Please Don’t Forget the Pie!

Growing up, it was always my dad with a book in his hands, not Mom. I tried to interest my mom in the books I was reading, such as the Chronicles of Narnia. No, she would say, I don’t like books like that. I never saw her sit down with a book except to read us stories. I thought she just didn’t care for reading.

Time passed. All of Mom’s children went away to college. All of a sudden (it seemed to me) Mom developed an interest in reading. We would talk about the books we read, and started telling each other when our favorite authors had published another novel. We were both huge fans of the Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George; I remember calling her when In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner was about to be released so we could eagerly anticipate reading it together. After I had my daughters, I would call her to see if she knew about the latest Sue Grafton or Nevada Barr novel. I had the new book on hold at the library — she had already bought the book and read it.

Sometimes our tastes varied from each other’s; she loved Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, while I abandoned that series after Four to Score. I adore the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith, and Mom didn’t care for it.

I once said to Mom that when I was a kid, I didn’t think she liked to read. “I had four children!” she said. “I didn’t have TIME to read!”

Last November, I was at my parent’s house, looking at a notebook Mom had made some notes in. I saw the name of a TV show and a book I had recommended to her. The TV show was The Good Wife, and the book was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.

The author, Mary Ann Shaffer, fell ill with cancer while writing this book. Her niece, Annie Barrows, helped her finish it. Mary Ann didn’t live to see her book published. When I recommended this book to Mom, I didn’t know she wouldn’t live to read this marvelous story. Set on the island of Guernsey during the German occupation of WWII, a literary society begins with an odd cast of characters. They correspond with a writer, Juliet, who is looking for her next book subject. She soon grows to love the members of the society through those letters. Eventually, she comes to Guernsey to meet her pen pals. Mom would have loved this book.

I think some of you may have: a. heard of this book, or b. read this book already. It is very popular, and I would definitely urge you to read it if you haven’t already!

(One of my pet peeves when reading other reviews of this book is that a couple of bloggers have forgotten the word PIE when typing the title. During WWII, provisions on the island were scarce. The Guernsey Literary Society wanted to have refreshments at their meetings, which was difficult with no flour available. One of the recipes concocted to create a dessert with available ingredients was a PIE baked with a potato peel crust. Hence, the title The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.)

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Happy reading!

Spin Cycle: It’s Time

The expression “It’s time” usually means something is about to end. My kids don’t want to hear “It’s time to go home!” when they are sliding down the dinosaur slide at the playground, or “It’s time to go to bed!” when they are busy dancing with Daddy. “It’s time” is the dreaded phrase that means fun time is over, and something new is about to begin. Something new is not bad; after playing at the park, we usually have a snack. They never turn their nose down at a snack. Emmy and Lily are always tired at bedtime, and rest their heads on their pillows gratefully once we tuck them in.

When I started having contractions with my first baby, I called Ed at work. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I might have said, “It’s time!” It was time for the pregnancy to end, and for the pain of labor (or in my case, a Cesarean) to begin. The pain of having a baby, of course, was far exceeded by the joy of having Lily, and then 3 years later, Emmy, enter our lives.

So the phrase “It’s time!” signals both an ending and a beginning; one activity is over and another is about to begin. We may be sad to end the first, but the second may be even better.

All this talk about time brings to mind this story. In order to do it justice, you will have to read it on your own, but here is the gist of it. (I’m telling you the end of the story, but this book is so good, it will not spoil it for you.)

One of my favorite books is The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, the last book in The Chronicles of Narnia. Aslan, King of Narnia, stands at a door and calls, “TIME.” This is a cue for Father Time to wake up. The end of that world, Narnia, has come, and Father Time “took the Sun and squeezed it in his hand as you would squeeze an orange. And instantly there was total darkness.” The visitors to Narnia from our world are extremely sad to see Narnia come to an end.

However, they find themselves in a place even more wondrous than Narnia, and they fear Aslan will send them back to Earth, to our world. Aslan calls our world along with Narnia the Shadowlands, and tells them that they have died in a train wreck and will never have to go back. (This is where the title for the movie about C.S. Lewis, Shadowlands, comes from.)

When certain things in my life have come to an end, whether it’s my years of teaching at a fabulous school, my daughter’s babyhood, or other wonderful things, I have mourned their passing. But what came next is wonderful, too. I love staying at home with my children, and todderhood and preschooldom is quite fun (most days!) Even as I live in the moment, I also look forward to future years.

When it’s my time to go, (as it will be some day in the far, far distant future) I will be so sad to leave. But my hope is that there will be even greater things to come.

To read more about “Time” visit Jen’s Spin Cycle at Sprite’s Keeper!