**spoiler alert** I think this book is a worthwhile read. It's depiction of the class system, elitist snobbery and hypocrisy, and gender roles was eye...more**spoiler alert** I think this book is a worthwhile read. It's depiction of the class system, elitist snobbery and hypocrisy, and gender roles was eye-opening. It made me more appreciative of the fact that I do not have to live in such a stilted world where social roles are rigidly enforced and any deviation can mean ruin.
However, those who are interested in more exciting and suspenseful reads à la Dan Brown may find this book slow and tedious. The interesting enough plot is often dragged down by long philosophical tangents. While I expected to read a book about a woman's fall from grace, in the end I realized that the plot was more a vehicle to put a spotlight on Russian life and philosophy than the highlight of the book. Indeed, I did not realize that the title character of the book is not the sole focus. At least half of the book is devoted to the storyline of another character and his family. If you don't want to get mired in the niceties of 19th century Russia, this book may bore you.
The biggest disappointment for me was the ending. I waited expectantly for the infamous suicide, and once it came, the rest of the book dragged on. The end of the book, once again, returned to philosophy in its focus of how to live a good (defined as Christian) life. Unfortunately, this seemed sudden and trite and a little preachy, as though Tolstoy didn't want the reader to miss the moral of the story. Unfortunately, it does not carry the same force as, say, Voltaire's imperative to "cultivate your garden."(less)
This book is wildly funny. It is more like a series of short stories than a novel, with each chapter being a separate story. I found that the entertai...moreThis book is wildly funny. It is more like a series of short stories than a novel, with each chapter being a separate story. I found that the entertainment value varied from story to story. Some chapters I could not help but laughing out loud at but others I had to push myself through. Overall, it is a very entertaining book. (less)
This book was not quite what I expected. Billing itself as "The complete behind-the-scenes story of the bitchiest film ever made," I expected to learn...moreThis book was not quite what I expected. Billing itself as "The complete behind-the-scenes story of the bitchiest film ever made," I expected to learn about all the dirt-- the story of the real "Eve," the affair between Bette Davis and Gary Merrill, the animosity between Davis and Celeste Holmes, the competition between Davis and Ann Baxter for the best leading actress Academy Award, the legendary difficulties of working with Marilyn Monroe even at that early stage, etc. The author Sam Staggs does touch on all of these things, but his coverage is brief and did not really add more than I already knew. It turns out that the "bitchiest film ever made" was not all that bitchy behind-the-scenes. The whole production went very smoothly, so if you are expecting lots of gossipy conflict, you might want to move on.
Staggs' overview of the movie is complete, though, at times a bit too complete. He takes the reader through the entire production of the movie, and at times going into too much detail about incidentals. We really do not need a chapter on Tallulah Bankhead just because she was allegedly the inspiration for the voice and mannerisms for Davis' depiction of Margo Channing. And though Staggs is thorough, he finishes taking us through the movie production and reception with half the book still left. I found the latter half uninteresting as it left the subject of the behind-the-scenes story of All About Eve and moved onto Staggs' own psychosexual analysis of the story and the play adaptation "Applause."
I think the book is at its best when delving into the true story of "Eve" (There is even an original interview with her in the appendix.) and discussing the give and take between the director and the film censor board. When the book is at it worst, it is because Staggs injects too much of himself into the writing. He also has a habit of incorporating lines from the movie into his writing, which was cute as first but wore thin later on in the book as he stretched to make some of the quotations fit the scenarios.
This is the absolute worse book I have ever read in my entire life.
The premise for the plot sounds interesting enough, but was not executed suspensef...moreThis is the absolute worse book I have ever read in my entire life.
The premise for the plot sounds interesting enough, but was not executed suspensefully. The ending is not worth wading through the grammatical trash that precedes it. If you have any respect for the English language, skip this book. There is almost no scene development. It is almost all dialogue, and there is a lot of quoting without attribution, which is slightly confusing and ruins the flow of the writing.
On top of that, the characters speak very poorly and since dialogue makes up the majority of the book, it is really annoying. I understand the use of dialect and local color in literature, but please! Mallette is no Mark Twain. The writer herself uses colloquial expressions outside of the dialogue which ruins the neutral tone of the narrator. She also interrupts the flow of the book by dividing scenes into different chapters. What is the point of interrupting a non-suspenseful conversation with a chapter break when you are just going to continue the conversation exactly where you left off?
It also felt preachy at times. How many times do we have to hear Brandon, the main character's gay friend, say that he believes in monogamy because he doesn't want to get a STD (as if only homosexuals get them!)?
The breaking point for me was reading the egregious use of mistaken words. Instead of decibels, the word decimals was used. Instead of libel, they wrote liable.
The most enjoyable books are ones that are well-written with a strong, well-executed narrative. There are some books where the reader dislikes the plot but can still appreciate the book for its beautiful prose. There are books that are weakly written but are saved by their suspenseful plots. Then there is "Shades of Jade," a book that has neither beautiful writing nor a decent story. The existence of this book degrades literature, and it disturbs me to think that this tripe got published over the work of some decent writer somewhere. (less)