I bought this one out of desperation because "A Thousand Splendid Suns" was lasting way less than it was supposed to. (Note to self: do not travel witI bought this one out of desperation because "A Thousand Splendid Suns" was lasting way less than it was supposed to. (Note to self: do not travel without my ebook. ever. again.)
Now I need to figure out where to fit this into the challenge or it's going to bug me so much I'm going to end up hating it. Not the mindset you want to be in when diving into a new book right? #neurotic #endwhine...more
3.5 really. I don't know what to make of this one. I know it's usually regarded as Austen's most mature novel. Sure, the main character is 28 and ther3.5 really. I don't know what to make of this one. I know it's usually regarded as Austen's most mature novel. Sure, the main character is 28 and there's lots of autumnal references, as well as political symbolism - but I didn't find it all that deep and full-fleshed.
It's the story of Anne Elliot, a gentleman's daughter who had become engaged to a captain Wentworth 8 years before the novel begins, but broke the engagement due to family pressures. She has never stopped loving him, and now she encounters him again and hopes that he will still have feelings for her.
Now, as I see it, there's two ways one can take this premise. One, you can explore how these two people have changed. Are they still the people they fell in love with in the first place? Will they still love each other, and if so, will it be for the same reasons? Two, you can use the tension created by this background to write an otherwise standard romance, which is what happens here. The result is a succesion of scenes along the lines of "OMG, he found me a place in the carriage so I won't have to walk home - he LUUUUUUVS me!".
Of course, this is all superbly written, and the book is by no means an average romance, but it's still a pretty conventional one. Which would be fine, if it wasn't full of hints dropped to remind the reader that this oh-so-mature and more adult and complex than, say, Pride and Prejudice. It probably is, but Pride and Prejudice works much better as a comedy of manners than Persuasion does as a character study....more
This book reminded me of when I used to tutor a particular 15-year-old boy. I'd arrive and he'd be snacking and watching this dreadful MTV reality shoThis book reminded me of when I used to tutor a particular 15-year-old boy. I'd arrive and he'd be snacking and watching this dreadful MTV reality show called “My Super Sweet Sixteen”. I used to spend a lot of time over there, so I caught enough bits and pieces of it to feel thoroughly revolted.
Those of you in the USA have probably seen it – it follows over-privileged kids as they organize and throw their lavish 16th birthday parties. But what I find scary about it aren't the 6-figure cars these kids get, but the sense of entitlement floating in the air. These children think that if they want something they will automatically get it – what's more, they think if they want something bad enough, that means they deserve it.
I remember standing there one day, waiting for my pupil to rinse his glass, and being overcome by a crushing feeling of pity. Because I really wanted to slap the kid on the TV, but at the same time I knew, with an overwhelming certainty, that this girl was never going to be truly happy, ever. Even if their parents could keep this up, this sort of entitled, shallow upbringing can only lead to frustration, one way or the other. What a waste of a perfectly good life.
I thought a lot about this moment while reading The House of Mirth. I felt sorry for Lily Bart, while hating her at the same time. I wanted to slap her, while knowing it wasn't her fault that she was the way she was. I wanted her to make up her mind, and at the same time dreaded every one of the options she had.
For make no mistakes – she does have options. A few of us at Bookish were discussing whether this was feminist literature or not. If feminist literature aims to portray women's lack of possibilities as constraining the female character, then this is not your average feminist book (I know, I know, but bear with me for a minute). Lily Bart does in fact have a few options to choose from, even though they would all entail some measure of dependence from other people. But none of these ever crystallize into anything tangible, because she won't make up her mind.
Wharton tries to imply that she's secretly an idealist, and she may be subconsciously sabotaging her own attempts at marrying money. But in fact, for most of the book she doesn't openly defy the system – mostly, she's just angry that she can't find a rich man to support her (she wants one, so she should have one, right?). Her moral scruples only show up when she's already put herself in a compromising position and she needs to save what little self-respect she has left. She is not an idealist, not in practice – she wants to work within the system.
Yet the very system of which she is a result has no place for her. She's a highly specialized product, an ornamental object, the Gilded Age in its most extreme expression - and as such, she's so profoundly dysfunctional she can't bring herself to make a choice for her future, because none of her options are even remotely acceptable. This world is so messed up, its own product can't function within it.
Watching Lily (view spoiler)[shy away from at least 4 potential husbands, a few socialite patrons and even an opportunity for blackmail (hide spoiler)] can get annoying after a while (“will you make up your mind already? I have stuff to do, you know?!”). But it also brings me back to my thoughts that day, watching “My Super Sweet Sixteen”. I vaguely thought that this world was f'd up if it was capable of creating such a monstrous thing as that over-entitled 16-year-old. This kid was the product of an environment that was condemning her, by effect of her upbringing, to be chronically dissatisfied for the rest of her life.
The world that Ms. Wharton portrays in her book is just as monstrous. And if it did this to people, and those people were mostly women, then by the FSM, this book serves its purpose, and it definitely is a feminist book. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more