The opening of the book contains the ecstasy of a release that every woman who has experienced marriage and motherhood will recognize and many will envy: the opportunity to be alone, to have space and privacy with no demands made upon her, to eat and sleep when she pleased, to have silence and solitude and the time to be with herself – this one is from the introduction by Elizabeth Jane Howard
How often now, oppressed by the necessity of assisting at three dining-room meals daily, two of which are conducted by the functionaries held indispensable to proper maintenance of the family dignity, and all of which are pervaded by joints of meat, how often do I think of my salad days, forty in number, and of the blessedness of being alone as I was then alone!
…if Eve had a spade in Paradise and known what to do with it, we should not have all that sad business of the apple.
…it must be demoralizing work for a strong young man with no brains looking after cows. Nobody with less imagination than a poet ought to take it up as a profession.
Wise people want so many things before they can even begin to enjoy themselves, and I feel perpetually apologetic when with them, for only being able to offer them that which I love best myself – apologetic, and ashamed of being so easily contented.
I fall to wondering at the vast and impassable distance that separates one’s own soul from the soul of the person sitting in the next chair. I am speaking of comparative strangers, people who are forced to stay a certain time by the eccentricities of trains, and in whose presence you grope about after common interests and shrink back into your shell on finding that you have none.
Who can begin conventional amiability the first thing in the morning? It is the hour of savage instincts and natural tendencies; it is the triumph of the Disagreeable and the Cross. I am convinced that the Muses and the Graces never thought of having breakfast anywhere but in bed.
I have not yet persuaded myself, however, that the women are happy. They have to work as hard as the men and get less for it; they have to produce offspring, quite regardless of times and seasons and the general fitness of things; they have to do this as expeditiously as possible, so that they may not unduly interrupt the work in hand; nobody helps them, notices them, or cares about them, least of all the husband. It is quite a usual thing to see them working in the field in the morning, and working again in the afternoon, having in the interval produced a baby.
What nonsense it is to talk about the equality of the sexes when the women have the babies!
He was a wonderful man, but I am glad I was not his wife – about Luther
“If you are not careful, April,” I said, “you’ll be a genius when you grow up and disgrace your parents.”
My review of Elizabeth and Her German Garden