Friday, June 15, 2007
Book Report/Apricots at Midnight
I first heard of Apricots at Midnight by Adele Geras on Elaine's blog, and I knew I wanted to read it. What a lovely, delightful, thoughtful book. The story is told to us by a young girl who often spends the holidays with her Aunt Pinny, the daughter of a dressmaker.
The book begins with some of the most beautiful combinations of words I've read.
Almost the only toys in their house were strands and skeins of silk, like shining butterflies' wings, strange twists of buttons, rustling leaves of tissue paper, and drifts of snippets and clippings from a thousand materials whose names were like a song. There were bits of bombazine and brocade and broadcloth; slivers of slippery silk, slub satin and sarsenet; crumplings of cashmere and cotton; trimmings of taffeta; leftovers of linen and lace, and lawn: a name like a green field full of daisies when you said it.
The young girl tells us,
Going to bed was the best time of the day, because of the magic patchwork quilt.
There were no flowers on it which came to life, it did not make you invisible, and certainly it never performed any useful kind of magic, like whisking you off to the furthest star in the sky, or granting your dearest wish. Nevertheless, it was enchanted, and I loved to lie in the high, narrow bed, listening to Aunt Pinny's voice unroll the magic of the patchwork, as it covered me from my chin, down a long way past my toes and right off the bed.
So the book goes on with each chapter telling the tale of one of the patches in the quilt. And what stories they are. Some are common childhood stories. The mother teaching Pinny how to sew when she is bored and impatient, and Pinny being frightened and worried when her mother is late in picking her up from school one day. Others are a bit magical, and some are downright eerie. There is a piece in the quilt which came from what may have been a haunted dress.
I was so happy being in the pages of this charming book. I felt like I, too, was a little girl lying under that wonderful quilt hearing the stories.
I have a beautiful quilt hanging on the wall next to the computer table. It was made by my late aunt Susie, when she was 17 years old, in 1927. I can't sleep under it because it is so fragile. It didn't even have a backing when she gave it to me. I love it so much and how I wish I knew the stories of the many squares in her quilt. Where did that black piece with the pink flowers come from? Were those polka dots once part of a dress? Were any of those patches once aprons worn by my grandmother? Was there any rhyme or reason to how the pieces were arranged? Sadly, I'll never know, but I am so very grateful that I have it.