“The most energetic thing she’d ever done in her whole life was to turn the pages of a book.”
Rosamunde Pilcher wrote that beautiful sentence about a French-Indian woman who comes to visit a Cornwall family. The woman was the one admitting to such a thing.
The story, “Amita,” appears in Pilcher’s short story collection, THE BLUE ROOM AND OTHER STORIES. This collection focuses on key moments in people’s lives, births, deaths, new friendships, weddings. I have found that like Pilcher’s novels, these are strangely moving even when nothing at all is going on.
“Amita” recalls a teenaged girl’s experience of racism in her community and family and how she confronts it, questions it and ultimately rejects it. OK I didn’t mean to give the story away but it’s quite lovely and I recommend it highly.
But back to that sentence. It has special meaning for Amita, who is laughing at herself when she says it.
The sentence struck me so strongly I had to stop the audio book where I heard it and repeat it. Then I had to go back the next day and hear it again. The language is so beautiful. I instantly conjured up a quiet little girl curled up in a chair, reading.
Reading is energetic though, isn’t it? That’s what I thought anyway. Our minds must be so busy, our imaginations carrying us to far off places, different times, new experiences. Haven’t you cried after reading a sad scene, laughed at something funny, clutched at your throat when something horrible or frightening happened. I’ve embarrassed myself in waiting rooms and on airplanes reacting to the words of a book in my hand.
As a reader, Pilcher’s words excited me. As a writer, they inspire me. A simple but beautiful sentence. Oh the power of the written (or audiobook) word.