As impressed as I was with the biting satire and the wonderful cast of outlandish characters found in Cold Comfort Farm, I'm still dying to know two...moreAs impressed as I was with the biting satire and the wonderful cast of outlandish characters found in Cold Comfort Farm, I'm still dying to know two things:
Did the sheep die
What nasty thing did Aunt Ada find in the woodshed?(less)
Let me first reminisce about the first time I fell in love with Mr. Darcy: It was a cold winter (or was it spring?) night in 1995, and I was tucked in...moreLet me first reminisce about the first time I fell in love with Mr. Darcy: It was a cold winter (or was it spring?) night in 1995, and I was tucked in a blanket, snuggling closely to my older sister. Colin Firth Proudly dashes his way onto the TV screen, and with a scowl on his handsome face says, "She is tolerable; But she is not handsome enough to tempt me." For a child who was raised on Disney Princesses singing about love, it was easy for me to get swept into the Longbourns and Pemberlies of Jane Austen's upper-class England. I'm no longer the seven-year old girl that sings Disney songs in make-believe ball gowns, Pride and Prejudice still holds a special place in my heart.
In Elizabeth Bennet, Austen creates a heroine who-- with all her intelligence and common sense-- is held down in life by societal norms. Austen always questions the position that women hold in society. And even though in modern times we aren't constrained by corsets, bodices, or the entailment of our father's estate to a distant cousin, we still have many obstacles to face. People are always complaining about Jane Austen's books being irrelevant today, but I disagree. She always writes about universal themes: love, social class,perception vs. reality, family dynamics, and in this case the foolishness of always believing our first impressions.
The dialogue is full of humour, and very fast-paced. There are plenty of "laugh out loud" moments in the book (thanks to Mr. Collins, and Mrs. Bennet). A critic correctly describes this book as "The DNA of all romantic comedy", because with all its wit, there are also many parts in the book that would make any girl swoon.
The romance between Elizabeth and Darcy, although very restrained, adds to the chemistry that makes this love story so irresistible. It's not through passionate kisses that establishes the romance, but through little gestures, letters, and stolen stares from across the room.
Pride and Prejudice is a book that I will read over and over again. Every time I read it I have found (and will find) a newer different meaning within its pages. I hope that everyone will give this book a try.
I was actually pretty skeptical going into this book. I've heard so many people compare this to Jane Eyreand I didn't believe that anyone could ever d...more I was actually pretty skeptical going into this book. I've heard so many people compare this to Jane Eyreand I didn't believe that anyone could ever do justice to it.I read past the famous opening line:
Last Night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
I was hooked.
I admire du Maurier. She had the balls to take elements from such an iconic piece of literature--gothic mansion, young bride, Byronic hero,-- and she makes it her own. Let's start with our unnamed narrator, the second Mrs.Max de Winter; not unlike my beloved Jane, Mrs. de Winter is young and poor. She marries an older, wealthier man. That's where the similarity stops. Where as Jane's intelligence and vivacity is constrained by her sense of duty, Mrs. de Winter is naive and insecure. She takes on the role as the Mistress of Manderley, and becomes dependent on others because of her insecurities. And yet, du Maurier is such a great writer that we start to care about this meek character. Not only that, but we start to understand her fears.
Du Maurier is also the master at setting the tone of the novel.Every little detail in the book, from the placement of the furniture in Manderley, to the namelessness of our main heroine, contribute to the mood of the novel. Although the novel takes place after Rebecca's death, and there aren't any ghosts (in the Charles Dickens sense, at least), Rebecca's presence is the strongest in the book.
There's very little in life that gives me more pleasure than reading Jane Austen. Emma is no exception to this rule. In this story, we're taken to the...moreThere's very little in life that gives me more pleasure than reading Jane Austen. Emma is no exception to this rule. In this story, we're taken to the quaint little countryside of Highbury where our title character resides with her father. Being well-settled in life, Emma isn't dependent on any man's fortune for her future well-being. So instead, she plays Cupid to the people around her. Her attempts at matchmaking, although well-meaning, have disastrous, but hilarious results. This spoiled, yet kind-hearted matchmaker make for one of Austen's most memorable characters.
When I talk to other people about this book, I think that the main concensus among them is, " I loved this book, but I hated Emma", or "God, I couldn't even finish this book because Emma was so annoying". Pffft. Okay, so she's a little bit spoiled, maybe she was somewhat manipulative, and okay, yeah, she did tend to think a little too highly of herself. But, to put things in perspective, Emma was quite ahead of her time. She was clever, well-educated, and completely independent of marriage. She had so many reources, but she didn't know how to employ them, and what's worse is that she lived in such a constrictive society; Her father was an invalid, bordering on senility, her best friend had just been married off, and she was constantly in the company of country bumpkins and high society snobs. Emma Woodhouse just simply worked with what she had. And, unlike another famous literary Emma, she didn't have to resort to prostitution or arsenic to escape the banalities of her life. Furthermore, I think what's most important is that the Emma that we read about at the end of the book isn't the same woman we started off with in the beginning. She comes to the realization of her flaws, and seeks out to improve herself. See, isn't that what growing up is all about?
This is the fifth Austen book that I've read, and out of all of them, it contains the most social commentary. When you think about the time period that Jane was writing in, you realize, "Wow, that was a really shitty time to be alive." There were wars being fought overseas, slavery, colonialization, and oodles and oodles of poverty. But you never really get a sense of that beyond the parlour doors of Pemberley or Longbourne. Now, I'm not saying that this book was a testament to the cruelty of mankind, but there is definitely more exposure to the world outside of Georgian high-society. We were given a glimpse of poverty in the form of Miss Bates and her mother. We see the disdain that the rich have for anyone of lower-class or illegitimate birth in Harriet Smith, and through Miss Fairfax, we also see Austen's take on slavery and the governess trade. Of course, some of these little tidbits are lost on Emma and Harriet's silliness, but pay attention, this book just screams SOCIAL COMMENTARY.
5 big, booming, stars.
And, on a side note, if Austen were still alive today, I would beg her to release a spin-off book bout Jane Fairfax... jus' sayin!(less)
There's an ongoing battle between Jane Austen fans about which novel is her greatest work. While my heart will always belong to Mr. Darcy and Liza Ben...moreThere's an ongoing battle between Jane Austen fans about which novel is her greatest work. While my heart will always belong to Mr. Darcy and Liza Bennet, and Pride and Prejudice will always be my favourite book, I think that Persuasion is Jane Austen at her best. The book encompasses everything we love about Austen: witty dialogue, breath-taking romance, and a satiric glimpse of Georgian society. However, this novel has more depth and maturity than any of Austen's previous work.
At the centre of the story is the beautiful romance between Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth. Although eight years earlier they were passionately in love, Anne rejects Wentworth because she is persuaded by a close friend that she could make a better match. She never does. At the ripe age of 27, nearing the age of spinsterhood, Captain Wentworth re-enters her life. Even though Wntworth is courting another woman, Anne hopes that their love might be rekindled.
Persuasion, perhaps more than Austen's other novels, is bubbling to the brim with social commentary. Anne's family is shallow and materialistic. I remember laughing out loud at one point when her father complains about how many unattractive women there are in his neighborhood.
Anne is what every young woman should aspire to be: she's kind-hearted, strong, intelligent, and fair. It's very easy to sympathize and fall in love with this character as she reflects upon and learns from her mistakes. She is often overlooked by her own ridiculous family because she doesn't share their values of wealth and beauty, and she has come to accept the limitations of being an unwed woman. Her romance with Wentworth was the summer of her life, and this decline, this sense of longing and regret, is her autumn.
However, as in all of Austen's novels, the good are rewarded, and the bad are (mildly) punished. Captain Wentworth writes the most romantic letter you'll ever read. I'm actually contemplating getting a line from the letter tattooed on my body:
When I first read this book over a decade ago, my naive 11-year old self was so disturbed. At this age, politics was just something that my Mom and Da...moreWhen I first read this book over a decade ago, my naive 11-year old self was so disturbed. At this age, politics was just something that my Mom and Dad read about in the newspaper. The allegory just flew over my head. I had a hard time stomaching this book because I saw the movie "Babe". Pigs are nice. They like to help nice old farmers, and they make friends easily because of their cute curly little tails. Pigs aren't evil. They don't oppress other animals, like they do in this book. They're cute little things that romp around in the mud. How are these pigs capable of so much evil?
Okay, so now over a decade later, I know a thing or two about politics, and I love history. Especially the bits of history where czars or kings get overthrown, and the working class tries to take over. After rereading this book, the symbolism is just so blatantly obvious to me!
We start off with Old Major, Farmer Jone's prize winning pig. He's revered by the other animals on the farm because of his wisdom and his old age, kind of like Yoda. But he's not really Yoda, he's actually Karl Marx, or Vladimir Lenin. He preaches to the other animals about fair working hours, freedom, equality-- in other words, everything beautiful about socialism. The animals eventually take over the farm, and at first everything is fine and dandy. Then, two pigs start to emerge as leaders. Napoleon (Stalin) and Snowball (Trotsky). If you've ever read a history textbook, I think you can guess where the story goes from here.
I enjoyed reading this book more as an adult than I did as a child. Animal Farm isn't about Babe-gone-bad anymore. It's about real events during dark times. There are parts in the book that are just atrocious, but then again it's about an atrocious leader comitting atrocious crimes against his people. It's about a beautiful ideal being skewed and being rewritten by corrupt leaders. Awesome read.
I'd recommend this to strong stomached vegetarians, and anyone looking for a good political satire. (less)
Hemingway embodies everything that I dislike in other authors; his writing is terse and simplistic, his views are cynical, and he often portrays his f...moreHemingway embodies everything that I dislike in other authors; his writing is terse and simplistic, his views are cynical, and he often portrays his female characters negatively. This all works for me in A Farewell to Arms.
The story first takes place in 1916 war-torn Italy. It revolves around Frederic Henry, an ambulance driver for the Italian army. There are two stories taking place in the book; the story of Frederic's life in the army, and his romance with a beautiful English nurse, Catherine Barkley.
Through his short, understated prose, Hemingway creates a great anti-war statement. His characters are either bored, or just tired of the war. He writes about war through the eyes of common soldiers and regular men. The dialogue that takes place between the soldiers, and their own take on the war is very believable. Hemingway's cynicism works so well here because it very well reflects the atmosphere of the time he was writing in.
The reason why it's a four star and not a five star book for me is because of the romance between Frederic and Catherine. It's very hard to distinguish whether what the relationship between the characters is. Is it love? is it just an ongoing infatuation? is it a fling that went on too long because of a pregnancy? Although there were many tender moments between the two, it just felt like they were playing house.