She's done it again! Heidi Peterson has convinced me to read a book I'd never heard of before, and now I've found a new favorite. This happened with The Blue Castle last year, and again with Greenwillow this summer. Thank you again and again, Heidi!
This is a quiet, gentle story of people living in an idyllic patch of England's countryside a hundred years ago or so. Mainly, it concerns a young girl named Dorrie, who is a live-in maid-of-all-work for two sweet, elderly sisters (think a little bit Miss Matty and Miss Deborah in Cranford, and their servant Martha). She befriends a large family who live on a farm outside town -- their father is a travelling man, which means he wanders around and only comes home every few years, generally leaving his wife pregnant again when he goes away once more. It's a call, he says, and he insists his oldest son, Gideon, will have the call too. Dorrie and Gideon begin to fall in love, but he insists he'll never marry so he can end this everlasting chain of men who leave their families behind.
Because you can't fight your call.
The story also involves two ministers, Reverend Lapp and Reverend Birdsong, both of whom also feel calls. Lapp feels called to preach hellfire and brimstone sermons and drive the Devil out of Greenwillow's environs whenever he finds the chance. Birdsong feels called to spread peace and harmony and love. The two try to work together, they really do. But... you can't fight your call.
The bulk of the book wafts gently but steadily on, like a spring breeze that has places to go, but is enjoying stopping to touch every flower and leaf and grass blade while it goes. This is a book that brought joy and sunshine to me while I read it, and if I didn't need to read the next Anne book to keep up with my challenge, I would very likely just begin this all over again right now. It's charming and refreshing and satisfying, and I cannot recommend it enough.
Particularly Good Bits:
Unfortunately, on the preceding Thursday (a bad day, Thursday, falling as it does nowhere in the week at all) the Reverend Lapp had been seized by another vision (p. 11).
"Pigs don't kneel," said Miss Maidy, coming into the kitchen and flapping her white apron at Micah and Jabez as if they had been chickens in her garden. "They fall over sideways sometimes with their feet sticking out."
"Blessed be your Christmas, ma'am," said Micah. "That's true, they do fall over" (p. 109).
If This Was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-13 for quite a number of references to babies being conceived (with phrases such as "he left a baby in her belly," not anything explicit), a scary scene with a little boy lost in the woods, and a difficult (but again, not explicit) childbirth. Not racy, and no bad language or violence, but not exactly for children either.
So, I'm counting this for the Classics Club because it was published in 1956 (more than 50 years ago) and because even though it's not well-known, it should be. It's well-written enough that I believe it merits classification as a classic. So this is my 43rd book read and reviewed for the Classics Club!
And B. J. Chute was a woman, so hey, it's my 12th book for the Women's Classic Literature Event too.