Coming of Age

The ‘Coming of Age’ novel is a specific genre in literature.  I wonder if it should they be read at a specific time in your life?    Should it be poured over by the inquisitive pre teenager or read and experienced at the point of arrival…?  i.e should this genre discovered during the time one is becoming ‘of age’?  I had a barren period of reading around this age  – during my teens I was too busy experiencing life to find the time to read about it.

Prior to ‘coming of age’, still very young, I stumbled on several books which served me well for the preparation required to become an adult.  Sadly, none were literary masterpieces.  I ticked my way through the Jilly Cooper titles – each with an 80’s wannabe model’s name – Octavia, Pandora, Harriet, Imogen, Bella.  Each name evoking an image of the woman I imagined becoming.   Fortunately none of these fantasies became a reality, far less swooning and knee trembling!

I wish I had fumbled my way through classics such as I CAPTURE THE CASTLE or COLD COMFORT FARM, which champion their woman as slightly eccentric but still strong, forthright and memorable compared to my Jilly Cooper ‘heroines’ who are now long forgotton!

I recently read these classic titles for the first time, and, in my 40’s have enjoyed them far more with the hindsight of a 40 something woman.

I run a book club in town and last month we discussed COLD COMFORT FARM by Stella Gibbons.  Book Club happens once a month and we enjoy a 2 course supper with a glass of wine whilst discussing the latest title.    The quote ‘Something nasty in the woodshed’ recurs throughout.  It was most  enjoyable (relaxing and humorous) to debate this nasty business the woodshed, with all- knowing adults, over a glass of wine –  as opposed to being a teenage girl left in doubt by inadequate wondering!?    Which is best?  I think reading with hindsight is probably more rewarding although the naivety of youth means that the depths of discovery, from a book, are boundless and exciting!  With this in mind, I giggled at the following poem, by Andy Seed


I went to get my hindsight tested.

It was perfect.

Looking back,

I should have known that.

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