When I decided to partake of a Victorian reading challenge, I decided not to read the same old stuff that everyone else was reading. I was looking towWhen I decided to partake of a Victorian reading challenge, I decided not to read the same old stuff that everyone else was reading. I was looking towards the more obscure novels, particularly ones written by women authors whose names have been forgotten through history.
I first came across this book on Girlebooks. I liked the sound of it, and promptly downloaded and put it on my nook. It was a bit different than the average Victorian drama: set in Germany, with the heroine involved in the music scene.
The usual obstacles and secrets keeping the hero and heroine apart were there, but in a different setting. Our heroine, May, comes to Germany as a companion to an older, recluse lady. Once there, she starts singing lessons. May stays in Germany, when the lady decides to head back to England, and continues her musical pursuits. I loved reading about a young woman living on her own in 19th Germany perusing her passions. How unique!
The story is told from two perspectives: May, and Helfen, the roommate of the the suffering Eugen, who is the object of May's affections. Through Helfen's view, we can just about guess that Eugen is hiding something. What kind of Victorian hero would he be if he wasn't?
There's lots of German words, and much musical talk, which makes this story unique. It also has a dastardly bad guy, secrets (like I said) and melodrama, which makes it like the average Victorian story.
I enjoyed it. I liked the German setting; it was something different. And anything with a music storyline always grabs my attention. Very recommended – this book needs more love!...more
East Lynne is a very engaging Victorian sensation novel written in 1861. If you like the works of Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, then I alEast Lynne is a very engaging Victorian sensation novel written in 1861. If you like the works of Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, then I also recommend Ellen Wood.
This had everything you'd expect in a Victorian sensation novel, and probably more; murder, infidelity, betrayal, disguises and more.
The story is: Lady Isabel leaves her husband and children on the grounds of her suspecting that her husband is unfaithful. It doesn't help that a cad is helping driving that point home. Isabel runs away with said cad, only to realize she's made a mistake too late.
There's also a murder mystery about. A man is accused and is on the run, but he says another man is the actual murderer, a man by the name of Thorn. Problem is, Thorn is an alias, and no one knows who he is. I pretty much figured out who the villain was from the beginning, but I had a doubt for a quick minute when the author made me think that I was wrong. Sneaky.
I'm not sure if the author wanted us to be sympathetic to Lady Isabel or not, but I definitely was. I felt sorry for her, being the victim of trickery and an overzealous imagination. I'm not a fan of the whole 'unfaithful woman being punished,' but sensation novels from this era seemed to like this theme.
All in all, an underrated classic. A chunkster, definitely, but worth it....more
A very entertaining and almost unknown classic about a kick butt heroine.
Cap was totally my type of heroine. She was fearless and headstrong, but alsoA very entertaining and almost unknown classic about a kick butt heroine.
Cap was totally my type of heroine. She was fearless and headstrong, but also smart and cared about people. It was refreshing reading a Victorian novel with a heroine like Cap. No matter how many heart attacks she almost gave her guardian, Cap was always out on some sort of adventure. With a big imagination, Cap never let her size or gender hold her back. Whether it was trying to capture a bandit or tricking a dastardly villain or challenging someone to a duel, she never thought she couldn't do it.
The Hidden Hand was also hilarious. It had several laugh out loud moments, all of which occurred around the free-spirited Cap. The end of the book happened sort of fast and it had a typical happily ever after, but other than that, I loved it!...more
When venturing forth on Anne's work, I decided to start with Agnes Grey, rather than her more popular The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Agnes Grey is moreWhen venturing forth on Anne's work, I decided to start with Agnes Grey, rather than her more popular The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Agnes Grey is more autobiographical.
One of the things I noticed that differentiated Anne from her sisters was she was more to the point, more realistic in her writing. There was no taking the long way around, she got you to the point good and fast, yet without missing the sights along the way.
Agnes Grey is the story of a young woman basically forced to become a governess due to her family's financial woes. Her first family is just plain cruel. I wanted to deck those kids. We saw the real treatment of the working class during this period, where they were thought of less than human. The sad thing is that someone like Agnes basically had to put up with the cruel treatment because what else was a young woman to do for work in those days?
The second family she was employed by was a little better, but she was still treated badly, especially by the older girl who saw Agnes as some sort of rival for a gentlemen's admiration. Ah, but that young lady later got what she deserved, the conceited brat.
Anne is just as brilliant as her sisters, but often overlooked. I very much appreciate her way of storytelling and would suggest readers of Charlotte and Emily to not forget about their little sister!...more
When reading a poem for the first time, it's not exactly simple to give your immediate thoughts on it. I feel that you need to read a poem a few timesWhen reading a poem for the first time, it's not exactly simple to give your immediate thoughts on it. I feel that you need to read a poem a few times over until you can give you honest impressions. That said, it is impossible to give an accurate review of this entire book of poetry by the sisters Brontë only reading it one time through. This is, however, a collection that I will often come back to.
Except maybe Charlotte's.
Charlotte is no great poet. I didn't want to skip over her poetry or even skim it, so I read it in full, but I read it a little bit at a faster pace than I usually would read poetry. I didn't connect with it. It wasn't great.
Emily and Anne's poetry was breathtaking, however. I had yet to read anything by Anne before reading her poetry, so this was my first experience with her words. I found them beautiful and thought provoking.
Anne's words were often about wanting to break free, while Emily's words were often inspired about the Parsonage and her love of her home.
With this, I'll leave you with my favorite poem in the collection:
Honour's Martyr by Emily Brontë
The moon is full this winter night; The stars are clear, though few; And every window glistens bright With leaves of frozen dew.
The sweet moon through your lattice gleams, And lights your room like day; And there you pass, in happy dreams, The peaceful hours away!
While I, with effort hardly quelling The anguish in my breast, Wander about the silent dwelling, And cannot think of rest.
The old clock in the gloomy hall Ticks on, from hour to hour; And every time its measured call Seems lingering slow and slower:
And, oh, how slow that keen-eyed star Has tracked the chilly gray! What, watching yet! how very far The morning lies away!
Without your chamber door I stand; Love, are you slumbering still? My cold heart, underneath my hand, Has almost ceased to thrill.
Bleak, bleak the east wind sobs and sighs, And drowns the turret bell, Whose sad note, undistinguished, dies Unheard, like my farewell!
To-morrow, Scorn will blight my name, And Hate will trample me, Will load me with a coward's shame-- A traitor's perjury.
False friends will launch their covert sneers; True friends will wish me dead; And I shall cause the bitterest tears That you have ever shed.
The dark deeds of my outlawed race Will then like virtues shine; And men will pardon their disgrace, Beside the guilt of mine.
For, who forgives the accursed crime Of dastard treachery? Rebellion, in its chosen time, May Freedom's champion be;
Revenge may stain a righteous sword, It may be just to slay; But, traitor, traitor,--from THAT word All true breasts shrink away!
Oh, I would give my heart to death, To keep my honour fair; Yet, I'll not give my inward faith My honour's NAME to spare!
Not even to keep your priceless love, Dare I, Beloved, deceive; This treason should the future prove, Then, only then, believe!
I know the path I ought to go I follow fearlessly, Inquiring not what deeper woe Stern duty stores for me.
So foes pursue, and cold allies Mistrust me, every one: Let me be false in others' eyes, If faithful in my own....more
Not bad. Not bad. In comparison to her other novels, I didn't love it as much as Villette or Jane Eyre, of course, but it was much better than The ProNot bad. Not bad. In comparison to her other novels, I didn't love it as much as Villette or Jane Eyre, of course, but it was much better than The Professor.
We see most of the book through the eyes of two young women: Caroline Helstone, the shy niece of a Rector, who feels stifled by her life, and Shirley Keelder a wealthy young woman who, by her wealth, is able to live life freer than most women of that time.
There is no romance here. In fact, for a while, there is nothing happening. It is also a while before the book's namesake even shows up.
Due to the constraints of women at the time, Caroline is oppressed. She wants to escape and be a governess, but is discouraged by others, such as by her uncle and also by her friend Shirley, who surely does not understand what it means to not be free to do as you wished.
On another note, I'm not sure, but I wonder if Elizabeth Gaskell was inspired by the factory riots in this novel for her novel North and South? I really should have read Shirley first, but I digress. Both novels have their similarities.
I was a little peeved over the ending. The narrator basically ends the tale by snarkly saying, "Good luck finding a morale here, because there isn't one!" So this is a story with no real point. Everyone lives happily ever after. Yada, yada.
This was my last novel of Charlotte's that I had left to read. I feel so accomplished....more
A man is walking home one night. He feels a tap on his shoulder. It's a woman dressed in white. She asks for help in getting far away. Once he has herA man is walking home one night. He feels a tap on his shoulder. It's a woman dressed in white. She asks for help in getting far away. Once he has her safely in a carriage and she is off, he finds out this woman has escaped from an Asylum.
Got your attention?
This book was darn good. The Woman in White set the format of what a great mystery thriller should be and it's no wonder. It was perfect.
This lengthy novel was told from the point of view - in the form of written testimonies - from different people who were both knowing and unknowingly involved in the 'secret'. Instead of this hindering the flow of the story, it enhanced it. Each narrative picked up where the last one left off and also filling in the holes the last narrative left.
There were a few times in reading where I thought the story was slacking, but what I failed to realize at the time was Collins was masterfully setting up for the next shocking event. When I hit these, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. Heck, I felt like I was right there viewing it in person.
The Woman in White also showed the limits that women had in the 19th century, especially once they were married. It's almost sickening at some points.
Marian Holcombe was a fascinating character, one of the best in literature. One thing I didn't understand is why her narrative was told through journal entries while everyone else's was told through written testimony, even by those who couldn't even write! Marian was probably the most clever person in this cast of characters, so I just don't get it.
I was never scared at any point, but I have read that some people have been. The Woman in White I did find very thrilling. Lots of shady people. Who was a spy? Was someone unknowingly being followed? Secret identities. Cleverly woven secrets. Brilliant!
If you love Victorian literature or mystery thrillers and have not read The Woman in White, for shame! I highly recommend it....more
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reaChrist. I don't even know what to say, here.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and ideal Grace. I love thee to the level of everyday's Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. I love thee with the passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints,--I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life!--and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.
Sonnets from the Portuguese are love sonnets written by Elizabeth Barrett from 1845 through her secret marriage to Robert Browning in 1846. The title is from Browning's nickname for her 'my little Portuguese'.
The emotion and passion practically spills from the pages. This woman knew what to do with words, how to so eloquently convey her feeling so effortlessly.
I waited sometime after reading this book to figure out what I thought of it, but I'm still not sure. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either. II waited sometime after reading this book to figure out what I thought of it, but I'm still not sure. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either. I think I was subconsciously comparing it to Wives and Daughters, which was my first Gaskell read - and so far, my favorite.
North and South started out good enough. With the moving to Milton, the early interaction with Thornton. The subtle arguments between Margaret and Thornton were thoroughly entertaining.
I found that I was comparing Margaret and Thornton to Elizabeth and Darcy, but minus the witty dialogue.
I remember thinking when the riot hit, "Oh! This is getting good!" However, I felt myself getting bored soon after, only picking up when Frederick came home and then dying again soon after.
The dialogue by certain characters made me want to bash my head against the desk. It was excruciating to try to read. I get that they have a thick accent, but egads! And in the second half of the book I felt Margaret became thoroughly irritating, and I can't fathom why.
I'm sad that I didn't love this book, after all the positive, glowing reviews I've heard. Perhaps that's what did me in? I did like it, but it's by far not Gaskell's best work.
I look forward to watching the mini-series, which I feel will be more enjoyable....more
Edith Wharton had an impeccable ability to make upper society look as ridiculous as it really is. This time she takes on upper New York society in theEdith Wharton had an impeccable ability to make upper society look as ridiculous as it really is. This time she takes on upper New York society in the 1870s.
The double standard shown in this book between men and women is just asinine. Countess Olenska is shown as unfortunate because she left her cruel husband. Because of his follies, she is punished for leaving him.
The Age of Innocence shows the ridiculous standards of old New York. You couldn't even sneeze in public without someone knowing and gossiping how unsanitary you are. This is just an example, not used in the book. Bottom line, you could not do anything without being exposed to the horrible monster called gossip. The people who you regularly converse with (your friends, I guess, although I wouldn't call them that) one week could shun you the next.
People's lives were structured by these standards. A man and woman who could have such happiness together could not otherwise be together because of something in one of their pasts. Newland Archer married May because it's what society basically wanted. It was a safe marriage, free from scandal.
Wharton is the queen of satire, in my opinion. She was also an author not big on the happy ending. So far, this is my favorite of her work....more
**spoiler alert** I have very conflicting views of the main characters. On one hand, I feel very sorry for Lucy. She's a victim of her past; she has b**spoiler alert** I have very conflicting views of the main characters. On one hand, I feel very sorry for Lucy. She's a victim of her past; she has been through sad times. However, while George was a total prick for leaving his wife and child, I didn't justify that being a good reason to take the man's life. Sure, he was going to expose her for who she really was, but the fact that she thought that was a good reason to kill him, well, just shows that she's just a bit off the mark. Do I think she was mad? No. And I don't really think Robert thought she was mad, either.
The last chapter unnerved me a tad. Robert and George feeling happy with their lives and Lucy left to die in a mental institution. I'm not sure how I felt. Sure, she pushed him down a well and thought he was dead, but he wasn't. And with the truth out, I thought Lucy could maybe get another chance at life. It was kind of a sad ending.
And the poor kid. No one seemed to give a crap about him!...more