Three stars for the book itself; one bonus star for the audiobook performance by Tom Hiddleston. Actually, if I could I would give that reading all th...moreThree stars for the book itself; one bonus star for the audiobook performance by Tom Hiddleston. Actually, if I could I would give that reading all the stars. ALL THE STARS. IN THE WORLD.
Not that I have strong feelings about it or anything.(less)
Jane Eyre kind of killed this book for me. Before I ran off with Jane and Rochester, I was enjoying it: like Fellowes' TV series, Downton Abbey, it's...moreJane Eyre kind of killed this book for me. Before I ran off with Jane and Rochester, I was enjoying it: like Fellowes' TV series, Downton Abbey, it's full of sly social observation and cutting English humor. But the 1990s of Snobs is an era of far less interest to me than the 1910s of Abbey, and the former also lacks the latter's broader cast of characters--many of whom are far more sympathetic than anyone who appears in Snobs. I still enjoyed it, and will happily hunt for Fellowes' Past Imperfect, but...it wasn't Jane Eyre. Any book I read after (or, okay, in the midst of) that was bound to suffer, and this one just inevitably did. All books: cannot be Jane Eyre. Sad lesson learned.(less)
Rereading this book for the first time in 15 years, the most prominent thought in my mind was "My 12-year-old self was an idiot." Or, more accurately,...moreRereading this book for the first time in 15 years, the most prominent thought in my mind was "My 12-year-old self was an idiot." Or, more accurately, "This book is AMAZING and my 12-year-old self was an idiot not to get that." Granted, 12-year-old!Trin liked it fine, and granted, 27-year-old!Trin is enjoying the benefits of getting to picture Michael Fassbender as Rochester throughout, but wow. What a difference a decade and a half makes. I am newly floored by how romantic and marvelous this story is, by the beauty of Jane and Rochester's connection. It is all talk. Did that bore me at 12? I'm not sure what I considered romantic then, but the endless discussion, the soul-bearing, the banter, the subtle reveals, the verbal teases, the talk talk talk -- yes. It hits me like a knife blow now. Could there be anything hotter?
This summation is not making my 27-year-old self appear much more mature and sophisticated than the 12-year-old who thought it was a good idea to eat three bags of Skittles before dinner. And I may not be. But in my defense, reading this book now -- seven years older than its main character instead of seven years younger -- I felt a new connection to Jane -- her desire for family and her struggle to stay true to herself. The drama of her time with St. John Rivers became so much more compelling when read not just as an obstacle between Jane and her return to Rochester, but between Jane and her own self. This novel is I think best remembered for its gothic touches -- wandering the moors and the mad wife in the attic -- but in reading it, its psychological realism is in fact much more striking.
Okay, now I sound like I'm writing an essay. I am not doing this book justice. If you haven't read it, you need to. If you have, you really ought to read it again. I wish I were still reading it, which is probably the strongest recommendation I could give.
One good thing about Connie Willis' disappointing Blackout/All Clear duology: it made me want to read more about the World War II home front. Good Eve...moreOne good thing about Connie Willis' disappointing Blackout/All Clear duology: it made me want to read more about the World War II home front. Good Evening, Mrs. Craven is an incredible discovery: written during the war, these short stories convey the ordinary heroism, uncertainty, and tumultuous passions behind the stiff-upper-lip Britishness that the best parts of Willis' novel capture. But, allow me to emphasize, Panter-Downes' stories were written during the war. She was a correspondent for The New Yorker who for something like 40 years wrote their "Letter From England" column, as well as a fictitious piece every few months over the course of the conflict. The stories are as delicately written, subtle, and incisive as anything in James Joyce's infinitely better-known Dubliners, and it gives me chills to think that they were composed when the outcome of the war was still very much in doubt. Rewatch Casablanca sometime, keeping in mind that it was released in 1942 when V-E day was still several years away; read these stories in the same spirit. This is truly heroic fiction.(less)