Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Across the Way to Mrs. Miniver's House

"Words were the only net to catch a mood,
the only sure weapon against oblivion."
Mrs. Miniver


"October...the sparkle of early autumn."
Mrs. Miniver

It is the first day of October! I agree with Jan Struther's Mrs. Miniver, the heroine of the book Mrs. Miniver and of the movie by the same name. She felt as if October was her New Year. In October everything seems fresh and new, anything seems possible. The movie Mrs. Miniver and its sequel The Miniver Story offer the unbeatable husband-wife combination of Walter Pidgeon and Greer Garson, a matrimonial match made in cinematic heaven.


I watch these old movies every few years on successive nights, trying to devour every tiny decorating detail of her charming house in England.


When I found Struther's book Mrs. Miniver I expected her house to come alive for me. Rats! The row house in the book had been prettied up for the movie. Other than that, the book had many rewards that the movie did not. The book expressed, much more than the movies did, Mrs. Miniver's "feelings" for her house, and that tugged at my heartstrings.

"There was the house, as neat and friendly as ever, facing her as she turned the corner of the square; its small stucco face as indistinguishable from the others, to a stranger as a single sheep in a flock, but to her apart, individual, a shade darker than the house on the right, with one plaster rosette missing from the lintel of the front door."



She reached her doorstep. The key turned sweetly in the lock. That was the kind of thing one remembered about a house; not the size of the rooms or the color of the walls, but the feel of door-handles and light-switches, the shape and texture of the banister-rail under one's palm; minute tactual intimacies, whose resumption was the essence of coming home.

She rearranged the fire a little, mostly for the pleasure of handling the fluted steel poker, and then sat down by it. Tea was already laid; there were honey sandwiches, brandy-snaps, and small ratafia biscuits, and there would, she knew, be crumpets. Three new library books lay virginally on the fender-stool...The clock on the mantelpiece chimed, very softly and precisely, five times. A tug hooted from the river. A sudden breeze brought the sharp tang of a bonfire in at the window...

Mrs. Miniver, with a sigh of contentment, rang for tea.


Like Mrs. Miniver, I too am "a fool about inanimate objects." I simply cannot help loving a certain picture on the wall and the feel of a fork of my wedding silver in my hand. Sometimes our inanimate objects are lost, stolen, or destroyed by fire. Our love for them should not consume us, but I will take every bit of enjoyment and comfort from them while I can, as I will in this 1920 farmhouse that sits sweetly in a Tennessee valley. 


Will you join me in welcoming the New Year of the first day of October?

This day is the very essence of coming home!


"Oh, yes, October certainly suited her best...
For her it was always the first, the real New Year.
That laborious affair in January was nothing but a name."
Mrs. Miniver





18 comments:

  1. Oh how I love this post. I have to see the movie and get the book.
    Happy New Year! Made my day.

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  2. I am joining you, Dewena. I have never seen the old movie so I think I need to look it up. xo Diana

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  3. Beautiful post, Dewena! I have the book sitting on my shelf, along with so many others I intend to read one day:/ I remember my mother saying how she loved the movie, I think it was one she would watch on the afternoon movie on TV when she would do her ironing.

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  4. My goodness Dewena, you captured the very essence of home. I do love October. There is a winding "S" curve coming up to our yellow house and then we see it rising on a little hill-I catch my breath when I see our home. You caught that feeling in this post.xo, olive

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  5. wonderful post Dewena; yes I will celebrate with you Happy New Year, my friend let's hope for a glorious one! :)

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  6. You could not have picked a better subject today... How I love the movie Mrs. Miniver... I have cried every single time I've seen it... and how I wish I were like Mrs. Miniver, brave enough to defend my house, living by the waterway , with a little garden just so. I'm going to try to find the books. We have a bright, balmy October day here, and I'm going to give thanks for it!

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  7. Happy New Year, indeed, Dewena. What a nice thought; much better to see today as a beginning rather than the end of summer.
    I have seen the Mrs Miniver movie many times but I haven't read the book. I must search for a copy. I always thought that house looked more like a Hollywood fantasy than an English cottage so I won't be too shocked or disappointed when I read about her real home.

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  8. Good one! The post, the book, the movie! Every bit of it!

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  9. Yes, Happy New Year! The inanimate objects that make us happy in our everyday life are most often the tangible remnants of happy memories!

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  10. A few days ago, I wrote the following comment on a fellow blogger's post, 'Susan, when one is surrounded by their pretty and sentimental belongings, wherever they are in the world, they will feel at home. For, they are not just inanimate objects, but quite conversely, they rejuvenate our memories of special moments in our lives. Your new home is filled with pieces of your personality and, as you say, newly acquired ones that will welcome you to the next chapter of home.'.

    I can't help but connect these thoughts to your musings today on the special bond we have with precious objects that inhabit our homes as well as our hearts. Whether their appeal is more aesthetic rather than practical, or both, the point is, as you say, that they bring us joy, either because they represent something exclusively unique to our existence due to their meaning, their history, or simply because that they make us smile, feel at peace or marvel at their beauty. And, whether we have received them as gifts or bought them ourselves, they were chosen for their compatible aspect with respect to our character.

    I am not familiar with Mrs. Minver, or her home, but after reading your intriguing tribute to both the book and the movie, I got a little YouTube 'window-look across the way' to her home and snippets of her 'life', and I look forward to spending a quiet, cozy and romantic afternoon visiting her from the comfort of my own home here in the hilly countryside of Crete.

    Thank you, Dewena, for tuning me in to, yet another, inspirational treat to feed my senses, heart and soul.

    Happy October!

    xo
    Poppy

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  11. Sorry, 3 hours sleep = 3 typos:

    1. Second paragraph, should read, ''...or simply because they make us...''.
    2. Third paragraph, should read, ''...Mrs. Miniver...'', and ''...into her home...''.

    Poppy

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  12. Fall always seems like the New Year to me as well. Perhaps having to do with the school year being new when we were children, and then raising children of our own, who knows....

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  13. Now I really need to get those movies. It does seem like October is the start of something new. Being a teacher fall really meant newness to me. I loved going in the classroom for the first time in late summer and rearranging all the desks and getting out my materials. I always looked forward to the new class of children..all fresh and ready to learn. I think it is the only job where each year you begin again. I never taught the same material the same way two years in a row. I always challenged myself to keep it fresh. Each fall I get that yearning to walk the halls....but let it fade quickly out of my mind.

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  14. Dewena, I used to think that everyone based their love of a movie on the house or scenery shown in the movie. That's what I do. I may not remember the name, or even the plot of a movie, but I can identify it by a house or a scene in a park. I LOVE this cottage, and what a wonderful movie. I loved your quotes from the book. It made me want to read the book. She's so right. October does seem like a beginning of the year, although I hadn't really thought of it. laurie

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  15. Your farmhouse is wonderful, Dewena, and it's been donkey's years since I've seen that movie. I need to see it again; such a classic.

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  16. Hello Dewena, a reader on my blog suggested I come have a look at your site and I'm so very glad she did. :) I'm just now rereading Henry James's A Portrait of a Lady. It's the kind of Bloomsburry book with the most beautiful sentence structure which is such an enormous pleasure to read. The beginning chapters describe life in an old English home, probably much like your movie. I live in England for part of the year and love to go visit the old homes when they are open to the public. Sometimes it feels like I've just stepped into one of these movies, or books. Anyway, I'm glad I stopped by and now will go have a look at some of your other posts. Hope you have a lovely rest of the week. :)

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  17. Oh, you added some things to my list. Now I have to get a copy of Mrs. Miniver to read and also to watch after I read the book. Last night I watched Leave Her To Heaven and I loved looking at the ranch in New Mexico, cabin on a lake in Maine and a beautiful home on the water in Bar Harbor.

    One of my all time favorite movies is Random Harvest with Greer Garson. Oh, the little cottage they lived in - swoon worthy.

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  18. Dewena, you are quickly becoming one of my very favorite bloggers. So much of what you write resonates with me, and this post most certainly does. I haven't watched the movie Mrs. Miniver for years, and now I will need to watch it again. Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon are two wonderful actors. I appreciate what you had to write about home, and about October. I like to think of this month as a start to the new year. It certainly is a beautiful season, and one that takes me back to my country roots quicker than one can say, "Across the Way". Thank you.

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