marissa_doyle (marissa_doyle) wrote,

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Comfort Reads

A lot of people have them...a book or series or an author you turn to when your exterior life is feeling cold and prickly or worse, and you go inward looking for warmth and light and reassurance.  During the months after 9/11, I read Brian Jacques' Redwall series because they tell of a world where bad things happen but good persists and wins...and because I delight in homely details I adore the woodland creature vegetarian feasts Mr. Jacques creates for the denizens of the Abbey.

But my ultimate comfort reads have to be the Moosepath League books of Van Reid (published by Viking, btw).  There are five, and I heartily wish there were more.  In order, the titles are Cordelia Underwood, Mollie Peer, Daniel Plainway, Mrs. Roberto, and Fiddler's Green, but they have delicious subtitles...The Marvelous Beginnings of the Moosepath League, The Underground Adventure of the Moosepath League, The Holiday Haunting of the Moosepath League, The Widowy Worries of the Moosepath League, and A Wedding, a Ball, and the Singular Adventures of Sundry Moss.

The stories are set in late 1890's coastal Maine, and perhaps the best way I can describe them is Dickens in America, without quite the melodrama and bloated prose (pardon me, Dickens lovers.  But this is my blog and I'm allowed to be opinionated.)  The names are wonderfully Dickensian--Joseph Thump, Sundry Moss (who has a twin brother named Varius), Maven Flyce, Thaddeus Spark, Charleston Thistlecoat--as are the characters, good and bad.  The central figure of the series is Tobias Walton, always referred to as Mister Walton (a brilliant touch), a kindly, humorous gentleman just returning to Portland, Maine after many years away, his valet Sundry, and friends Mssrs. Ephram, Eagleton, and Thump, an often somewhat dim but also thoroughly kind and honorable trio.  They get into various scrapes, solve mysteries, rescue damsels and kidnapped children, and have a generally good time of it.  The historical detail is impeccable (well, you knew I'd care about that), the humor gentle but ever-present, the story-telling meandering through wonderful side-tracks and always plain enormous fun...but in the end it's the characters who always draw me back.  And again, like Redwall,  maybe that's why these books are my comfort reads...because while bad things happen, goodness and courage and humor and simple kindness (allied with cleverness) win.

I hope you'll check them out sometime.  They deserve a wider audience.

What's your favorite comfort read?

Tags: favorite books

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