I've read this book many times over the years in hard copy form, but I also have this audio recording. Listening to an Austen novel can reveal aspectsI've read this book many times over the years in hard copy form, but I also have this audio recording. Listening to an Austen novel can reveal aspects of it that you don't pick up on when reading it in book form, as I learned from the Audible recording of Emma. I'm looking forward to experiencing Persuasion in a new way when I listen to this recording....more
This audiobook is the ideal way to experience Wuthering Heights. Janet McTeer is the perfect narrator--a first-rate actress (I've seen her on stage anThis audiobook is the ideal way to experience Wuthering Heights. Janet McTeer is the perfect narrator--a first-rate actress (I've seen her on stage and screen) who happens to come from the north of England (where WH takes place) and therefore knows the accents. The voices she uses for the characters are incredibly apt, and her ability to switch quickly from one to another is amazing. (I especially enjoyed the spoiled, sullen, upper-class drawl she uses for Linton Heathcliff.) Listening to these accents is much easier than reading them on a page, and they add a whole new layer of meaning to the book. I read WH was I was 10 or 11--too young to fully understand it--and listening to this audiobook was a much better way to reaquaint myself with it than reading a hard copy. I highly recommend this recording....more
Having recently listened to a recording of Wuthering Heights (the outstanding one by Janet McTeer), I was eager to read some criticism. My county librHaving recently listened to a recording of Wuthering Heights (the outstanding one by Janet McTeer), I was eager to read some criticism. My county library system is not, however, chock full of literary criticism. This was just about the only book available.
The Twentieth Century Interpretations series was old-fashioned 30 years ago, when I was an English major at Columbia. However, it was useful for a grounding in the, well, old-fashioned criticism. The most important essay is Charles Percy Sanger's 1926 analysis of the novel's structure, which led to a re-evaluation of the book. Previously, critics had considered it chaotic and poorly organized. Sanger's essay revealed how meticulously structured it actually is. Some old-fashioned attitudes crop up in the book (not by Sanger), mostly the patronizing tone taken by male critics towards female authors who never married. But the book's a helpful start. Now I just have to find some later criticism, which is tough when you have no access to an academic library.
This book is a big departure from Amy Tan's usual type of fiction, which readers should know up front. It is not about Chinese-Americans, or mothers aThis book is a big departure from Amy Tan's usual type of fiction, which readers should know up front. It is not about Chinese-Americans, or mothers and daughters, or sisters. While it's fantastical, it's fantastical in a very different way than her earlier novels.
The tone of the book is predominantly ironic, with liberal doses of satire about well to-do, open-minded white Americans slumming in the Third World, the modern media, and international politics. On occasion, she gets serious about her characters and displays the same understanding and compassion that illuminate her other books, but not often enough.
As others have said, it's too long (474 pp in hc). And don't be taken in by the introduction—Bibi Chen is as fictional as the rest of the characters. It's a gambit that many other writers have used.
Maybe Tan needed to write this book in order to vent about certain issues. If so, I hope she's let off all the steam she needs and will return to her much more satisfying usual style in her next book (due out in November)....more
Terrific novel, her best since Excellent Women (looked at chronologically). I admire the discipline at work here: not a single character who is an OxfTerrific novel, her best since Excellent Women (looked at chronologically). I admire the discipline at work here: not a single character who is an Oxford grad in English (although she can't resist inserting a couple of lines of poetry here and there) or one who has wild flights of fancy about every day events. There isn't anything about anthropologists, either (not that I mind), although one minor character is an archeologist. She also managed to work a couple of gay men into the plot, which was daring at this time (mid-1950s).
I wonder whether it's a coincidence that this book and Excellent Women are both written in the first person. She may have found that writing in the voice of a character imposed some useful limits on her writing.
And, whatever Philip Larkin said, I love those glimpses of characters from previous novels! One of the nice things about rereading Pym's work chronologically is that you recognize these characters when they pop up....more
Reread this for the first time in may years. It wasn't as good as my memory of it, largely because the character John was so barely sketched. AlthoughReread this for the first time in may years. It wasn't as good as my memory of it, largely because the character John was so barely sketched. Although Ianthe is the focus, I think we need to know more about the man she comes to love than we get. Still, an enjoyable read....more
It's odd--the previous Pym I read in my chronological reread is a book (An Unsuitable Attachment) that I remembered liking much more than I did this tIt's odd--the previous Pym I read in my chronological reread is a book (An Unsuitable Attachment) that I remembered liking much more than I did this time around. With The Sweet Dove Died, it's the opposite--I disliked it, and approached this reread with apprehension, but in the end I enjoyed it quite a bit.
The problem with Dove is the heroine (or protagonist), Leonora Eyre. Cold, vain, pretentious, and snobbish, she is completely unlike the leading women in Pym's other books. It may have been the shock of the character so confounding my expectations that lead me to dislike it--perhaps I kept expecting her to show some likeable qualities, and when she didn't, I didn't know how to take the book.
This time, knowing full well that I was going to dislike Leonora, I was able to read the book without constantly trying to fit her into the archtype I usually encounter in Pym's books. In other words, instead of trying to sympathize with her, I saw her as the rather ridiculous character she is, and laughed at her. I think that's what Pym intended.
But underneath the comedy is sadness. Pym's heroines almost never have children and, as they age along with their author, they seem increasingly to fasten on a child-substitute (Sophia Ainger and her cat Faustina in Unsuitable Attachment; Leonora and James in Dove). Something is missing in their lives, and they can't find a way of filling it....more
Terrific first novel set in New York in 1938. The narrator begins her story in 1966, when she sees two photos of a man called Tinker Grey in an exhibiTerrific first novel set in New York in 1938. The narrator begins her story in 1966, when she sees two photos of a man called Tinker Grey in an exhibition at a museum. In one he looks prosperous, well-fed, and elegant, and in the other he looks poor, gaunt, and shabby. Her husband assumes that the first picture was taken later than the second, and that Grey had recovered from whatever bad times he had been having. No, the narrator says, it was the other way around . . .
From there we go back to 1938 and the first time she met Grey. The action covers the entire year, from New Year's Eve to late December, with postscripts that tell what happened to each of the main characters thereafter. All through the book, I was thinking, "So what happened to Grey? He's rich, handsome, and successful for most of the book. What turned him into the scruffy character he was in the second photo?"
No spoilers, of course. All I'll say is that the story is an interesting twist to the familiar Gatsby tale. It also made me wonder how accurately I saw and understood the things going on in my own life (you'll understand that if you read the book). Towles is a real writer. His is the most elegant prose I've read in quite some time.
So, two thumbs up for this one. The book is, among other things, a love story about New York, so it will help if you're Gotham-friendly. But this is a worthwhile and entertaining novel for anyone....more