THE COURT OF THE STONE CHILDREN by Eleanor Cameron

Because of unexpected happenings in the beginning of this year, I have temporarily neglected reading. Well, before that, I have been reading — perhaps intermittently and desultorily — free Kindle books on Amazon that are usually as good as how much they cost to acquire. So, it’s not anything to brag about. But hey, reading is reading, right?

In any case, the books I always go back to after such a reprieve (or neglect; take your pick) are those that I’ve enjoyed reading before. The first seven books on my list are (as they would say in beauty pageants, in no particular order):

  1. The Court of the Stone by Eleanor Cameron
  2. Pobby and Dingan by Ben Rice
  3. The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
  4. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  5. Carrie by Stephen King
  6. Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman
  7. Chase the Moon by Catherine Nicolson

I’ll discuss why each one is on the list in separate posts. Let me begin with number 1.

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I am fascinated by languages, a fact that I didn’t realise sooner. If I had done that when I was deciding on a course in college, my life would have taken on a wildly different turn. Or not. Life has a way of tricking us into thinking we’re doing something different when we’re really just taking a different route to the same destination.

Anyway, languages. One of the main characters (Domi) is French and le français is all over the place. There is a diary written entirely in French that Domi translates to the protagonist, Nina. Domi and some other characters lived in a different place and time and the adventurer in me is excited travelling with them.

This fascination lives in me until now, decades later. When I first read it, I could relate to Nina, as she is the character I was close in age to. I’ve read and reread the book over the years and have since understood much of what each character is about, which is a delight. My focus has changed and, while I still enjoy reading it, the enjoyment has taken on a different form. It’s like finding out something new in something familiar. I know what’s going to happen so I’m able to take my attention away from anticipating it and place it towards the finer details, like wondering how Madame Henri, the museum’s curator, must feel about being in a country different from her birthplace (a thought that is and will be very relevant to my own life) or how another character deals with her life’s work having been proved false and she having to start over with this new information.

I guess that’s the allure of reading for me. My life, as it remains basically the same, gets the kind of twists and turns that I crave for while I sit still. Sometimes, it’s so intense that, when I look up from what I’m reading, it surprises me that I’m still where I used to be when I started. I’ve changed and everyone else remains the same.

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