When this book was mentioned multiple times on this blog (which I read regularly, though I am a lurker), I knew I had to read this book. I have been c...moreWhen this book was mentioned multiple times on this blog (which I read regularly, though I am a lurker), I knew I had to read this book. I have been catching up with left out children’s books this year, so this fit in perfectly. Anne of Green Gables is about Anne, an orphan, who is adopted by a brother-sister duo. The book shows how Anne wins the heart of her foster parents and her neighbors with her vivacious nature, her wild imagination and her constant blabber.
Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert are siblings who reside in Green Gables and decide to adopt a boy who can help Matthew with his farm work. Owing to some misunderstanding, they end up adopting Anne. Marilla is hesitant to adopt a girl – who is a bigger responsibility and who can’t be of any help in the farm, but decides to keep her anyway because she can’t see the girl sad.
Anne is proud of her imagination and uses it whenever she can. She imagines that she is a very pretty girl with royal dresses and beautiful hair whereas in reality she is far from it. Whenever she is in a fix or an unwelcome situation, she imagines herself to be in a wonderful situation and get through. When all her other friends in school wear puffed sleeves dress and she is the only one with plain sleeves, Anne imagines that her sleeves are puffed too. What a way to solve your problems. I was so inspired by Anne’s strategy that I used it myself a couple of times and it works really well.
The book shows us how Marilla brings up the talkative, imaginative child into a responsible and caring girl. We see how Anne saves her “bosom friend” Diana’s sister’s life, how she serves cake with liniment to a guest, how she goes to Queen’s to train to be a teacher. As the book progresses, we can clearly see Anne maturing with age. The talkative kid blossoms into an admirable girl.
Though I was inspired by the above mentioned blog to read this book, I don’t share her opinions. I did find Anne very likeable, but she is not a character I would call memorable. Same goes with her foster parents – Marilla and Matthew. Could it be because I am reading this at a wrong age? It’s a children’s book and I, for sure, am not a kid. I might have liked Anne more if I had ‘met’ her at a young age. Who knows?
I recommend this book to kids – there are lots of ‘moral’ education in there. How one should say prayers before going to bed, how kids get into trouble for not listening to elders, how values are more important than vanity and so on. To someone my age, I would say you are not losing anything by not reading this book. If you want to try a children’s book, then The Secret Garden is a much better one.(less)
The Wind in the Willows is about a mole, a water rat, a badger and a toad who has a penchant for expensive cars. Sounds interesting? You bet! It can b...moreThe Wind in the Willows is about a mole, a water rat, a badger and a toad who has a penchant for expensive cars. Sounds interesting? You bet! It can be termed as a children's book, but it is for everybody who is a child at heart. There is something very 'cute' about the book - the innocent characters, the simple story line, the language they speak and the simple, everyday things that the characters take great pleasure in.
When I saw that this book appears on BBC's The Big Read - 'Top 100' and 30 books to read before you turn 30, I set really high expectations on this book. I had the memories of The Secret Garden fresh in my mind and I was hoping this book too is as likeable as the first one. While The Wind in the Willows is a good book, I don't understand what the hype is all about. The book definitely does not deserve to be part of any 'must read' lists. The Secret Garden is a totally different book - it revolves around humans and the story is something that one could easily relate to. There is a very strong presence of nature in it which makes it even more charming. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy animated characters and animals dressed up and leading a more human life, but Willows just didn't work for me. If I can relate to Calvin and Hobbes where the stuffed tiger lives only in the child's imagination, I should be able to appreciate any animal character, right? But the rat or the mole or the toad just didn't stir any feelings in me. All that stuff about the toad ordering expensive cars and wasting away his life and money, the rat and the mole being such good buddies and helping the toad find his goal in life - I could not digest all this.
Just a few words about this book can't be called a review, but I am still blogging this because I need to air my views somewhere. Please do not be discouraged by my view of this book. I am known to dislike books which others just love. In fact, you should mark a book as a 'have-to-read-it-no-matter-what' if I give it a bad review. Told you, I am insane!(less)
One is never too old to read children’s books. I, for one, love children’s books and movies. I enjoy reading comics and watching cartoons. It had been...moreOne is never too old to read children’s books. I, for one, love children’s books and movies. I enjoy reading comics and watching cartoons. It had been so long since I read a kids’ book, that I greedily lapped up Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden and enjoyed every word and letter.
Mary Lennox, who is living in India with her parents, is sent to England to live with her maternal uncle after her parents die because of cholera. As a child, she is unhealthy, stubborn and queer. Her uncle, Mr. Craven, is another queer man who keeps to himself and avoids meeting anyone. His house has as many as hundreds of rooms, of which many are kept closed and are unused. Mary hears a story of how Mrs. Craven died after she fell from a tree in her garden and how Mr. Craven hates the garden for it and hence has kept it locked. He has buried the key and no one has entered this garden for ten years. Mary is thrilled with this idea of a secret garden and wants to see what is in it.
While the plot is kiddish, the message the book conveys is not. The message that runs parallely along the story is that one needs to eat well and play well to be healthy. A main part of the story is about how a sick, unhealthy child learns to enjoy the life around. Nature has a strong presence in the book. Mary owes her health to her secret garden where as she plants the flowers, she grows along with the plants. Dickon, a country lad, is friends with all the wild animals and can even speak to a robin. If we all can learn to enjoy and respect the nature around us, we will have a healthier and a better life. The book is not patronizing. There are no messages passed on as wisdom. One just reads the story and realizes all these. After I finished reading this book, I couldn’t help but smile and say to myself “Isn’t life beautiful?”
It is only right that the book talks about enjoying little things in life. Burnett, who was born in a poor family, knows what are the important things in life. Materialistic things like clothes, money, wealth and grandeur are things that Burnett feels are useless and hence get no mention in the book at all.
This is one of the rare books which cater to minds of children and adults alike. Didn’t someone say there is a child residing in everybody’s heart? It is very difficult to try and please a variety of audience, but Burnett manages it with such ease. One can treat this book as a kids’ book as well as a serious book which preaches ways of leading a happy life. No matter how you want to take it, it’s a book worth reading. I so badly want to give this book to my son and say, “Read this now”. I wish he was big enough.
Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War is exactly that – a book about love and war. I had never heard of either the book or the author before I saw the BBC...moreBirdsong: A Novel of Love and War is exactly that – a book about love and war. I had never heard of either the book or the author before I saw the BBC’s Top 100 list. I would never read this book if not for this book being chosen as the Book of the Month for March by the Ladies’ Literary League on Goodreads. I love these reading groups, lists and challenges – isn’t these how we discover new authors and books? Even though the title had war in it, (I don’t like war books, you see), I still started this book with a broad mind and a genuine wish to like this book. But I failed. This book was a disappointment for me.
Birdsong is about Stephen, a hard-working, young boy who visits France to learn the trade of mills. He stays with the owner of the mill where he meets Isabelle, wife of the owner, and falls helplessly in love with her. Isabelle finds herself responding to Stephen’s feelings and they end up having an affair right under the husband’s nose. As it always happens, the husband comes to know of the affair and Isabelle draws enough courage to abandon her husband and her step-children to elope with Stephen. They settle down in a small place and start their life. I can’t reveal more without spoiling it for the readers, so go and read the book to know what happens next.
The book grabs your attention from the very first page. Even though there is a lot of action in the rest of the book, I lost my interest as the story progressed. I found the war scenes especially boring. Didn’t I say I dislike fiction books on wars? Even the story that proceeds seemed implausible to me. The characters lacked depth. The romance of Stephen and Isabelle failed to draw any reaction from me. Isabelle’s action needed justification. Stephen’s reaction to Isabelle’s actions should have been stronger. And the characters that are introduced later on (can’t name them here) also were poorly developed and could have used some layers. The book should have been about just war or love – the mix of both somehow didn’t work for me. Or the author didn’t do it well. I liked Atonement, where Ian McIwan has the same ingredients – love and war and he has done a wonderful job of supporting the main love story in the backdrop of war.
In the end, there is nothing I took back home from this book. No memorable characters, no quote-worthy lines, no ‘wow’ moment – nothing at all. I am not saying that people will not like this book. I am sure many readers will like this and praise this book. All I am saying is I didn’t like this book.(less)