For me, Possession is like a bottle of wine or a box of really good chocolate (the really, expensive and sinfully good kind). There is an aboluste beaFor me, Possession is like a bottle of wine or a box of really good chocolate (the really, expensive and sinfully good kind). There is an aboluste beauty in this book, and it seems to lie in the details. How all the characters still in character, the resolution to both romances at the end, all the touches about criticism - all these ring true.
Over the years I have read this book, my favorite character has gone from Maud to Leonora then to both. Leonora, it seems to me, is so much larger than life, and I have to wonder if the character got away from Byatt, if perhaps, she had been intended to be more of "bad" critic than she is.
One of the best and greatest books ever written. Without a doubt, a canon book. Something I re-read every year to year and a half....more
I can still remember when I got this book. It was a Christmas present. I asked for it because Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow had mentioned it. I can'I can still remember when I got this book. It was a Christmas present. I asked for it because Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow had mentioned it. I can't remember if it was in one of Year's Best series, which I proudly own every copy of, or one of their fairy tale books. I remember unwrapping the book, and my mother asking if I was sure I wanted it because it was in the "woman's section" of the bookstore. I didn't, and still don't, understand why that would be a bad thing. I read it that night.
I loved the book so much that I read Carter's other works, that when Burning Your Boats The Collected Short Stories came out in hardcover, I brought it. I ordered the collection of her screenplays from Amazon's UK website because you couldn't find them here in the U.S. It made me into a Carter lover.
For me, this will always be the best Carter. The Bloody Chamber has Carter lush and rich language. My favorite story of the collection is, in fact, the title story. The imagery and description in "The Bloody Chamber" are mind blowing. Carter's version is my favorite version of "Bluebeard". Her ending is embedded in my brain. I can see it.
The collection includes several variations of "Beauty and the Beast' that address the idea of the animalistic. A question of what exactly a Beast is. If you thought Beast in the Disney movie was more attractive before he became the Prince, you will like these versions.
"The Company of Wolves" is perhaps the best known story in the collection. I've taught this story and tend it use it every semester. It is closer to being a folk tale and closer to the older Red Riding Hood than it's sister tale of "Wolf-Alice".
All in all, the tales presented here are wonderfully dark, inviting, and invigorating....more
A feminist look at fairy tales including short stories. This book is split into three sections - tales for younger readers, tales for older readers, aA feminist look at fairy tales including short stories. This book is split into three sections - tales for younger readers, tales for older readers, and criticism. The works have appeared in various sources elsewhere.
Included in this collection are feminist working of Beaty and the Beast, a discussion about "Snow White", an examination of the illustrations for "Little Read Riding Hood", a prince's quest to marry a spoiled princess, as well as a princess saving a prince.
The stories and poems are wonderful, though I have to wonder, why do feminist fairy tales end in marriage, even if it marriage to a partner who proves his worth? Is it because of social conditioning or because we long for a partnership of equals?
I feel in love with Isak Dinesen's writing in college after reading "The Cloak". When I went to Denmark in 2000, I visited her home and made it a poinI feel in love with Isak Dinesen's writing in college after reading "The Cloak". When I went to Denmark in 2000, I visited her home and made it a point to buy those books of hers that I hadn't been able to find. Ehrengard was the last book that I brought. I read it in one afternoon. It's a great book. It is lighter than many of her short stories; hilarously in some places even. Dinesan's style is still there, you can tell its her work, but there is difference in it. It's more chatty. Ehrengard also has one of the best endings in literature....more
**spoiler alert** A wonderful book. Baltimore makes use of both vampire legend and fairy tales as well as the use of frame stories. If you like vampir**spoiler alert** A wonderful book. Baltimore makes use of both vampire legend and fairy tales as well as the use of frame stories. If you like vampires with bite, if you like Andersen's "The Steadfast Tin Soldier", and if you like frame stories such as The Canterbury Tales, read this. It is a dark book, but it is a very good book that deals with the effect of a dark quest not only physically but mental as well....more
The Book of Lost Things is a fairy tale about childhood that is written for adults. While the subject matter deals with the issues of a young boy whosThe Book of Lost Things is a fairy tale about childhood that is written for adults. While the subject matter deals with the issues of a young boy whose mother has died and whose father has remarried, Connolly addresses the larger issues of life. It is a true life fairy tale. In some ways, the plot is very obvious for Connolly does stick rather close to some of his inspiration. I also got a little frustration with the afterword. Not when Connolly is discussing his source material, but when he is telling me what all the symbolism and plot points mean in relation to the stories.
Yet, even when Connolly is sticking to his source material, he inverts. I’ve seen the Seven Dwarves as communists before, and there is that standard joke about how white Snow White was after her time with seven men, but I’ve never seen such a twist on the tale that Connolly uses. In many ways, what Connolly is doing is inverting standard fairy tropes and motifs. He plays with the evil step mother motif. The step mothers aren’t wholly evil; it’s the woman who takes over the traditional male role. Yet, men who disregard or reject the role of women are also shown to be evil, in some ways worse than the woman.
What Connolly seems to be attempting to do is to present to a grown up a reader a fairy tale about what it means to exist in the world. Reality and fantasy are constant players in any person’s life. We read fiction, in part, for the stories that are told us, so that we can leave behind our everyday life, so we can fight that dragon from the safety of couch, chair, bed, or bench. We are always drawn back to everyday life; we have to be if only to go to work, to get money, to get more books. Yet, we daydream during our work day, and when we read, we relate our boss, the annoying customer, or the jerk on the bus to a character in a novel or story. ...more
I fell in love with the work of A. S. Byatt after reading her story "The Story of the Eldest Princess". I love fairy tales, but I also am the eldest cI fell in love with the work of A. S. Byatt after reading her story "The Story of the Eldest Princess". I love fairy tales, but I also am the eldest child in my family and always felt a little slighted because in most fairy tales the older children fail. Even after I learned why that was, it still got tiresome. It was refreshing to read a story that approached fairy tales from the viewpoint of an eldest child who knows she is caught in the tale and what that means. It's a wonderful story for any eldest children to read, and, quite frankly, worth the price of the book.
The other stories are good. "The Glass Coffin" appears in Byatt's Possession, and the title story, while slow, is one of those stories that rewards dedicated readers. If you want to read Byatt, but prefer short stories to novels, this collection is worth reading. ...more
The first Atwood novel I read was The Handmaid’s Tale. If I touch the book, I can remember that first reading. Devouring the book as I lay on the coucThe first Atwood novel I read was The Handmaid’s Tale. If I touch the book, I can remember that first reading. Devouring the book as I lay on the couch, the leather cool despite the fact that it was a sweltering Philadelphia summer, I remember being torn between the desire to read the book, the desire to watch the Bulgaria with its cute goalie in the World Cup, and the need to walk the dog.
Despite the strong memory and the fact that I have taught it, The Handmaid’s Tale is not my favorite Atwood novel. The Robber Bride is.
I brought and read this book soon after I read Tale. I have read this book countless times, and each time I re-read it, I find myself looking forward to certain parts, Tony’s eating of the armies for instance, yet I cannot skip forward to those parts. That would be the worst kind of cheating.
There is something far more compelling about this book than the immediate danger of Handmaid’s Tale. Perhaps it is because the central characters are wonderfully drawn. The women are real and not perfect. Roz, Tony, Charis, each woman has her own section of the novel. Even though Atwood uses a third person narrator, the style subtlety shifts when each woman takes center stage. There are four different styles, one for each of the three women, and the last an impersonal narrator, not Zenia but someone else.
Perhaps part of the compulsion comes from the mysteries that are kept mysterious, like the character of Zenia herself.
It is fascinating how the different stories intersect and overlap. Each tale, each back-story, reflects and sometimes refines an aspect of another. Certain patterns repeat. Atwood not only examines the battle of the sexes, but the battle that occurs between the members of the same sex. We want to believe in sisterhood, but Atwood is wise enough to know that sometimes the oddest things make a sisterhood, and sometimes sisterhood does not exist at all.
Despite Zenia’s evil aura, the reader is fascinated by the character. We want to pluck at her mystery, we want her to change, even as we know that her latest plot is going to harm Roz or Tony or Charis, all of whom we care deeply about. We know when Zenia is lying, and we can see though story after story, yet we always want the story to end differently. But we know it won’t. Atwood’s ability to put in the reader in the same situation as Roz, Tony, and Charis is simply amazing.
This is the first time I have read the book since my visit to Toronto last year. When I was there, Toronto was in this midst of celebrating books that were set in the city. Most of the book stores I went into had displays of non-fiction and fiction (and I discovered Fragile Pieces). Yet, Atwood seemed conspicuous by her absence. Is it because her portrayal of Toronto, in this book, isn’t a blind lover’s sonnet? She captures a city in a midst of a recession, and it is hardly going to be a pleasant description. The city, however, is has much of a character as any of the women in the novel. Was she absent because it was over ten years after the publication of the book? That hardly seems fair considering some of the other authors on display.
It did a disservice to this wonderful book. ...more
Little, Big was the first John Crowley book I ever read. In many ways, it is my favorite Crowley book. In all honestly, I have to admit that the end oLittle, Big was the first John Crowley book I ever read. In many ways, it is my favorite Crowley book. In all honestly, I have to admit that the end of the book drags just a little. The very end is beautiful, but like 75 pages before drag just a bit.
The language and the care in the book are wonderful. It's simply beautiful....more