Wilson takes a close look at the action in Hamlet, esp. with regards to staging the play. If you have seen any recent film editions of Hamlet, you can...moreWilson takes a close look at the action in Hamlet, esp. with regards to staging the play. If you have seen any recent film editions of Hamlet, you can see Wilson's influence.(less)
HT was not the first work by Atwood that I read, that was a short story or two in a Canadian Lit class, but it was the first novel by Atwood that I re...moreHT was not the first work by Atwood that I read, that was a short story or two in a Canadian Lit class, but it was the first novel by Atwood that I read. I read it over the summer, over the length of a day, torn between the story and the World Cup and walking the dog. It's a favorite novel, though not my favorite Atwood, that is The Robber Bride.
HT apparently has moved to the current events section of several libraries, moved from the fiction section. Women protesting anti-abortion laws in Washington DC have dressed up as Handmaids. The novel has been adapted both as a movie and an opera.
Perhaps the future that Atwood depicts in this novel won't come to past (we do seem to be past the date, yet even with the doubt (or knowledge) that such future will not exist, yet we see echoes of it in today's world. Events of the novel seem to happening regardless.
Okay, maybe not the dressing in red and blue, but the other issues. Women forbidden to work and read, women who can't own anything not even thier bodies, women who must produce a child or be cast aside, young girls married off to men they don't know. Even if those places were equality reigns women still, on average, earn less than men for the same amount of work. Atwood's Gilead is at once far off and too near, a point that all good literature has. (The blame on Islamic terrorists is a very intersting connection to the current day).
While the book is feminist, it is also humanist. Offred might be passive but in the characters of Luke, Offred's mom, and Moira we have the feminist voice. If anything, the book is a caution about either type of extreme - extreme religion and extreme sexual freedom (Feels on wheels, Pormomarts) - both of which seem to be, to various degrees, not good.
Additionally, Atwood deals with the issue of complancy. Offred is less feminist than her mother, than Moira. And while we admire both mom and Moira we think we might be more like Offred, because nameless Offred (of Fred) is the Everywoman in this Everyman parable.
Perhaps this is the reason why this story is so timeless, why it stands the test of time, why it would've made Atwood's name even if she never wrote anything else. The questions it raises about gender, women, society, life, and family are still one we debate today, are still definations we debate today - what is a family, is abortion about life or control of a woman's body, why the differences standards for women and men?
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 couc...moreThe 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. (less)
While I love Chamber in particular the title story, I now think that my favorite Carter work is this book.
What really makes this book is the narrator Dora Chance. A crusty, at times foul mouthed, old dame, she is one of those characters who could quite easily step off the page. (And why this book hasn't been made into a movie, I don't know. Dame Judi Dench could be the twins in their later in life years). It truly does feel that Dora is right next to you, in one of those smoky English pubs that no longer really exists because of the smoking ban, have a gin with you, telling you the whole sordid, messy, humorous story.
Dora and her twin sister, Nora, are the illegitimate daughter of an acting scion. They are never, truly acknowledged by their father, but by their uncle Perry and, strangely, their father's wife, 'Wheelchair' aka Lady A. What Dora unfolds for the reader is the family story, worthy of any soapy soap opera. She does so in a unapolgetic, unrepenent tone. This was the way it was, if you don't like it; hoof it style of speaking.
It has wonderful lines like, "Saskia . . . unique amongst mammals, a cold-blooded cow" or "Comedy is tragedy that happens to other people". And I now do wonder about Mrs. Lear.
There is much of Ellen Terry and her crowd in the characters, much of the bardioloatry that took hold of the world. Carter mocks all of this, gently.
This another of those books that I read the cover off of, though it's not held together by rubber bands, yet. Every single animal novel (fable) publis...moreThis another of those books that I read the cover off of, though it's not held together by rubber bands, yet. Every single animal novel (fable) published after Watership Down is held up to its standard, and most are found wanting. What really sells this book is Adams' wonderful use of language. There is such power in some of his sentences, especially in the rabbit folk tales sections. (less)
Last year, there was a student who sat outside the prep room reading. She read Michelle West, but she had yet to read this series. This is a shame bec...moreLast year, there was a student who sat outside the prep room reading. She read Michelle West, but she had yet to read this series. This is a shame because while the Sun Sword series is sprawling, it is a beautiful work.
This book is the first volume in the Sun Sword series and focuses on the shifts of power in a country that resembles an Arabia from the 1001 Nights (yes, I know the Nights are really from India). One of the central characters, Dio, is the most beautiful woman in the world. She also is the favored child of her father and eventually marries the prince of the kingdom, who doesn't deserve her or the kingdom. Her father and his friends have something to say about the kingdom bit.
What makes this series worth reading is the type of women that inhabit it. Dio is not a fighter in the traditional sense of the word. She does have a magic, think of it as a siren voice, but does she know how to use a sword, no. Yet, Dio is more of a fighter because of this. She plays the long game, if I may borrow a phrase.
This series deserves more popularity than it garners. It is better than any of those big sprawling male written series such as those by Jordon, Goodkind, or Martin. Her books are close to those in length, yet the focus is different. It is not "female" fantasy, whatever that is, but more of, in a part, of difference in heroes and heroism. In the fantasy books that make the New York Times Bestseller list and become television, there are big epic betters with swords. West has those, but in sharp contrast to those battles, the most heart-wrenching scene in the series occurs in this book when Dio must keep still. She cannot speak. She cannot movie. She must do this because it is the only way for her to win in the end.
West's series might be more traditional and genre based, but she presents one of the few books where people, women in particular, are strong in different ways.(less)
This is the second P. D. James book that I read and the book that turned me into a fan. While it is true that James spends a large amount of time sett...moreThis is the second P. D. James book that I read and the book that turned me into a fan. While it is true that James spends a large amount of time setting up her characters, I like that. I enjoy it because when a death occurs, it feels like a death and not a plot point. Too often in murder mysteries the death is forgotten. The victim is simply an agent to get the plot moving. James' never forgets, or lets the reader forget, that someone who had a life died.(less)
It actually has a good cast, and it's not as bad as the movie version of Possession.
The boo...moreThere is a movie version of this book.
Don't ever watch it!
It actually has a good cast, and it's not as bad as the movie version of Possession.
The book deserved better though.
There are two different types of dog owners, generally speaking. There is the dog owner who gets a dog as some type of symbol. Look, I got me a pit; I'm Mr. Tough Guy. Look, I got a dog for a handbag; I'm the next Paris Hilton. (Why anyone would want to be Paris Hilton, outside of having her money, I don't know). Look, I've got a Dobie, don't you try and mug me. I'm not saying that these people don't love thier pets, but the pet is part symbol for something.
Then there is the other type of dog owner. This type of dog owner gets a dog because a dog is a friend, a loyal companion. The dog is treated as a family member, is talked to, is loved, is fed, but still is treated as a dog. In other words, the dog is NOT a handbag, fashion accessory, or fashion model. The dog does not wear sweaters and under no circumstances will the dog ever have its nails done. The dog might get clipped in the summer, if needed, but that's it. No dye jobs, no bows. The dog is allowed to be dirty and smelly, provided it isn't too dirty or smelly. The dog goes to the vet, the dog might go to the groomer depending upon its coat, but the dog will never go to a stylist. The dog is tended to and cared for, not over fed and is walked/exercised enough. The dog is loved but to allowed to be what it is. A dog and not a child.
These types of dogs have happy lives and yet, as their owners will tell you, they transend simply being a pet. They are not human, but they can communicate. It's body language, barking, tail wagging, whatever. There is some type of connection that exists between a true dog and its person. A type of connection that will never exist between a cat and the person it co-habits with.
If you know what the last two paragraphs are about then you will love Thor. Keep in mind, you might need a few hankies, especially if you have or have had a true dog.
The idea behind the book is this. Thor, a German Shepherd, loves his family, his pack. Then a stranger arrives. Thor knows that something is wrong with this stranger, this supposed relative. In fact, supposed relative is a werewolf. Thor, however, is a dog, and he can only speak and comprend like a dog.
In other words, he can't tell anyone; he can't even fully explain it to himself.
What makes the book succeed is the fact that Smith captures a dog so well. This isn't a version of Watership Down. The reader might get Thor's thoughts in English, but the thoughts and the reactions are dog. Thor is not personified. In many ways, Smith's book is closer to Albert Payson Terhune's collie books.
If that wasn't enough, Smith also gives the reader the viewpoint of the father in the family, the man who loves his family and loves his dog. Not only does Smith capture true dog/human interaction, but he also touches on what if situtions that dog owners confront only when their nightmares become reality.
I got a copy of this in 6th or 7th grade. I've read it so many times that it is being held together by a rubber band. I enjoyed it because it was the...moreI got a copy of this in 6th or 7th grade. I've read it so many times that it is being held together by a rubber band. I enjoyed it because it was the first real fantasy book I read where the hero is a young woman. She's not just the sidekick, but the hero. She's also flawed and not supergirl or ravishing beautiful. It's a wonderful book because of that. In many ways, it is the perfect book for any quiet girl simply because a loner, an outcast proves herself needed. Perhaps the success of the book among girls is tied to that facet of the story.(less)
I picked this book up when I was in Montreal and read it during my stay there. I enjoyed it so much that before I left, I went back and picked up ever...moreI picked this book up when I was in Montreal and read it during my stay there. I enjoyed it so much that before I left, I went back and picked up everything else by her. A very good book.(less)
Black Beauty is one of those rare books that can preach without being preachy. Anna Sewell wrote this to illustrate the abuse of horses, in particular...moreBlack Beauty is one of those rare books that can preach without being preachy. Anna Sewell wrote this to illustrate the abuse of horses, in particulary the harsh use of the bearing rein. The bearing rein was used to get the horse's head arched, but made it difficult for the horse to breathe and near impossible for the horse to pull a carriage uphill. When Sewell died, the hearse to carry her body used horses with bearing reins. Her mother went out and made the driver get rid of them.
Another Sewell story. On her way home, driving her own trap, she was able to tell that her horse picked up a stone simply though the reins. Sewell was an awesome woman.
Sewell was truly a horsewoman and an educator, both of which are on display in Black Beauty. The plot deals with the abuse and mistreatment of horses; it teaches and raises awareness while it entertains. Sewell respects readers of all ages enough not to shy away from unpleasentness, though she never ever descends into shock value (and disregards more pressing questions for the adult reader wonders if Beauty is a gelding). She makes both her animal and human characters real and doesn't over romantize the story, as has been done in some adaptions of her work.
This edition presents stories about horses that are related to Black Beauty while capturing the tone and ideas being the original. One stand out story...moreThis edition presents stories about horses that are related to Black Beauty while capturing the tone and ideas being the original. One stand out story takes place during WW I. (less)
Hot Money is one of my favorite Dick Francis novels. What makes this novel stand out is how different each member of the family is. Each person is uni...moreHot Money is one of my favorite Dick Francis novels. What makes this novel stand out is how different each member of the family is. Each person is unique and well rounded.(less)
It's no surprise that this book has stood the test of time, no surprise at all. Even without the movie and its beautiful images of horse and boy on th...more It's no surprise that this book has stood the test of time, no surprise at all. Even without the movie and its beautiful images of horse and boy on the desert island, this book stands out in ways that other teen mets horse books don't. The possible exception to this My Friend Flicka (Black Beauty is about a horse, not a boy and his horse). Perhaps this is because both books have the horse be a horse. In other words, the Black Stallion is always a stallion. He doesn't get magically gelded and then ungelded.
That seems part of his greatness in this series; for at no point does Farley ever condsend to his young readers. He presents the world where the rules don't magically change; Alex only finds a way to work with them or around them. Yes, perhaps the book is part wish fulfillment, but it is also a non-Gary Stu wish fullment.
There is such passion and love for horses in this series, but in a non-romantized way. A child could do far worse than starting this series.(less)
The Woman in White was the first book by Wilkie Collins I ever read. Someone had left it at the "Leave a book, Take a book" shelf at my college librar...more The Woman in White was the first book by Wilkie Collins I ever read. Someone had left it at the "Leave a book, Take a book" shelf at my college library. I picked it up.
I couldn't put it down.
Many people point to The Moonstone as Collins' best book. Not me. The Woman in White is superior. It has everything, or almost everything. There are no elves, dragons, singing bananas. Okay, it doesn't literary have everything, it just feels like it does. It does have doubling, evil husbands, evil Italians, jealous women, smart women, a hapless woman, and a hero who is nice but a little dull (and perhaps shallow).
The most interesting character, outside of the villain Fosco, is Marian. Marian is one of those characters who overtakes her creator. You can almost see Collins wrestling for control of the book. Her voice is so real, her character so believable that at times it feels like she is next to you, telling you the story. The book suffers just a little when she is not present. While the story is somewhat sexist by today's standards, Collins should get a round of applause for having the two central female characters truly like and care for each other. Even today, it is far more common to see two such woman in competition. By the end of the book, the reader has come to love Marian as much as the other characters do.
If you have never read anything by Collins, start with The Woman in White.