I'd been keeping an eye out for Gone Girl, after hearing so much about it, when I stumbled across this one at the library sale...now I can't wait to gI'd been keeping an eye out for Gone Girl, after hearing so much about it, when I stumbled across this one at the library sale...now I can't wait to get my hands on the other one!...more
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I've read it so many times that I have the first paragraph committed to memory. I can remember the firstThis is one of my favorite books of all time. I've read it so many times that I have the first paragraph committed to memory. I can remember the first time I read it, I was maybe 12 or so, and I could not put it down. I remember feeling shock, awe, fear, sadness, and warmth throughout the book, and I was inconsolable at the end. Ever since, I have wanted to name my daughter (assuming that I have one) Ayla, after the main character. I just really love the premise of this book, the meeting of Neanderthals and modern humans, and I fell in love with the characters (I even had a one-eyed cat that I named Creb).
I did not, unfortunately, love the sequels. I read them, of course, b/c I care so much about Ayla and what happens to her, but I did not care for the turn that the sequels took. They got a little smutty, almost a romance novel, each one worse than the preceding one, and I didn't like the way that she made Ayla so perfect. Ayla was a compelling character before, Auel had no need to make her so...well, I said it- perfect. Like, it turns out that she's the first one to tame horses, and lions, she invented the sewing needle, and the spear thrower, and she's the most beautiful human on Earth, etc...it just got to be too much, and it aggravated me. Which is sad, b/c I love Ayla so. Well, Valley of the Horses wasn't bad, I liked it OK. ...more
I didn't even think that I could get into this book again, having read it and watched the movie so many many times. But, it turns out that it's been lI didn't even think that I could get into this book again, having read it and watched the movie so many many times. But, it turns out that it's been long enough since I read it for the book to completely engross me, once again. I'm also noticing things that I had forgotten, like Mitchell's ability to employ endless descriptions w/o boring the reader to death, and that Scarlett is not quite as selfish as she is in the movie. In the book, you get to see inside her head, to see the motivations for her heinous behavior. While more often than not, the motivation IS purely selfish, there are some exceptions. For instance, I notice that she thinks of Wade a lot more than I had remembered. When she is out doing whatever necessary to get money, she's thinking that she's got to get food for Wade, and her family at Tara, and for Ashley and Melanie. Also, while she is a terrible mother, there are parts where she says that once she's secure, she's going to spend time with him and be a good mother.
I'm pretty sure that I saw the movie before I read the book. I saw it as a young child with my mom and sister. This is probably the only movie adaptation of a book that I actually love just as much as I love the book. That's probably due to seeing it before reading it, and because the movie is just so wonderful. When I think of Scarlett and Rhett, I see Vivien and Clark, particularly Vivien's perfectly arched eyebrows. Olivia was also the perfect Melly. I will also always associate the movie with spending time with my mother and sister- I remember several years ago, they put the movie back in the theaters, and the 3 of us had the theater to ourselves!
I am always amazed when an author can create such an unlikable character, and then manage to make you like and care about them anyway. Scarlett makes me think of Amber in Forever Amber, which I also loved even though Amber was also thoroughly detestable.
I just recently re-read this book, and then I just finished reading some of the other reviews and comments, and was surprised by some of the opinions.I just recently re-read this book, and then I just finished reading some of the other reviews and comments, and was surprised by some of the opinions. First, I would like to address the "Oprah" issue- there seem to be so many people who deign to read anything that she recommends, which I don't understand. Even if you don't watch her show (I only watch if the topic is something I'm interested in), you do have to admit that she is very...what's the word...worldly? She's been around, I guess I'm trying to say, and I think that is a quality that enhances your taste in literature. There is great variety in her book club choices, and there are quite a few that are among my favorites (I'm thinking of this one and East of Eden). So, while the Oprah sticker is no guarantee that I'll like the book, it does make me more likely to give it a try.
Now, on to the actual book. Yes, I do agree that it was almost absurdly long and perhaps could have drastically shortened. And there were some parts that failed to hold my attention that I skipped over- mostly the architectural parts- I was interested in the broad strokes, but I just couldn't absorb all of the details. That does not mean, however, that I feel that they should have been cut, b/c I'm sure there were a lot of people who lapped it up, and perhaps couldn't make it through some of the parts that I loved. As I'm no historian, I don't really know how accurate Follet's descriptions of Medieval England were, but I suspect they were spot-on. I liked how he was able to impart details of the daily lives of these people who lived so very very long ago w/o making you feel as if he were beating you over the head w/ a history lesson. I read some complaints about his use of plain language and some phrases from our historical period. Well, I do agree that it could sound strange, like "hot body," but I think that I understand why he did this. I don't think many people would have made it through the book if he tried to use language contemporary to that period- it would have been too difficult to wade through ancient-sounding language to get to the plot. I think his diction made the story accessible to a much wider range of readers, and I think that it served to make the reader closer and more involved with the characters and the plot. By using words and phrases familiar to the reader, he helped to bridge the gap between the 1100s and the 2000s.
I also read some complaints about the characters being flat and one-dimensional, which I really don't understand. I felt that they had plenty of depth, and I fell in love with them. Even after being with them their entire lives, I still was not ready to leave them at the end of the book. If any of the characters were stretched too thin, it would probably be b/c there were just so many of them- so many different threads to follow it would be understandable if some readers had difficulty doing so. I also read some say that the "good characters were always good and the bad always bad-" this is the opposite of what I gleaned. That was part of what inspired my love of the characters, the fact that none were "all good" or "all bad." The closest to this would have been Philip, who was a very good man, but we were also shown his human side. While he never did anything too bad, he was no saint. Also, Tom, Ellen, Jack, and Aliena, all of them had their faults, none of them were portrayed as perfect. Even the "villains" Alfred and William had their moments when you couldn't help but empathize with them. And I never could decide how to feel about Richard- he was not really bad, but not really good either. I don't understand how anyone could read about Richard (did they somehow skip all the parts w/ him, or what?) and then say that all of the characters were either completely good or completely bad. And I enjoyed being with the characters throughout their entire lives, getting to witness their development, to see what makes them good or bad or in between- to see the consequences, even the far-reaching ones, of every action and event.
In summary, I loved this book and I'm glad that I took Oprah's advice. It was a page-turner the first time I read it (though it still took a little while to finish!), and still kept me hooked the second time I read it. I felt that I left the book with some new insights into human nature, and the characters stayed with me. I was excited to read the sequel, which, although not as good as the original, was also a very good book. ...more
This book was wonderful. It is an eye-opening examination of a school shooting- it describes all of the events that lead up to a student doing somethiThis book was wonderful. It is an eye-opening examination of a school shooting- it describes all of the events that lead up to a student doing something so horrible. Picoult is wonderful at making you identify with every character, even the "bad guys."...more