Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lost in Elizabeth George Speare

My story begins with a struggle to find fiction that I will actually read. My daughter, Meggie -- twelve years old and a voracious reader -- suggested that I read Elizabeth George Speare's historical fiction. As a child, historical fiction was a favorite, but I had never had the opportunity to read Mrs. Speare's work.

I began with the book Calico Captive -- the story of a young family setting out to stake a claim in the wilds of New England. The Indians who inhabited the area were loyal to the French in Canada and were incensed by the settling of their sacred hunting lands by the English. Thinking I was only taking up the book to appease my daughter and a few other eager friends who wished to see me enjoy fiction again, I found myself quite surprised by the fact that I was enraptured by the tale. I had trouble putting the book down. Elizabeth George Speare wove the fabric of the story so beautifully, that I could almost envision the scenery, the harrowing episodes, so descriptive were the vivid images. I plunged headlong through that story, and was eager to pick up the next.

I found myself so inspired by my daughter's initial choice for me that I decided I would read Speare's, The Bronze Bow, next. Meggie had read it last year and thought that I would love it. Again, she had known that my passion for Our Lord, Jesus, would make me all the more enthralled by the story Speare crafted in this piece of historical fiction. Page after page, I eagerly soaked up the boldly creative and imaginative story of a young Jewish boy forced to live a wayward life until the promise of hope is introduced to him by two unlikely visitors to his hidden world. The story blends suffering with hope, faith with works and a heartwarming journey from bitterness to forgiveness.

I was hooked. I had to have more. Elizabeth George Speare had enchanted me with her ability to spin a wonderful work of historical fiction. Next up was The Sign of the Beaver. Again, the tale is placed in the wilderness of New England, but this time the Indians are more conciliatory to the presence of a young English boy left to care for his homestead through the winter while his father ventures back to Massachusetts to retrieve the rest of the family. The adventure begins with a lighthearted air, but quickly takes a sour turn, and without help the young boy's fate would certainly be sealed by his circumstances.

What would happen next, I wondered? How could he survive? Turn the page...just one more page. I couldn't set it aside, the story was exciting and fascinated me. I was particularly sad when that book ended.

Now, it's summertime and I have less time to myself to read. Odd, don't you think, since most people look forward to leisurely hours in the summer to escape into a good book? The activity in our home picks up considerably during the summer months. Would I have to wait until the fall to enjoy the next installment -- The Witch of Blackbird Pond? Of course not! I found it in our local library as an audio-book. I have been happily listening to this story read to me as I drive to the many varied activities of our day. I am almost through the six discs, and already I am lamenting the story coming to a close.

Now, one might accuse me of having very unsophisticated taste in fiction. I would argue that I have steered away from fiction because each time I attempt to read something by a current author writing for adults, I am scandalized by the unnecessary content. So, I turned away from fiction altogether. Enter the world of junior fiction -- the stories are fun, exciting and a pleasure to read. They have a wholesome, innocent constitution that doesn't offend my sensibilities as a Catholic wife and mother. I am actually enjoying the gift of a good, well constructed tale. I can't wait to find the next author whose skill at fashioning a piece of fiction takes me away and leaves me yearning to read more.

1 comment:

Allison said...

Follow the River must be your next selection. A pregnant mother of five is kidnapped by Indians near what is now Draper's Corner, VA. It is a wonderful account of her survival and courage. Thanks for your titles. I'm going to put them on hold at the library today!