Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Quiet Sunday Morning

It's Sunday morning and I'm sitting in my jammies with my MacBook on my lap. The husband is taking a shower. The son is still asleep. Last night he went to a drive-in with tons of his friends to see Iron Man and Cloverfield. I know he is a happy boy. He loved Cloverfield, and he already saw and loved Iron Man on Friday night. The daughter is in the basement relaxing and watching The Little Mermaid after a tough night of stomach pains and throwing up. Oh, and of course the cats are napping.
Me? Life is good and/or I've just finally learned how to be content in the moment. It's been hard for me to just sit and read or just relax. It used to be when I was reading and relaxing I felt I should be doing something else. Perhaps tackle the piles of clothes on the floor in my bedroom? But when I was doing something else all I really wanted to do was read. Now I just sit and read and I'm happy to be sitting and reading. That is progress, huh?

I just finished reading The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, a nonfiction account of a brutal 1860 murder. There's a 1940s British film called Dead of Night I first saw when I was a little kid, which is an anthology of mysterious stories. In one brief episode, a teenage girl playing Sardines hides in a big house, avoiding the seekers. She hears crying, and meets a little boy who says his sister wants to kill him. His name is Francis Kent and his sister is Constance Kent.

About 15 years ago, in a thrift store in Connecticut, I found a very used book called Victorian Murderesses. In the little paragraphs about each murderess on the back of the book, I saw the name Constance Kent, and read about how she murdered her little brother Francis. I had no idea that there was any truth in that Dead of Night story!

FYI, Dead of Night is not available through netflix, but if you ever get a chance to see it, do. It's very well crafted and entertaining...and scary. Victorian Murderesses by Mary Hartman is well worth reading. I loved it so much, in fact, I wrote Ms. Hartman a fan email. She was lovely in her reply.

Back to the Kents.

Entertainment Weekly's book review section profiled The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher and mentioned the Kent murder. "Kent" is hardly a rare name, so I did some research to see if this story was the Francis and Constance story, and it was! The author, Kate Summerscale, deftly brings together transcripts of the trial, contempory interviews with those involved, newspaper accounts, maps of the house and county where the murder happened, and weaves it all together with current events of the day, and includes other murders around that time period. Mr. Whicher of the title was one of the first detectives as we know them. Charles Dickens knew him. Many fictional detectives owe at least some of their make up and character to Mr. Whicher. The book was fascinating, and made me SO SO SO happy to be alive now instead of then. Now things can bad; back then things were ROTTEN.

My next book is The Da Vinci Code. Have you ever heard of it? I just couldn't bring myself to read it during its reign on the NY Times best seller list. I frequently, purposefully avoid zeitgeist entertainment, perhaps because I can't read a book or see a movie on its own merits when the world is shouting in my ear about how great something is. Well, time has flown by, and The Da Vinci Code is old now, so I'm ready to read it.

One thing is certain: I'm always happier when I'm reading. I'll read eight books in quick succession, and then I'll take a break. Then I realize something is missing in my life, and it's reading. Thank goodness for a well-stocked library and a Barnes & Noble gift certificate.

Ah, life is good this very moment.

1 comment:

Rodney said...

I just read a book called Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer. Just a fun and funny and touching and maddening read about living--and finding yourself. Got it from Sheila and passing it to Wendy.