The other day Pom Pom mentioned the book Lark Rise to Candleford on her blog, and the title alone made me want to read it. So I put it on hold at the library, and yesterday I picked it up. Now I am afraid to read it.
Just listen to this jacket flap copy: In the 1880s the countryside was on the brink of unalterable change, and the march of progress would soon wipe away the unique idiosyncrasies of a centuries-old way of life. But Flora Thompson was born in time to capture it forever, with her unforgettable gallery of characters--Old Sally, Miss Lane the Postmistress, Sir Timothy, Miss Macey and the rest--and her unsentimental but deeply affectionate account of the humble details of the life she knew.
I think the only way for me to read this book is to stop every five minutes and chant They didn't have antibiotics at least twenty times. Otherwise, I fear I will emerge from the book into the 21st century and be sad for the way things are, the pollution, and the children writing terrible things about each other on their Facebook pages, and the movies that pass themselves off for entertainment, but are so deeply vile I can't believe people aren't outraged by them.
The copy of Lark Rise to Candleford I've checked out is the illustrated edition, and there are many beautiful pictures of the countryside, the flora and the fauna, the children on their way to school. When I look at them I must remind myself: It rains a lot in England. The weather is often dreary and miserable. You think you would be happy there, but you wouldn't. Plus, back in the day, they didn't have antibiotics.
And of course the England of Lark Rise to Candleford--and the England of one of my favorite films, A Room with a View--no longer exists. But I want it to exist, the same way I want a world without Judd Apatow movies (which are very funny, but so spiritually empty I want to jump off the roof after watching them) and children making one another commit suicide with their online smear campaigns.
But we do have penicillin--and that ain't nothing.
So will I read Lark Rise to Candleford? How can I resist? Though I might get my own copy to read at the beach in June, where I will be surrounded by so much insistent beauty that I will be able to bear the beauty of the 19th century English countryside and those children with their rosy little cheeks.