This is the second book I've read with dailylit.com, and it was a totally different experience than the first. I read War and Peace in installments beThis is the second book I've read with dailylit.com, and it was a totally different experience than the first. I read War and Peace in installments because I figured, from having attempted it before, that I wouldn't finish it and I'm happy to say Daily Lit was able to keep me on track and get me through to the end.
A Room With A View was another matter entirely. I loved the story, the writing and the characters but didn't enjoy reading it in installments at all. I always wanted more and was irritated by having to stop at the end of the sections. I longed for pages to turn. It's a delightful book, but delightful books need covers and pages which Daily Lit could not supply.
The story has a young woman and her chaperone visiting Italy, where they become friends with other tourists at their hotel. One young man traveling with his father take liberties with the young woman, but she and her chaperone decide to speak to no one about it and to simply pretend it never happened.
They return to their home in England and life carries on as usual with our heroine becoming engaged to a rather pompous man, and I use the term "man" loosely. He's really quite a jerk. Things get complicated when the other man, the liberty-taking young man from Italy, moves into the neighbourhood. I won't tell you any more except to say that it's very entertaining.
Here are a couple of my favourite lines:
“I see you looking down your nose and thinking your mother's a snob. But there is a right sort and a wrong sort, and it's affectation to pretend there isn't."
“…in which people who care for one another are painted chatting together about noble things--a theme neither sensual nor sensational, and therefore ignored by the art of to-day.”
I particularly like that last one because it so nicely explains my problem with modern publishing. I don't want every book I read to focus on the sensual or sensational, but that's what sells so that's what gets published. There are exceptions of course, but not many. I guess that's why I end up reading so many older books. But back to the matter at hand...
I saw a fairly recent movie made from this book and liked it, but the book itself is a thousand times better. I have to get a copy soon and read it again when I can hold it in my hands and turn pages all I want. This one is a keeper and I want it on my shelf.
This novel, set in 1970's India, is about four strangers whose paths cross and bring them to a place where they become important parts of each othersThis novel, set in 1970's India, is about four strangers whose paths cross and bring them to a place where they become important parts of each others lives. There is Maneck, a college student figuring out what he wants to do with his life; Ishvar and his nephew, Om, two tailors trying to make a living that will keep them off the streets; and Dina, a strong-willed widow, desperate to make a life for herself out from under the thumb of her domineering brother.
I found it a struggle to get through this book. It wasn't the writing, the plot or the characters, but the hopelessness that got to me. The horror was endless. Any time things appeared to be improving for any of the characters, another shockingly awful thing would happen to ruin it. The title "A Fine Balance" comes from a line in the book: "You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair." All I saw was despair, and though I hoped right up to the last page that there would be some kind of satisfaction for at least one character, it was not to be.
I'm not saying it's not worth reading. The writing is straightforward, uncluttered and easy to read. The characters are well constructed and completely credible. The way Mistry brings India to life is nothing short of staggering; you can smell it, hear it, see it, feel it. It was just too much for me. The cruelty, the torture, the rape, the disgusting attitudes toward and treatment of women, the killing, and the lying, cheating police, landlords, politicians, businessmen, spiritual leaders and even train conductors were sickening. Corruption is a way of life on every page and it is brutal. I was outraged at the injustice, as I should be, but there was no relief from it. Another line from the book summed it up for me: "Life seemed so hopeless, with nothing but misery for everyone...". It was agonizing.
I feel guilty about my response to it because I believe we need books that reveal the world's uncomfortable truths, and I have read my share of them. I just didn't find the balance in "A Fine Balance". I've never been so exhausted at the end of a book. It affected me deeply and I'd never recommend you not read it. If I had read it at a different time in my life would I have reacted differently? Maybe, probably, but I'll never know.
Not easy to read, this was nevertheless a very good story. It's written in "stream of consciousness" style, a literary form I gave up on when I read UNot easy to read, this was nevertheless a very good story. It's written in "stream of consciousness" style, a literary form I gave up on when I read Ulysses by James Joyce. I actually read only half of Ulysses but that was enough to last me a lifetime, or so I thought.
In Ulysses, it wasn't the style I disliked so much as the meaningless made up words and long, run-on sentences that in the end told the reader nothing. That book felt empty; this one is full - brim full and overflowing - with life and feeling. You may not like all the feelings coming your way or the path the story is taking but that's beside the point. The great thing about this book is that right away you get pulled into the pages and never have to wonder what the point is.
There are four chapters, each with a different narrator. The first is told by Benjy, a 33 year old severely intellectually challenged man who has no sense of time other than now. He experiences memories and current situations all as happening now so the chapter feels a bit jumbled, but when you read it you do get a strong sense of what he's feeling and you know it will all come clear eventually.
The second chapter is from the point of view of Benjy's brother, Quentin, and is set ten years prior to the first chapter. There is another Quentin mentioned in the first chapter - it had me rather confused at times because sometimes Quentin was "he" and other times "she"- but it refers to the young girl who is the niece of Benjy, Quentin and their brother, Jason. The girl is the illegitimate daughter of the family's only daughter, Caddy, and Caddy's promiscuous behaviour is the reason for the overwhelming angst the elder Quentin experiences in this chapter.
Fast forward ten years again and the third chapter is narrated by Jason, the mean, selfish, self-pitying brother the family now depends on financially. This part of the book is a little easier to read as far as words and sentences go, but it was hard to swallow all the rage and hostility.
The final chapter is written from a third person point of view so it felt more organized and it clarified some of the questions I still had from the previous chapters. By the end of the book, you know clearly what happened to each character and how it affected the rest of the family.
That gives you an idea of the writing style, but not the plot. It's about the Compson family, a name well-established and well-respected in the area, but now the family is in decline. Benjy's condition, Caddie's behaviour, Quentin's tragedy and the father's alcoholism-related, untimely death reduce the mother, Caroline Compson, to a whimpering shadow of a woman, incapable of dealing with, or being of help to, anyone. It would seem that Jason has control now, but there is a servant, Dilsey, who has more sense than the rest of them combined, and she isn't about to give up on them.
It's a powerful, agonizingly realistic story. I felt the effects of its emotional force for days after I put the book away. If I'd known the style of writing, I probably would never have attempted it, but once I started I couldn't let go, or it wouldn't let go of me. If you read it you may want to look online first for a summary or outline so you have some idea where it's going. But, if a bit of confusion at the beginning doesn't bother you, just dive in because it all becomes quite clear as you go on. It is definitely worth the effort....more
This is another children's book I somehow missed as a child and am just getting around to reading now. It's also the first book I've ever read on an eThis is another children's book I somehow missed as a child and am just getting around to reading now. It's also the first book I've ever read on an e-reader.
I enjoyed both the book and the e-reader. I found myself trying to turn the non-existent pages about a million times but I'm sure I'll get used to it. It's perfect in the middle of the night when I can't sleep, and the highlighting, bookmarking and searching abilities are great. In fact I was reading a "real" book yesterday and found myself wishing it had a search feature so I could find a line I'd forgotten to mark. I'm still a loyal book lover though and will always prefer the feel of a real book in my hand. Enough about the reader....back to the book.
The story of Mole, Water Rat, Badger, Toad and their lives on the river is endearing as well as entertaining. They are lovable characters with good hearts and plenty of idiosyncrasies that land them in one predicament after another. Themes include loyalty to friends, honesty, the importance of a work ethic and accepting responsibility for your actions.
A few times one of the characters uses the word "ass" in reference to another character, as in: "Stop it, you silly ass!" and "Indeed, I have been a complete ass and I know it." It only happens 3 or 4 times but it might be something you want to be prepared for if you decide to read it to your children. I was surprised to see the word there at all, but maybe when the book was written in 1908 it wasn't considered a "bad" word. On the other hand I've also read that the book never was meant for children anyway. Peter Hunt, Professor Emeritus in children's literature at Cardiff University, said in his introduction to one edition that it could be "the greatest case of mistaken identity in literature". As I was reading I did at times feel it might be more appealing to adults than children, but whoever it was intended for, I loved it.
The writing is beautiful. I love the way Grahame puts words together: "They recalled the languorous siesta of hot mid-day deep in green undergrowth, the sun striking through in tiny golden shafts and spots; the boating and bathing of the afternoon; the rambles along dusty lanes and through yellow cornfields; and the long cool evening at last, when so many threads were gathered up, so many friendships rounded, and so many adventures planned for the morrow." I'm hoping he has other books to discover. It's such a pleasure to read his writing.
This one gets a "thumbs up" from me. If you don't have kids to read it to, get it for yourself. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. ...more