I have a soft spot for all the Miss Read books, but there is a special place in my heart for Thrush Green. I first read it in 2006, in the midst of some very great unhappiness in my life. Within a few pages I was settled into the pleasant world of the town of Thrush Green, a world of England in the mid-20th century, a place seemingly far away from my very modern, unhappy life in New Jersey.
And yet not so different that I couldn't sympathize with Ruth whose heart had been so recently broken. The story takes place on May 1st, the day that the Curdle fair comes to town. And when she awakens on that morning, for Ruth "…the feeling was not so sharply cruel on this particular day."
When I first read those words, I longed for the day when sharp cruelty wouldn't greet me come the morning. Miss Read wrote that for Ruth, "It was as though a veil had been dropped between the dreadful picture and her mind's eye. She could see it all, down to the smallest detail, but the picture was dimmed, the impact was gentler, and her own feeling less agonized."
I've long-since reached that point; that place of a dimmed picture. But I'm still unsure of what comes next. I know that I can't read ahead to the end of my story. But I long for the happy ending that Ruth found. In the meantime, I remember what Mrs. Curdle says at the end of the book: "I've never been to Thrush Green yet without feelin' the better for it."
And so I go to Thrush Green. And feel the better for it.