I've finally finished this book and have read a few things about it and I need to add that the book picked up for me within the last third. If Anne ha...moreI've finally finished this book and have read a few things about it and I need to add that the book picked up for me within the last third. If Anne had only done things a bit differently in the beginning of the novel, this might have been one of the most influential classics in existence.
The reason I say that is because it was written during a period not too distant from the birth of an influential middle class in 19th century England. Landowners of the middle class had recently been given the right to vote and as such, their voice made up a good 50% of the vote, nearly a majority.
Governesses in that era were a unique group; as educators, they had to be more knowledgeable and schooled, something the average member of the middle class did not possess. And, often circumstances lent themselves to young women (and, as in the case of Branwell Bronte, sometimes young men, too) to need to search additional income, they were also excluded from any upper class. So, in effect, they were a unique group in their own right.
As with Agnes Grey, this position often led to turbulence for the youn governess; she was not accustomed to being thought of as lower on the social rung, and yet the employers often excluded her from their own social standing. A a result, they often became embittered, unsettled and confused.
What Anne Bronte did with this novel was to introduce a new thought to 19th century English socierty, that the individual, despite social standing, had the right to personal happiness and hopes. This was a new way of thought for a society who did not give much merit to the individual, over the class in which the individual belonged.
A case in study for this is the scene where Anne accompanies her charges to some sort of charity house. The young genteel girls make disparaging comments about the people there, loud enough for them to hear. Yet, these comments were not said out of nastiness or even out of pettiness. It was more that they were simple comments describing entities as if they were insects, incapable of feeling.
I also learned this book was first published in a two story book, coupled with Wuthering Heights. Of course, WH took the applause of the two novels which pushed AG into the background. (less)
I just finished this book and gave it a five star rating, tho I probably should have given it a three, only because part of me said 'five' but the ot...more I just finished this book and gave it a five star rating, tho I probably should have given it a three, only because part of me said 'five' but the other part of me said 'one,' so averaging that out seemed to be the logical thing to do.
I know most people consider this to be one of the best books they've read. I hated the subject matter and often read it through splatted fingers, the way I watch the nature channel when they show a wild animal catching and killing its prey. But then, I came upon this, toward the end:
"..and in the southern deserts of Sudan the heat rises in airless waves, thousands upon thousands of men, women, chilldren, roam throughout the vast bushland, desperately seeking food. Ravaged and starving, leaving a trail of dead, emaciated bodies, they eat weeds and leaves and...lily pads, stumbling from village to village, dying slowly, inexorably; a gray morning in the miserable desert, grit flies through the air, a child with a face like a black moon lies in the sand, scratching at his throat, cones of dust rising, flying across land like whirling tops, no one can see the sun, the child is covered with sand, almost dead, eyes unblinking, grateful (stop and imagine for an instant a world where someone is grateful for something) none of the haggard pay attention as they file by, dazed and in pain (no - there IS one who pays attention, who notices the boy's agony and smiles, as if holding a secret), the boy opens and closes his cracked, chapped mouth soundlessly, there is a school bus in the distance somewhere and somewhere else, above that, in space, a spirit rises, a door opens, it asks "WHY?" - a home for the dead, an infinity, it hangs in a void, time limps by, love and sadness rush through the boy..."
And for some reason, that won me over, It is stark. It is brutal, but I think it is also brilliant and beautifully written. It is the mood of the entire book. I wish Ellis had set it closer to the beginning of the book because it could have set the mood for the rest of it.
I did not know until close to the end if this all was reality or fantasy. But I've decided it was all a fantasy. Most people would consider all these imaginings(if that is, indeed, what they were) as a nightmare but to Patrick Bateman, they were his dream. His American Dream, as aptly put within a backcover blurb.
Do you think he really killed anyone? ANYONE??? I do not. but since this is written mostly in first person pov, and Patrick, as he says to his secretary Jean, believes "the lines separating appearance - what you see - and reality - what you don't - become, well, blurred..."how can we, as readers in his mind, know what is real and what is not?
I would have given this book a four star rating if I didn't abhor Elmer Gantry as much as I do. He is the master manipulator, the king of scum, the gl...moreI would have given this book a four star rating if I didn't abhor Elmer Gantry as much as I do. He is the master manipulator, the king of scum, the glib tongued devil who sees the world only as it can serve him.
A little synopsis of the story: Elmer Gantry is a handsome rogue, a sports hero, son of a religious woman whose dreams for him consist totally of his becoming a man of the cloth. He delights in whiskey and women even as he attends theology classes. Unfortunately for everyone, especially women, and especially young women, Elmer could persuade the devil himself to donate time, talent and money..especially money..to the church if it meant it would benefit Elmer Gantry.
It isn't really Elmer who impressed me the most, however; it would have to be a little kittenish young lady we meet early on, named Lulu Bains. At first glance, Lulu doesn't seem to mean much to this novel but at a closer look, we realise Lulu is like the flawed thread that runs through an amateur's tapestry, making its ugliness even more apparent.
Lulu Bains, kittenish, pink and fluffy, is an innocent we meet when Elmer comes as pastor to his first real church. He immediately decides he must 'have' her, and have her he does. Just as immediately, he loses interest. Of course.
Lulu weaves in and out, through Elmer's life. She doesn't matter to him. No big surprise. Nothing matters to Elmer except Elmer. But he keeps her, beguiled, on the back burner just in case he wants to toy with her more.
Eventually, the obvious happens; he meets someone he likes better and chucks her to the curb, fibbing to her that his wife (yes, there is a Mrs. Gantry..Cleo..but he doesn't like her, either.) has found them out. Gantry tells Lulu she needs to not only leave him, she needs to leave his church altogether. This is quite a blow to Lulu; she has loved Gantry through his trek as a young minister all the way to his esteemed position as a nationally reknown religous figure.
Now this is the good part, the telling part. Is Lulu bitter? Has her love turned to hatred? NO!
'She crawled out after a time, a little figure in a shabby topcoat over her proud new dress. She stood waiting for a trolley car, alone under an arc-light, fingering her new beaded purse, which she loved because in his generosity He ( notice the use of the capitalized H, as if Lulu thought of Elmer as God, Himself..[emphasis mine:]) had given it to her. From time to time she wiped her eyes and blew her nose and all the time she was quite stupidly muttering, "Oh, my dear, my dear, to think I made trouble for you - oh, my dear, my very dear!"
If you read this book to then end in hopes that Elmer gets his just desserts, well...I won't spoil it for you. You will need to read it yourself to discover what happens. All in all, it's worth your time.(less)
I was a little hesitant about this one because I read the reviews were not as good as they were for 'The Glass Castle.' You know what I have to say a...more I was a little hesitant about this one because I read the reviews were not as good as they were for 'The Glass Castle.' You know what I have to say about that? I say, "Shame on those reviewers!" I think they said that because they wanted to jump on a band wagon filled with self proclaimed literary aficionados, who seem to believe that a great first book cannot possibly be followed with an equally as great second book! In this case, that is exactly what happened however; 'Half Broke Horses' is not only as good as 'The Glass Castle,' it compliments it. It fills in a background of the family and we learn that the spirit of the family members is an inherent thing.
'Half Broke Horses' is the story of Lily Casey Smith, the author's grandmother, whom we first meet in 'The Glass Castle.' What a woman! Without people like Lily, the west would never have been settled. She was beyond feisty; she had a spirit that was beyond any possibility of ever being 'broke.' In fact, she was the tamer of wild horses, the one who knew how to take a fall and get back into the saddle, who knew you don't sit around moping when the odds are against you but instead, you just find a different way to saddle up.
Lily was a horse trainer by nature, possibly one of the first horse whisperers ever. But 'Half Broke Horses' does not really have much to do with the wild mustangs but more to do with people, people who do not profit from broken spirits but who fly the fields with fire and gusto.
After reading this, we know why an elderly Rosemary Walls, Jeannette's mother, was perfectly comfortable living on the streets of NYC, why unconventionality was simply, well, conventional for her.
This was quite a book. I was a bit put off because it's called 'A True Life Novel.' But Walls explains that in her Author's Note. She says, in part:
"I wrote this story in the first person because I wanted to capture Lily's distinctive voice, which I clearly recall. At the time I didn't think of the book as fiction. Lily Casey Smith was a very real woman, and to say that I created her or the events of her life is giving me more credit than I'm due. However, since I don't have the words from Lily herself, and since I have also drawn on my imagination to fill in details that are hazy or missing - and I've changed as few names to protect people's privacy - the only honest thing to do is to call the book a novel."
When I read that, I immediately thought of James Frey and all the hoopla that erupted when it came out that his memoir, "A Million Little Pieces," was in fact, not all true. and I wondered if that is why Walls labelled her book the way she did.
Regardless of that, I was as enamoured with this book as much as I was with Walls first. (less)
There are some books that you finish and put down. Then there are a smattering of those you put down but never really finish. Lonesome Dove is one of...moreThere are some books that you finish and put down. Then there are a smattering of those you put down but never really finish. Lonesome Dove is one of those. It is impossible to finish it because the characters will always be there, for the rest of your life, in the back of your mind; folks you think about with fondness and never really totally stop thinking about. Gus McCrae. Captain Call. Lorena. July. Carla. Jake. Newt. Dish. Pea Eye. Joe. Janey. Roscoe. Even Elmira and Red Duck. How can they be forgotten when they live in us and are the ultimate show of that part of the human spirit which commands us to prevail against odds in order to accomplish what our human hearts dream of accomplishing?
McMurtry said it best when he lent us this quote, by T.K. Whipple's 'Study of the Land':
All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lives in us. Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still hungers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream.'
How can I ever possibly be done with Gus McCrae, a man whose best friends are a pair of pigs? A man who seems to ride off into the sunset about as often as he buries wives. A man who cheats at cards in order win a 'poke' with a pretty blonde whore. A man who can shoot to kill without a second thought, but who can treat a woman with so much tenderness that he can ease her heart and win her trust after she has been brutally and repeatedly raped?
How would I ever forget young Newt, son of a dead prostitute, who seems to be the last to know that the highest esteemed Captain Call, leader of the Texas Rangers, is his father?
Or wonderful Carla...how does one forget this woman?.. horse tamer, caretaker of a comatose husband, mother of two little girls on a horse farm in the middle of the Nebraska prairie, a woman who can take up a knife and geld a horse because it needed to be done and whining about it wouldnt change that.
I do not hesitate to give this book a five star rating. I would give it twice that much if I had the option to do so.
A moderately good mystery that ran out of steam in the last fourth of the book and did not tie up all the loose...moreFluff. Which is what I was looking for.
A moderately good mystery that ran out of steam in the last fourth of the book and did not tie up all the loose ends. Having said that, I expected not much more and it was a passable, typical mystery.(less)
I loved this one. I bonded emotionally with almost each character.The plot never faltered. In fact my only complaint was the switching among the three...moreI loved this one. I bonded emotionally with almost each character.The plot never faltered. In fact my only complaint was the switching among the three different time eras.
I will be reading more of this author's works.(less)
I would rather think simply and with little complication than to be a philosophical genius such as Jung and think so deeply that I lose track of what...moreI would rather think simply and with little complication than to be a philosophical genius such as Jung and think so deeply that I lose track of what is important in my life. This man is just too complicated for me.(less)