Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Black Houses and Houses of Light

The porch at Tighsolas. (I don't know why this picture turned out soooo small.)

Anyway, I finally got the Kindle and I purchased a book right away, the Edwardians by Paul Thompson (I didn't buy the book with the same title by Vita Sackville West and Juliet Nicolson).

I started to read it without learning how to do anything beforehand. I found that you can get a computer voice to read it outloud. (I think THE WORLD should hire Patrick Stewart to do all voices in it; the men would like it, they'd feel like personnel on the Enterprise and the women would like it, well, because, you know.) Anyway, the voice on the Kindle sounds generic, although the pronunciation is not half-bad. The computer voice on my husband's Tom Tom GPS is much more natural, though.

But that's not the point!

I was disappointed right away when clouds came out and my living room, already a gloomy place, because darker. I expected the Kindle screen to be adjustable, but it isn't. In that respect it is no better than a paper book. Except, that's the point, I guess. It's hard to read off a screen because of the back lighting. This has no backlighting. (Not the 6 inch screen I have. ) Well, I must do with it. I hope when you turn on a light that there is no glare. (You'd think a contraption called Kindle would have some light.)

Anyway, this book, the Edwardians was of interest to me right from the start. It provided more background to the Tighsolas era. Yes, it was England, but the gap between rich and poor was, well, gaping. And, remember, the slums of Montreal were second to none for their horrible conditions.

Also, when describing the contrast of housing between the wealthy 1 percent and the teeming masses, the author mentioned the worse housing in the British Isles, in the Hebrides. The crofts! 'Black houses' they were called.

These were the houses that belonged to the grandparents of Marion and Flo and Edith, my husband's ancestors. The ones they were forced to give up.

And even though these places were poor excuses for homes, (water poured into them so they were soaked) the environment in the Hebrides, which was bleak and barren, was still not as bad as the slums of London or the other industrial areas in England.

Yes, the more I read, the more I understand the Nicholsons, the struggling middle class ancestors of my husband. (The more I understand my late mother in law, who was influenced by these people.) The Nicholson saga, described in Flo in the City, reveals a family that simply REFUSES to give up their lovely, solid, comfortable home in Richmond, Quebec.

Tighsolas means House of Light in Gaelic. So the Nicholsons went from Black Houses to a House of Light. That's a symbol I must use in Flo in the City, my book about a young girl coming of age in the Pivotal 1908-1913 era.

I wonder where I will put it.