When I was in grade school, a nosy neighbor decided my parents were too conservative, so she loaned me some of her old books by Helen Van Slyke. My parents let me read anything in book form, so we were good to go. Helen was a divorced New York City career woman with views unlike those I would encounter in my hometown. Today, as I cull my book collection, I am revisiting some of those titles with a more mature perspective. Others may read her work and come away with an entirely different view, but here are some of the elements that jump out at me:
- Everyone has affairs:
- Money doesn’t protect you from problems.
Then: Really? I’d love to be rich! (Brutal honesty about who I was then.)
Now: Money offers a shield, but not from all problems.
- Jews face discrimination.
Then: I don’t understand why.
Now: I am better acquainted with why and don’t agree with those ideas.
- Men use women.
Then: This is frightening. I see that I need to make careful choices in the future.
Now: I give God the glory for protecting me from this type of man.
- Women have no recourse against powerful men.
Then: What else is new?
Now: We are making progress.
- Women must choose between children and a career.
Now: Women are living life on their terms.
Helen said she wrote A Necessary Woman for “blue-haired ladies in the cocktail hour of life.”
Ironically, blue hair is back in style, but for the young. And I’m feeling more mid-afternoon snack-ish than cocktail hour as far as life point. Still, the fact I have lived more of my life now than I had as a student has softened my viewpoint. I know much about my happily-ever-after. And I can read these books with a different perspective.
What books have you read at different points in your life? Did they age well?
What books would you like to re-read, and why?