The last time I read this book was for high school English. We read it over and over and over and went into so much detail that I hated it, and it wasThe last time I read this book was for high school English. We read it over and over and over and went into so much detail that I hated it, and it was this that convinced me I could never do English Lit. because I'd end up hating all the books we'd study. Now, 6 years later, I decided to give it another go.
I enjoyed it more this time round, I think namely because I've forgotten all the stuff that was drilled into us for the exam, though I do still have all my notes dotted around the margins which was a little distracting at times. Still, I can better appreciate the book this time around and am glad I re-read it.
Scout is a great narrator, and Atticus the parent we'd all have loved to have. An interesting look at how childhood innocence lets us see things in a completely different way, with Scout seeing through all the hippocrisy in Maycombe in a delightful way. I love the ways both she and Jem grow up over the course of the book and everything they learn along the way.
This book is nothing like what I was expecting. All I knew going into it was that it was about a disillusioned boy named Holden Caulfield; probably beThis book is nothing like what I was expecting. All I knew going into it was that it was about a disillusioned boy named Holden Caulfield; probably because of the title I expected it to be set in the countryside, but most of the time it's in New York City. He wanders around for a couple of days, wasting time and trying to decide what to do with his life next.
What we hear most is that Holden Caulfield hates phonies. Like seriously. But the thing is, I couldn't help but think he was one himself. He's a child trying to act like an adult: swearing, drinking, smoking. Because that's what you do when you're a grown-up, right? But at the same time, he is still very much a child. He refuses to face up to his problems, running away from them more often than not.
This was an interesting read, and it was a good insight to what life was like for teenagers in New York at the time, but maybe because it's supposed to be such a classic I found myself slightly disappointed. I was expecting more. More what I'm not entirely sure; just more....more
This book has three distinct parts: pre-imprisonment, imprisonment and post-imprisonment. Pre-imprisonment is a good introduction to all the characterThis book has three distinct parts: pre-imprisonment, imprisonment and post-imprisonment. Pre-imprisonment is a good introduction to all the characters, especially Dantes who is just a lovely guy. Pretty much everyone likes him and he's happy living a simple life as long as he can support himself and his father and marry Mercedes.
During his imprisonment you see him harden and change. He goes through believable cycles of hope and despair, even going so far as trying to starve himself at one point. Escape and the return to those he loves is the one thought in his mind for most of the fourteen years of his imprisonment, even when he is befriended by the Abbe Faria, who is quite clearly a 'good guy'. The Abbe sets out to pass on his vast wealth of knowledge, and Dantes proves an apt pupil. It is also the Abbe who passes on the secret of a vast fortune he has discovered.
While these two sections are very good, they are basically quite a long pre-amble section which is giving the tools for Monsieur le Comte de Monte Cristo to get his revenge. Though for all this they are probably some of my favourite parts, possibly because they are very easy to read.
We rejoin the story nine years after Dantes' escape, and his transformation into the Count of Monte Cristo is complete. He is well established in society, has furthered his education and established a coterie of servants (and slaves) about him. And this is where the fun begins. You know who he's going to go after, but he sets in motion these incredibly complex events to try and bring about their downfall without the least suspicion falling on him, and while you know this is what he is doing at the start it is very difficult to see how his actions will lead to this.
One thing I particularly like is that not everything goes to plan. Things go wrong with what the Count planned through information he doesn't know (though he does seem to know pretty much everything), unexpected relationship and pleas. But similarly there are some lucky coincidences that make things easier. At least I think they were coincidences...you never quite know with the Count. He could just be that good. Which is actually one thing that's a little annoying - he is amazing at, like, everything.
And then there's the characters. In the 23 years between his imprisonment and his arrival in Paris to gain his revenge (isn't it lucky they all live in the same city now?) they've got married and had children and lost spouses and remarried and had more children who are now engaged to people (sometimes each other). There are an awful lot of names thrown at you in quite a short space of time, and an awful lot of relationships established. I found it quite confusing at first, and still had blank moments towards the end of the book, having to work hard at who someone's father was, what he'd done to Dantes and how his downfall was being brought about. And it was at this point that my reading of the book fell off for a week or so.
The end of the story, though, is rather wonderful. Seeing the consequences of some of his actions shocks the Count into change, and there is a happy ending for some (though nowhere near all) of the characters, often in spite of the actions taken by Monte Cristo. The ending - sailing away into the sunset - was a little cliched, but it was a nice end to a rather amazing book.
Though a little dry in places, the story is amazing and generally easy to read. It might take a while, but I'd definitely recommend it.
I feel a bit harsh giving this just 2*, but it really is entirely necessary.
A Christmas Carol itself was great and I really enjoyed reading it. It wasI feel a bit harsh giving this just 2*, but it really is entirely necessary.
A Christmas Carol itself was great and I really enjoyed reading it. It was the assorted 'Other Christmas Writings' which made this book such a chore, to the point that (in all honesty) I put it down with about 30 pages and 3 and a half to go. Because they weren't stories! They were Dickens talking about and describing Christmasy things.
And now I'm slightly worried because this is the first Dickens book I have read, but have seven more of them sitting on my shelf. A number of people said I was brave to buy them without having read anything and now I see how right they were. He is very fond of lists, and long run-on sentences with about 12 commas. Here's hoping the rest are more the the standard of A Christmas Carol than the other short stories included in this book....more