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Some Recollections of a Busy Life

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Isabella E. Davis
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Imagine the words of your kindliest grandmother, imagine them refined and clear describing the wonders of the nineteenth century world in all their glory and variety. Isabella E Davis is that grandmother in Some Recollections of a Busy Life, but not only that, she is an ingénue, a child in the face of wonder, open and curious in a way few people are able to be. Isabella was born in 1842, raised alone by a father with a kind heart and abolitionist sympathies and then sent on a tour of the world which puts to shame all but the most dogged modern travellers. She is as endearing and enlightening when talking about her aquatic approach to the rolling hills of Barbados as when she pulls us into the pine laden Black Forest territories, full of magic with a tantalising smell on the air. Her companionship with her childhood nurse Dinah will touch you and create a real historical picture of a rare kind interracial interaction. The author’s wonder at the squalor and deprivation of London allows her kindness to shine through. Davis is no staid, stiff narrator of a stale moral fable however. Her mischief and laughter come through on almost every page, the reader almost sways with her as she describes Caribbean women dancing under the banyan trees. A woman of her time in many ways, a wife and homemaker, but in many other ways a timeless soul reaching out to us through her pages. You will scarcely have read a page before you ache to reach back.

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