The book is not difficult, or mind-stretching, but it is the sort of book that makes life seem brighter by portraying it with zest. It picks up all the little details and spins them into a gossamer story - appropriately gloomy in some places, for it wouldn't be as cheery in the other parts if there were not at least some grey bits. Everything is touched with whimsy, much more, perhaps, than real life has from day to day; but maybe that in itself is what makes the book so darling. It characterizes the momentary, simple (and sometimes profound) pleasures we encounter that feel too good to be true. They don't usually last long in all their vibrant glory and I don't think it possible to have them constantly (I wouldn't want to confuse these things with joy proper, which ought to be a steady characteristic of our lives); there are many times of struggle, of grief, of worry and stress and hardship where such brilliantly happy moments are rare or nonexistent. But, like candy or a vacation, they are very pleasant during those once-in-a-whiles when they come.
"P.S. It's raining cats and dogs tonight. Two puppies and a kitten have just landed on the window-sill."
"College opens in two weeks and I shall be glad to begin work again. I have worked quite a lot this summer though - six short stories and seven poems. Those I sent to the magazines all came back with the most courteous promptitude. But I don't mind. It's good practice. Master Jervie read them - he brought in the mail, so I couldn't help his knowing - and he said they were dreadful. They showed that I didn't have the slightest idea of what I was talking about. (Master Jervie doesn't let politeness interfere with truth.)"
"The accompanying illustration is hereby reproduced for the first time. It looks like a spider on the end of a string, but it isn't at all; it's a picture of me learning to swim in the tank in the gymnasium. The instructor hooks a rope into a ring in the back of my belt, and runs it through a pulley in the ceiling. It would be a beautiful system if one had perfect confidence in the probity of one's instructor. I'm always afraid, though, that she will let the rope get slack, so I keep one anxious eye on her and swim with the other, and with this divided interest I do not make the progress that I otherwise might."
"We're reading Marie Bashkirtseff's journal. Isn't it amazing? Listen to this: 'Last night I was seized by a fit of despair that found utterance in moans, and that finally drove me to throw the dining-room clock into the sea.' It makes me almost hope I'm not a genius; they must be very wearing to have about - and awfully destructive to the furniture."
So you see, I always feel happier after I've read a few of Judy Abbott's letters to Daddy-Long-Legs-Smith than I was when first I picked up the book; maybe that has something to do with the cloth binding. Somehow cloth binding makes the story even better. And now, with that comfort book finished, I've begun A.A. Milne's The Red House Mystery. It's amusing to see his typical Winnie-the-Pooh style carry over into a whodunit.
what are some of your comfort reads?