I was never assigned The Diary of A Young Girl in school - I either picked it up myself or a teacher suggested it to me, right around fifth grade. And...moreI was never assigned The Diary of A Young Girl in school - I either picked it up myself or a teacher suggested it to me, right around fifth grade. And my fascination with Anne and her circumstances, with the differences between her tiny world and the world-changing events surrounding her story, and with the lessons we can take away from her words, has stuck with me ever since.
Perhaps it's because I read her diary outside of an academic setting, but I've never thought about it as a literary classic. I've always thought of it as non-fiction, as fact, so it never occurred to me to consider the writing, the tone, the level of story telling. Which I suppose is why Francine Prose is an award winner writer, a literary critic, and an English professor, and I am not.
I've never seen either the play or the movie based on the diary, and I can't say the story of adapting and creating them has made me any more interested. The poor characterization and over dramatization sound uninteresting - and the choice of tone sounds unsettling. The story of Anne Frank, and the larger story of the Holocaust, the story that she has come to represent for so many people, is not a comedy.
I particularly enjoyed Prose's look at the different messages people take away from their encounters with the diary. Is Anne a symbol of hope, as her famous quote about believing in the good in people would have us think? Or is she a reminder of the horrors that human beings can perpetuate, as she herself pointed out? Can she be both? Does minimizing her to one or the other - to any single message at all - diminish her, ignore her humanity, allow us to ignore the terrible times she lived through?
I don't know. But it's worth thinking about. (less)
I thought this was fun if uninspired - rather than throwing more creative or dramatic problems between Darcy and Elizabeth as most retellings or updat...moreI thought this was fun if uninspired - rather than throwing more creative or dramatic problems between Darcy and Elizabeth as most retellings or updates do, this one actually did a way with a problem - she never hears him insult her at the dance. And then the author plays with what could have gone differently with that one little change. Interesting.
And then there were some very old plot decisions, and some wildly out of character moves. I loved the beginning of this book, but mostly just tolerated the ending. (less)
When it came time to right this review, I started with "I remember being charmed by Ruby Red, the first book in this tr...moreHere's my issue with this book:
When it came time to right this review, I started with "I remember being charmed by Ruby Red, the first book in this trilogy..." which is not entirely accurate. I remember that I was charmed by the first book in this trilogy. I have no recollection of why. And after reading the second and third books in quick succession, I'm doubting my own taste in books.
The pacing in this book was off. Nothing much happened, and then lots happened, and most of that "lots" part didn't flow well. (You'll notice I'm being vague, more on that in a second.)
Gwen was one of the least engaging teen-girl protagonists I've encountered - huge revelations about her life come out, and she's ostensibly in great peril for the entirety of the book, and she spends most of it staring at a boy who is giving her some poorly written mixed signals or being generally inept.
What would probably have been an entirely cranky paragraph on the awkward dialogue and terribly forced exposition will instead be shortened to: bad translation, not enough story to justify it.
And finally: the reason I was vague up above? It's because I really don't remember what happened for most of the book other than Gwen being numb and Gideon being so obviously mad about her but denying it for plot reasons. And time travel! And curses! And the count who was obviously evil before we ever met him turned out to be evil!
Sigh. I do so love a time travel book. Just not this one. Now if you'll excuse me, I probably have to go retroactively downgrade whatever rating I gave to the other books in this series.(less)
I liked it. It didn't live up to the glowing praise I had heard - this book has gotten some seriously glowing reviews.
I liked it. It's a quiet book, deeply introspective, and sometimes it hit closer to home than I, for one, would like to admit.
I can't say I loved it, or that I would buy it or reread it. But I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. And it was worth the inevitably melancholy I expect will stick around for the rest of the night. (less)
Elizabeth and Mary are fascinating subjects, but I do no like Dunn's "semi-chronological" style. If she had stopped repeating th...morePage 311 and I'm done.
Elizabeth and Mary are fascinating subjects, but I do no like Dunn's "semi-chronological" style. If she had stopped repeating things (sometimes in borderline cut and paste phrases), she could have knocked 50 pages off the book and I would have pushed through. But the back and forth, mentioning and then retuning to later, and even flat out not elaborating (an offhand mention to the "casket letters" Mary allegedly wrote to her second-husband's-murderer/third husband were mentioned and then we moved right past them) made this book not worth the frustration of finishing.
I will now make sure to read the bio of Elizabeth I that I know I have lying around somewhere, and there's a Mary bio by Antonia Fraser that has been highly recommended. They lived sub fascinating lives, it's a shame to skip out before the end because of unfocused plotting. (less)
Aaaaaand once again, I have read an entire Laini Taylor book in a single sitting. She writes good, man.
I'm still processing - seriously, a single sit...moreAaaaaand once again, I have read an entire Laini Taylor book in a single sitting. She writes good, man.
I'm still processing - seriously, a single sitting - but this sequel delved much deeper into the (apparently generations-long?) was between the seraphim and the chimaera. Much deeper. There was a lot more death and a lot less sexual tension in this one, and I liked it just as much, which I think is an excellent sign for book number three.
If you've ever read a Jane Austen novel and thought "but what about the laundry? Who was doing the laundry?" - good news!
I kid. (Not about the laundry...moreIf you've ever read a Jane Austen novel and thought "but what about the laundry? Who was doing the laundry?" - good news!
I kid. (Not about the laundry. Laundry is serious business.)
In her well researched and very detailed look at the lives in the background of Pride and Prejudice, Jo Baker gets down to the nitty gritty - quite literally. Cleaning and cooking and slaughtering animals - I think this book is almost mis-marketed. People who enjoy Austen for the departure from real life that her stories provide will find themselves rather roughly deposited into all of the bits that she left out.
Solid writing, sympathetic characters, and just enough (and barely) action from the original novel made this one enjoyable. If you've read everything else Austen and need a fix, or you're a true completist, have at this one. Otherwise, perhaps another reread of the original is in order? (less)