I picked this book up in London at a big chain book store on my, so far, one and only trip there. I got 3 books in all, but this is the one that staye...moreI picked this book up in London at a big chain book store on my, so far, one and only trip there. I got 3 books in all, but this is the one that stayed with me the strongest (I wouldn't even know what the other books were, right now).
I loved the historical aspect, especially how lesbians were seen at the turn of the 20th century. On top of that, the historical figures pulled in (like Virginia Wolfe) also enriched the experience. Although, the book didn't really need it. Hall really knows how to write well, and how to keep a story flowing.
This was the first de Sade book I ever picked up. And it was not my last, although I haven't really gotten around to finishing many of the others!
And...moreThis was the first de Sade book I ever picked up. And it was not my last, although I haven't really gotten around to finishing many of the others!
And the stories in this collection still haunt me. I wasn't sure what I was getting into when I first grabbed this book off the Penguin Classics shelf in my bookstore, but I doubt that it was this!
On the one hand, I had expected something akin to erotica (mainly because people were so outraged back when he published his works) and it was definitely not that harsh. But I had also expected something of a story line, or something of a real tale, and whereas most of the short stories in this collection had some semblance like tales, for the most part they were built up to be focused on the very atrocious sex acts that de Sade had his characters preform (the worst of which weren't the acts, but rather who or where they were doing them...)
And yet, somehow I love this book. It is definitely a front liner for something... although I'm not sure if that's erotica, illegal porn or just plain whacky ideas for serial rapists to carry out.
Anyway, Sade has a special place in my bookcase... it's probably best that he's kept separate from most of the other novels!(less)
The Picture of Dorian Gray is another classic that I've read again and again. I suppose you could even count this book to be in the 'magical realism'...moreThe Picture of Dorian Gray is another classic that I've read again and again. I suppose you could even count this book to be in the 'magical realism' genre (one that I adore) due to it being so realistic, and yet, there is the whole idea of a picture ageing where the man doesn't.
Still, I believe that Wilde was trying to tell us more about humanity and cruelty rather than what immortality would taste like.
I can't really explain why I adore this book so. Part of it is due to the Wilde's writing style and his characters but a lot is also based on the issues that he raises (what with romance, and human cruelty and our truer, baser natures, etc).
Wilde wove a magical atmosphere wrought with some of the darker parts of our natures that just spoke to something in me. It's definitely worth reading, if only for the freaky scenes where Dorian Gray figures out what happened to him!(less)
I read this book the first time not knowing what it was. And I was irritated because we were just being told about this sickly child and her horrible...moreI read this book the first time not knowing what it was. And I was irritated because we were just being told about this sickly child and her horrible life.
So I put it down and didn't pick it up again for a few years (once I ran out of books to read in my room, and hadn't yet gotten permission to go to libraries on my own). That time I decided to stick with it and see where the story led to.
Now, I can honestly say, that I am so happy that I stuck with it. All of a sudden we're transported into a world of hidden rooms, and tucked away gardens, and helping other people. It seemed like I had entered a whole different world, something that I just love when books give me that feeling.
I'm afraid that if I were to read the book again I'd not enjoy it so much anymore, mainly because I can't identify with the protagonist anymore (we were of the same age back then). Regardless of that, this is definitely a true classic that everyone should read at least once.
This novel was many thing: deep, superficial, a work against the political structure in Russia at that time (communism), fille...moreThe long awaited review!
This novel was many thing: deep, superficial, a work against the political structure in Russia at that time (communism), filled with slapstick humor, a philosophical work on God vs the Devil, a look into the 'modern' life of those times and yet so much more.
I was using this site whilst reading, to get a deeper understanding of a lot of the people, places, quotes, etc that Bulgakov references throughout this work. It helped a lot, especially with the sheer amount of references to Faust. It almost seemed like a work which can only be fully understood so long as you've read all the other works Bulgakov resources.
Whilst reading, I was mostly thinking "hey, neat story! But is there a point to all this?" I think the I was mostly looking for something that would teach me, or encourage me or some sort of moral. I tend to fall into this fallacy often when reading books designated as 'classics' or 'great works'. I'm glad to say that yes, I did learn something, and that was to really enjoy this work! It was an incredibly easy read (though at times I didn't understand all the references, but that was easily remedied) and yet it imparted a whole lot.
Essentially, the story is about the devil and his entourage coming to Moscow and wrecking havoc. Although the main character of the story is really a fellow by the name of Ivan Nikolayevich. He is the key to what makes this a Bildungsroman. There is a huge cast of characters, which were a tad difficult for me to follow do to the foreign names and the story takes place all over Moscow, and even other parts of Russia as well as jumping into the past of the time of Pontius Pilate. Yet at no time does Bulgakov get confusing or annoying.
My favorite parts were definitely tied in with humor. It's a really rather comical book, almost delving into the absurd at times. Sadly, this was because I mostly read this in the wee small hours of the morning after a full day of studying. Else, I probably would have enjoyed the philosophical bits more. This novel is still working in my mind, though. It's amazing how intricate and delicate it is, whist supplying a story of love, passion, politics, religion and the arts.
There is so much more to it that I can't even sum up. Even writing this so far has been a nightmare. Nothing I feel I write about it would do it justice. Try reading it and see if you can do it differently!(less)
It's been too long since I read this. I need to do it in my own time and not as a structured group read. Then I might have greater appreciation for it...moreIt's been too long since I read this. I need to do it in my own time and not as a structured group read. Then I might have greater appreciation for it. (less)
This has always been one of my most favorite adventure, lost-on-an-island tales! What I enjoyed most was Robinson Crusoe's resourcefulness. He's like...moreThis has always been one of my most favorite adventure, lost-on-an-island tales! What I enjoyed most was Robinson Crusoe's resourcefulness. He's like a boy scout with the way that he applied his brain to solving all of his problems!
I got so into his life on the island and how wonderful it was (okay, maybe not for him, but from my perspective it was paradise on earth) and then he had to go and find that tell-tale footprint in the sand and ruin everything. In the long run, it's probably for the best that he found it, but I was very much enjoying his solitary life up until this point!
Anyway, this was about the time when I quickly finished the book and switched to The Swiss Family Robinson.(less)
**spoiler alert** I am so sad after finishing the book. I knew how it was going to end, but still, seeing Charlie become a genius with an IQ of 185 an...more**spoiler alert** I am so sad after finishing the book. I knew how it was going to end, but still, seeing Charlie become a genius with an IQ of 185 and now he's only got an IQ of under 70 again, it's really horrible.
He was so smart. So much smarter than I could ever be, and yet, he loses it all again in a matter of weeks. 3 months up time, 3 months super genius, then 3 months downtime and back to moron-hood.
This has been one of the most moving and thought provoking books that I have read in a while. I wonder if science has done an experiment on a human like what Keyes invented for Charlie. It can't be all fiction.
Though provoking part: I, who have always set much store by my IQ, definitely got an eye opening experience through Charlie and Algernon. Is that what will happen when I get old? Will my mind regress to that of a (I don't want to say child, because my IQ was high even as a child) lower IQ? I don't know if I could stand not being able to understand a book, or forget how to read, or even forget how to use my own motor functions.
But what if such a medical procedure would work on mentally retarded people. What if they were all of them super intelligent... Can you imagine the society then? Charlie's super ego and anti social personality (and on that note, what about intelligence affects your personality?) reflected in thousands, if not millions, of people who were first the laughingstock of society? Perhaps it is better with our current bell curve. It's not easy, or perfect, but it does work. I can't see a future of super intelligent people being forced to co-exist with those of an "average" IQ working.
I will definitely be rereading this book again. There are just too many questions provoked and I need to find answers first. Neuroscience, here I come.(less)
I don't know how you could give this book anything but 5 stars.
First off, it's about 1,000 pages of almost pure adventures.
Secondly, Winsor has a wr...moreI don't know how you could give this book anything but 5 stars.
First off, it's about 1,000 pages of almost pure adventures.
Secondly, Winsor has a writing style that is forward, direct and yet has an odd charm about it. She knows how to use just the perfect amount of words to describe something without making it boring, but enough to have details.
Thirdly, the plot flows forward from point to point, with only a rare few of those "super embarrassing" scenes we know so well from Ben Stiller. (They make me cringe and I can't bear to read a story as such). There is so much going on, just following Amber's life alone makes a 1 page report. The king and the court and a few other key characters would altogether make up a huge book of notes.
Fourth of all, Winsor's characters are plenty, seeped in historical fact and yet multi-faceted. Amber is, of course, the heroine of the story. But she is a very human-like heroine, full of flaws of character and such. She is selfish and stubborn and follows her hearts desire no matter what. She's the type of hero that is part villain and it made me love her and also hate her at the same time.
The king, Charles II of England, is the other key focus. We often read interjections of what goes on with him and his love life. It makes for very visual insight into what court life was like (although written at the turn of the 19th-20th century, the book focus on 200 years earlier.)
In each section of adventures we meet certain key characters and precise settings ranging from Newgate prison, to country homes, to the burning streets of London during the Great Fire, as well as the moaning streets of London during the great Plague. We meet highwaymen, kings, queens, ladies of great renown, humble servants, Ladies In Waiting, people from all professions, walks of life, personalities. There are so many fascinating characters that they alone will have you riveted, if the plot doesn't do it for you.
I think my most favorite part was following Amber from place to place, husband to husband and watching her climb the social ladder. I never for a moment doubted that Amber would achieve that which she set her heart on. The only question was HOW she would do it. And she usually manages to find the most improbable solutions!
Amber St Claire (also known by many other names throughout the book) is a fictional character, but seeing her set in this time period was one of the best things. My fifth reason is the time period: Winsor really researched things. We learn about fashions (dresses, accessories, parties, people), historical events (in England and France and with the Dutch) and the basic living conditions (especially during the plague period, but everything from lowly servant and farm girl to upper echelons of society and everything in between!)
I love this book, and I will most likely read it again. I had to make myself slow down reading it, because I was devouring it much too quickly for my own satisfaction. (It also helped that I went back and wrote trivia questions for all the key events while reading along. Over 100 on just obvious points.)
Notes on the ending: I feel it could have wrapped up in more of a HEA fashion, but that wouldn't have fit with Amber's personality. Perhaps her being so deceived right at the end is cruel, but if you see her character objectively, and not clouded with her own personal reasonings, it is an ideal ending! I am just glad that she wasn't killed out of hand!(less)
Another book that I read first and saw the movie after. And yet, I can't say that I prefer one over the other. This novel is very well written, and ha...moreAnother book that I read first and saw the movie after. And yet, I can't say that I prefer one over the other. This novel is very well written, and has details that the film is lacking. The movie has a great way of making you see the bigger picture without overstimulating your brain with too many details and still letting you enjoy the movie!
In general, I'd both watch the film again, and read the book again! It's a wonderful story, full of hope and desperation and a dash of historical truthfulness which leaves the reader a bit shocked.
The characters (especially the little girls) are just so wonderful... you'd like to see them as little china dolls, only there is more under the surface. And the ending is just so charming that it makes your heart melt! Definitely a read for anyone and everyone!(less)