My recent reading is, as usual, all over the place. New to me was Illuminations by Mary Sharratt, a novel about Hildegard von Bingen--the famous mystic. composer, theologian, nun, writer, and eventually, abbess of her own foundation.
It's a fascinating look at the religious politics and policies of Medieval Germany--from the horrifying practices of extreme asceticism (HvB was an anchorite for thirty years--walled into a little enclosure from an early age) to Hildegard's ecstatic visions of God and Nature and the Divine Female.
Now I want to know more about Hildegard and her various works--a multi-talented woman in a time that wasn't ready for her.
I'm not sure what brought this book-Boy of the Pyramids by Ruth Fosdick Jones--to mind. One of my childhood favorites, I found myself remembering bits and pieces till I had to go chase it down. (It was upstairs where most of my childhood books are.)
So, I settled in to re-read this gentle kid's mystery set in Ancient Egypt. And, as so often happens with books from my childhood, I saw things I'd not noticed back then.
There are slaves-- the young hero of the book actually buys a young girl to prevent her being separated from her parents who are being purchased by his father. But all the slaves seem to be happy--from the Nubians carrying the father's litter to the girl's parents, originally from Sinai.
This is a book designed to give kids a picture of life in Ancient Egypt. And, of course, it's well documented that there were slaves. Maybe those who had kind masters were content. I wonder. ( And maybe I should be saying enslaved persons . . .)
While I was in pursuit of Boy of the Pyramids, I came across another favorite from back then--Lois Lenski's Strawberry Girl, a tale of life in the Florida backwoods in the early 1900s.
This was always close to my heart for, even though I lived in a Tampa suburb, there were still traces of Pioneer Florida to be found. My father's folks were early settlers--Crackers (from the whips used in herding cattle on the open range.)
On this re-reading I noticed first that the family the story is about had come from "Caroliny" and that the way they speak and the way they live is so much like the older folks we met when we moved to Western North Carolina, that it's no wonder I felt like I was coming home.