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.
The more I read of César Aira, the less I feel I understand him. Ghosts was kind of surreal and creepy, and had some of the best scenes set in a super...moreThe more I read of César Aira, the less I feel I understand him. Ghosts was kind of surreal and creepy, and had some of the best scenes set in a supermarket that I have ever read (this is meant to be more of a compliment than it sounds). I liked The Literary Conference less, but it still had some audacious meta bits. This...I have no idea, man. But I think I'd rather be reading Javier Marias.(less)