This book is more like a stroll through the park on an autumn day, than a gambol in spring. It lingers, and you want to linger with it...
It's very muThis book is more like a stroll through the park on an autumn day, than a gambol in spring. It lingers, and you want to linger with it...
It's very much a character based book... a book about the people and the world and the setting more so than the plot. Oh, there is plot... but you don't really get to it for awhile, and it's not really what holds the book together - or what held my interest. Actually, in some ways, parts of the plot felt forced... No, what I enjoyed was just spending time with the characters and the world - even with Mr. Norrell. (My fiance, who is currently reading the book, didn't like it at first... but said it got much better once Strange got introduced. I don't know what it says about me that I actually sort of enjoyed spending some time with Norrell, though, of course, Strange is much more fun... )
Anyway, I would recommend this book to people who like magical realism and historical fictions... and mostly to people who enjoy character-drive stories... but not to people who need constant action and/or plot-drive stories... ...more
When I first read this back in high school, I remember being sort of blown away by it. Now when I read it, I felt more like old Benjamin, the donkey,When I first read this back in high school, I remember being sort of blown away by it. Now when I read it, I felt more like old Benjamin, the donkey, just shaking my head. (And is it wrong of me that I kept being annoyed at how stupid the animals were?)
Still, I agree with the message and I think it's a good thing for people to read, especially younger people who might not yet have become all cynical and jaded, though I did feel it was a bit anvilicious.
Then again, I guess that's sort of the point.
I'm leaving it at 4-stars - my younger self's original star rating - but I find myself debating about whether or not to leave it on my favorite shelf. I'll probably leave it there because it was a very formative book, back in my days of naivette. :>...more
A decent story, and I liked the twist at the end. I thought it was kind of funny and interesting how Shakespeare is held as the bastion of civiliza2.5
A decent story, and I liked the twist at the end. I thought it was kind of funny and interesting how Shakespeare is held as the bastion of civilization, and one of the only things held-over in this vision of the future, but I especially liked the bit at the end about having to learn new poets.
The philosophy was interesting, as were the descriptions of the bard's plays, but both went on a bit too much.
Ultimately, though, I never really connected with it on any kind of emotional level, thus I can't rate it that highly....more
What to say? This is one of those books which is hard for me to rate.
In a way it reminded me of The Monsters of Templeton in that I generally enjoyed the writing - the style and the atmosphere of it - but I never connected with the characters in a way which would make it all that much more enjoyable, or engaging, or tragic, or whatever.
In another way it reminded me of The Historian in that that book was a vampire book which was more about library research, and this was a purported "ghost story" which was more about psychological drama.
Overall, I think the narration within a narration was unnecessary. I was far more engaged in the story of Isabelle and Charlie, and then of Emmeline and Adelaine, than I ever was about Margaret. I would've liked to have seen more of those characters, seen them explored more as characters. While their story was interesting, in its own way, I would've liked to have known more about their psychologies, their motivations, their inner thoughts. We get more of the thoughts of the Missus than we ever do about the 'main characters' of the drama. Or perhaps it's just because I found them unbelievable - I found Charlie's grief just too much to believe in, for instance.
The only reason I would say that the narration within the narration even has to exist is because otherwise we wouldn't get the story of Aurelius - though if the book was told in third person instead of first person, then that could've been woven in. Otherwise, I can't really even see a point for Margaret, other than someone through whom our disgust and sympathy can be filtered.
Perhaps it's just because she did nothing for me as a character. The whole thing with the twin reflection was overwrought and overdone. Once or twice, then fine. But every single time she sees her reflection?
But, then, I didn't really like the whole twin thing, either - the notion that non-twins are amputees, that twins share a soul and whatnot. Perhaps it's because for every pair of twin I've heard of that was inseperable, I've heard others where they can't stand to lose their identity to the twinness. Maybe if we saw some dichotomy in the sets of twins it would be different, I don't know.
Also, the fact that in the beginning she attributes her alienation from other people to the 'lost part of her' sort of annoyed me on a personal level. Aside from the fact that her upbringing could more than adequately explain it, I'm someone who has often suffered from my own feelings of outsideness, and I need no magical connection with my dead twin to explain it. It always irks me in stories like this where it has to be some melodramatic thing, as opposed to something as straightforward as the fact that people have different personalities from each other, and oftentime those things don't mesh.
As for Miss Winter, while I found her sordid family story interesting in a distant kind of way, I only rarely sympathized with her, and that was towards the end. I took all the rape and incest in stride. Maybe it's because it was only implied and not graphic, or maybe it's because of the way the story was told - as a fact as opposed to a juicy bit of gossip - but, either way, I wasn't as horrified by it as some readers were. If she was going for shock, them I'm disappointed, because, as I said, I would've rather have seen the mechanations of the characters that brought them to their love affairs more than any titillation that was meant to be derived from it, if that was the case, which I don't think it was, per se.
Anyway - lost my track of thought.
One thing that someone else mentioned, and that I agree with, is that there's too much emphasis put on Vida Winter's being an eminent and respected author, who the world just goes gaga for - especially when the excerpts of her story leaves me with nothing which would suggest this is, indeed, the case.
Also, I found that the Margaret's voice and Miss Winter's voice, while telling the story, are entirely too similiar.
Oh, and the whole implied possible romance between Dr. Clifton and Margaret at the end was absurd. It just came out of nowhere.
Lastly, I kept wondering about the whole "book for book lovers" thing. Granted, there are a few passages that speak lovingly of books and the relationship of author and reader, and how books can linger in the minds and keep people alive well after they're nothing but bones, or less. And there were several references to classics like Jane Eyre and the like. Perhaps if I'd ever read any of those stories I would appreciate those a little more. (I did see Jane Eyre, though, just never read it.)
In one way there's the simple personality issue - Miss Winter and Margaret have a bond which comes from their love of not just stories, but many of the same stories. And if Margaret did not love her books and their authors, she wouldn't have written the biography which captured Vida's attention. But that seems to be it.
Yes, Vida has the thing about how everyone has a story. I recently read almost the same lines in The Name of the Wind where everyone knows at least one story - their own. But aside from them both being book lovers themselves, I'm not really sure how the love of books contributes to the narrative within the narrative.
Perhaps it doesn't have to, it's enough that it contributes to the first narrative. Perhaps it's simply because I was far more interested in the second narrative, and could've done almost entirely without the first, that I fail to see the importance of the connection.
But, really, it just seemed like some random, albeit beautifully written, passages about the love of books which are thrown in less because they matter to the story, and more because Diane Setterfield, herself, loves books.
Personally, I love good stories. The two loves are not always quite the same thing.
Anyway, if it were not so well written, I'd probably give it less stars since I feel like I was kept at a distance from the story. On the other hand, if it was a little less overwrought and repetitive, and if the story of the family was more the focus, then perhaps I would've enjoyed it more....more
I really enjoyed this book, even moreso, I think, than reading the original. That said, I shall never be able to watch P&P again without imaginingI really enjoyed this book, even moreso, I think, than reading the original. That said, I shall never be able to watch P&P again without imagining a zombie attack.
I will say that it's not without flaws, though - the major one being repetition, a fault which it shares with the original. It is, afterall, a single joke stretched throughout an entire book. Most of the time it's more droll and even sometimes eye-rollingly groan-worthingly annoying than actually amusing.
So why the high rating? Because there are a few times, a few particular lines and scenes, which truly tickled me, especially with Lizzie is visiting Charlotte and Mr. Collins, and also because it is a clever twist on a story I already enjoy....more
For one thing I'd like to say it wasn't as wordy as I was afraid it was, judging from other Victorian authors.Not really sure how to rate this book.
For one thing I'd like to say it wasn't as wordy as I was afraid it was, judging from other Victorian authors. The style is almost modern.
Also, I did find it generally amusing, but some of the quips, I think, were more particular to the time and place of his writing, and so might be a bit lost to the ages, as it were.
I enjoyed some of the ponderings, and the morality play and question of conscience - about how we can never truly remove it or subsume it. It will always be there, gnawing at us... waiting and biding its time, as it were. But I also found it a touch belaboured in places.
All in all, though, it was enjoyable.
I also enjoyed reading 'The Canterville Ghost', I was rather bemused by 'Lord Saville's Crime', and the shorter stories were sort of over before they really began....more
I've been reading this book off and on for months. Since it's short stories, I've been reading them between other things. I'm glad I've finally finishI've been reading this book off and on for months. Since it's short stories, I've been reading them between other things. I'm glad I've finally finished.
I'd always known about Sherlock Holmes. My parents used to watch the old shows on PBS. In high school I read 'Hound of the Baskervilles', and remember liking it, but don't remember much about it. And I loved, loved, LOVED the recent modern movie adaptation with Robert Downey, Jr. So, for the longest time, I consider myself something of a Holmes fan, but realized that, for all that, I'd never really read much Holmes. So I got this book.
Overall, I enjoyed it. I liked the novel length stories a lot, and some of the other stories were great. (Particulars of which stories I liked and didn't like, and various comments, are in my status updates.)
But, that said, I found a lot of the stories sort of predictable. It was hard for me to see them as examples of Holmes' genius when I figured them out from the outset. Sometimes they were truly clever, or amusing, or touching - but a lot of them were sort of ho-hum.
I was also disappointed to learn that Holmes' great rivla, Moriarity, is only in a scant few stories, and Irene Adler is in one! (Of course, I haven't read the second volume, yet, and I still hope this will be rectified.)
In a way, I'm glad I had the exposure to Holmes I did early on, prior to reading the stories, because I'm not sure, if I'd started with the stories, what I'd think, to be honest. ...more
Jekyll and Hyde is one of those stories that everyone 'knows' but very few people actually have read. I was well aquainted with the general idea of thJekyll and Hyde is one of those stories that everyone 'knows' but very few people actually have read. I was well aquainted with the general idea of the story from it's various permutations, but this is the first time I read it. One of the major differences is that in almost every version I can think of, Hyde is some hulking brute, but in the story he's actually smaller, physically. I found that interesting, and odd.
Other than that, though, I wasn't entirely enthralled with the story - mostly, I think, because I already knew the 'twist'. I did enjoy the writing, though, and found it interesting. I would give it 3 stars.
But there were other stories in this book, all of which connected on the general theme of human nature and our propensities and choices to do good or evil.
'The Bodysnatcher' was a good story - dark and sinister, and I enjoyed the ending. It explores the way that people who generally consider themselves good people can be lead along the path of doing wrong by not speaking up, by looking the other way, and then being - or at least feeling - trapped on the path of their silence. "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing," as the saying goes. I give it 4 stars.
Next was a very short short story called 'Markheim', in which a man murders a shop owner. He says it is justice, but we never really learn the reason. The beginning of the story is very good, following the murders thoughts - fear of discovery, disgust and yet triumph at the act, thoughts regarding the state and nature of death, his growing paranoia, and insistence at being just. It is delicious reading. But then it sort of devolves into cliche when another man shows up, and argues with him that he is not the good person he thinks he is. The ending, while admirable, is also predictable. Then again, it might not have been a hundred or so years ago. I give this 3 1/2
Last it 'The Imp Bottle' - a tale of an imp granting wishes, but with the cost of the immortal soul, if the person can not sell the bottle. It goes through several vagueries, and is told more like a folk tale than with the same literary styles of the other stories. All in all this was my least favorite of the lot. I'd give it 2 1/2....more
My first exposure to the story was the Disney cartoon version, which I always enjoyed as a kid.
And then there was Burton's version, which I knew di2.5
My first exposure to the story was the Disney cartoon version, which I always enjoyed as a kid.
And then there was Burton's version, which I knew differed from the story, but I didn't really know how or to what extent, since I'd never read the story.
And so when I came across it while browsing free downloads from amazon, I decided to get it.
It was a quick read, being so short, but there were also a few places where I skimmed, as the author went into great detail about the types of trees he was passing by, or food on a table, or other such details which set the scenery but add nothing, really, to the story.
I was amused to see a few names and familial connections from the movie to the book - and also to see that that's about where the similarities ended. And, thankfully, the Ichabod in the movie, for all his quirks and annoyingnesses, was much more sympathetic and likable than the one from the book, whose kind of an ass, actually.
It was a bit tense during that legendary ride home for Ichabod, though not as good as it could've been. And the denoument, with the implications stated within, sort of ruined even that.
*** possible spoiler ***
It basically implies that it was Brom, in an attempt to get rid of a competitor suiter, and not a ghost at all - which sucks....more
Like many people, I first read this story in high school. I remembered liking it, I even remember it being powerful to my young mind, but I didn't4.5
Like many people, I first read this story in high school. I remembered liking it, I even remember it being powerful to my young mind, but I didn't remember many details - just the general theme.
As I was rereading, the book being chosen for a group read, at first, while I found the writing flowed well and the characters were interesting, it just read like a sleepy story of a sleepy town. Interesting enough in it's way - to glimpse the world of a small town through the eyes of a young girl - but nothing to write home about.
But then I teared up twice - once at the ugliness of injustice, and once at the beauty of simple caring.
My new copy says that Harper Lee considered her book a simple love story. I was curious and confused by this - I didn't remember a love story. But then I read the end, and I understood.
There's a lot to take from this book, and it's still powerful - and, really, I can think of little better praise....more
Though I've seen about a million different versions of the story, this is the first time I ever read it. I was always scared to read it, because I'3.5
Though I've seen about a million different versions of the story, this is the first time I ever read it. I was always scared to read it, because I've tried to read other Dickens stuff, and just couldn't get through it. But, since this one is so short, and since I do already "know" the story, I thought I'd give it a go.
It was interesting to read it and compare it to some of the movie versions. And it really is a quick read. There are a few passages of Dickensian long-windedness, but they were few and bareable.
The message, as it ever was, is a bit heavy-handed - but, still, it's not a bad one to have.
Ultimately, I enjoyed reading it - I especially liked the last stanza, which always seems short in the movie versions.
Maybe I'll have to give some other Dickens another try. Maybe....more