For me, Autumn reading really means Autumn rereading, and there’s one book I absolutely revisit every Autumn: THE POETRY OF ROBERT FROST.
I don’t remember the exact time of my life when I latched on to Frost’s poetry, but I do remember him being on my bookshelf at Florida State University. I also remember committing his poem My November Guest to heart. (Not to digress too much, but isn’t that a great topic to explore…why, when we memorize something passionately we say that we learned it by heart? I just love that our heart and our memories are so closely connected.)
Something about Autumn—The desolate, deserted trees, The faded earth, the heavy sky?—leads me to reread lots of books. I’m guessing that I’m not the only reader who finds comfort in rereading, so I’m sharing a few of my Autumn rereads today. As a compliment to Kathryn’s post on Opening Lines, I’m going to share some of my favorite closing lines. Most of these books have been out for years, if not decades, but just in case these books are on your TBR pile, SPOILER ALERT!
On October 2nd—the birthday of author Jack Finney, a date known in my house as “The Feast of St. Jack”—I like to read something from Finney’s eloquent illustrated time travel classic TIME AND AGAIN.
Here’s the last paragraph:
But these were thoughts that weren’t of my time anymore. Now they were of a far-off future I no longer belonged in. I touched the unfinished manuscript in my overcoat pocket, and looked around at the world I was in. At the gaslighted brownstones beside me. At the nighttime winter sky. This, too, was an imperfect world, but—I drew a deep breath, sharply chill in my lungs—the air was still clean. The rivers flowed fresh, as they had since time began. And the first of the terrible corrupting wars still lay decades ahead. I reached Lexington Avenue, turned south and—the yellow lights of Gramercy Park waiting at the end of the street—I walked on toward Number 19.
Here’s from Martin Cruz Smith’s ROSE. (As a reader, this last sentence always gives me a chill. As a writer, it makes me strive to write an equally perfect ending.)
And last on deck, bound for the Gold Coast, a mining engineer named Blair and his wife, whom he called Charlotte, except when he called her Rose.
Anyone else love Dorothy L. Sayers’ GAUDY NIGHT?
The Proctor, stumping grimly past with averted eyes, reflected that Oxford was losing all sense of dignity. But what could he do? If Senior Members of the University chose to stand—in their gowns, too!—closely and passionately embracing in New College Lane right under the Warden’s windows, he was powerless to prevent it. He primly settled his white bands and went upon his walk unheeded; and no hand plucked his velvet sleeve.
TESTAMENT OF YOUTH is the autobiography of WWI British nurse Vera Brittain. This book has been on my TBR pile for years (just waiting for that Americans-in-Paris-during-WWI book that I’m going to write someday). Read this last sentence and see if you’re not—like me—both crying and cheering.
I was half-way up the train and had almost abandoned hope, when I came upon him in the process, like myself, of exploring the corridor—very tall, very thin, a little disheveled, and forgetful, in his urgent seeking, of the haughty air worn by young dons who deliberately go steerage. Quite suddenly he saw me and started eagerly forward, his hands outstretched and his face a radiance of recognition beneath his wide-brimmed hat. And as I went up to him and took his hands, I felt that I had made no mistake; and although I knew that, in a sense which could never be true of him, I was linked with the past that I had yielded up, inextricably and for ever, I found it not inappropriate that the years of frustration and grief and loss, of work and conflict and painful resurrection, should have led me through their dark and devious ways to this new beginning.
I’ll end with my quickest Autumn reread, Lisa Congdon’s FORTUNE FAVORS THE BRAVE, her book of 100 hand-lettered courageous quotations. I so adored the quotations in this book that I immediately bought copies for my friends. These quotes are so inspiring that I refresh myself throughout the year by rereading FORTUNE.
Here’s the closing quote:
In the end it’s not the years in your life…it’s the life in your years. —Abraham Lincoln
So there you go. I hope that you enjoyed a few of my favorite Autumn rereads. I’d love to hear about some of yours!
Ana Brazil writes historical crime fiction celebrating bodacious American heroines. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Historical Novel Society, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers.
Ana’s latest historical mystery is THE RED-HOT BLUES CHANTEUSE, which features murder, mayhem, and music in 1919 San Francisco. Her award-winning historical mystery FANNY NEWCOMB & THE IRISH CHANNEL RIPPER is set in Gilded Age New Orleans.