These days, I seem to lose the ability to write coherent sentences after about 7.30 in the evening. It is really cutting into my blogging time, particularly when my weekends get busy. Maybe the time change this weekend will help, with the longer light in the evenings.
I ordered my copy of this book back in January. I had pretty much given up hope of it, figuring it was lost in the mail, when it turned up in my mailbox on Friday. I was immediately intrigued, because it is a small book, only six chapters, less than 150 pages in my Henry Holt edition. I was also intrigued by the 1919 publication date, which suggested a connection to the Great War - as did the title of one of the pieces, "France's Fighting Woman Doctor." It turns out that the entire book is about France in the war years. It felt like a companion to DCF's 1918 book, Home Fires in France.
But this book felt different than most of the collections of her short stories that I have read. Except for the first chapter, "On the Edge," these pieces read more like magazine articles than fiction. Most have authorial comments in the first person. The second chapter, "France's Fighting Woman Doctor," is a profile of a real person, Dr. Nicole Girard-Mangin, whom DCF seems to have known personally. According to DCF, the authorities who called her to military service didn't realize she was a woman until she arrived at the front (according to Wikipedia, she volunteered for service). I loved learning about her. And having read a bit about medical service from British and American nurses, it was so interesting to see it from the French side.
"Some Confused Impressions" describes a day spent "Near Château-Thierry, July, 1918," where the author meets French troops and civilians, as well as United States soldiers recently arrived in France. The last chapter, "The Day of Glory," is an account of the November 11th armistice in Paris. Only one chapter doesn't deal directly with the war, "Lourdes," focusing instead a day at the shrine among the pilgrims.
There are authors whose work I enjoy, whose books I buy, that I read and re-read. Then there are the authors whose work so resonates with me that I want to read - and own - everything that they have written. Dorothy Canfield is one of those authors, though I haven't really looked for her children's books yet (other than Understood Betsy). I think of them as the "complete" authors, and the list includes Jane Austen, Dorothy Dunnett, Kate O'Brien, Maura Laverty, E.O. Somerville & Martin Ross, even Laura Ingalls Wilder. It doesn't include Georgette Heyer (because I don't want to read her medieval historical novels), Dorothy L. Sayers (I feel no call to read her Dante translation), or even Anthony Trollope (ditto his book on Cicero or his biography of Thackeray). Do you have authors like that?
It's 7.24, and I feel my brain turning into a pumpkin!