This has all of the expected detail, character development, and moral seriousness of a George Eliot novel, but you can tell it's an early novel and itThis has all of the expected detail, character development, and moral seriousness of a George Eliot novel, but you can tell it's an early novel and it does not quite live up to her later novels. It is interesting to see that her tendency to "preach" or lecture the reader a bit was actually quite toned down in her later works! It's a bit over the top here. And her heroes/heroines are a bit too good, and her "fallen woman" is a bit too bad. The landscape is a hair too nostalgic and bucolic.
Of course, compared to some other mid-Victorian writers (cough cough Dickens), the moral complexity and gray area is astounding, so the comparison is unfair in a lot of ways. If this had been the only novel Eliot wrote, we'd all be talking about how perfectly she captures the good and the bad in every character. But it's not, and Middlemarch or Daniel Deronda do that even better.
But I agree with other reviewers that her portrayal of Adam's mother, of the disgraced Squire, of the Rector Irwine, are spot-on. There is so much to enjoy and appreciate and take away in this novel, and the final pages are downright beautiful. ...more
Fun, a little spooky, and totally enjoyable, if a bit melodramatic and over the top. And um, morally a little suspect?! I did love how the main subjecFun, a little spooky, and totally enjoyable, if a bit melodramatic and over the top. And um, morally a little suspect?! I did love how the main subject matter is never experienced directly; we learn gradually from the dialogue, thoughts, observations of others. I also appreciated the eye for mundane details (a woman's eye for details; or an eye for details a woman would notice) in this book. I can see why this is one of the classics of gothic romance. If it were all about enjoyment, I would probably give it four stars, but I just didn't find it to be particularly deep. Still, a nice break from heavier reading!...more
I started this expecting not to like it. I am not sure why, except that I generally (and perhaps thoughtlessly) consider Hemingway to be misogynisticI started this expecting not to like it. I am not sure why, except that I generally (and perhaps thoughtlessly) consider Hemingway to be misogynistic and macho and all that stuff. And he is! But. But. DAMN can he write. I happen to love his succinct, conversational prose, the way that most of the real essence of the story remains unspoken and between the lines. And while this novel is crushingly bleak and sad at times, it is also full of humor and happy moments, people laughing - as people do! - in the face of great trials. And despite myself, despite my preconceived notions about Hemingway's women, it is a beautiful love story, and Catherine is, if a bit too perfect, an extremely loveable and even (!) decently fleshed out character.
So, I admit, I loved it. This definitely deserves its reputation for greatness....more
Ondaatje definitely has a turn of phrase, but this is far too poetic, "lyrical," and melodramatic for my tastes. I certainly was taken by his writingOndaatje definitely has a turn of phrase, but this is far too poetic, "lyrical," and melodramatic for my tastes. I certainly was taken by his writing here and there, but in the end, it felt like it was trying too hard. Give me clear, understated, plain prose any day.
And the melodramatic over-the-top love story ... during the descriptions of overpowering love and desire, I just kept thinking, gimme a freaking break! Way too sappy; bordering on ridiculous! I must be getting old....more
Rating and reviewing this book puts me in a quandary. I didn't enjoy it ... except when I did, despite myself. It's funny and awful, comic and absolutRating and reviewing this book puts me in a quandary. I didn't enjoy it ... except when I did, despite myself. It's funny and awful, comic and absolutely bleak, a sermon on atheism that turns out to be a pretty intense Christian sermon after all (maybe? who knows?). I have to give Flannery O'Connor credit for being able to combine those disparate characteristics in one novel.
But oh, it's just so painful and ugly! I think that's the point, and this definitely isn't the only Southern Gothic novel I've squirmed the entire way through. But for that reason, I can't quite give it the four or five stars it certainly deserves for its importance, legacy, and sheer color. Ability to make your readers squirm is itself a great skill, as little as I enjoy being the subject....more
I listened to this on audio on my commutes to and from work - all 29 CDs worth! It's a seriously long book, but delightfully fun, funny, and entertainI listened to this on audio on my commutes to and from work - all 29 CDs worth! It's a seriously long book, but delightfully fun, funny, and entertaining.
Dickens gets 5 points for character names, as always. And the book is chuckle-out-loud funny at many points. The send-up of the legal system and chancery courts is both hilarious and depressingly applicable to our modern legal system. And this has got to be one of the most ambitious novels ever written - the sheer number of characters, interconnected subplots, and the amount of commentary - well, it's hard to beat!
It was so enjoyable, that I was almost able to overlook the fact that Dickens beat me over the head with the Proper Role of Woman for the entire 1000+ pages. Almost. But I admit to wanting to clobber Esther Summerson and her cheerful, self-denying industry on multiple occasions. Shudder.
All in all, a ton of fun! Makes me eager to read more Dickens. I will always prefer other Victorians when it comes to characterizations, especially of women. It is what it is. But few writers, Victorian or otherwise, are as downright *funny* as Dickens....more
My brother expressed interest in reading this, which of course inspired me to start rereading it. I was instantly reminded of how dense and difficultMy brother expressed interest in reading this, which of course inspired me to start rereading it. I was instantly reminded of how dense and difficult it can be, but also how worthwhile and amazing. It is not an easy book, by any definition, but it is so rich and rewarding. I mean, it's not just a mystery novel, it's an immersion course in 13th and 14th century history and theology. And it's not just one of the most ambitious historical novels ever written, it's a whodunnit!
Now the question is whether I can stop rereading it and give my brother a chance to take on this rather intimidating tome. I might need to just buy the poor kid his own copy ...
(Goodreads wants to know if this book has a "fast pace" or a "relaxed pace." Too bad there's no checkbox for just "forget about the pace, this book will totally kick your ass.")...more
I expected this to be offensively misogynist (and homophobic), and it was, and more. Hammett is the perfect example of mid-20th century violence and aI expected this to be offensively misogynist (and homophobic), and it was, and more. Hammett is the perfect example of mid-20th century violence and antipathy towards women. Here, women are not just objects, they are cunning liars and manipulators of sexual power, extremely threatening, at times even rising to the level of "bad guy."
This could be empowering - sort of - but it's just not. Because they're still the same-old one dimensional virgin/whore stereotypes, just more evil.
What I didn't expect was how freaking well written this little book is. I came to this expecting genre trashiness, and instead, found trimmed down and tight prose that consistently wowed me.
The man was an asshole, but he sure could write.
I also didn't expect the extreme San Francisco geography nerd-factor. Hammett is careful to describe the exact addresses and intersections where the action in his novel occurs, which makes for great, credible fiction writing. It's also really, really fun for me, since I work right in Hammett's hood and many of the buildings he references in this book are still standing. I'm looking forward to taking this tour sometime later this Spring. Who wants to join me?...more