Several months ago I bought a book from the central library discards, Ragtime Girl by Elizabeth Warne. I was drawn to it since I’ve learnt a bit of Charleston this pass spring, so anything set in the twenties, or even thirties interests me at the moment. (It’s nice when obsessions connect like that.)
I had read a few pages of it a while ago, but this week I actually picked it up and finished in three days. I’m not usually one for romance books, but this was certainly a bit more than romance – it was a rags-to-riches story too! Set in 1920s Bristol, it’s about a young girl, raised by her grandparents, who is fortunate to learn to be a milliner and then goes on to open up her own hat shops and cater to the “nobs”. Of course, lots of family drama, romance, and misfortune is thrown in too! Really, it was a pleasant read and it did make me think about what life for a young woman back then would have been like (of course, last year sometime I read Bachelor girl which really discussed that matter, though from an American perspective and certainly doesn’t romanticize it.)
Today, I had nothing to do, and took forever to decide which book to read next. I ended up picking up All That Matters by Wayson Choy (another bargain buy, but from work). I read his Jade Peony last year and really enjoyed it. This book tells the story of first son (i.e. the eldest son of Chinese immigrants to Vancouver). It’s fantastic having all the knowledge from the first book, but hearing new stories from a new perspective.
Despite that Ragtime Girl and All That Matters are vastly different books, on completely different subjects written by two very different authors from different countries, there were still little things that I noticed that were common. For one thing they are both set about the same time era – late twenties, early 30s. They both mention the Wall Street crash of 1929 and how it affected people around the characters (since it hadn’t really had any direct effect). I found that really interesting that a stock market crash really did affect so many people not just in the US, but in UK and Canada as well. This then gives me the somewhat irrational fear of what would happen in another crash. Anyway, it was still revealing to see how the world is connected.
Another little mention in both books referred to Tom Mix. In Ragtime Girl the character agreed to see a cowboy movie with her husband if she got to choose next time. In All That Matters, second son comes into the home in possession of a little Tom Mix ragdoll. I have never heard of Tom Mix, but now I want to see some good ol’ western show! Though it seems, I may be out of luck finding anything with Tom in it (the local video store that specializes in old movies doesn’t seem to have any of his, according to their website). I guess I’m stuck reading instead (as if that’s such a let down!)