Sunday, March 24, 2013

Book Report: Stella Gibbons' Nightingale Wood

On occasion, Maggie Mason of Mighty Girl writes about the words she learned and the phrases she enjoyed in a book she's recently read.  An example can be found here, in her notes from Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises.   I always enjoy her posts and bookworm that I am, I've decided to take a page from her book.
I've eyed Stella Gibbons' 1938 book Nightingale Wood for years.  When I  received a copy of the book for Christmas, I was eager to get started reading it.  The book is a charming, modernized Cinderella story set in Essex, England of the 1930s.  The omniscient narrator outlines the character of all the players and shares my snarky sense of humor, though like me, she never seems ready to give up her faith in a happy ending.  To whit:

"Not that I ought to grumble.  I have money of my own, a luxurious home in excruciating good taste, and all the clothes I want.  All that is lacking is liberty, an aim to work for, and the conviction that my life is worth living.  I am a most fortunate young woman."

"No woman need be dowdy, or shabbily genteel.  While she has a few shillings to spend on clothes, she can buy something pretty and cheerful.  This may not be much, but it is something.  Tomorrow we die; but at least we danced in silver shoes."

"Demurely, in perfect taste, he flirted just a very little.  Forgotten art! pushed into the lumber-room since the psychologists told us how dreadfully dangerous it is to repress our passions, and how much healthier it is to book a double-bed at the Three Feathers and get it over.  How they despise the prolonged handclasp, the lingering glance, the double meaning, and the complement, all the old, old moves in the Prettiest Art! Poor psychologists, how solemn they are, how well they mean, and what a lot they miss."

"The party, so far as Viola was concerned, was now a riot; but no one else was enjoying it at all.  True, they were sustained by the thought that they could pick it all to pieces on their way home, but this scarcely made up for two or three hours' boredom."

"In the middle of a passionate prayer to God to make everything less rotten, it occurred to her that God must find it rather the limit only being prayed to when you want something, so she stopped, started over again, told Him that she was sorry she only prayed to Him when she wanted something, and asked if He would kindly bless everybody…"

This is a book I will read over and over when I'm in the mood to smile.  When I finished reading it, I went to my bookshelf and pulled out Elizabeth von Arnim's Enchanted April and some of my favorite Miss Read books so that I could continue the good spirits.  

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