You all remember that nationally published book I dissected and criticized to pieces? I recently read a book that impressed me so much, I decided to balance out the scales and tell you all the good things about it. The novel is “A White Bird Flying” by Bess Streeter Aldrich, a well-known author of the same type as Willa Cather, also from Nebraska but a little bit after Cather.
In a nutshell, the main character is Laura Deal, a girl who aspires to be an author and has decided not to get married so she can pursue her career. Her grandmother, recently deceased, is the only member of her family who understood her dreams, and she feels alone now that her grandmother is gone. As she grows up, she is firm in her conviction not to marry, but she almost turns away from the love that was being offered to her.
Here are some snippets that I particularly enjoyed:
“Eloise always picked a subject to pieces, squeezed the parts dry and then put them together again.”
“Christine Reinmueller, Grandma’s neighbor and friend for sixty years, came over, her blue calico dress gathered on full at the place where her waistline should have been, her colorless hair braided in moist flat strands and wound from ear to ear, like a miniature braided rug that had been pinned on the back of her head.”
“The mother was one of those highly efficient women who would have arranged the stars in symmetrical rows and dispensed with the Milky Way as being too messy.”
“Allen in evening clothes was Apollo in a tuxedo.”
A conversation between Laura and Allen. She’s refusing his proposal and he’s trying to talk her into it:
Allen: “And you wouldn’t even have to leave your home to do your kind of work. Look at your own Aunt Isabelle Rhoades in Chicago. Hasn’t she been a professional singer and music teacher ever since she and Harrison Rhoades were married?”
Laura: “Yes, but they’re different. They work together. He composes and she sings.”
Allen: “Well, so could we. You’d write, and I’d sharpen your pencils.”
There were many, many more well-worded sentences and passages in this book, but I’d have to start from the front and copy in the entire text in order to share them all. I encourage you to go get a copy and enjoy it start to finish for yourself.