Perhaps it’s big magic, perhaps it’s many small great things, but for the good of the commonwealth, I choose to think it’s the origin of us all.
Before the fall, when the summer sun seems like the light of Paris, and cerulean and lavender seem like every day true colors, circumstances of childhood don’t matter. If we have bags, we travel. Our nemesis – winter – is conquered, and we believe that today will be different.
The sandcastle girls enjoy the beach at painter’s cove. Britt-Marie is here and there, as well as a certain gentleman in Moscow until the return of the courtesan. Caitlin’s bane is forgotten, because who can resist romance when breathing in the bay at midnight and listening to the birds of paradise? Who can resist a second chance romance with the boys in the trees or after a kiss with Carlo?
When the women are in the castle, separate beds make no sense, and lovers claim to be sleepwalkers. Perhaps the Hamilton affair, discovered and revealed by the whistler, begins the rash of stolen marriages. Perhaps that’s the reason that sisters in law suddenly no longer speak to each other as the season heats up.
But this identical story is found throughout the world, in everyone’s not so perfect life. All of us look for a bright hour, a time when we feel encased in a nest of love and acceptance, hoping for a fix to our everyday troubles.
But no matter how many midnights are spent at the bright ideas bookstore, the answers lie within, not without. A house among the trees is shelter, not acceptance. Glass houses can be shattered as easily as a soul.
The rules of magic explain it all in a lilting hillbilly elegy: MAKE SOMEONE HAPPY.
That’s it. Nothing complicated. We don’t need to be another Einstein to figure it out. Whether sunning on a beach or shivering in a winter garden, don’t let go of this true meaning of life:
If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for love of humankind. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Some of my favorite books read in 2017:
- The Whistler, John Grisham
- The Hamilton Affair, Elizabeth Cobbs
- True Colors, Kristin Hannah
- Second Chance Romance, Jill Weatherholt
- My (Not So) Perfect Life, Sophie Kinsella
- Today Will Be Different, Maria Semple
- Before the Fall, Noah Hawley
- Reckoning Tide, Anneli Purchase
- Have Bags, Will Travel, D.G. Kay
- The Awakening, Kate Chopin
- Fatal, John Lescroart
- Separate Beds, Elizabeth Buchan
- The Light of Paris, Eleanor Brown
- Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult
- Commonwealth, Ann Patchett
- Britt-Marie Was Here, Fredrik Backman
- The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
- Winter Garden, Kristin Hannah
- Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
- The Sandcastle Girls, Chris Bohjalian
- The Beach at Painter’s Cover, Shelley Noble
- The Other Einstein, Marie Benedict
- Kiss Carlo, Adriana Trigiani
- The Women in the Castle, Jessica Shattuck
- The Fix, David Baldacci
- The Letter, Kathryn Hughes
- Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, Matthew Sullivan
- The Identicals, Elin Hilderbrand
- Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance
- The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying, Nina Riggs
- For Love, Sue Miller
- A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles
- The Return of the Courtesan, Victoria Blake
- Sisters in Law, Linda Hirshman
- The Bay at Midnight, Diane Chamberlain
- Boys in the Trees, Carly Simon
- The Sleepwalker, Chris Bohjalian
- The Stolen Marriage, Diane Chamberlaine
- Catling’s Bane, D. Wallace Peach
- Circumstances of Childhood, John W. Howell
- Don’t Let Go, Harlan Coben
- Glass Houses, Louise Penny
- Nemesis, Philip Roth
- Make Someone Happy, Elizabeth Berg
- Rules of Magic, Alice Hoffman
- House Among the Trees, Julia Glass
- Origin, Dan Brown
- Birds of Paradise, Pamela S. Wight