In most of our childhoods there have been those books beloved, not because they are marvelous children’s books, but because they are marvelous books. – Anna Quindlen
We had lunch with our family today. It was one of those great big wonderful, noisy, happy birthday meals for our dad (age 73) and our nephew (age 4) where we enjoy food and stories and gift-giving as we laugh and relax among all the inspiring and child-like energy that fills the rooms of my brother and sister-in-law’s home.
In the midst of all this exuberance, I noticed some old books! They were perched on the top of the family’s piano, their covers aged and their spines crackled among various titles. They were beautiful and mesmerized us as the girls and I opened each one to have a look inside.
There were a half dozen first editions of Franklin Dixon’s masterful Hardy Boys series, an early volume of Edgar Allen Poe stories, and a green-tinted 1935 hardcover classic – L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. It was this particular book that had, well, heart.
Now for those of you who know and love this book, the story itself is full of heart…but that’s not the kind of heart I discovered when I picked up this story today. Because it was as close to a first edition of this book that I had ever seen in person, I asked my brother-in-law if he knew just what a treasure he had. His answer was from the heart and had nothing to do with its place in literary history.
“Sure,” he said. “One of the first things I ever really knew about my wife was how much she loved that story. Later, I searched high and low for a version of it that she could really cherish. It’s a special book.”
What heart! It’s as good a Valentine story as I’ve heard all week and as good a story about a century-old book as I’ve ever heard.
A children’s classic and a husband in love…it makes me think that’s something worth remembering.