Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Break from Bronte

Having got Miss Lucy Snowe to Villette, and no further, I've paused to take up another book. Such is the way of things when one works in a bookstore. I have learned to allow for this. It explains the state of my nightstand and why, when reaching each morning to turn off my alarm-clock and retrieve my glasses, my hand must snake between stacks -- some already dusty with neglect. Distractions, from any book, however good, are among the chief benefits of my present employment.

Today's distraction was the kind of book I will never be able to resist. The pull-quote writ large across the back is as follows:

"Bette Davis. That's who I'm like. Did You notice? Everybody says so."

Yes, I am that queen. Mention Bette Davis and I am all attention. But there has been much written about Miss Davis that is worth no more time than it takes to turn the book over and read the title.

But this book had me as soon as I did. Lola's Luck: My Life Among the California Gypsies, by Carol Miller, from the new GemmaMedia. Nothing to do with Miss Davis, you see, but I have other spots that are soft. From the day I read George Borrow's The Romany Rye, I have been hooked by any reference to the Roma. Jan Yoors' The Heroic Present: Life Among the Gypsies, Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey, by Isabel Fonseca and others, have all put their spell on me before. I took Miller's new book with me to lunch, read the first forty pages, and will now, I think, have to read the rest before I so much as acknowledge Miss Lucy Snowe's presence in the nightstand stack again.

Carol Miller, I read, is an anthropologist, living here in Seattle. She worked with the Machvaia Roma of California. She knew these people, studied them for years. She became a friend to the woman, quoted and pictured above who, as you see, looked nothing like Bette Davis, but I begin to suspect, had every right to claim that she was like her, none the less. Carol Miller, it would seem, is my kind o' anthropologist. I can not wait to read on. Charlotte Bronte will have to wait quietly until called for. I am off tonight with the Gypsies.


  1. And this is the book I'll next be reading. Interesting write up, this, as well as all of your others. I like your blog very much!