Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spotlight on: Elizabeth Cadell


Before we get to that, can we talk?

We are on Spring Break here, otherwise known around this house as Spring-drive-your-mother-up-a-wall-because-you-have-opposite-temperaments-week. Oh, my goodness friends, I am feeling like A Terrible Mother.

I, a tried and true introvert, gave birth to one of the strongest extroverts I've ever met. As a baby she cried and cried when I turned my back to cook something and as a toddler stood next to me and screamed for about a year and half while I blew my hair dry. Now it's mom?...Mom?....MOM??....MOOOOOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! about every 4 minutes. She talks unceasingly. She climbs on me and touches and pokes me and talks in my face and tries to lick me (sorry). She cries and pouts and whines when she's not winning a game. She badgers me and argues about anything and everything. I faced an hour-long onslaught on why I wouldn't take her to dairy queen for lunch. She even hand copied text from their website about how delicious their food is.

"Mom they have wraps! And sandwiches that use waffles instead of bread!!"

"Someday you will understand why that is not a good thing."


When I took the car to Tires Plus:

"Bring a book in case they ask us to wait."

"What do I need a book for? If we have to wait I'll just talk to YOU!!!!"

God help me. I love her more than anything, I'd lay down right now and give up every organ or drop of blood for her. But I wish she would just 'find something to do!' that didn't always involve me. Thanks for listening. She's now on a play-date so I am thrilled to be able to string two thoughts together without interruption.

Back to the books!

So, Elizabeth Cadell. Have you heard of her? This is the author I teased you with a couple posts back whose vintagey looking books I came across at the library. As you can see, I chose The Corner Shop written in 1966. This book definitely fits into that same sort of category as D.E. Stevenson though this book in particular is a little edgier, more mysterious, funnier, and rather a farcical comedy of manners.

Take for example our first meeting with our heroine, Mrs. Lucille Abbey, on a train:

'she had her own method of dealing with burly gentlemen who pushed; her capacious handbag....could in cases like this become a lethal weapon. One jab from the brass-bound end, and the gentleman, like all his pushing predecessors, gave way. As always, her quiet, deceptively mild air lulled the victim's suspicions and led him to conclude that it had been an accident.'

'She was aware that she was slim, blonde, and beautiful-but her looks, though they might be alluring, were also misleading and raised hopes which she was constantly constrained to crush. She had a clear brain, sound common sense and a capacity for hard work; why these sober attributes had been encased in so fancy a package she had never been able to understand; she knew only that she looked far warmer than she felt.'

Funny stuff! Lucille runs a business that sends secretaries out on jobs and when one client goes through three perfectly good secretaries in odd circumstances Lucille decides to find out whatever is the matter. She finds herself in the country where the rather odd 'professor' is sorting through his deceased father's papers and mother's things. A series of events puts Lucille in the middle of an art heist after which she travels to Paris to help her aunt and meets a bunch of quirky people. There's a lot of running around in Paris then and the plots become briefly complicated and intertwined and eventually we see how all the pieces and characters come together. It's really well done for a humorous book that reads quickly, and I told my husband that if I were move clever I would try to write a screen play based on this material.

I still don't know much about Elizabeth Cadell, thought I did find this fan site. She was writing books from the 40s to the 80s! I'm definitely going to be reading her again.


Iliana said...

You and your girl are total opposites aren't you? Well, enjoy your "quiet" time while she's off playing! I have never heard of Elizabeth Cadell but totally want to find this book now!

Nan said...

I fear this will go away all too soon, Tara. She will want to be with others instead of her mum.

I love EC. First you write about Stevenson and now Cadell!! Two of my most faves! My Dear Aunt Flora is a jewel. I love it.

bermudaonion said...

Enjoy your daughter while you can! Our son was kind of like that, and now that he's in college, about the only way I hear from him is through text messaging, and that's not very often.

Anonymous said...

Dear Tara, I feel your pain. :-)

I had an only little girl as well and I can remember those Chatty Cathy days (are you old enough to remember Chatty Cathy?). The others are right, those days will be gone, but I don't know. Mine still sometimes just overwhelms me with needing to share (and she's 27 and married). I think from what I've seen with kids, it's always grass is greener. I've had lots of friends who longed for their kids to share with them (especially in their teens) and then there's those of us whose kids share and share and share and share. It's OK to vent to us and I will say that this too shall pass. Hang in there!!

Bookfool said...

This too shall pass, although I can't promise you she won't still drive you crazy from afar. My eldest is an extreme extrovert, very opinionated, and one of the most strong-willed people I've ever met. He still drives me nuts -- and he's 25 an living in another state! But, at least he's found a future wife who tells him, now and then, when he's been a jerk to his mother. A little over a year ago (around the time they started dating), I began to get the occasional apology. I love hearing, "Sarah says I was being a jerk." It's such a relief. Motherhood is rough!!!

Anonymous said...

*cracks up* My mum could have written this exact post when my younger sister was little. Actually I could have written this post when my younger sister was little. We shared a room, and I swear every time I would lie down on my bed to read, Robyn could sense it, and she'd come find me and go "Hey Jen? Jen? Jen? Whatcha reading? Are you going to read it to me? Jen? Jen? Jen? Jenny? Jenny?" She just can't stop talking. Actually that is still sort of true...

Les said...

Ah, motherhood. :) I echo Nan, Kay and Nancy/Bookfool's comments. I think I've chatted with all three about my daughter on and off for many, many years. Yes, these days shall pass and you'll long for some sort of communication, but you maybe get more of the same. It's hard to tell which direction she'll go. I think I'm finally satisfied with how often I hear from my 26-year-old daughter. Sometimes it's good news and sometimes not so good. But at least it's something. :)

Perhaps she needs a pet to keep her company? ;)

Ali said...

Your post cracked me up. I'm with my kids all year long, so luckily we have similar temperaments.

StuckInABook said...

I haven't heard of this author, but I'm intrigued now...
And I did laugh at your description of your daughter - only because I think I was quite like that with my Mum. With one exception - I never needed to be asked twice to bring a book with me!

Gentle Reader said...

My five-year-old little girl is a challenge for me, as well. We aren't temperamental opposites, but I am very familiar with the "but I have you to amuse me" attitude. When she's in a clingy mood (often) I can't do anything alone (hello, would you please let me close the bathroom door?). Fortunately, I also have a teenage son who doesn't want to spend any time with me at all, so it puts it in perspective :)
Looking forward to reading some Elizabeth Cadell--sounds like fun!

BabelBabe said...

oh man, i have one of those, too, and totally feel your pain.

Tara said...

Iliana, we are! I wonder if your library will have Elizabeth Cadell

Nan, not to sound flippant, but we are sort of already there, she'd rather be with other kids, but I was all that was available. I will have to see if the library has My Dear Aunt Flora.

Kathy, believe me, I am trying, but sometimes it is hard.

Kay, ah, yes Chatty Cathy! Thank you for your supportive words. I think it's hard for more outgoing people to realize how draining it feels to be introverted and have someone literally talking to you all day.

Bookfool, thank you for sharing your experience with me - it helps! I so often feel that I want to be able to 'enjoy' her but it's hard when so much of the time she is argumentative with me.

Jennysbooks, thank you for your comment. I see you know just how I feel!

Les, it's hard to know how she'll be in future. Sometimes I think her need to be with someone and communicate will keep her in the same room with me as she gets older but who knows. About the girl is pretty much scared of all animals, even sometimes our 15ish year old cat that doesn't bother her at all.

Ali, that is a lucky thing.

Simon, I'd be curious to know what you'd think of this author.

Gentle Reader, I have company in the bathroom too, have for years, and have already fielded all the questions about the mysterious 'mommy' things that go on in there.

Babelbabe, my hat is off to you!

Chrisbookarama said...

I think our daughters were separated at birth. I joke with her that she only stops talking when she sleeps! She's very outgoing and loud too. I keep telling myself that it's not a bad thing but I have "Calgon take me away moments!" everyday.

Tara said...

Chris, that is about how the talking is here. It's hard to take in 13 hour increments!

Ashley said...

Thanks for recommending EC! I just finished The Corner Shop this morning and adored it. What a treasure EC is! Can't wait to read more of her

Tara said...

Hi Ashley! I'm so glad you enjoyed The Corner Shop and came back to tell me about it! Let me know if you read any of her other books.