Yes, the Christmas season is murderous. Old man Simeon Lee has called all of his family together for Christmas. One son, Alfred, is loyal to his fatheYes, the Christmas season is murderous. Old man Simeon Lee has called all of his family together for Christmas. One son, Alfred, is loyal to his father, David, the sensitive artist, has a burning hatred for his father. Harry is the prodigal son, returning after 20 years. George is an MP and needs money to support his young wife. Pilar is the granddaughter Simeon has never seen. The brothers wives hope the old man wants to reconcile with his sons and granddaughter. But that hope is short-lived as they enter Simeon's bedroom on Christmas Eve. Old man Lee is on the phone talking to his lawyer. He informs his family that he is going to change his will and reduce their allowances. He curtly dismisses them, telling them that he will see them all in the morning.
But morning never comes to Simeon Lee. The family hears furniture overturning and Simeon's unearthly scream. They all run upstairs to find his bedroom locked and Simeon isn't answering them. Stephen Farr, Simeon's old business partner's son help breakdown the door and the family finds the old man dead in a pool of blood. So much for a Merry Christmas. There is no shortage of suspects, everyone under the Lee roof has a reason to want the old man dead. M.Hercule Poirot is spending the holiday with his friend, the Police Super-indent, and is called upon to solve the case.
Christie weaves many red herrings into this classic tale of a lock room mystery as well as many Shakespearean quotes. A mustache, missing uncut diamonds, and a painting lead Poirot to the identity of the murderer. ...more
I still love this small book. It is the only Dickens novel that I've ever been able to read from cover to cover without giving up on the Updated 2015
I still love this small book. It is the only Dickens novel that I've ever been able to read from cover to cover without giving up on the book. I've read this so many times that I found myself reciting passages before I got to them.
But on this reading, I did discover a new nugget. How could I have missed that the ghost of Jacob Marley was always near Scrooge!?!
Anyway, I always shed a few tears each Christmas Season when I re-read this Classic. Tears of sadness for the Crachett family, especially for Tiny Tim. But tears of joy when Scrooge's heart becomes full again. The avarice, the bitterness of his losses and he rejoices with what he has, namely his nephew and the ability to help Tiny Tim.
Lastly I still full stand behind my first review of A Christmas Carol which is below these remarks.
Review in 2011.
“I HAVE endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.” ~Charles Dickens, 1843.
And so A CHRISTMAS CAROL has since its publication; it has never been out of print or truly out of fashion. It is the quintessential Christmas story and the easiest of Dickens books to read. The narrator introduces us to Mr. Scrooge, a man whose heart has turned to stone from ambition, care, avarice, and greed. We see him at his desk in Scrooge and Marley Money House dark and chilled since he is too tightfisted to permit decent coal fires and candles. He scorns everyone that visits his office Christmas Eve, especially his nephew, Fred. But when he finally gets home, the massive door knocker transforms into Marley’s face and strangely lights the foggy dark night.
But Marley specter follows Scrooge to his bed chamber with chains, locks, and money boxes wrapped about his transparent body. He means to save his friend the fate that he has endured since he died seven years ago on this very night. Three Ghosts will haunt Scrooge: The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come – whom looks much like Death. Through the lessons these specters will reveal, Scrooge has a chance to become a different man and employer and lead a different life.
Scrooge’s transformation is genuine as it is remarkable. Through Dickens’s simple narration, we not only witness Scrooge change but we also feel his emotions. We cry at the possible demise of Tiny Tim and the true affection Fred has for his uncle. Scrooge on Christmas morning has rediscovered faith, hope, and charity and his heart is full of love for the season as well as his neighbors. This novella is one I read every Christmas and I love it more each year....more
A true classic of libertarian science fiction as well as a scathing indictment against collectivism. Ayn Rand fury at the communist/collectivist systeA true classic of libertarian science fiction as well as a scathing indictment against collectivism. Ayn Rand fury at the communist/collectivist system explodes in this short novel. I both agree and somewhat disagree with her politics/philosophies. But Rand was always clear to her views without regard to what others thought of her. ...more
I prefer Ernest Hemingway over F. Scott Fitzgerald, and still do. However, this gem of short stories will have me reading more novels by Fitzgerald. II prefer Ernest Hemingway over F. Scott Fitzgerald, and still do. However, this gem of short stories will have me reading more novels by Fitzgerald. It may be my own prejudice that has kept me from reading a lot of Fitzgerald, since Hemingway thought he was a drunken hack.
What I saw in these short stories, shows me that my favorite author may have been wrong. Don't look for any happy endings in any of the stories here; there aren't any. Bernice Bobs Her Hair has the most satisfying ending. Hell has no fury as woman mocked, publicly. Ice Palace also ends satisfactorily. The Diamond as Big as the Ritz reads like a horror story with a dash of Sci-fi here and there, at least to me. ...more
Black Coffee by Agatha Christie was first written as play in 1929 then novelized in 1930. And it truly is a masterpiece mystery. Hercule Poirot is sliBlack Coffee by Agatha Christie was first written as play in 1929 then novelized in 1930. And it truly is a masterpiece mystery. Hercule Poirot is slightly bored until he gets a call from Sir Claude Amory. He believes that his new formula is going to be stolen by a member in his household. Shortly before dinner on Friday, Sir Claude checks his safe - the formula is gone. He makes a quick call to London. After dining, Sir Claude, his family, his secretary, and and an Italian Doctor move into the library. The doors are locked until Poirot and Hastings arrive from London.
Sir Claude tells everyone that the lights will go out and the thief can return the formula without any repercussions. But when the lights return and Poirot walks through the door, he's not only got to investigate the theft, but murder. Sir Claude is dead. ...more
Wow! Such an amazing read! A true classic in the Murder Mystery Genre. Agatha Christie loved this plot: 10 strangers on an island, lured by U. N. OwenWow! Such an amazing read! A true classic in the Murder Mystery Genre. Agatha Christie loved this plot: 10 strangers on an island, lured by U. N. Owen (Unknown), are going to be killed for taking the life of another. Not only are they going to die, they are going to die exactly as the nursery rhyme:
Ten Little Soldiers
Ten Little Soldier Boys went out to dine, one choked his little self and then there were nine.
Nine Little Soldier Boys stayed up very late; One overslept himself and then there were eight.
Eight Little Soldier Boys travelling in Devon; One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.
Seven Little Soldier Boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.
Six Little Soldier Boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.
Five Little Soldier Boys going in for law one got in Chancery and then there were four.
Four Little Soldier Boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.
Three Little Soldier Boys walking in the zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were two.
Two Little Soldier Boys sitting in the sun; One got frizzled up and then there was One.
One Little Soldier Boy left all alone; He went and hanged himself and then there were none.
Christie, herself, says that she had to write an Epigraph to explain what happened. Do any of the ten survive? And who among them is non plumbed U.N. Owen? The note in the bottle finally gives the readers the "who-dun-it". Agatha Christie surprised me. It's no wonder that And Then There Were None is considered a classic to Mystery fans and movie goers. The fact that is that And Then There Were None was published in 1939 shows Christie's genius....more
An uninvited "guest" appears on Nero Wolfe's doorstep. Archie knows that Wolfe will not accept a female in his home, especially one who won't give himAn uninvited "guest" appears on Nero Wolfe's doorstep. Archie knows that Wolfe will not accept a female in his home, especially one who won't give him her name. Later, a man comes by to contract Godwin and Wolfe to find his ward before June 30th. The same date that the young woman locked in Wolfe's 3rd floor room had stated as the date she wanted to stay through. When Archie sees the picture of the missing woman, Pre Eads, he knows it's the young woman he had interviewed earlier. When her guardian leaves, Nero sends for the Eads woman and throws her out.
A few hours later, Pre Eads is found strangled on her living room floor. Her maid had been strangled in the same manner a few hours earlier to get Ead's key. Archie feels responsible and finds himself a Nero Wolfe client. Who wanted Pre dead? And why is the date June 30th so important?
I had to get some emotional distance before sharing my thoughts on The Bell Jar. I read this in high school many years ago and I remember thinking howI had to get some emotional distance before sharing my thoughts on The Bell Jar. I read this in high school many years ago and I remember thinking how anyone could feel as if a bell jar has suddenly descended upon their soul or psyche. But after I experienced a few traumatic events in my own life, I understand how Plath could feel that desolation and despair. While I was able to bounce back from my painful experiences, Plath could not - she committed suicide at the young age of 30.
Such a gifted writer and poet she was! She had a wonderful gift of language and imagery in her writings. Her poems are magnificent. In The Bell Jar, I think as Esther (and Plath) received awards upon more awards, her expectations for and of herself were so lofty; there was only one way to go - downwards. And that was the shear shame of Plath's life. She never lived long enough to see the appreciation of her readers of her work! ...more
The Razor's Edge is an unusual book. There were times that I wanted to abandon the book and stomp on it. There were times I found myself chuckling witThe Razor's Edge is an unusual book. There were times that I wanted to abandon the book and stomp on it. There were times I found myself chuckling with the narrator who happened to be W. Somerset Maugham himself. There were times where I shed a few tears.
Maugham said on page 1 that The Razor's Edge is based on real people and events. If this is true, God help those people. I found Isobel very likeable and charming at first, but came to hating her at the end for what she did to Sophie and Larry. Elliot, the quintentional snob, who sort and worshipped Society was a much better person than his niece, and I grew to care for him emincely. Gray, that gentle giant, I came to respect him. Sophie and Suzanne, I wept for them. And Larry? I adored Larry just as the female characters in the novel did. Maugham? He narrated this success story well, and was not in its way. Yes, I agree with Maugham's realisation at the end that The Razor's Edge was a success story. Each character succeeded in getting what they wanted or needed....more
The Moon and Sixpence is one of W. Somerset Maugham better known novels. Its style is episodic and first person. The unnamed narrator gives us readersThe Moon and Sixpence is one of W. Somerset Maugham better known novels. Its style is episodic and first person. The unnamed narrator gives us readers glimpses of a seemingly dull conventional middle-aged English stockbroker, Charles Strickland, who abandons his wife and children to paint. His paintings are that of a genius - and is what is to be known as Primitivism. The narrator, who is first introduced to Strickland through the stockbroker's wife. Strickland strikes him as unremarkable and perhaps possessed. Afew chapters entirely comprise stories or narrations of others, which the narrator recalls from memory while selectively editing or elaborating on certain aspects of dialogue, particularly Strickland's, as Strickland is said by the narrator to be limited in his use of verbiage and tended to use gestures in his expression.
Strickland while in Paris lives a destitute but content life there as a painter, living in run-down hotels and endures both illness and hunger. Strickland, in his drive to express through his art what appears to continually possess and compel him on the inside, cares nothing for physical discomfort and is indifferent to his surroundings. He is generously supported, while in Paris, by a commercially successful but hackneyed Dutch painter, Dirk Stroeve, a friend of the narrator's, who immediately recognises Strickland's genius. After helping Strickland recover from a life-threatening condition, Stroeve is repaid by having his wife, Blanche, abandon him for Strickland. Strickland later discards the wife (all he really sought from Blanche was a model to paint, not serious companionship, and it is hinted in the novel's dialogue that he indicated this to her and she took the risk anyway), who then commits suicide – yet another human casualty (the first ones being his own established life and those of his wife and children) in Strickland's single-minded pursuit of Art and Beauty.
After the Paris episode, the story continues in Tahiti. Strickland has already died, and narrator attempts to piece together his life there from recollections of others. He finds that Strickland had taken up a native woman, had two children by her (one of whom dies) and started painting profusely. We learn that Strickland had settled for a short while in the French port of Marseilles before travelling to Tahiti, where he lived for a few years before finally dying of leprosy. Strickland left behind numerous paintings, but his magnum opus, which he painted on the walls of his hut before losing his sight to leprosy, was burnt down after his death by his wife in accordance with his dying orders. From Wikipedia
Somerset largely bases Strickland upon the painter Paul Gaugin. The Moon and Sixpence is a fast read that will stay with the reader for days. Each character, including the narrator) are likable as well as dislikable - poignantly ying and yang to Strikland's own self. Wonderful book. ...more
Has all of my favorite stories in it: The Nightingale, The Snow Queen, The Flying Trunk, Aunt Toothache, The Emperor Has No Clothes, The Ugly DucklingHas all of my favorite stories in it: The Nightingale, The Snow Queen, The Flying Trunk, Aunt Toothache, The Emperor Has No Clothes, The Ugly Duckling, The Pixie and the Gardener's Wife just to name a few.
I love that Andersen always has a little moral to his tales - a Christian one too! I never did pick up on those Christian values when I was a kid.
Reading these tales brought my mom back to life, sitting on my twin, and reading me these stories before I fell asleep! ...more
Surprisingly, the dialogue was awful. Papa usually excels in dialogue. The "I love you's" drove me insane. True to his quote, there was more than enough weather in Across the River and into the Trees, but no visible plot. And I'm not crazy about novels with no plot and full of unlikable characters. But this is just my lone opinion....more
I know, I know...a bad rating. But I I never liked Alice when I was young and now as an adult, I like less than I ever did. I would rather watch paintI know, I know...a bad rating. But I I never liked Alice when I was young and now as an adult, I like less than I ever did. I would rather watch paint dry than to re-visit Alice's exploits ever again. It is not my kind of book - I prefer C.S. Lewis's Narnia and L. Frank Baum 's Oz tales. ...more
Lessons that our Presidents and Generals should ALL follow, especially since Viet Nam. But these points in the book do translate to other parts of socLessons that our Presidents and Generals should ALL follow, especially since Viet Nam. But these points in the book do translate to other parts of society. It was interesting....more
Sigh. After reading Sense and Sensibility, I couldn't wait to read Persuasion. And I was slightly disappointed by Jane Austen's last book. I confess tSigh. After reading Sense and Sensibility, I couldn't wait to read Persuasion. And I was slightly disappointed by Jane Austen's last book. I confess that I found Anne Elliot less desirable as a female protagonist. To me, she was meek and weak - totally usual for Austen. To be persuaded to break an engagement from a man she truly loves by a dear friend rather than standing her ground baffled me. But Wentworth had the last laugh when he returns with a hefty fortune to find Anne's father having to "downsize" because he had reduced the family fortune.
Was Austen mocking class society? Yes, I think so. Now the tables are turned, Anne is not suitable for Wentworth. He has the greater fortune, but not the Elliot blue blood. So what in Wentworth did Lady Russell find more egregious? His lack of money or his lack of status. She wasn't Anne's mother, but Anne looked to her as a mother figure. Why was Anne so weak in character? And now at age 27, Anne is a spinster. Any man would suffice, right? Only if that man's last name is Elliot who will inherit her father's title and estate - assuming there is an estate to inherit.
Anne and Wentworth's silences speak volumes, and I like that in the book. His letter at the end of the novel brought tears running down my cheek. It was just beautiful. All is well that ends well. This is the classic boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and boy gets girl back story. However, it did appear that it would not follow that romantic formula. The young Mr. Elliot has several tricks up his sleeve, and Wentworth is squiring a lovely young lady on his arm in the English countryside. ...more
Not one of my favorite Hemingway novels. A Farewell to Arms is loosely based on Ernest Hemingway's experiences as an ambulance driver in Italy. He wasNot one of my favorite Hemingway novels. A Farewell to Arms is loosely based on Ernest Hemingway's experiences as an ambulance driver in Italy. He was also wounded and fell for the nurse who cared for him, though unlike Henry, Hemingway didn't marry his nurse.
The love story seemed slightly stilted, unlike The Sun Also Rises. But we readers do get a hint of the prose style that made Hemingway a master story teller....more
Leon Uris joined the Marines at age 17 and fought on Guadalcanal and Tarawa. My own father served on the USS Neville (APA-9) as a Master Electrician fLeon Uris joined the Marines at age 17 and fought on Guadalcanal and Tarawa. My own father served on the USS Neville (APA-9) as a Master Electrician from 1943 - 1945. He says he didn't see any action, but I don't believe him. The ship carried the boys to and from Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Saipan: the battles that are depicted in Battle Cry, Uris' first novel. It is written quite well for a first novel and from it strong emotions exploded in this reader. I laughed. I cried. I got angry. I got happy. By the end, I was almost exhausted.
St. Mary, Danny, Mac, Huxley, the Injun, the lumberjack, the feather merchant, the professor, Burney, Ziltch, Seabags, Levin, Speedy, L.Q., and the rest of "Huxley's Whores" will stay with me for quite a while. Battle Cry is their story. A group of misfits - boys really - who volunteered for the Marines who at the end were men of glory and courage. Some made it, some did not. Their stories of home and what drove them as a "gyrene" was very compelling. The boys of the 6th Marines lived and loved hard because each to a man knew that the "Whores" were not promised tomorrow. A Japanese bullet may have his name on it.
I still have a love/hate relationship with their CO, Sam Huxley. He finally got what he wanted, and his battalion paid a heavy price for his prize - Saipan. I loved Forrester, Marion (Mary), Mac and a few other characters. I know them so well that they are like family to me. They and their stories will stay with me in my heart for a very long time.
I can see Papa walking the cat walk leading to his his studio. By 1937 he was growing tired of Pauline. Their marriage was on the rocks and HemingwayI can see Papa walking the cat walk leading to his his studio. By 1937 he was growing tired of Pauline. Their marriage was on the rocks and Hemingway resented her money. He did question the rich and their attitudes somewhat, but his feelings about the rich was really about Pauline. He enjoyed his money. He thought To Have and Have Not was shit and really didn't care how Hollywood treated this small book. And Hollywood did treat the book differently. The Becall and Bogart movie was nothing like the novel Hemingway wrote. And that's why many people don't like the book.
To Have and Have Not has wonderful dialogue in it. The story is mediocre, my least favorite Hemingway novel. And don't look for a happy ending - you won't find it. The ending was expected because of the novel's spectacular opening scene. Harry Morgan is one of the Have Nots trying to support his wife and three daughters during the depression. He does what he has to do, even if it means losing his goodness and becoming a bad man. His character is well developed and the reader can see his morals slip away each season. ...more
When I first read DR. JEKYLL and MR. HYDE 39 years ago as a sophomore in high school, I disliked it. And I disliked yet again. By no means do I not liWhen I first read DR. JEKYLL and MR. HYDE 39 years ago as a sophomore in high school, I disliked it. And I disliked yet again. By no means do I not like Robert Louis Stephenson; I remember TREASURE ISLAND with fondness. He is a wonderful writer with a distinct voice among those who wrote during the Victorian era. But I do understand his small novel better now than I did when I was sixteen. It is indeed a tale of good versus evil, but it is also one of man’s hubris – dividing oneself to escape guilt of actions that are despicable with no consequences to the “good” side.
Originally published in 1886 as a periodical, Stephenson shows us the battle royal within man’s soul. Drinking an elixir, the good Dr. Jekyll unleashes his inner carnal longings in the form of Mr. Hyde. At first, Mr. Hyde is small in structure, ugly, and deformed. As his escapades increase in their pure evil, so does Hyde grow in structure and strength. Hyde tramples a little girl and murders Sir Carew. The good Doctor is horrified and refrains from “transforming,” but Hyde is strong now and frequently comes out unbidden driving Dr. Jekyll to the brink of insanity and self destruction.
Unlike the many film adaptations, we readers do not witness these transformations as they are happening. We witness them through Mr. Utterson’s witnesses and through letters written by Drs. Laylon and Jekyll, himself. Stevenson captures the descent of a good man descent into an evil insanity and Victorian London in his wondrous creepy descriptions. ...more
First published in 1927, MEN WITHOUT WOMEN is a collection of short stories that foreshadows Ernest Hemingway’s later books. As the title implies, notFirst published in 1927, MEN WITHOUT WOMEN is a collection of short stories that foreshadows Ernest Hemingway’s later books. As the title implies, not many women appear in the stories with one exception where a couple discusses abortion in “Hills Like White Elephants”. The dialogue is so breathtakingly beautiful; that I cried knowing the un-named women was so conflicted. Her pain and confusion leapt off the page.
Nick Adams makes an appearance in “Ten Indians” and gets his heart broken when he finds out his Indian girlfriend has betrayed him. In “The Undefeated” we are in the bull ring with three matadors – 2 young and 1 that is past his prime. I cried here too at the beauty of the matadors dance, but my heart was heavy as the bull loses his life. “Banal Story” is Hemingway’s tribute to the great Maera. I believe these sketches, as Hemingway called his short stories, are fleshed out more in THE SUN ALSO RISES and DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON.
Crime visits a diner in “The Killers.” The dialogue of the two Chicago hit men was amusing in a very dark way and may have given the great writer the idea to write TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT. Hemingway treats us to a story devoted to one of his favorite pastimes in “Fifty Grand.” A pugilist has decided he’s done and bets against himself in a big fight and I loved the story. “In Another Country” and “Now I Lay Me” are shadows of what we will read in A FAREWELL TO ARMS. ...more