It's time for some book reviews. I don't get to read as much as I used to, but I couldn't imagine a day without reading a few lines. Mostly during mealtimes which is a really bad habit but I love it. The perfect breakfast always includes a book next to my plate.
And this is the book that's on my breakfast table at the moment:
I picked it up while browsing in my favourite bookshop, Charlie Byrne's, in Galway. Fairy tales have always delighted me since I was a very young child and I want my son to get as much pleasure out of them as I did myself. While I was always convinced that it is wrong to deny your children the pleasure of fairy tales because they can be cruel or sad, I do feel a bit worried about this now that I am a parent myself. Of course no parent wants to scare their child and it is normal to feel worried that those gruesome details might do some damage to your child's psyche. According to Bruno Bettelheim though, the opposite is true: Pretending that life is always sunny and denying that evil and death is part of it as well, can do much more damage. Fairy tales teach children about the darker sides to life in a safe way, they show evilness and death but in the end everything comes right, evilness is punished, good deeds rewarded. If I think back to my childhood I don't remember ever feeling scared or threatened by a fairy tale, but I do remember feeling happy and consoled hearing the last line: and they lived happily ever after.
Aidan is still a bit young with his two years but when he saw the picture of Red Riding Hood and the Wolf on the cover he was intrigued so I got out my old Fairy Tale Book and read him the story. He loves the picture of the wolf and doesn't seem to be upset by him swallowing the grandmother and Red Riding Hood.
Another book that I just finished is this one:
This is one of my most favourite books. I've reread it countless times since I first read it when I was about sixteen. Though this is my first time to read it in English (The German translation was published under the nondescript title "Sommerglanz"). What makes it so enjoyable? From a literary point of view there is probably not that much to it. The story is simple, the characters a touch stereotyped. The newer editions are actually published as young adult fiction as you can guess from the cover, even though Eva Ibbotson regarded it as a book for adults. It is such a pleasure to read. It has everything you secretly want from a book, but might be too scared to utter aloud for fear of being ridiculed. I do enjoy reading "high" literature (though probably not for the right reasons), yet sometimes I just want something light, something stereotyped and predictable. There is nothing wrong with predictable: The heroine is Anna, a young Russian countess who has lost everything in the Russian revolution and comes to England to work as a housemaid in a grand manor house. Rupert, it's young owner, just back from being wounded in the war, is exceptionally liberal minded - as are all his family and neighbors. They take active interests in their servants' lives and they welcome a Jewish family into their neighborhood - not very likely for the English gentry at that time, I believe. You can guess from the first pages that Anna and Rupert will fall in love and end up together. And it would be very disappointing if this wouldn't happen. Like in a fairy tale: you know the heroine will win and get the prince in the end but that doesn't make it less enjoyable to read. It doesn't matter how old you are: We all need fairy tales sometimes!