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Impressions

Books that make an impression! Although I’ve read countless books, there are admittedly only a handful that have left a lasting impression. Among them is ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ (UTC) by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Imagine creating such an impact! Any writer would give their right arm (perhaps not their writing arm but you get my point) to be able to leave a lasting impression with any reader and UTC not only influenced my thinking, but is renowned for changing the course of history.

In my own life, it made me stop to ponder about the lives of our family servants. I will explain at this point, that I was brought up in a country where it was common to have household help. At the ripe old age of 8 or 9, I recall looking at our maids in a new light, something I had not given any thought to, until having read the book.

Admittedly, there is a vast difference between a servant and a slave. With one, you pay them a wage to perform necessary tasks around the home, whereas the latter, is considered the chattel of the owner for life, to be dealt with in any manner he chooses and often, it is no bed of roses. The slave receives no remuneration for his services.

It appears the book itself influenced so many Unionists or Northern Americans that they were ready and willing to strongly back Abe Lincoln in his bid to end slavery in the country. This, as history will testify, was at cross-purposes to the South where slavery was a necessity to the cotton growing industry. Slavery in all its repugnance, may still be ‘openly’ operated today if  the Unionists had not won the Civil war.

Back to Uncle Tom’s Cabin! I remember not only being moved to tears at the inhumane treatment of slaves, but also feeling anger that a perceived superior race can mistreat those viewed as inferior to themselves. A seed was unknowingly born in my soul after I read the book, a seed that left its mark by directing me to consider the lives of others less fortunate than myself.

There are other books that have made an impression on me! The bard himself (William Shakespeare), had two of his plays stir my curiosity to such an extent that I still marvel at his genius. The Merchant of Venice with Shylock the Jew and his stipulation that he get his ‘pound of flesh,’ provoked my imagination and had me practically gnawing at my fingertips in forlorn dread. I challenge lawyers of today to better the solution!

And where would we be without the black Moor Othello! The fair Desdemona and the handkerchief that provoked his jealousy, broke his heart and enraged him enough to destroy the very person he loved so much! Ahhh, the tragedy of it all!

Shakespeare’s plays were based on pure imagination but the unalterable facts in The Diary of Anne Frank, complete my short list. I was around Anne’s age when I read her factual account and it left me pondering how I would have handled the problems that beset her in the wartime period. Would I have been equally as brave? I do recall feeling fortunate and grateful that we lived and still live in a time of relative peace and safety.

Yes, books speak to us and if they continue to do so long after we finish the last page, they have succeeded in leaving a profound impression on our imagination and even our lives.

If there are books (and their authors) that have left an immeasurable impression on you, do please share them in the comments area.

© Wendy Robinson

Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.

~ Carlos Ruiz Zafon (The Shadow of the Wind)

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