Blogger: Michelle Ule
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
As aforementioned, my husband and I became fans of PBS’s Masterpiece Theater early in our marriage. Back in those days, which seem almost Dickenesque now, the program aired once a week on Sunday nights. You saw it then, or you didn’t see it at all.
Fortunately, the program usually featured stories based on actual books, so if you missed an episode, you could obtain a copy of the novel and catch up before the next Sunday. Which is how we happened to read Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice--and fell in mutual love with the British author’s stories.
I mean, really, what’s not to like? Writing before, during, and after World War II, Shute penned romantic tales of engineers and the women they loved.
What could be better than that?
It was like looking in a mirror.
Well, maybe not.
We were in the throes of naval submarine life when we started to read Shute, living apart for long periods of time while my husband “fought” the cold war and I handled children and collapsing machinery. Shute gave us a fantasy escape into orderly engineering and loyal women who exemplified courage when the chips were down. Not precisely our life, but close enough in feel and texture that we took pleasure in reading the stories together and dreaming about the future.
Curiously, though, we never touched Shute’s most famous novel, On the Beach–the story of an American submarine in Australia as the world suffered nuclear meltdown. It didn’t appeal, or maybe that one really was too close to home in the 1980s.
Our favorite was Trustee from the Toolroom, the story of a humble tool-and-die maker who traveled around the world to ensure his orphaned niece received her inheritance–at great personal risk to himself. In that novel, I recognized my husband’s character and integrity as well as his engineering competence in spite of great odds.
What about you? Have you ever found a book, series of books, or an author who seemed to understand your life in uncanny ways? (Other than Romeo and Juliet, of course.)