Original review with additional information and pictures of the Yorkshire Moors at Layers of Thought.
A classic masterpiece that is an4.5 star rating.
Original review with additional information and pictures of the Yorkshire Moors at Layers of Thought.
A classic masterpiece that is an incredible work of horrific and tragic fiction. It is a shocking “page turner” that I could not put down.
About: A tale of a haunting, either imaginary or not. It’s also a story of love and a loss so obsessive that it creates a monster from a man, mangling him into a cruel character that manipulates those around him for revenge, power, and pleasure. His anger seethes into the lives of family and those who he should love and cherish. Sadly, due to the constraints of the time, those around him cannot escape his internal conflict, external tortures, and schemes.
The story unfolds within and around two houses or manors in the late 1700s/early 1800s, in the English countryside. Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange are the names of the houses where the story takes place, among the rock strewn landscape of the bleak, damp and beautiful Yorkshire Moors.
The story is told from the perspective of a new border (Lockwood) who arrives to rent Thrushcross Grange in an effort to escape city life in London. Hoping for idyllic countryside and folk, he finds things are not at all as he had wished or imagined. He is appalled yet intrigued as to the reasons why there is such lack of normal civility at Wuthering Heights, so he consults the household’s servant, Nelly Dean. Through a series of conversations she tells him the horrible and convoluted tale. As they progress, Nelly’s strong character and moral sensibilities come through as she passes along the tragedy of the young Heathcliff and Catherine, spanning their childhood and beyond.
Thoughts: Some of you may know that John (my husband) is from North Yorkshire, growing up only several miles from where the Bronte’s lived, wrote, and died. So naturally I have visited the area frequently over the years. When visiting one can see the landscape is rocky and harsh with its boggy, peaty waters running through its craggy hills. It is generally damp and cold with summers that can be lovely and warm but only for a moment. This description of the moors is also a metaphor used throughout the novel; it mirrors a conflicted passion between the main characters.
It is accepted that life there was harsh 200 years ago, and still is for farmers working there today. They are known to be surly and cranky, so Heathcliff's temperament was no surprise, yet his extreme cruelty was. He is a character who is sadistic and that overshadows most of the other well fleshed out figures – even the wild, strong-willed, yet spoiled Catherine. I was shocked, thinking the book was categorized as a romance and it that would be light. Boy was I wrong.
You may think that through my description above that I did not particularly like Wuthering Heights. I loved it and think it is an incredible surprise of a horror story. It’s a harshly “romantic” tale and an enduring historical classic. It has a wonderful and deeply conflicted character with a chafing angst. It deserves a 4.5 stars and gets a big “Wow” in my humble opinion.
The version I listened to is included below, as is a paperback I used as reference – the Yorkshire accent is difficult even today, let alone 200 years ago when the book was set and written. Even John as a native Yorkshireman had difficulty translating it for me. The best part of the particular version I listened to is that the narrator has a “proper” Yorkshire accent and sounds just like my sister in law (a native). It gives the reading an authentic feel.
Audio: Naxos AudioBooks; Unabridged; 11-CD Set; read by Janet McTeer and David Timson; 13 hours, 9 minutes; May 15, 2007;
Paperback: Signet Classic; introduction by Alice Hoffman; copy shown above also includes an afterword by Juliet Barker; 352 pages; March 1, 2011; ...more
A wonderful reading of this dramatic classic romance. Set during VictOriginal review with pictures of the Yorkshire Dales posted at Layers of Thought.
A wonderful reading of this dramatic classic romance. Set during Victorian times, upon the bleak and lovely moors of North Yorkshire, England. It has a strong, intelligent, and likeable heroine who has unusual moral character and perseverance, making the story even more compelling.
About: A plain young girl, Jane Eyre is a left a penniless orphan in the care of her wealthy aunt, who has promised Jane’s dying uncle that she will care for the child. Sadly this non-blood relative despises Jane, and at the age of ten Jane is shipped off to a boarding school where conditions are difficult in a different way. Yet Jane perseveres, receives an education and begins teaching at the school she once attended.
Her life and the real story begin when Jane places an ad in a newspaper and soon is accepted as a governess for the French ward of a local wealthy landowner Mr. Rochester. Mr. Rochester is a rouge of a man and is twenty years her senior. That he is charming, wealthy, direct, and not very handsome does not stop Jane from falling in love with him. Yet this is only the beginning of this convoluted story, as Mr. Rochester has more entanglements than he wishes to reveal.
Thoughts: I absolutely loved every moment of this wonderful classic in audio, with its unexpected drama that kept me guessing. That the reader has a lovely voice with its North Yorkshire accent made the story even more likeable and realistic(she sounded similar to my in-laws who live in the area - my husband being a Yorkshireman) .
The book is also an enduring and relevant classic. Although the language is old fashioned there are the author’s timeless insights into human nature that give us a glimpse into our modern lives too. And even though social structures have changed (like women being able to own property today), our entanglements and dramas can be surprisingly similar.
It has wonderful descriptions of the green dales that are part of the landscape even today in North Yorkshire. With its weather swept beautiful moors and their natural bleakness, Charlotte Bronte describes them skillfully. So if you would enjoy a vicarious trip to the English countryside, albeit 150 years ago, then this is a perfect choice for a read or listen.
I do not give many five stars, but this book is one that is very deserving. It captured me with every word and drew me in until the very last sentence. I recommend it particularly in the audio version read by Susan Ericksen which was just lovely!
Audio Edition: unabridged version read by Susan Ericksen; Brilliance Audio; 17 hours, 21 minutes; May 25, 2005.
I read this book for a class that I took at the Liberal Studies Program - Hutchins School at Sonoma State University in CA. It was a great class. It wI read this book for a class that I took at the Liberal Studies Program - Hutchins School at Sonoma State University in CA. It was a great class. It was quite awhile ago, so my memory of the book has faded. I also can't remember the name of the class but it was something about consciousness and reality. The teacher was great. It is an easy read about an alternative reality/utopia where the members live in an egaltarian society. They live peacefully, work together and for the most part get along. Here is where the story gets interesting...how they socially handle a situation which is unacceptable to them. I see it as the author's way of letting the reader see a different way of dealing with human transgressions. I will say no more. If it is realistic, I don't thinks so. Sci-fi/fantasy all the way. I recommend this book for anyone interested in fantasy, questioning our social mores, or interested in alternative realities....more
A classic science fiction and horror mix that includes monsters created by the amoral Dr. Moreau.
About: Set in the late 1800’s, an educated and professional man named Edward Prendick inadvertently becomes stranded on a South Pacific island. This tropical island houses the laboratories of Dr. Moreau - a mad scientist of sorts who is doing some unusual and cruel experiments on animals on the remote island. Although Moreau attempts to hide his studies from the stranded newcomer, Prendick eventually finds out what is becoming of the animals when he hears screaming from the laboratories. Prendick is naturally terrified that he too may become one of the doctor’s subjects.
Thoughts: Originally published in 1896, the novel is an adventure, with some thrilling twists in a spectacular setting. It’s definitely horrific and scientific, although the science is unrealistic based upon today’s standards. It has also been adapted into a variety of movies over the past 100 years. Some look interesting, so I plan to watch a select few since a movie version could be fun and I think would translate well.
There is some interesting commentary hidden in the story, bringing up questions around human and animal social structure, issues of vivisection, definitions of pain, and some unusual monsters; which in some ways reminded me of Frankenstein. So it could be an excellent book for discussion - take a look at its Wikipedia page where there is loads of fodder for thought: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Isla...
Highly recommended for anyone interested in stories with darker themes. Only 200 pages or so, or just several hours of listening time, I finished it quickly. It was a great read since I love science fiction, horror, and classics and this is all three. I give it a 4 star rating....more
A classic feminist translation from French that’s a “romantic” story told by a heartbroken performer named Renee, who must choose between freedom andA classic feminist translation from French that’s a “romantic” story told by a heartbroken performer named Renee, who must choose between freedom and love during Victorian times.
About: Published in 1910 this is a short book that is supposedly a semi-autobiography from the interesting bohemian author – Colette. The story is told in first person by Renee Nere, the main character who has divorced her wealthy, philandering, artist husband after eight years of emotional torture. Damaged, much wiser, yet lonely, she has managed to support herself as a dancer and actor in Paris. Although not considered an acceptable profession for her social standing, it never-the-less gives Renee a sense of independence which is hard earned during a time when a woman’s independence was not common and, indeed, shunned.
When a wealthy gentleman falls in love with Renee and promises her the moon, and the dancer attempts to decide between marriage and independence - that is when the reader gets a glimpse into why this book is considered a feminist classic.
Thoughts: I truly enjoyed this book in audio, with its UK-English accented reader and its esoteric French phrase usage. (I speak 4 words of French and received horrible grades for it in high school, so did not understand most of it). Yet the English part of the book is descriptive and pleasant, if slightly long winded at times. At one point Renee travels the French countryside, and the letters Renee writes her would be lover are sweet indeed.
When doing research about the author, I found Colette to be an intriguing subject. Living a life that was not standard, she broke many social rules including affairs with a tabooed family member and women. Although this book does not have LGBT elements, it’s still feminist in nature and is not your happily-ever-after romance. But I think that is where its value lies, in a “realistic” example of a woman who goes against the social norms of the times and lives her life to the fullest.
I give this wonderful short novel (especially in its audio version) a 4-star rating and recommend it highly for those interested in anything French, Victorian classics, and feminist fiction....more
John Steinbeck is becoming one of my favorite authors. I have read 3 of his books now and I enjoyed this one immensely. It tells of a time when CalifoJohn Steinbeck is becoming one of my favorite authors. I have read 3 of his books now and I enjoyed this one immensely. It tells of a time when California was not the Silicone Valley and freeways but one of the "food baskets" of the Western States. What a sad story, a quick read, and a tribute to another time, the role of friendship, and to the recognition of the flaws in human nature....more
This review has been originally published on Layers of Thought. If you link to the post you can see some recent pictures we have taken of Whitby and iThis review has been originally published on Layers of Thought. If you link to the post you can see some recent pictures we have taken of Whitby and included in the post to help you visualize a few of the settings within the book, as well as a few links related to the area.
"I am Dracula, and I bid you welcome . . . "
An enduring classic with an extremely charming, truly evil, yet almost human monster. I suggest leaving the lights on.
Synopsis: With a Victorian setting in the late 19th century, a newly practicing attorney/solicitor from England is commissioned to visit a new client for his firm. He is to meet with this wealthy gentleman and stay at his castle in the mountains of Transylvania, while giving him advice on property acquisitions within the UK. The journey starts out decently for Jonathan Harker, but “red flags” pop up as he is warned by the locals and experiences eerie events during his journey to the Count’s country estate.
When he reaches his destination things are not as he was lead to believe. He finds that the Count himself is misleading and extremely intelligent, with a business savvy to match. Most disturbing is when Harker realizes the castle has no servants, parts are in complete ruin, he sees the count doing not very human things, and it appears that he is in fact a prisoner with in the castle. When he finally returns home, the young lawyer is beside himself, and worse yet it appears that he may have been followed. This scary story has only just begun.
Thoughts: This is a wonderful tale which deserves to be read by anyone interested in classics, horror, and evil vampires. That it was written over 100 years ago and the emotions it incurs are still heart quickening, attest to the universal nature of this horror story and make it an enduring classic.
Set partially in Whitby, an amazing town on the East coast of England with iconic structures which still exist today, the story includes a variety of interesting and well developed characters, with our main character the Count, who is the evil embodiment of a sociopathic killer.
It is all told in letter format - epistolary or diary entries with each character well developed and interesting. Listening to the book in audio format, the telling is done via various voices and is close to perfect - old English accents, changing for each of the characters. I enjoyed it immensely.
As for rating this classic I would say 4.5 stars. I recommend this version if you decide audio is the way to go for you....more
An epic story, with cute and colorful drawings about thOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought in a graphic novel trio review.
3.5 starts actually!
An epic story, with cute and colorful drawings about the famous Tolkien hobbit, who finds one of the fabled rings which become an important part of the continuing saga of The Lord of the Rings.
About: Bilbo Baggins is happy with his quiet life in his little cottage when the wizard Gandalf and a group of dwarves invite themselves for tea and drag him along on an incredible adventure. Unbeknown to him, he is to play an important role in its success and become the story's reluctant hero.
Thoughts: Recommended for all ages, this is a wonderful introduction to Tolkien for anyone who is daunted by his books. I know I had difficulties accessing them as a youngster (and as an adult too) and thought this would be a perfect substitute. I loved the cute and colorful pictures golemand the text was so pleasant and easy to digest. It would be wonderful for children of almost any age. Including kids of the ancient variety!
The particular version, which I read in the UK, was apparently written for the local population; some of the wording and references may be difficult for a US reader. So be aware of your version and don’t let anyone tell you that books don’t need to be translated from UK English to US English. It was a fun and lovely read at 3.5 stars. I can now say I have finally read – The Hobbit.
The version I reviewed is out of print for the US and its cover art is not the same: 144 pages; Harper Collins (1991). For the UK this version is also out of print but is available used. In Canada there are new copies and it looks like one is available in French....more
Original review with more stuff (interesting links, movie and book tie ins) at Layers of Thought.
We are such stuff as dreams are made on…..
About: ThisOriginal review with more stuff (interesting links, movie and book tie ins) at Layers of Thought.
We are such stuff as dreams are made on…..
About: This is a child’s picture book and is a retelling of Shakespeare’s play. It is about Prospero, the Duke of Milan, and his small daughter who are set adrift on the sea by the king of Naples and Prospero's evil brother. They are conspiring to acquire his land and holdings, but do not murder Prospero and Miranda since the evil doers do not want to be blamed for their deaths.
However, Prospero is a magician of great talent and he and Miranda survive the incident. They are washed up on an enchanted island inhabited by a variety of magical beings – both good and bad. Taking refuge in a cave, they try to live a peaceful and happy life. As Miranda comes of age Prospero knows she will need the companionship of others, so he conjures up a storm which blows his brother’s traveling ship onto the rocks around the island. He and the remaining crew are brought on shore, but because this includes the conspiring king as well as the king’s son, the story has just begun.
Thoughts: Ah Shakespeare, the incredible and articulate bard from days of yore. What I would not give to understand his wonderful and archaic language. Difficult as the verbiage it is for adults, it is much more so for children. With consideration to the many wonderful tie-ins around this fantastical story, it’s a shame not to have a simpler basis on which to build an understanding. That’s where a book like this can come in, as a way for adults to help children understand and to introduce them into the language of old England, and the wonders of ~ The Tempest.
With lacey and old fashioned illustrations from Gennaday Spririn, the co-author has included current language which is understandable for children (and for adults like me). Yet for authenticity she has included some brief and easy to understand quotes from Shakespeare’s actual work – like the one prefacing this review. (I have always wondered where that familiar line had originated). Helped by the illustrations, it is a way for children and adults to further understand the basis for Shakespeare’s complex story lines and language. I liked this book a lot and give it 3.5 stars.
I am actually surprised there are not more picture books as well as a graphic novel for the tale published. If there are I could not find one (hint to artists and publishers)....more
I am new to adult science fiction. I've read Fahrenheit 451 and a number of short stories through the years, a few young adult novels recently as wellI am new to adult science fiction. I've read Fahrenheit 451 and a number of short stories through the years, a few young adult novels recently as well as a bunch as a pre-teen. Quite a while ago I decided that I would like to read more of the genre. The Mote in God's Eye captured my attention when I was putting my husband's ancient paperback science fiction collection on the shelf in the spare room. I think it was when I first read the title that I was hooked. What a cool title and its been calling my name ever since. When I started reading the book, I actually had to keep notes. This is something until now I have refused to do. The characters are numerous and complicated, having very long and interchangeable names, which the authors do frequently. I refused to give up and am glad that I kept reading because, although not an easy read, the story began to flow. It is set in the distant future when space has been colonized, and the reigning governing system called The Empire has contact with very intelligent aliens. It naturally examines some possible challenges which could occur when faced with this mind-boggling situation. I truly enjoyed this story and highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in science fiction and the social consequences and problems which would inevitably occur with this type of an event. The story is complex, has some elements of mystery, is suspenseful, dramatic, and I thought it was funny at times. If that doesn't temp you then read it because the aliens are amazing. I was tempted to give it 5 stars but to be fair I have nothing to compare it to. ...more
Synopsis: (may contain spoilers for some) This story is a well know horror classic and is an epistolary novel. It is written as a series of letter from
Synopsis: (may contain spoilers for some) This story is a well know horror classic and is an epistolary novel. It is written as a series of letter from an educated English explorer to his sister as he embarks on a journey through the inhospitable icy Northern regions of the world. As he is traveling with his ship and crew, he finds a man half frozen to death traveling on the ice. The captain brings the frozen Doctor Frankenstein onto his ship and nurses him back to consciousness. It is here that Victor Frankenstein's tale unfolds as he tells his tale to the captain where it is relayed to the reader through the captain’s letters. *A bit beyond the basics Victor begins by telling his story from his childhood on. He states he is from a wealthy family whom is loving and close. He is educated and is expected to marry his cousin of sorts and is happy to oblige. Being intellectually inclined he studies all the great philosophers of the age, eventually becoming obsessed with creating life from death. When he eventually does this, the man/monster he creates is appalling to him and is relieved when the monster finally disappears. The monster, spurned wanders in the wilderness contemplating life where he eventually stumbles upon a family that he grows to adore and wishes for his own. They do not know he exists, as he watches them from afar. In this way the monster learns the ways of the world. When he finally tries to befriend them they are of course horrified and violently reject him. The monster is heartbroken and horrendously distraught. He blames Victor, his creator, and vows to destroy his life completely. The quote below exemplifies his complete distress:
Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in that ... instant, did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had so wantonly bestowed? I know not; despair had not yet taken possession of me; my feelings were those of rage and revenge. I could with pleasure have destroyed the cottage and its inhabitants and have glutted myself with their shrieks and misery.
My Thoughts: I listened to this novel, unabridged, on audio. It was very pleasant because on this version the reader has an English accent which was wonderful and appropriate for the story. I am not sure if I would have been able to actually read it in written form, since old English can be very difficult. So I recommend audio for experiencing this wonderful classic. The story is emotional and it pushes the reader’s feelings toward those of complete and utter despair, both from the Doctor’s perspective and that of the monster’s. The monster himself is not terrifying. He is a lost soul in part a product of his environment. I think that the story is more heartbreaking than it is scary. Its link to GLBT: One of the reasons I listened to this audio book was because it was designated GLBT in nature. Thinking about it from this perspective I think it is due to the intimate relationships between the main characters, being mostly males, which are very convoluted and intense inferring an intimacy of sorts. I can also see that since GLBT individuals may un-rightly be considered an abomination by some, this may also be a source of connection for the community. The horrible feelings of being an outcast, being shunned by society, family, or father all link to the experiences of the monster. ...more