Friday, June 03, 2011

A Little Gem: "Howards End is on the Landing" by Susan Hill

In the era of "A Year off From...." blogs and books, this hidden gem of a book takes the genre to new highs. The subtitle tells all about Hill's "Year Off"--"a year of reading from home." Not buying, not borrowing--reading the unread books on her own shelves. A writer and professor's wife, buying books is second nature to Hill and savoring them isn't always the priority it should be. Echoing Miss Charlotte Mason, Hill extols the virtue of reading slowly--taking it "all" in. The book's essence, it's mood, it's underlying emotion--the whole bag of tricks--not just the story line as told in the blurb on the back. She evokes the aura libraries often have for readers and recounts with unabashed joy her childhood reading--no, not a list of "classics," but books beloved of children and often scorned by adults as "twaddle" or "rubbish." (She even dares admit to watching "rubbish" on tv in her "small dark den" aka "the s.d.d.."

Her prose made me run to my own library's catalog to request my first ever Dorothy Sayers "Peter Whimsey" novel as well as add Dicken's "Little Dorrit" to my "to read" list. I could nearly reproduce the whole of the book in meaningful quotes--several of which will be transcribed into my Commonplace book over the next week or two. But to do so would be to spoil the joy of discovering Hill's prose, and her life's reading story, for yourself and would make it impossible for you to take away what your soul finds among this incredible treasure trove of book love. This book, following closely on the heels of a very successful Spring reading season, may also inspire a few non-review book posts in the near future. This is truly a book for ALL book lovers. Get it. Now. Read it. ASAP. You won't regret it.


Jeanne said...

Yes, I adored it as well...even if she scorns Australian books :(

Hopewell said...

She should be re-educated to include them!