For decades, my mother has been nagging me to read Celia Garth, by Gwen Bristow. The book was published in 1959, making it just about the same age I am. I’m not sure why I never got around to reading it, but now I could kick myself for not having read it when Mom first mentioned it. In short, I loved it.
We meet Celia herself right away. She is a 20-year-old orphan who is working as an apprentice seamstress for the best dressmaker in Charleston, South Carolina. The year is 1779, and the American Revolution has been going on for several years. Celia really doesn’t care one way or the other about the war; all she cares about is having some excitement in her life. But circumstances draw her in, and soon she cares very, very much about the war and the participants. She gets engaged to a rebel captain, she becomes a spy for the rebel cause and, along the way, she and the people she cares about face real danger and real sorrow. As has been said, “War is Hell,” and young Celia learns this first hand.
Real historical figures play important roles in the story; we get to meet Francis Marion (the “Swamp Fox”), and we learn about the King’s commanders Cornwallis, Clinton, Tarleton, etc.
At first, I found Celia a little annoying, but I guess a lot of 20-year-olds are, and she did grow on me. I loved the supporting characters as much as Celia does, and felt her joy and her pain as her world went all topsy-turvy around her. Celia grows up because of her experiences, and I am glad I got to go along for the ride. I cannot recommend this book enough for anyone who likes a good historical novel with lots of romance and action. It’s just wonderful and it’s a book I can see myself reading again over the years.
OK, now for the reason I’ve been away so long. I took the plunge and became a homeowner. Neither side used a realtor, so I got a crash course in home buying and it consumed so much of my time and emotional energy (and cash!) that I didn’t have enough to spare for reading, stitching, movie-going, blogging, etc. But now I’m settled in and am getting used to living on my own again. No parents, no dogs, no “partners-in-crime” just across the street or down the block. It’s very quiet, but I am remembering how much I like quiet when I’m not at work (odd for a City Mouse, but true). In my 100+ year-old NYC apartment building, the walls were so thin that I could practically hear my neighbors boiling water (and we all heard things we wish we hadn’t!). But this is a 7-year-old building made out of cinder block, so I hardly know I even have neighbors now. I still need a ton of stuff — book cases, living room couch, coffee table, etc. I had “issues” with the washing machine, and the ice maker that I bought in December to go with the refrigerator I bought at the same time was just delivered and installed this morning. The guest room still has a lot of boxes, but the living room and dining room are looking good. My handyman will be back next weekend to help out with some stuff I can’t do myself, and the “official” housewarming is in 2 weeks. It’s a small townhouse, and all but 2 of the 20-something invitees have said they’ll be here. Yikes!
Anyway, so now you know “The Rest of the Story.”