Take my review with a grain of salt because it is often the case that I award extra points for time travel, period clothes, ten-dollar words for sameTake my review with a grain of salt because it is often the case that I award extra points for time travel, period clothes, ten-dollar words for same ("slat dress"! "reticule"!) and Gothic details. That being said, Willis' labyrinthine plot was truly pure joy to read, especially since she handled the science fiction elements with great deftness and wit. I often wondered if she had drawn diagrams for herself, to keep up with who was where and what was taken and what was left and who knew about it and so forth. I rarely felt lost—a credit to the writer—but it was a dizzying trip to read. A funny comedy of manners (and of errors). Thoroughly satisfying! If you enjoyed The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, or Daphne du Maurier's The House on the Strand, you'll love....more
Well this book was a real surprise. I found it at a rummage sale in its original dustjacket, and was interested in it mostly because of its advanced aWell this book was a real surprise. I found it at a rummage sale in its original dustjacket, and was interested in it mostly because of its advanced age and a sticky note on it that read, "Negro History." A quick smartphone Google search (while still at the rummage sale) revealed that it had been reprinted many times... so although I couldn't locate any reviews, it seemed promising that publishers would release it multiple times. I bought a first edition, 1852, for $20 bucks.
Because this is (supposedly) a true account, it reads like a modern memoir. And it provided a wonderful glimpse into what it was really like for James (his real name..."Edmund" was a nom de plume) to go, as a Yankee businessman, on a journey through the secessionist south to meet with some business contacts, just on the cusp of the Civil War. Its yellowed pages spoke to me directly, literally from antebellum times. It was kind of a surreal experience to read it.
The author is a Yankee, and although he consistently denies to his secessionist (his account of what they call themselves: "sesesheners") hosts that he is an abolitionist, he is of course writing this book to reveal all the evils he has discovered about slavery. And reveal he does. So although we are all familiar with the horror stories of rape, severe exploitation and diminishment, there were lots of nuances about the intimate relationships of real families that made slavery seem more real, and less of a fairy tale, to me.
A note about language. People did use bad words in those days... they just seem mild to us know because they have lost their force. So words like "hell" are abbreviated as "h-ll" and as a reader you realize that "What the hell!" was the "WTF!" of its day, with equal power. Conversely, words like "nigger," "darky," "quadroon" and other similar epithets are not abbreviated or hidden because at that time, they weren't yet considered bad words to use. Even for an abolitionist. So read this book, but don't be too judgmental on his use of epithets. Rest assured, he's an open-minded Yankee through and through!...more
Wellof course I loved it! I was the illustrator! But seriously, it was an honor to work on this book because I really love Ellie's vision to give evenWellof course I loved it! I was the illustrator! But seriously, it was an honor to work on this book because I really love Ellie's vision to give even the youngest readers an idea of what it's like to attend the theatre. It focuses on just the things kids want to know about: sights, sounds, tastes, feelings. Go buy it!...more
Recently I read The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall, which basically is about how susceptible we are, as humans, to stories. One point he mRecently I read The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall, which basically is about how susceptible we are, as humans, to stories. One point he makes in the book is how morality itself is codified in stories... religions are all based on stories, and sacred myths exist both in religious doctrines as well as nation-making myths (such as the story of Columbus, for example).
Anyway, the point is, he doesn't actually cite The Cider House Rules, but this book is all I could think about when the author was describing how sometimes, stories that you know are fictional can affect your code of morality in profound ways. I read this book in the early 90s, as a college student who had been brought up in a right-wing conservative household. The exact moment for me, when I decided that it was wrong to deny women freedom of choice, occurred when I read this book. I was so confused and overwhelmed by my new "moral code" that I literally re-read the book as soon as I'd finished, re-evaluating the story to make sure I was satisfied with my conclusions. I've never gone back. (Thanks John Irving.)...more