Set right at the heart of the French Revolution, "A Tale of Two Cities" unfolds the tender and heart-breaking story of a love triangle between the dauSet right at the heart of the French Revolution, "A Tale of Two Cities" unfolds the tender and heart-breaking story of a love triangle between the daughter of a former French prisoner, a lawyer and a French teacher who gave up his aristocratic family title. Detailing the terror and political upheaval facing French and British citizens, readers discover how these circumstances lead to displays of love, courage, and sacrifice from the most unlikely of men.
The story itself is captivating, as are most of Dickens' novels. For me, Dickens' writing style is either hit or miss, depending on the story. I absolutely loved David Copperfield, but this novel was paced too slow for me to fully love the story in all its deserved literary glory. Though I generally have an unlimited supply of patience when it comes to slowly-paced novels, I think this one deserved a little less analysis, and a bit more action. I like this story a great deal, but probably will never read it again....more
This is the exceptionally beautiful, yet long, tale of Dorothea Brooke, an idealistic and strong-minded woman bent on using her fortune to help the poThis is the exceptionally beautiful, yet long, tale of Dorothea Brooke, an idealistic and strong-minded woman bent on using her fortune to help the poor. Though many subplots run throughout the novel, this is essentially Dorothea's journey to happiness. Despite numerous suitors, Dorothea marries the cantankerous and lazy Edward Casaubon, a man who readily duped Dorothea into thinking he was working toward great achievements in literature and social welfare. However, Dorothea quickly came to the realization that she was doomed to spend eternity in an unhappy marriage. Then, Edwards young cousin, Will, arrives for a short visit, and Dorothea finds light in the gloom of her days. Edward, dying from a consumptive ailment and seeing their blossoming friendship, jealously decrees in his will that if Dorothea ever married Will after his death, his bestowed fortune upon her would be revoked. Then, of course, he dies and Dorothea is left with a modest fortune and no hope for happiness. The many intertwined storylines eventually lead to Will and Dorothea's union. A very brief description of the story, and lacking in description of every other subplot, but otherwise this recap would be nearly as long as the book itself. Despite the length, this is a story you can readily become absorbed with; heart-capturing, romantic and engrossing. One of my very favorite stories....more
Gullivers Travels is the quintessential social commentary wrapped in the cloak of an adventure tale. The beginning details Gullivers earlier travels aGullivers Travels is the quintessential social commentary wrapped in the cloak of an adventure tale. The beginning details Gullivers earlier travels and the love he develops for travelling the high seas. After marriage and a small family, Gullivers developing wanderlust eventually drives him out to seek further adventures.
In his first adventure, Gulliver's ship wrecks in a storm and he washes up on the shore of a country called Lilliput, where the inhabitants, despite their 6 inch stature, still manage to hold him hostage. Gulliver becomes a favorite of the King, for a time, assisting his war efforts against their neighboring enemy country, Blefuscu. Eventually, though, the King and his counselors become suspicious of Gulliver, and when he refuses to help the King expand his territory by enslaving the Blefuschians, the King orders Gulliver blinded. Gulliver escapes to his next adventure where he lands in a country of giants called Brobdingnag. Discovered and cared for by a local farmer, Gulliver, after a time, becomes a popular pet of the nobility. His attempts to explain the rest of the world to the King falls on deaf ears, particularly his description of war machines like guns and cannons. One day, an eagle picks up Gullivers little box/house and dumps him back to sea where he is rescued by his normal-sized bretheren. On their way back to England, another misfortunate strikes and Gulliver is marooned on an island in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, he's rescued by a floating country island called Laputa, where music, art and intellectual achievement are prized above all else. Gulliver observes, though, that Laputa's intellectual pursuits are completely ridiculous and unpracticable for everyday use. So much so, that the waste of monetary resources on these pursuits have caused ruin throughout the country. Though he tries to convince the Grand Academy of Ladago of this, it is evident his opinions are unwanted. Gulliver is left at the island of Balnibarbi to await a ship that will take him to Japan. He makes another sidetrip to Glubbdubdrib and Luggnagg, where he meets a race of immortals who are left forever old and are considered dead at 80 years old. After that, Gulliver makes it back home to England to spend time with his family.
After working as a surgeon for a while, the flighty tempress of travel, once again, overwhelms his heart and Gulliver sets out for another adventure. This time he his mutinied and left upon an island, as his ship and crew leave to become pirates. On the unknown island, Gulliver first encounters savages that look vaguely like humans. Then he meets a talking horse who calls himself a Houyhnhm. After many months, Gulliver is able to understand the savages are called Yahoos and are slaves to the peaceful and intelligent race of Houyhnhms, who at first sought to civilize the Yahoo's but eventually gave up and now use them for labor. Gulliver is able to spend many peaceful and thoughtful years living with his Houyhnhm master, who recognizes that he is not a Yahoo. As Gulliver comes to love, respect and cherish the Houyhnhms society and culture, he becomes increasingly loathe to leave these perfect creatures. However, the Council of Houyhnhms, unfortunately, rule that Gulliver is unable to stay in their society because they perceive him as a Yahoo with some reason, and thus a danger to their society. Heartbroken, Gulliver is rescued by a Portuguese ship and brought back to England. At this point, Gulliver sees society though the eyes of the Houyhnhm and views his fellow countryman as Yahoos. In the end, he becomes a recluse and eccentric, spending his days talking with the horses in his stable.
A masterful piece of literature that dramatically highlights our human vices, follies and shortcomings. A recommended read for everyone, as both those seeking adventure and/or thoughtful musings will be satisfied by the epic magnitude of the tale....more
P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves series is a laugh-out-loud funny and witty blend of satricial commentary aimed at the turn-of-the-20th-century British upperclP.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves series is a laugh-out-loud funny and witty blend of satricial commentary aimed at the turn-of-the-20th-century British upperclass. Modern day stereotypes of British butlers being resourceful and more intelligent than their masters stem, in large part, to Jeeves. The series has a number of books broken into short stories that, ultimately, are supposed to follow an underlying storyline, but one need not read them all in order. Because, really, they weren't written in any particular order and Bertie always does a great job of introducing his circumstances at the beginning of each story.
Bertie Wooster is a young bachelor with a rich Aunt who supports his rather idle lifestyle. Instead of finding other productive uses for his time, it seems Bertie would rather devote himself to helping friends and relatives out of sticky situations. Unfortunately, Bertie is not altogether the most intelligent or logically-minded of persons, so his butler, Jeeves, often lends a helping hand. This set of short stories mainly focuses on Bertie's adventures hiding out in New York City to avoid the hawkish eye of his reclusive, paranoid Aunt. From helping keep together the love life of one chronically forgetful friend, to helping another friend's artistic career, then trying to help a friend of his Aunt whose son is a wolf-in-sheeps-clothing, and ending with a visit from said infamous Aunt, Bertie's adventures are always over-the-top, slapstick and brilliantly funny....more
I absolutely love this story! One of my all-time favorites! And really, who couldn't love Jane and Mr. Rochester, with his cantankerous nature and herI absolutely love this story! One of my all-time favorites! And really, who couldn't love Jane and Mr. Rochester, with his cantankerous nature and her affable one? I read this in my youth but decided to revisit the story now that I'm older and wiser. And a good thing I did because the story has so much more meaning to it than previously.
The novel begins with orphaned Jane Eyre living at Gateshead with her vicious step-aunt and three mean-spirited cousins. Tensions between Jane and her aunt rise to such a pitch that Jane is sent to Lowood boarding school where: the headmaster, Mr. Brocklehurst, swindles the schools money to keep his own family in riches; the schools principal, Miss Temple, makes do with Brocklehursts' interference and proves to be a caring, loyal and dedicated teacher; Jane makes and loses dear friends; typhus plague ravages the school, and though Jane survuves the epidemic, her Aunt notifies Janes only surviving relatives that she died; and eventually Jane becomes a teacher there herself. After only a couple years as a teacher, Jane grows restless and seeks to be on her own. She advertises her services and is hired by Ms. Fairfax, housekeeper at Thornfield Hall, to become governess of a sweet little French girl, the ward of Thornfields master, Mr. Rochester. Only Jane and Rochester's unlikely first meeting could have been the perfect beginning to their passionate dispositions. As time progresses and each learn more about the other, their love grows until, finally, Rochester proposes and all is supposed to be happily ever after. But, things are not always as they seem. Rochester hides a dark secret from his past that comes to light during the wedding and prevents their union. Shamed, Jane flees. Rather than go back to Thornfield she endures starvation and ostracism. Fortunately, she is taken in by a clergyman, Rivers, and his family. They immediately recognize her talents and she becomes a dear part of their family. Rivers, a dedicated Clergyman whose passion for the church is worthy of sanctification, asks Jane to marry him and head to India on a mission. She refuses, as she can see that Rivers does not truly love her but simply seeks an amicable and hard-working companion. In time, Jane receives notice that her only, up to that point, living and estranged uncle has passed away. Though he was told she died during the typhus plague, he received intelligence that she actually survived and so he left her his entire fortune. In addition, she discovers that the Rivers family are his nieces and nephews as well...making them Jane's cousins. She splits the inheritance with the Rivers and seeks out Rochester now that she is independently wealthy. But upon her arrival at Thornfield she sees it is a shell of its former self. Burned, dilapidated, unoccupied. She makes inquiries and eventually hears the events which occurred after her departure. In the end, she is reunited with Rochester, who has changed in body but not in spirit.
The ultimate romance novel: smart, witty, tender and lovely. A recommended read for everyone....more
This novel is a brilliant portrayal and satire of the 19th century English social climbing society, labeled Vanity Fair by Thackeray (a reference to BThis novel is a brilliant portrayal and satire of the 19th century English social climbing society, labeled Vanity Fair by Thackeray (a reference to Bunyan's "The Pilgram's Progress"). As Thackeray describes, this is a story without a hero as it revolves around the adult lives of two women diametrically opposite in personality: Ms. Becky Sharp, a conniving, intelligent and multi-talented social climber; and Amelia Sedley, a sweet-tempered, devoted and placid woman. At the novels onset, both women leave their boarding school to face the world. Amelia returns to her once wealthy family, now somewhat poverty-stricken, and Becky is to become the governess for the baronet Sir Pitt Crawley's children. Both women marry without the consent of their husband's families, but Becky marries out of hopes for title, whereas Amelia marries out of love. Becky's never-ending efforts to become "a respectable lady" do lead her into the highest ranks of polite society, but the fickle nature of Vanity Fair has no loyality and Becky eventually becomes as destitute as those she once looked down upon. Amelia, on the other hand, loses her husband at the Battle of Waterloo and clings to her family and son during her many years of mourning. Yet, neither her poverty nor her sad semblance of life affect her kindness and charity towards others. The ending has some moral justice but, because there are no heroes in this tale, the conclusion could appear unjust for those who have been wronged; just one of the myriad reasons why involving oneself in the affairs of Vanity Fair is not only unnecessary but pernicious. Moral: be happy with your lot in life and be wary of over-extending your fortune through deceit. I thoroughly enjoyed this witty tale. And as mentioned in the preface to Jane Eyre: Thackeray is a genius of social observation....more
A superb gothic tale as only du Maurier can compose! Philip Ashley a young bachelor who is to inherit a large estate off the Cornish coast, is saddeneA superb gothic tale as only du Maurier can compose! Philip Ashley a young bachelor who is to inherit a large estate off the Cornish coast, is saddened that his uncle Ambrose is set to leave for a vacation without him. Months after Ambroses departure, letters arrive that he met and is to marry their beautiful Italian cousin, Rachel, and stay in Italy at her estate. Philip, of course, becomes angry and resentful towards this cousin and it isn't until more letters, disturbing letters, begin arriving that Philip's childish jealousy of Rachel turns into fear, loathing and outright hatred. Ambrose claims that Rachel was slowing making him ill. Shortly after the arrival of these new letters, Ambrose dies of a mysterious illness. The grieving widow eventually makes her way to the Cornish estate, whereupon Philip falls madly in love with the talented, smart, beguiling, and lovely Rachel. He lavishes her with attention and gifts, all the while wondering how he could have ever thought her capable to murdering someone. It isn't until she flatly rejects his advances that he begins to see her as a black widow of sorts. Her knowledge of herbs, the death of two previous husbands, her Italian family "friend" that treats others as inferior fools, and other clues lead Philip to question his own judgement. And while the conclusion is sad, it is the absolute perfect du Maurier ending to a psychologically haunting story. Though none of du Mauriers works come close to the genious of "Rebecca", "My Cousin Rachel" is a definite must-read for fans of her lyrically beautiful gothic masterpieces....more