Of all the pleasures reading affords, few surpass that provided by a born storyteller who is literally telling the story of her life. That pleasure – informed by personal recollection, enriched by narrative skill – transforms this book from the autobiography of a distinguished woman into an unforgettable experience.
Elizabeth Gray Vining, best known as the author of Windows for the Crown Prince, was born in Philadelphia shortly after the turn of the century – an era now part of a vanished America. In these pages she recalls those days with affection and candor as she describes the joys and rigors of an old-fashioned upbringing. There are portraits of her family – especially of her sister – which are touching and succinct, and memorable reflections on her college years at Bryn Mawr. Here, too, is her own moving account of a brief, idyllic marriage that ended in tragedy.
She tells of her search for a center of gravity, and her decision to join the Society of Friends. Her appointment, just after the Second World War, as tutor to Crown Prince Akihito gave a new dimension and direction to her life. She now recounts parts of that experience which she felt advisable to omit from her bestseller – impressions of Japan suffering the hardships and humiliations of defeat.
Quiet Pilgrimage presents a remarkable story with disarming modesty; it shines with wisdom and sparkles with humor. And, in the telling, Mrs. Vining transcends the boundaries of reminiscence, making a revelation of self a celebration of life.