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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Monday, November 3, 2014

First Romance

Grade Twelve English 30.
My favourite class of all time.
What could possibly be better than reading books and stories and then talking about them?
Or of writing your own?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Our teacher was a veteran of many, many years. She had taught each of my three elder siblings and survived.
And now it was my turn.
Most of the time, I was fairly quiet in her class - choosing mostly to listen as the conversations went on around me. Keeping my opinions to myself, except when they could be submitted in a written format.
My grades were good.
We were working our way through a thick volume of short stories. Some exciting. Some bizarre. Some sweet and romantic.
It was during this last that I came to grief.
Let me explain . . .
We were reading a story about a man who saw a beautiful hand-made doll in the window of a local shop.
The doll affected him greatly.
It seemed to 'speak' to him.
He purchased it and tried to find out more about it and the person who had made it.
He discovered that the doll and others like it were made locally and that a woman usually brought them in to the shop a few at a time.
He tracked down the woman.
She was not the artist.
Instead, she kept the real doll-maker a virtual prisoner, and forced her to keep making dolls, which were then sold.
The imprisoned doll-maker was justifiably sad and put all of the love she would have given her unborn children into her dolls. Which was why they were so beautiful.
The man fell in love with the captive doll-maker, stole her away and married her.
And they lived happily ever after.
Okay, I admit it, when I read this story, I discovered that I'm a romantic.
I loved it.
Loved the 'happily ever after' ending.
I was excited for the discussion to start . . .
“How many of you liked this story?” the teacher asked.
My hand shot up.
Then slowly lowered as I realized that I was the only person in the class who had raised one.
“This story was drivel!” the teacher said. “Absolute tripe!” She stomped around the front of the class. “Stupid romantic nonsense! Waste of good print! Waste of time!”
She added several more derisive comments, then stopped and stared at me.
My hand was back on my desk.
“Well, I thought it was romantic!” One of the other girls tried to come to my aid.
The teacher snorted. “Hmph! Don't know why it was included in this book! Maybe as an example of lousy writing!”
The class was silent.
“Asinine garbage! Should be torn out of the book!” She glared around. “Any other thoughts?”
Let me put it this way . . . the discussion following this story didn't take up much time.
The story was given a brief technical reckoning, then dismissed.
And the class moved on to the next story.
I moved with them, reading and responding to my assignments.
Suspense.
Mystery.
Humour.
But I never forgot my first romantic story.
I read and re-read it.
Loving it more each time.
Mmmm.
Romance.
I still think I was right.

19 comments:

  1. I'm very surprised at your teachers reaction....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So was I. Flabbergasted. (Ooh! Good word!)

      Delete
  2. Methinks your teacher had an unrequited (oooh! good word!) or failed romance lurking in her past. Sad that she let her own feelings colour her teaching of young and impressionable minds. Glad that you stuck to your guns and convinced me of your indelible romanticism . . . . hang in there!

    Anonymous Knight-husby in Shining Armour

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, she only strengthened my resolve. Oooh! Didn't that sound . . . intelligent?

      Delete
  3. Bummer-Klutz! What a let-down. For a moment I thought it was about the guy finding the girl then getting her away from her horrible life. He proposes to her and she turns him down. So he goes about life partying it up, dating girls half his age, keeping his money, living the way he wanted, including leaving the seat up. Gee, I must've gotten a different book in high school...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah. I don't remember that story! She probably would have liked it . . .

      Delete
  4. Obviously your teacher was lacking romance in her life! Sounds like a lovely story to me :).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can sit next to me during the next class, Lana! We'll show her . . .

      Delete
  5. I love your independent spirit, even then!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And romantic. Don't forget romantic. And thank you! :)

      Delete
  6. I think you are right, too, Diane. I love a good romantic story with a happy ending. I know it may be predictable, it may not be the way many people's lives go, it may even be drivel (what do I know, I'm not a teacher) but it's uplifting and satisfying. So there, take that, teacher!

    I also wonder, same as Husby and Lana, if that teacher had had a bad relationship - or none.

    And I will leave you with this tidbit about my high school English teacher (passed on to me many years after I graduated by my mom who also taught there) ... my prim and proper English teacher read Harlequin romances for relaxation!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! When I'm stressed that's my escape, too! Great minds . . .
      I always looks for some cheery escapism from my reading. If I want reality, I'll watch the news . . .

      Delete
  7. I do love a good romance story; so I would have raised my hand.
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
  8. And you became a writer and lover of books in spite of her! I wonder how many other kids in her years of teaching lost their interest in learning because of her though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She could be a good teacher. Most of the time . . .
      I guess that's why her reaction that time knocked the stuffing out of me!

      Delete
  9. I can't imagine a teacher being that incapable of realizing that different stories and types of writing affect people differently. How short sighted. I'm glad she didn't turn you off to the honest reaction you had to this story. All writing should be treasured!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I so agree, Karen! Oddly enough, her reaction made me more sure I liked romances! Weird . . .

      Delete
  10. Seems to me she was doing less teacher and more shoving her own opinions down her throat! Sad because it sounds like a beautiful story and I have always loved "Happily ever after" it's what we are all after am I wrong?

    ReplyDelete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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