A delightful if long read about economic and love life in Victorian times small town England. Henry Little, an inventor struggles against powerful trade unions and a bad guy named Coventry. He is blown up and his house and equipment are destroyed. He is forced to go to America to sell his invention of saw making equipment and make his fortune so that he will be worthy of marrying the beautiful Grace Carden. Meanwhile, Coventry steals his love away.
Upon returning to England, Grace has given Henry up for dead because the vile Coventry stole Henry’s letters before they ever got to her. After much resistance she slowly agrees to marry the rich Coventry upon the very strong urging of her father.
From there the plot turns many times unexpectedly with Coventry the villain continuing to block the union of Grace and Henry. A huge dam break floods the town and cripples Coventry while Henry the hero, rescues dozens of people. I won’t tell you the end but when it finally comes it is good.
The character development is great. One of them the warm hearted Dr. Amboyne has this saying “Put yourself in his place.” which he uses frequently to empathize with others and interpret others’ behaviour. It is an interesting and useful philosophy. There is also the devoted Jael Dence who loves Henry too and Henry’s supportive uncle Squire Raby. Interesting characters abound.
I read this book as it was specifically mentioned in John A. MacDonald the Old Chieftain. It must have been the rage back in 1870. I downloaded it for free and read it on our Kobo. A great read indeed, 4.5 stars out of 5. A little long else would have been 5.
This meditation in Magnificat today connected with me as this will be the first time in 7 years we will be at home this winter:
Pilgrims continuously sigh for and long for our homeland, for travelers are always filled with hope and desire for the road’s end. And so, since we are travelers and pilgrims in this world, let us think upon the end of the road, that is of our life, for the end of our way is our home…. Many lose their true home because they have greater love for the road that leads them there.
Let us not love the road rather than our home, in case we should lose our eternal home, for our home is such that we should love it. Let us keep to this principle, therefore, that we should live as travelers and pilgrims on the road, as guests of the world, free of lusts and earthly desires, but let us fill our mind with heavenly and spiritual forms, singing with grace and power: For my soul thirsts for the mighty and living God. When shall I come and appear before the face of my God? (Ps 42:2-3), and My soul is like a parched land before you (Ps 143:6), and saying with Paul: I desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ (Phil 1:23). Let us know that although we are strangers to the Lord while in the body, we are present to the eyes of God. And so, turning our back on all evil and laying aside all apathy, let us strive to please him who is everywhere, so that we may joyfully and with a good conscience pass over from the road of this world to the blessed and eternal home of our eternal Father, moving from present things to absent ones, from sad things to joyful ones, from passing things to eternal ones, from earthly things to heavenly ones, from the region of death to the sphere of the living, where we shall see heavenly things face-to-face, and the King of kings, ruling his realms with an upright rule, our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory from age to age. Amen.
I had had so much fun the first time around that I had to go back to Rio de Janeiro in time for New Years 1978. Kim was living there then having transferred to the Canadian Consulate located there. She and Andy were going strong and were to be married later in 1979.
On New Years Eve we went to a party in Copacabana. I remember going up to a nice apartment. We had a few drinks and then heard fantastic drumming sounds coming from the streets. Groups of young men had formed spontaneous drum groups and were competing to outdo each other. It’s samba drumming like you hear in Beth Carvalho’s video above. Then we headed for Copacabana Beach for more fun. There were hundreds of people there celebrating the Reveillon as it is called in Brazil.
The people on the beach dress in white and prepare little handmade boats and load them with offerings, aiming to please Iemanja, the goddess of the water, so she can provide them with prosperity for the coming year. There are rituals and dances happening to celebrate the coming year in a spiritual manner. The Candomblé religion originated in SW Nigeria and is practiced in Brazil. It is syncretized with the Roman Catholic religion meaning separate beliefs and traditions have been merged into a inclusive combined tradition. Wow, this is special folks!
It was truly an amazing experience. We all wondered into the sea to watch the little boats float away. If they didn’t come back, that signified acceptance by Iemanja. If they did, that means bad luck for the sender I guess. I wondered into the sea, glass of wine in hand. When I wandered out I wondered what had happened to the glass, lol. At midnight a huge wall of fire poured out from the top of a hotel skyscraper and there were fireworks all about. Wow, Happy New Year 1979!
In 1979, Brazil was a led by a military dictatorship as were many other South American countries. The president at the time Gen. Ernesto Geisel was relaxing restrictions after left wing guerillas had been largely defeated in the brutal U.S. backed Operation Condor which had killed thousands. I do not recall seeing any evidence of this – no troops in the street etc.
Of course we returned to the beach during the day. I remember lots of beautiful people, kids playing soccer, vendors selling matee (tea) and limanche (lemonade). There was lots of visible poverty around too. Favelas, the informal low-income settlements were always in sight wherever we were. When you parked your car at the beach you had to pay the local kids a fee or risk it being vandalized. When you went to an outdoor restaurant there were kids begging. You saw beggars on the street everywhere. It was a dichotomy of riches and poverty. Perhaps you saw the 2002 movie City of God which depicts drug gang warfare in Rio. Sad but real.
On a lighter note we went to a “churascaria” restaurant and enjoyed it – as much BBQ meat as you can possibly consume. We went to a seafood restaurant at Barra de Tijuca which was a barren beach then and now all built up. We enjoyed “feijoda completa” on Saturdays – a spicy stew made of meats. We enjoyed “Chopp” beer and caiparinha cocktails made with cachaça made from fermented sugar cane. But the real highlight was going to the bar in Ipanema where the song The Girl from Ipanema was written by Anonio Carlos Jobim. What a dream.
My visit was coming to and end but not before one more trip to the beach.
On the way home this time, I stopped in Caracas, Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago to meet up with some friends. In Caracas I remember seeing a favela right beside the Simon Bolivar skyscaper. In Trinidad we visited the La Brea tar flats before heading for Tobago with its quiet beaches. Another great trip had come to an end.
I think my interest in travel was first kindled by the Garcelon Stamp Company. When I was about 12, my parents bought me a postage stamp album. Back then stamp collecting was very popular. Franklin D. Roosevelt had said: “The best thing about stamp collecting is the enthusiasm which it arouses in youth as the years pass. It dispels boredom, enlarges your vision, broadens your knowledge and in innumerable ways enriches your life.” Collecting stamps was a way to travel the world – and still is.
I had a Harris album. For each country there was a brief description, their flag and coat of arms. Initially I collected mostly Canadian, U.S. and U.K. stamps. Then I discovered the Garcelon Stamp Company. I soon learned that Sverige is Sweden, Helvetia is Switzerland, Magyar Posta is Hungary, Deutsche Bundespost is Germany, Polska is Poland and Norge is Norway. My collection started to grow and so did my dreams of travel. Do you remember them?
The Garcelon Stamp Company had these ads in comic books saying that if you sent them your name and address they would send you some free stamps as well as others “on approval”. When that fat envelope arrived from Garcelon with my name on it, boy was I in heaven. If you liked the “on approval” stamps you would keep them and send in payment. Else, you would have to return them. Well once a packet of beautiful exotic stamps is in your hands, it is near impossible to send them back. This habit consumed my weekly allowance for several years.
I had always thought that it is was an American company but turns out Garcelon was based in St. Stephen, NB. It grew to 150 employees with daily mailings to stamp customers weighing tons! Mr. Garcelon trusted in people and it sure paid off for him. Here is their brief story.
As the years went by I lost interest in the hobby as I started travelling. Back in the early 80s I got briefly interested again and started up a Brazil stamp collection – I suppose because of my travels there.
While my collection sits dormant now, I hope someone will want them some day so they too can dream and travel – all thanks to Garcelon Stamp Company.