Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Always something to be learned

I am a sucker for learning  - in all its forms. It's one of the reasons I so enjoy reading. 
While I certainly learn a lot reading nonfiction, there's much to be gleaned from fiction as well.
And I don't only mean the things a reader learns about the human condition.
I spend some time this weekend with Anne D. LeClaire's "The Lavender Hour."
It's the story of a woman spending some time sorting out her personal issues, who decides to give back by volunteering with Hospice. It's through her relationship with a man at the end of his life that she discovers much about herself.
LeClaire has crafted a complex "heroine" in Jessie. And Lavender Hour is ripe for book club discussion, both in its structure - Jessie narrates the flashback - and in the actions of its characters.
Would you have made the same choices Jessie did? Is she too attached? Do the ends ever justify the means? How much control do we/should we have at the end of our lives?
I had some interesting conversations (sadly in my own head) on these issues.
But I also learned a bit about the art of making jewelry from human hair.
Jessie has developed quite a niche business creating jewelry from hair. Some is sent to her by women about to undergo chemotherapy, other locks come from mothers wanting keepsakes of their children.
As Jessie says:
When I sat at the braiding table and wove the strands into their intricate pattern, a deep serenity often settled over me. I knew I was part of a history and craft that spanned continents and centuries.
Hair jewelry can be traced back not just to the Victorian age but even further, to the Middle Ages and as early as the Europeans and in ninth-century Japan.
 Fascinating. I read up on how hair jewelry had some roots in Scandinavian countries and gained some popularity in the United States during the Civil War and was intrigued by photos of human hair jewelry. I even learned how you can tell if fibers used are hair.

But I don't think I have the patience to be making these pieces anytime soon, despite the helpful instructions.

Did you stumble upon something fascinating while reading a work of fiction?

Let me know, until then, it's on to the next book ...
 - Tricia Ambrose @triciaambrose


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home