Dear Blue,

I’m sure you’ve noticed me sneaking upstairs occasionally in the daytime to read a bit more of this book and have perhaps felt a twing of jealousy that I get to read a bit in the daylight without you. But that should tell you that my frustration with The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by is ebbing some. The plot has thickened and Joe Smallwood has finally piqued my interest. He has become less of a caricature of a person with an absolute moral compass and more of a figure of shifting panels of nebulous morality that try to stay aligned with his original dreams. Perhaps it is because he isn’t young anymore and that complexity is part of the process of growing up. Physically, he reminds me a boy I once knew and so it is easy for me to imagine him while I read.

Fielding is a very satisfying contrast to Smallwood. She begins our story with somewhat shifty and nebulous morals and is now trying to clean up her life and figure out who she is and what she truly believes. She is fascinating and I find myself yearnng for the chapters about her. The dance of the two of them, Fielding and Smallwood, around each other, and around the increasingly powerful character of Newfoundland itself, is growing more interesting and believable. I have been putting in more time with this tome and hope to have it completed by next week’s blog. Stay tuned…

And Blue, you’ve also accompanied me to the girls’ bedroom at night so I can read Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder to them before bed. I read it so long ago and it surprised me how much of the story I have to explain to them: what a covered wagon is, why the Jack the bulldog walks under the wagon the whole way, why they had to take a raft across the Missouri, why Pa needs a gun. We stop often to talk about the story, but I think they are enjoying it so far.

We tried to read the 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers last month, but it was just over their heads and too weird so we stopped. They enjoyed Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (Ill. by the delightful Lauren Child) before Christmas. I’m hoping Little House will be a better fit. I really loved those books when I was young and am enjoying the reread with the girls now.

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February 8, 2010

Dear Blue:

So we’re still wading through Wayne Johnston’s The Colony of Unrequited Dreams. Surely you’ve sensed my frustration with it by now, but I just keep reading. I get so far into these books and feel like I have to keep going. It seems shameful to stop after I’ve invested so much. I know you disagree. Sometimes while I’m pulling my sweater tighter, I see you cast your little circle of light over the small stack of books on the nightstand that you are eager to help me read, but you have to be patient, my little blue friend.

The friendship/romance between little Joe Smallwood and Fielding is just not captivating or believable-they seem only in love because they feel they should be, and not because they are. I do like the character of Fielding-with her cane walking, troubled past, journalism career, and drinking habit, but instead of seeing the story through her eyes, we see most of it through the small-scale vision of Joe Smallwood. Which, as you know, since I seem to fall asleep lately after just a few pages, is wearying. (At this pace, I’ll finish this book in about 5 months…)

I think I’m enjoying the little excerpt histories of Newfoundland that begin every chapter more than anything. I loved learning about how the fishing admirals were the law and that they exacted laws that only benefitted fishermen and not the settlers. So interesting! These bits of history remind me of the little pieces of history I learned in Cod by Mark Kurlansky. Remember that little gem of a book? Fascinating information all gleaned from the history of cod fishing! So far, I cannot say the same for Colony. However, last night Joe took the boat back to Newfoundland and I thought his father (and his obsession with the book on the history of Newfoundland) was a delightful scene stealer, so I’m hoping we see more of him soon…perhaps I need to head to bed a bit earlier for a few nights, then we can slog through this one quicker. Maybe it will improve once we are reunited with the land of Smallwood boots?

Now Nigella’s book, Nigella Express, was fabulous! I added little post it tabs for recipes to try and have so far worked my way through her Maple Glazed Chicken, Peanut Butter Fudge Sauce, and several others. I’ll be making her glitzy chocolate puddings on Wednesday this week for my brother-in-law and his family, and then the last one to make before I return to the library will be the Margarita Ice Cream. Can’t wait! The Peanut Butter Sauce was amazing, the Maple Chicken SO tender, and the Brandied-Bacony Chicken delish. The Goujons were out of this world good. I can’t fathom ever ordering chicken fingers from a restaurant again-not when I can make them so easily and wonderfully at home.

Not only did we get to enjoy full-color, page-sized photos of each recipe (why don’t other cookbooks do this? It’s SO helpful), but the recipes were super easy and Nigella’s prose was charming and oh-so-readable. I rarely read cookbooks cover to cover, but I couldn’t help myself when we tackled this one together.

Until tonight,

Your ReviewQueen