But the attraction of these novels is partly because the rhythms of life in great houses are so very different from the rhythms of our own: The characters linger over breakfast, they take long walks in the gardens, they stop for lunch, they stop again for afternoon tea, they talk to each other without constantly checking their iPhones. There is no commute, there is no email, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, no TV, no noise. They dress for dinner- and in a time where many of us are in our sweats by that point in the evening, who wouldn’t admire that kind of glamor? Just as when I was a little girl, pulling my great-grandmother’s clothes out of the chest of drawers in the hall, careful not to rip the delicate lace, when I put an Ostrich plume in my hair, lifted my skirts, and admired myself in the mirror, these books allow us to try on the past to see how it looked.
It was with grating restraint that I mostly resisted the urge to cross out several bits of my old scribbling. But of course I am grateful to that younger man for sitting where he sat, fingering over these same pages, surrounded by furniture this body has by now mostly wrestled out to various curbsides in towns left behind. In those/these pages: the same words overlay the same words sieved through the conjunction separating and joining me and me. It’s important to remember: Time and Experience are essential and devastating shorthand. It’s important to remember: to carry a name through the years, to know your own dreams, to share in the telling of the living.
Did you know that your library lets you put a book on hold before the publication date- sometimes MONTHS before? We’re starting a new monthly video series that tells you about the biggest, most in-demand books coming out over the next few months, so you can put them on hold at your library before everyone else does. Here’s installment one