The Devil’s Arithmetic, by Jane Yolen was a book recommended to me recently by a friend. The title both put me off and intrigued me. I’m not a huge fan of math nor of the Devil, to be quite frank. When I was struggling with geometry in high school, I would have assumed both were from Hell. But after learning Yolen’s novel was a fictional, time travel piece about the Holocaust, I decided to give it a go.
After all, I want to visit Auschwitz one day. The Devil’s Arithmetic was a way to do this from my living room couch.
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A friend recommended reading Henry Jame’s novella, The Turn of the Screw. It’s a psychological horror, set in Victorian times in England in Essex, specifically. Throw in an old country estate named Bly–isolated and with a large pond–a couple of potential ghosts, a country church and I’m sold. Get me a cup of tea, some caramel popcorn and away we go. Nothing better than a cozy horror snuggled up in blankets.
Expecting something like Jane Eyre, I sat and read the novella (approximately 43,000 words) over a weekend, some in the car, some in restaurants and the rest at home. It’s a quick read–I particularly loved the short, but thick chapters, that gave just enough momentum to keep the reader going. The imagery, particularly the ghost sightings I adored. James has a way with describing just enough and letting your mind fill in the rest, particularly with domestic scenes so close to our experiences.
I got to the end, eager for answers, several theories at my side I developed. I met Mr. James there, holding his white handkerchief in a tease surrender, standing next to his character’s corpse. My theories fell to the wayside. I argued, I harangued, I politely condoled. But I would get no answers, it seemed. It was up to me and all the other readers since the 1800’s.
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With no particular rhyme or reason, here are five of my favorite books. There are, of course, many, many, many more.
Hurry, scurry, get thee to a library!
Continue reading “Some of My Favorite Books & Why”