I love autumn. This is my first house with a fireplace. Last week, Josh took a plank of wood, stained it and attached it with supports over the fireplace. I love it! This is my favorite time of the year. Josh says that if you go into the bathroom and turn out the lights, look in the mirror and say “Pumpkin Spice Latte” three times, a white girl will appear in the reflection and tell you everything she loves about autumn. That’s me! Including pumpkin spice lattes!
Last Thursday our town had art walk and I exhibited my paintings and the latest cards. I didn’t sell any paintings this time, but I sold all my holiday cards.
However, the local Italian restaurant where my table was set up wants me to hang some of my paintings in his restaurant, so I’m happy about that.
I still have not written any new reviews, so once again I’m recycling an old review from my other blog.
I had to write a review of The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald because of the impact it had on my sons. At the time I read this book I had two sons: my biological son, Derek and my foster son Coleman. Coleman has since gone back to live with his mother but while he was here we had a ritual of reading the Bible, saying our prayers, and reading a book before going to bed.
At first I was reluctant to read such an “old fashioned Victorian” sort of book. I mean, a book like this cannot rate very high on the “cool” scale, right?
Wrong. My sixteen and twelve year old sons loved this book. Let me give a synopsis and then I’ll tell you why they enjoyed this book so much.
Princess Irene has been sent to live in a palace away from her father, the King. Why? Because underneath the ground in a mountain is a whole city of goblins who intend to kidnap the princess and force her to marry the Goblin King’s son. What Princess Irene’s father does not realize is that for many years the Goblins have been slowly tunneling toward the palace where the princess lives and plan to come up from the basement of the palace in order to snatch her.
Luckily for the princess she has some help. First of all, she has a grandmother who lives in a tower in the palace. To everyone but Irene this tower is deserted and decrepit. Only Irene can see her grandmother. Although not explicitly stated, it seems the grandmother is angel from heaven come to help and protect Irene.
And then there’s Curdie. Curdie is a boy, not much older than Irene, who works in the mines with his father. While the other miners are wary of the goblins, Curdie isn’t afraid at all. He knows that the goblins are cowards and retreat if anyone puts up a good fight. And rhymes. They hate poetry. So Curdie cheerfully works through the night. If goblins surface from underground, he fearlessly “fights and recites” back at them. Curdie turns out to be an invaluable friend to Princess Irene and ultimately protects her from the Goblin King.
Lest you think Princess Irene is a wilting wall flower with no personality of her own, she is a vibrantly, strong young girl who knows right from wrong and how to stand up for what she believes in.
But she is a girl and never has to prove her worth by acting like a guy. Unlike just about every movie out in Hollywood today where the female protagonists prove their equality with men by emasculating them. Let’s be honest: today’s movie ‘heroines’ are basically men with female parts.
Curdie is very strong in who he is and isn’t afraid to fight goblins, or care for and protect Irene. But while Curdie is Irene’s hero, she is his heroine because she has many qualities that he benefits from as well, such as her strong sense of propriety and how to act based on those principals. She teaches him to trust in the unseen and follow her even when his practical mind says they’re going the wrong way. In point of fact, throughout the story Curdie and Irene take turns “saving” each other from danger but without Irene sacrificing her innocence or femininity.
My! How counter modern culture.
I was concerned that my teenage boys were going to roll their eyes at this Victorian depiction of nascent love. Wrong again. They wanted to be Curdie. Boys aren’t inspired by movies that depict the women as smarter and stronger than they are. They want to be heroes.
Curdie and Princess Irene are still kids at the end of this book but MacDonald promises a sequel where they grow up and get married. My boys’ response?
“Let’s go buy the sequel!”
JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis both credit Macdonald’s The Princess and the Goblin and it’s sequel, ThePrincess and Curdie as the inspiration for their fantasy books. That’s reason enough to read them, but if you want your son to read how young boys use to “man up” back in the day, I suggest you read them The Princess and the Goblin.
I published this back in 2013. Derek and Coleman are both grown and gone. Coleman is living in Houston and Derek is in China. But I have good memories of those years and I hope they do, too.