I first began to read his works with The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, but soon found myself also reading the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, the 44 Scotland Street Series, and the Isabel Dalhousie series as well as various other books he’d written (yes I became fairly crazy for a time and bought a forensic medicine and the law book which I have since given to Goodwill) and audio and video tapes he had made.
I must be as astonished and pleased as anyone can be by Smith’s gentle intelligent discursive style. It’s so soothing, like a Zen meditation of sorts, like the natural world, like simple goodness.
And I am happy he keeps on writing! I wish him long life and many more good books.
This morning I finished The Lost Art of Gratitude in the Isabel Dalhousie series and was struck by a poem Jamie sings at the end of the book. He says, “this is about losing things,”….About thinking you’ve lost something and then finding you haven’t.”
“Struck by a poem” may not be quite the right description of my reaction. I had just been thinking of Paul and the poem made me begin to cry quite a lot. I am not sure what I believe and don’t believe about this poem, but let me share it here. There is a sense in which it is true, and heaven knows our family has experienced a lot of loss lately and can need this message… The same day that was the anniversary of Paul’s death my dear daughter Alice found out at the doctor’s that the baby she had been expecting with such joy had died, probably in the tenth week of pregnancy.
Here is Jamie’s song:
“What we lose, we think we lose for ever,
But we are wrong about this: think of love –
Love is lost, we think it gone,
But it returns, often when least expected,
Forgives us our lack of attention, our failure of faith,
Our cold indifference; forgives us all this, and more;
Returns and says, “I was always there.”
Love, at our shoulder, whispers: “Merely remember me,
Don’t think I’ve gone away for ever:
I am still here: With you. My power undimmed.
See. I am here.”
(This art in glass is by Czech artist Vera Liskova and is called Anthem of Joy.)