Friday, April 24, 2015

The Cat That Could Cut Quite a Rug and Other Fabulous Stories

I love to read. I absolutely love a good story. I think books have always been a great way for me to temporarily escape the sometimes heavy chores in life. I love a great tale of fantasy as well as a well-written classic. I have never been too keen on romance but if a dragon or an amazing plot twist is involved, it can hold my attention for days. I have been active in a classic literature book club for several years now and I have found that my love for the classics is undying. Some I like more than others, I think my whole book club knows how I feel about books like the Picture of Dorian Gray and also about books like Alice in Wonderland. I definitely have a type of book that I am more drawn to but I am also open minded to new novels as well as young adult fiction. I wish that I had more time in the day to devote to reading. I usually end up reading daily, a little from the Scriptures and a little from whatever book we are reading in book club and I don't have much time for anything else. This month, I started my book club book, the wonderful Ivanhoe, early, and because I am ahead I felt like I had a little room to pick up another book. I happened to be spending some time with my grandparents a few weeks back and while I was there I asked my grandpa if I could look through his library for a book I remembered seeing several years ago. After doing a little bit of searching, I found the exact book I was looking for entitled, Thomas Daniels Brown and Esther Wardle, Their Ancestors and Descendants by Vance M Holland. A thick, red, leather bound book containing the life history and stories from my grandmother, Thelma Brown Welker's side of the family. The title characters are my fourth great grandfather and his wife. The record contained in this priceless book continues through each individual family clear up to my own mother and her cousins. The book is 848 pages long, complete with poems, pictures, a map of the counties of England and Wales, an index, and more than one appendix. I have been intrigued by the book since the first time, years ago, I took it off my grandpa's shelf and thumbed through it. After signing it out of his library, I tucked it up under my arm and was on my way. The book sat for a few days on my kitchen table while I was catching up on other things but about 3 days ago I sat down with it and started to read. I am now, completely hooked! This is exactly the kind of book that I love to read. I am nowhere near the end of it but here is a synopsis of the book thus far: Wigan, Lancashire, England 1856. The fourth son, Thomas, born into a family plagued with poverty has a secret. For some time now, he has been hiding his hard earned pennies in a slot that was well concealed in the floor boards of an upper room. He had a dream to someday use that money to make his way to America. As fate would have it, his mother caught a sickness that required special medicines and in order to save her life it became necessary for him to forgo his dream for the benefit of his mother's life. His mothers life was spared and the medicines restored her health and she made a full recovery thanks to the money that was given by little Thomas. This story continues to follow Thomas's life, through marriage, children, and eventually his immigration to America. I have been introduced to several new characters including my 4th great grandmother, Esther Wardle. She is my favorite so far. Not a lot is written about her but there are a few hilarious stories. She used to own a cat that could keep time dancing to the songs from a Jew harp, of course she outfitted the cat with slippers made from paper and rubber bands. She said, speaking about the cat, "it could cut quite the rug". It used to keep the kids entertained for hours. She was also something of a fortune teller. She would use her "skill" on young men who came around to call on her daughters. What the young men perceived as frighteningly accurate knowledge somehow rendered to her through tea leaves, was actually a simple case of her younger children dispatched as spies to follow the suitors around town and watch their every move and report back to their mother about their goings-on. The stories so far have been charming, witty, an action packed with just a touch of romance. My very favorite kind of book! And to think, I share genes with all the main characters. I still have a long way to go to finish this book but I am glad I at least started it. Family history can be such a fun adventure. Coming across recorded feelings of experiences that, had you been there, you would have felt the same way. Your heart goes out to these people that you love though have never met. I am glad that so many people took the time to write down their stories and thoughts so that I could learn and gain knowledge from their trials and triumphs! I am so blessed!

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