Lake Waban in Massachusetts June 2017

My favorite place to walk in the Boston area

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ivanhoe: A Romance and Family Reunions

An interesting thing happened on the way to planning my mother's 90th birthday party, to be held next Saturday, January 25. The party population exploded from first cousins to a large assortment of second cousins. I'm thrilled that so many relatives want to attend, and my mother is head over heels excited. We haven't had a proper family reunion in many years; since the 1990s, I think. People are coming from seven states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. Whew! My closest cousin and the person who has been my big sister for all of my life told me, "This started out as a birthday tea, and now, my dear, you're planning a wedding." Absolutely! Two of my mother's first cousins are still alive and both are coming. Awesome.

An anonymous family donor has offered to host a dinner at a nice restaurant after the birthday party  for all the cousins. I'm awe-struck by such incredible generosity, which will give us all the opportunity to reconnect and renew family bonds.

So this is the reason why I'm days late in posting my second installment of Ivanhoe comments. Ivanhoe: A Romance is the actual name of Sir Walter Scott's novel, and I am overly susceptible to all the romantic elements. What has struck me the most in this second installment, (Chapters 11-20), is the way in which I am so enmeshed in each scene as it happens. Scott's language and characterization has enabled me to visualize each event vividly. I am there, completely. I find myself imagining a forested England.

I so admire the Saxon princess Rowena for despising the Saxon Athelstane, whom her guardian Cedric has determined she should marry. And I admire her for maintaining loyalty and devotion to Wilfred, Cedric's son, whom Cedric has disinherited, apparently for no reasonable reason. Rowena is undeniably a goddess in this tale. I also have a profound attachment to Gudrun, Cedric's slave, who has suffered for his fielty to Wilfred.

I've enjoyed the reappearance of King Richard the Lionhearted, though no one in England knows he is around and about. Lots of amusing characters, to lighten any heaviness of plot. A delight! Sir Walter Scott knows how to tell a story, that is for certain.


  1. Well Judith, it sounds like you are all going to be having a wonderful Jan, 25th, that's Burn's Night you know, but I don't think you'll be having haggis! I'd send Mom a bagpiper if I could. Wish her many happy returns from me.
    I think Scott would have made a great theatre designer, he describes everything, down to the shell decorations on hats, it makes it all so visible. I think in my Ivanhoe Cedric's slave is called Gurth, I wonder if the name was changed in different editions.

    1. Well, Katrina, if I survive the temps going to minus 25 F tonight, I'll be in fine fettle.
      Burn's Night!! Please tell me more about this. And, I'll have you know, I've had the verymost most authentic haggis in Scotland, and I loved it as did my mom!! I think she'd like the bagpipes as well, but the cousins on my father's side used them at funerals for both their mother and father, so I wouldn't want to disturb her that much.
      I agree about Scott's descriptions being so clear and easily visualized. This book bears a second reading, though I imagine I will not do so.
      And you're right, the slave is named Gurth, whom I like very much. It's just my dim-witted brain that got it wrong!
      I'm loving the chunk of Ivanhoe for this week!

  2. It really does sound wonderful, Judith. I hope you enjoy your family occasion (don't worry about Ivanhoe ;-) )

    1. Oh, I don't think Ivanhoe will cloud this extravaganza of a birthday, although I'll be reading the novel to calm myself before and after! Ivanhoe is really such a great novel. I'm so impressed with Scott.