She was sitting in a rocking chair near the window, I perched on a bed next to her, when her friend handed us warm mugs of creamy hot cocoa.
"Don't fall in there and drown," she teased.
We live half a world apart. That afternoon we had perhaps two hours of a grey November day before the road called our family home to Michigan again.
Two years before, Suzannah stumbled across My Lady Bibliophile through a comment on Jasmine Baucham's pre-marriage blog. (You can now find Jasmine Holmes writing excellent stuff here.) I think it was one of the only comments I've made, which always points me to the beauty and unpredictability of the ways God calls friends together. We exchanged occasional emails; sometime later Suzannah asked me to beta read a novel she was working on: Pendragon's Heir.
Humble self is at your service.
I've been doing it on a Watsonian level ever since. I read Ten Thousand Thorns last summer, spending Saturday mornings with Clouded Sky and Iron Maiden at the breakfast table. (Yes, I was eating alone.) For those of you who don't know, these two smol precious beings are found in a lusciously artistic retelling of Sleeping Beauty set in China with martial arts.
It was splendid when I read it the first time. I wasn't able to open a final draft until early 2018. The first chapter found me swiping pages on my phone while we wound through early morning country roads with cross-streets named "Empire" and "Britain." We were on the way to a radio recording day. The rest of the chapters found me this last Sunday clinging to same said phone. On the way to church, on my bed before my traditional Sunday nap-coma, and tucked into our cushy red recliner while the clock marched on to bedtime.
The sudden palm-strike to seal an acupoint. Hands cupped in humble obeisance. Silky sleeves rippling in the wind. The tiptoeing sun. The threat of a masked face. Characters wrestling with war and spiritual enlightenment against the tension of fleeing pursuit, along with guarded legends from an unknown location. Ten Thousand Thorns provides so much to be loved. Explored through a high-quality story, it chastises spiritual disengagement from the world's problems, dramatizes Ecclesiastes 4:13, and provides an inspiring look at how women can effectively equip believers in the kingdom of God.
Hard to believe all that can be dealt with in the brevity of one novella. But as Clouded Sky wrestles with saving his country or enlightening his soul, it deals with all of them phenomenally well.
Coupled with Christina Rosetti's poems, I felt like I was enjoying a literary feast on Sunday. It's a feast you'll love to engage with as well.