This year, Adrienne has challenged us to read a book that has been made into a movie and then to watch that movie. In January, I choose a dusty book from my shelves that I had been putting off forever - The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne-
First published in 1850, Hawthorne's novel of adultery, shame, politics and religion is set in a puritan village in New England. Hester Prynne is the main character who has disgraced herself and community by becoming with child outside of marriage. Hester has been in the village for a few years waiting for her husband to arrive. They were immigrating from England and for reasons unknown, the husband had sent Hester ahead. He had not been heard from for several years. Hester is not alone in her crime, but she has refused to name the father of her child and the father has not seen fit to declare himself. Enter Roger Chillingworth, an aged doctor who, unbeknownst to the villagers, is Hester's husband. He forces her to secrecy and becomes quite insane in his quest to find out who the father of Hester's little girl is.
The biggest thing I took away from this classic was the strength and bravery of Hester Pryne to live out her life being scorned by the villagers. Yet, I look at some of that strength as weakness instead. Hester could have chosen to leave the village and find a settlement that did not know of her or her shame, yet she choose to stay in the hope that someday her true love would come back to her. Maybe she could have used that same strength to leave and make a better life for herself and her daughter.
I looked on Netflix and found the version of The Scarlet Letter that people said stuck the closest to the book. It was a tv mini-series from 1979. So far I've watched the first two hours and have two more hours to go, but it is done very well and I'm enjoying it quite a bit.
Next I read Hemingway's Girl by Erika Robuck~
Fantastic! I really loved this book that takes us on a historical journey to the Key West of the 1930's and into the lives of Ernest Hemingway and his wife Pauline. "Hemingway's Girl" is Mariella Bennet, a feisty 19 year old Cuban-American who has just lost her father. Mariella's mother is in a deep period of grief so it has fallen to her to support her family any way she can. When she lands a job as housekeeper to the Hemingway family, she finds herself immersed in a different lifestyle and the object of the great writer's attention. Mariella also meets Gavin, a war veteran who is in the Keys working to rebuild the Oversea's Highway. It's just possible that this soldier might capture her heart.
I really connected with Mariella; loving her feisty nature and ability to survive any situation that comes her way. When a huge hurricane hits the Keys, I stood in the rain and nailed boards to the windows right beside Mariella, praying for the safety of her family and friends.
The author really did a great job of researching the era and the lifestyle in this book. The people and the places felt very real and I had to keep reminding myself that this was a work of fiction and not the absolute facts of what happened. To me, it is a truly wonderful work that makes you forget that you are reading historical fiction.
And then - Valley Girl (Adventures of Hazel Weston) by Paula Montgomery -
I had picked this book up at a yard sale a couple of summers ago and it was just hanging around on my shelf waiting to be read - Boy was I in for a treat!
This book is set in the Hood River Valley of Oregon and is a sequel to Canyon Girl. It is the 1920's and Hazel Weston's family has recently moved from the Imnaha Canyon of Wallowa County to Hood River, their dream valley. The valley is full of lush beauty - fruit tree's, fertile fields and the beautiful Columbia River. Hazel's Grandma Smith arrives on the train and immediately Hazel realizes there is a secret her family is keeping from her. What could it be? One day, in her Mother's knitting basket, Hazel spies a baby booty. She asks her Mother if it is for one of the neighbors and finds out that, no, it is for their own sweet baby that will be born in the spring! That winter proves to be the hardest winter on record for the Hood River Valley with a huge snowstorm followed by an ice storm. As the families roof is about to cave in, Hazel is the only one light enough to be able to travel across the ice-encrusted snow to get help from a neighbor.
This is a wonderful story of a young girls life in the Hood River Valley. I have Canyon Girl on it's way to me and can't wait to read about the part of Hazels story that takes place just one county over from where I grew up!
Whew! That's enough from me! What the heck have you been reading???