My parents were highly irresponsible. They moved at least once a year until I got to 8th grade. At that point, I begged them to stay in that house until I finished high school, so I wouldn't spend my entire youth without any friends for more than a couple of months. I still have no idea why they complied.
Anyway, the summer before I started eighth grade, we moved; it was the ninth place I could remember living. I didn't know a soul, and expected to know no one 3 months later, when school started. So I found out where the library was, determined that it was less than 2 miles and I could walk there, and did so, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, all summer long. I concluded that the best thing to do was simply read the entire library, alphabetically, but after a less than auspicious start, I began hunting for books approaching 1000 pages long. That way, I could bring home one epic and one shorter novel, and have enough to carry me 2 or 3 days. Thus, I discovered this author.
CEREMONY OF THE INNOCENT
by Taylor Caldwell
This is the story of Ellen, a 13 year old orphan being raised by her aunt in a small town south of Scranton in the late 1890s. Tall and red haired, she was considered ugly by everyone, including her aunt. But Ellen was a kind, trusting soul who took no upset at the taunting of others, simply believing whatever they said. That summer, her aunt told her to lie about her age, and got her a job as a kitchen assistant in the mayor's house for the summer, greatly augmenting the family income. The mayor's son and nephew both became infatuated with Ellen, a minor scandal of a sort arose, and Ellen and her aunt were moved to another town to work for a distant relative of the nephew. This book follows Ellen's life, through marriage, children, her aunt's manipulations, etc.
Not unusual for Taylor Caldwell's books, there is a lot of historical commentary; much of it is relevant today. Consider this:
"Well," said Walter, in a somewhat hopeless tone, "so long as we have local governments in the jealous states, we'll have decentralized government, and so a measure of our freedom. But God help us if Washington ever becomes big and overpowering, with a swarm of harassing and arrogant bureaucrats who would rule by fiat and not by law..."
"He (Woodrow Wilson) approved the Underwood Tariff, which reduced duties on foreign importations. This cheap competition with American industry threw tens of thousands of American workers out of jobs, and induced a depression, and widespread despair..."
It almost makes you wonder if history just repeats itself every century or so.
I love Taylor Caldwell's writing, but this book just made me sad. Maybe I was just having a sad week when I read it; I don't know. It was well done, and the historical aspects were thought provoking, but the story overall was sad. So I don't quite know how to rate it.
Now, for the giveaway: in cleaning up the playroom, and reorganizing the books, I discovered that I had not one, not two, but three copies of this book. If you want it, let me know, and I'll send it to someone. Maybe only one person will want it, or maybe I'll have to draw a number, or maybe I'll just choose the best comment, but I'll send a copy to someone. And you can tell me if it was a downer or I was just having a down week.
Happy Thorsday, everyone!