Tuesday, 14 September 2010
A Subject Close to my Heart - Lucy Coats
It has given me surprising delight that a child of mine has chosen to study a subject so very close to my heart. Writers' children are obviously exposed to the idea of books from a very early age--but that doesn't necessarily mean that they want to study English Literature. In the case of Lovely Son, who is an avid reader of all things Napoleonic, History was his choice. So now what? Do I let her get on with it? Of course. Discovering for herself what she thinks about these books is the whole point. But she's done me the honour (and I definitely feel it is an honour) of asking me to re-read the stuff I already know, and to read the stuff I don't, so that we can discuss it (and, if I know Lovely Daughter, argue about it). I haven't read Heart of Darkness since I studied it at school myself. Larkin I know and love, and Abse I am looking forward to discovering more of. As for The Road, we'll both be opening that for the first time.
To be asked to share anything with a teenager is a small, victorious vindication of parenthood--a sort of signal that normal conversation may not be the total impossibility it seemed 2 or 4 or 6 months ago. For me, this potential daughter/mother communication about books makes me realise that the hours and hours of patient going over and over spellings (and the wiping away of endless tears over the trauma that is learning to read when you are dyslexic) has brought us both an incalculable reward. Whether we disagree profoundly or agree amicably doesn't matter--the fact that we now share a love of books is prize enough for me. I'm the second generation of book-loving writers in my family. Will Lovely Daughter be the third? Who can tell?--it's up to her anyway. Meanwhile, I'm polishing the rust off my brain and preparing for the debate. I can't wait.