It’s inevitable, I suppose~change. I’m surrounded by it these days, and the changes I see belie the swelling of new buds on my trees and the lawns suddenly awash with green. A large part of my life involves elderly family members, some of them drawing nearer to that most elemental change, the transformation from life into death. It’s painful to watch, and it makes me angry too, for there is suffering involved, more suffering than is warranted or fair to these people whose lives have been lived simply and evenly.
So I’ve searched for some comfort in my reading this week, especially after reading Coventry, a book which, though lovely and beautifully written, was poignant and sad, and simply fed my own melancholy in regard to sadness and loss. Alas, my library yielded little joy in the way of comfort books ~ perhaps I simply didn’t know what I was looking for. But I pulled the latest novel by a old favorite off the shelf – Off Season, by Anne Rivers Siddons.
Years ago, I read every one of Siddons novels, and in fact, many of the worn, creased paperback versions are buried somewhere in my basement book stacks. Colony and Peachtree Road were among my favorites, and I read them each multiple times. One of things I loved best in reading these books was the locations. Some of these novels are set in the new South, while others describe the east coast seaside lifestyle, for which I’ve always had a serious longing.
But the novels that came after Colony seemed pale to me ~ the story lines suddenly seemed stilted, the characters not quite fully realized.
Has that happened to you? That an author whom you’ve once loved suddenly no longer captures your interest? I’ve experienced it since Siddons…with Jodi Picoult’s novels, and even to some extent with the mysteries of Elizabeth George (who made me just plain mad with the outcome of one her most recent mysteries).
But I decided to give Off Season a try, hoping for a story that would engage me and take my mind off my own problems. I was skeptical during the first few chapters, but I persisted. Now mid-way through the book, I’m interested enough in the story to finish it…it reads quickly and it successfully diverts my thoughts from nagging worry and sadness. But I’m still oddly dissatisfied with the writing.
Perhaps my reading tastes have simply changed? Although most of Siddons characters now are women of my own age, I can no longer identify with them the way I did when I read her earlier novels. Has my age and experience, not to mention all the hundreds of books I’ve read in the years since I loved Siddons early novels, given me a taste for more complex writing? Have my reading tastes matured, as the oenophiles taste buds do with years of sipping fine wines?
Which all brings me round to my first statement…change is inevitable. Sometimes it happens that the things which once satisfied completely no longer do so.
At any rate, I’m about to make myself some favorite comfort food on this Sunday morning…. good strong coffee, and crisp toasted white bread with lots of butter. Butter never fails to satisfy. *smiles*
May you all find comfort today with whatever change life is bringing you.