Sunday, April 15, 2012

Changes in Fairacre

A quick post to remember a favorite author who died earlier this month on April 7. Dora Saint who wrote as Miss Read, was 98.

Mary was thoughtful and sent me this link to the obituary in the NY Times. I liked it best of all the ones I read as I thought it expressed her writing most clearly and summed up succinctly:

"There is ample humor, little real menace, no sex and not a jot of intemperate language."

I cannot now recall how I first happened upon Miss Read in the stacks of my library, but I am ever so thankful that I did. For many years I repeatedly checked out, read, and reread the books until Houghton Mifflin began reprinting some titles in paperback.

In particular, it became an absolute custom that I would read "Christmas at Fairacre" at some point during the holiday. The library's edition contained only the two stories "Village Christmas" and "The Christmas Mouse", but when it was republished I bought the hardback edition that also included the additional story "No Holly for Miss Quinn". I always waited for just the perfect, quiet moment during the rush of Christmas to reread it and it was, and continues to be, a balm and a treat every year. For that reason, it probably remains my favorite of all the books.

Weather and changes in the seasons play a large part in all her books as this sample, included in a different obituary clearly shows:

Although nearly blind for the last years of her life, Dora was always fully alert to the weather. The pace of life might have changed in her fictional villages as the years passed, but the joy of a hint of warmth early in the year, as in Winter in Thrush Green (1961), never alters: "It was one of those clear, mild days which come occasionally in mid-winter and lift the spirits with their hint of coming springtime. Catkins were already fluttering on the nut hedge behind Albert's house and the sky was a pale translucent blue, as tender as a thrush's egg-shell."

Saint believed that "happiness is the result of an attitude of mind."
Rest in peace, Miss Read.


Mimi said...

I have yet to read any of Miss Read. But thanks to you, they are on my list.

Sheri said...

What a beautiful portrayal of Miss Read's Books. Sounds like something I need to look into. I used to love to read but just can't get into anything. These sound very interesting. Thanks for a great post.

minipurl said...

I will have to check out these books. Thanks so much for this lovely tribute.