Friday, February 1, 2013

The Rebirth of a Book Discarded

“Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.”
When a book started off with this epigraph, I just knew it would be wonderful.  But, I am ahead of myself.  Let me begin at the beginning.

Last week I stood talking with our local librarian as she sat, rummaging patiently through the “L”s in the children’s fiction section.  Opening each book, she assessed its overall shape and merit, when it had last been checked out, and then, she would either put it back on the shelf for further readers or put it on a cart next to her to be… discarded.
As a writer and an aspiring author, this was a painful process to watch.  This "culling of the herd" understandably must be done so that other, newer books would have room to call their own but--Oh!  The humanity!  The time, the craft, the process that went into the creation of each and every one of those books!  True, perhaps some of them were worthy of discarding, but “The Red Balloon” by Albert Lamorisse?  Certainly it was not the books fault that no-one appreciated it!  Philistines!  I quickly snatched it up and brought it home to read to my three year old—who adored it! 
It did not go beyond my recognition then, when later that day I should happen upon a book in a free library at my local coffee-shop.  (This is a small bird-house offering of books—free for the taking whose contents usually consist of “How to Microwave Anything in Thirty Seconds” or other such rot.)  Imagine my excitement when I should pull from this inglorious collection a book entitled “Keturah and Lord Death” by Maritine Leavitt. 
I do know I should not judge a book by its cover, however the shiny silver National Book Award Finalist medal caught my eye, as did the sumptuous lilac silk Renaissance dress adorning its front.  The inside cover was stamped, “Discarded”, though the back proclaimed it was a Junior Library Guild Selection, and it was chosen as one of the 100 Best Books of the Year, Children’s Fiction, by Publishers Weekly.   I quickly stuffed it in my purse lest someone should come upon us and snatch it from me.  Like a pure-bread puppy from the pound, I liberated it--and brought it home to cuddle in the dark of night.
I was enraptured. 

My eleven year old daughter and I rank all books we read on a scale of 1-10, and I knew, as I slowed my reading to savor the lyrical, thoughtfully chosen prose  within the pages, though I wanted only to consume it faster and faster to reach the climactic ending-- Ahhh… a ten.  A delicious ten.  No doubt about it.  Though I have never written a review, (and feel this is truly more of a strong recommendation) I thought  I must share this book—this neglected trove of hidden treasure with others who might find delight within its pages.

Here is the synopsis, which I wouldn’t dream of butchering.  It is from Indiebound.

Martine Leavitt offers a spellbinding story, interweaving elements of classic fantasy and high romance in this National Book Award Finalist. Keturah follows a legendary hart into the king's forest, where she becomes hopelessly lost. Her strength diminishes until, finally, she realizes that death is near. Little does she know that he is a young, handsome lord, melancholy and stern. Renowned for her storytelling, Keturah is able to charm Lord Death with a story and thereby gain a reprieve--but only for twenty-four hours. She must find her one true love within that time, or all is lost. Keturah searches desperately while the village prepares for an unexpected visit from the king and Keturah is thrust into a prominent role as mysterious happenings alarm her friends and neighbors. Lord Death's presence hovers over this all until Keturah confronts him one last time in the harrowing climax.

What the synopsis does not explain is the tension felt by the reader, who is put in the position of rooting for the heroine, while simultaneously hoping for her death.  Curious.  I’ve never before been put in that position before and if someone mentions a certain vampire series I shall scream.

So there you have it.  Yet another book to add to your lists upon lists. What about you? Have you ever found any such jewels amongst the dung-heap?  Have you ever found a discarded book lying in wait for you in an unexpected place? 

Now you must excuse me for I must pen a strongly worded email to the Verona Public Library and find who is at fault for this injustice wrought to “Keturah and Lord Death”.
~Just Jill

P.S. This must suffice for the Celebrating Small Things blog-hop for now.  More to come on that next Friday!














  1. I ADORE Keturah and Lord Death! It is not as well known as it should be and is completely underrated. I'm so glad it was able to find a home with you.

  2. Thanks for sharing the LUV for Keturah, and I must say, (sigh) poor misunderstood Lord Death. (I should think I could breathe a little life into him...) Whether or not you will ever see this now...I'm wondering after visiting your site and reading your post. 'Tis good food for thought--your blog.

    1. I made a point to come back because I love this book. :) I wouldn't mind a piece of Lord Death.

  3. Amazing what one might find in discards - we hear of jewels found in rubbish heaps, or valuable paintings used as backings for more ho-hum works. I'm glad you rescued it - and how delicious that it was so good!

  4. Quite rightly said Diana. Thanks for stopping 'round the nut-tree.
    ~Just Jill

  5. Thanks for telling about this book. I had never heard of it, but it's on my TBR list now.

  6. Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping on by and for the comment Charmaine.
      ~Just Jill

  7. I seem to recall watching this Twilight Zone episode once where a young Robert Redford plays Death while a woman is about to pass on. When you described the book you picked up, it reminded me of that.

    I guess we have to keep on the lookout for those literary gems that are up for grabs...

    1. A young Bob Redford as "Death"? Hmmm. Okay, I'll stop for him.

  8. Sounds like a good one. Thanks for the recommend. :)


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