I was trying to think, while I was reading Tracy Chevalier’s Remarkable Creatures, what it was that kept taking me back to the years (wonderful years) that I spent in New Zealand.
The Piano connection was easy. Look at the cover. The sand is not black, but in so many other ways it evokes The Piano to me. (Coincidentally, the first movie that my father and I sat through together after my mother died).
But there was something else, and everytime I picked the book up, this feeling sat there with me, but I couldn’t pinpoint where this feeling came from. Until finally, just this morning as I finished the book, the connection clicked. Heavenly Creatures of course.
And now I have a hankering to see that film again. I know in a general sense what it is that keeps me thinking about this book and then that film and then this book again. The friendship between two women, two girls, a girl and a woman. But I must see the film again before I comment too much. Though goodness knows when that might be, not sure the Abu Dhabi Virgin Megastore stocks such things.
I lost myself in Remarkable Creatures in so many ways. It reminds me that I should have told you about my visit to Edinburgh’s Royal College of Physicans where the librarian showed us all sorts of treasures and we went to the library and I just breathed in those books, and there was a first edition of Darwin. I should write more of that day and I shall.
Anyway, my copy of Remarkable Creatures is filled with marginalia and passages with asterisks, but none so asterisked as this, Elizabeth Philpot’s solitary walk ‘along Great Russell Street past the British Museum’:
While I did so often enough in Lyme, I had never actually walked down a London street alone; I had always been with my sisters or brother or friends or a servant. In Lyme there was less concern over such conventions, but here a lady of my station was expected to be accompanied. I found myself being stared at by men and women alike, as the odd one out. Suddenly I felt exposed, the air around me cold and still and empty, as if I were walking with my eyes shut and might bump into something.
Because just two weeks ago, I walked that very stretch of road and I remember that as I walked my brain felt refreshed, my body liberated for the very reason, that I have, just recently, felt the way that she describes.