Readin' and Dreamin'

Lolly Willowes

Lolly Willowes - Sylvia Townsend Warner, Alison Lurie That’s why we become witches: to show our scorn of pretending life’s a safe business, to satisfy our passion for adventure. It’s not malice, or wickedness - well, perhaps it is wickedness, for most women love that - but certainly not malice, not wanting to plague cattle and make horrid children spout up pins and - what is it? - “blight the genial bed.”

[…]

One doesn’t become a witch to run around being harmful, or to run around being helpful either, a district visitor on a broomstick. It’s to escape all that - to have a life of one’s own, not an existence doled out to by others.


The above is a quote I came across on tumblr a few days ago, it was from a book I never heard of: Lolly Willowes. The quote immediately caught my eye, so I went to find out a little more about the book, and was astonished that I had never come across it before. It sounded like everything I love.

And it was. Written in 1926, this is a fantastic piece of feminist fiction about a 48 year old woman name Laura, who after 20 years of being 'Aunt Lolly', has just about enough. She picks up her stuff, takes what money she has, and despite the protests of her family who "cannot do without her", she moves to the country.

I really need to read more books about spinsters who break away from their families and find themselves. So, if anyone has any recommendations, shoot them my way.

Oh, and I didn't even mention the best part: Laura discovers she is a witch, and she isn't even alarmed by it.

Probably my favorite part is when it hits Laura just how miserable and oppressed she was for the past 20 years.

The weight of all her unhappy years seemed for a moment to weigh her bosom down to the earth; she trembled, understanding for the first time how miserable she had been; and in another moment she was released. It was all gone, it could never be again, and never had been. Tears of thankfulness ran down her face. With every breath she drew, the scent of the cowslips flowed in and absolved her.

It struck me so hard that I almost wept.

By the way, you can check out this ebook for free on Open Library, so you really have no excuse in not reading it.