This combines several fairy tale tropes with a beautifully realized Eastern European setting. The main character is Jena, a strong, sensible heroine wThis combines several fairy tale tropes with a beautifully realized Eastern European setting. The main character is Jena, a strong, sensible heroine who still long for romance and Otherness. She has to balance her own wishes and desires against what's good for her family and land.
The oldest sister is a tad drippy for an adult reader, but I think I would have found her soggy wasting away intensely romantic when I was young. The main fairy tale is also recognizable early on for the adult reader, but I know without a doubt I would have been just thrilled to recognize it gradually as a young reader, and then watch to see how expertly Marillier twisted it to make it exciting and not quite predictable.
I do think that there are a lot of supposedly YA books put out now that appeal more to adults. I am not talking about content. Teens are aware of different aspects of life at different ages, and so I have no quarrel with the more mature subjects. But some books seem to require reading protocols way ahead of the young reader, or have complex issues, or oblique references, that really seem adult. This one I think can be loved by the genuine twelve year old, as well as those of us who still remember being twelve....more
First read when I was thirteen. I just loved this book, with its painful glimpses into the horrors of World War II in the years immediately after, oveFirst read when I was thirteen. I just loved this book, with its painful glimpses into the horrors of World War II in the years immediately after, overlying medieval times, and the peeks at Avignon and far more ancient history, full of its own passions.
The car chase was thrilling because of the vivid descriptions of the south of France, but also it was the first time a woman had agency--she wasn't being rescued, or frightened, she was behind the wheel metaphorically as well as physically.
I also loved the little boy.
I reread it years later (though my copy, a cheap paperback now very delicate, and found that it held up pretty well, in spite of some period attitudes and the fact that everyone smokes like a chimney. These were women's romantic adventure, intelligently and beautifully written....more
I loved, and continue to love, this exciting tale that gives one such a detailed and lovely glimpse of the Greek Isles, which you can tell Stewart lovI loved, and continue to love, this exciting tale that gives one such a detailed and lovely glimpse of the Greek Isles, which you can tell Stewart loved. The sense of history was exciting to me as a kid, as well as later.
I liked the Disney version because of the folk song sung in the middle, which later inspired a novel....more
Read when I was a teenager, on the recommendation of my dad. I ripped right through it, then discovered on a reread some years later just how much wenRead when I was a teenager, on the recommendation of my dad. I ripped right through it, then discovered on a reread some years later just how much went over my head.
This novel, and its paradigm, were easier to understand within the context of war; I was glad I read it, but I don't know that I will ever reread it....more
One thing that one has to accept with Dickens is that his heroines will be long-suffering, and that men will decide what's good for them, for which thOne thing that one has to accept with Dickens is that his heroines will be long-suffering, and that men will decide what's good for them, for which they will be grateful.
Given that, I think this the best of his books.
It has the fewest Victorian-plot coincidences, and it has the most and best swathes of bitingly funny satire of soi-disant high society. How the Lammle marriage comes about, and how each of them, in becoming a couple, brings the other down from spoken moral rectitude to the barest pretense of it is as horrific in a quiet way as all the rantings, drownings, and so on.
Bradley Headstone is a remarkably believable depiction of the stalker boyfriend who can't seem to stop himself from sinking into obsession--and violence. Eugene Wrayburn is a fascinating, witty guy for an idle dog.
There are some bits of brilliance--the depiction of the riverside society; Mr. Boffins' educational plan; the Veneering parties.
There were signs of actual personality on Bella's part (when we meet her, she is mourning over being forced to wear black because the guy she was engaged to--whom she had never met--had drowned, which pretty much has finished her socially. Why shouldn't she mourn?)even if the machinations behind her romance are quite wince-worthy.
Dickens also tries to make up for comfortably unexamined Antisemitism, and the subsidiary characters are wonderfully memorable.
Altogether it's a real page-turner. Glad I reread it....more
One of those books I've reread every couple of decades since I first tore through it at age twelve. In those days, the first third was the most rivetiOne of those books I've reread every couple of decades since I first tore through it at age twelve. In those days, the first third was the most riveting, and I skimmed a great deal of the rest as I found it as little comprehensible as it was interesting.
I read it again some time between graduate school and having kids, with marriage having occurred in between: I found Rochester less horrifying than I had as a kid, but the Gothik elements seemed not to fit well with the rest. I wondered if Rochester was supposed to be Byronic (this was before I did any reading about the Brontes.) I skimmed most of the St. John Rivers section as it seemed tacked on.
This reading, wow! I am able to comprehend what a truly great book this is. Enough ink has been spilled about Jane's calm, ethical feminism. I discovered the humor that had eluded me before, including the unintentional humor--such as Rochester's features being carefully endowed with attributes specific to phrenology. So many writers of that period worked phrenology into their physical descriptions as clues to character and personality.
Rochester seems more Byronic than ever--he's not as convincing as Anne's contributions to the Bronteian Byronic hero, but he's far easier to stomach than Heathcliff. (Poor Emily! I'm not surprised that Charlotte burned her second novel, and any traces of it.) His falling in love with Jane has a whiff of authorial wish-fulfillment, but high energy.
What I really found absorbing were the women. I was also grateful that Charlotte kept her anti-Catholic and antisemitism reined in, after her venal excesses in The Professor. I found a lot more references to sex than I'd remembered. (And wondered if there were deeply buried hints that John Reed had molested sister Eliza.)
Poor St. John! What a mess he was--quite a fascinating psychological study. Also deeply appreciated were Charlotte's masterly depictions of the countryside, of weather and the quiet daily life of a household.
Last, I loved the words Charlotte experimented with. "Deglutinated." "Disbarrassed." "His ruth and my ruth . . ."
Finally, my surprise at finding Vampires brought up--I'd totally forgotten that. But then I'd always skimmed the whole madwoman in the attic section: I'd forgotten how many Gothik actions of a supernatural nature there were in this tale....more
I had trouble with this set of Woolf's work many years ago . . . I think I need to reread all her fiction. The problem is, I so much prefer her directI had trouble with this set of Woolf's work many years ago . . . I think I need to reread all her fiction. The problem is, I so much prefer her direct voice, through her letters and journals, rather than fighting through the heavy filter she chose for her fiction. Artistic, yes, but difficult. And not enough humor for this superficial reader as payoff....more