Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Michelle Cooper's books

Sunrise was at 7:58 and sunset will be at 4:26. 39 seconds more daylight today than yesterday.

Every morning I get up and walk around the house in the dark, drinking my coffee, keeping an eye on the sky, watching the hills become defined as the sky lightens. The clouds change as the sun rises, too. What were smears over the Olympics pre-sunrise become mountain-shaped and -sized as they roll up against the western barrier to the Sound.

As the earth rolls around the sun, spinning as it goes, daylight shines through the windows at Beacon Hill's Pac Med Building one morning and then misses it the next. It's cool to watch the windows brighten and then dim as we move through space- it really shows our place in the universe: We spin in and out of the sun's light through day and night, we turn around the sun, tipping one way and then the next through summer and winter, around a star (!) that is a million times the size of the earth, that is one of billions of such stars. We sit inside a snowglobe of stars, the light of which reaches us maybe long after that star died, the light piercing our skin and bones, making us the "stuff of stars".

I wonder about other beings looking toward our yellow star, what constellation does our star appear in? What myth or legend have they created because our sun was part of the story explaining their world?

It's snowing at Lake Forest Park, where I work. 14 miles away, at the north end of Lake Washington. The south end of the Lake is dry, the mid-point, where I live, is dry, there is blue sky over our house. Lake Washington is a BIG, LONG lake. Cliff Maas, the weather guy at UW and KUOW would say that this is part of the convergence zone, a whole different kind of weather there from the weather here. I have left my house in clear weather and driven into pea-soup fog just south of where I turn off of I-5 to go to work. Driven into a wall of rain; no rain here, wall of rain there.

I am smack dab in the middle of The FitzOsbornes in Exile, the second of The Montmaray Journals written by Michelle Cooper. I absolutely love this little series of books. It reminds me very much of I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith, in that it is the story of a family of girls and boys, poor but royal, who are the monarchs of a small country, Montmaray, an island off the coast of Spain.

Wonderful dialogue, quippy and fun, smart and snappy, the family is made up of cousins who are distantly related to other royalty, queens of Spain, princesses of England, and the story takes place in the 1930s, just at the beginning of World War 2. Montmaray is not going to war, it's a little blip in the ocean, and they have never allied with anyone in particular. I guess they are a part of Britain, in a way. Unfortunately, other countries have a different idea about what Montmaray can do for them.

The eldest daughter, Veronica, is writing a Brief History of Montmaray (also the title of the first book) and the middle daughter is our narrator. Or maybe they are cousins. I can't remember how the whole lineage goes. It is a wonderful series and so much fun to read. Our narrator, Sophie, is chronicling her life and as she fills us in first on life in the village and then on the more sophisticated life of London debutante life, we learn about how the war crosses Europe. Not something I have too much interest in, usually, but reading about it via Sophie's journal is enlightening and interesting.

If you liked I Capture the Castle and Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, you will really enjoy these books. So good.

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