Self finds the utter lack of drama in everything the father in The Summer Book does so compelling. He reminds her a little of Will Parry in His Dark Materials: that combination of stoicism and steadfastness.
On p. 144, the little girl, Sophia, prays:
- Dear God, let something happen. God, if you love me. I’m bored to death. Amen.
In answer to her prayers, a whopper of a storm hits the island.
- “Wonderful,” the Grandmother said. “But the nets are out.”
Alone, the Father takes out his boat and heads to the point in high wind, to try and salvage their nets.
- He did it to save his family.
He is literally the only person that his daughter and his mother have to depend on. And never once in this entire book (she’s almost to the end) does he utter a single line of dialogue. It is his stoic immovability, the sense of permanence he radiates, that adds yet another layer to this wonderful book!
This is the storm:
- The seas breaking against the sheer outer side of the island had grown. One after the other, the waves rose up in their white immensity, to a tremendous height, and foam hissed against the rocks like the blows of a whip. Tall curtains of water flew across the island and sailed on west.
Self remembers how, a few pages ago, a boat came to the island. The father had gone off in a great hurry to meet it and never returned, even though the daughter waited up for him until the wee hours. When he does finally show up, he goes straight to bed. The whole next day, he has a headache and is unable to work. Self finds it so amusing that the girl calms only when her grandmother invents a story about how the father was kidnapped and given a sleeping potion (Does this story ring any bells? It sort of reminds self of Circe in The Odyssey)
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.