This second in Stewart's Arthurian Saga trilogy suffers even more than its predecessor, The Crystal Cave, from a slow pace and rather more misogyny thThis second in Stewart's Arthurian Saga trilogy suffers even more than its predecessor, The Crystal Cave, from a slow pace and rather more misogyny than I care for (I'm always surprised when women authors write poor female characters). I do like, however, that Stewart continued to follow the mainly historical Geoffrey of Monmouth version of the Arthurian legend, and that she attributes the bulk of Merlin's power to human (rather than supernatural) forces. I'm intrigued by Merlin, more than Arthur, mainly in his role as liminal figure; he (Merlin) embodies the transition between Pagan and Christian....more
Re-read this after reading Stewart's The Crystal Cave trilogy, for a comparison. Although I enjoyed MoA much more than CC, I didn't enjoy it this timeRe-read this after reading Stewart's The Crystal Cave trilogy, for a comparison. Although I enjoyed MoA much more than CC, I didn't enjoy it this time around nearly as much as the first time I read it about 15 years ago. It is very repetitive (I think MZB could have easily told the same story in under 600 pages, chopping it by about 1/3). I quite like the re-telling from the perspective of female characters, & don't really understand the criticism on that basis; I guess the Arthurian pantheon is too sacrosanct for a re-imagining to appeal to everyone. My last comment is addressed to the reviewers who complain of an anti-Christian bias in the book and use Pagan-bashing to make their point: I think you're both unknowingly validating MZB's premise AND hypocritically engaging in the hateful speech you are decrying. You can't have it both ways, simultaneously bashing another person's beliefs while complaining that your religion is being attacked. That isn't really so hard to understand, is it? Aren't you supposed to be the 'glass-houses-first-stone' people? Sheesh....more
Reading Possession, or at least doing justice to reading Possession, is a commitment. This is not a breezy, summer read by any means. The effort thougReading Possession, or at least doing justice to reading Possession, is a commitment. This is not a breezy, summer read by any means. The effort though, for me anyway, is well worth it.
Using the literary conceit of a frame narrative to tell a story within a story (within a story), and communicating it through prose, poetry, and epistolary missives makes for a rich, dense and at times daunting novel set in both contemporary (c1988) London, Yorkshire, & Brittany and their 19th century historical counterparts. In Possession, Byatt evokes an opulent, layered Victorian era and the post-70s intellectual world of academia. In scenes dealing with the former, Byatt's writing is rife with imagery plucked from sources as wide-ranging as the language of flowers; Cornish & Breton mythology; Pre-Raphaelite art; scientists & natural historians like Darwin, Lyell, & Michell; mesmerism; & Romantic poetry (LOTS of Romantic poetry). For the later and latter scenes, gender politics, academic politics, and interpersonal politics are the predominant topics. But all are woven into a complex whole that draws repeated parallels between the characters of a bygone age and their intellectual, emotional, and in some cases familial descendants.
The themes Byatt incorporates into Possession are equally grandiose, as befits an epic tale of the magnitude she has written: identity, power, mutability, time, loss of faith, memory. If I've understood with any decree of clarity the messages contained within, Possession is about how everything changes and everything stays the same, as well as the madness of love & obsession and its inevitability; there lies metamorphosis.
So, if you're up to a read where you'll want (and most certainly need) to keep your dictionary and other resources to hand, to brush up on your poetry analysis skills, and to be prepared to slow down your usual book consumption pace, Possession might just be a good choice for your next read....more
I didn't like this book, but I'm not going to bother with a review because Leslie already wrote one that captured all my complaints; read it here to sI didn't like this book, but I'm not going to bother with a review because Leslie already wrote one that captured all my complaints; read it here to see what I think, too....more
Am I the only reader who didn't find this book difficult? Does that imply that I missed the subtext? I don't think so, but who cares; I quite like TheAm I the only reader who didn't find this book difficult? Does that imply that I missed the subtext? I don't think so, but who cares; I quite like The Luminaries.
Don't get me wrong: I wouldn't recommend it to most of my reading friends; it's long, it's populated with a huge number of characters, it sometimes strains credulity in it's interwoven subplots. But it's funny, and innovative, and rewards those who stick with it to the (very remote) end of the line.
If, as one 2015 prize adjudicator claimed, this year's Man Booker was awarded to the title that best illustrates a new form for the novel, then I concur, because this does that, in spades.
My main disappointment with The Luminaries is that although I thoroughly enjoyed the reading, stylistically, and the fast-paced storytelling, I never really felt invested in the outcome, or found that I cared deeply for the characters. I don't think a year from now I'll have strong feelings about the book; this is not a title I'll be proselytizing about.
But it was a fun read for a week, that got me through two 12-hour trips on Greyhound and a family visit in between!
How I managed to make it almost to the half-century mark before reading this, I do not know, but now that I have - I love it! BUT, why bother with a rHow I managed to make it almost to the half-century mark before reading this, I do not know, but now that I have - I love it! BUT, why bother with a review? It has been reviewed unto death, both better than I could achieve and not so much. Instead, some thoughts...
According to Michael Mason, editor of the Penguin edition I read, Jane Eyre is the most-read novel of all time. Although I could find no evidence to support this, it is apparently one of the most beloved books ever written. Which left me with a question: Why is it still so popular today, almost 170 years later?
My theory is this: the pith and point of Jane Eyre is NOT a romantic love story. Nope, it's about integrity. To thine own self be true would be a great subtitle for this book, in fact. Here, Charlotte Brontë said it better herself:
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
I think that in our modern world of following the trends and opinions of others like sheep, even the least independent thinkers among us wish for something more, that they know a unique and valuable individual resides inside each one of us, and long to give her wing (see what I did there, using CB's penchant for bird imagery in my analysis? Clever me.).
Following so closely on the heels of my reading the redoubtable Possession, Stewart's Merlin tale was bound to come up short in comparison. Not that tFollowing so closely on the heels of my reading the redoubtable Possession, Stewart's Merlin tale was bound to come up short in comparison. Not that there's anything wrong with The Crystal Cave, mind you. It just pales in comparison to the subtler, richer world-building and language skills of Byatt. I'm sure if I'd read this (as I suspect many, if not most, do) when I was younger and a bit more naive to superior writing and themes, I'd have jolly well enjoyed the hell out of it. As it stands, reading it at such an (ahem) late date, and after already reading what I consider to be superior treatments of the Arthurian saga, I found The Crystal Cave to be merely adequate. But there is, after all, something to be said for a pleasant, albeit only satisfactory, summer read, isn't there?...more
I had no idea what to write about this labyrinthine tome. Then I read szplug's review. Read it. She? he? captures exactly my feelings/thoughts. SufficI had no idea what to write about this labyrinthine tome. Then I read szplug's review. Read it. She? he? captures exactly my feelings/thoughts. Suffice it to say, I LOVED Darkmans....more
Some days (most days, now that it's all just Amazon-fodder), I just can't be bothered to write a review. This is one of those days. Happily for you, LSome days (most days, now that it's all just Amazon-fodder), I just can't be bothered to write a review. This is one of those days. Happily for you, Lobstergirl wrote a review that is both amusing and accurate and that I endorse wholeheartedly. Read it while I go back to my books that I didn't (& won't ever) buy from A-hole-mazon....more