Last weekend Jen and I visited the Harriet Beecher Stowe House on Farmington ave in Hartford. This neighborhood was the place to be in the 1880s – Mark Twain lived next door and the Hepburns (of the Katherine variety) were just down the street. Hartford at the time was the wealthiest city in America! (it has since fallen to one of the poorest cities in America – but let’s stay focused).
Stowe and her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, were a pretty big deal in the world of communicating racial equality. Stowe was represented at the museum as having a deep impact on American culture in the civil war years. I had not yet read her book, but this visit inspired me to snag it on my kindle.
So far so AMAZING.
The book is wonderful! Jen casually made a comment that compared Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Tom Sawyer, and I think I’d instinctively bundle them into the same group as well. However, while they are contemporary to one another and have a few similar themes, I think Uncle Tom’s Cabin soars above Finn and Sawyer. Then again, I read Huck and Tom when I was in middle school – an age when life tastes a bit like sour milk. Perhaps a reread is in order.
Stowe’s writing is so beautiful and refined! She has an incredible knack at switching between the raw conversation of the uneducated slaves and the rich deep descriptions of these characters’ actions and emotions. Her vocabulary is vast. My favorite three new words so far are:
portentous: bad things looming
impudent: disrespectful to someone
obstreperous: noisy, tough to control
One of my coworkers, a civil war buff, recommended I try Team of Rivals next which describes how Lincoln’s cabinet was originally chosen and how then ended up being part of Lincoln’s legacy.
Are you reading anything inspiring right now?