The Vine: September 16, 2011
I'm hoping The Nation can help me find a book. When I was in late grade school, which would have been in the early 1980s, I had the reading skills to read fairly advanced chapter books, but I didn't really have the background (or mental development or whatever) to understand all of them. So I remember strange parts of a lot of books, usually the parts I didn't understand, without a lot of context. There are two books that have been particularly irksome — I remember very specific things about them, but not the books themselves.
The first was set in a contemporary era (I'm not sure specifically when). It was about a girl who had some sort of special connection with the Titanic. She would wake up in the morning soaking wet as if she herself had been drowning, and at least once she woke up clutching a gray wool blanket with some sort of letters stamped on it and another time she woke up with a footlocker that wasn't hers. At first she thought she was just waking up sweaty for some reason, then she thought she was having scary dreams, then it turned into a ghost story? or maybe a supernatural/paranormal story? or a reincarnation story? or something? I can't remember. At the time I read the book, I didn't even know what the Titanic was (this was long before James Cameron's movie came out), so whole swaths of the book made no sense to me. I'd love to be able to read the book again.
The second was set in what seems like the 1970s. It was about a teenage girl whose parents left town for a month (or perhaps longer). She was supposed to stay with someone — I don't recall who — but it didn't work out, so she ended up living by herself in her family's New York City apartment. She didn't have any money, so she got a job and tried to pay the bills and cook and take care of herself.
There are two parts that stick in my mind: (1) she bought a bag of apples, and as she was walking home she strayed into a shot of a movie that was filming. The apples fell out of her bag and rolled down the street. She found it very romantic and there's a long paragraph comparing it to a scene from a real movie. But of course the movie-people yelled at her. (2) She cooked onions on the stove to make the house smell comfy and homey, then something awful happened to her and she never cleaned up the pan with the onions and it molded.
Also, I remember that the book was called something like "The Rise and Fall of [Girl's Name]" or "The Rise of a Teenage Superstar" or something like that, but Google gives me nothing when I search on those (well, nothing I want anyway). I think the book was supposed to be romantic, but I was so scared for the girl the whole time (she wasn't with her parents! oh no!) that I didn't understand it. I really want to read the scene with the apples again!
I hope The Nation can help me! I'd really like to read these two books again.
Hello: I'm looking for a trilogy of fantasy books. Or at least, I think it is a trilogy. I only got to read the middle book. The setting is your typical magical medieval setting. Judging by the events of the second book, the first featured a young woman who ended up becoming a page to a prince. She does so by pretending to be male. The prince doesn't seem to notice that she is in disguise.
The second book is all about her living as man and trying to become a knight. And she is totally in love with the prince. I think there was one person who knew she was a girl, another woman who might have been a castle maid, but they were friends. There was a magical test where she has to go into a magic room where anything that appears will become real. Sort of like Star Trek's holodeck. I think a monster would usually appear and if the page could defeat it, they became a knight. But for her, no monster appears. It's a scene of the prince dying and she goes bananas beating her hands against the stone wall trying to get to him. She passes the test, but her hands are bandaged from all the damage at the end of the book.
There is also a subplot about the local sheriff who takes an instant dislike to our heroine and is always trying to find out "his" secret. Meanwhile the sheriff is freaking out over his dreams. When he was a young farmer the previous sheriff arrested him and his wife. And then the sheriff raped his wife in front of him. Somehow he ended up taking over the sheriff's job. I don't remember how that plot point was explained away. But the experience was his nightmare for years, reliving it over and over. But lately, his dreams have changed. He is now the sheriff raping a poor farmer's wife. Dun dun duhh! I'd really like to know the title of this book, and also if there was a third book in the series.
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