What is it about me and classics? When the entire world is raving about classics, I only end up getting disappointed. After having many bad experience...moreWhat is it about me and classics? When the entire world is raving about classics, I only end up getting disappointed. After having many bad experiences with classics before, I vowed never to read one again, but I did it anyway hoping atleast this time, I will be proved wrong. I wasn’t.
Wuthering Heights is the name of the house where most of the book is set in. This is where Heathcliff is brought in as an adopted orphan and takes a more important place in the household and thus invokes wrath from the natural heirs of the property – Hareton and Catherine, which eventually turns into a blooming romance between Heathcliff and Catherine. Though the couple is very much in love, Catherine ends up marrying another guy and Heathcliff takes that as a personal insult to him and vows to take revenge. The story continues to the next generation where Catherine’s daughter ends up getting married to Heathcliff’s son and what happens later on.
Wikipedia says wuthering means turbulent weather in Yorkshire and this best describes the happenings at this bizarre house. Heathcliff, whose love for Catherine takes the centre stage in the initial part of the book and his hatred and revenge forms the later part, is one strange character. He starts off as being innocent and guileless, who then turns into a headstrong teenager who thinks the entire world is against him, who then turns into an out and out monster. Without marking this review as spoiler, I can’t reveal his heinous crimes, but it’s suffice to say I was revolted and disturbed by certain parts of the story. I had to pause and ask myself if this character is for real – I mean, this person is too evil even for a fictitious character. Most of the characters in the prologue are like this – evil, sharp tongued, foul mouthed – I thought the name ‘Mad House’ was a better name for the novel.
I fail to see why this novel has this amount of attention and praise. It is a decent novel, no doubt, but what is so great about it that it has to be listed as one of the must reads. I have a similar opinion about Jane Eyre and most of the other classics, so I guess it’s just me. Go ahead and enjoy reading this classic while I figure what gene is responsible for appreciating classics and how do I go about procuring it.(less)
I know! Even I can’t believe I hadn’t read this classic all these years. Better late than never, so here I am trying to fill in all those gaps in my l...moreI know! Even I can’t believe I hadn’t read this classic all these years. Better late than never, so here I am trying to fill in all those gaps in my literary life. Franz Kafka has always been spoken about with a lot of respect among my literary friends. And ‘The Metamorphosis’ is considered as one of his best works which has been analyzed enough and more. When you hear or read such high praise about a book, your expectation from the book naturally is high. And when you pick up a book with very high expectations, you are very likely to be disappointed and that’s what happened with me.
‘The Metamorphosis’ is about a young man who finds himself transformed into a monstrous insect and about how things around him change due to his transformation. Gregor is a marketing salesman who is the sole bread earner of the family. He wakes up on a routine day to find that he has turned into a beetle (The closest translation of the German word Ungeziefer that appears in the original work). His family is unaware of this and urge him to get up and be off to work. When he doesn’t turn up at his workplace, his manager comes over to his house to see what is keeping Gregor from work. The manager and Gregor’s family are in for a shock when Gregor reveals his new ‘avatar’. The author takes us through how his family tries to cope with the fact that Gregor is no longer a human. Gregor’s sister, Greta, is burdened with the task of cleaning Gregor’s room and she can’t stand being in that room without feeling suffocated. His mother with her weak nerves cannot muster enough courage to even look at her son. His father blames Gregor for the whole mess. The author shows us how the family adapts to this crisis and how Gregor copes with it.
What struck me most was the fact that Gregor on realizing his transformation does not wonder about the cause or worry about how he is going to lead a life as an insect. Instead, all he is bothered about is how he can get up from the bed and get to work because his manager and his dad will get mad at him. Greta comes across as a kind sister who tries to make it easy for Gregor by leaving the window open so that he can see the world outside and offering him food which is fit for insects and so on. With time, the kind sister transforms into an unsympathetic woman because of the frustration and the embarrassment she has to endure. Gregor’s helplessness and the family’s indifference tugs at your heart. You pity Gregor and start despising his family for not understanding his plight. The ending, oh my God, the ending – it is disturbing. Though I could predict what was coming, I was left aghast when it actually happened.
The original book is in German and has been translated into English by many writers. German readers complain that the translated works do not have the same impact because of the difference in the structure of the sentences. Kafka ended his sentences with words which have the greatest impact and since this is not always possible in English, the impact of the sentences gets diluted. Much has been argued about the word Ungeziefer that appears in the first sentence (which is one of the most popular first sentences in English). While we see bug, insect, cockroach and beetle used in its place, experts argue none of them convey the real meaning.
While the book is an interesting (and slightly disturbing) read, I really don’t see what the hype is about. I fail to understand why this is so talked about and recommended as a must read. I know it is a metaphor and there are derived meanings, but I did not appreciate the book. At best, it taught me how a family should not behave in the time of crisis, especially when a dear one is at the center of it.(less)
Daddy Long-Legs is about an orphan girl, Jerusha Judy Abbott, who is being brought up in John Grier Home for orphans. Her life takes a turn when one o...moreDaddy Long-Legs is about an orphan girl, Jerusha Judy Abbott, who is being brought up in John Grier Home for orphans. Her life takes a turn when one of the trustees of the orphanage offer her to pay her college fees. Her benefactor chooses to remain anonymous to Jerusha and his only condition is that she should update him regularly about her progress in college through letters.
On a routine day, Jerusha is called to the matron’s office and is informed that she is being sent to college by a kind-hearted trustee. The trustee is impressed by an article Jerusha wrote and wants her to study to become a writer. He wants to hide his identity from Jerusha, but she manages to get a glimpse of her benefactor – a disproportionate shadow of his, with unusually long legs. Jerusha decides to address her benefactor as Daddy Long-Legs.
Jerusha finds herself in a free life, far away from the clutches of the orphanage’s matron. She strives to keep up with the activities and conversation that girls have around her but is constantly reminded that she did not have a ‘normal life’ in the orphanage. She makes new friends, learns new subjects and thoroughly enjoys the unexpected freedom given to her. Her journey through the college is revealed to the reader only through her letters addressed to Daddy Long-Legs.
It’s hard to make an epistolary novel work. The writer has only the letters to show what’s going on in fictitious world. He/She has to have a knack of including some information in the letter just for the reader and make it look like it was not intentional. Also, building characters becomes difficult because you can’t really describe the appearance and actions of a character. This book barely works on that front. Jerusha comes across as a vibrant, bubbly girl and she is the only character who comes alive. We know the benefactor only through Jerusha’s letters, so he remains in the dark. The matron is your tyrannical woman, which is nothing new. I would like to see a warm matron some day! Jerusha’s letters are lively and funny – she uses an informal tone and includes humorous bits which keeps the reader hooked. She draws portraits of herself and the life around her which brings a chuckle or two. This book was recommended to me as a good book in humor genre and I am disappointed because there is not much of humor in there. It’s a nice, little book which you can use as a filler, but there is nothing in the book that makes it memorable.
The book was made into a play and movies in many languages. The book looks well appreciated, so it’s probably me who didn’t find anything special about it. What I did like about the book is the dedication page. This book is dedicated ‘To You’. Now, how many books are there which are dedicated to the reader, huh?
The book is in public domain and is available for free on gutenberg.
This book was read as part of The New Author Challenge 2011 and The 2011 TBR Pile Challenge.(less)
If you are into books, chances are you would have come across this book atleast once in your lifetime. This book has made it into lots of lists and is...moreIf you are into books, chances are you would have come across this book atleast once in your lifetime. This book has made it into lots of lists and is seen as a must-read by many readers. Naturally, I wanted to read this book to see what the hype is all about.
As the book’s title suggests, this book has a time traveler (Henry) and his wife (Clara) as the main characters and gives us a glimpse of their lives. Henry has this ability to time travel to past or future, although involuntarily. We see Henry visiting Clara when she is just a six year old and thus starts their love story. While Henry knows he is going to end up marrying Clara, he doesn’t reveal this until later. Clara looks forward to her life as Henry’s wife and misses Henry in between his time traveling visits.
The first part of the book failed to elicit any emotion in me. I never felt the longing that Clara felt or the uncertainty Henry felt. In fact, the initial chapters were confusing to me. Though I knew what was happening, it was difficult to keep track of what is present, past and future. I could relate to Clare only in the later part of the book when she marries Henry.
This book is touted as the ‘next Lovely Bones’, but I fail to see the similarity. If they are hinting at the emotions that these books are supposed to elicit from readers, then I disagree. Lovely Bones touches the readers at a totally different level. There is rage, hatred, misery and helplessness, whereas in this book, it is more of longing and loss.
Neither Henry nor Clara come across as real characters to me. I know there are many readers out there who disagree with me, but this is my opinion. Niffenegger’s writing is smooth and easy, but nothing to write home about.(less)