San gave me this award yesterday. Thank you San. You are so sweet. The award inspired this post on reading. I've loved reading since I was a tiny girl and Dad read to me every night at bedtime. As soon as I learned to read there was no stopping me. Except for a horrible period a few years back when I was distressed and unable to concentrate, barely a day goes by without my reading something from one, two or three books. Reading takes me to places I have never been, into worlds I would never have otherwise known.
I've had many favorite books through the years. From The Wind in the Willows to Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames Student Nurse to Katharine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, Anais Nin, Allen Ginsburg, Dylan Thomas. Oh on and on. About 12 years ago I discovered the Norwegian writer, Cora Sandel. Since then, I've read many of her short stories, the Alberta trilogy and a few other novels. The trilogy I have read 4-5 times. I recorded myself reading it on tape so I could listen to it at night.
The books were republished in the USA by Ohio University Press. The novels are about Alberta, who grew up in Norway and left for Paris in the exciting early 1900's. The character parallels Sandel who also left Norway for Paris to become a painter. Sandel painted for twenty years before she began writing her Alberta novels. Sandel married a sculptor and had one son. As did Alberta, the fictional character who was a writer too. I myself went to San Francisco in 1967 and married a sculptor and had one son. I also painted, then wrote, then painted. Throughout the novel (and what I know of Sandel's life) there seem many parallels with myself. This is part of the appeal, but there is much more. The language, the flow of the writing. The apparent ease of depicting the character's lives. As I read, I fall completely into the world Sandel has created.
The novels depict, in part, the process of writing, the struggles, the crossed out pages.The writing is stream of consciousness style and beautifully descriptive. These books have given me heart and joy at times when I've felt sad. In reading them I resonate with people, especially artists, of another era. Paris is described in such detail, I feel as if I were there with Sandel. They are rich and multi-layered. Some have said of them that "nothing happens." True, they are not plot driven. They are soul driven. I believe that in Norway, Sandel is well-known. But elsewhere that is not so true. An overlooked writer.
Do you have a favorite book , fiction or non-fiction, that is special to you? Did it change your life or views on life. Was it the characters, the setting, the themes, the subject matter that got you in the book's clutches?
The pictures on the covers are of Cora Sandel. One of the three books, Alberta and Freedom, is not depicted.
PS The icon is here for the taking for whomever would like it. I think it's so cute. It was made by the talented Daryl of Out and About in New York City. I love the idea of making an icon, though have no idea of how one does it.