Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.
Several years ago, my dad gave me a box of books that had belonged to his mother. They're all popular fiction from the late 1940's, and most of them are missing their dust jackets, so I'm not even entirely sure what several of them are about. I have to guess from the lousy bookseller info or (hopefully) user reviews on Goodreads. This one was adapted into a movie, so there's a little more information about it. It looks to be a Southern Gothic in the style of Jezebel, maybe. The first few pages are intriguing, at least.
I do not know what woke me. Perhaps the train jerking to a stop, for I heard the crunch of the trainmen's feet outside my window and their voices flat against the November night. For the first sleep-drugged moment I lay staring into the dark. The the past was in the dark berth with me. The shabby high-ceilinged flat, Mama's hyacinths - pink and purple - blooming in the window, the firelight gleaming on Father's books. Even the little kitchen with the spot before the stove worn by Mama's tireless feet. Small trivialities of living, all of them, hardly noticed then. Now because they were gone forever, transient miracles vested with radiance.
This book has a faded red cloth cover, and the pages are yellowed to a dark sepia, but are in good shape, no creases or tears. On the inside of the front cover, there is my grandmother's signature in ink. I never met her, because she passed away when my father was still a teenager, but from his stories about her and from the photos we have of her, she was a lively, energetic, fun-loving lady who could be a terror to misbehaving boys. It sounds like my father and his cousins tried her patience often, as boys will do. Next to her signature is the name, written in pencil, of one of her best friends. I like to think that they shared this book and had fun talking about it, but they wouldn't have been able to see the lurid movie adaptation together, because it came out after she passed away.