Classic Edith Wharton, although this small novella focuses not on high society, for which Wharton is best known, but set in rural Massachusetts where...moreClassic Edith Wharton, although this small novella focuses not on high society, for which Wharton is best known, but set in rural Massachusetts where we learn about Ethan Frome, a man who has paid a very steep price indeed for daring to want love.(less)
This is a re-read, albeit a many-years-ago re-read, so most of it I had forgotten. I enjoyed it a lot more when I was younger....now, so many of Hemin...moreThis is a re-read, albeit a many-years-ago re-read, so most of it I had forgotten. I enjoyed it a lot more when I was younger....now, so many of Hemingway's characters seem irresponsible and child-like.
The story follows a loose group of friends (expats living in Paris) in the 1920s who decide to make the trip to Spain to see the running of the bulls. Most important to the story is the interpersonal relationships between the characters. The chief female character, Lady Brett Ashley, seems to have a personal relationship with every male she runs across and the drama this produces is what drives the novel.
The descriptions of places are what makes the novel worth reading, though. Hemingway was a master of description and making you feel as if you were really there.
If you'd like to understand what was going on in his personal life when he wrote this (because the story is based on personal experience, so it's nice to understand which characters were based on which actual people), then read Paula Mclain's novel, The Paris Wife, first. It should enhance your reading experience.(less)
Stop. Before you try to read this, go get your hands on a copy of the Richard Burton/Elizabeth Taylor film version and watch it first. Then read the p...moreStop. Before you try to read this, go get your hands on a copy of the Richard Burton/Elizabeth Taylor film version and watch it first. Then read the play. It will enhance your reading of this great play and that way you won't miss out on all the wit!
If you're not familiar with the storyline: Kate is the eldest daughter of a wealthy man from Padua, Italy. For whatever reason (up to you to decide why), Kate's a pain in the butt. Known as a shrew, she has scared off every eligible suitor in sight. Her younger sister, Bianca, is the opposite...a sweet, loving girl that every man wants to wed. But their father, again for unknown reasons, won't let Bianca wed till Kate has been married off first. So the suitors for Bianca hatch a wild scheme to get a young man named Petruchio from a nearby town to marry Kate. They think this will work because Petruchio is basically looking to marry for money and Kate comes with a huge dowry.
So Petruchio, who by the way isn't the most likable of characters at first, marries Kate and sets out to "tame" her. Meanwhile, Bianca's suitors engage in all sorts of antics to see who is going to wed her and mistaken identity (a Shakespeare specialty) leads to some hysterically funny moments.
Kate and Petruchio, meanwhile, must learn to compromise with each other.
Keep in mind that women's rights weren't exactly a big thing back when this play is written, so you can't apply modern sensibilities to the play. But you can enjoy it for it's wit and keen insights into human nature. (less)
Not my favorite of Shakespeare's plays. The antisemitism, while accepted when the play was written, doesn't sit well with me. Here's the plot (SPOILER...moreNot my favorite of Shakespeare's plays. The antisemitism, while accepted when the play was written, doesn't sit well with me. Here's the plot (SPOILERS!): Antonio and Bassanio are best friends. Bassanio, never very wise with his money and tending to fritter it all away, comes to Antonio for money he needs to court the very beautiful and very rich Portia. Antonio's money is tied up in a bunch of business ventures, so he doesn't have ready cash on hand, but he offers to use his good credit to secure a loan for Bassanio from Shylock, a local hated Jew (remember, back in Elizabethan England, usary was a big sin).
Shylock agrees to loan Antonio the money, but since he's a very nasty mean man who holds a grudge against all Christians due to the way they have treated him, he will only give the loan on the condition that if Antonio defaults, Shylock gets a pound of flesh from him (literally!).
So off Bassinio goes to woo Portia, which is a little tricky business. Her father's dead and set it up in his will that any suitor who wants to wed Portia must choose one of three caskets set out (one gold, one silver, one lead)....whoever chooses the right casket gets to marry the girl. Of course, Bassinio chooses the right one (this, by the by, is where the famous line "all that glitters is not gold" comes from) and marries Portia right away.
In the meantime, all of Antonio's business ventures go belly-up and he can't make the loan repayment to Shylock. Shylock demands his pound of flesh. When Bassanio hears about it, he rushes to Antonio's side, leaving Portia behind, with a bunch of cash to pay Shylock. Of course, Shylock is bent on revenge and won't touch the money....he wants that pound of flesh. The whole thing ends up in court. Portia, wanting to help her new husband and his friend, disguises herself as a lawyer and shows up in court to defend Antonio, which she does brilliantly and saves the day using a legal loophole no one else has thought of.
Whew. Okay, so that's the plot. There's actually a lot of controversy surrounding this play, not only because of the antisemitism but also because there are some who maintain that Bassinio and Antonio's friendship was so intense that it must have been a homosexual thing. Maybe, maybe not, I'm no judge of that. Shylock the Jew, however, is just portrayed so ugly that it turned me off. Now perhaps Shakespeare was actually commenting on the terrible results of antisemitism....that it can turn one so bitter that they become a Shylock....it's possible. But read it for yourself and see what you think.(less)
Quick synopsis: In this play we have Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan. Prospero and his daughter Miranda were shipwrecked on an (almost) deserted is...moreQuick synopsis: In this play we have Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan. Prospero and his daughter Miranda were shipwrecked on an (almost) deserted island when Prospero's evil brother Antonio ousted him from power and cast Prospero and a three year old Miranda in a leaky old boat out to sea. But Prospero and Miranda lived, thanks to a kind man named Gonzolo who sneaked a bunch of provisions onto the boat ahead of time.
Fast forward twelve years.
Prospero and Miranda are still stuck on the island. But as fate would have it, the evil Antonio finds himself sailing past the "deserted" island on his way back from a royal wedding in Africa. With him on the boat are Alonzo, the King of Naples (who years prior had conspired with Antonio to oust Prospero), Ferdinand (Alonzo's son and heir), Sebastian (Alonzo's brother), Gonzolo (yes, the good one who tried to save Prospero and Miranda), and a bunch of other insignificant characters. As the boat sails by the island, Prospero uses his magical powers to cause a tempest to arise and shipwreck them all on the island with him.
Now at this point, a logical person asks if Prospero has enough magic to cause a storm at sea, why didn't he just magic himself and Miranda off the island years ago? Good question. I don't have the answer.
But anyway, once they are all on the island together, Prospero uses a local spirit, Ariel, to contrive a bunch things to happen in order to lead to justice. It's a bit convoluted with several storylines going on at once, but easy enough to follow as you read the play.
I liked it. I liked the little love story that developed between Miranda and Ferdinand, despite the fact that Miranda was a tad witless (well, what do you expect after being stranded on an island for all those years?). I liked Prospero quite well and the baddies in the story were *really* bad.
Good stuff....you can finish it in an afternoon.(less)
This is the evil Richard III upon which all future "monster Richards" would be based upon. It doesn't matter that the play isn't accurate...you must r...moreThis is the evil Richard III upon which all future "monster Richards" would be based upon. It doesn't matter that the play isn't accurate...you must remember that Shakespeare wrote this knowing that Elizabeth I would be seeing it and since Richmond was her grandfather and the founder of her Tudor dynasty, of course Richard had to be bad, bad, bad. And is he ever bad!
Richard schemes, plots, murders and lies his way through the play to grab the crown. There is absolutely no redeeming trait within him. Neither, for that matter, is there much to redeem his Yorkist family....Edward, gluttonous to the end; Elizabeth Woodville, willing to give her daughter to the man who murdered her sons; and Anne, so completely insipid and stupid that she buys Richard's false story and marries the man who murdered her husband and father-in-law.
Okay, so here's the deal: if you have a good working knowledge of the English Wars of the Roses and the players involved, then this is a great time to read Shakespeare's immortal play. Understanding who these characters are makes the play a fun foray, even though we now know that Richard didn't necessarily do all of these dastardly deeds. It's still deliciously fun to read. If you don't have a good background knowledge of the Yorkists and Lancastrians involved at the time, it's just a play about an ambitious and evil man....well written, but ho-hum.
One of my absolute favorites both on paper and on stage.....not to be missed!(less)
How does one dare to give what many believe to be the Bard's greatest play only 2 stars? To be truthful, this is the one play of his that I truly do n...moreHow does one dare to give what many believe to be the Bard's greatest play only 2 stars? To be truthful, this is the one play of his that I truly do not like. I didn't care for the plot nor the motivations behind the characters. King Lear, aged king of an unnamed kingdom, decides to divide his kingdom up and give it to his three daughters. Who gets the biggest/best share? The daughter who tells him she loves him the most. (In other words, he's a vain old creature without the sense God gave a goat.) Surprise, surprise: the two selfish older daughters tell him all sorts of lies, fanning his ego, while the daughter Lear loves best (gee, could that have contributed to his elder daughters not liking him?) refuses to lie and simply tells him she loves him as she should, no more and no less.
Of course, this messes with Lear's ego and he banishes the younger daughter from the kingdom and splits the land between the two lying daughters. It's hard to feel sorry for a man like this....he simply dug his own grave to satisfy his ego and vanity.
What follows is the tragic consequences that plague Lear as his older daughters scheme to get rid of him so they can enrich themselves further. There's a good sub-plot involving the Duke of Gloucester and his two sons: one bastard, one not and the moral questions that arise from bastardy.
But as for Lear, it's tough to feel sorry for him. In the end, I saw this tragedy of his own making and turned the last page feeling a tad disgusted about it all. (less)
I always have to preface any review I write on a Shakespeare play to say that any rating I give is wholly based upon my reaction to the play, not the...moreI always have to preface any review I write on a Shakespeare play to say that any rating I give is wholly based upon my reaction to the play, not the merits of the plays themselves. After all, who am I to give the mighty Shakespeare a mere 4 star rating? It wouldn't do.
So the four stars I gave this play is just my reaction: I really liked it. Lighter and full of merriment and hijinks, this short play is about love and all of it's variations. Ultimately, I suppose it's asking what love really is. We believe it to be one thing, but a little magic potion playfully (and mistakenly) spread around by Puck has characters falling in and out of love with each other so quickly that it makes you wonder if we might be mistaken about the nature of love.
It does not matter how many times I read this novel....it never loses it's magic. This illustrated edition is a must for everyone who loves this novel...moreIt does not matter how many times I read this novel....it never loses it's magic. This illustrated edition is a must for everyone who loves this novel.(less)
Okay, so just because I gave this four stars doesn't mean I understand it at all. I just like the way Conrad makes the setting of the Congo into a cha...moreOkay, so just because I gave this four stars doesn't mean I understand it at all. I just like the way Conrad makes the setting of the Congo into a character. Very cool. As usual, no matter how many times I read this story, I do just fine and am completely engrossed until Marlow finally gets to Kurtz. Then it all falls apart for me....I just don't get it. I keep hoping that the more times I read it, the more I will eventually "get." I'll keep trying.(less)