In spite of how busy life has been the last couple of weeks I was still able to finish a couple books.
A few weeks back I read The Silver Pencil by Alice Dalgliesh. (Once long ago I read another of Dalgliesh's books, the more famous The Courage of Sarah Noble.) I came across The Silver Pencil while browsing the Youth section of our library, something I do from time to time.
I've hesitated posting about this book only because I wasn't sure how to sum up my thoughts or even the story. I will sum it up this way: The story is about a girl who spends her youth in the Caribbean island of Trinidad and later travels to the UK and the US for schooling. Most of the story centers around her life as a teacher and writer in the United States during the early 1900s (around WWI). TSP is a great book for a youth to read or to have someone read to them, but it is also a good story to read as an adult. There is something pure, innocent, and gentle in the book that I enjoyed. In a sentence, The Silver Pencil is a sweet story with some old fashioned humor, a worthwhile read (think Besty-Tacy).
The next book I finished was a very quick read, Penelope by Marilyn Kaye. This book is based off the screenplay for the movie of the same name. The movie was produced by Reese Witherspoon and came out in 2006... though it is only coming out on DVD this month (2 years later).
The book itself was good -- a cute, modern fairytale with a good moral tucked neatly in at the end. However there were a couple aspects I didn't like about the book. First, it read like a book based off a screenplay. This made it easy to visualize things, but in my opinion it wasn't great writing. Another book written as a fairytale which I just finished reading (more on that later) was written with a much better style. The other thing I didn't care for in Penelope was some of the modern aspects to the story. For example, the almost too obvious comment about alternative lifestyles being "fine if that's your preference". I felt as though the author felt compelled to include that and so it was there and thus stuck out rather irritatingly and as text useless to the story, just some attempt to be PC. That aside, it was a cute/clever story and worth the quick read, or at the very least -- worth tracking down the DVD.
***[UPDATE: After viewing the movie I wanted to quickly update my final thoughts on this book. Normally I'm a "book over the movie" type of person, but I have to say I loved the movie more than the book. Perhaps it was watching the story come alive on the screen... or maybe it was the fact that the things that annoyed me in the book weren't noticeable or weren't included in the movie. Either way, I definitely recommend that you check the DVD out, even if you decide to skip the book. It's a great modern fairy tale and worth the time.]***
The most recent book I read is Elizabeth Goudge's The Little White Horse. Years ago I read two of Goudge's other books (Green Dolphin Street [aka Green Dolphin Country] and Pilgrim's Inn). I never felt too favorable towards either of those books, so I never bothered to read any of her other works. Now years later I feel differently towards GDS -- I think I would recommend that book to others, though I'm still on the other side of the fence re: PI.
That being said, when I came across The Little White Horse I decided to give it a chance. I am so glad I did. This fairy tale type story is set in the countryside of England during the early 1800s. In a way there is almost a sort of Dickens-ish about the book, though maybe it is only in the type of people you meet in the story. The writing is good and the descriptions of Moonacre Park and its surrounding lands, homes, and manors are beautiful. The names of the characters and their descriptions are unique and fairytale in a way. The story itself is charming and very enjoyable with a perfect ending that doesn't leave you feeling disgusted at its sweetness. It was definitely worth the read and if I ever stumble across a copy of this book I think I would even add it to my collection.