Louise is concerned about Martha’s comfort and social life. Martha prefers to sleep in the tack room of the barn where she can read “Black Beauty” by lantern light. But Louise knows how to draw Martha into conversation, sharing their interest in reading and she encourages Martha to socialize at church and other events that often required young people to ride for miles to a dance or party. Martha works seven days a week, going to seven ranches, riding a circle, breaking horses, in her skilled and gentle way. She never has to “buck them out.” She uses light saddles, tin cans, feathers, and a soft voice. She develops a community of friends and we learn more about the lives of the people that live in the county, including their personal struggles with alcoholism, disease, prejudice, and loneliness. Over the winter Martha becomes a dear and indispensible neighbor, treating animals and humans with great kindness. Most of the story takes place over the season that Martha first comes to the county, but the short wrap-up at the end provides a warm and satisfactory ending to reassure us that Martha lived the happy life she wanted and deserved.
>The autobiographies of Eric Clapton, “Clapton: The Autobiography,” and his former wife Pattie Boyd, “Wonderful Tonight,” were published last fall. They give similar accounts of shared times and events but have different styles and viewpoints. Boyd’s book is more descriptive and conveys the excitement of an era and her optimism. She also has better pictures. Boyd was the inspiration for several popular songs written by her former husbands, including George Harrison and Clapton. Being a muse may look good from the outside but isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Boyd’s marriages were troubled.
Clapton’s autobiography, “Clapton,” is a step-by-step narrative of his career and personal life with an emphasis on his music and his recovery from addiction. While he pursued Boyd with such intensity while she was married to Harrison, the relationship was doomed from the get-go due to alcoholism and infidelity. All the details are here in these honest accounts.
In the 1860’s it was unusual for babies to be born in hospitals, but that was not the most unusual thing about Benjamin’s birth. He was born looking like a 70-year-old man. Determined to make the best of it, Benjamin’s father orders him to shave his whiskers, dye his hair, play with toys, and stop smoking cigars. Benjamin grows younger with each passing year. He marries a woman who will grow older as he becomes youthful. He has a son who advises him to “turn right around and go back the other way before its too late.” He is able to attend kindergarten with his grandson until the boy moves into first grade and Benjamin remains behind.
I’m looking forward to the movie, but I expect the film will be quite different from this sweet, touching, and funny story about age and expectations. I recommend you read the story before the film is released.