Monday, May 31, 2010

Vacation Weekend, Day Three: Baking Bread

So, today I stayed home all day, making rolls.* It was nice to have a down day: not working on a paper (having finished up the Notes & Bibliography on "Inside Literature" very late on Friday), not running errands (we'd taken care of that Saturday & Sunday), & just not having anywhere I had to be at any particular time.

I took advantage of it to read a book I'd started a few weeks back and had to put aside: THE INCORRIGIBLE CHILDREN OF ASHTON PLACE by Maryrose Wood [2010]. This is one I came across while checking the 'young adult' shelves at the Borders in Federal Way, looking for something Riordan-esque after reaching the final volume in the Percy Jackson series.

One of the ways I decide whether or not to read a book about which I know nothing is to open it up somewhere in the middle and read a page or two. If I find that I want to know who these people are, and how they got in the situation they're in, and what happens to them next, then I read the book. If I don't care, then more likely than not I give it a pass unless I have some other good reason to read it.

In this case, I got lucky: having now read the entire book, I'd say the passage that initially caught my eye is probably the best in the whole book. Here's an excerpt, in which three feral children, whom the heroine (a young governess) has been training to wear clothes, speak rather than growl, and generally behave more like people than animals, are given their 'Eliza-Doolittle-at-Ascot moment, performing "The Wreck of the Hesperus" at a dinner party when somehow a squirrel gets into the room and ignites all their predator instincts:

"After what seemed an eternity but was obviously not (in fact, calling any length of time 'an eternity' is yet another example of hyperbole in action), the children succeeded in cornering the squirrel near the doors that led out of the ballroom. Then, in what was either a brilliant stroke of luck or a bit of disastrously poor timing, depending on whether you were rooting for the squirrel or the children, the doors swung open.

'My word!' exclaimed Mrs. Clarke [the housekeeper] . . .

Somewhere in its nut-sized brain, the squirrel must have recognized its only chance for escape. With a desperate lash of its tail the rodent bolted between Mrs. Clarke's legs, through the doors of the ballroom, and disappeared into the vast house beyond.

The children froze, but only for a moment. Then Cassiopeia raised her tiny fists in the air. 'Mayhem!' she bellowed, pointing out the door.

Spurred on by her battle cry, the yapping Incorrigibles tore off after the squirrel, in hot and, it must be said, happy pursuit.

A traumatized hush fell over the party guests . . .

--I have to admit it was that 'Mayhem!' that got me.

And now, on to the four other books I'm currently reading
--SHE [1887]


*using my grandmother's recipe, of course

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