Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Discovering treasures

I’ve been holidaying for a couple of weeks, hence the gap in posting. I visited my sister, among others, who lives in a small country parish that nonetheless has a nice little library. The library was selling old books with a very reasonable price: one could fill a plastic bag with books for two euros; they provided the bag. Who could resist?

The selection wasn’t huge – it was a small library, after all – but there were, for example, old leather-bound editions of classics. They were tempting, but I knew I wouldn’t read them and I only have so much room on my shelves. So, heroically, I resisted. My sister, a teacher, wasn’t as strong and she filled most of our bag with material she thought she could use in her teaching.

Since the bag was almost full now, it was easier to concentrate on books that I would actually read. So I picked a book I had loved as a preteen, but hadn’t come across since. My best friend had won a copy on some school related competition and she let me read it; I, in turn, borrowed it to my sister who remembered it fondly too. Unsurprisingly, as seems to be the theme of this blog, it was a fantasy book, written especially for – maybe – under-fifteen-year-olds. It’s by a Finnish author Aila Meriluoto and, unfortunately, only available in Finnish.

The book VihreƤ tukka (Green Hair), published in 1982, tells a story of Eintel, a girl with a green hair her grandmother dyes and covers with a scarf so that no one in the country with an oppressive regime would find out she has some fairy blood in her. She thinks she’s the only one of her kind in the world, but then discovers the fairies. 

It’s a very lyrical and beautiful fairy-tale, a story of acceptance and a romance too; Eintel falls in love with a fairy boy. Fairies are the good creatures in the story; Eintel's human world is that of fear, so it surprised me to later learn that in general fairies are considered creatures that can’t be trusted. The influence of the book was so strong, long after I’d forgotten the story itself. I look forward to reading it again, to find out if it’s as good as I remember.

We got other books too. My husband found The Space Merchants by Fredereik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth, which it turned out we already had, but he didn’t mind. And I bought Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, though I can’t really say why. Because it was there, perhaps. Maybe I’ll even get around to reading it one of these days. But for now, I think I’ll read some Jude Devereaux I also got, because – hey – it’s summer.