Monday, October 19, 2015

Tales of a Former Tomboy

I've never been particularly "girly" in my style. Even as a toddler, when even babies were dressed up for church in frilly dresses with petticoats underneath that made the skirts stick out horizontally, my mom didn't dress me as "frou-frou" as other little girls (that's her phrase). She's said that my legs were so thin, they looked pitiful underneath those voluminous skirts. Someday maybe I'll borrow her photo albums and get to scanning. I have a lot of Throwback Thursdays to catch up on.

This should give you the idea. Doesn't it make you itchy?
For much of my childhood, I was a tomboy who practically lived outside. This is very difficult for me to believe now, but it's true. I rode my bike every day after school, made endless mud pies, and climbed every tree at my grandparents' house (our trees didn't have branches close enough to the ground for me to climb, much to my disappointment.) I did all these things while wearing skirts and culottes because a) that was our school uniform and b) our church at that time believed that women should wear only skirts and dresses. So no truly tomboyish clothes for me.
This is EXACTLY what they looked like, even the navy blue color. I find them hideous.
I had no problems pursuing my interests, though. My parents never told me not to get dirty or not to climb things because I was wearing a skirt (hence the culottes.) I always did like pretty clothes for dressing up, though. I am a romantic through and through, and what could be prettier than the Disney princesses' ball gowns? You can imagine how much I loved Ariel and Belle compared to the earlier princesses: a spunky redhead and a bookworm who ALSO wear ball gowns? My kind of girls! But that's another post for another day.

Okay, this post has gotten way too long. I'll finish the story tomorrow.

I'd like to hear from y'all. Are you "girly" or not? Has your style changed since you grew up, or do you have basically the same preferences you had as a girl?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Book Review: Dear Mr. Knightley

Well, it finally happened. I read a Christian novel that I liked. And that didn't make me cringe (not even once) due to bad writing or heavy-handed inclusion of Christianity. 

To tell you the truth, I had completely forgotten that Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay is Christian fiction. I bought it as an e-book from BookBub, a service that alerts readers to discounted e-books. Initially it caught my attention because the title refers to one of Jane Austen's heroes, and I like Austen's Mr. Knightley very much. Still, I didn't expect much from the book since I've encountered quite a bit of Austen-inspired fiction, and most of it is as dismal as the Christian fiction I dislike.

Dear Mr. Knightley is an epistolary novel, meaning it is written as a series of letters. In this case, almost all of the letters are written by the main character, Samantha Moore, a survivor of the foster care system who got through the hard times by escaping into classic novels, especially those of Jane Austen. After college, Sam receives the opportunity to attend journalism school through a grant from an anonymous donor who asks only that she write regular letters to him to keep him apprised of her progress. The mysterious benefactor uses the synonym of "George Knightley."

The setup may be contrived, but Reay captures Sam's personality perfectly. The lonely young woman pours her heart out onto the page as she would a journal, only with more dialogue and better pacing. In many ways, the book reminded me of two other favorite epistolary novels: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Daddy Long Legs. While a reader of classic literature will surely love the many allusions to works by Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte (among others), those who haven't read those books can still enjoy this one. 

The spiritual part of the book is deeply felt and ingrained in the theme of redemption, grace, and forgiveness--yet Reay never slathers it on thick or makes her characters too good to be true. I take it back--I now read Christian fiction, at least if it's written by Katherine Reay.