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 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)
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)
and so begins the blurb on the back cover of The French Lieutenant's Woman. It is, indeed, a feat, a story and,...more "..a feat of seductive storytelling.."
and so begins the blurb on the back cover of The French Lieutenant's Woman. It is, indeed, a feat, a story and, most assuredly, seductive on many levels.
It's rare for me to give a book a five star rating but if any novel deserves that honor, it is this book. At first it seems that it is the story of a young man of society named Charles Smithson. The surface plot is not unique; man meets woman. They become engaged. Man meets another woman who stirs his 'passions.' Man falls in love with this new siren and leaves fiancee.
Suddenly, toward the end, we witness a literat ploy I have seen before, but not often. It's when the author includes himself in the story and meets his own character face to face. (This also occurs in 'Elmer Gantry' when that character discusses the writings of his creator, Sinclair Lewis.) But what makes it even more unique, when Fowles runs into Smithson, he refers to the female seductress as 'The Protagonist." He does not refer to Charles as thus. He does not call Sarah Woodruff his female protagonist. She is simply and completely THE PROTAGONIST. (and of course, we should have suspected that since she is the one referred to by the books' title.)
This book left my mind in a tailspin. I am not convinced that most of the characters are not symbolic of society, both of the 1800's and the present. I'm not convinced of the extent of the effects the characters left on one another.
And I am not convinced that Sarah was sane.
If there is such a thing as a modern classic, this would be it.
Fascinating little book that leaves a fascinating big impression. What did I learn? Again, not to presume anything about a book. Just go ahead and ope...moreFascinating little book that leaves a fascinating big impression. What did I learn? Again, not to presume anything about a book. Just go ahead and open that cover. Then decide.
I loved this 'little' tome. And yes, it IS a tome, even as thin as it is; there's a lot in there.(less)
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)