Wonderfully researched, and great narrative voice. You feel like you're listening to a lecture from a professor who's really into her subject. My favoWonderfully researched, and great narrative voice. You feel like you're listening to a lecture from a professor who's really into her subject. My favorite parts were the letters and journal entries from wives throughout history-- they sounded so fresh and close....more
This was fun. It's one of the first instances of the "locked-door mysteries," in which a victim is murdered or near-murdered in a room locked from theThis was fun. It's one of the first instances of the "locked-door mysteries," in which a victim is murdered or near-murdered in a room locked from the inside, with no clue to indicate who the murderer was or how he escaped the room. Any of you who've read novels in French will understand what I mean when I say that, even though this is a translation, it's incredibly French, specifically in its characters. An enjoyable, if not vital read....more
I loved reading this! It was so different from the domestic novel I had been expecting. It does go that way, a bit, but ends up not being entirely aboI loved reading this! It was so different from the domestic novel I had been expecting. It does go that way, a bit, but ends up not being entirely about marriage. Some moments involving unknown parentage and mystical forebodings felt very Wilkie Collins, but it's not that kind of book, either. It's really about two people finding themselves amid the considerable social restrictions that existed in Victorian England. Gwendolen Harleth is an alluring character, and I felt really connected to Daniel Deronda....more
Yo. I read this in four days, and it's 1200+ pages. That's how kick-ass it is. I read an abridged version in my early teens, and thought it was prettyYo. I read this in four days, and it's 1200+ pages. That's how kick-ass it is. I read an abridged version in my early teens, and thought it was pretty great, but it was even more awesome than I remembered.
I loved this translation. The language was clean without betraying the time period in which it was written. I recommend the unabridged book, as I cannot imagine what parts were not bitchin' enough to be kept in a shorter version....more
Of course, I saw the movie first. "Mildred Pierce" is one of my favorites, and I'll watch it every time it's on TCM, because Veda, Mildred's daughter,Of course, I saw the movie first. "Mildred Pierce" is one of my favorites, and I'll watch it every time it's on TCM, because Veda, Mildred's daughter, is such an fabulously unmitigated bitch. Then I found out the movie was adapted from this book, written by the same guy who wrote The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity. Really, I don't have to write a review: the book's credentials recommend it without my help, don't they?
But I'll write one, anyway.
This book is dark. One of the reasons Cain is such an excellent noir writer is that he understands that noir is not a world of heroes and villains, but a world of villains and lesser villains. Mildred, in her own way, is just as terrible as Veda, and we even understand Veda's motivations better. Veda is poisonous, but we can't exactly root for Mildred, because she first creates and then goes after what Veda gives, pursuing her own demise. I found myself eerily impressed by how completely Cain seems to understand how diseased the mother-daughter dynamic can become, and how he extrapolated on its essentials (jealousy, codependency, greed, mistrust, role reversal) to create this story of monstrous betrayals.
Despite their being miserable characters, Mildred and Veda are well-realized female personalities, and Cain has them carry the book, while using various shiftless and untrustworthy male characters to fill supporting roles, which is unusual and refreshing in a noir, where women are usually portrayed as one-dimensional femme fatales.
I read this in a single day, hoping each chapter that Mildred would get wise and Veda would get what was coming to her. I hear HBO is putting out a mini series of Mildred Pierce, starring Kate Winslet. I'm quite eager to see what they'll do with this excellent material....more
Du Maurier is nothing if not atmospheric. My Cousin Rachel, like its predecessor, Rebecca, takes place on an enormous estate, and spans England and coDu Maurier is nothing if not atmospheric. My Cousin Rachel, like its predecessor, Rebecca, takes place on an enormous estate, and spans England and continental Europe, but its mood is claustrophobia inducing. The reader is trapped inside the mind of the first-person narrator, 24 year old Philip Ashley, whose youth, inexperience, impulsiveness, and selfishness all serve to keep his point of view very narrow indeed. Then, too, Philip is an ineffective communicator, and is trapped by what he fails to say, or what he says incorrectly, and surrounded by people who are similarly not forthcoming, and whose actions and words are ambiguous. There were moments when it was tempting to think that I understood everything much better than Philip, only to turn the page and second guess myself due to another character's behavior.
The mystery of the book is this: Philip receives word that his adopted and beloved father figure, Ambrose, has died abroad and left a new wife--Rachel-- behind. Because no new will was made, Philip inherits everything, leaving Rachel with very little. Naturally (because it's that kind of book), she is very beautiful, and when she arrives at Philip's estate, he must decide whether the cryptic letters he had received from Ambrose implicate Rachel in his sudden death, or whether she is an innocent victim of Ambrose's mental instability, or whether he himself is so in love with Rachel that he doesn't care either way.
This was a great summer read. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys any of DuMaurier's other works. ...more