I read this book sometime during high school, I think, not because of a school requirement but because people around me...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I read this book sometime during high school, I think, not because of a school requirement but because people around me were quoting it and such. I remember being partly fascinated by it, but not so much to make it a favorite book. I just know that this book had a memorable line that everyone seems to know: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.
I ended up reading the book again for our book club's discussion, and seeing that it was a short book, I read it just a few days before the discussion happened. Still the same -- the book had that whimsical feel, with the little prince's innocence and stories bringing the pilot (and the readers) to wonder if this little prince was the real thing. The book didn't bring any new emotions, but it reminded me of just how sad I felt when I got to the end. I remember not knowing the answer to the question: what do you think happened to the little prince?
Nevertheless, the book gained more meaning to me after my friends and I had a very good (and brain-frying) discussion on it. Despite its thinness, The Little Prince is one of those books that pack a pretty heavy punch with its different adages that is pretty much applicable to so many things in life. I'd like to believe that people of all ages will be able to pick something interesting in this book, even if it gets a wee bit childish for older readers. After all, this was written as a children's book.
However, I would have to agree: the meat of the book really happens with the prince's conversations with the fox. Don't get me wrong -- the rest of the book was pretty lovely as well, but if you need the most popular quotes in the book, just look for that chapter. It's pretty much all there.(less)
I wasn't sure what Austen to read this year until my book club did the choosing for me. Emma won as this month's choice...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I wasn't sure what Austen to read this year until my book club did the choosing for me. Emma won as this month's choice of read, so I knew I was going to read it early this year. Then I came across Miss Match by Erynn Mangum and found out it was based on Emma. I didn't really like the former, and that made me wary with this book, thinking maybe I wouldn't like this either (but I kind of doubted that, since this is a classic, and I've liked Austen so far).
Emma is about Emma Woodhouse, a 21-year-old woman who's swore never to marry not because of past hurts but because she feels that she is perfectly content with her life. This doesn't stop her from meddling with other people's affairs, though and she's decided to appoint herself a matchmaker for her new friend Harriet Smith, after she had proven that her matchmaking skills are good based on her old governess getting married to someone she matched her with. This meddling starts the mess in all of Emma's life as she finds her carefully laid out plans unraveled, and she realizes that maybe she doesn't always get it right. With a cast of other interesting and sometimes annoying characters, Emma finds out a thing or two about love from the most unexpected people.
Talk about a slow reading. I know I read classics very slowly because of how it was written, but Emma is probably the book that I took the longest time reading, since it takes me about 2-3 days to finish a book. Emma took me more than two weeks. At times I wanted to stop reading and pick it up sometime else, but I know that if I do that, I will get completely lost in the story and would have to start again.
Emma is highly amusing, even if it can get boring sometimes. I had to laugh at the long lines of dialogue -- and I mean pure dialogue since there wasn't much action being described as the characters talked. It made me imagine that they were all just standing around and talking in their long skirts and suits without really doing anything else but that. Sometimes I wonder if there was a point with all the dialogue and the number of names mentioned in the first few chapters got me so dizzy that I couldn't keep track anymore.
Here's a not-so-secret: I spoiled myself with the ending. Somewhere during the first part of the book, I decided to go on Wikipedia and read about the novel just so I know what to expect. I read the summary and continued reading the novel, watching out for the key scenes mentioned in the synopsis. I don't think it made the novel less of a fun reading experience for me, but it did remove the surprise factor a bit.
The thing I realized about Emma is how different the heroine is from the two Austen heroines I've read: Elizabeth Bennett and Anne Elliot. I read in a review once that people always read and liked Pride & Prejudice first, enjoyed Emma more but loved Persuasion. I find that I have a different type of relationship with the books because of the heroines. Elizabeth Bennett is someone I'd want to be friends with while Anne Elliot is someone I wanted to be. Emma Woodhouse, on the other hand, is someone I know I am before I can become Anne Elliot. It's like Emma is younger version of these two other heroines -- the not so mature yet still smart heroine that grows into a character you'd love if she decides to learn from her mistakes. Emma is flawed and annoying at times, and I can say that I related to her more than I expected I would. It's almost like looking in the mirror sometimes, and it's funny because it lessens the annoyance I had with Emma at the first parts of the book.
I can say that Miss Match was definitely a lot like Emma, but even so, I find myself less irritated with Emma than Laurie. Maybe Laurie was really just irritating to me, period. It makes me wonder again if I was/am anything like Laurie, and if I saw the things I hated about myself in her. Maybe I did. The difference between Emma and Laurie is Emma seemed to have learned how to be a proper lady in the end while Laurie just kept on being...meddling. But that may be because it's a trilogy, and there's more character growth in the next books.
But I digress. Emma is an enjoyable read, despite its length. Was I ever so glad when I finished it! It does get better by the third part of the book, so if you're reading it, just keep on because it gets interesting. While it's not my favorite Austen novel (this still goes to Persuasion), I liked Emma a lot more than I expected I would. Like the other Austens I've read, the ending made me sigh in happiness, and made me close the (e)book with a smile. :) (less)
It took me a while to really get into this book. I admit the first few pages kind of made my head hurt...more**spoiler alert** Original post at One More Page
It took me a while to really get into this book. I admit the first few pages kind of made my head hurt, because I couldn't get into the language. But once Anne Elliot finally showed herself in the book, I started getting comfortable and I actually started liking it. A lot.
I think the thing that really struck me here was Anne Elliot herself. I loved Elizabeth Bennet in P&P, but I realized how much I loved Anne more in this novel. Elizabeth was a feisty and strong-headed woman, someone who you'd want to have as a friend. Anne was someone who I want to be. She's emotionally mature, with the way she deals with her family and her emotions especially with Captain Wentworth. She knows when to speak up and when to let it be. She keeps her appointments despite what other people say, and she has her mind and heart in the right place. It was sad that she's such a social outcast in her family, but I think that gave her the character that made her so lovable.
Who wouldn't want to be her, seriously?
Other than Anne, the story captivated me. This is like, the foundation of all "almost-unrequited-love" stories. I felt Anne's pain when Captain Wentworth was too formal with her and she realized that it was better if he just ignored her, as quoted below:
Once, too, he spoke to her. She had left the instrument on the dancing being over, and he had sat down to try to make out an air which he wished to give the Miss Musgroves an idea of. Unintentionally she returned to that part of the room; he saw her, and, instantly rising, said, with studied politeness—
"I beg your pardon, madam, this is your seat;" and though she immediately drew back with a decided negative, he was not to be induced to sit down again.
Anne did not wish for more of such looks and speeches. His cold politeness, his ceremonious grace, were worse than anything.
I also felt her sadness when she thought that his friends could have been her friends if they had pushed through with the engagement. I felt her slight joy when she saw him give her a glance that wasn't cold. I felt her excitement when she learned that Captain Wentworth was "available". I smiled when he assisted her with Mary's child. I felt surprised when she learned that he was jealous for her attention. And I was smiling like an idiot when I read his letter to her:
I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men.
How can you not love this book?
I'm so glad I read this. :) It would take a while for me to get over this, and now I can say that Captain Wentworth is one of my book crushes, along with Wes Baker and Fitzwilliam Darcy. :P(less)
One of my favorite cartoons when I was a kid was the anime Peter Pan, the one they showed every 10:00am on TV during...moreOriginally posted at One More Page
One of my favorite cartoons when I was a kid was the anime Peter Pan, the one they showed every 10:00am on TV during weekdays. I remember watching that show religiously in ABS-CBN everyday, and especially the extended story, the one with Luna and the mirror and the dark queen. Anyone who was a child during the 90's surely knows this show, right?
I know not all of that cartoon came from the book, but I was curious to read the book nonetheless. What's cool with classics is that there are free ebooks around, so I downloaded an ebook of Peter Pan and started reading it in between Persuasion.
My first impression with Peter Pan is that it was an easier read compared to the other classics I have read. I didn't have to read it slowly to understand the text, unlike how I read the other books. There was a certain playfulness in the way the book was written that made it fit the characters and the nature of the story, of making believe. I found the characters endearing, especially Tootles, in all his awkwardness.
However...I don't know, it's just an okay book for me. I liked it a lot, but that's it. It didn't give me a huge sense of amazement, unlike when I read an Austen or To Kill a Mockingbird. Maybe it's because I read it from an ebook? Or maybe because I need to believe in fairies and Neverland more? Or maybe it was because I was trying to make sense of the story too much -- is Neverland all in their imaginations? Is Peter just a figment of all of their imaginations, including Mr. and Mrs. Darling?
Yeah, I probably did too much over thinking again with this. :P I don't mean to be cynical, maybe a re-read would change my mind to make me appreciate this. Or maybe, Peter Pan is the type of book that I'd really rather watch on TV.(less)
I wasn't one of those kids who grew up with Alice in Wonderland. In fact, I remember being pretty scared of the entire...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I wasn't one of those kids who grew up with Alice in Wonderland. In fact, I remember being pretty scared of the entire story. I never watched the cartoons or read the book. I felt like it was composed of too much oddities that my mind cannot really handle, and its weirdness borders on fright. I guess I just couldn't see the "wonder" that this piece of literature has. Maybe I'm the weird one?
But anyway, this is a classic, and a short one at that, so I decided to finally read it just so I can add it to my classics reading challenge this year. I figure it may not be as weird and scary as I thought it was when I was younger, and the ebook is free so there's no reason for me not to read it.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a novel written in 1865 by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, under the pen name Lewis Caroll. It tells the story of a girl named Alice who was bored one afternoon and follows a White Rabbit with a watch down a rabbit hole. She falls into a fantasy land filled with strange, talking creatures such as a talking mouse, lizard, a blue caterpillar who smokes, the sleepy dormouse, and of course, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts who keeps on ordering to remove the heads of random people.
According to the Wikipedia article, this book is considered as the best example in the literary nonsense genre. Truth be told, I have no idea what was happening half the time, and what the point of all of it was. I was expecting some kind of plot to unfold, but there really wasn't. There was just...lots of absurdity. I guess all my fantasy reading was used to a main character having a specific big goal to work on for the rest of the novel with things happening to push the hero/heroine towards that goal. Alice is different. Not really bad different, or even scary different as I thought when I was younger. Just...well, a little bit odder than what I usually read.
I think the format I read it in had an effect with what I read. Since my copy was an ebook, it was devoid of illustrations, and I think Alice is better read as an illustrated print book format than just a plain all-words ebook. I think I would have appreciated reading it more if my copy had illustrations like these (photos from Lenny's Alice in Wonderland site):
I liked it, but I'm still not sure if I really got it. Should I think about what it means or just accept it for what it was? Should I read it again to get it? Or maybe I should watch the cartoon movie? Ah I don't know. But again, it's not that it's bad. Maybe it's just not for someone who over thinks things, like me. Oh, but the good thing with reading this though, is I don't think I'm scared of it anymore. :P Our book club moderator says the sequel, Through the Looking Glass is better than this one, so I may also look out for that. :)
I can't remember the last time I read A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, but I knew it's been a long time since I did so. It's one of the c...moreI can't remember the last time I read A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, but I knew it's been a long time since I did so. It's one of the classics that I knew for sure I read multiple times and loved every single time I did. It wasn't until lately that I felt the need to read it again, perhaps to cleanse my palate from all the intense reads I've had lately.
For those unfamiliar, A Little Princess is the story of Sara Crewe (no h in the book), the daughter of rich, doting father, Captain Crewe, who is sent to Miss Minchin's Seminary for Girls to study. Miss Minchin secretly thinks that Sara is spoiled, despite her becoming the favorite pupil and classmate because of her intelligence and imagination. Sara befriends most of the students but becomes especially close to slow and pudgy Ermengarde, crybaby Lottie and scullery maid Becky. Other students call her Princess Sara after news of her father's investment on diamond mines spread, and while this embarrasses her at first, Sara learns to use this to remind herself to be compassionate to others.
Sara's lavish eleventh birthday party was abruptly put to a stop after the news of her father's death, leaving her orphaned and penniless, after his father's friend disappears with all their mone. Miss Minchin is forced to adopt her and she falls from being the show pupil to a drudge, helping Becky out in the kitchen and in various errands around the school. Sara makes use of her imagination, strength and compassion to get through the next three years as a servant, attempting to pretend her cold and hunger away, finding comfort from the few friends she had left, and doing her best to still act like a princess despite being a pauper.
Spoiler warning starts here.
I realize as I re-read this classic that I knew the story almost by heart. I remember all the characters around Sara -- Ermengarde, Lottie, Becky, Miss Minchin, Miss Amelia, Lavinia, even Melchisedec the rat and Emily the doll. My visualization of the characters are still the same as the cartoon, having watched them for years. There were a lot of differences from the cartoon and the book, of course, such as:
1. One of Sara's parties when Lavinia scares her horse 2. Lavinia's birthday party 3. Peter, Sara's horse guy, who becomes a chimney sweep and Sara's attempt at being one 4. Sara spends the night in the stable 5. The stable being on fire because of Lottie upsetting her jack-o-lantern after she was scared by Lavinia 6. Lavinia moving into Sara's old room and requesting her to be her personal maid
It kind of scares me that I remember so much detail in the old cartoon. But anyway, despite not having those juicier scenes, A Little Princess is still a beautiful classic story, one that every girl, no matter how old or young, should read. We could learn a lot from Sara, most especially compassion for others even if they do not deserve it. Her generosity is something to be admired, and the novel shows us that a little generosity can go a long way and can inspire other people to do the same (the particular scene where Sara gave five loaves of bread to a street urchin when she was just as hungry was very heartwarming).
When I was a kid, I used to wish I was Princess Sara because she was a pretty, well-liked girl, who manages to rise above her trials. Now that I'm years older -- and hopefully, wiser -- I still want to be like Princess Sara, but not for the same reasons. I want to be as compassionate, as imaginative, and as resilient as Sara Crewe, and be a princess in the way she thought a girl should be. :)(less)
Jane Eyre is one of those books that I've always planned to read ever since I said I'd read more classics, but of course...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Jane Eyre is one of those books that I've always planned to read ever since I said I'd read more classics, but of course, never got around to because there was no immediate reason for me to read it. I was also very wary about how much time I would have to invest with this, knowing how dated the language of classic books can be, and its length. With all the books waiting on my TBR pile, and the slowness of my reading pace lately, do I really want to read a thick classic book?
But alas, I had to read Jane Eyre because, as I mentioned a couple of days ago, I was assigned to be a moderator for my book club's fourth monthly book discussion. As someone who likes grabbing an excuse to do things, I took this chance to finally get cracking on this hefty volume. I want to do a good job on moderating the discussion, so I wanted to get this right.
Jane Eyre is an orphan, and she lived with her aunt and cousins for the past first ten years of her life. She hated living there as she was often maltreated by her aunt and cousins, so when she was finally given a chance to go to school, she takes the chance without looking back. Her years in the Lowood boarding school taught her much and prepared her for her job as governess at Thornfield Hall. But even with all these, none of these really prepared her for meeting (and eventually falling in love with) her employer, Edward Rochester.
I was surprised at the readability of Jane Eyre. It was very easy to get into the prose and even if I wasn't able to read a few pages on several days because I was too busy, I was able to dive back in to the story without having to read back a couple of pages (or worse, read right back from the start, like how I was during the first time I read Pride and Prejudice). Jane was very easy to like and her point of view was such a pleasure to read, her thoughts showing her as a pretty independent and mature woman for her age. It's not fluff, but I can't really call it dark either because I never felt that it wasn't even with all the references to the silent manor and the weather and all that.
Of course, one cannot deny the romantic aspect of this novel. It was oftentimes cute and there were some swoon-worthy moments, but I just had to laugh at how corny and Rochester's lines can be! I often called it "Style mo bulok" (loose translation: a Filipino slang term for old-fashioned romantic moves) because his lines were often laughable even if it is still romantic. Their conversations/verbal sparring made their interactions most fun, and I liked how their affection for each other developed from this and not from just physical attraction. I liked how the story didn't focus purely on the romance (even if it was pretty much the climax of it), but on Jane's choices based on what she knew was good for her and her heart. I can see what makes this book a feminine novel, but it's not too much in-your-face that makes this book less appealing to males. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were a lot of guys who finished reading the book and shared their insights in the book discussion. :)
A few days ago, I was talking to some bookish friends about Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, and one of them talked about how the Brontë sisters' novels appeal more to the younger crowd while people tend to appreciate Austen more when they're done with high school or college. Brontë novels tend to focus more on the drama, almost akin to Filipino soap operas that bring on the drama to reel the audience in. I find myself agreeing because comparing Jane Eyre with the few Austens I've read, it does have that kind of generation gap. Of course it's understandable because Austen was born before Charlotte Brontë, and Jane Eyre was written while Charlotte was young. But there is a certain kind of sophistication and lack of drama (and complicated language, I admit!) in Austen's novels that make them different. That doesn't mean Jane Eyre isn't good, of course, or that there's a superior author between them, but it's just an interesting thing to note. While Jane Eyre didn't exactly make me swoon like Persuasion did, I think Jane Eyre is a very good classic book. I am glad that I was given the excuse to read it now rather than later, and I am still very honored to be the one to moderate our book club's Jane Eyre discussion. :)(less)
Would you believe that I have never heard of Little Lord Fauntleroy until this year? When I was a kid, I only knew of l...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Would you believe that I have never heard of Little Lord Fauntleroy until this year? When I was a kid, I only knew of little Cedric "Ceddie" Errol through this morning cartoon that I watch during summer vacation, same as where I first found out who Sara Crewe was. Ceddie is a little boy who lives with his mom and dad in New York. His dad passed away, and shortly after, they found out that Ceddie was actually the next in line as the Earl of Dorincourt in England, and so he and his mom goes to England. Despite this good fortune, Ceddie's grandfather, the current Earl, is angry at the Ceddie's mother because he thought of her as a commoner and he forbade her to see Ceddie, hoping the little boy will forget his mom. The Earl had a bad reputation because of his attitude, but Ceddie wins him over and eventually makes him accept his mother as a part of the family.
The cartoon I remember was pretty accurate to the book, except maybe that the Earl was more obstinate and harder to like in the cartoon. I also thought the cartoon Ceddie looked a little bit too feminine, and there was that entire flute playing thing that was definitely not in the book. However, as I was reading the book, I realized that the Ceddie in the book was more adorable than the one in the cartoon. Perhaps it's because it's been so long since I last watched it, but I thought the Little Lord Fauntleroy in the book was more charming than the one I remember. The little boy is the kind that I think everyone dreams of meeting -- you know, that perfect little kid who has a heart of gold, one who can melt even the hardest of hearts.
Reading Little Lord Fauntleroy was a treat because of the main character. In a way, it reminded me a lot of A Little Princess because of the the similarities between the two of them, even if I still think Sara had it harder than Ceddie. Even if it seems almost entirely impossible to know someone who could be as nice and as good-hearted as Ceddie was, somehow, this book made me wish that there are still good hearts like that out there, someone whose kindness knows no bound and is determined to see the good in everything and everyone. (less)
In my quest to find more classics to read and catch up with my classics reading challenge, I stumbled upon Daddy-Long-L...moreOriginal post at One More Page
In my quest to find more classics to read and catch up with my classics reading challenge, I stumbled upon Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster in Goodreads. I remember seeing a review of this somewhere there, too, and seeing it had a lot of favorable reviews, I decided to download it for free from the Kindle store.
The reviews have told me enough to know that a cartoon was based on this book. It's vaguely familiar, but I really cannot remember much of it, save for the main character, Judy, who reminds me of Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables:
I think this started airing when I was already in school so I hardly had the time to watch it, which also probably explains that why my memory of this cartoon is choppy at best.
Anyway, I decided to read this short book last week, because I needed something light to make my brain recover from all the crazy writing madness in NaNoWriMo. Daddy-Long-Legs is the story of Jerusha Abbott, later known as Judy, the oldest orphan in John Grier Home who was sent to college by an anonymous Trustee. The only condition that she needs to fulfill as "payment" for the education was for her to write letters about her studies to a certain Mr. John Smith. She calls this mysterious benefactor "Daddy Long Legs" because the only thing she knew about him was he was a tall person based on his shadow:
What follows is Judy's letters to Daddy Long Legs for the next four years of college, telling him of her lessons, her dorm room, her friends joyful Sally and snobbish Julie, her college adventures, her summers spent at Lock Willow farm and even some kind of romance. In the midst of all these, Judy gets frustrated with the mysteriousness and the distance that Daddy Long Legs has put between them, and she yearns to know more about this man who had noticed her and helped her out of the kindness of his heart.
So all reviews I read about this book are right: Daddy-Long-Legs is such a refreshing read. This thin volume is brimming with charm and honesty that I can only remember from, yes, Anne of Green Gables. Judy is such a charming narrator and her stories are so easy to relate to. Her letters are filled with wit and interesting stuff that I wondered why Daddy Long Legs lasted that long not replying to her. Case in point:
You never answered my question and it was very important.
ARE YOU BALD?
I think I liked Judy a lot because she reminded me so much of myself. She was never too nice, nor was she especially mean. She recognizes that she can be mean at times, especially when she gets frustrated or annoyed by other people or with herself. Most of her letters were introspective at most, and they're really the things that friends share with each other over long talks. Here are some memorable passages:
I think that the most necessary quality for any person to have is imagination. It makes people able to put themselves in other people's places. It makes them kind and sympathetic and understanding. It ought to be cultivated in children. But the John Grier Home instantly stamped out the slightest flicker that appeared. Duty was the one quality that was encouraged. I don’t think children ought to know the meaning of the word; it’s odious, detestable. They ought to do everything from love.
She seemed to be channeling Anne Shirley there, don't you think?
It isn't the great big pleasures that count the most; it's making a great deal out of the little ones -- I've discovered the true secret of happiness, Daddy, and that is to live in the now. not to be for ever regretting the past, or anticipating the future; but to get the most that you can out of this very instant.
I especially loved it when she waxed poetic about books and writing -- it was almost like I'm a girl after her own heart. :)
I look forward all day to evening, and then I put an 'engaged' on the door and get into my nice red bath robe and furry slippers and pile all cushions behind me on the couch, and light the brass student lamp at my elbow and read and read and read one book isn't enough.
There is even a little bit of romance in the book that was cute. And of course, Judy excels in writing about them, too:
...and I miss him, and miss him, and miss him. The whole world seems empty and aching. I hate the moonlight because it's beautiful and he isn't here to see it with me.
Unfortunately, I wasn't really surprised when the mysterious Daddy Long Legs was finally revealed, and that is probably because of all the reviews I've read. Don't worry, if you've read this far in my review, I've taken care not to spoil anything (at least, I don't think I've written anything obvious :P). The revelation was cute since it was still written in Judy's point of view, and I think it ties up the book quite nicely.
So if the all the random babble I wrote above hasn't convinced you enough, let me say it again: Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster is a cute and charming book. I'm very glad I chose this book to read during my post-NaNo recovery time. :)(less)
Here's another book that I also watched as a cartoon when I was younger, although I think I read this one first before I...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Here's another book that I also watched as a cartoon when I was younger, although I think I read this one first before I watched it. However, for the life of me, I cannot remember the details of this book anymore. I just know there was Mary, and there was Dickon the outdoor boy, and Colin, the invalid cousin. I cannot remember the tiny details even if I know I have watched the movie several times (the image of Mary's hand extending out of the ivy curtain from the door of the secret garden beckoning someone to come in is still clear in my mind). If in A Little Princess and in Little Lord Fauntleroy, the author's main characters were easy to love characters, The Secret Garden takes a different turn by introducing Mary Lennox also known as "Mistress Mary quite contrary". Mary is a spoiled and neglected kid from India who grew up with her mom's servants answering every beck and call. A cholera outbreak left the little girl orphaned, and she was adopted by an equally distant uncle to live in Misselthwaite Manor, instructed to keep out of locked rooms and not be a bother. But when Mary discovers a secret garden locked for the past decade within the manor grounds and decided to take care of it, she finds herself changing from the spoiled kid to someone more likeable. As Mary was going through the changes, she discovers her sickly cousin Colin who believes that he will die soon of some kind of disease. Mary shares her secret with Colin -- but will the garden's magic have an effect on someone who's so convinced that he will no longer see tomorrow?
The Secret Garden was refreshing from all the Frances Hodgson Burnett books I've read because Mary Lennox wasn't an easy character to like. She was spoiled, stubborn and was used to having her own way. I remember the cartoon showing Mary was a pretty nice girl but the people in the Manor -- particularly Mrs. Medlock -- were too strict, but reading the book told me otherwise. There really wasn't anything likeable about her, up until she changes because of the garden and even then, she still had those little quirks that could be annoying.
But the interesting thing here was when Mary found herself meeting a boy who was even more spoiled than she was, and one who suffers a very bleak mindset. It was interesting to see how Mary challenges the way Colin thinks by just being her spoiled, stubborn self. The scene where Mary dealt with Colin's tantrums was one of my favorites, because Mary stayed true to her character up until the end -- I find myself thinking like one of the servants in the Manor thinking "How brave of her to do something like that!" Colin was really a piece of work, and I found myself taking even a longer time to warm up to him even if I knew he gets to be a better person in the end. On the other side of the spectrum is Dickon, the boy from the moor and the animal charmer. I remember his playful character in the cartoon, but I think the book version was less mischievous but equally charming, especially with all the animals he brings around. Dickon provides a good balance between Mary and Colin, and I had to admit I was very excited for his first appearance in the book as I was reading it!
While the two other Frances Hodgson Burnett novels I've read dealt with how a kind heart can weather any storm or soften any heart, The Secret Garden was kind of the reverse. This book showed how beauty and nature can revive a tired and hopeless spirit, how the "Magic" in everyday things can change even the sourest and saddest people into living. It's easy to see why this book became so timeless: at some point, we've all hoped to find an old key that leads to a secret garden where we can find solace, to watch beauty unfurl and to be a part of magic of nature.
Of all her novels I've read, I find The Secret Garden as the most realistic but also the most whimsical. While my favorite is still A Little Princess, I think The Secret Garden is the type of book that would be a good companion for anyone who's recovering from any kind of heartache or sadness. After all, we can all use a little bit of Magic in our lives. :)
Much more surprising things can happen to anyone who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place.
"Where, you tend a rose, my lad, A thistle cannot grow." (p. 289)
It's the year 1984, and the world people live in isn't the same as the world we know today. In this version of the world...moreOriginal post at One More Page
It's the year 1984, and the world people live in isn't the same as the world we know today. In this version of the world, everyone lives under close scrutiny of Big Brother -- or at least representatives of Big Brother in the form of the Inner Party and the Thought Police. Here we meet Winston, a simple Party guy who is slowly realizing that maybe, there is something else other than the life he is living. Maybe the Party and Big Brother isn't always right. Maybe, just maybe, the truth that he's known all his life isn't the truth at all. What follows is Winston's "quest" to find out the real truth and perhaps even bring down Big Brother. But is Winston a big enough force to be reckoned with?
Totally honest moment: I would not have read 1984 if it wasn't our book club's book discussion book for January 2012. Perhaps I would have read it someday later, but not anytime soon. As much as I like dystopian novels (although not as much as I used to), I just didn't have enough interest in this book as my other friends did. But like I said, I should read it because I'm a moderator of the book club and it feels like I should read it.
During our book discussion, we were asked to give a word to describe the book, and my chosen word was challenging. It was challenging for me not because I couldn't grasp the story but because it took me an entire month to read the book. And it was a pretty short book too, if you think about it and I read pretty fast, so taking that long to read a certain book is really a new thing. But the truth is, I just wasn't that invested in it. You know how there are some books that reel you right in and would make you want to lose sleep while reading it? Well, 1984 didn't give me that impression. It's not that I didn't like it -- I did, but I just wasn't that invested in it to keep on reading it continuously. I think I may have read 10 books while reading this book -- if that isn't proof enough, then I don't know already. :P
1984 is a good novel, but I feel like my reading is slightly tainted by all the similarly themed YA dystopia books I have read. You know how the main characters often prevailed, or at least almost prevailed in all the YA dystopia books? Well, it isn't exactly the case here. I liked how the first part of the book started, but the second and third parts weren't exactly my cup of tea. Oh sure, they were brutal, they were unexpected, but like I said, I was used to reading characters who go against all the odds and somehow win even against a TOTALLY EVIL GOVERNMENT. Perhaps it's a YA thing, and this book was written way before the ones I know, so it has a really different approach.
The thing about 1984 though, is how it could have been real. Granted, I had myself pulled away form the narrative so much that I couldn't imagine it being real in the current society and all, but some points during our discussion got me thinking that yeah, maybe it could be possible. Just take social networking for example -- how many people can truly say they have their own privacy when they have a Facebook profile or update Twitter every minute or so? Or do we even really know how much information we put out online and how it affects us? It's a lot to think about.
Even so, there's a certain separation for me and 1984. Again, it's not that I didn't like it, but I also did not really love it as much as other people do. It's definitely one of those books that should be read if only to get a real grasp of how a dystopian society could look like. Honestly, I don't think a reader can be a true dystopian fan unless you have read 1984 (and Lois Lowry's The Giver). You haven't really seen a big bad evil government until you've read the classics, IMHO.
On a related note, though, I think having a real and intelligent book discussion on this book helped me understand and appreciate it more than I would have. It just goes to show that reading isn't always a solitary activity, and it's nice to be with like-minded people often with differing opinions to discuss a piece of literature. :)(less)
Just so you know, I never had any intention of reading Les Misérables. I have a friend who talked about rereading this book last year for research be...moreJust so you know, I never had any intention of reading Les Misérables. I have a friend who talked about rereading this book last year for research before NaNoWriMo season came around, and I remember vaguely wondering how can one reread such a thick book. I had no intention of reading this, thinking that my life can remain untouched by this tome, until some friends from the book club started a reading support group for the unabridged book. I still didn't join them, but I applauded them for their efforts. Until...one day, I wandered around the thread, and saw their discussion. And then the briefest of brief thoughts came into my mind: Maybe it won't be so bad reading such a thick book if you have friends reading with you.
Then my friends started inviting me to join them, and I felt like giving in. It could be an interesting challenge, right?
So finally, by end of 2012, I said yes. Angus gave me a copy of the unabridged version and I started reading it by January 1. If you're like me who has no idea what Les Misérables by Victor Hugo was (I know, I know -- I was living under a rock all my life), this is the story of Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who was shown mercy when he least expect it, but is chased by his past even if he tries to change his present. There's a lot more to the story than that, of course, but that was the main story arc. I never watched any of the musicals, or the first movie with Liam Neeson. I have zero expectations and I knew very little in the story -- only fragments of a discussion in a college Theology class, and the knowledge of the song On My Own, because who doesn't know that song?
The goal was to read as much as I can in the book until we had watch the movie. I wasn't dreaming of finishing the book before the movie because that gave me about 16 days to just read, but I wanted to reach at least halfway. I didn't. I watched the movie, got spoiled and tried to read again. My reading progress was slower, because I knew what was going to happen (and this is going to be another post in itself!), but I was in too far into the book to drop it. A half-read book is a half-finished love affair, right?
Until finally, exactly 45 days since I started reading Les Misérables, I finished it.
Les Misérables is long. And sometimes tiresome. And sometimes I wonder what Hugo's point was in several chapters/books. But besides those things, I must admit: Les Misérables is a beautiful book. There's so many layers and complexities in this book that's kind of hard to remember when you're deep into some of its very boring and tedious chapters, but when you step back and think about what you've read with the other parts that that boring part came with, you see that the boring parts sets the stage so the interesting parts become colorful and detailed. For example: I probably could've lived without knowing about Paris' sewer system back then, but I wouldn't have appreciated Valjean's attempts to get out of it, just how dire his situation was when he was there. Hugo is talkative, but it ties well together -- you just need to have a little more perseverance and slog through the slightly boring parts. (Y'know, just like life. Heh. :P)
If you think watching the movie is enough for you to know what Les Misérables is all about...well, no. There's so much in the book that wasn't in the movie and it makes several characters stand out on their own a bit more. For example: Marius in the movie was shown as a revolutionary, but in the book, he wasn't. Not as much as Enjolras was, anyway. Marius just wanted to show his grandfather that he can make it on his own, and then he falls in love. Which is also another thing -- in the movie, Marius and Cosette just made eyes at each other, but in the book, there was a longer and slightly more interesting "courtship" between the two of them. And there were the other characters that we hardly got to know, as well as Jean Valjean's whole thought process throughout the novel. The book gives the characters and the story so much more depth, making the sad scenes a bit more heartbreaking and the victorious scenes mean so much more.
Les Misérables is long, and arduous at times, but I am so glad I powered through it. It's totally worth all the lugging around and the times I spent trying to stay focused on the story. It's a story of forgiveness, mercy and love in all forms - and I personally think we need more stories like this. :)
This is officially the thickest book I've read in my life time, and now I feel like I can read any door-stopper now without getting intimidated...