**spoiler alert** Nick is plunged into suspicion after his wife, Amy, disappears on their anniversary. The gradual disintegration of their marriage le**spoiler alert** Nick is plunged into suspicion after his wife, Amy, disappears on their anniversary. The gradual disintegration of their marriage leading up to the disappearance is revealed through his first person narration, interspersed with excerpts from Amy's diary, that paint a picture that looks blacker and blacker for Nick. Is he the killer? Or just a bad husband caught in web of circumstantial evidence and suspicion?
This was a quick read for me, and kept me turning the pages, but in the end I found it unsatisfying, for reasons that are very spoiler-y.
***Warning! Spoilers Below***
First off, I guessed the "twist," if it qualifies as a twist, since it is revealed halfway. Or at least I spotted the potential for the twist, but hoped I was wrong. Really really hoped. My clue? Amy's favorite vase miraculously survived the chaos in the living room. My hopes that I was wrong were kept alive by the diary, and the amount of planning the whole thing would have taken. This is all explained away by Amy's psychotic personality, and I don't really hold it against the author for planting a subtle clue for attentive readers. It just gave me some time to think, no, please don't go there!
Why? Because the psychotic, evil bitch wife who frames her husband for murder isn't really plausible. What is plausible? An unhappy husband kills his wife because he thinks she is an evil bitch who is ruining his life. This happens over and over all the time, it seems. Some of them even try to claim that their missing wives have run off, and are enjoying the cloud they have left their husbands suffering under. Nope. Not buying it.
The "Cool Girl" phenomenon rang true to me, on the other hand. This seemed a sharp bit of social commentary, but then it gets undercut by Amy's twisted logic, so that the author's critique of how women (and to some extent men) put on personas to please their partners just seems to be what sociopath Amy and dysfunctional Nick do, making it seem not relevant to those of us without homicidal urges or the pathological need to lie.
Overall I thought the book had potential, but ultimately I found it unsatisfying. I hear the movie is good....more
Tolkien's translation, as presented by his son, is much more scholarly than most, with extensive textual notes and excerpts from lectures provided asTolkien's translation, as presented by his son, is much more scholarly than most, with extensive textual notes and excerpts from lectures provided as commentary at the end of the poem, indexed by line number. It was a pleasure to read the poem as translated by one of its most famous scholars.
That said, I think in general I would recommend the Heaney version above this for most readers. I found Tolkien's syntax obscure and difficult to follow. It may better reflect the syntax of the Anglo-Saxon original, but without the Anglo-Saxon case endings, it makes for unnecessarily convoluted modern English (in my opinion), since modern English has much more fixed word order and hardly any case endings to help distinguish parts of speech. I also missed the kennings, even if Tolkien's arguments against the accuracy of "whale-road" make a lot of sense.
In its time, the poem was (almost certainly) popular entertainment, not a subject for scholars. And so Heaney captures the poem's original spirit in a way that Tolkien's does not.
Just a quick comparison, here are the final lines (some of my favorites), as rendered by each:
Heaney: "They said that of all the kings upon the earth he was the man most gracious and fair-minded, kindest to his people and keenest to win fame."
Tolkien: "...crying that he was ever of the kings of earth of men most generous and to men most gracious, to his people most tender and for praise most eager."
And incidentally, my own translation as an undergrad: "They said that he was of world-kings of men the mildest and the kindest, gentlest to his people and the most eager for praise."
Here you can see Heaney taking poetic license (it is not a coincidence that my amateur translation closely matches the phrasing of Tolkien's last few words), but his flows so much better. I especially find Tolkien's "of the kings of earth of men" a clunky rendition of the Anglo-Saxon "wyruld-cyninga," and this captures my response to some of his choices throughout the poem....more
This reads like a reworking of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility," with overlapping characters, plot points, and themes. Trollope makes some importThis reads like a reworking of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility," with overlapping characters, plot points, and themes. Trollope makes some important changes though, that don't work, in my opinion, mostly because they imply that Trollope does not share some values that Austen's story embodies for me.
**Spoilers below, for both ""Sense and Sensibility" and "Small House"*****
One change that was interesting, but not necessarily enjoyable, was increased attention paid to the Willoughby character. It is as though Trollope objected to how easily Austen's Willoughby gets off for his bad actions, and so creates an unhappy ending to his story, so that the reader can have the satisfaction of watching him suffer. I personally found little satisfaction in it, even if I agree with Trollope that it is no more than he deserves.
Another change he makes to Austen is the way he ends the book. I don't object to a novel not ending in a wedding. Hey, I'm living in the 21st century. I don't need a hetero marriage between young, attractive hero and heroine for my happy ending. I don't even require a happy ending! But Trollope breaks his own pattern for reasons I hate: the Marianne character here, Lily, remains steadfast in her love for her Willoughby. She never has the awakening that Austen's heroine does, when she realizes that her first love was romantic, but shallow and misplaced. Marianne, like her sister, finds a quieter, but deeper and truly loving relationship with a more worthy partner. Trollope's change makes me think that he must have despised Marianne for her change of heart, finding her fickle rather than enlightened. Which is the change I hate the most.
In the same vein, I wanted to knock Lily in the head--well, in general, but specifically when she compares her own bereft state to that of her mother's widowhood. What? WHAT? A few months of infatuation, followed by a jilting, is not the same as a marriage, that while reportedly short, lasted long enough to produce two children, and ended in death. DEATH. The death of a beloved husband is not equivalent to the betrayal of a short-term sweetheart. Her mother really should have stomped firmly on that particular idiocy. Lily is the most annoying, least sympathetic heroine I've encountered in Trollope. She is more like a Dickens heroine than one of Trollope's. Ugh....more