Gleaning Gems from “A Desperate Fortune”

I’ve recently begun reading the book “A Desperate Fortune” by Susanna Kearsley, & found so many passages that resonated with me that I wanted to “collect” them here at my blog.  I used to keep a “quote library” on index cards, where I’d note a work by page number & passage & then periodically flip through the cards to refresh my memory…& my soul.  Well those cards are buried under the detritus of this complex family life & will only be unearthed with Hurculean effort I’m not currently capable of expending…so saving meaningful passages here online will have to suffice instead.

A Desperate Fortune (Large Print edition)

by Susanna Kearsley

Thorndike Press, part of Gale Cengage Learning

Farmington Hills, Mich; San Francisco; New York; Waterville, Maine; Meriden, Conn; Mason, Ohio; & Chicago  2015, 693 pages.

Page 53  “…she tapped her fingers on her cloak, above her heart–‘you’ve had a little voice that calls to you.  And maybe now, my darling, is the time for you to let it lead you home.'”

Pages 54-55  “Her face, she knew, was like a heart, more pointed at the chin, and while she’d often been called pretty she’d met no one who, at first glance, had assumed she was intelligent.  She didn’t really mind.  It often worked to her advantage and she’d used it as a shield, having observed that people seemed to value wit above intelligence; vivacity and merriness above demure and shy behavior.  Wanting to be liked, she’d learned to bury her own shyness and become another person when in public, one who entertained with turns of phrase and flirted with a confidence she rarely felt inside.  It made her popular and sought-after at gatherings and village dances, and had drawn the admiration of a few young men, but it had also kept her safe.

She wore that braver face, so lively and at home in bright society, to guard the smaller girl within her who’d been left behind once, and who’d long ago determined she would never be so vulnerable again.

Except today.  Today, that braver face gave no protection…He only had to smile at her, as he was doing now, and she had no shields left to hide behind.”

Page 127  “Any man deserving of your notice will need nothing to impress him but that you should be yourself, and any man deserving of your love will see you as you truly are, and love you notwithstanding.”

Page 129  “If I had a husband, and if he loved me, then he would understand my nature and not think that he could sway me by withholding his permission, for he’d know I cannot stay beside the hearth and tend my needlework when those I love risk more in their adventures.”

When I read the above passage to my husband he wondered aloud what my “needlework” might currently entail–for which I had no real answer!

Page 152  “Like the house at Chatou it seemed fully aware that it should have had grander surroundings; as though it had slumbered and woken to find itself here at the edge of a street…and it wasn’t quite sure how to manage the fact that the world had moved on.”

Page 157  “I should have been more fond of French formal gardens…but I didn’t like wide-open spaces with nothing around me to serve as a shield, so to stand in a garden like this make me feel unprotected and far too exposed.  I preferred English gardens–the overgrown corners with tree branches hanging however they pleased, and the benches with hedges and warm brick walls guarding my back.”

Well, I’m only at page 160 now so will publish this as is & return to it hopefully with further quotes of interest, at least to me.  I hope you enjoy these tidbits from a gifted writer who has artistically captured the voice hidden within…

Page 197  “She could not let him see her face the way it was…time if nothing else had given her the gift of hiding how she felt inside by…the conscious mimicry and masking of her own self with another form, the way the fairies in the tales she loved assumed an alternate appearance to disguise themselves.  She closed her eyes a moment, blinking back the futile tears of disappointment that she would not have betray her, and allowed the poise and grace…to settle  round her shoulders…”

Page 259 (quote at top of page) “His sword is like a beam of light upon the warrior’s side.  But dark is his brow; and tempests are in his soul.—Macpherson, “Fingal,” Book Three”

Page 412 “…she took the opportunity to curl into her chair again and read, and so remove herself from all her greater cares and all the people causing them…her thoughts remained within the novel, and she held herself aloof from conversation…to seek the solitary peace of sitting in the drawing room and reading, which if only temporarily allowed her to escape.”

Page 436  “…sometimes what is left behind when something has been lost is even better than the thing that came before…”

Page 460  “He was looking at her closely, as he’d studied that small broken watch…as if she were made of gears and wheels and he would seek to understand her workings.”

Page 486  ” ‘Are all men of the Highlands so unfathomable?’  ‘Some…and some like him, who’ve seen the wars, have depths we’ll never reach or know.’  ‘How do you know he’s been to war?’…’It changes them.  They go to war as boys and are made men too soon, too violently, and all of them return with something lost, with something missing.  You can see it in their eyes.’ ”

Page 491   ” ‘I am easy to leave…and easier still to forget.’  She wasn’t sure why she had said that.  It sounded so small and so sad, and she hastened to hide what it might have revealed…”

Page 492  “…there were some things so broken they could not be mended with words.”

Page 519  “British freedom is a drink that has a different taste depending where you’re served it.  I suspect that what my countrymen have tasted would to you taste much like servitude.”

Page 520  “…in his eyes…she glimpsed a pain so deep and dark it was as if he’d briefly torn a bandage back to show a violent wound.”

Page 545  “My husband carries many scars…as all men who have lived a life like his must do.  There are some scars that show, and there are many, many more that he keeps hidden…”

Page 546  “She found she liked this woman she had chosen now to be…who had traveled and seen trouble and been changed by it; who had no longer any need to feign or borrow confidence but only sprinkle water on her own and pull the weeds that had been choking it and watch it grow each day a little more towards the sun.”

Page 552  “She no longer needed it.  No longer needed borrow the plumage of some other bird when she’d learned how to fly on her own.”

Page 553   “…laid her had on top of his, and felt his hand turn so her fingers were enclosed within his own, a masculine protective touch that left her feeling cared for.  Safe.”

Page 562  “…she…had reassured me there was nothing wrong with me at all, but even though I hadn’t yet been diagnosed with Asperger’s I’d felt my difference painfully.”

Page 576  “God always gives us people for a reason, lass.  He takes them from us too, but when He puts them in our path and gives them back to us again, we would be great fools not to realize that He means us to belong to them.”

Page 588  ” ‘There are things unexplained and unfinished.’  ‘As with real life.’ ”

Page 590  ” ‘For years I’d been so busy.  Always traveling.  But here…It was like coming from a crowded place to somewhere I could breathe…I found I liked to breathe.  I liked the person I became when I was here.  I think we all wear masks we show the world, and here I didn’t have to wear it.  It was very…’  ‘Liberating’ ”

Page 595  “I thought most people did things in a way that was ridiculously complicated, coming at them sideways all the time instead of saying what they wanted.”

Page 597  “…she holds I am become too melancholy.  When I answered that it was a melancholy thing to wait so long at someone else’s whim, she gently did remind me that had been her whole life’s lot, and that she meant to wait upon me longer yet, and stay with me as long as she was wanted, which I told her would be always.  I am glad to have her with me, but I count it still a hard thing that we are not free in life to choose our road…and I must go where I am sent.”

Page 598  “…if it were my choice to make I would lay all my heart before him and refuse to leave his side.”

Page 600 “…with a smile that made the whole world disappear except the two of us.”

Pages 645-646  “for though my aunt once reassured me I would always have a choice, if there is one before me now I do confess I cannot see it, so instead I must…content myslef with having briefly touched that wider sky…for being brought to earth again I’d rather have the memory of flight and bear the pain of losing it, than to have never flown at all.”

Pages 658-659  “Let currents flow and kingdoms fall and time move onward…this moment was for them…It mattered not that no one else would bear that moment witness nor remember it, for if the future could not know them, neither could the past confine them, and the choice was always theirs to make, the tale their own to finish.  For…the voice that she’d heard calling to her for so long had been [his]…and now had come the time, at last, to let it lead her home.”

So that is the end of the excerpts from this book that I choose to retain.  I will certainly be searching for more writings by Susanna Kearsley for her writing style & insights into life & human nature are beautifully shared.  Blessings to all!


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