I still remember exactly how I learned about my favourite book of all time. It wasw 14 and a half years ago. At the time I was working with an agent and was doing extra work in film and television. Sound glamorous? It wasn’t. On call all the time and days went from 6 hours to sometimes up to 16 and you never knew which it was going to be. Which probably would have been fine for me but I had a small baby and three other kids at home, so after about 9 months of working, I stopped.
However, on the first of a long, three day shoot of “Hardwood: The Hoop Life”, I met a guy from Kitchener named David. There were long breaks between takes and so we got to talking. He was about ten years younger than me and was learning to be an illusionist. Eventually our heritages came up and I mentioned that I was Irish. We had previously talked about favourite books and reading and when I had said I was Irish he got all excited and told me that there was a book I simply HAD to read.
If you are Irish, or know anything about Irish history, you will know that the English took over the country a LONG time ago and the Irish fought for many years to get it back. During English rule, at the peak of its constraints, the Irish were forbidden to celebrate their country in ways of song, music, dancing and the written word. Which is why so many Irish songs are about women….in a lot of cases, it’s a feint for the Island itself and the love the people have for it. It’s also why traditional Irish dancing requires hands at the side. When villagers circled around to hide the intricate foot movements, to an outsider, it looked only like someone was jumping up and down.
Basically, they had to be crafty and sneaky to keep their culture.
Anyway, this book, David told me, had such a deep similarity that he knew I would like it. A sorcerer comes to conquer a land and he takes three provinces but the fourth, (he has become slightly cocky) he sends his most beloved son to take. Well, the son was killed and in retribution, the sorcerer puts a spell on the land that strips its identity from all who live in every other province, and from all born from that day forward. He destroys their cities and makes it so that no-one not born in that province before that day can even hear and remember its name. In this way, the survivors of the battle would know until their own deaths one day, that they had had this done to them.
Of course there is a secret uprising but I was already sold. I went to the bookstore that night and bought 800+ page long Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay.
I read it, and fell in love, and the next time I saw David we spent every second when the camera was not rolling discussing the book.
Since then I have owned four copies of this book. Because I tell EVERY book lover I know that it is a must read (which it is) and three times I have lent it out and not gotten it back. I don’t lend it out anymore.
Of my five children, two of them are big book lovers and one of them is kind of lukewarm. The other two are movie hounds, which, I can absolutely appreciate, but they don’t generally read for pleasure. I know, I don’t understand it either, but, to each his or her own.
My youngest is the ‘meh’ child when it comes to reading. He won’t automatically grab a book for entertainment, but he has been known to love a few books in his day. So, after years of futility trying to get my kids and even my husband to read this book so that I would at least have someonein the house to discuss it with, I offered to read it to my youngest. A way for us to bond and have something that is just for he and I. He agreed.
From the first moment I started to read to him, he was hooked. I knew he would be. Tigana is an epic, much like The Lord of the Rings (which he is obsessed over). The characters are thrown at you quickly, as is the pacing of the action, and you have no choice but to either be overwhelmed by it, or completely drawn in. He’s in.
We’re 136 pages into the book right now (that’s about 1/8th) and today when I read we’re both going to cry.
There is a scene early on in the book. A death. It makes me cry every time I read it. We are getting to it today. Guy Gavriel Kay describes not so much a beautiful death scene, but a reconciliation between a very hard father and a very soft son that is both poignant and moving and achingly beautiful. Knowing we were coming to it today, I re-read it to myself last night hoping that if I got through it, maybe I could read it without the tears today but it’s no use. I cried again last night and I know I will today as well.
But this boy, my baby, I raised him with the truth that it is NOT going to make him less of a man to express his emotions. My boy isn’t afraid to show his feelings and this is going to be one of those moments for him.
Having a book that moves you in this way is a very special thing. Sharing that love with others and knowing that they too are moved makes you feel like you have had a hand in something bigger. Watching my son fall in love with this book and reliving it again through his eyes is truly priceless.
I’d love to hear about some of your favourite books. Which authors inspire you? Which characters do you love?
Happy reading, all.