Lillian on Life
by Alison Jean Lester
Once again I pulled a book off the shelf because of how pretty it looked. This one sounded interesting in addition to being pretty, so I took it home. When I first started reading Lillian on Life I couldn’t quite get into it. It was like having a conversation with someone monologuing, but getting interrupted and telling their life story in broken up bits. However, once I had read a few chapters and gotten into the tone and flow, I was hooked. I got caught up in Lillian’s world and couldn’t wait to hear about her life. I felt like I was in a living room with Lillian having a cup of tea and listening to the story of her life. It was as if Lillian was telling her story right to me and I appreciate how Lester wrote from that angle . . . it was engaging and quite lovely once I got into the book.
Lillian is in her fifties and looking back on her life thinking about where she came from and how she got where she is today: single, passionate, and having loved a married man. She grew up in the Midwest and escaped a young marriage by accepting a job in Europe, where she travels around and has several lovers before coming back to New York to work. There she has a 15 yr affair with a married man. Lillian reminisces about her lovers, her relationship with her parents, brother, and sister-in-law, as well as all the places she has been. It was a simple book, but moving and rich. At the end of the book was a thought provoking quote that I want to remember and I think is worth sharing even though it’s a bit long. 🙂
“You must tell your own story. Never let someone, even someone as familiar to you as your sister-in-law, think she knows you better than you know yourself. She only sees what you do; she doesn’t see who you are inside. If I regret anything when I look back, it’s how often I allowed people to think what they wanted to think. I should have stopped them short. I should have laughed at their assumptions. I should have tooted with laughter, “Hoo hoo hoo!” and followed with a twinkling, mischievous smile, just to throw them off, just to keep them guessing. The problem is, they watch what you do, who you love, how you cook, what you read and what you don’t read, and they decide what it means, and sometimes you’re not there to stop them, or you get the timing wrong. I’ve always wondered why people look so much to action for meaning. When people tell you a story–something that happened to them, something important–don’t ask them what they did. Ask them what they wanted to do. What they want to do is who they are. Actions are whispers compared to dreams.”
Summing it up: I highly recommend this book! It was interesting, thought provoking, and a simply enjoyable read.
All the best, Abbey
P.S. I now have an Instagram account! Check me out at: twentyninewillowlane!! 🙂