This is the first time I read The Hobbit myself. Many years ago, while the husband was still my boyfriend, he discovered that while I had read The Lor...moreThis is the first time I read The Hobbit myself. Many years ago, while the husband was still my boyfriend, he discovered that while I had read The Lord of the Rings several times, and in more than one language (Norwegian, then English), I had never actually read The Hobbit. I was never a huge fan of the long preface that explained about hobbits in The Lord of the Rings, and frankly am one of the many people who think the first stretch of book, where they walk and walk and nearly get eaten by a tree and then walk some more (before Aragorn shows up, frankly) is dreadfully boring, and I didn't really see why I'd want to read a kid's book all about hobbits. More fool me, right?
Having already spent several pleasant weeks reading The Wind in the Willowsto me, the now husband decided to read me The Hobbit. At the time, I was living in Edinburgh and he was still at University in St. Andrews, so we didn't see each other more than every other weekend or so. It meant that the reading took quite some time, but was totally worth it. Read out loud a chapter or two at time every time we saw each other, I totally fell in love with the story of the book (even though it features NO women whatsoever - seriously Tolkien, I still hate you for your lack of female characters).
Do I really need to summarise the plot, what with the movie being in the cinemas and all right now (don't get me started on why they needed to make a nearly 3 hour movie to adapt 94 pages of book, by the way, it'll get ugly). Here you go, one paragraph:
Bilbo Baggins is a staid little hobbit living a life of relative comfort who gets whisked away on an action-packed and frequently dangerous adventure with a band of mostly merry dwarfs, on a quest to reclaim their ancient home and treasure from a big and evil (but totally super cool) dragon. Along the way Bilbo finds a ring that will become really significant later in Middle Earth history, and discovers that he is braver and cleverer than many people thought.
Upon re-reading, I discovered some things I had completely forgotten. Bilbo is cooler than I remembered, and Smaug is pretty awesomely evil. I had no recollection of what a greedy and selfish douche Thorin was though. Seriously, dude, mountain full of gold and you won't share a tiny bit with the people whose village was destroyed and who helped you actually secure your treasure. For shame. Also, most of the dwarfs really are nothing more than a string of names, with no characterisation whatsoever. They're just an interchangeable band of dudes with beards, and pretty useless the lot of them. When they're not being rescued by Gandalf, it's Bilbo who has to save the day. These things took away a bit of my enjoyment. It's still a cool story though, made all the better because not all the walking is described in as much detail as in The Lord of the Rings. (less)
Clare is 6 when she meets Henry for the first time, he is 36. Henry is 28 when he meets Clare for the first time, she is 20. Henry is a time traveller...moreClare is 6 when she meets Henry for the first time, he is 36. Henry is 28 when he meets Clare for the first time, she is 20. Henry is a time traveller. Not in a cool Doctor Who sort of way, where he can travel where ever he wants in time and space. He keeps finding himself thrown either forward or backwards in his own lifetime, always ending up naked, and can stay in the other time for a few seconds, or several days, depending on circumstance.
Hence Clare is delighted when she finally runs into Henry at the library where he works. He's younger than she has ever seen him, she's known him and met with him countless times over the years, growing up. He gives her a list of all the dates when he will appear in the meadow behind her parents' house, so she can have clothes waiting for him in the woods. He helps her with her homework, listens to her troubles, even helps her get back at a douchy boy who hurt her, trying not to reveal to her too early (worried that he will warp her childhood irreparably) that in his present, she is his beloved wife.
The Time Traveler's Wife is obviously not a narrative with a linear plot, it jumps around a LOT. Sometimes there is more than one Henry in the story at the same time. Henry learns all the useful tricks and survival tactics he needs to get by from an older version of himself. I adore this book. I loved it the first time I read it, years and years ago, and decided to reread it to blog it for Cannonball Read. It's still great.
I don't care if the time travel plot device doesn't appeal to some readers, or that it may not consistently make sense within the narrative (a criticism I've read several places). I don't really care WHY or HOW Henry time travels, the important part is the beautiful portrayal of Henry and Clare and their heart breaking and wonderful love story. The first time I read the book, I cried buckets. This time, I managed to get by with just a sniffle, but the ending still gets me. Read the book, avoid the film adaptation like the plague. It sucks, and is just awful. (less)
Claire Randall, a nurse, is on a second honeymoon with her historian husband Frank Randall in the Scottish Highlands in 1946, shortly after the end of...moreClaire Randall, a nurse, is on a second honeymoon with her historian husband Frank Randall in the Scottish Highlands in 1946, shortly after the end of World War II. Claire spent the years of the war patching up wounded soldiers, and the couple have barely seen each other for the last five years. They're trying to rekindle the spark of their marriage, when Claire is unexpectedly thrown back in time to 1743, not the safest of places for an unaccompanied Englishwoman of mysterious origins.
Can Claire ever return to her own time? Can a lonely Englishwoman stay alive in the tumultuous time period that is Scotland shortly before the final Jacobite Rising? Claire's fate becomes intertwined with that of a young Scot by the name of Jamie Fraser, and the longer Claire stays in the past, the harder it gets for her to convince herself that what she really wants is to return to her own time, and Frank Randall.
An acquaintance of mine discovered Diana Gabaldon's series a few months back, and proceeded to read the epic (so far seven book) series (none of the books are under 750 pages long) in little over a month and a half. Because she and many other book blogging friends of mine discussed the book at length on blogs and Facebook, I was inspired to re-read the book for the first time in what must be at least seven, maybe eight, years.
I adore this book. I discovered the books in 1998, shortly before I was about to graduate high school, and I still thank my lucky stars that there was a teachers' strike that year, so I didn't have to do my final exams, because I'm honestly not sure how well I would've done on them - I was so obsessed with the series (the fourth book had just come out in paperback). I can honestly say that they contributed to my studying Scottish history in my first year of Uni in St. Andrews, and thus saving my degree, as it turned out I was much better at writing History essays than English literary analysis ones.
I love the research that Gabaldon has put into the books. I love that an episode of classic Doctor Who gave Jamie his name and gave Gabaldon the idea for the time period she wanted to set her novels in (and when I first read these books I'd never heard of the show, or seen a single episode). I love the characters - even though Jamie Fraser's awesomeness throughout the series ruins you for all other men, fictional or real. Even the villains are wonderful - and Claire is an amazing heroine.
The book has been classified as many things. Science fiction (although apart from the fact that Claire is sent back in time, there is nothing much sci-fi about them). I frequently find them in the fantasy shelves in bookshops and libraries (I guess it's pretty fantastic that Claire travels back in time). Romance, obviously, it's impossible to deny that at the heart of the story is the absolutely amazing love story between Jamie and Claire. But I would still classify them as historical fiction first and foremost, as they give wonderful insight into a time in the past, and over the course of the series, Gabaldon really does get to show off her research skills. I've learned about a huge number of things from 18th Century Scotland and later other parts of the world (don't want to spoil it for anyone).
Do yourself a favour. Join the many readers who have either newly discovered or in the past enjoyed this book. It's an amazing piece of fiction. (less)