But as I was reading them, the other evening before bed, I was struck by a fundamental connection, in the way that I was read these novels (not so much in the way that they’re written).
First, with Great House, I had that immediate and delicious sense that I would follow Nicole Krauss’ storytelling anywhere.
Only a third of the way into the novel, I was convinced that I was reading a book that I was going to want to reread, that the layers I was spotting were only a glimmer of the sophisticated crafting that I would likely only understand as I reached the end, which would send me catapulting back to the beginning out of sheer admiration.
I hadn’t really read far enough into the story to know that for sure, but I had that immediately comfortable, trusting take-me-where-you-like feeling early on. (This was rooted primarily in the experience of reading the novel, although I had read an excerpt of it as part of The New Yorker’s 20Under40 series with “The Young Painters”.)
And, then, as the evening hours dwindled, and I shifted into Maud Hart Lovelace reading territory, I realized that I had the same feeling about the Betsy, Tacy and Tib stories. Not so much as an adult reader, but as a displaced adult reader, one shuttled back into nostalgia.
Beginning with Betsy Tacy, these tales are old-fashioned, innocent and light, particularly as the early books in series are intended for the youngest readers, the later books increasing in complexity (just as today’s Harry Potter books take their maturing audience into account). As a girl, discovering a series like this one, I would have had the same immediate sense of ease and comfort with tales so clearly rooted in girlhood friendships.
Actually, as a girl, I only read Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill (1942) and Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown (1943), which are the third and fourth books in the series, but I read and re-read them compulsively. If the public library had had those earlier books, I would have devoured them as well.
The younger-reader-in-me would have been just as thrilled with Maud Hart Lovelace as the adult-reader thrilled to Great House.
Wondering why I’m reading the Betsy-Tacy-and-Tib-stories now?
Wonder why I’m reading Nicole Krauss? Well, besides the fact that The History of Love was on my list of Favourite Reads for 2006, I’m reading it because she’s at this year’s IFOA.
(This post coincides with an IFOA Interview with Nicole Krauss today. This is just one of several events this Saturday: please see the IFOA site for details and ticket information.)
Do you get this feeling of almost-instant-trust with certain storytellers too?
Do you remember having the same kind of insta-attraction as a younger reader?