Monday, July 23, 2007

Many Thanks to That Girl on the T

So I'm reading a book that is really amazing and that I really love. It's been on my list for a while, and I wasn't sure how heavy it was going to be. I was inspired to read it because, on the T one day about two years ago, a girl sitting next to me was reading a book in which two priests were having a serious conversation. I read about two sentences, and I thought I should maybe read it. Mostly because they were priests (or monks, it was unclear; now I know that one was a cardinal and one a monk), and priests, though not quite nuns, still make really good novels in my opinion.

So I caught a glance at the spine and went home to put the book on my list. And I never got around to reading it, because it's not like it came with high recommendations or anything. What would bump it to the top? I mean, the list is like 85 books long now.

But the author's name starts with W, and a couple of weeks ago, I was too lazy to run to another part of the library. So I went looking for it--Knowledge of Angels, by Jill Paton Walsh. It turns out it was in the P section, but by the time I realized that, I was on a mission, and I went and found it. And now I'm reading it.

And oh, thank you, thank you, random girl on the T. This book is basically a long, plotty exploration about the existence of God. Does that sound boring? It's not, not at all. On a small island whose prince is also a cardinal, the cardinal is forced to think for the first time about the reality and inevitability of his beliefs. An atheist, a girl raised by wolves, a brilliant monk, and a convent far from the world. This is a book full of good people trying to find truth and do right by man and God, while trying to figure out just what man and God need. This is (so far; I'm about 1/3 of the way through) a brilliant, beautifully written book. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, presumably in 1994 when it was published. You absolutely should read it.

I also want to put in a little plug for Castle Waiting, a sweet little comic by Linda Medley. It's a big fat book, fairy-tale in nature, that's sort of an assortment of "how I ended up here" stories about a motley crew of characters who live cheerfully in an abandoned castle. It doesn't have much of a plot, but it's just so happy and sweet.

I'm all sunshine and rainbows today. The truth is, I've always thought that books about good people doing the right thing, with nothing majorly bad happening to them, were inevitably boring. But I've had a good week of those, which puts me in a fabulous mood. So pick one of these books--seriously, worth it.

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