1. Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge
Several friends had recommended Green Dolphin Street to me, but it took a while to get around to it. Now I wonder what I was waiting for. I had it out from the library and by the time I was halfway through I’d bought a copy to keep. It’s such a beautiful novel, luminous, rich. I think what it shows about how married love and friendship, self-sacrifice and redemption all twine together. What had the potential to be a great tragedy instead became a great love story. My favorite kind.
2. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
A friend lent it to me over a year ago. Again, I’m not sure why I delayed except that I wasn’t in love with any of the Steinbeck I read in school. But this was different. Or possibly I’m different. It’s very dark in places, but also very hopeful. I rather wish I hadn’t read it at the same time as Green Dolphin Street. I might have liked it more had I stayed immersed in the story and not been distracted by Goudge’s very different novel. Both toy with similar themes, but Steinbeck is more gritty.
3. The Italian Story by Geoffrey Trease
I only read the first chapter, but it was enough to convince me that I probably want to buy the book. Trease writes clearly and interestingly about the history of Italy, beginning with prehistoric times. It’s a view of Italian history I’ve never seen before since it doesn’t begin with the Romans but rather sets the scene for their arrival and explains exactly why it is that of all the various tribes on the Italian peninsula, it was the Romans who succeeded so amazingly well. Sadly, this was a library book and since I was deeply immersed with two other sizable books, I wasn’t able to give it the attention it deserves. But there’s always a next time.
One note: probably not suitable for young children. Mention of homosexuality and other sexual practices in the discussion about the Etruscans. I might consider doing it as a read-aloud and skipping those bits if the rest of the book is largely good. But it’s definitely not a book I’d hand over to my children.
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No books finished in June though I finished GDS right at the beginning of July.