I’ve been meaning to read this forever, but never got around to it. I’m glad that I finally did, however, because this book is amazing, romantic and e...moreI’ve been meaning to read this forever, but never got around to it. I’m glad that I finally did, however, because this book is amazing, romantic and enchanting; I regret it took me this long to discover this gem.
The story is about the relationship between a woman named Clare Abshire and a man named Henry DeTamble. Henry meets Clare when he is 28 and she is 20, but Clare has known Henry all her life. She met him when she was 6 and Henry was in his thirties or forties. How can this be? Henry has a rare genetic disease that causes him to become displaced in time involuntarily. He is a time traveler, and the Henry that Clare met was a future version of him.
The concept sounded fascinating to me. Personally, I find this to be a very unique and interesting take on time travel. Henry can’t help when he time travels, and he can’t help where he ends up or in what period. When he time travels, only he is transported, so any clothes or items on him are left behind; thus he always shows up naked. He teaches himself how to steal, pick locks and other survival skills in order to remain inconspicuous in whatever time period he ends up.
The story is primarily told from Clare’s present time, with past, present and future Henry’s walking in and out of her life. Before she met the “real” Henry in present time, she was always waiting and wondering when a future version of Henry would appear. After she met the “real” Henry, she was always worrying when he disappeared and waiting for him to return to present time. Indeed, the flow of time in this book can be confusing at first but after a few chapters in, I understood Henry’s time traveling and how he was affecting his past and future selves by doing so.
I found this book really refreshing, from the time travel concept to this relationship style Clare and Henry have. It’s something I never seen or read about before and I was constantly intrigued by it. I think many women can relate to Clare, myself included: the idea of waiting and not knowing what your significant other is doing. (Maybe males too, but from my own personal experiences, it’s a female thing, hahaha). The characters are fantastic. I could tell there is something really, truly special between Clare and Henry; their relationship was sweet and bitter at the same time, and affected me so much I could not stop turning the pages of the book.
Things I noticed were that Niffenegger’s writing is very point-blank and simple. She writes very matter-of-factly, like “She opened the fridge then poured herself some orange juice. She sat down and thought about Henry.” (I made that one up). Very simple sentences, yet when they are all strung together to create this story, they have a powerful impact. A second thing about the story is that, while the romance is very touching, it is rather cliche and overly dramatic at times. While Henry and Clare’s particular situation may be new and exciting, their romance in general is classic and not that new. The idea of a woman waiting faithfully, patiently for her lover to return to her — and the lover yearning for his wife back home — has been around for eons. The thing with this book is that it takes this age old concept of romantic love and makes us look at it from a different angle, a very refreshing and different angle, and that is what makes this book so wonderful to read. I definitely recommend this novel to everyone to read.
What if you woke up one day and discovered that you had the perfect life?
Lexi Smart (who is very reminiscent of Becky Bloomwood from Shopaholic) remem...moreWhat if you woke up one day and discovered that you had the perfect life?
Lexi Smart (who is very reminiscent of Becky Bloomwood from Shopaholic) remembers herself having frizzy hair, crooked teeth, wonderful friends but a crappy boyfriend and being somewhere between middle-class and poor. When she wakes up, she’s in a hospital bed, but quickly discovers that she is a millionaire’s wife, looks like a model and is head of the department she used to work in!
The story sounded really interesting to me, which is why I picked it up. I mean, I’m sure we have all desperately wished at one point or another that our lives can just magically become better (please don’t tell me only I wish that, hahaha), whether it’s wishing to win the lottery or finding the perfect dream boyfriend/girlfriend. And at first, everything seems to be just perfect and wonderful and fantastic for Lexi. Her husband looks like an Armani model. She drives an open top Mercedes convertible. She’s a boss. She’s rich. She’s got a walk-in closet that’s bigger than the apartment she used to live in.
Of course, there is always a catch. Lexi’s life didn’t magically become this way. She got into a car accident and traumatized her brain pretty bad. She cannot remember anything from the past three years, so it was a mighty shock when the doctor informs her that it’s not 2004, but rather, 2007 now. She doesn’t remember how she got so beautiful, who her husband is, or how she suddenly became the boss. Worse yet, she doesn’t understand why her old friends are snubbing her and who this Jon person is who claims that she and him are lovers. It sounds really depressing, and it sort of is, but it’s also the perfect set-up for a comedy to happen. Admittedly, the flavor of humor in this book is more aimed towards the female population than male, but I think if a guy reads this book, they can appreciate some of the funny parts too! (Maybe not the parts where she’s flipping out over her Louis Vuitton bags or things like that … but I found the part where she’s hollering “There’s a SIXTH Harry Potter book now?!” pretty hilarious).
This book is loads of fun to read, it’s one of those kinds of books where once you start you can’t really stop. I mean, the plot isn’t actually that interesting on paper — she’s basically just trying to recover her memories and reconstruct the missing three years of her life — but it’s the little events that happen along the way that make this book exciting. The characters are all generally likeable, though I did not particularly feel attached to anyone. Lexi really reminds me strongly of Becky from Shopaholic, though not quite an airhead. This is only my second Kinsella book that’s not Shopaholic related, so I am not sure if Kinsella has a “typical” protagonist, but at this point, it seems like it. I’m not really that bothered though. I totally understand some people find airhead females annoying characters, but luckily I am usually okay with it, unless it goes overboard. Anyway, Lexi is really not that big of an airhead, just very reminiscent of Becky.
If you’ve read any of Kinsella’s books before, then you already know what kind of writing to expect. It’s in first person, and written in the same way someone might narrate a chick-movie. So no, it’s not amazing literature, but I found the personality in the writing fun. Actually, it felt like I wasn’t even reading at some points, but more like the novel was talking to me one-on-one, which I kind of liked.
After hearing so much about this book, I decided to buy my own copy and give it a go. The story takes places in a dystopian future where eve...more4.5 stars.
After hearing so much about this book, I decided to buy my own copy and give it a go. The story takes places in a dystopian future where every year, the Capitol of the country of Panem organizes The Hunger Games – a brutal fight-to-the-death tournament for contestants between the ages of 12 and 18. One boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts that make up Panem are randomly selected at the Reaping. The Games are mandatory, a punishment for the rebellion that happened seventy four years ago, and the Capitol’s way of showing how they have everyone in the palm of their hand.
Another Reaping has come. Sixteen year old Katniss, from the poorest district in Panem, has done what no one has ever done in her district — volunteer for the Games, after she found out her twelve year old sister Prim was chosen. Taking her place, Katniss is aware she will most likely never see home again, but is determined to go down with a fight.
The Hunger Games definitely has a striking resemblance to Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami, where a class of students is taken to an island and as a military project of some sort, are forced to kill one another until only one is left standing. I felt The Hunger Games also was a bit reminiscent of Final Fantasy VII‘s atmosphere (what with the place divided into districts (like FFVII’s sectors) and the poor and rich’s differences in lifestyle), and a totalitarian government that’s similar to 1984‘s ‘big brother’ concept as well. I suppose that’s why I felt slightly disappointed that The Hunger Games didn’t maximize its potential because it had the perfect set up to make some sort of allegory (for example, a statement about modern day society like Battle Royale or government like 1984). This book fell a bit short in that and it was a bit frustrating because it was like watching a great opportunity pass by. There are little bits and pieces of it, but not enough to make any bold statement.
Of course, it is very likely that Collins wrote this book with no greater picture in mind, and disregarding that, this book is actually quite excellent and difficult to put down once you start. It is a fast paced novel narrated by our determined protagonist, Katniss (who is named after a sort of root). Katniss is hardened by her difficult life living in District 12 and well, kind of comes across as a bit bland. That actually works out fine because most of the other characters she encounters has such vibrant and in some cases, eccentric personalities. Actually, now that I think about it, the other main character, Peeta, also has a bit of a bland personality. But like I said, it works because I think it emphasizes how the poor living in the districts have retained their humanity, so to speak, while the citizens living in the Capitol, the rich such as Effie and the makeover stylists, have gone crazy with superficiality and lost their empathy, permanently it would seem. They really have no regards for Kat or any of the other contestants’ feelings about being thrown into an arena of death. It’s all fun and games for the spectators, which is quite horrifying for me, as a reader. I guess that’s how I became attached to Katniss (and Peeta) and rooted for them, even though they are not my favourite characters or anything. I wanted the people with a heart to make it through and maybe even beat the cruel system.
This novel is surprisingly not that violent, for a fight-to-the-death tournament thing. Of course there are killings and there are the occasional deaths that make you squirm a bit, but nothing horrifically graphic. Katniss’ strategy for the games is more defensive than offensive so her tactics for killing are more indirect, such as poison (of course, we don’t know how bloody and violent that other contestants are, since we only see through Katniss’ eyes. Admittedly, I was kind of looking forward to a fictional bloodbath and was slightly disappointed that I didn’t get one, hahaha). The beginning of the book was mostly filled with introductions to the world and characters, but after that, the book had me in an iron grip because it is literally a life-or-death situation for the main character and the Gamemakers are quite fond of throwing twists into the arena every so often to spice things up and force the contestants to face one another. I would wonder, “How is Katniss going to survive this?!” and eagerly continue on.
Yes this is an exciting and thrilling novel! I can totally understand why people are raving about it, and from what I’ve read, it’s already in negotiations to be made into a movie (so many books becoming movies these days. I love books becoming movies, even if it turns out awful). I am very eager to dive into book two, but since I’m kind of weird about keeping a series in all paperback or all hardcover, I’m going to have to wait until books two and three are released in paperback, since that’s what I purchased The Hunger Games as. On a slightly different topic, maybe I have just bad luck with Scholastic books, but I find their paperbacks to be kind of poor quality. The cover won’t stay flat, the binding seems too tight or something because the book doesn’t open smoothly, and on some pages the ink is printed lighter and then goes back to being dark, which is kind of distracting while you’re reading. It’s not just my copy, I actually checked all of the ones in a bookstore and they are all printed like mine and binded like mine. I guess I should be aiming for the hardcover copies since they seem to be published nicely, but I already started collecting this series in paperback …
I digress. Bottom line is: this book is a great read, one I highly recommend. (Although if you generally don’t like dystopian/science fiction novels of this sort, maybe you won’t (I have a friend who loathes sci-fi and tried this, and unsurprisingly, didn’t really like it). I definitely want to pursue the rest of the series because I have no idea what’s going to happen now … or rather, what CAN happen now, and curiosity always gets the better of me. In this case, I think I am in for more pleasant surprises!
I LOVE THIS BOOK. No, seriously, I am IN LOVE with this book and the entire series.
If you are interested in a medieval drama kind of story, this is the...moreI LOVE THIS BOOK. No, seriously, I am IN LOVE with this book and the entire series.
If you are interested in a medieval drama kind of story, this is the book for you. It is packed full of intrigue, backstabbing and plotting. Throw in some sex as well. The fantasy element in this book (and the whole series) is very low key, but they do exist here and there, particularly with the dragons.
I have been wanting to read this for a long time. I used to really be into anime and manga, and this title came up a lot as a bloody, graphic story of...moreI have been wanting to read this for a long time. I used to really be into anime and manga, and this title came up a lot as a bloody, graphic story of a bunch of students forced to kill one another. Then with The Hunger Games being released, I remembered this title again, mainly because I thought, “Wow, The Hunger Games sounds like it copied Battle Royale.” (To which I say, now that I have read it, it probably didn’t — the basic concept is the same, but the stories are completely different from one another. Anyway, I think Battle Royale is much better than The Hunger Games. I like THG, don’t get me wrong (I have it 5 stars and all), but I’m one of the people who really doesn’t understand the intense liking other readers have for it. I digress). I saw the movie first, but the movie isn’t exactly the most faithful rendering of the novel (great movie, just not the same as the book).
Battle Royale takes place in an alternate timeline in what used to be Japan, but is now the Republic of Greater East Asia. A class of 42 students are going on what they believe is a class study trip somewhere, but during the bus ride, sleeping gas is turned on and all the students are knocked out. When they awake, they find themselves on a tiny island and are told that they are this year’s chosen class to participate in the Program.
This immediately scares the daylights out of the students, and causes quite a few of them to become angry as well. The Program is, well, a program that selects, at random, one class a year to play a game where they are forced into a confined area (in this case, an island) and are forced to kill one another until one is left standing. This is the government’s way of controlling everyone — through fear and intimidation, a constant reminder that they have your lives in the palm of their hands. However, Shuya, our main character, does not want to play the game and instead, wants to strategize a way to escape. This proves to be most difficult because when the game begins, he cannot tell who is willing to play and who he can truly trust.
I loved this book. It was pure addiction to read it. As a warning though, there are many violent scenes in this book that make the violence in The Hunger Games look like a joke. Actually, I never really thought THG was a very violent book in the first place — I mean, Katniss nearly always does indirect attacks, or attacks that allow her to maintain a considerable amount of distance between herself and the enemy. In Battle Royale, we have in-your-face violence. I’m talking about bodies riddled with bullet holes, heads bashed into mush, etc. So if you can’t stomach that kind of stuff, this really isn’t the book for you so I won’t even try, but if you’re okay with it all, all the violence keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s freaking scary because you don’t know who’s going to die next and you don’t know how it’s going to happen. And yes, some of the deaths made me squirm a bit.
Then there are all the relationships in the novel that made the novel extrenely intriguing. Okay, so I thought it was a tad odd that in one class, there was this huge web of love relationships. Half the characters seemed to have a crush on someone in the same class, which seemed like an oddly high amount to me. But these love relationships did pull on my heartstrings a bit in some scenes … especially the Hiroki scene near the end of the book. Oh, that was just so sad, and a harsh reminder that life is short so use your opportunities while you can.
There was also the trust-or-don’t-trust dynamic in the book. While I was placed in the perspective of many students in the game, a large number were shrouded in mystery. Even I did not know who to trust and who not to trust (okay, I lie — I watched the movie after all — but I know if I was completely brand new to the story, I would be very cautious of every character’s motives). You just don’t know who is pretending to be friendly, and who is playing the game for real. It’s kind of crazy how such a brutal situation reveals a person’s true nature. This was cause for some really eye-popping scenes (both literally and figuratively!)
Character-wise, I thought they were really well done. With 42 students and the instructor, it’s extremely difficult to go in depth with each character and flesh them out, so Koushan Takami didn’t do it. I believe I read somewhere once that he was completely aware that his characters are pretty one-dimensional. I’d have to agree with that, but at the same time, I think he gave great back stories to his main characters that do flesh them out a bit; only their motives are a bit one-track-minded, but hey, you’re in a survival game — you don’t really have too many other priorities at the moment besides living.
Even though it is quite a thick novel, the scenes go by quickly and the prose is easy to read. Now, with the prose, as an English speaker who has a basic understanding of conversational Japanese (studied it for 4 years and went on a student exchange trip thingy once to Japan — granted, my knowledge of the language is pretty rusty these days), I understand why some may not feel it is “good writing” because it does not sound 100% natural in the English language. However, when I think of how it may be said in Japanese, it makes perfect sense to me and does not feel weird in the slightest.
So I think I may have a bit of an advantage in regards to the writing, but honestly, everyone should know that it is difficult to judge the quality of a book’s writing when it is a translated piece of work. You can judge the translation (which I thought was fairly good), but that’s not the same as the intentions the author had when he/she was writing the book. At least, that’s my opinion. It’s the same thing with some of the behaviours of the characters. I think some of them won’t make that much sense to a person of the Western world, but if you have some basic understanding of contemporary East Asian cultures, particularly Japan of course, it would make a lot more sense and you’d realize it’s not really out of the ordinary for someone to say or do a particular thing.
Battle Royale is really a great book and makes for a thrilling read. I totally understand how it came to such popularity (and controversy!) in Japan and I am so glad that it was translated for English-speaking audiences to read and appreciate as well. If you are interested in this book at all, don’t hesitate to find a copy and read it! However, I don’t necessarily recommend reading this just because you read THG and kind of expect the same thing, because it’s VERY different and this book isn’t meant for everyone.
Always wanted to read this classic. The writing can be a bit long-winded and the story doesn't move as smoothly as it could, at least to me. The event...moreAlways wanted to read this classic. The writing can be a bit long-winded and the story doesn't move as smoothly as it could, at least to me. The events in the story just sort of HAPPEN at times, leaving you thinking, "Oh, okay." But other than that, it's really great, and is creepy without being too creepy ;)(less)
The story is about a man who can remember every past life through reincarnation. In every life, he keeps loving the same...more4.5 really, but I rounded up.
The story is about a man who can remember every past life through reincarnation. In every life, he keeps loving the same girl, who he manages to meet from time to time in his various lives. Every time he meets her, he loves her even more. The catch? She doesn't remember HER past lives. This obviously makes things rather difficult ...
This is a really sweet book for those who like romance stories that go beyond the ordinary. I liked how there were two storylines in a sense: one that went through time explaining how the two kept meeting (or missing) one another in their lives; the other taking place only in the present time, with the girl doing a little sleuthing 'cause she suspects something's up with that weird kid she had a crush on in high school and STILL can't get out of her head, years later.
The villain was a bit of a dud to me, he kind of just wants to mess things up for the couple and seems to have no other motivation other than "I am evil". I would have been happy if the villain was just time itself, alone, but all in all, a solid book to me :)(less)
This book really deserves six stars. SO GOOD. Review to come. ------
Every once in a while, you come across a book that moves you to a whole new emotio...moreThis book really deserves six stars. SO GOOD. Review to come. ------
Every once in a while, you come across a book that moves you to a whole new emotional level. I’ve never burst into tears when reading a book (that’s just not really me), but I came pretty darn close with The Book Thief. Even though it’s categorized as a YA book, I think this is the kind of book anyone of any age can enjoy. In fact, if there’s any book that everyone should take the time read, it’s The Book Thief.
Anyway, I read this almost a week ago but just got around to sitting down and writing a review now (I’ve been extremely busy; still am, actually), so forgive me if I omit or forget some details.
This book takes place in Nazi Germany in the late 1930′s to early 1940′s. The story is narrated by Death, who has taken a special interest in the life of Liesel, a young ten (or 11? 12?) year old girl. Death first meets Liesel on a train, where she was traveling with her mother and brother to her foster family, as Liesel’s mother can no longer take care of her children. During the train ride, Liesel’s brother dies and is buried not too long after. It is at her brother’s burial that Liesel steals her first book from one of the grave diggers, and though she does not know how to read until her loving foster father teaches her, she develops an appetite for books then and there.
The story is actually rather simple. It is about Liesel’s life living with her foster parents on Himmel Street (Himmel means Heaven), and about her growing up. Life’s certainly monitored closely in Nazi Germany. To make matters more complicated, Liesel’s foster father takes in a Jewish man into their home to hide in their basement as a favor to the man who saved his life a long time ago in the first world war, putting their entire family in grave danger.
Oh yes, and Liesel is the book thief, in case it wasn’t clear. It’s funny how she loves books despite not being able to read, initially. I think it’s because, being relatively poor and living in a strictly monitored society, a book is hugely valuable and potentially dangerous — and Liesel is attracted to such rebelliousness. Reading is an escape, and as it turns out, it is an escape for not only Liesel, but many others around her as well. And you know, any book that talks about the power of reading immediately falls in my good books (pardon the pun)!
Even though the story is entirely narrated by Death, a figure that is usually imagined as cold, aloof, heartless, etc. and even though we never get into the thoughts of any of the characters, it’s so easy to attach yourself to everyone. There’s Liesel with her sad past and her seemingly happy present, having a loving new Mama and Papa and friends. There’s Hans, her foster father who gets bossed around by his wife Rosa a lot, but you know they both love Liesel so much and have it in their hearts to save innocent lives like the Jewish man they hide in their basement. The Jewish man is Max and it’s so easy to feel sorry for him; my heart broke at pretty much every point of his life that was described.
The heartstring tugging factor, for me, is that all the main characters are so innocent. Imperfect, but they don’t deserve the fate they got. And they all have dreams and hopes that you know are not going to come true because Death actually spoils the story himself as to who lives and dies. I think that actually makes the story sadder, because as you read, it’s already been revealed who is going to live at the end, and you feel helpless, knowing that there’s nothing the character can do to avoid their fate.
The ending is the most powerful scene, in my opinion. That was the part where I could barely hold back from letting tears roll down (which I didn’t want to happen because I was riding a public bus at the time!) I’m obviously not going to spoil it, but yeah … it was super sad. I don’t know how else to describe it. It was just sad. Powerfully sad. Leaves you kind of depressed. (view spoiler)[ It’s a bit of a bittersweet ending, I think, because Liesel survives everything, but still, she’s lost everything. On the same topic though, Death says Liesel lives to an old age and marries and has children and grandchildren and everything … I’m kind of hoping she married Max. It would be pretty romantic. Yes, he’s 10 years older than her, but hey, when you grow older, the age gap doesn’t seem so big! (hide spoiler)]
Final verdict on this book? Definitely a must-read, for many reasons. It takes place in an unforgettable point of history. It has very memorable characters who stay with you long after you close the book. It affects your perspective on books and reading. It affects your perspective on life and death. It affects you.
This review originally posted at http://skyink.net.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Another fantastic book by Lisa See. As withSnow Flower and the Secret Fan, I could not put downShanghai Girls once I started reading!
Shanghai Girls is...moreAnother fantastic book by Lisa See. As with Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, I could not put down Shanghai Girls once I started reading!
Shanghai Girls is about two sisters -- Pearl and May -- who are living in Shanghai during its height in 1937. Shanghai is the "Paris of Asia" and the sisters enjoy being "beautiful girls", being painted for calendars, going to night clubs and dressing in the most fashionable clothes available. Suddenly their whole world is turned upside down when their father has gambled away their fortunes and is forced to sell the girls as wives to a wealthy Chinese family living in Los Angelos, to pay his debts. The girls stubbornly hold onto their modern ideals of love and marriage and refuse to go until the Japanese invade and bomb the city. With absolutely nothing left to lose, the girls make the incredible journey across the ocean to the United States, hoping their husbands and in-laws will take them in. Once there, the two girls must cope with becoming American, as well as racism and the wars.
I kind of like these riches to rags stories Lisa See comes up with, set against the backdrop of China. I was really hopeful for this to be a great book since I loved Snow Flower and the Secret Fan so much, and I'm happy to say I am not disappointed in the least. Again, Lisa See has created a powerful story of sisterhood and female friendship across the lifespan. Things change in life, people experience good and bad luck, but the two protagonists in this book make it through with incredible resilience. Although ... at times, they did sort of annoy me with how spoiled they seem! But then again, they were rich, lovely girls to begin with, it's probably very surreal falling from such a height.
I particularly enjoyed this book because the theme of children thinking they are so modern while their parents are too traditional and backwards is one of my favourite themes to read about. I think all kids of all backgrounds, growing up, want to break free from their parents' strict rules and traditions as much as possible, believing they are part of a newer, more modern generation. You can see that clearly in this novel, especially when Pearl and May are told their father has arranged marriages for them. They are truly horrified, thinking, "Who has arranged marriages anymore?!" and continue to dream of marrying their one true love instead. When Pearl's daughter, Joy, grows up, she also tries to break away from Pearl, claiming that Pearl is too backwards and overly Chinese. Pearl realizes that this is exactly how she felt about her own parents. It's like a vicious, continuous cycle -- kids are always going to think they're "better" in some way to their parents.
The book also provides insight to the hardships the first immigrants to the United States experienced. While this book focused on the Chinese, I think the difficulties they faced are similar to what any group faces. Outside of Chinatown, the girls are faced with hostility and discrimination. Just finding a house to live in is a great ordeal. The only place they can live peacefully in is Chinatown, but they are forced to wear "costumes" -- their traditional Chinese clothes -- instead of Americanizing themselves with Western clothing. Even worse is when the States is fighting against Japan, and later, China, and the Chinese in Chinatown are regarded with suspicion -- never mind the fact that they've lived in America for over ten years now without any problems; everyone thinks every Chinese is a spy.
This book is full of emotions and like with See's other book, I was completely drawn into the characters. There were a few parts of the book that lagged a bit, but they were far and few, in my opinion. I did think the ending was rather abrupt, and I would have been totally disappointed in it had I not already known that there is a sequel to this book, Dreams of Joy (which I have sitting on my bookshelf, hopefully to be read soon!)(less)
I’ve had this sitting on my bookshelf for quite a long time. It was part of a 3 classics for $10 deal from a long time ago. There were 2 classics I wa...moreI’ve had this sitting on my bookshelf for quite a long time. It was part of a 3 classics for $10 deal from a long time ago. There were 2 classics I wanted, but I did not know what to get for a 3rd. So I randomly chose this one, The Woman In White. Never heard of it before then. It ended up being one of my better decisions because this book was absolutely wonderful to read!
What I love about this book is how the plot went from being relatively simple to something so big and complex. Like a seed, it grew into a large tree with sprawling branches. Told in different points of views by various characters, The Woman In White begins with a drawing master named Walter Hartright. A bit down on his luck, his good friend Professor Pesco manages to find Hartright a job as a drawing instructor for two ladies at Limmeridge House. The night before his journey, he runs into a mysterious woman dressed all in white, on the road to London. She becomes quite excited to know that Hartright is heading to Limmeridge House, a place she remembers fondly from her childhood. After assisting her with directions, Hartright finds out that the woman he just helped is a patient who has escaped from an insane asylum.
Upon arriving at Limmeridge House, Hartright meets his new pupils: Marian and Laura. Hartright and Marian develop an instant friendship, bonding over the mysterious woman in white he encountered and wondering who she could be and what fond memories she has had at Limmeridge House. However, Hartright’s heart falls for Laura instead, who coincidentally bears a striking resemblance to the mysterious woman in white. Laura, too, appears to also have fallen for Hartright; unfortunately, she is already betrothed to the baron, Percival Glyde. Marian implores Hartright to not upset the family by respectfully asking him to leave before the obvious attraction between Laura and Hartright interfere with the already established engagement, which Hartright agrees to.
As if being heartbroken wasn’t enough, Laura receives a mysterious letter from anonymous defaming her future husband, Percival, and telling her not to marry him. Percival Glyde himself comes to Limmeridge House to set matters straight — he determines that the letter is from the mysterious woman in white, who is named Anne Catherick. He knows her mother, a faithful servant from the past, and helped sought medical help for her disturbed daughter by paying for her stay in the asylum. Thus, Anne hates Percival. Explanation understood, Laura marries Percival and becomes Mrs. Glyde.
The courteous and polite Percival Glyde suddenly transforms into a controlling and short tempered version of the baron. He knows Laura has fallen in love with another and is frustrated that she does her duties as his wife with no love. He is also in some financial trouble and is angry that he has to ask his wife for money. Laura and Marian, in the mean time, have become more interested in who Anne Catherick is, who continues to try to contact Laura, but at the same time, have to fear Percival’s foreign friend, Count Fosco. Fosco is an incredibly cunning man and appears to be mixed up somehow in Percival’s financial issues. Part of his involvement is to stop Laura and Marian from contacting Anne Catherick, as she knows Percival’s terrible Secret, which could be the downfall of both Percival and Fosco.
You might be thinking that I just gave away most of the plot — crazily enough, that’s all just the BEGINNING! The story becomes incredibly layered and complex from this starting point, and yes, Hartright does appear again later in the story. I am still in awe at what I have read. They call this a ‘sensation’ novel and I understand what they mean. We have lots and lots of plot here — spying, family secrets, insanity, secret identities, kidnapping — you name it, it’s got it. It’s also a mystery novel, sort of, because of all the secrets that come to light, which Hartright and Marian try so hard to solve for the sake of their beloved Laura.
What I also like about this book is that it’s a book that was written in 1860 about that time period. Therefore, it does what few historical novels can do — it truly immerses you into the time period. Everything feels so authentic about the time, from the language used to write to the manners and courtesies expected of the characters in each of their stations in life, to their hobbies, etc.
I am just so, SO pleased with this novel. I surprised myself by enjoying it so damn much. I know some people are hesitant to read older books because the language isn’t contemporary, and I myself am like that sometimes too, so I completely understand; however, this book was surprisingly easy to read, and easy to become addicted to. I heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a good classic novel to read, and I hope you will enjoy it too!(less)