One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how much Byatt can pack into her work. So many allusions and references, but each is appropriate. I have to...moreOne thing that never ceases to amaze me is how much Byatt can pack into her work. So many allusions and references, but each is appropriate. I have to say that I'm a bigger fan of her short fiction, but this is by far the best of her novels. It can be a little slow at times due to all the information, but it really immerses you in the world of the novel. This is one I plan on re-reading more than once, and I'm sure I'll always find something I didn't see before. Great stuff.(less)
My favorite collection of short stories by Byatt. I keep wandering back to it and flipping through the pages, and then I end up reading the whole thin...moreMy favorite collection of short stories by Byatt. I keep wandering back to it and flipping through the pages, and then I end up reading the whole thing over again. "Cold" is fantastic. I've tried to explain it to people, and the plot sounds so cheesy, but you have to read it to understand its beauty. "A Lamia in the Cevennes" and "Crocodile Tears" were also favorites. One thing I love about her stories is that they can be so real, and have that one element that is just the opposite. A lot of great stories in here, with gorgeous descriptions. (less)
Beautiful and tragic. I love the way time almost disappears in this novel - I couldn't believe when I was halfway through and they were still in the h...moreBeautiful and tragic. I love the way time almost disappears in this novel - I couldn't believe when I was halfway through and they were still in the house, although I don't know where else I expected them to go. The book moves along nicely and flows wonderfully. I was a bit disappointed with the end - it seemed a little thrown together - but the rest of the novel makes up for that. One of the best I've read in the last year or so. It's one of those books that leaves you thinking for days about the characters, the plot, why things happened the way they did, and what might have happened if they hadn't. I really didn't want to close it when I got to the end. Beautifully written, and a great study on misunderstanding, human interaction, and love.(less)
This is the first Gaiman that I've read, and I have to say, I was impressed. All of the stories were more than decent, and quite a few were fantastic....moreThis is the first Gaiman that I've read, and I have to say, I was impressed. All of the stories were more than decent, and quite a few were fantastic. "Other People" sticks out in my head - it had me lying awake thinking about it for nights afterwards, creepy and disturbing as it was. Overall great writing, and a nice collection of stories. I plan on reading more of his work soon.(less)
Whenever anyone asks me what my all-time favorite book is, this is the one I tell them. And it's true. I started reading it once when I was younger, b...moreWhenever anyone asks me what my all-time favorite book is, this is the one I tell them. And it's true. I started reading it once when I was younger, but I wasn't quite ready for it yet and I couldn't get past the first chapter. When I picked it up again a couple of years later, I fell for it. I remember hating Mrs. Reed and her children - especially John - with such a passion, I wished I could reach through the book and wring their necks until they gained some sense. Mr. Brocklehurst, too. And being terrified when she was stuck in the red room. I've reread it at least five times since then, and it always seems that I come across a scene or a character that I've forgotten about in the year or two since I read it last. In college, I wrote a paper on it and came across interpretations that I'd never even began to consider, prompting careful rereading of most of the chapters once again. I think it was the first real "literary" book I read as a kid, and possibly the first book that made me feel so strongly for the characters (whether it was hate or love) - that just may be why nothing has been able to replace it as my favorite.(less)
I first discovered A.S. Byatt's work a few years ago when I picked up this book, quite honestly because the cover was pretty. This little volume hooke...moreI first discovered A.S. Byatt's work a few years ago when I picked up this book, quite honestly because the cover was pretty. This little volume hooked me into her style right away, and I've devoured all of her other works since. Her short stories have a quality that is so unique - many of them are set in the real world that we know, but have that one element of fantasy, mystery, or horror that tips them over the edge and makes for fascinating writing. "A Stone Woman" is my favorite in this collection, the story of a woman who, in her grief for her mother (and after a minor operation of her own), finds that she is slowly becoming encrusted in a kind of stone casing that slowly encompasses her whole self. The descriptions of her transformation are so vivid you can almost feel the crystals on your own skin, and hear them clinking as the woman moves. Each story is a work in its own right, and each has its own merit as a piece of art. If I remember correctly, a review inside the book calls the stories "gems," which is precisely what they are - gems of stories to be discovered and treasured. If you're looking for an introduction to Byatt's style and artistry, this one is for you.(less)
Why on earth didn't I pick up this book sooner? Really a great read that I couldn't put down. No, it's not exactly great literature - but as far as an...moreWhy on earth didn't I pick up this book sooner? Really a great read that I couldn't put down. No, it's not exactly great literature - but as far as an entertaining, escapist read goes, you can't do better. My new (very) guilty pleasure. It had a bit of the romance novel about it, but I loved the historical fiction aspect, and it kept me entertained and wanting more. Gabaldon is a fantastic story teller, always keeping the reader on their toes and really getting you to care about the characters. The only downside is that now I'll have to find time to read the rest of the series :P(less)
A fantastic novel. I don't know how I missed reading this one years ago, but I'm glad I picked it up when I did. It was exactly the kind of book I nee...moreA fantastic novel. I don't know how I missed reading this one years ago, but I'm glad I picked it up when I did. It was exactly the kind of book I needed this week - well written, engaging, at times dark and mysterious and at others a look at how lost a "silly" young girl can be when out of her element. I'd seen bits and pieces of the BBC version on TV, so while I knew the premise of the story going into this, I didn't know the twist - and it was a good one! And who knew a housekeeper could be so terribly creepy?
Although the narrator was naive, needy, and sometimes not the sharpest tool in the shed, I found myself sympathizing with her. She's thrown into a world she knows nothing about, knowing that she will always be compared to her beloved predecessor. Her main concern seems to be what others will think of her - she constantly imagines the conversations that the household staff or the town gossips will be having about her, and admits freely that it's one of these imagined conversations that push her to go downstairs to the fancy dress party. When she loses this towards the end of the novel, and gains some confidence in her position as mistress of Manderley, I think she lost a little personality as well; even Maxim bemoans the loss of her innocence and youth.
The way du Maurier can set a mood is wonderful, though. It could be supremely creepy, have an underlying sense of danger, or, as it did for the last few chapters, make me a nervous wreck, right along with the narrator. Loved it! (less)