Rereading this after a number of years I definitely picked up on different things. For example, I'm more familiar now with Civil War battles, so I fou...moreRereading this after a number of years I definitely picked up on different things. For example, I'm more familiar now with Civil War battles, so I found the historical stuff more interesting. I was also more fascinated by some of the hardships described like the troubles of inflation and the horrors of a civilization collapsing. And I found myself viewing the characters a bit differently this time around.
Perhaps I've just gotten used to the movie version (which I think did a great job of condensing and representing the book, btw). Rhett is more of a cad in the book and Ashley is way more pathetic. To some of the characters left out of the book (Will and Archie in particular) I say good riddance.
I did like little Wade Hamilton, however, and I felt especially sorry for Ella Kennedy. (We're never given anything from her point of view, and we are only told that she's simple and homely. I would really like to see a sequel from her perspective. How messed up was her life? The forgotten middle child, never as pretty or spoiled as her sister, ignored by her mother and stepfather, abandoned by her Mammy when Bonnie died... what happened when she grew up? I imagine Scarlett left her and Wade at Tara while she chased after Rhett. How would Suellen treat the daughter of her old beau? Kindly because of the connection or cruelly as payback to Scarlett's meanness? I suspect the latter. Would Ella have crushed on the Picard boy and had her heart broken? I bet Beau liked her but she found him as pathetic as his father! Would Rhett's ward have come into the picture at some point? Maybe eventually when Wade goes off to Harvard Ella could go to visit and make friends with Yankees or even *gasp* blacks! I bet she gets involved in the Temperance Movement and marries some Yankee. There's lots of post-war Northern history for a backdrop. In GWTW, Scarlett looks up to her mother and wants to be like her but always takes the quicker route to getting what she wants. I'd like to see Ella's struggle to NOT be like her mother. But maybe her own daughter will be more like Scarlett... Seriously, someone needs to write this story!)
Anyway, there are things to pick on in the book, like the way some characters are just kinda dropped, and the racist bits can be hard to take, but overall it's still a compelling read. Scarlett and Melanie are both fascinating characters. If you stop at the chapter before the last, it's even got a happy ending. But of course it must end as it does. No other way would be so perfect.(less)
So we read this in my Sophomore English class. And our teacher wouldn't take us to see the play. Yet the following year he took his class to see Miss...moreSo we read this in my Sophomore English class. And our teacher wouldn't take us to see the play. Yet the following year he took his class to see Miss Saigon for absolutely no reason whatsoever. I have never quite gotten over this. But I did really enjoy the book.(less)
This is one of those classics that I think I may have come to too late to really have it get lodged in my heart. I did read it when I was younger (but...moreThis is one of those classics that I think I may have come to too late to really have it get lodged in my heart. I did read it when I was younger (but not that young) and somehow I just never really connected to it. It's heavy on the morals (morals are good, moralizing is dull) and feels rather disjointed. And despite there being four different sisters representing different types of girls, I have always had trouble really identifying with any of them. Sure it's cool that Jo wants to be independent and write and not be stuck as a mousy little girly-girl, but I'm not nearly the ambitious tomboy she is. Beth is a bit too saintly, although I like her and think she is kind and sweet and all. I like art, but I just have problems with Amy, who seems really vain and ridiculous and kinda cold. The older me identifies most with Meg and her little domestic dreams, although even she is kinda silly at times.
Also, perhaps somewhat fatally on my first read, I was sure that Jo and Laurie would eventually work things out, and when he ends up with Amy (should I be spoiler warning this? Everyone knows what happens, right? Haven't you seen a movie version?) I just find it unbelievable and kinda yucky. Not helping is the fact that Jo's refusal seems so very like Anne's refusal of Gilbert (in the TV version of Anne of Avonlea, anyway) that I was sure those two kids would also work it out and be happy eventually. Rereading it and knowing what to expect it did make more sense, but still, you know, sad face.
Finally, there's a bit about Amy (and Laurie too) realizing the difference between talent and genius, as in they are not perhaps as gifted at their art and music as they first think they are or hope to be. Well, I would say the same of Jo (and by extension since it's at least semi-autobiographical, Alcott's) writing. Competent, nice for a light, sweet read (and I'm sorry to all the people that love it) but I just don't see genius here. (less)
Seemed like a great idea at the time to read this for book club... I actually got into the beginning but my interest trailed off. I just watched the D...moreSeemed like a great idea at the time to read this for book club... I actually got into the beginning but my interest trailed off. I just watched the Disney movie version, though, which was lots of fun.(less)
The focus is on the Joads, a family forced away from their farmland home, journeying to California to become migrant workers. While the Dust Bowl and...moreThe focus is on the Joads, a family forced away from their farmland home, journeying to California to become migrant workers. While the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression are pretty heavy subjects, I was still surprised by just how raw the novel is. It's an unsanitized look at these people with all their flaws and problems. And as gritty as it is, I believe that it could have been worse, given the hardships that are hinted at which the Joads manage to avoid.
In the book, in addition to the chapters that follow the Joad family's journey, there are also shorter chapters that take a less personal, larger view of the problems of the times. Some of these were very powerful and worked quite well. I especially liked the chapters on the used car dealership and the roadside diner. As I progressed through the book, however, I began to feel that this device was wearing thin, and that Steinbeck had run out of things to talk about in these bigger-picture chapters.
Overall, it's a well-written novel about a serious subject. And it did get me wrapped up in it so that I was really feeling for these characters. I particularly liked Ma, even from her first appearance in the book. In her introduction, we are told that "her hazel eyes seemed to have experienced all possible tragedy and to have mounted pain and suffering like steps into a high calm and a superhuman understanding." The story gives her a lot more steps to climb. I also really liked Tom Joad.
Would I recommend the book? Yes, although with some hesitation. The novel is really depressing. As I progressed through the book, I found myself anticipating with dread the next tragedy that would befall the family. The book has an interesting theme about sin versus holiness and drives home the point that people do better helping each other. Sure, we've all got to eat, but only looking out for your own is selfish and doesn't work for the greater good, we get it.
The book's ending is a bit of a shocker; I won't spoil it here in case you haven't read it yet, although I will say that it made me feel that a certain thing was set up in the book only for the ending, which felt somewhat cheap to me. The ending does fit in with the rest of the novel and provides some hope for the future, but the whole thing is still pretty bleak. Which I suppose is the point -- the issues faced by these people could not be easily fixed. (less)
Before reading Jane Eyre, I did have some idea of the general plot: Jane is a governess who comes to work in a creepy house for a brooding man with a...moreBefore reading Jane Eyre, I did have some idea of the general plot: Jane is a governess who comes to work in a creepy house for a brooding man with a big secret. (It's a good thing I knew the secret, too, since my copy of the book included an introduction by Joyce Carol Oates that revealed all the major plot details and many of the twisty bits. Seriously, there should have been a spoiler warning with it -- surely there are some people reading the book for the first time with no idea what it's about who would like to enjoy a few surprises.)
Since I did know how the story would go, I was afraid that reading through the book would be tedious, but I actually enjoyed it very much. The way it's written (as a first-person account of Jane telling the reader her story) felt very intimate and interesting. The only time it didn't work for me was when the big secret is revealed; during this time things seemed a bit rushed and Jane's reactions didn't come until later. All I can assume is that she was struck and in shock, but coming to know the characters I think more would have been said and thought during this critical time.
If you don't like Jane, you will probably not enjoy the novel, but I really liked Jane. I liked her strong will and character. I also liked Mr. Rochester, despite his dubious past and the way he deceived Jane. Maybe I like him because Jane does, or because they do seem like a well-matched pair of intellectual equals. You can analyze a lot more about the various themes of the novel, like what it says about religion, morality, duty, forgiveness, and marriage, but I was happy enough to read through the rest because I really liked Jane and Rochester, and I wanted to see their love story play out.
(The movie version I watched was the 1944 adaptation. Orson Welles is perfect as Rochester, all dark and brooding, but I found Joan Fontaine's Jane too weak and wondered what Rochester would see in her!)(less)
I don't know if it's because I tried reading it as a free book online or if it's just that I know the story from the play/movie, but I just don't want...moreI don't know if it's because I tried reading it as a free book online or if it's just that I know the story from the play/movie, but I just don't want to keep reading this.(less)
I think I read this when I was younger as it was all vaguely familiar... little Mary Lennox is orphaned, goes to live with her uncle, discovers a myst...moreI think I read this when I was younger as it was all vaguely familiar... little Mary Lennox is orphaned, goes to live with her uncle, discovers a mystery in the house and the power of a secret garden.
For the most part I found the story delightful. It was great to see the change in Mary. Positive, unselfish thinking is good, being out amidst natural beauty is good. The only thing I didn't like was the mumbo-jumbo at the end about "Magic" to explain things. (Also, is it just me or do the three kids in the book seem to be a love-triangle in the making?) (Yes, I know one is Mary's cousin.)
If you watch a movie adaptation of the story, make it the delightful 1949 version!(less)
While the book is fine as a classic children's adventure novel, The Black Stallion is a great example of a story that translates really well into a mo...moreWhile the book is fine as a classic children's adventure novel, The Black Stallion is a great example of a story that translates really well into a movie. Seeing as opposed to imagining is much more powerful when it comes to the frightening scenes of the ship sinking, or the beautiful moments between the boy and his horse on the island, or the exciting moments of the race at the end. Re-watching the story after reading the book, I loved even more the visuals of the horse, particularly during the dialogue-free scenes on the island. The little exotic musical cues as reminders of the horse's origin were neat, and the main actors (Kelly Reno, Teri Garr, and Mickey Rooney) were all great, too.
If you only get into one version of this story, make it the movie. (less)