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
Wow! I finished The House at Riverton a few days ago and I'm still trying to process my emotions about the noveWish I could give it 10 Stars
Wow! I finished The House at Riverton a few days ago and I'm still trying to process my emotions about the novel. I loved, loved it since I gave the book the highest rating that exists here, but my emotions are still roiling. An omission of truth led to tragic consequences. But great British Gothic stories are almost always tragic, aren't they? I loved how Kate Morton paid homage to one of my favorite novels, Rebecca, Upstairs, Downstairs even my favorite drama, Downton Abbey and the The House of Mitford. I knew this fact before I read the authors answers in the novel's Q and A. And Kate Morton does a wonderful job of blending these influences to perfection.
Morton's style reminds me of Daphne du Maurier, easy to read but powerful. She develops the characters so well, that I sometimes forgot that they are fictional. I'd love to meet every one of them, even Mr. Hamilton. She accurately depicts the Edwardian Era and her vivid description of Riverton made me feel that I was actually there with Grace and the Hartfords.
Some reveiwers did not enjoy Morton's use of flashbacks, tapes, and letters. I did - I don't think Grace's story could have been told any other way. We readers too become archeologists peeling back layers upon layers to find out what happened on that dark, pivotal night by the lake when a young poet died and a family was forever changed.
A young film maker is doing a bio-pic of the Hartfords and Riverton. She learns that Grace Bradley was a servant at The House at Riverton and may know what happened the night that the young poet R. S. Hunter committed suicide. Of course the 98 year old Dr. Grace Bradley knows exactly what happened - she was there! And she knows the why. Will she tell Ursala? She does tell, but whom? But first Grace must tell what led up to "the crossing the Rubicon". It started when she was 14 and entered service to the Hartford's at The House at Riverton in 1914. ...more
“In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are. And sometimes, perhaps, we don’t want to know what we would do to survive.”
It “In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are. And sometimes, perhaps, we don’t want to know what we would do to survive.”
It is true of Vianne Mauriac as she remembers who she was and what she did during the Nazi occupation of France. She is a wife, a mother, and a fearful woman as the war breaks out. She and her sister, Isabelle Rossignol, have had a terrible childhood and Vianne won't let anyone/anything put her or her family in jeopardy. While the young Isabelle is wild, impetuous, and brave. She longs to be loved and wanted by her Papa and sister.
But she hates the Nazis and wants desperately to do something, fight them. And she does. She becomes the infamous "Nightingale". The Nightingale and her network help downed pilots to safety in Spain. The network has become so successful that the Nazis are working very hard to find the Nightingale.
Vianne always believes the worst of Isabelle and has no idea of what her sister is doing. "Don't come back ever." Those words she said to her sister will haunt her until Isabelle and Vianne see the end of the War. It is Sophie who tells Vianne, "It's about time." Vianne realizes that she hasn't sheltered her daughter from the War, the 2 Nazi soldiers that billeted with them, the gathering of Jews and Resisters - nothing. Sophie has seen it all - all of the ugliness, the injustices, and the horrors of what is happening. When Vianne begins to help hiding Jewish children, I began to like her.
Unlike almost of the reviewers here, I didn't like Vianne. I found her to be weak, so fearful that her fear numbed her to what was going on in her village. Even some of the villagers raised eyebrows with her relationship with Herr Beck - the 1st German soldier. I wanted to like him because he seemed to have a sense of right/wrong and seemed ashamed at some of the actions his comrades. But I was wary of him; he was a Nazi after all. I was right to be wary.
Isabelle captured my heart completely. Yes, she was young, her neediness to be loved, her need to belong were exhausting, but I understood and related to her. I wish if I had lived in France during that time, I would be more like her and not like Vianne.
Kristin Hannah created a beautiful WWII fiction novel that explored what the women did, rather than focusing on soldiers or men. ...more
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
Alyson Richman says in her Note that she wanted to tell the story of an artist surviving the Holocaust. Then she heard of a story in which an old coupAlyson Richman says in her Note that she wanted to tell the story of an artist surviving the Holocaust. Then she heard of a story in which an old couple that had married before WWII who lost each other, then again found the other one at their grand childrens' wedding. Thus began the stories of Lenka and Josef. The writing is exquisite, poetic at times. I smiled as they got married, angry when Lenka stayed in Czechoslovakia, and cried in different parts of both their stories. The ending was so beautiful - I was sobbing with joy. Not many of us get a second chance. Will Josef and Lenka take it? Read to find out.
Just imagine you are at your grand daughter's reception. Your sleeve has risen a little, exposing a blue numbered tattoo. But the old man isn't seeing the blue ink, he's seeing your birthmark. He speaks softly, "Lenka, you don't recognize your husband?" Slowly you fill in the grey hair with black and soften the lines in his face, and you think back 60 years. This is how Lenka and Josef's story begins.
It's so hard to describe the novel without giving much of the story away. So, I tease you with some of my favorite passages.
I am in love with a shadow. I look for her in the darkness of the hallway. I search for her in the eyes of the old women crossing the street...[Lenka] still haunts me like a lioness, a cat with piercing eyes. Over sixty years have past and her shadow still walks beside me. Her shadow stretching long and black - waiting for me to reach for her - waiting for me to extend my hand."
But in order to survive in this foreign world, I had to teach myself that love is very much like a painting. The negative space between people was just as important as the positive space we occupy. The air between our resting bodies, and the breath in between our conversations, were all like the white of the canvas, and the rest of our relationship - the laughter and the memories - were the brushstrokes applied over time
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
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
I had forgotten how well Ernest Hemingway wrote short fiction. I loved the two Big-hearted River stories. I'll have to dust off my copy of his The NicI had forgotten how well Ernest Hemingway wrote short fiction. I loved the two Big-hearted River stories. I'll have to dust off my copy of his The Nick Adams Stories. Nick Adams is always good to read. Another story that broke my heart was the one with the old jockey and his son....more
I can't believe that I haven't read The Prince of Tides before now, nor have I seen the movie. I seriously doubt that I will watch it too; it could neI can't believe that I haven't read The Prince of Tides before now, nor have I seen the movie. I seriously doubt that I will watch it too; it could never do Pat Conroy's literary masterpiece justice. Conroy paints each scene with such exquisite detail, none is too small nor too big. His character development of Lowenstein, Bernard, and the whole Wingo clan was absolutely superb. I hated Lila and Henry from the start, but Henry did redeem himself in my eyes somewhat at the very end. Savannah is a truly despicable human being - lunacy not included. I found her to be a very manipulative bitch like her mother, Lila. I absolutely loved Luke - the Prince of Tides. Grandpa Wingo was wonderful and even Tolitha had her moments. But, Tom Wingo? I can't really decide about him. He is feckless and strong at the same time, He is average with no false presumptions about himself. He both cares and feels deeply. He is an island unto himself and he is the lone survivor of the Wingo "family loyalty." Hell, just surviving the Wingos is a huge victory.
It is the Southern way to not speak of unpleasant things, unless that thing can bring down another person down a notch. The South places real value on Honor, God, family, and where one belongs in society. Conroy explores each of these in great detail. His description of issues like child abuse, rape, and mental illness is heartrendingly beautiful as it is sensitive. The reader feels like he or she is sitting on Tom's shoulder all through the novel, an invited interloper to the devastation of Colleton, S.C. and the Wingo family. But what rises from the ashes is glorious and this reader wanted to shout in pure joy with Savannah, "Do it again, Mama." ...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.
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
I read this wonderful book in Junior High and I had forgotten the story of Danny Saunders and Reuven Malter much to my chagrDefinitely a 10 Star Read!
I read this wonderful book in Junior High and I had forgotten the story of Danny Saunders and Reuven Malter much to my chagrin. Chaim Potok is a genius. His writing is easy to understand. His warmth comes through in his characters. But I'm amazed that The Chosen was only a National Book Award Finalist, rather than the winner. The Chosen is much more than the story of two boys, seemingly enemies, and their friendship. Danny is a Hasidic Jew, while Reuven is Orthodox. Reuven has a wonderful relationship with his father, while Danny lives in silence with his own father. They never speak outside of their Talmud studies. Reb Saunders' "mistakes" seemed very cruel, and I cried when he explained to Reuven why he raised Danny in silence. Danny was in the room listening of course, but his father didn't know how to break his silence with his own son. Reuven was the bridge between father and son. And to think this great friendship all began with a baseball game - a hit back to the pitcher that could have blinded Malter.
I was struck also by by the title - The Chosen has several meanings pertinent to the story. The Jews are God's chosen people. That one is very evident since it is about two Jewish boys in 1940s Brooklyn. But it is also about other choices too. One is to be Hasid and to be Orthodox. Neither is good nor bad; they are just different. Potok explains both to his readers without making critical judgements. Another choice is that Reuven forgave Danny for deliberately hitting him. And that choice led to probably a life-long friendship. Potok says the Torah teaches that a friend is chosen. I like that, choose carefully and wisely.
But the biggest choice is how different each boy was raised. Danny in an unbearable silence that gave him much pain and the nervous tick of his blinking eyes, while Reuven has a rich relationship with his own father. And yet, each boy made a difficult choice regarding their adulthood. Each rejected what their fathers had chosen for his son; Danny wants to be a Psychologist, Reuven a Rabbi. And there is the choice of both Malters to accept the Jewish state, while Reb Saunders totally rejected Israel's statehood. This choice led to a greater understanding of Danny's suffering, because he and Reuven did not speak for two years. Reuven's anger growing in his grief of not having Danny around, especially when he needed Danny the most.
I can't say enough about this book - it is worth reading and re-reading at any age. ...more
Quite by accident I picked this up and started reading. From the first page, the esteemed war thriller author, Alistair MacLean, engages his4.5 Stars
Quite by accident I picked this up and started reading. From the first page, the esteemed war thriller author, Alistair MacLean, engages his reader. Off the coast of Turkey in the Aegean Sea the Germans and Italians control a cluster of islands and the area shipping lanes. On one island 1200 British soldiers are trapped and will soon be attacked by the Axis Alliance. The destruction of the mighty Guns of Navarone is the only hope these Brits have. It is a suicide mission. The guns are protected by both nature and man in their fortress. But a savvy military strategist may have found the how and who to silence these great guns.
Captain Keith Mallory is legendary. The New Zealander is a renowned rock climber and knows how to survive behind enemy lines. His faithful friend (and his good luck charm) Andreas is a Greek resistance fighter has no qualms killing Germans. The young Stevens is proficient in German and Greek is also a great climber, but is afraid of his fear. American Corporal Miller is a demolitions specialist and Brown is known for his saboteur skills. They have 3 days to scale the sheer 400 foot cliffs on the southern side of Navarone, destroy the guns, and get out before the British fleet sails into the Aegean channel to fortify the trapped soldiers. After the climb that almost killed them, the team believes the hardest part of the mission is behind them. But the Navarone fortress proves to be as great of a challenge as the cliffs. They have to choice but to destroy those guns. Many men’s lives are dependent upon their success. And they will die trying to accomplish the mission.
MacLean is a master story teller with intimate knowledge of the military. He served on a cruiser in WWII while serving in the Royal Navy. His writing is fast paced with a great detail that does not bough down the story line. His twists are like gentle waves. They don’t jar the reader. The twists and turns just seem part of the story as its natural progression. Mallory and his team are well characterized. This reader liked and cared about them. Often I caught myself holding my breath as I read the book. In my opinion, the 1961 movie Guns of Navarone just put faces to these wonderful characters. The drama is in the book. Though the film is dramatic and viewers are reminded of the tight time line Gregory Peck, David Niven, and Anthony Quinn have. The book is deeper. The drama and action is more complete due to MacLean’s wonderful writing. ...more
Last year, I saw that one of my Goodreads friend was reading this lengthy novel. I went to Barnes and Noble and found it thDeserving more than 5 Stars
Last year, I saw that one of my Goodreads friend was reading this lengthy novel. I went to Barnes and Noble and found it there. But I didn't immediately open it as I thought I would. It has sat on my shelf staring at me. A few days ago, I pulled down In This House of Brede. I knew I was ready to read it. I had the queer feeling that I needed to read Brede. Perhaps, I know deep down that my Aunt Eloise may not be in this world much longer and that I needed the comfort of reading something that I could be close to her in spirit. My aunt is a nun.
She is not a cloistered nun as those in Brede, she belongs to the Order of Our Lady of Loretto, a teaching Order. Aunt Eloise's dementia has reduced her once great mind to only God knows what. She has become claustral within her own mind. But who knew that a story about an Abbey full of nuns could be so interesting?
In This House of Brede has the love that a reader would expect. Love of God; love of and toward each sister or Dame as they called in the Benedictine Monastery. Brede is in crisis. The Abbess has died suddenly and the Abbey is on the brink of bankruptcy. There is deception, betrayal, and thievery.
This is where the successful Philippa Talbot has come. The situation seems to be just right for her to help solve. Some of the nuns welcome her, while others question Philippa's vocation. I did too. I wasn't sure of her motive to become a Benedictine and wasn't sure if I really liked her. And some of the nuns are very hard to like. I feel guilty saying that I didn't like Dame Agnes or Dame Veronica. Must be that old Catholic guilt.
I found the book beautiful, reminding me of the Liturgy and prayers from when I was a small child. The life of a cloistered nun is difficult as the book describes. We get to see some go through some inner struggles. We get to see the politics of the Council as the yearly positions are selected. We see each nun's strength and weakness. I loved the Liturgical year within each calendar year at the Abbey. I enjoyed the writing. It is exquisite.
I know this little review hasn't said much about the plot - I can't really get it down on paper; Brede is just one of those books you have to read. ...more
Alistair MacLean wrote the screen play for his close friend, Richard Burton. Burton's star power was sliding at the time of the film and he wanted anAlistair MacLean wrote the screen play for his close friend, Richard Burton. Burton's star power was sliding at the time of the film and he wanted an action film along the lines of Maclean's bestseller and hit movie, The Guns of Navarone. And he got it! The novel is in fact based upon the screenplay, rather than the other way around - slightly odd.
I watched the film last night and I had to read the novel. And it is the screenplay. The first 30 pages are a bit slow, since one really can't get the anxiousness of the team. A team of British Special Forces commandos parachutes into the high peaks of the Austrian Alps with the mission of stealing into an invulnerable alpine castle—accessible only by aerial gondola—the headquarters of Nazi intelligence. Supposedly sent in to rescue one of their own, their real mission turns out to be a lot more complicated—and the tension climbs as team members start to die off, one by one.
There are a few scenes that suspension of disbelief is necessary, but they don't violate the viability of the story negatively. MacLean understands how to write an action thriller and I would recommend Alistair MacLean to read any day of the week. To give more of the storyline besides the book blurb would reveal the delicious twists, turns, and events that would destroy a reader's pleasure. ...more
After writing Grapes of Wrath Steinbeck said that he was used up. He had spent years researching Grapes, and wrote this magnificent 1940 Pulitzer PrizAfter writing Grapes of Wrath Steinbeck said that he was used up. He had spent years researching Grapes, and wrote this magnificent 1940 Pulitzer Prize Fiction Winner in a mere 100 days. He knew his subject well; he lived with the migrate workers and worked with Tom Collins, too. And the subject was so very unpopular and controversial in 1939 when it was published. And it still resonates today in 2012 as well as 1974 – the year I first read Grapes and Of Mice and Men.Many critics have said Grapes is a Union book. That may be true, but I believe it is so much more than commentary on the plight of migrant workers and of corporate greed that took the land of over 500,000 people. Sharecroppers and small farmers were driven off their land throughout the middle western states because of draught, an inability to pay their bank loans, large land owners, and their modern farming technologies – the wide use of machines plowing in long straight lines, nudging a man’s home from its foundation.
But the women knew that the family’s hearth was the family. And as reflected in Ma Joad, the family must stay intact. Man may take away their farms, control their ability to make a decent wage, but an intact family will live on. True, some members of the Joad family died or ran off in cowardice or in Noah’s case to live as his own person by the stream, catching fish to sustain himself. Theirs was a quiet dignity traveling Route 66, and the rules on that migrant highway were their own: helping those who were poorer than they were, not to pollute the water and the ground they camped upon, and respecting people. Here, Steinbeck shines. The contrast between these poor people and the big bank and landowner, even the Californians, is sharp. No one wants these people whom they all helped displaced in the draught, dust bowl years of the depression. If they questioned anything, the locals would resort to violence to get them moving. If they banded together to try and get a fair, living wage, they were called “Reds,” their campsites were burned, or they were killed. As Tom Joad points out: "They're a-workin' away at our spirits. They're a tryin' to make us cringe an' crawl like a whipped bitch. They tryin' to break us. Why, Jesus Christ, Ma, they comes a time when the on'y way a fella can keep his decency is by takin' a sock at a cop. They're workin' on our decency."
Steinbeck’s point is that decency remains intact, if somewhat battle-scarred. This, as much as the depression and the plight of the "Okies," is a part of American history. When the California of their dreams proves to be less than idyllic, Ma tells Tom: "You got to have patience. Why, Tom--us people will go on livin' when all them people is gone. Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on." It's almost as if she's talking about the very novel she inhabits, for Steinbeck's characters do go on. They continue, now as they did in 1939, to illuminate and humanize an era for generations of readers who have no first hand knowledge of widespread homeless, hunger, and joblessness of that Great Depression. The book's final, haunting image of Rose of Sharon - Rosasharn, as the Joad’s oldest daughter is called - forcing the milk intended for her stillborn baby onto a starving stranger, is a lesson on the grandest scale. "'You got to,'" she says, simply. And so do we all.
I finally finished Trinity. It took a while not because it's a bad novel, nor its length - over 900 pages, but because the novel roiled my emotions. OI finally finished Trinity. It took a while not because it's a bad novel, nor its length - over 900 pages, but because the novel roiled my emotions. Of course I had studied the "Irish Troubles" in College, both in World history and in Theology. What the Catholic priests and Bishops did in Leon Uris's fictional account of the troubles did in fact happen. Uris' fictional account of that time in English/Irish history is wonderful.
I can still see the Irish countryside and can catch a glimpse of the faeries. I loved Conner and his life-long friend "the runt" (who is the narrator). It's maybe that choice of the narrator that I am giving 4, rather than 5 Stars.
It's heartbreaking what the English did to keep the Irish people under their thumb. Maybe my Catholicism is biasing my opinion, but I hope not. Be prepared to carve out a week or two to be absorbed into this wonderful story. You'll fall in love with the Larkins and their teacher, hate the Earl and his father in law, and despise their henchmen. You'll applaud Connor - everything he does - because he is true to his beliefs and convictions. You'll cry with his Protestant lady. You'll cry for Ireland and her native people....more
Steinbeck is wonderful in these 4 loose vignettes that make THE RED PONY a small, but powerful novel. He brings his succinct crisp prose to create lifSteinbeck is wonderful in these 4 loose vignettes that make THE RED PONY a small, but powerful novel. He brings his succinct crisp prose to create life lessons Jody Tiflin must learn without supercilious detail. Readers know Jody is a shy, quiet boy whose sensitivity brings tears to our eyes. He just wants his father’s love; barring that, someone or something that will give him affection. He learns that no man is infallible in life, in remembrance, in death, and there is quiet dignity in everything.
In The Gift Jody is ecstatically happy to have a beautiful red pony to care for. Gabilan learns to trust the boy and gives him the affection, Jody desperately needs. But through the sudden sickness, suffering and gruesome, buzzard-pecked death of pony, Jody learns the hardest lessons of life – death and the infallibleness of man. Despondent and growing mean, Jody learns the lesson of quiet dignity in The Great Mountains. When Carl Tiflin refuses to honor an old paisano's, request to live out his remaining years on the ranch near where he was born, Gitano simply disappears into the lonesome mountains towards the west towards his “melted” adobe homestead, riding Carl’s old and decrepit mare ominously carrying only a sharp-bladed rapier.
Against this gloomy backdrop of loss, The Promise brings hope and reaffirmation, but culminates in the harsh choice between life of the birthing mare, Nellie, and her breech-positioned colt. The bittersweet outcome is difficult to accept but does offer at least a glimmer of optimism. The final story, The Leader of the People, neither mentions the loss of Jody's red pony nor his presumed raising of the newborn colt. Instead, the connection to the other stories and unifying message of the novella can be found, perhaps within the final scene "Grandfather was about to refuse, and then he saw Jody's face," leading him to accept Jody's offer to make him a glass of lemonade. Through the simple act of accepting Jody's offer, his grandfather nourished the boy's sense of purpose; while -Grandfather's own life purpose has withered: his unforgettable year leading a group of westward bound settlers decades ago. Steinbeck shows us readers that the boy’s life lays ahead full of potential and purposeful future. Each man must go through darkness before the dawn’s light shines upon his face.
When I read Black Beauty when I was a little girl, I remembered that I cried at the end. And today, I did the very same thing without the hiccuping soWhen I read Black Beauty when I was a little girl, I remembered that I cried at the end. And today, I did the very same thing without the hiccuping sobs though. I was so grateful that Beauty ended up with his old friend, Joe Green, as his groomsman in his forever home. And it was right that he again got his name, Black Beauty - his very first and his very last name. And I also cried for the mare, Ginger, and the grey stallion, Captain. I wished that all of his wonderful friends were with him, but Beauty seems to have the sole survivor. I ranted at Reuben for "ruining" him, but even more at Beauty's Master, the Earl, for letting that man get near him.
Told in Beauty's voice, we readers follow Beauty from when he was a colt to the "ruined" adult horse. He has known kindness and cruelty without complaint. He never hurts another horse or a human being - though I'd have bitten a few humans that he came into contact with if I were him. It is said Anna Sewell wrote this book to shine light on 19th Century animal maltreatment. Animals will serve humans well if they are treated with consideration and kindness. Sewell focuses mainly on drunkards and those men who are only looking out for themselves.
But I believe there is more than her timeless and universal message - it is also about the Eleventh Commandment - Treat others (humans as well as animals) as you yourself want to be treated. John Manly and Jerry Barker taught this example well and I was glad that I fully saw both lessons with this reading. Every child should read this wonderfully sweet and uplifting novel. ...more
The novel opens after "the group" graduates for Kay's wedding, an unusual one at that to their elite standards. But that is all right by them because they've sworn not to be like their parents. Some are Socialists, others Communists; but all are progressive. They begin their adult lives. Some women drift apart and some become entangled in each others lives as they embark into their careers in medicine, publishing, and what not. One flees to Europe. They all experience heartbreak in one form or another. But these are strong women with even stronger opinions.
The women are definitely not their mothers. Every one them feels superior and feels sorry for this or that one of "the group." But when things get tough one of their group is always there for another in the group. They come full circle when one dies, ten years after they graduated. They mourn the loss of their friend and confidant, but the remaining ladies will always be "the group."...more
Quotes must be popular, since many liked minds used them. I copied these passages as I read, so I'm using them.
From DUMA KEY:
How to Draw a Picture StaQuotes must be popular, since many liked minds used them. I copied these passages as I read, so I'm using them.
From DUMA KEY:
How to Draw a Picture Start with a blank surface. It doesn't have to be paper or canvas, but I feel it should be white. We call it white because we need a word, but its true name is nothing. Black is the absence of light, but white is the absence of memory, the color of can't remember. How do we remember to remember? That's a question I've asked myself often since my time on Duma Key, often in the small hours of the morning, looking up into the absence of light, remembering absent friends. Sometimes in those little hours I think about the horizon. You have to establish the horizon. You have to mark the white. A simple enough act, you might say, but any act that re-makes the world is heroic. Or so I’ve come to believe. Imagine a little girl, hardly more than a baby. She fell from a carriage almost ninety years ago, struck her head on a stone, and forgot everything. Not just her name; everything! And then one day she recalled just enough to pick up a pencil and make that first hesitant mark across the white. A horizon-line, sure. But also a slot for blackness to pour through. Still, imagine that small hand lifting the pencil... hesitating... and then marking the white. Imagine the courage of that first effort to re-establish the world by picturing it. I will always love that little girl, in spite of all she has cost me. I must. I have no choice. Pictures are magic, as you know.
My Other Life My name is Edgar Freemantle. I used to be a big deal in the building and contracting business. This was in Minnesota, in my other life. I learned that my-other-life thing from Wireman. I want to tell you about Wireman, but first let's get through the Minnesota part. Gotta say it: I was a genuine American-boy success there. Worked my way up in the company where I started, and when I couldn’t work my way any higher there, I went out and started my own. The boss of the company I left laughed at me, said I'd be broke in a year. I think that's what most bosses say when some hot young pocket-rocket goes off on his own. For me, everything worked out. When Minneapolis–St. Paul boomed, The Freemantle Company boomed. When things tightened up, I never tried to play big. But I did play my hunches, and most played out well. By the time I was fifty, Pam and I were worth forty million dollars. And we were still tight. We had two girls, and at the end of our particular Golden Age, Ilse was at Brown and Melinda was teaching in France, as part of a foreign exchange program. At the time things went wrong, my wife and I were planning to go and visit her.
Great writing from Stephen King! My second foray into King’s twisted imagination was wonderful as well as scary! DUMA KEY had me sleeping fitfully with the lights on for 2 nights! Edgar Freemantle takes his Doctor’s advice and heads for fictional Duma Key, FL after a terrible accident that scrambled his brains and took his arm. His wife divorces him after Freemantle attacks her with a plastic fork. He then divides his vast fortune among Pam and his daughters, before arriving on the small island where 2 other people who suffered traumatic injuries live. While he is recovering from his extensive injuries, Edgar discovers a new ability: painting. And his paintings come from an imagination on steroids! Oh they come to life too and place everyone and everything in danger. Any more plot revelation will spoil readers’ enjoyment.
Many reviewers believe this novel reflects King’s state of mind when he himself was recovering from being struck by a car while he walking several years ago. That may be true but he doesn’t miss a beat here. The writing is superb and succinct. His pacing builds with each paragraph, leaving readers breathless while quickly turning each page. The charcacters are so well developed that this reader thought they were real people. A 5 star read that will demand your time and keep one eye open while you sleep.
The Haj isn't for the faint of heart. It is very depressing and startling. Uris takes the reader back to Palestine in the the early to mid 20th CenturThe Haj isn't for the faint of heart. It is very depressing and startling. Uris takes the reader back to Palestine in the the early to mid 20th Century. Exodus gave us the Jewish perspective while The Haj presents the Arab perspective. Uris covered 25,000 miles in the Palestine area and conducted over 1500 interviews researching his breakout masterpiece.While his trip was funded by a PR firm and Uris' religion is Judaism, I see no overt bias in either novel. The Haj seems to be biased, because Arab life and Islam is portrayed harshly. But the character, Gideon Asch, reminds the fictional Ben Gurion that his ways were not that of a Jew.
The Haj in the novel is not the trek to Mecca that every Moslem male must make in his life-time, but the story of a village muktar that is in a strategic place on a highway leading to Jerusalem. His village is next to a Jewish kibbutz. He watches his hated enemy drain the swamp and bring the land back to life. He starts questioning everything he's been taught. He shares his soul with Gideon Asch -a Jew! A life long friendship begins. Their friendship is strained and broken at times, but Haj Ibrahim realizes late in the book, that Gideon is the only person he trusts and is is only true friend. An Infidel! All of his life he has been taught to hate the Jew, adhere to the Koran, obey his leaders with a blind faith, and that life on Earth is not to be enjoyed.
But his Arab leaders are only after power and wealth. They use and depend upon their illiterate followers to follow the strict interpretations of Mohammed's teachings in the Koran. The Arab society is built on the caste system, hopelessness, and illiteracy. Knowledge is power and if you are ignorant, a man can be persuaded by his leaders to do anything in the name of Allah.
The novel also tells the story of the Haj Ibrahim's son, Ishmael. And his story is told in the 1st Person. His story is also stark and harsh, leading to a madness that seems a perfect way to end the novel. In his story we learn of the treatment of women, honor of the family, and questioning beliefs. While the women are treated as chattel, Ismael's mother is very clever. Clever as fox. She manipulates Ibrahim and Ishmael like a violin. But the ultimate story is that the madness in the Middle East, especially the Palestinian area will continue with no end in sight. ...more
Much to my chagrin I have never read Leon Uris! Why I waited? I have no excuses to serve up. Uris writes BIG BOOKS that are qu10 Stars, if I Could!!!!
Much to my chagrin I have never read Leon Uris! Why I waited? I have no excuses to serve up. Uris writes BIG BOOKS that are quite spectacular. He is one of very few brilliant maestros in literature, in my opinion. He writes with an ease that kept me turning the 648 pages of this great masterpiece. His research into the facts of Palestine and the exoduses to her holy land is extensive and as factual as possible in pre-electronic 1958. His characters are so well developed that I felt each one was a member of my very own family. I cried and laughed with them. I felt their dreams and their pain and the blinding frustration as they followed their life long dream: Palestine! And certainly the British Empire would be their greatest friend, especially since they ratified the Palestine Mandate, right? Wrong. Why? Oil, of course. As the novel begins, the reader is introduced to the British duplicity. Caught on the Cyprus shoreline in British DP camps behind barbed wire are thousands of Jewish refugees waiting for transport to Ersatz-Israel after the conclusion of WW II. Foreign correspondent Mark Palmer and his childhood friend Kitty Fremont are reunited and enjoying the Cyprus sun after the long war in Europe. Since her husband and child’s death, Kitty has been on the Greek Island working as a nurse in various orphanages.
Ari Ben Canaan, a very handsome sabra asks Mark to stay and will hand him an exclusive. The Mossad agent is going to smuggle 300 children to Palestine right under the British noses! They are to sail on the Exodus in two weeks time. He also needs the services of Fremont, but she is adamant: no. Yes, you guessed it. She eventually does, but only after she meets a young girl named Karen in the camps and hears David Ben Ami’s tale of a “historical abortion.” This tale begins in 1896 Russia and ends with the Rabinsky brothers in Ersatz-Israel many long and difficult years later.
We also learn Karen and Dov’s stories: the young Jewish girl who Ari squirreled out of Germany and into Denmark and the quiet bitter concentration camp survivor who is more at home in the dark dank sewers under a Polish Ghetto than in the light. We meet the sabras: Dagna, David, Eli, Jordana, and Ari. This first generation of Ersatz-Israel are strong and focused. They are Israel. They work hard without complaint to reclaim the “dead” land and will fight to their death to see Palestine as the independent state of Israel. Death threatens on all sides, neither the Arabs nor the Brits want them there. The ship Exodus is both a symbol and a life dream. And Leon Uris’s EXODUS is the perfect vessel to tell their stories! ...more