other, nothing in common, balanced each other out. Reading an easy book helped me to recover from The Deluge, although that book is still on my mind. Mrs. Harris reminded me that there is still Paris, and pretty dresses, and flowers.
For now, anyway.