Eudora Welty’s The Optimist’s Daughter, is a beautifully written short novel about a woman dealing with the death of her father. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973. I’ve had it on my TBR list for a long time, but ran across the audio book version in the library last week, and when I saw that it was read by Eudora Welty herself, I decided it was a must — right now.
As I listened, I felt completely transported to Mississippi, immersed in the life of the story and mesmerized by her voice. It’s a story that touches the heart and reveals universal truths about love and loss and memory. Eudora Welty was an artist at the highest level possible when she wrote this book. She filled her canvas with character and color and sense of place, and created a work of beauty that took my breath away with the perfection of her words and sentences.
When Laurel was a child, in this room and in this bed where she lay now, she closed her eyes like this and the rhythmic, nighttime sound of the two beloved reading voices came rising in turn up the stairs every night to reach her. She could hardly fall asleep, she tried to keep awake, for pleasure. She cared for her own books, but she cared more for theirs, which meant their voices. In the lateness of the night, their two voices reading to each other where she could hear them, never letting a silence divide or interrupt them, combined into one unceasing voice and wrapped her around as she listened, as still as if she were asleep. She was sent to sleep under a velvety cloak of words, richly patterned and stitched with gold, straight out of a fairy tale, while they went reading on into her dreams.
Although Michelle’s Book Awards Challenge II doesn’t officially start until the end of the week, and I didn’t have this book in mind when I signed up, I’d like to count it as my first read for this Challenge because it’s a perfect beginning for what looks to be a very enjoyable reading experience.