This book was my first attempt at reading a full-length Dickens novel. Unfortunately, I didn't realize until I'd got home from the library that it was...moreThis book was my first attempt at reading a full-length Dickens novel. Unfortunately, I didn't realize until I'd got home from the library that it was a collection of short stories, a collective round robin of Victorian literary minds. This didn't detract me though, and I'm very glad. Though Dickens only contributed a few short chapters to the "novel," he orchestrated the whole scheme, and his humor and affinity for the supernatural was present throughout the work. This was a very enjoyable read, very amusing at times, especially the story of the Ague ghost. (less)
I first heard about P.G. Wodehouse in an interview of Hugh Laurie's in which he claimed that reading Wodehouse novels saved his life. I was intrigued....moreI first heard about P.G. Wodehouse in an interview of Hugh Laurie's in which he claimed that reading Wodehouse novels saved his life. I was intrigued. Who was this Wodehouse, and what about him made his novels special?
My curiosity (and my overwhelming fannish love for Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry) led me to watch all of Jeeves and Wooster, loving every minute of it. I read several Jeeves and Wooster books as well as one or two about Psmith and Blandings Castle. I love that the characters are all semi-connected, and I must admit that the time period Wodehouse writes about is my absolute favorite, a time when women were women, and men were fops.
The short stories in this collection are essentially Wodehousian in all aspects. The characters are delightfully earnest. One story stands out in particular: a dog does everything in his power to make his master (a thief) happy, but only ends up foiling his plans. These characters, bumbling through life, trying their best, and achieving dreams through sheer dumb luck, made me incredibly happy.
One of my favorite shows as a kid was Wishbone, the simple tale of a scholarly Jack Russell who would imagine himself into the various classic novels...moreOne of my favorite shows as a kid was Wishbone, the simple tale of a scholarly Jack Russell who would imagine himself into the various classic novels he loved to read. The show massively appealed to me as a budding bibliophile, and I watched avidly, soaking in the stories of those books still a little advanced for me to read. One of my favorite episodes was "The Pawloined Paper" based on Edgar Allen Poe's "Purloined Paper", arguably one of the first true detective stories ever written. When I saw the novelization in my local bookstore, I begged my mom to buy it and reread it many times over the next few years.
I loved the story for it's cleverness and lack of bloodshed. The mystery is simply that of a politically devastating letter which has fallen into the hands of slimy would-be aristocrat out for his own gain. The Parisian police are baffled, as they have searched the blackmailer's apartment from top to bottom, meticulously removing, inspecting, and replacing every single object. But no letter is to be found! They turn in desperation to C. Auguste Dupin, a brooding genius who lives in a nearly abandoned house with his unnamed companion, who is the chronicler of his stories. Dupin arrives at the blackmailer's house, armed only with a dark pair of glasses, and immediately deduces the location of the letter.
This story in the collection read like a typical narrative, wherein the police bring a case to Dupin in medias res and he goes out to solve it in an infinitely satisfying way. The other two stories were less clear cut, and I must say I enjoyed them less for all that. "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" is certainly an interesting story, but Poe's recounting of the savage murder of two women by orangutan was too disconnected for me. He tells the story through witness accounts, which were repetitive and a bit dull. I still found the story captivating though, and enjoyed reading about Dupin's scientific investigations.
I cannot say that, however, for the last story, "The Mystery of Marie Rogêt". This story was based on a sensationalist crime of the period, the murder of a woman name Mary Rogers in Manhattan. The "story" is told entirely through examination of police reports and newspaper articles and is, as a result, extraordinarily dry and tedious to read. I found myself skipping over entire passages just to get to the ending and find out the culprit. Even after that though, I cannot say for certain I know who did it or why. This story put me to sleep, and is entirely at fault for dropping my review of this collection to three stars. Even my fascination for detective stories could not save this one from my dislike.
It is still impressive to me that Poe basically invented the modern detective novel with these three stories. Dupin is exactly what a proper detective should be; he is mysterious, terrifyingly intelligent, observant of the smallest details, and fully committed to his work. In Dupin, Poe laid the groundwork for other amazing detectives like Sherlock Holmes, Poirot, and Lord Peter Wimsey, and for that, I am eternally grateful.(less)
I read this book, in fits and spurts, over the course of three years, after watching the excellent BBC adaptation as scripted by Andrew Davies. I had...moreI read this book, in fits and spurts, over the course of three years, after watching the excellent BBC adaptation as scripted by Andrew Davies. I had never read a Dicken's novel, so I picked this one. The experience was long and difficult. At one point I had put the book aside for over a year, and had to go back and reread sections to remind me of what had happened. I blame my slow-going on the fact that I'm used to being a very fast reader. By nature, Dickens' novels are more difficult to read because of the language used, and the fact that he wrote so much! As it took me longer than usual to progress, I would grow frustrated and bored, and pick up a more modern and quicker-paced novel.
Now, that's not to say I disliked this book. On the contrary, I found it witty and entertaining, many passages prompting me to laugh out loud. It helped that the edition I was reading had extensive footnotes explaining certain phrases and vocabulary that would have been obvious to contemporary readers, but lost to modern ones. I loved the interconnectedness of Little Dorrit's world and found many of the characters to be well-written and easy to relate to. Of course, this being a Dickens novel, many characters are simply caricatures, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Their bare-bones characterizations allowed me to focus more on the main characters, who are described very well.
Though I must admit I skimmed over a few long-winded passages, I was mostly entranced by the action in the novel. The quiet moments in which one character admits to another his or her feelings are especially affecting. I plan on reading more Dickens in the future, but perhaps I will go with his more well-known works first. (less)
There are some books that have to be read at the right age, and this is one of them. I am forever thankful that I found the Chronicles of Narnia befor...moreThere are some books that have to be read at the right age, and this is one of them. I am forever thankful that I found the Chronicles of Narnia before I was old enough to see the Christian parallels instead of a rocking story. If I had read this book when I was younger, I think I would have loved it. As an adult, I still found the idea of staying in the Metropolitan Museum charming, but the novel as a whole did not make a great impression on me.
Konigsburg has admitted to basing Claudia and Jamie on her own kids, and truly, she has a great knack for writing children. I work with children on a regular basis, and these two remind me of so many charges I've had. I definitely encourage children to read this book, but adults, if you didn't read this as a kid, I wouldn't put this at the top of your list. (less)
I wish I had read this book when I was a kid. Even as an adult it enchanted me and drew me right in. The inventiveness of Norton Juster defies compari...moreI wish I had read this book when I was a kid. Even as an adult it enchanted me and drew me right in. The inventiveness of Norton Juster defies comparison. After finishing this book (in about 2 hours of straight reading) I wanted nothing more than a tollbooth to appear in my room.(less)
The film adaptation of this book is one of my favorite period pieces, second only to A Room With a View (I have a soft spot for E.M. Forster), but the...moreThe film adaptation of this book is one of my favorite period pieces, second only to A Room With a View (I have a soft spot for E.M. Forster), but the book itself didn't draw me in as much as the film.
The story revolves around the titular Maurice Hall who realizes, while at Cambridge, that he is a homosexual. This is the time of Oscar Wilde and the beginning of public recognition and desperate fear of homosexuality. Forster himself struggled with being gay in a hateful society, and his experience comes through in Maurice's uncertainty and fear of himself.
There are moments of intimacy and passion in the slim novel, but they are couched behind sterile terms. The book was never published during Forster's lifetime (by his choice), and so I had hoped he would have been a bit more daring. Granted, writing about homosexuality in such a frank and non-judgmental voice was controversy enough.
In the end, I'm glad I read this novel, but may not return to it. I will, however, return to the film again and again. (less)
Having completed Persuasion, I have only 2 more full-length Austen works to read. I very much enjoyed this "most mature" of Austen's novels. As her la...moreHaving completed Persuasion, I have only 2 more full-length Austen works to read. I very much enjoyed this "most mature" of Austen's novels. As her last novel, Persuasion is permeated with the frustrations and complicated emotions of a woman past the age of marriage, longing for her lost love. I have a soft spot for Austen novels set in Bath, my favorite of her's being Northanger Abbey, and the city is definitely a character in itself in this novel.
The one thing I really loved about this novel was the fantastic richness of the characters. In her earlier novels, Austen creates colorful characters, but not with as much depth as in this novel. After reading this, one becomes intimately acquainted with everyone, and feels with them their fears, joys, and sadnesses.(less)
Like almost everyone who's gone through the American public school system since the 1950's, I read The Great Gatsby in high school. I do remember my t...moreLike almost everyone who's gone through the American public school system since the 1950's, I read The Great Gatsby in high school. I do remember my teacher's impassioned speeches on the novel, as well as some interesting discussions my class had about it, but ten years after reading for the first time, I was hard-pressed to recall any plot points or themes, apart from the famous imagery of the green light. So the week before Baz Luhrmann's adaptation was released, I decided it was high time for a re-read.
And I say this to everyone who only read this book once in high school, go back and read it again, NOW, especially if you disliked it. I really think high schoolers are still a little undeveloped and immature to fully grasp what Fitzgerald was trying to do with this slim novel. I was definitely guilty of misinterpretation. In high school, I remember feeling a bit blasé about Gatsby's struggle and eventual death. This time, I was deeply saddened and felt an immense sympathy with both Gatsby and Nick. I am able to identify with the themes of the novel more as an adult who has experienced great disappointment, than as an optimistic teenager. Having seen more of life, the themes of the novel resonated with me all the greater.
The Great Gatsby is the only Fitzgerald novel I've read thus far. By many accounts, it is not his finest work. I look forward to reading the rest of his distinguished bibliography. (less)