The Fountain Overflows

This book is delightful. I’m maybe 1/3 into it, and I’m particularly loving its portrayal of childhood. The story is told from the perspective of Rose, a child, who narrates the story of her family — two rather unusual and difficult parents and her three siblings. Check out this passage:

Together we met a lot more made-up animals, or rather discovered that a lot of real animals were made-up ones too. Once we went as far as Richmond Park and found a vast empire of rabbits who had odd political troubles, and a small and aristocratic community of deer who were terrible snobs. Papa overheard us talking about them, and explained that the older deer were evidently trying to preserve the Habsburg system of protocol, while the young ones wanted to introduce the easier German and English system. We instantly recognized that was true.

This is the view Rose’s mother has of children, as narrated by Rose (and I think perhaps this is West’s view too):

Moreover she understood children, and knew that they were adults handicapped by a humiliating disguise and had all their adult qualities within them.

Yes, but the adults in the novel have a lot of childlike qualities too, or at least they understand some things about chldren very well and think about the world in ways some might call childlike. Often the adults seem more childlike and the children more like adults. Rose often has a world-weary perspective, which she must, since her difficult family has taught her much already.

At any rate, an extraordinary novel about children and family.

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Filed under Books, Fiction

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