31 July 2010


Locus Focus: Take Twelve!

Note that next Saturday is a Theme Challenge Day:
Write about a Subterranean Setting and link it up!

Well, I don't know about you, but I've just about had my fill of Family Homes! =P I started with Ramsey House, a home that matches its residents so well that is practically another character in their series. Then I looked at a home for children who had run away from home, noting how tellingly like a conventional, prosaic household their Home under the Ground turns out to be. Last week, I wrote my wordiest Locus Focus post ever on the most unromantic love nest in literature: the Wynand House, a home designed never to have room for children (and therefore, to foreshadow the end of the marriage). And now here I am with one last Family Home until the next time I care to think about houses again . . .

The New House
The Moffats
by Eleanor Estes

Mama had found another house. It was a tiny little house set far back from the street so that it had a long front lawn and almost no back yard. Mama did not like this business about the yards. "There we sit in everybody's back yard," she said. And at first the children had not liked it either. "Imagine," they said. "Hardly any apple trees at all and only one grape arbor." And Joe mopped his forehead when he thought of mowing all that long green lawn in front. But Jane was rather charmed with the long green carpet at the end of which was their tiny little house. It was somehow like looking through the wrong end of a telescope.

In their hearts all the Mofffats knew there might be many things about the new little house that they would like, but today, right now, while these things were still unknown to them, they all had huge lumps in their throats.

My first choice for this coveted settings spotlight (Oh, you should hear the settings I know fighting over which one gets to be featured next!) was actually the Yellow House, which is the Moffat family's home for most of the novel, until it is sold and they have to move into this new one. They love the Yellow House, which seems such a perfect place for them--almost as perfectly as Ramsay House fits the Hathaways. I'm thinking in particular of their nice, roomy attic and the fun they have there in their last year there . . . but this post isn't about that old home. (At least it's trying not to be!)

Yes, the Yellow House is a tough act to follow. It doesn't help that this new place is introduced only at the end of the book--or that it is described in such a way that the Moffats seem to be moving down in the world by moving into it. Joe doesn't like the front yard; Jane wishes there were at least one tree in the back yard; even the cat, which has had several litters of kittens in the barn behind the Yellow House, doesn't want to move in.

But the family is willing to give it a fair chance, starting with Jane, who practices walking home from school to this house, going all the way to the back door and pushing it open. Yet it doesn't really feel like home, and she finds herself crying in its tiny back yard . . . under the branches of the new neighbours' tree because they don't have one of their own.

Anyone who has made a big move from a beloved old home understands this--especially if it was his first home. This happened to me, too, when the house I had lived in for over twenty years was sold and my family moved into a condominium. If anything, we were moving "sideways" in the world, but it still felt like a step down. For that old home was where I had grown up. To this day, I can still "hear" the sound of the closet doors on their old hinges, "feel" the den's wooden tiles under my bare feet, "see" the early morning sunlight on my bedroom's ceiling; "smell" the musty attic over the garage. Unlike Jane, I didn't even try to make the best of the move, but groused for months. Then again, unlike Jane, I didn't find an unexpected surprise in my (proverbial) back yard . . .

I hate spoiling stories, but since this setting comes at the very end of a book and the book itself is broken up into episodes rather than being one continuous tale, I don't see much harm in this case. When Jane is crying in her very literal (and very small) back yard, she is startled by a voice from high up in the neighbours' tree. It is the little girl who lives next door, who turns out to be just the same age as Jane and hoping that the family that moves in next door will have someone who can be her best friend. And then we read that "an incredible feeling of happiness" at once gushes up in Jane . . . and we know that the whole family is going to be all right in their new place.

Good neighbours who are also good friends make such a difference. =)

There are other books about the Moffat family, which I hope to get to sometime in my crazy life, if only to find out how else the new house turns out to be a wonderful home.

Now it's your turn!
Leave the link to your Locus Focus post in the linky
and take some time to check out and comment on those of others.
I can't wait to read what everyone has to say! =D

EDIT: Thanks to the following bloggers for participating this week and sharing these great posts . . .

Armstrong Sperry's Island of the Black Eaters-of-men (Spike is Best)

The Medieval Universe (Birdie's Nest)

Image Source: The Moffats by Eleanor Estes


Sullivan McPig said...

Yet another book I hadn't heard of before. And I know it should be about the new house, but now I'm curious about the yellow house.

Enbrethiliel said...


Oh, dear! No more houses for me for a while, I'm afraid. ;-)

Paul Stilwell said...

I love how insantaneously the situation changes for the better when she hears the voice in the tree; that friendship could make up for all those losses as to make Jane feel overwhelming joy.

I really like that description about looking through the wrong end of a telescope to get across the tidy quaintness of the new house.

This locus focus and your last one I enjoyed very much. Looking forward to your choice of subterranean setting next week.

Enbrethiliel said...


Yes, it's a bright moment! =)

Jane Moffat is a great character who likes to look at ordinary things in different ways.(She's the one on the cover who is peering through her legs to see the world upside-down.) I noticed this when I was reviewing the book for this post and now want to feature her in Character Connection this Thursday.

So you liked the Wynand House post, aye? =D Just wondering: have you read The Fountainhead, too?

Paul Stilwell said...

No, I regret to say, I haven't read The Fountainhead.

It sounds like one of those books you want to read on vacation - a real page-turner.


Paul Stilwell said...

Sorry if that sounded unduly sarcastic. Wasn't how I meant it.

Enbrethiliel said...


Well, I turned its pages, didn't I? =P And I did it in the middle of the school year, too, without waiting for summer. Sigh! Memories . . .

But if you need some cozy, fluffy beach reads for what's left of your summer, you can't go wrong with The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. (Bwahahahahaha!)

(You know, I'll be in real trouble if someone takes that "recommendation" seriously.)