Thursday, November 30, 2017

My Reading Life: The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre (Rinaldi)

Reading through my shelves of juvenile books, I chose another Rinaldi historical fiction. I've yet to find a Rinaldi I didn't enjoy. She seems to have researched her topics well and then adds enough realism to plunk the reader, or at least me, down in the midst of the historical situation. This time, I was with the John Adams family as the children's caretaker, Rachel Marsh.

Rachel, at age twelve, learns what liberty is, what it means to be free. She is befriended by the Adams' acquaintance Henry Knox, the bookseller. For years, I've always had a yearn for Knox. Maybe it is the name - he was a descendant of the Scottish Presbyterian John Knox the Reformer from whom we named one of our sons - or maybe it was because he loved books and owned an early American bookstore. Henry Knox helps Rachel to realize what thinking for oneself is, and he does this by guiding her reading and conversations. In three short paragraphs, Rinaldi takes the reader into Knox's bookshop:
"Mr. Knox's shop was as wonderful as Mr.s Adams had said. And I saw, the moment I entered, why she had sent me. It had more to do with the way the place made a person feel than anything else. I could never describe it. You would have to be a person who loves books to understand, who loves the way they look and smell. And the quiet that surrounds them. And the way it seeps into your soul.

"A little bell tinkled as I opened the door. The walls were lined with books of all kinds, some with gold lettering on them, some with the bindings almost falling off or carefully stitched back on. Some had the look of ages about them.

"I wandered for a few moments in the aisles, just looking, not paying mind to the people. No one bothered me. No one asked if I had a right to be there. A clock ticked serenely in a corner. A table was in a clearing in the back, on a Persian carpet by a window with small panes. Two men were seated at the table, studying. In another chair, by the window, sat a very pretty young lady, dressed in blue. She was reading. A cat dozed in the window seat in the sun. I could live here, I decided. I felt at home."

I always love a good description. Rinaldi has many, and one that gave me a bit of pause was this:

". . . pulled here by a rope of feelings that I had woven . . . .". 

Simple, yes. Nothing spectacular. But what a visible description of invisible things.

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