Despite having two children, homeschooling my oldest, and having all hell break loose on a number of fronts this month, or maybe because of, I’ve found myself reading more and social mediaing (it is too a word. I totally made it up.) less this month.
I’ll admit I feel odd talking about the books I’ve been reading, knowing real life, honest to goodness book bloggers might read this, because I rarely read in-depth books worthy of bragging about, and this month has been no exception. In fact, I don’t read one book at a time very often, instead finding myself flitting from book to book until I find one I simply can’t put down, which hasn’t happened since I read the first Fletch book by Gregory McDonald earlier in the year.
First up for this month was to finish a book I started a few years ago by British comedian Miranda Hart, “Is It Just Me?” I thought I had finished it, but alas, I never had, according to my Kindle bookmarks. Deep writing this isn’t and instead the reader is taken into a silly world of Miranda, now in her late 30s, talking to her 18-year-old self about all she has learned so far. Miranda wrote and starred in a successful sitcom in Great Britain, aptly titled “Miranda.”
And what she has learned so far would be considered silly and trivial by most standards, but for me, after the month of August when our family lost two family members and a bizarre series of mishaps involving broken cars and household appliances happened, I needed trivial and silly. The need for trivial is probably why I also started Miranda’s second book “Peggy and Me” about her acquiring and then falling in love with her dog Peggy. Yes, this is as trite as it sounds and is definitely light reading. I’m only part way through the book and I’m not sure I’ll make it all the way through, even though it is cute, silly and light-hearted.
I’m not convinced by it, so far, that I will delve into the sequel, “Miranda and Me,” written from the perspective of Peggy since Peggy already shares her thoughts in the first book in some awkward, yet funny, interruptions similar to how young Miranda interrupts present Miranda in “Is It Just Me?” I’m just not sure I care to read an entire book from the perspective of a dog, even though I’m sure it will feature some entertaining moments.
In August the kids and I went to see the latest installment of the “true-story of Winnie the Pooh movies,” “Christopher Robin” which led me to wonder about the real Christopher Robin and brought me to one of his memoirs, “The Enchanted Places”, which was much less trite that Miranda’s foray into writing. Christopher Robin Milne, the son, and only child, of author A. A. Milne didn’t remember a childhood as idyllic as his father wrote about in the Winnie the Pooh books, but he did have some fond memories, even with his father being emotionally unavailable for practically his entire childhood.
The younger Milne doesn’t hide his complex feelings about his parents, writing that in addition to his father’s lack of nurturing, his mother was more of an occasional playmate than a real mother. Instead, Milne was mainly raised by his nanny, Olive, until the age of 9 when he was shipped off to boarding school. What he does remember fondly is his trips to the farm his family owned and to the Hundred Acre Wood, the forest near the farm, made famous in his father’s books.
About his father, Christopher Milne reflects at one point: “There are two sorts of writers. There is the writer who is basically a reporter and there is the creative writer. The one draws on his experiences, the other on his dreams. My father was a creative writer and so it was precisely because he was not able to play with his small son that his longings sought and found satisfaction in another direction. He wrote about him.”
Still, there were pleasant moments between the two as the younger Milne grew, especially at the farm where they played cricket together, before war called the children’s book hero off to the army. It seems Milne’s fondest memories are at the farm and cottage and he spends a couple of chapters describing it and his adventures there. Christopher’s closeness with his father developed more after his nanny left for good.
Christopher remembers being painfully shy and having to cling to, first his nanny, and later his father, who he says may have enjoyed their closeness for awhile but later showed anxiety from it.
I was pleasantly surprised how well Christopher Milne wrote and a little heartbroken the true story wasn’t as heartwarming as the books, but as I read through the book I believe his life did have good moments, peppered in among the disappointments placed on him by his parents. He even relayed some fond memories of his mother who he saw only once in the 15 years before she died.
Christopher Milne authored two more autobiographical books, but I haven’t yet decided if I’ll try to read those.
Up next in my queue is The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, the first of The Cat Who… series by Lillian Jackson Braun, a series I remember reading in high school and college and liking for its’ quirky main characters of two Siamese cats and a retired journalist affectionally called Jim Qwilleran or Qwill throughout the series. The cats always seem to find a way to help Qwill solve a case of murder or robbery or something similarly sinister and I can’t remember ever reading how it all started so I’m enjoying the first in the series so far.
Now to steal a blog post ending from my brother Unfinished Person: So, how about you? What are you reading? Listening to? Even watching? And how about the weather where you are?