I have to begin with a few words about the glorious autumn weather we have been enjoying in northeast Ohio for many days now, days of blue skies with only a few clouds to help us see the BLUE more clearly, and leaf color that takes your breath away and makes your eyes sting because you forget to blink! In my yard this Sour Gum is always the most astonishing in its scarlets. This year there is some gold which I realized is from a grapevine which has to be cut away before it harms the tree, but makes a lovely contrast just now, rippling down the lower branches.
At lunch I was at my daughter’s house and was again amazed at the orange glory of the maple tree which for the eight years they have lived there is always a rather bright yellow. I really should travel with my camera at my side. I miss too many pictures and this was one. But if Alice sends me one of hers I will post it. Tomorrow may be cloudier, but I watched Alice take several pictures of her tree and many more of darling Stephen, sometimes in my arms.
Today when I returned from all my errands I was thrilled to find my pre-ordered copies of Emily of Deep Valley and the combined Carney’s House Party and Winona’s Pony Cart in my mailbox. What joy! In the spring of 1997 when I first began to use the internet I joined two discussion lists of which I am still a part, the D.E. Stevenson list (which I began with Alison Bunting) and the Maud Hart Lovelace list where I am also a happy member, even if I lurk too often.
Lovelace wrote one of my favorite series of books for girls and recently Harper Collins has been reissuing copies of the last eight of the twelve Deep Valley books, often as two books in one volume, but not always. They have new and excellent introductions and great sections at the end called “Insights, Interviews and More”. The entire series is quite closely based on the town of Mankato where Maud Hart Lovelace was born in 1892, and on her friends and their adventures beginning just before her fourth birthday and continuing until she was a married woman.
The people who love her work tend to be rather kindred spirits and enjoy getting together whenever they can. There have been several conventions and many regional get-togethers. There are two societies for her fans. One is the Maud Hart Lovelace Society which seems to have members who live fairly close to Minneapolis and the larger Betsy-Tacy Society. http://www.Betsy-TacySociety.org. They are very friendly with one another and have worked to get the books reissued and to purchase both Tacy’s House and Betsy’s House in Mankato (actually Maud’s family home and that of Bick, her best friend who is Tacy in the books). The books have been written about in the old Victoria magazine and mentioned in articles and interviews by many of her fans, some as famous as Bette Midler and Anna Quindlen.
I especially love these last two reissues because Emily of Deep Valley was the first Maud book I ever read and I have such a strong happy memory of beginning to read it in my grandmother’s kitchen on a rather dark snowy winter afternoon, looking across her yard and the field beyond to the woods that led down to the valley of Rocky River in the Cleveland Metroparks. And though I love the other books in this series, Emily is still my favorite and author Mitali Perkins’ new introduction is absolutely perfect in explaining why so many of us feel that way.
Emily is rather an outsider and I think perhaps many people who love to read have felt this at least to some extent while young. Emily’s path to “mustering her wits and standing in her own defence” touches our hearts and gives us hope. She learns to understand herself; she helps others; she finds love. Oh, this is a book every girl should read, and perhaps every boy too. I am really happy to have these new copies, but I need to buy some more for the nieces that I’ve been giving them to as they come out. My nieces are all at least 50 years younger than I am, but they love them too. This is the definition of classic literature.