Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" tells about a boy loving and living his life to the fullest. Tom Sawyer is the kid that the world has seem...moreMark Twain's "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" tells about a boy loving and living his life to the fullest. Tom Sawyer is the kid that the world has seemed to forgotten. He is the kid who always get in trouble but continues to have fun with life. In this book, Tom does everything from being engaged, to watching his own funeral, to witnessing death and finding treasure.
Like many young people, Tom would rather be having fun than going to school and church. This desire to enjoy life is always getting him into trouble, from which he finds unusual and imaginative solutions. One of the great scenes in this book has Tom persuading his friends to help him whitewash a fence by making them think that nothing could be finer than doing his punishment for playing hooky from school.
Twain's creative character finds fun everywhere in his little town in Missouri, as do his friends. The storyline is basic, but it is a piece of the past that everyone should hold on to.
Another reason to enjoy this novel is for its anthropological qualities. Twain took care to replicate the speech of that place and time as much as he could, and he claims that the beliefs and activities of the children (though not the specific plot developments of the novel) are accurate, which provides a fascinating window into life in the early 1800s.
By writing so powerfully about boyhood, Twain offers readers of all eras yet another powerful provocation towards nostalgia: that for one's own lost childhood, youthful initiations, and passages from innocence into adulthood.
This collection comprises both the Happy Prince compilation and the House of Pomegranates compilation of Oscar Wilde's short stories. I suppose this w...moreThis collection comprises both the Happy Prince compilation and the House of Pomegranates compilation of Oscar Wilde's short stories. I suppose this wonderful collection has been buried so long because of Wilde's sexual orientation. That's so sad because it means that millions of children growing up over the past several decades have missed experiencing these tales. I'm glad to see that the collection is back in print and have finally found it in my local bookstore.
The "Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde" contains these stories:
"The Happy Prince" >> A statue of a prince asks a bird friend to deliver precious gems on his body to people who are in need in the town so that they may survive and in turn is deemed to be no longer beautiful.
"The Nightingale and the Rose" >> A Nightingale makes the ultimate sacrifice in the form of a song so that a a boy may win the heart of a maiden.
"The Selfish Giant" >> A grumpy giant closes his courtyard off to children so Spring refuses to come back leaving Winter to constantly blunder him.
"The Devoted Friend" >> A friend accepts a small favor and is expected to do entirely too much in return.
"The Remarkable Rocket" >> A rocket (firecracker) who is quite arrogant ends up being the bottom of the bunch.
The "House Of Pomegranates" contains these stories:
"The Young King" >> A King has a series of dreams which lead him to no longer want the royal treatment once he sees what it costs others.
"The Birthday of the Infanta" >> A dwarf who performs for the Infanta on her birthday becomes obsessively in love with her and is disillusioned on his way to finding her.
"The Fisherman and His Soul" >> A fisherman gives his soul to be with a mermaid and learns the hard way the price that he has paid for doing so.
"The Star-Child" >> A Child falls from the sky, is taken in by a family, and grows to have a horrible attitude. When he tries to redeem himself, he finds that it may be too late to do so.
It isn't an easy job to write a story for children that carries over on another level when the reader is an adult, yet Wilde has done it. Each tale is a gem onto itself: deep and moving, yet profoundly simple at the same time.
Title Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde Author Oscar Wilde Reviewed By Purplycookie(less)
Laclos's book caused a sensation in its own time that reverberated for decades afterward; 40 years after its publication it was condemned by a crimina...moreLaclos's book caused a sensation in its own time that reverberated for decades afterward; 40 years after its publication it was condemned by a criminal court and publicly incinerated in a mass book-burning ceremony. Choderlos de Laclos' epistolary novel has been made into at least two film versions that I know of, but none of them come nearly up to the real thing. I'm of course referring to "Dangerous Liaisons" which then inspired "Cruel Intentions".
The anti-hero and anti-heroine of this book, the Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquis de Merteuil, fascinate and repel us at once by their sheer wickedness. Valmont is a depraved Casanova, who has lost count of all the broken hearts and destroyed characters he has left in his wake. The Marquise de Merteuil, married and widowed too young, has combined shrewd intelligence with appalling powers of deception to engage a string of lovers whom she uses and casts off at random. Somehow these two find each other and form an unholy partnership.
When the book opens, their affair is already spent, but they have remained friends; and the Marquise is infuriated when she learns she is about to be dumped by her current lover, a rich aristocrat named Gercourt, who is about to marry Cecile de Volanges, the most naive teenager who ever emerged from the protective cocoon of convent education. Her main attraction, for him, is her virginity, and it is this the Marquise wants Valmont to do away with so that Gercourt will find out on his wedding night that he didn't get the innocent virgin he was expecting, but an already corrupted young woman, and will become the laughing stock of Paris.
The way "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" is written as a collection of what seems like real life letters revealing a scandal, that have been passed around members of society and finaly published makes you feel almost a part of the story.
"Once one becomes interested in the game, there is no knowing where one will stop." While written in the same lingusitic and seductive style of a libertine novel, Laclos transforms the limited and mundane scope of the libertine world into a riveting classic. Each character reflects a different conception of "love" and how the libertine world can go awry when true sentiment is confused with lust.
"I willingly allow that money does not guarantee happiness; but it must also be allowed that it makes happiness a great deal easier to achieve." La Marquise de Merteuil reflects the purest degree of libertinage. In perhaps the most spellbinding of all the letters, she explains to Valmont her duplictious conduct after her husband's death to obtain her reputation among men and place herself at the forefront of society's attention. In contrast, Mlle. de Tourvel is the epitome of sentimental love, to the point that she can become physically ill if it is not reciprocated.
Clearly what separates this work from other romance novels of the 18th century, elevating it to the level of other world masterpieces, is the character of Valmont. He is the heart and soul of this novel in every way possible. "Monsieur de Valmont, with an illustrious name, a large fortune, and many agreeable qualities, early realized that to achieve influence in society no more is required than to practice the arts of adulation and ridicule with equal skill."
One one hand, Valmont is extremely self-assured in his ways, when describing his calculating, rational strategy in courting naive young ladies. "When a woman's heart has been severely tried for any length of time it needs rest; and I have noticed that flattery is in every case the softest pillow to proffer." On the other hand, he refuses to accept the reality evidenced by his relationship with Mme. de Tourvel that he is not the manipulative libertine that he, and society, consider him to be.
Title Les Liaisons Dangereuses (translated into English as "Dangerous Liaisons") Author Pierre Choderlos de Laclos Reviewed By Purplycookie(less)
"Do you believe in fairies?" "You see, Wendy, when the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went...more"Do you believe in fairies?" "You see, Wendy, when the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies. And so, there ought to be one fairy for every boy and girl."
Barrie's "Peter Pan" is a truly beautiful work. It is never too cloyingly sweet or too harsh, and the child's perspective of the world is beautifully crafted. It does, however, bring you along on a journey to the Neverlands, and perhaps for a little while we can be reunited with our dreams.
Although Wendy seems a little prim, she is sweet and motherly. John was offhand and brave, Michael was tiny and believing. I was able to answer for myself the question of why "The Lost Boys" had such a peculiar name given to them by our protagonist.
My favourite character was, however, Peter. The author really outdid himself on this one. Peter's innocent cockiness and love for dangerous adventures endeared him to me at once. He still has all his first teeth, and his first laugh - what more could we ask of him? His frightful happiness in danger reminds me of my seven-year-old self.
She asked where he lived. "Second to the right," said Peter, "and then straight on till morning." "What a funny address!" Peter had a sinking feeling. For the first time he felt that perhaps it was a funny address.
The book retains a magical quality right up to the last page. The midnight scene where Peter coaxes them out of the window has always stood out in my mind; there is a kind of magic in an ever-young boy, small and innocently cocky and always up to some mischief. The ending of the book is very sad, for only those who are "gay and young and light-hearted" can fly.
This edition of Peter Pan has been fully illustrated by Charles Vess, one of the most celebrated fantasy artists in the United States. Vess has the ability to make even a dull and poorly written book amazing and captivating, even though this is not the case. Beautiful art with a timeless classic.
Title Peter Pan Author J.M. Barrie; Illustrated by Charles Vess Reviewed By Purplycookie(less)
"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."
From the beginning introduction of Holmes and Wats...more"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."
From the beginning introduction of Holmes and Watson to Holmes' gentle retirement to beekeepping on the southern coast of England, this book contains all the essential stories (none of the apocryphal, anecdotal, or tribute-written pieces are contained here).
Perhaps the two elements that made Holmes and Watson the world-renowned figures that they became are, first, the dominance of the British Empire globally at the time Conan Doyle was writing, which made English things sought-after, admired, and to be emulated, and secondly, the introduction of a method of detection hitherto unknown, both in the annals of detective stories.
This handsome collection contains all 56 short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about the world´s most famous detective Sherlock Holmes.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Contains 12 stories published 1891–1892 with original illustrations by Sidney Paget.
"A Scandal in Bohemia" "The Red-Headed League" "A Case of Identity" "The Boscombe Valley Mystery" "The Five Orange Pips" "The Man with the Twisted Lip" "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" "The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb" "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor" "The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet" "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches"
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes Contains 12 stories published 1892–1893 with original illustrations by Sidney Paget.
"The Adventure of Silver Blaze" "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" (this story is included as part of His Last Bow in American editions of the canon) "The Adventure of the Yellow Face" "The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk" "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott" (Holmes's first case, described to Watson) "The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual" (another early case, told by Holmes to Watson) "The Adventure of the Reigate Squire" "The Adventure of the Crooked Man" "The Adventure of the Resident Patient" "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter" (Mycroft appears for the first time) "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty" "The Adventure of the Final Problem" (Watson reports the death of Holmes)
The Return of Sherlock Holmes Contains 13 stories published 1903–1904 with original illustrations by Sidney Paget.
"The Adventure of the Empty House" (the return of Holmes) "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder" "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" "The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist" "The Adventure of the Priory School" "The Adventure of Black Peter" "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton" "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons" "The Adventure of the Three Students" "The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez" "The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter" "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange" "The Adventure of the Second Stain"
His Last Bow Contains 9 stories published 1908–1913, 1917.
"The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge" "The Adventure of the Red Circle" "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans" (Mycroft appears) "The Adventure of the Dying Detective" "The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax" "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot" "His Last Bow" (told in third-person)
The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes Contains 12 stories published 1921–1927.
"The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone" (told in third-person) "The Problem of Thor Bridge" "The Adventure of the Creeping Man" "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire" "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs" "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client" "The Adventure of the Three Gables" "The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier" (narrated by Holmes) "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane" (narrated by Holmes) "The Adventure of the Retired Colourman" "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger" "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place"
These stories eventually enable us to draw the main trait of Sherlock Holmes's personality and way of thinking : to use any kind of knowledge he may have accumulated in his mind, to feed his mind with new knowledge all the time, and to always look at a case from an intuitive point of view that tries to build up various alternative hypotheses among which he will eventually choose when time comes and new facts appear. This is an essential mental stand : never reduce yourself to one solution and never close your mind to alternative explanations, no matter how far fetched, provided they fit with the facts you know. Then you just have to look for the missing elements that can fill the holes in your various hypotheses.
Title The Complete Illustrated Short Stories of Sherlock Holmes Author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Reviewed By Purplycookie(less)
The fables of Aesop have become one of the most enduring traditions of European culture, ever since they were first written down nearly two millennium...moreThe fables of Aesop have become one of the most enduring traditions of European culture, ever since they were first written down nearly two millennium ago. Aesop was reputedly a tongue-tied slave who miraculously received the power of speech; from his legendary storytelling came the collections of prose and verse fables scattered throughout Greek and Roman literature.
Since I cannot read this in the original, I am not qualified to evaluate the work as a translation, but as a piece of literature in its own right (which is what any great translation should be), I think it's highly engaging.
First published in English by Caxton in 1484, the fables and their morals continue to charm modern readers: who does not know the story of the tortoise and the hare, or the boy who cried wolf? This new translation is the first to represent all the main fable collections in ancient Latin and Greek, arranged according to the fables' contents and themes. It includes 600 fables, many of which come from sources never before translated into English.
Title Aesop's Fables (Oxford World's Classics) Author Aesop Reviewed By Purplycookie(less)
Jerusha Abbott has grown up in the John Grier Home for orphans. As the oldest, she is in charge of the younger children. An anonymous benefactor on th...moreJerusha Abbott has grown up in the John Grier Home for orphans. As the oldest, she is in charge of the younger children. An anonymous benefactor on the Board, "Mr. Smith," decides to send her to college, as long as she writes to him faithfully detailing her education. Originally published in 1912, Jean Webster's coming-of-age tale continues to be relevant to young women today. While some experiences and circumstances are dated, the emotions and life situations of Judy are timeless. Judy is an outspoken woman in a time when women didn't even have the right to vote; she is a socialist, a reformer, and an author.
Through a series of letters Jerusha writes to "Daddy-Long-Legs," a relationship filled with affection and respect develops, even though she is the only correspondent throughout the years. She calls him "Daddy-Long-Legs" because she saw his tall shadow as he left the building. The writing is entertaining, intelligent and always realistic. That is exactly how a person in their late teens to early twenties writes and it is so refreshing to read an author who knows what she is talking about on the subject.
Although the narrative unfolds slowly, the language is sophisticated, highly descriptive, and witty. This tale will appeal to listeners who revel in rich, detailed imagery to present a character wholly believable and likable.
Here are a couple of quotes from the book that I loved:
"Half of the time I don't know what they're talking about; their jokes seem to relate to a past that everyone but me has shared. I'm a foreigner in the world and I don't understand the language." This is the realization of Judy upon stumbling into the college world and leaving her orphan home behind.
"It isn't the big troubles in life that require character. Anybody can rise to a crisis and face a crushing tragedy with courage, but to meet the petty hazards of the day with a laugh--I really think that requires spirit."
"It's different with me than with other girls. They can take things naturally from people. They have fathers and brothers and aunts and uncles; but I can't pretend to be on such relations with anyone. I like to pretend that you belong to me, just to play with the idea, but of course I know you don't. I'm alone, really--with my back to the wall fighting the world--and I get sort of gaspy when I think about it."
"I'm going to enjoy every second, and I'm going to know I'm enjoying it while I'm enjoying it. Most people don't live; they just race. They are trying to reach some goal far away on the horizon, and in the heat of the going they get so breathless and panting that they lose sight of the beautiful, tranquil country they are passing through; and then the first thing they know, they are old and worn out, and it doesn't make any difference whether they've reached the goal or not."
The ending is marvelous with a great little twist. I think this book is great for girls 8-80 years old and am sorry I did not read it sooner.
Title Daddy-Long-Legs Author Jean Webster Reviewed By Purplycookie(less)
The volatile world of male adolescence provides the backdrop for John Knowles' tale of love, hate, war, and peace. Sharing a room at Devon, an exclusi...moreThe volatile world of male adolescence provides the backdrop for John Knowles' tale of love, hate, war, and peace. Sharing a room at Devon, an exclusive New England prep school, in the summer prior to World War II, Gene and Phineas form a complex bond of friendship that draws out both the best and worst characteristics of each boy and leads ultimately to violence, a confession, and the betrayal of trust. "A Separate Peace" explores the evil in the human heart, using this tale of betrayal as a parallel to the war raging in the world at the same time.
Gene and Finny are central to the plot, and to this end the author develops the characters with piercing clarity. Finny's genuineness sets him apart from his peers, Gene included, who tend to act more in accordance with the way they think would be acceptable to others, instead of what is acceptable to themselves. Finny follows his heart in all his ways, and his achievements are a reflection of his love for life. In contrast, Gene is repressed, his achievements based on what others believe to be important. As a result, they are of no importance to him, because he sees himself to be lacking that unique, genuine quality.
However, Knowles fails to capture the attention of the reader. Knowles uses a lot of symbolism, but too little action. Knowles use of first person POV through Gene should have made me feel closer to this character, but did not succeed. Instead it gave me a feeling of disconnectedness from the other characters and made me truly feel like an outsider looking in, and wishing desperately to turn away.
Title A Separate Peace Author John Knowles Reviewed By Purplycookie(less)
A brilliant London-based "consulting detective", Sherlock Holmes is famous for his intellectual prowess, and is renowned for his skillful use of astut...moreA brilliant London-based "consulting detective", Sherlock Holmes is famous for his intellectual prowess, and is renowned for his skillful use of astute observation, deductive reasoning and inference to solve difficult cases.
Stories included in this unabridged edition includes:
"The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter" ~ Mr. Melas, a Greek interpreter, tells a rather unnerving experience to Mycroft Holmes, who like his brother Sherlock Holmes, is remarkably endowed with powers of observation and deduction. Sherlock claims that his brother’s powers actually outstrip his own, but he is a lazy, apathetic character who rarely uses his powers to their full potential. Melas was called upon one evening by a man named Harold Latimer to go to a house, supposedly in Kensington, to do some translation in a business matter.
"The Gloria Scott" ~ This story is related mainly by Holmes rather than Watson, and is the first case to which Holmes applied his powers of deduction, having treated it as a mere hobby until this time. A piece of trivia for Holmes's fans: the phrase "smoking gun" meaning undeniable guilt is often attributed to this short story.
"The Resident Patient" ~ Having been a brilliant student but a poor man, Dr. Trevelyan has found himself a participant in an unusual business arrangement. A man named Blessington, claiming to have some money to invest, has set Dr. Trevelyan up in premises with a prestigious address and paid all his expenses. In return, he demands three-fourths of all the money that the doctor’s practice earns. However, something has happened to Mr. Blessington. He has become excitable and agitated, this after he said that he had read about a burglary somewhere in the city.
"The Boscombe Valley Mystery" ~ Set in 1888, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are called down to Boscombe Valley to investigate the death of Mr. Charles McCarthy. James, his son, was seen by one witness following his father to the nearby pond, and another, a young girl, saw the two remonstrating with each other by the pond. There are some facts that simply do not seem to fit. Whom was McCarthy going to the pond to meet? He had told his serving-man that he had to keep an appointment there, from which he never came back alive. How could the meeting have been with James when McCarthy believed that his son was in Bristol? Why did McCarthy use the call "Cooee!", which his son is used to using? Why did he get angry with James? Why won't James reveal the exact nature of the conversation when his silence might well put his neck in a noose? How did a piece of clothing a few yards from James and his dying father vanish without a trace while James was right there? What did McCarthy's dying words about "a rat" mean? Who could have wanted McCarthy dead, if not James, and why? Is Miss Turner, who wants to marry James, somehow tied into all this?
"The Three Students" ~ Sherlock Holmes finds himself in a famous university town (probably either Oxford or Cambridge) when a tutor and lecturer of St Luke's College, Mr. Hilton Soames, brings him an interesting problem. Someone got into Soames’s office and had a look at some galley proofs of an Ancient Greek exam that were lying on his desk. Soames’s main concern is to avoid a scandal, but there is also money at stake. A sizeable scholarship will be awarded to the best student. The college and the whole university could wind up under a cloud if the cheater is not found and dealt with quickly.
"The Noble Bachelor" ~ The story entails the bride of the fictional Lord St. Simon disappearing on the day of their marriage. Lord St. Simon tells Holmes that he noticed a change in the young lady's mood just after the wedding ceremony. She was uncharacteristically sharp with him. The only obvious happening at the church where the wedding took place that was out of the ordinary was Hatty's little accident: She dropped her wedding bouquet and a gentleman in the front pew picked it up and handed it back to her.
"The Adventure of the Crooked Man" ~ Colonel James Barclay, of The Royal Mallows based at Aldershot Camp, is dead, apparently by violence, and his wife Nancy is the prime suspect. Holmes believes that the case is not what it at first appears to be. Although the staff are quite sure that they only heard the Colonel’s and his wife’s voices, Holmes is convinced that a third person came into the room at the time of the Colonel’s death, and rather oddly, made off with the key. This Holmes deduces from footmarks found in the road, on the lawn, and in the morning room. Odder still, the mystery man seems to have brought an animal with him.
"The Five Orange Pips" ~ A young Sussex gentleman named John Openshaw has a strange story: in 1869 his uncle Elias Openshaw had suddenly come back to England to settle on an estate at Horsham, West Sussex after living for years in the United States as a Planter in Florida and serving as a Colonel in the Confederate Army. Strange things happened: papers from the locked room were burnt and a will was drawn up leaving the estate to John Openshaw. The Colonel's behaviour became bizarre-he would either lock himself in his room and drink or he would go shouting forth in a drunken sally with a pistol in his hand. On May 2, 1883 he was found dead in a garden pool.
Title The Mysterious Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Puffin Classics) Author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Reviewed By Purplycookie(less)
This book was a favorite of mine in my childhood, and, when I returned as an adult to re-read it, I found myself mesmerized once more by the story of...moreThis book was a favorite of mine in my childhood, and, when I returned as an adult to re-read it, I found myself mesmerized once more by the story of Sara Crewe. The charm is still there. "A Little Princess" is one of the most wonderful, most magical books ever to be found in the world of literature--and you don't have to be a little kid to enjoy it.
Sara herself is a lover of books; at one time she found herself fully immersed reading but needed to intervene in the playroom crisis. "People who are fond of books know the feeling of irritation which sweeps over them at such a moment. The temptation to be unreasonable and snappish is one not easy to manage."
This is a story about a different kind of princess than one might imagine; a princess that is an orphan--lonely, cold, hungry and abused. Sara Crewe begins life as the beloved, pampered daughter of a rich man. When he dies a pauper, she is thrown on the non-existent mercy of her small-minded, mercenary boarding school mistress. Stripped of all her belongings but for one set of clothes and a doll, Sara becomes a servant of the household. Hated by the schoolmistress for her independent spirit, Sara becomes a pariah in the household, with only a few secretly loyal friends. But through her inner integrity and strength of will, Sara Crewe maintains the deportment, inner nobility and generous spirit of a "real" princess.
"Whatever comes cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it."
Being a princess is not about the fame and fortune, but about how you act in the situation into which you have been placed. You can be kind, or you can be mean; you can be content, or you can be greedy; you can be upset, or you can be optimistic. The book really relates to people who are going through tough times in their lives and need reassurance and confidence.
The magic in this book is unsurpassed in children's literature. One of my favorite parts of the book was when Sara comes home, hungry, wet and cold and neglected, to find that a magician has transformed her world, you can't help but be enchanted. "I don't know who it is, but somebody cares for me a little. I have a friend."
This story is a real classic, and needs no re-writing to be as enjoyable and readable today as it ever was. Be sure to get an unabridged edition: this book is beautifully written and should not be simplified.
Title A Little Princess Author Frances Hodgson Burnett Reviewed By Purplycookie(less)