In this time of pandemics and quarantines, we’re all searching for different ways to grasp a bit of comfort and stability. Personally, I’ve been reading mysteries (they always find an answer by the end!), watching some very fluffy tv, and perhaps baking a bit more than I should. I never would have guessed that one of my quarantine highlights would be a virtual read-a-thon of a book about World War I. After all, aren’t we all craving fluff?
But when I heard that Andrea McKenzie and Benjamin Lefebvre were launching a Rilla of Ingleside virtual read-a-thon on Facebook, I signed up immediately. Years ago, I raved here about their scholarly edition of Rilla, a book that most definitely rests in my top 10 list of favorite books of all time. This book shaped me as a historian in so many ways, and I couldn’t let an opportunity to revisit it with fans and scholars pass me by.
I will admit that I didn’t keep current with all the posts, and I don’t think I ever made a comment. But each dip into that world was delightful and helped feed my soul. Part of what made it so special is that they invited people from around the world to read a chapter on video. I found myself listening to the chapters while sewing masks or making cookies for no good reason. There were names I recognized back from the Kindred Spirits email list days. Names I knew from twitter and other bookish circles. There were some delightful accents to enjoy. People posed in front of their book shelves, full of Montgomery novels. They showed off their tattered 1990s editions of Rilla. Even though I sometimes found myself crying in the kitchen, it was just so healing. Those tears were for the community around these beloved books and the uncertainty we are all living in.
At this point in my life, I don’t know how many times I’ve read Rilla, But on this read, I felt the emotions in a way I never have before. The relentless waiting for leaders to take action to stop senseless death. The daily dread of the news–but knowing you can’t ignore the news. The little bits of normalcy and humor that creep in when we least expect it–but most definitely need it! Wondering when, if ever, it will end. Being surprised at how time has sped by and crawled. I will never be able to read Rilla again without thinking about Covid-19. We are both fighting wars at home.
Diving back into L. M. Montgomery’s world was so comforting that I started a reread of all of her books in publication order as my bedtime reading. For some of these books, it’s probably been 20+ years since I’ve touched them, so the reread has been a delight.
When quarantine began in March, I wondered how far I’d get. At this point, I’m almost done with Emily Climbs, published in 1925. Eleven books down, nine to go. We’re only 4 months into this thing. Now I’m almost starting to wonder what to read when I finish.