Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Haunted Pool

This book has been stopping up the works around here. I read it, I digested it, I had thoughts about it, but for some reason I haven't felt quite prepared or qualified or informed enough to just comment on it and get on with life.

I think it's because I have this image of George Sand, this just ass-kicking supergenius female from the intimidating past, leaning over my shoulder, saying, "Don't you GET IT you moron? It wasn't just about cabbages and true love. It was about so! much! more!" The truth is, unfortunately, that unless the imaginary spectre of George Sand wants to clue me in, I'm not sure what else is here besides the cabbages. And the true love.

Well, there's the prologue. The prologue, which addresses the reader directly, is about how noble and wise the peasants of rural France are (were) and how their lack of intellect or ability to understand their circumstances doesn't interfere with their feeling of important feelings, and experiencing of deep emotion. Isn't that nice? Those sweet, precious peasants and their silly dumb heads.

Sand takes the prologue to rhapsodize about them and how cute they are, with their toil and whatnot, and then tells a pretty story about them falling (without consciousness) in love with each other. Finally, she takes a few more pages (a lot more pages) to just unapologetically savor the peasants' cute rituals. Marriage rituals.

The truth is, I really liked the book, up until the plot quit and the "I miss the cute peasants I used to look down on in my youth" themes came to the fore. I expected something raunchy, loud, scathing, or at least edgy. This is not that. It's a sweet love story, flavored with a lot of local color. So George Sand was a surprise, for this postfeminist. I'm not sure I'd love to read another of her books, but I'm glad I finally found out what she was really writing, under all that scandal and wild living.