What I learned from this book? Tolstoy liked farming Tolstoy hated people cheating on their spouses Even in Russia back in the 1800's if you cheat on yo...moreWhat I learned from this book? Tolstoy liked farming Tolstoy hated people cheating on their spouses Even in Russia back in the 1800's if you cheat on your spouse you will spend the rest of your life doubting whoever you are with.
If someone cheats to be with you, you will never trust them.
Other than that... this book drones on and on and on and on and really doesn't come to any sort of resolution. This really wasn't my type of book. Sorry to all of the fans, I can see why you like it, but it's just not for me.
You have two main stories... Levin and his pining over Kitty, getting Kitty and then flipping out about everything she does. Oh, and he farms... A LOT. He also takes us hunting in great detail and likes to yammer on about his political theories about everything.
Then there is the Thrilling tale of Anna and Vronsky. Anna hoes around and ends up making a mess of her marriage. She runs off with Vronsky and suprise surpise, they are miserable because neither can trust the other.
I kept rolling my eyes and wondering when they were going to just get over it. But like my oldest stepson - once a mistake is made, they just kept digging. They were lucky this book didn't end in China... or with them being in Russia would that have been Brazil? Whatever - I read it, I didn't like it, I'll recommend it to anyone I don't like.(less)
I read the children’s classic version of this book back when I was about 8 years old. Since then I had always assumed that somewhere out there lurked...moreI read the children’s classic version of this book back when I was about 8 years old. Since then I had always assumed that somewhere out there lurked the “real” version, which in my mind was pictured to both look and read similar to “The Three Musketeers” or “Moby Dick.” When I finally got around to reading the “adult version,” I laughed when I realized that this is still a children’s novel. It’s an old fashioned action adventure clearly written with little boys about the age of 12 in mind.
The short summary: Jim, is a preteen who lives with his parents at the little inn and tavern that they own. A rough and unruly customer comes to stay with them, a salty old pirate with inappropriate stories and foul drinking songs. Jim is enthralled with the man and befriends him; the old crusty pirate even pays Jim to “Keep an eye out for a man with one leg.” When the rest of the pirates locate the inn where Jim and his family live, they make an appearance, demanding something that the old pirate had taken from them. Through an act of both luck and bravery, Jim and his mother escape the pirates and take with them the hidden object – a map showing the location of an enormous buried treasure. Jim, the good Doctor, and a few other individuals from town decide to rent a boat to go after the treasure… but when they start their voyage, a man with one leg joins the boat as the cook and the rest of the crew isn’t behaving quite properly. The rest of the tale involves mutiny, back stabbing, treachery, treasure, gunfights, castaways and adventure of the highest caliber.
This is one of the most well written adventure novels I have ever read, and I have encouraged my 10 year old son to try to give it a read. Back when this was written, I would assume that every 9-12 year old little boy (and many little girls as well) probably lay in their beds at night reading and dreaming of being whisked away by pirates to find buried treasure. Since then our language has changed so dramatically that I believe that the under 12 crew may have difficulty with some of the phrasing and word choices in this novel. If giving this to a younger child, I would plan to work with them through some of the tougher portions, specifically the technical bits about the ship (explaining what a mizzenmast is) and some of the pirate’s dialogue which is often written phonetically. You can solve the pirate problem by telling them to read it aloud and try to sound like Captain Jack Sparrow from “Pirates of the Caribbean.” My son had a much easier time when I would read those passages to him doing a pirate accent.
Even if your much older than 12, I still highly recommend reading this, it is a quick read with a truly fairytale ending. The good guys win and the bad guys lose and the moral of the story is honor, duty, keeping your word, and being a good person will bring you good fortune, whereas acting like a despicable pirate will only bring you down in the end. There also seems to be a fairly strong anti-alcohol message in the book, as the good guys capitalize on the intoxication of the pirates over and over and rarely drink the stuff themselves. It’s not beaten over your head… but it might just be strong enough to make the little ones think “Well I’m not going to do that!”
I couldn’t recommend this story enough, for individuals of all ages; we are planning on reading it out loud at bedtime so that our 7 year old can enjoy the dreams of buried treasure and pirates. There is a reason this tale has stood the test of time, and I suggest reading it yourself, and with your little ones if you have any.
Parent note- in my summary I stated that the Pirate sings foul songs and tells inappropriate stories, these are not related in the book and are only reference in the fact that Jim’s mother is horrified that the pirate tells him such things. So you don’t have to worry about profanity or any other lewd discussions. (less)
Reviewing classics is always a touchy thing to do… but I’m so freakin proud of myself for reading this book that I had to document it some way. How di...moreReviewing classics is always a touchy thing to do… but I’m so freakin proud of myself for reading this book that I had to document it some way. How did I do it? Simple, I read it online with little bits being sent to my email each day… that way I never knew how many millions of pages I had left, and believed that I was making progress.
I have had this book mentioned to me, and quoted to me for years, but I have never met anyone who has actually read it. True the size is daunting… but then again… so is the material. To be honest I didn’t have the first clue what this book was going to be about. It turns out that the reader follows several people, of nobility through the Napoleonic invasion of Russia. When I say several, I mean it… you’ll want to keep a list, and leave lots of room because each person has several variations of their names that are used interchangeably. We follow about 12 main characters and a few other extraneous ones from before the invasion through the end of the conflict. Most of them are nobility and they go through all kinds of soap opera drama, generally self inflicted. Guy A is in love with Girl A but she’s poor, so he marries Girl B who’s really in love with her brother (Guy B I guess) who loves Guy A’s sister (Girl C?), but she tries to run off with Guy C who was just screwing with her head, so now she’s tainted and no one wants to marry Girl C. But Girl C is best of friends with Girl A so they hang out and throw little pity parties for themselves. Meanwhile Guy D is everyone’s pal, who’s married to Girl D who’s really a bit of a hoe, so he wanders about joining clubs and thinking to himself. Then Guy D figures out that he’s in love with Girl C, but she’s still in love with Guy B. Then the war breaks out and all of the guys other than Guy D go to war, and the Girls whine and cry about it… oh, and they move around a lot… seems like they are always packing up and moving… not that they do any of the packing… that’s what servants are for!
So just when we think we are getting a handle on who is who, who they are in love with at the moment, and what the heck is going on… we have a cut scene to – history class… Tolstoy will rant and rave for a bit about war in general, Napoleon, or the idiocy of both Historians and the Russian Military leaders. Okay you think, I can deal with a bit of sarcastic Russian historical education, but just as soon as you get your mind in gear for that – BAM you are knee deep in fighting and trying to remember just who the German guy was and how he was related to all of the people you were reading about before the cut scene.
This book ends up feeling like 3 books mixed into one – a satirical historical text, a family drama, and a wartime epic. Now each in its own is a very interesting tale, but when mashed up together, they can be rather jarring to the mind. I do have to agree with the others that the battle scenes are very well written, and I did enjoy Tolstoy’s commentary on the Russian leadership during the war… and after a while I liked some of his characters. But don’t get too attached to them… Tolstoy has no problem killing off the people you like, and when you get to the end, and are expecting a huge revelation, or some sort of major explosive dynamic finale… the curtain closes without even a spark.
Still, this is a brilliant work… I’m glad I read it, and I wish I knew someone else who had because it would be interesting to discuss it with someone. It will never go down as one of my favorite novels, but it will go down as one of my lifelong accomplishments. Tolstoy’s writing appears excellent (remember, we’re reading a translation so we have to give them credit too) and he has a brilliant wit and handle on his subject matter. I don’t agree with much of his philosophy but it is certainly an interesting topic to read on. If you can make it through 1300 pages of one book, I recommend at least giving this a try. (less)
I have hated Steinbeck since the tender age of 15 when I was forced to choke down Grapes of Wrath. I was then forced to sit through the movie version...moreI have hated Steinbeck since the tender age of 15 when I was forced to choke down Grapes of Wrath. I was then forced to sit through the movie version of Grapes of Wrath, and was re-assigned to book to read by a crazy teacher I had at the age of 17. I liked it no better on the second go round, however at least by then I was able to pick out the "Christ Figure" that my teachers had always babbled about.
Because of this terrible set of experiences I had sworn off of Steinbeck for the rest of my life. If you see a copy of Grapes of Wrath on fire, you know that I'm probably near by. So when I started reading the list "1001 books to read before you die" I was glad that I could already check off Grapes of Wrath and not touch it again - but to my dismay, there were other books by Steinbeck on the list. I admit I panicked... there was no WAY I was going to torture myself like that again. Every word of that last attempt had been a struggle.
Then I noticed that one of the books was "Of Mice and Men." I had seen the play several times and the movie, and to be honest - they weren't that bad. So during a carride to ATL under questionable circumstances, I read this 107 page book from beginning to end.
Now I'm sure there was a Christ figure in there somewhere, and I know that there was a lot of "deep meaning" and "symbolism enough to choke a badger" but I happily ignored all of it. I am excited to say that I read through the book - found it didn't change me, my thought process, or my lifestyle, and was able to move on.
Short Summary - George and his retarded pal Lenny are day workers who travel from farm to farm trying to earn a living. Lenny is huge, with the mind of a child, and George is small and quick witted. George keeps Lenny entertained with stories about how one day they will of their own land and work it themselves. George has told the story enough that even he's starting to believe it. Things go bad at their current job when a trampy woman hits on Lenny. That's about it.
Lots of themes, racism, tragedy, the way men treat one another, the lifestyle of the migrant worker in the 30's, the treatment of the mentally handicapped, etc. In the end, Steinbeck does a better job of not bashing the reader over the skull with his themes, and he managed to contain his desire to describe every grain of sand. I figure most people can make it through 107 pages of Steinbeck.(less)
Okay... I had to rewrite... I was in quite the snippy mood when I wrote that last review.
This is a classic. It deserves to be a classic. That does not...moreOkay... I had to rewrite... I was in quite the snippy mood when I wrote that last review.
This is a classic. It deserves to be a classic. That does not make it exciting.
Perhaps it was my mood while reading... or perhaps I've just read too many books from the time period in too short a span... but I had a difficult time digging into this one.
If I were doing a study on manners, protocol, and society from that time period, this book would be my reference guide. As far as a fun filled story... I struggled at times to keep going. The opening was rather boring, very little occured to draw the reader in other than some interesting conversation. Then in the middle, the intrigue just didn't intrigue me. I'd never seen the movie but I can spot a liar in both book and film pretty quickly... so all of the drama around poor Mr. Darcy was more irritating to me than anything else. I mean, the poor guy, he deserved way better than he ended up with.
I guess my difficulty with this book begins with the fact that I'm a non-romantic woman. I'm also incredibly self reliant and even though I've read tons of books from this time period... I still can't figure out what these people did with their lives to make a living, I assume it's just land ownership but none of them seems to contribute anything! So you take that and apply my opinion that each of the girls in this book needed a severe reality check and a firm slap out of their rose petal glasses and maybe I was just a big angsty while reading. The men were complete mysteries who you never really got to know other than through the perceptions of the sisters... and since they seemed so warped to me, the men were alien.
I just felt bad for Mr. Darcy. I really wanted him to run off and find a decent woman. True the book picks up a bit in the middle and then through the ending, where everyone rides off into the sunset on their white horses to their fairyland castles full of rainbows and unicorns and everyone lives happily ever after and they all eat marshmellow fluff and candy corn for every meal... (less)
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I aquired the audiobook version from audible and listened to it in my car with my seven year old son. I r...moreI wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I aquired the audiobook version from audible and listened to it in my car with my seven year old son. I really didn't expect for him to like it and though he never seemed to pay attention to it - however he always knew what was going on and was quite upset that the ending didn't play out the way he wanted. Apparently my little 7 year old boy who revels in dirt and climbing trees is a closet romantic and expected a wedding - no matter that the characters were a bit too young to get married.
The short summary - We follow the March family, 4 dutiful daughters and their mother through the period of time that their father is away at war (I believe he's a chaplain). They befriend their neighbors and go through several trials, all learning to be better people through it all.
It doesn't sound very exciting does it? Well it's not exciting in the shootem up explosion type way - but it is very engaging and endearing. Many people argue that this book has lost it's luster since the girls spend time sewing, studying and functioning in rather "old fashioned" ways. Some have even complained of the overtly religious overtones. I personally though it was a wonderful story of four young girls learning each in their own way - that life can be hard, life can be heartbreaking, death is very real, but then so is love, friendship and joy. Some argue that Mrs. March is an unattainable visiage of a "perfect mother" however I argue that we see her only through her daughters' eyes - and that every mother is on a pedestal in the eyes of their daughters. We don't know if the moments when she is out of site, she is sobbing at her loneliness or having bouts of internal rage at the behavior of her children. She simply projects and outward calm, which most mothers attempt to keep in front of their children.
There is a certain beauty to this story, each of the girls has their own personal battle to fight within themselves and we watch as they find ways to overcome, either their envy, their vanity, their selfishness - some turn to friendship, others to prayer. I have to admit that I too had hoped for the ending that my little son wanted - even though I knew it was silly to wish for two young people to end up together, but who knows what the future holds for them after the last page of the book.
The simple fact that a little seven year old ADHD boy was able to love and care about the people in this story, and to have hopes for them - shows the power of the writing contained within. I highly recommend this book - even to those who are not into "romance" or "period literature."(less)
It occurred to me that although I had been working my way through the classics, I had never read a “real version” of a Dickens novel. Oh sure, I had r...moreIt occurred to me that although I had been working my way through the classics, I had never read a “real version” of a Dickens novel. Oh sure, I had read the children’s version of “Oliver Twist” and have been to see the play of “A Christmas Carol” probably 15 times… but I had never actually sat down and tried to read any real Dickens. Now I don’t know if this is a good place to start or not… but this is where I started.
It took a while to really get into the book, the language was a bit overbearing at first, and the characters were a bit hard to keep sorted out in my mind. But then we get to the release of the good Doctor Mannette things pick up… I was trucking along, managing with the language and then in the middle I became bogged down with confusion… I struggled for a chapter or two and then hit the last quarter of the book… and let me tell you, all of the confusion was worth it if only for the last chapter.
Dickens main characters are actually rather flat and one-sided, however he makes up for it with the power and intrigue in his supporting cast. Some of the supporting characters in this novel are among the most interesting and either lovable or detestable that I have encountered. With the engrossing backdrop of the French Revolution, and heads being lopped of by Lady Guillotine every other moment… this book really focuses not on the revolution, but on the effects of the revolution on a select group of people. The Title implies that this will be a tale predominantly about London and Paris, but in reality the title is very misleading. The crux of the true story is about Paris, and our character’s attempts to remove themselves from it.
I hate to say more, I went into this book knowing nothing about it, and because of that I was able to be shocked and almost brought to tears by the beauty and power of the ending. I highly recommend it, even though many will struggle through the middle, know that the ending is well worth the struggle. There is a reason this is listed one of the “1001 books to read before you die” there is a power to this story that will resound with you long after you close the book. (less)