Mary Barton (1848) tells of a simple dressmaker from a poor working-class family in Manchester. She attracts the attentions of Mr. Carson, son of a we...moreMary Barton (1848) tells of a simple dressmaker from a poor working-class family in Manchester. She attracts the attentions of Mr. Carson, son of a wealthy mill owner. Mary thinks Mr. Carson can give her a better life but she realizes too late that her real love is her equally simple childhood friend Jem Wilson. Then things get worse when Mr. Carson is murdered and Jem is arrested for the crime.
At the beginning of the year I read Wives and Daughters (1865) the last and somewhat unfinished book of Elizabeth Gaskell. It was my first book of hers and I really liked it. So I decided to read her very first sometime later. When I began reading Mary Barton I thought it would take me six days to finish. Instead it took eleven. Problem is that the book focuses too much on the background, that is the poor working-class life of Manchester. So instead of a journey it becomes a boring tour filled with dense writing. However it does improve towards the ending giving a heart-wrenching finale.
So poverty is one theme of the book another one is the folly of vengeance. Nowadays we tend to glorify retribution and taking justice into your own hands. Instead this book paints a more sober picture. It shows its wrecking effect on all sides. Interlaced with all this are the Christian themes of mercy and forgiveness.
The book is a mixed bag. Some few parts glued me to the pages, a lot of others made reading it like swimming against the stream. So I gave the book three stars. I did expect something better and I hope Gaskell’s other books will better fulfill my expectations. (less)
In the beginning I really liked this book and I thought that it would be one of my favourite books. But like many long series with time it just kept g...moreIn the beginning I really liked this book and I thought that it would be one of my favourite books. But like many long series with time it just kept going down and down.
At the beginning it had wonderful characters - Tom, Philip and Aliena all had my full attention. But instead the author choose to focus on Jack. Words can't express how much I loathe him, even more than William who at least fits in his world. The story abandons Tom and instead follows the oh so brilliant Jack who achieves so much without any effort, without any trials and tribulations he just comes on the scene and is awesome at everything he puts his mind to. I could almost call him a Mary Sue.
I think it's during the middle that the book lost steam and everything after that is quite frankly unnecessary. (less)
The story of Pamela Andrews a young waiting-maid whose master, Mr. B, is trying to seduce her and make her his mistress.
So yes, this book is all kinds...moreThe story of Pamela Andrews a young waiting-maid whose master, Mr. B, is trying to seduce her and make her his mistress.
So yes, this book is all kinds of horrible and full of misogyny, double standards and what not. The love-interest is despicable and selfish through out the entire book, the story is barely a romance since there doesn't appear to be any love between Pamela and her master and the book is interesting only for the first half. And yet I couldn't hate it because for some reason I just found it to be very enjoyable. It became a guilty pleasure of mine. So unless you are an 18th century fan, like me, you should probably save your nerves and avoid this book.(less)
The story of Bella Swan who moves from Phoenix to Forks to live with her father and discovers that some of the students at Forks High school are vampi...moreThe story of Bella Swan who moves from Phoenix to Forks to live with her father and discovers that some of the students at Forks High school are vampires. She then falls in love with Edward who is one of the vampires.
For the first 100 pages this story seemed kind of interesting and at some points even enjoyable. But after Bella confesses to herself that she loves Edward things quickly go down hill and that's when I realized that things wouldn't get better. The next 100 pages were a dull drag that towards the end was changed from furry as I really began to hate this story. Now a 1 star rating is not something that I give lightly. I feel that, like 5, it has to be an achievement. It cannot just be plain, sloppy laziness, the writer has to go out their way to annoy me and make me hate their work. And this book managed to achieve that.
Let's start from the beginning. This story, like many romances, follows the usual steps. Step 1: introduce our protagonist, here one must show why the reader should care about this character. Now you would think that seeing as how this story is told in the first person narrative then we would get to know Bella pretty well. But now that I have finished reading Twilight the only thing that immediately comes to mind about Bella is that she doesn't like Forks and cold, wet weather. Then when I think more I remember other things, but they are all things she doesn't like. We are never really told anything about her so we never really know her. There's nothing about her that would make her stand out as a character. Well except her clumsiness, but that's a whole other can of worms because of the way it is treated in this story. Basically Bella is so clumsy and incompetent that she can't be trusted to walk by herself and this is funny and endearing. This leads to my biggest issue with the story that Bella is treated as a child by Edward (and the Cullens) who can't be trusted to make her own choices.
Step 2: introduce the love interest. This is an even bigger failure. Through out the entire book the only good things that are said about Edward is that he looks good. He and the rest of the Cullens as models, angels and gods to the point of ridiculousness which just makes their characters more bland and makes you scream "Yes, I get it, they look good!". While the other Cullens have some good traits that endear you to them Edward just comes off as a jerk. Reading the book I waited for him to do or say something that would show why he deserves Bella's, and our, love but that never happened. Then Bella just says "I am in love with Edward" and I just sat there and wondered - what, that's it? The wooing is over? What did he do to win her love other than look good? Step 3: the romance. Also known as the dullest part in this book where nothing interesting happens and where my opinion of this book completely died. My biggest issue is that their entire interaction comes down to this:
Edward: "I know better so do as I say." Bella: "Okay"
Through out the story Edward is paternalistic, moody and jealous. But the worst problem is that he comes across as a complete sociopath (though I guess a vampire would have to be). His concern for Bella seems entirely selfish. Many a times it is stated that he would be devastated if Bella got hurt and that's seems like his entire reason to care - because HE himself would be in pain. This becomes all the more clearer during the last part after it becomes clear that James wants to hunt Bella and Edward makes her promise that she won't get hurt and it's all said in such a way that it's clear he's more concerned about his own feelings than Bella's. And that's what he does through out the book - he completely ignores Bella's opinion in favour of his own.
So that is my opinion on Twilight. I could of course rant more about the fact how every male (except the taken ones) in this story desires Bella because of some "specialness" that she has and that is never explained but I think I've said enough. To sum up Twilight - it's a complete failure at romance. (less)
The story of the Dollanganger children, Chris, Cathy and Carrie, continues in this the second book of the series. After they have escaped from Foxwort...moreThe story of the Dollanganger children, Chris, Cathy and Carrie, continues in this the second book of the series. After they have escaped from Foxworth Hall they meet a kind man, Dr. Paul, who takes them in and raises as his own. Finally they can pursue their dreams, Chris to become a doctor and Cathy to become a prima ballerina. But as life goes on and they grow up Cathy never abandons her plans for revenge against her mother.
In many ways the second book was better than the first one. The characters seemed more real and developed as they changed through out the time and villains less comical and more nuanced. It starts where the first book ended and finished the story that began in Flowers in the Attic. It is a story about growing up in which our characters have left Foxworth Hall but can't take Foxworth Hall out of themselves as they struggle to leave the past behind. In a way it is even more tragic than the first one because now there are no clear oppressors against whom the characters must struggle, only themselves. I gave it 4 stars for the ending that was as powerful, if not more, as that of Flowers in the Attic. The story overall is less focused on a single storyline and there is a lot more going on. Despite some of the absurdities of this entire series there's a certain realism about the tale, that it's a story that doesn't really end, like life, but keeps on going from generation to generation. (less)
Mysteries of Udolpho is the story of a young woman named Emily. After the death of her father she must go and live with her aunt Madame Cheron, a vain...moreMysteries of Udolpho is the story of a young woman named Emily. After the death of her father she must go and live with her aunt Madame Cheron, a vain and self-centered woman. Her aunt marries a cruel man named Montoni who takes his new wife and Emily back to Italy. As a result she is separated from her beloved Valancourt and forced to live in the dreary and mysterious castle of Udolpho.
It was somewhat hard to come to a definite opinion but in the end I would say that this book has a tough shell all around it. The beginning is somewhat dull and uneventful that made me doubt my ability to finish this story. But after 1/6 was over the story actually got interesting and as it got toward the end it seemed that this book might become one of my favourites as it seemed to be doing something new. But then towards the end that path was lost and the ending was disappointing. It did not make me feel that it was worth spending all this time reading it.
So the good parts first. I really enjoyed the horror parts of the story and I think they were done really well. It succeeded in creating the perfect gothic atmosphere. The villains and bad guys were interesting. And I must say that I liked Emily as a character.
As for the bad - the biggest failure in this story is the romance. It's just bland and at the end of the day I remember more about the stories tragic romances because they were actually interesting unlike our main love story. Another irksome thing is that the book raised many mysteries and all of them quickly explained in the end in a sloppy manner. I'm not gonna give away any spoilers but the fact is that no of the "explanations" make any sense if you stop and think for two seconds. (less)
The Story of Maud Ruthyn the only daughter of the wealthy Mr. Ruthyn who after her father's death goes to live with her uncle Silas. A story about a w...moreThe Story of Maud Ruthyn the only daughter of the wealthy Mr. Ruthyn who after her father's death goes to live with her uncle Silas. A story about a wealthy heiress who is the object of many schemes by those who wish to poses her riches.
I would have finished only today but towards the end it got really interesting so I could not stop reading yesterday. If the whole book was like that then it would have been better but as it was it felt dragged through out most of it. The Romance was also underdeveloped.It's like - you're the only gentleman in sight so of course I'm going to marry you in the end. Reminded me of Evelina by Fanny Burney. Though I admit the scenes where she layed down the smacking on Dudley were satisfying. In the end it's not a book that I would recommend to someone or that I personally enjoyed reading.(less)
This left me sad for days =(. Overall I would say that the Hunger Games Series best part is in avoiding being the typical cliche story where good guys...moreThis left me sad for days =(. Overall I would say that the Hunger Games Series best part is in avoiding being the typical cliche story where good guys defeat the bad guys and everyone lives happily ever after. Instead it showed that sometimes the damage can't be undone.(less)
**spoiler alert** A review of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte that contains spoilers (for those out there still unfamiliar with the story).
My first ever...more**spoiler alert** A review of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte that contains spoilers (for those out there still unfamiliar with the story).
My first ever experience of the Jane Eyre story was of a two part movie that I saw on TV. After all these years I really can’t remember anything more about it. The first time that I read the book was when I was ten or twelve years old, ten most likely. Now, after almost ten years has passed since then, I re-read it again.
This review is written some ten days after I have finished reading the book because I just couldn’t figure out what to say. What do you put in a review when all that your brain can put forth is – WOW that was AMAZING! Four words does not a review make. Also saying “I was blown away” is not exactly a stellar description of your reading experience.
It might have just been the nostalgia of revisiting and old, forgotten favourite. Often things you liked way back just make you embarrassed but on rarer occasions you discover some new things. So what can I say that hasn’t already been said? One thing that surprised me on my second reading were the many Christian themes in Jane Eyre. Somehow the first time around it just flew under my radar.
The first half of the book is Jane’s journey from paganism to Christianity. I do believe it is Helen Burns who first calls her that. The word Helen means torch so you have to love the double fire symbolism of her name.
All the while Jane is plagued by Gnostics, people who focus on the divinity of Christ while denying his humanity and consequently the humanity of others. Brocklehurst is the perfect example of this, but then so is Mr. Rivers (I just don’t like the nickname St. John). But after acquiring the Christian teaching one must also apply it in the real world. That’s why I think that the part where Jane decides to leave Thornfield in the middle of the night is one of the stories most vivid images. Because it is easy to follow a code when there are no temptations or obstacles. During that moment it would be easy for Jane to abandon her principles but instead she chooses the much more difficult way. Hence the straight and narrow path.
And about the mad first wife. There again one can see beautiful symbolism because you could say that she represents the Old Covenant and Jane the purer New Covenant with Rochester being the sinful world. It is only after all the old has been burnt and destroyed can a new, pure life commence.
About the rest, well what can I say? You’ve got your Strong Independent Woman™, hardened by a tough live, who falls in love with a Flawed Character... and then we discover that love does not let you just wallow in filth. Because that’s the real difference between Jane and Miss Ingram. Miss Ingram just cares about Rochester’s money, she doesn’t care about him as a person. And she also doesn’t care about his flaws. Jane on the other hand truly loves Rochester, hence is not blindly accepting of his failings, tolerant as the moderns would say. She doesn’t want him to be further degraded and so leaves him rather than see them both sink into sin. So that’s my rambling two cents. Final verdict – you should definitely read it if you have any love for 19th century literature. (less)