5 Stars Out Of 5
July 20, 2014
An Old Fashioned Girl
In an effort to escape the embarrassment of a break-up with her longstanding boyfriend and the loss of her depression-cut job, Alice takes the boxes of book donations she has been collecting on a journey down to a little mining town in Kentucky, where she has offered out help out the librarian there for a couple weeks. Unfortunately, the librarian is not the woman Alice was expecting, and the people do not want her there. But rather like the Alice in Carrol's fantasy novel, she is trapped in this strange Wonderland indefinitely, or at least until her aunt and uncle return from their two-week vacation at a spa. But how's a girl to survive without running water, electricity, cars, and telephones until they come back?
I got a big kick out of this book. I'm not sure it was meant to be as funny as I found it, but I could relate frighteningly well with the heroine, and that, more than anything, was what brought out the humor in the story. Alice believes in the protection and preservation of books, and I can wholeheartedly agree with her protective stance regarding folded page corners, creased spines, and damaged covers. It is a crime. As Alice points out, organization is key - how else can you find the book you're looking for and make sure it isn't lost? A jumbled, unorganized library is a crime. And while I have never read a novel during a funeral, I have been known to get caught up in a book basically everywhere else, including 11th grade geography.
So maybe my life, like hers, is lacking in excitement, but isn't that what books are for? I mean, who wants a body to fall down in front of you spurting blood from a bullet hole in the chest? It is much better to read about such things than to experience them. Except that poor Alice, on her first morning trapped in this bizarre Wonderland, gets to experience it first hand. From then on, she is too busy dealing with the body to read, and suddenly, she is experiencing life.
Alice does start out rather selfish and oblivious to the world around her. As much as I love reading, it isn't my life, and it shouldn't be anyone's life. We need relationships. We are to be in the world but not of the world - and, while books can certainly drag us away from the world, at the same time they are of the world. The author does a fine job balancing a love of books with the importance of living life, not just reading about it.
This book is a delight. While amusing, it does not lack in heart. Written in Alice's first person perspective, we get a clear picture of her personality, but even better, we can see her growth and faith journey every step of the way. With a relaxing but steady pace, it has a whimsical air perfect for a leisurely day of reading.