A college professor turned me on to Thomas Hardy many years ago and I'll be forever grateful. Every time I read one of his novels, I marvel at how heA college professor turned me on to Thomas Hardy many years ago and I'll be forever grateful. Every time I read one of his novels, I marvel at how he can take the inhabitants of a quiet English country village and really, really put them through the wringer. Murder, rape, suicide...there's no end to the tragedies he puts his characters through! And I love it.
The last Hardy novel I read was the relentlessly bleak, Jude the Obscure. So I have to admit, I was relieved that Far From the Madding Crowd had moments of optimism, and gasp...even humor (when those country laborers start drinking, they're hilarious). I was also glad to see a strong female protagonist instead of a victim. Not that I didn't love Tess of the d'Urbervilles, but I can only take so many female characters who sit back and let men or society victimize them without fighting back. Not so with Bathsheba Everdene. She was the boss, she didn't let anyone tell her what to do, she didn't put up with any crap, especially from men.
That is, until she met Frank Troy. Oh, Bathsheba, how you disappointed me! You fell for the dreaded bad boy. And although you're fiction, I know so many flesh-and-blood women who've fallen for the same kind of man. She falls for the looks, the charm, the bad-boy behavior. She thinks she can change him. She will be the one he falls madly in love with and finally settles down. Everybody else around her can see what's really going on, but she can't.
Bathsheba, you just aren't the girl I thought you were. Even when, after a great deal of tragedy, you finally started to kinda, sorta realize that he was never going to love you, you still pined for him. You were never able to flip the switch back on--the switch that made you a strong, proud, independent woman. To the very end, you were weak around Frank. You continued to be putty in his hands. You just never got your mojo back. And that, Bathsheba, is why I downgraded your story to 4 stars. ...more
"One of the greatest accounts of war ever written"..."one of the best-loved writers of her time"...how did I miss this book? If you look at the list o"One of the greatest accounts of war ever written"..."one of the best-loved writers of her time"...how did I miss this book? If you look at the list of books I've read, you'll see that I like fiction and non-fiction that take place during wars. But I'd never heard of Testament of Youth until I saw a trailer for the movie that was recently released.
Vera Brittain knew she was different from the other girls in the small English town she was raised in. While they were content to marry, settle down, and have babies, she wanted something different. She wanted to go to college. She fought her way into Oxford and happily threw herself into her studies. She had a brother she adored and a group of "guy friends" who treated her like one of them. And unexpectedly, almost against her will, she met the love of her life. Roland considered her his intellectual equal. They argued and debated, and fell more and more deeply in love. They couldn't stand to be apart. Then World War I came along. Her brother, her guy friends, and Roland all enlisted. Optimistically, Vera and Roland got engaged.
This is not a spoiler--it says clearly on the back of the book that she lost all the men she loved. You know what's coming, but you hold out hope that maybe that isn't actually true. Maybe she "lost" one of these men when he became a prisoner of war, and when the war ended, he came back to her. Oh, how you hope that's the case. But, unfortunately, it's not a craftily formed statement, out to mislead you. She really did lose all the men she loved. So while you know what's coming, you're still not prepared. Each death is like a punch in the gut...every single time.
Yes, this is one of the greatest accounts of war ever written. I don't believe I've ever before read a book that tells you how in the hell you go on when you lose all the men you love. Vera's grief is palpable and heart-breaking. She found she simply couldn't continue on with her studies. She was driven to DO something, so she became a nurse. Her harrowing accounts of what it was like to serve right on the front are unforgettable. She was already a feminist but after the war, she fought even harder for women's rights. She also became a pacifist, traveling the country, bravely speaking of the futility of war. It was something she could do to honor the men she loved.
I don't believe I've ever thought of it in just this way, but WWI, and probably WWII, destroyed almost an entire generation of young men. They never got started with their lives, they never got a chance to fulfill their potential. As the book says, they simply vanished in the trenches. As the mother of three sons, I hope we're never, ever in that situation again. ...more
Wow, I just do not get this...at ALL. This won a Newbery? This won a Caldecott? I doubt that any child I'm acquainted with would like this book. PerhaWow, I just do not get this...at ALL. This won a Newbery? This won a Caldecott? I doubt that any child I'm acquainted with would like this book. Perhaps a brilliant, highly literate child who is familiar with William Blake would? Are there any kids out there familiar with William Blake? I'm not and perhaps that's why I simply didn't understand this. The description says it contains poems inspired by William Blake. If so, then why not also include Blake's poems that inspired this book? There are a couple in here, but they have nothing to do with the story.
Boring...awful illustrations...there's so much better poetry out there for kids (Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, Judith Viorst). If this is a child's first exposure to poetry, I feel sorry for him/her. They'll probably never read it again....more