I have just finished reading a book called “A Round Heeled Woman” by Jane Juska.
You know what a sucker I am for a well-written book – this is one of them. It had me enthralled from the moment I picked it up. This was possibly because of its content as much as the quality of the writing. Jane was a 66 year old woman on the look out for sex. It is the story of how she found it. Inbetween the story of her sexual encounters, there is an underlying text about literature. She was an English teacher for all of her life with a passion for Trollope.
In one section where she is giving a class in San Quentin prison, she reads a passage from ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens. This is one of my favourite films, especially the 1940’s version with John Mills. Ashamedly, I have never read the book, but the passage she quotes about the meeting on the marshes with the convict Magwitch, says more than any picture can reveal.
“A fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg.
A man with no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag
tied round his head. A man who had been soaked in water, and
smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and
stung by nettles, and torn by briars; who limped and shivered,
and glared, and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his
head, as he seized me by the chin.”
How good a description is that, brilliant, that’s what! So, of course, I intend to read the book now – how could I not?
|Magwitch and Pip|
Janes’ book was very touching and when times were tough for her I wept with her. In the last chapter she writes:-
In the beginning of all this, I had thought to make my life fuller,
Not just happier. I had thought that my passion, which had
Served so many people so well when I was a teacher, might find
A place to put itself before it subsided into the contentment of
Old age. I thought right; I got what I hoped for. What is just
As far away as ever is the contentment of old age. I doubt that
It comes, ever. There is the inevitable falling off of energy, I
Suppose, certainly the falling away of flesh from the bone, and
In some of us a flagging of the spirit. It’s called dying. But
Contentment? Peace? I think we just get tired, and people who
Write junk about us, because contentment makes better greeting
Cards, mistake fatigue for serenity.