Can you imagine…?
“My house is full of people escaped from literature. If this is the case in my home, can you imagine how it is in a library?” — Isabel Allende
I know exactly what Allende means, because my house– or really wherever I find myself– is also crowded with literary escapees. Look over there in the kitchen– Mma. Ramotswe is having tea with Nancy Drew, and they are no doubt swapping stories of their brilliantly solved (and frustratingly unsolved) detective cases.
Out in the living room– she referred to it as the parlor– Elizabeth Bennett is having a lively conversation with Holden Caulfield, both of them full of witty observations about how people behave in public. You might think there would be a communication barrier, given their vastly different dialects, but not so. In fact, according to Holden himself, “the way she talks knocks me out. It really does.”
Up in the library, Alyosha Karamazov is debating ethics with Sidney Carton. What opposites they are! But each is quite noble in his own way, well suited to such a chat. Meanwhile, off in a corner somewhere, Francie Nolan is curled up with a book. She still reads one every day, just as she always has.
It’s a wonder anyone can hear themselves think, with all that noise Ramona Quimby and Pippi Longstocking are making down in the basement. I might have to send Viola Swamp down there if they don’t “hold it down to a low roar,” as my Daddy used to say.
I’m guessing that your house is also full of people who have entered your life through books. If so, remember Allende’s observation that the library has exponential numbers of such fascinating company. If you’re ever feeling lonely, a trip to the library is a sure remedy. But you might not have to go that far. Who is hiding in your own home, within the pages of your books?