I was saddened to hear of the passing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. One Hundred Years of Solitude was a coming of age book for me. My sister, who was a much more precocious reader than me (actually, she was much more precocious than me in most ways), suggested I read it. I tried. And I tried. I just couldn’t do it. I was too young, too immature, not ready, not her – whatever. Then, one day, I picked it up, and tried again, and loved it. A small triumph for younger siblings everywhere. Since then, I have read many more Garcia Marquez novels, probably many more than my sister (not), and especially enjoyed Love in the Time of Cholera. My son’s favorite is Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Which brings me to another topic, one which I’m pretty sure Garcia Marquez would have appreciated: how books can be the ties that bind.
In thinking about the role my sister played in my eventual discovery of great literature, I found myself reminiscing about other important family books. Both my parents were avid readers, albeit of different genres. To this day, I attribute my love of comedies of manners to my mom, who kept the Nancy Mitford oeuvre (also, Jennie, about Churchill’s wife, and Fear of Flying, about, oh, never mind), on her bedside shelf for years and years. My dad continues to be a fan of thrillers and spy stories. He introduced me to Smiley’s people and other friends.
And so I was pleased to hear that my son has a favorite Garcia Marquez. And not to forget my daughter, the Bobbsey Twins came up in conversation over Easter. We both always wished we were twins. Adventurous British twins, that is. We have moved on from Enid Blyton and the likes, but my daughter is faithful to coming of age stories. Except with vampires.