Anyways, The Old Wives' Tale... This book already has me confused. The book starts off as a coming of age, crawl for independence novel featuring an out-going and charismatic young girl who needs to push her way out of the shadow cast by her domineering shop owner mother and her domesticated older sister. The mother assumes that the daughter will go into the family business, but that is just not for her! She wants to be a teacher! Pretty standard. But within the first fifty or so pages (out of 600-ish), the daughter has already broken out and decided to be a teacher and is already on her way to becoming one. So where is this story going to go? Well, after a chance encounter with a debonaire gentleman, the daughter has dropped that teacher business to work in the shop so she can chase after this fella, and, again, the mother does not approve. This is where I am at right now.
Either the book wants to leave the story open ended (and, god help us, make a connection between the two divergent, independence-driven paths), or the author needs to make up his damn mind as to what story he wants to tell. The second idea is rendering the first completely meaningless, so either the author is setting up the means to develop some sort of completely hackneyed moral or the author really just did not think about the beginning of the book long enough. The former seems boring and the latter seems useless. Either way, I'm skeptical already, but push on with mountainous determination.
On the plus side, the books saves itself with incredible turns of phrase that can only be found around this time, and unlike some of his contemporaries (*cough* Oscar Wilde *cough*), these turns of phrase actually exist to further the story and create a more in depth reading of the characters and the over arching themes. One personal issue I am having though, is the author's repetitive insistence of calling this era "The Middle Ages." The book floats around the time of the Civil War, but the book was written in the very early 1900's. Did 50 or so years really cause THAT much of a difference that the author needs to constantly belittle the time period? Or is it a condescension to the time he is writing about, that people of his era thought so little of 50 years ago? Regardless, I'm confused, but still think it's pretty amusing.