Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sharing My Birthday: Edwin Abbott Abbott

Edwin Abbott Abbott was born on December 20, 1838, 120 years before I was. He was a critic of John Henry Cardinal Newman because Newman believed in miracles, that the miracles attributed to Jesus Christ in the Gospels were true, and he thought Newman had betrayed Reason by becoming a Catholic.

He wrote  Philomythus: An Antidote against Credulity in 1891, and The Anglican Career of Cardinal Newman in 1892. In the first book he argued against Newman's Essays on Miracles which he wrote while at Oriel College in 1825-26 and 1842-43--Newman edited them for publication 1870, making changes "simply of a literary character".

In the second book (two volumes) he wants to cast doubts on Newman's truthfulness in the Apologia pro vita sua by using the sermons and letters that Newman wrote as an Anglican to trace Newman's progress to the Catholic Church--a progress that Abbott considers totally regressive and superstitious. Abbott proclaims in his preface that Newman's "imagination dominated his reason, even more than his spiritual fears perverted his imagination". He further proclaims that Newman's sermons are "deficient in the Pauline spirit of hope and love, and inconsistent, as well as inadequate, in their expositions of the meanings and claims of faith and reason" and finally that Newman wanted to love God but did not know the meaning of the word love! Flatly stated (remember that Abbott wrote Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions) Abbott wanted to destroy any admiration anyone might have for Newman's intellect, religious faith, or love of God and His Church!

The Most Reverend Philip Boyce, OCD, Bishop of Raphoe, wrote about the "Tokens of Holiness in Blessed John Henry Newman" in 2012, noting that at the time of his death in 1890 many Catholics and non-Catholics praised Newman's holiness, love of God, devotion and piety. Bishop Boyce mentions Abbott's book on the Anglican Newman and Newman's brother Frank's attack on his personality and how they contributed to a change in opinion about Newman:

It is surprising then, that the idea of holiness in Newman’s life began to fade in public perception for over fifty years after his death. This was partly explained by some publications that propagated less than favourable interpretations of his character and his works. His brother Francis who had abandoned the Christian faith published a book about John Henry a year after his death. It was a reaction to the outburst of praise his deceased brother had received and it portrayed him in a very hostile manner, as being duped by organised religion and arrogant in his personal life.[Contributions chiefly to the Early History of Cardinal Newman (1891)] In the following year, 1892, another publication by Edwin Abbott, an Anglican, was also critical of Newman. He censured him for sacrificing his reason to the demands of an unfounded and irrational faith.

What such critics of Newman have to do is revive Kingsley's argument--Newman does not tell the truth, particularly about himself or his conversion! Both Frank and Abbott tear into Newman's character. That's why reading Edward Short's two books on Newman and His Contemporaries and Newman and His Family is so instructive. In those books, referencing Newman's correspondence (also Peter G. Wilcox's book on Newman as Spiritual Director) we can see how sensitive and attentive he was to others: friends, family, acquaintances, his Oxford friends, his Oratory companions, etc. I'm certain that Edward Short will include Edwin Abbott Abbott in his third book, Newman and His Critics! So although we share birthdays, E.A.A. and I don't share the same view of Blessed John Henry Newman!

Book Covers and History

When I see this cover my first thought is that the novel is set in the 18th century and the protagonist is a Jane Austen character:


But it's actually the third volume in Nancy Bilyeau's Tudor suspense trilogy:

Welcome to the world of Joanna Stafford, heroine of THE CROWN, THE CHALICE, and the upcoming THE TAPESTRY. The award-winning series takes place in Tudor England, with Joanna, a Dominican novice, struggling to survive the turbulent reign of King Henry VIII.

The trilogy made its debut in 2012 when THE CROWN earned rave reviews and went to No. 1 on Amazon.com. Oprah magazine said, "Bilyeau deftly weaves extensive historical detail throughout, but the real draw of this suspenseful novel is its juicy blend of lust, murder, conspiracy and betrayal."

In 2013 appeared THE CHALICE, revolving around a prophecy-fueled conspiracy against Henry VIII. Parade magazine said "English history buffs and mystery fans alike will revel in this richly detailed sequel." The book won Best Historical Mystery of 2013 from RT Reviewers.

On March 24, 2015, the final book in the historical trilogy will appear. In THE TAPESTRY, Joanna is drawn into the court of the king, becoming closer than ever to her friend Catherine Howard, tangling with Thomas Cromwell and the Duke of Norfolk--and trying to stay one step ahead of a plot against her own life.

Nun or wife, spy or subject, rebel or courtier, Joanna Stafford must finally choose her fate...


When I think of tapestry decoration in the sixteenth century, I think of mille-fleurs in the background:


The cover above looks more like a jacquard style pattern. I am certainly no expert in sixteenth century tapestries, but the cover does not seem to fit the era to me. According to the book description above, Joanna Stafford is deep into Henry VIII's reign and I rather presume that the slender neck of the silhouette above is meant to be Catherine Howard's!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Longman-History Today Book of the Year 2015 Shortlist

Jessie Childs' God's Traitors made the shortlist:

God's Traitors: Terror and Faith in Elizabethan England
Jessie Childs (The Bodley Head)

The Whispers of Cities: Information Flows in Istanbul, London & Paris in the Age of William Trumbull
John-Paul Ghobrial (Oxford University Press)

Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War
Mark Harris (Canongate)

Domesday: Book of Judgement
Sally Harvey (Oxford University Press)

Queen Caroline: Cultural Politics at the Early Eighteenth-Century Court
Joanna Marschner (Yale University Press)

London Calling: Britain, the BBC World Service and the Cold War
Alban Webb (Bloomsbury)

I have not read the others, but I think it should win as book of the year!

J.J. Scarisbrick reviews God's Traitors for The Weekly Standard and comments particularly on the Vaux women and their efforts for other Catholics and the missionary priests:

Despite its rather contrived title, this is a fine book: extraordinarily learned, exciting (most of the time), and beautifully written. There is already an enormous body of writing about how English Catholicism survived the tidal wave of the Protestant Reformation under Elizabeth, but this study must have a special place therein.

It centers on one distinguished Roman Catholic dynasty: the Vaux (pronounced Vorx) family of Harrowden Hall in Northamptonshire, which, along with Huddlestones, Treshams, Catesbys, and dozens of others—many of them linked by marriage—formed the backbone of Catholic recusancy (i.e., non-conformity, from the Latin recusare: to refuse). Recently ennobled at the time of the Reformation and well connected, the Vauxes were a good choice. But, as it happens, they had already been biographed by a very distinguished historian of recusancy, Father Godfrey Anstruther, in the 1950s. His is a learned and lively book, and it should have received more recognition in this one. But this is an even better book—even more lively and learned, and a historiographical age away from its predecessor. So, yes, we needed it.

And what a story it tells: plots and counterplots, assassinations and Armadas, horrendous torture and unspeakably gruesome executions, stinking prisons, secret messages written in orange juice (invisible until heated), spies and traitors and clandestine printing presses. Hollywood could not have made it up.


I would say that Childs gave Father Anstruther his due but did her own work and research--her book makes this history more accessible and mainstream.

About those women:

It is three other women, Anne and Elizabeth Vaux, daughters of that same third baron, and Eliza, their stepsister, who steal the show. Unmarried Anne gave her all to caring for Garnet, moving with him as he bolted from one safe house to another in order to elude detection; Elizabeth, a fiery widow, was another devotee of Garnet and mother of a zealous Catholic family; Eliza, no less committed, was a particular associate of John Gerard. All three were hunted down and suffered for their faith. Anne spent time in the Tower of London, and Eliza was sent to another London jail, the Fleet. They were not the only ones. As the author explains, women played a crucial role in the story of this underground Catholicism: harboring and succoring the missionary priests, guarding Mass vestments, portable altars, missals, and relics—and, above all, catechizing their children and even their servants.

Holy women had hitherto usually been nuns or hermits. Now it was laywomen—virgins like Anne Vaux, as well as mothers and wives presiding over Catholic households—who led the way, and were even being martyred. 

Finally, Scarisbrick suggests a topic for Childs' next book:

The climax is the infamous Gunpowder Plot of November 1605—a plot as wicked as it was disastrous for the Roman Catholic cause. Childs explains vividly how it came about that a group of violent Catholic hotheads—jihadists, indeed—maddened by decades of persecution and brought to blind anger by the failure of the new monarch, James I (son of Mary Queen of Scots, whom many Catholics regarded as a martyr), to honor his promise of toleration, decided on fearful revenge. They would slaughter the king, his wife, ministers, peers, bishops, and likely many MPs in one colossal explosion as James came to the House of Lords to open the second session of his first Parliament. The plotters would then seize power for themselves.

This is a huge subject in itself. Gallons of ink have been spent on it, and there are many questions still to be answered. For example, was not the plot known to—and carefully “nursed” for his own nefarious purposes by—that arch-villain (as Catholics saw him) Robert Cecil, the king’s chief minister? Were some of the plotters double agents? Once the plot was “discovered” and its ringleaders had fled, what were they planning to do? Above all, who was the “great nobleman” who would presumably have claimed the throne—and without whom the plotters (who were “mere” gentlemen and knights) could never have rallied the necessary support?

There is another book for the gifted Jessie Childs to write.

Margaret Aston, RIP


Martin Sheppard writes for The Independent about historian Margaret Aston, who died in November:

Margaret Aston was an historian whose work illuminated the study of English religious life between the late Middle Ages and the Civil War. Although she was from the most establishment of backgrounds her chosen field was that of popular belief, and her main subjects were heretics and iconoclasts.

An independent historian of the highest calibre, Aston combined exact scholarship with wide-ranging ideas and interpretation, bringing out the crucial part played by images and printing in changes to religious belief. Her beautifully written work has had a profound impact on all subsequent interpretations of the English Reformation.


He comments on her book about the famous allegorical painting of the English Reformation pictured above:

A remarkable by-product of Aston’s unrivalled knowledge of English iconoclasm appeared in 1995. The King’s Bedpost was a reinterpretation of Edward VI and the Pope, an enigmatic painting in the National Portrait Gallery. In a compelling detective story she demonstrated that the picture was painted much later than had been previously thought and reflected the crisis that led up to the excommunication of Elizabeth I in 1570.

The book is unfortunately out of print at Cambridge. The Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies (PIMS) published a festscrift dedicated to Margaret Aston in 2009:


As that title notes, her work often centered on images and iconoclasm, including a two volume work that will be completed in 2015 with the publication of Broken Idols of the English Reformation, also from Cambridge.

Why were so many religious images and objects broken and damaged in the course of the Reformation? Margaret Aston's magisterial new book charts the conflicting imperatives of destruction and rebuilding throughout the English Reformation from the desecration of images, rails and screens to bells, organs and stained glass windows. She explores the motivations of those who smashed images of the crucifixion in stained glass windows and who pulled down crosses and defaced symbols of the Trinity. She shows that destruction was part of a methodology of religious revolution designed to change people as well as places and to forge in the long term new generations of new believers. Beyond blanked walls and whited windows were beliefs and minds impregnated by new modes of religious learning. Idol-breaking with its emphasis on the treacheries of images fundamentally transformed not only Anglican ways of worship but also of seeing, hearing and remembering.

~A major new contribution to our understanding of the English Reformation
~Analyses the causes and effects of iconoclasm and illuminates why certain types of images were particularly targeted
~Sets iconoclasm within a wider process of religious revolution designed to create new generations of believers and new ways of belief

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Puritans Ban Christmas; Royalists Rebel Against Rebels

In this Christmas 2011 issue of the BBC History Magazine, Mark Stoyle, Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Southampton, describes how and why the Puritans banned Christmas once they had control of Parliament and how Royalists and others fought the ban:

As the year 1645 limped towards its weary close, a war-torn England shivered beneath a thick blanket of snow. A few months earlier, parliament’s New Model Army, led by Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell, had routed the forces of Charles I at the battle of Naseby. Although that defeat had struck the king’s cause a mortal blow, the royalists still refused to surrender, and the bloody Civil War which had divided the country ever since 1642 continued to rage.

Under constant pressure from the armies of both sides to supply them with money, clothing and food, few Englishmen and women can have been anticipating a particularly merry Christmas. Yet, for those who lived in the extensive territories which were controlled by the king’s enemies, there was to be no Christmas this year at all – because the traditional festivities had been abolished by order of the two Houses of Parliament sitting at Westminster.

From Charles’s beleaguered wartime capital in Oxford, the royalist satirist John Taylor – by now in his mid-60s, but nevertheless one of the king’s most indefatigable literary champions – issued a cry of anguish at this assault on England’s time-honoured customs. All of the “harmless sports” with which people had long celebrated Christ’s nativity “are now extinct and put out of use… as if they had never been,” Taylor lamented in his pamphlet The Complaint of Christmas, and “thus are the merry lords of misrule suppressed by the mad lords of bad rule at Westminster”.

So why had the parliamentarians decided to wage war on Christmas – and how did those, like Taylor, who were determined to defend the traditional celebrations, fight back?

The attack on the feast of Christmas had deep roots. Long before the Civil War began, many zealous Protestants, or ‘Puritans’, had been troubled both by the boisterous nature of the festivities which took place at Christmas and by the perceived association of those festivities with the old Catholic faith. During the early 1600s, most English Puritans had been prepared to tolerate Christmas. Following the rebellion of the Presbyterian Scots against Charles I in 1637, however, all this was to change.


Read the rest here. There were even riots in protest against the Puritan ban:

Worse was to follow in 1647 – despite the fact that, on 10 June that year, parliament has passed an ordinance which declared the celebration of Christmas to be a punishable offence. On 25 December 1647, there was further trouble at Bury, while pro-Christmas riots also took place at Norwich and Ipswich. During the course of the Ipswich riot, a protestor named ‘Christmas’ was reported to have been slain – a fatality which could be regarded as richly symbolic, of course, of the way that parliament had ‘killed’ Christmas itself.

In London, a crowd of apprentices assembled at Cornhill on Christmas Day, and there “in despite of authority, they set up Holly and Ivy” on the pinnacles of the public water conduit. When the lord mayor despatched some officers “to pull down these gawds,” the apprentices resisted them, forcing the mayor to rush to the scene with a party of soldiers and to break up the demonstration by force.

The worst disturbances of all took place at Canterbury, where a crowd of protestors first smashed up the shops which had been opened on Christmas Day and then went on to seize control of the entire city. This riot helped to pave the way for a major insurrection in Kent in 1648 that itself formed part of the ‘Second Civil War’ – a scattered series of risings against the parliament and in favour of the king, which Fairfax and Cromwell only managed to suppress with great difficulty.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

O Antiphons Start Tonight


I experienced a little thrill yesterday when both the Choir of Westminster Cathedral and the Cathedral Twitter accounts retweeted my tweet about Macmillan's Tu es Petrus.

Westminster Cathedral publishes a monthly magazine, Oremus, and the December issue features a great cover for the great O Antiphons which begin tonight as the antiphons for the Magnificat at Vespers/Evening Prayer.

As this site summarizes this great devotion:

December 17 marks the beginning of the "O" Antiphons, the seven jewels of our liturgy, dating back to the fourth century, one for each day until Christmas Eve. These antiphons address Christ with seven magnificent Messianic titles, based on the Old Testament prophecies and types of Christ. The Church recalls the variety of the ills of man before the coming of the Redeemer.

And this site provides the Latin original and English translation of each of the antiphons, beginning with Sapientia (Wisdom) tonight: O Sapientia, quƦ ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiƦ.

Here is a video of William Byrd's Magnificat in English from the Choir of Magdalen College in Oxford:

Renovation or Wreckovation at Chartres?

We last visited the Cathedrale de Notre Dame in Chartres in 2010 and noted the reconstruction going on, which seemed to me to be cleaning the walls of the ages of incense and candle smoke. Turns out that more drastic changes were being made and there is some controversy about it: from The New York Times Book Review blog, Martin Filler reports:

In 2009, amid a rising wave of other refurbishments of medieval buildings, the French Ministry of Culture’s Monuments Historiques division embarked on a drastic, $18.5 million overhaul of the eight-hundred-year-old cathedral. Though little is specifically known about the church’s original appearance—despite small traces of pigment at many points throughout the interior stonework—the project’s leaders, apparently with the full support of the French state, have set out to do no less than repaint the entire interior in bright whites and garish colors that are intended to return the sanctuary to its medieval state. This sweeping program to “reclaim” Chartres from its allegedly anachronistic gloom is supposed to be completed in 2017.

He describes his first views of Chartres and his latest:

Over a lifetime of looking at buildings, a few have stood out as soul-stirring experiences. High among them is Chartres Cathedral, which I first saw some thirty years ago. Though I had long been acquainted with this renowned Gothic landmark through photographs, I was quite unprepared for the visceral impact of its dark, soaring interior, especially the famous stained glass windows that glowed like precious gems set into the intricately carved stone walls. I began to understand how this overwhelming creation could be perceived as heaven on earth.

During a recent trip to Paris I decided it was time for a return visit, and on an autumn Sunday morning my wife, our friends, and I traveled sixty miles southwest of the French capital to take in this architectural wonder. It was crisp and sunny, perfect weather for viewing the celebrated vitraux, widely considered the finest in the world. As we entered the great church, which was largely constructed between 1194 and 1230, High Mass was in full swing—the scene heightened by the combination of majestic organ music, chanted liturgy, clouds of incense, and banks of votive candles.

Carried away by the splendors of the moment, I did not initially realize that something was very wrong. I had noticed the floor-to-ceiling scrim-covered scaffolding near the crossing of the nave and transepts, but had assumed it was routine maintenance. But my more attentive wife, the architectural historian Rosemarie Haag Bletter—who as a Columbia doctoral candidate took courses on Romanesque sculpture with the legendary Meyer Schapiro and Gothic architecture with the great medievalist Robert Branner—immediately noticed that large areas of the sanctuary’s deep gray limestone surface had been painted.


The first portion she pointed out was a pale ochre wall patterned with thin, perpendicular white lines mimicking mortar between masonry blocks. Looking upward we then saw panels of blue faux marbre, high above them gilded column capitals and bosses (the ornamental knobs where vault ribs intersect), and, nearby, floor-to-ceiling piers covered in glossy yellow trompe l’oeil marbling, like some funeral parlor in Little Italy.

You can see more recent pictures of the changes on NYTBR blog. The pictures above and below were taken by my husband in 2010 and are copyright (c) 2010 by Mark U. Mann (not to be used without permission).


Another pilgrim to Chartres noticed the changes, especially to the statue of Our Lady of the Pillar. And here is yet another view. The organizer of the restoration expected some negative response, according to this article from 2009 in The Independent:

Mr Fresson expects some visitors to Chartres to be taken aback – maybe even angered – by the transformation. "There is no doubt that we will lose something, even if we gain a great deal," he said. "The sense of mystery, the sense of the passing ages, which you receive when you enter the dark interior of today will be replaced by something fresher and much more dynamic."

Concerns have been expressed, in particular, about the effect of the restoration on Chartre's exquisite stained-glass windows: the most complete, and to many people the most beautiful anywhere in the world. The glass is also being gradually restored, largely with money raised by charitable appeals.

"You could argue that the power of the windows has been increased by the cathedral's dark interior and that their beauty will therefore suffer," said Mr Fresson. "Our first impression, from the work so far, is that the effect will be different, but no less beautiful."


Finally, this architect notes that the restoration involves two different time periods:

the choir area has been restored to to how it looked in the 18th century while the remainder of the cathedral interior is being restored to how it looked in the 13th century, when it was first built.

Since the sanctuary of the Altar in the choir was already anachronistic, the renovation may be accentuated the differences! If we stay on track for a Paris visit every two years, perhaps we will go back to Chartres in 2016 and see nearly the finished product.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tu Es Petrus on September 18, 2010


Martin Baker, the Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral, is featured in the monthly Rewind column in the Christmas issue of BBC Music Magazine, in which "Artists talk about their past recordings". He highlights "My finest moment": the recently released recording of William Byrd's Masses for three, four, and five voices; "I'd like another go at . . .": Victoria's Missa Ave Regina caelorum and other choral works, and "My fondest memory":

James Macmillan's Tenebrae Responsories & other choral works, in which he discusses the great liturgical event of Pope Benedict's visit to Westminster Cathedral for Mass on September 18, 2010. Macmillan's setting of the Introit, Tu es Petrus, was arranged to have maximum impact: the Choir singing from the East, the Organ from the West, "a wall of brass to the North and battery of percussion to the South", so that the "effect in the building was cataclysmic"! Indeed, the Gramaphone review of the subsequent recording highlighted Macmillan's Tu es Petrus: "The combination of Westminster Cathedral Choir and MacMillan is irresistible. We are drawn immediately into their complicity by the jaw-dropping Tu es Petrus … its simultaneous celebratory character and clear rootedness in liturgical tradition make it far more than a one-off firework."

You can hear the original performance at the beginning of Mass during the procession:


Pope Benedict also prepared a homily that reflected on the great occasion while reminding the congregation of eternal verities:

Dear Friends in Christ,

I greet all of you with joy in the Lord and I thank you for your warm reception. I am grateful to Archbishop Nichols for his words of welcome on your behalf. Truly, in this meeting of the Successor of Peter and the faithful of Britain, "heart speaks unto heart" as we rejoice in the love of Christ and in our common profession of the Catholic faith which comes to us from the Apostles. I am especially happy that our meeting takes place in this Cathedral dedicated to the Most Precious Blood, which is the sign of God’s redemptive mercy poured out upon the world through the passion, death and resurrection of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In a particular way I greet the Archbishop of Canterbury, who honours us by his presence.

The visitor to this Cathedral cannot fail to be struck by the great crucifix dominating the nave, which portrays Christ’s body, crushed by suffering, overwhelmed by sorrow, the innocent victim whose death has reconciled us with the Father and given us a share in the very life of God. The Lord’s outstretched arms seem to embrace this entire church, lifting up to the Father all the ranks of the faithful who gather around the altar of the Eucharistic sacrifice and share in its fruits. The crucified Lord stands above and before us as the source of our life and salvation, "the high priest of the good things to come", as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews calls him in today’s first reading (Heb 9:11).

It is in the shadow, so to speak, of this striking image, that I would like to consider the word of God which has been proclaimed in our midst and reflect on the mystery of the Precious Blood. For that mystery leads us to see the unity between Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, the Eucharistic sacrifice which he has given to his Church, and his eternal priesthood, whereby, seated at the right hand of the Father, he makes unceasing intercession for us, the members of his mystical body.


Read the rest here.

Chesterton on A Christmas Carol on the Son Rise Morning Show


I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show this morning to talk about Chesterton and Dickens' A Christmas Carol, based on my blog posts last week leading up to our Chesterton Christmas at Eighth Day Books--which was a rousing success, by the way.  If you want to see those posts, search for "Chesterton Christmas" in the search window in the upper left hand corner and this is what you should get!

Matt Swaim and I will discuss how Dickens revived the celebration of Christmas--which certainly fell on hard times (!) in England during the Puritan Interregnum of the 17th century--and how Chesterton revived appreciation of Dickens!

Please listen live here after the 7:45 a.m. Eastern news break on the Son Rise Morning--6:45 a.m. Central time!

God Bless Us, Everyone!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Betty Smith, the author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, was born on December 15, 1896. Along with Louisa May Alcott's Little Women and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was incredibly influential in my reading life. In a way more than the others, since the characters were Catholic and participated in the world of Sacraments and sacrifice. Otherwise, I did not know about living in Brooklyn in a family situation like Francie's which has been one element of its appeal over the years--the verisimilitude of tenement life in New York--as this article from The New York Times notes:

It is, tested by time, one of the most cherished of American novels, recording in its powerful fashion the first years of this century in a breeding place of American genius, Brooklyn's Williamsburg and Greenpoint. In the novel's period these neighborhoods were mostly populated by a poverty-level mix of the two great waves of immigrants, the Irish and the Germans of the mid-19th century and the East European Jews and Italians who followed. . . . The book is a social document with the power of Jacob Riis's photographs. It gives the detail that illuminates the past -- the coffee pot, the air shaft, the barber's cup, chalking strangers on Halloween.

While I enjoyed those passages, what I really liked about A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was that Francie likes books and reading--she likes to escape into their worlds, she likes holding the books in her hands, reading the same books over and over again (If I Were King or Beverly of Graustark); she wants an education and to learn all the time--and she wants to be a writer.