Don’t you love that moment in a book when you just get chills and feel warm all over simultaneously, want to squeal and shout from the rooftops and at the same time you can’t make a sound? (Anybody hearing me?) I was just thinking about one of those moments today, when watching the middle school performance of “Beauty and the Beast.” There’s a lot I could say about the play but I’ll save it and stick to my point for the moment. For the moment! Beauty and the Beast were promenading around with her on his arm during a bit of narration that, in the animated movie, would have been the title song – getting from the first tremulous meeting to the moment when she asks to leave in as little time as possible since it was a 70-minute one-act play. And I got that lovely knot in the tummy, yummy, happy, crazy-romantic feeling because all of a sudden it reminded me of my favorite part in Robin McKinley’s Beauty.
Here’s my attempt to set the scene and describe the moment: Beauty’s gotten used to the Beast but still, she just tolerates his presence as far as his physical appearance goes. They’re friends, but she won’t cross that last bit of remaining space to really treat him like a person in every way. Then when he insists on knowing the reason for her honest answer that she’s not completely happy there, and she asks if she might someday be allowed to leave, maybe a long long time from now but at least someday, and he says no, she panics and faints at the awful sense of being trapped forever there. He catches her and when he tries to lay her on a couch she semi-consciously won’t let go of him, and thus wakes up still in his arms and freaks out yet again. Poor Beast, poor Beauty, they’re both having a terrible day. She flies off to her room to recover, but finally emerges again for their usual dinner together. And, as he’s turning to walk with her down the stairs, she stops. He looks back. She asks, “Aren’t you going to offer me your arm?”
Brr, I’m goose-bumpy all over. Never fails! I read the whole book for that moment, that dawning of hope. It’s only 2/3 or 3/4 through the book, nowhere near the end (which, unfortunately, is the only part of the book I don’t like, because it’s terribly abrupt and needlessly too easily perfect). It’s a really well-written book in general and I love lots of bits – for instance, the fight she gets in with the “breezes” as she calls them, the invisible servants, when they dress her in something whispy and flattering is absolutely hilarious – but that one scene expresses perfectly (to me, anyway) what makes romance worth reading.
Another Book that does this to me is, well, not so much a moment, it’s pretty much the entire book of Ruth. I love her steadfast love for her mother-in-law, and especially the older Boaz who’s obviously noticed her but not presumed to make his move until the young lady makes her own. He does what he can to care for her and Naomi at first despite Ruth being a Moabite, and then goes straight to work on arranging everything once he knows that she’d actually consider him. If you haven’t noticed before, read it again – when she shows up at that threshing floor, he already knows who he’d have to by-pass to get to marry her, and just where to go and what to say to make sure he’s the one standing under the canopy with her.
One last moment, from later in the Book. Just one word. “Mary.” And at her name, she recognizes Him, and her world is re-made.
How about you? What moments in writing stir your soul, your longing for romance and beauty and life? Spill!