Dickens does a great job of criticizing the injustices of the time; specifically here, the treatment of the poor and disenfranchised. Oliver is such aDickens does a great job of criticizing the injustices of the time; specifically here, the treatment of the poor and disenfranchised. Oliver is such a sweet and innocent boy and it's perfectly infuriating the way he is mistreated by those above him. Dickens also has a surprising wry wit that had me laughing in parts. But I thought the first half of the story was much stronger than the second. I found Oliver's descent to the depths of despair to be the most engaging. It goes from bad to worse for the poor kid which provokes quite an emotional response! Of course, things get better for our hero, and by this point the novel lost some its edge and it felt like Dickens was just tying up loose ends in order to finish the story. It fizzled out for me. A great introduction to Charles Dickens though. Recommended!...more
The most rewarding aspect of this novel for me was the deep connection between characters...the kind of connection that develops through fighting forThe most rewarding aspect of this novel for me was the deep connection between characters...the kind of connection that develops through fighting for a cause together, through risking your lives together, through dying together. Hemingway managed to transcend the barriers that separate individuals and reach a spiritual place. The unity of man seemed to be the heart of Hemingway's message.
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." - John Donne
I appreciated the introspective quality of this book. The main characters often meditated on death, killing, the cold realities of war. Instead of dehumanizing the other side---even though they are fascists---we witness characters truly struggle with violence. Hemingway's message is neither pro-war or anti-war. He only tries to show the truth. He explores the moral ambiguity of war. He acknowledges the traumatic consequences of violence and he also acknowledges the conviction to stand against injustice and fight to protect all that is good in this world---because there are those who will destroy it if we allow them.
For Whom the Bell Tolls is also a romance. And the romance between Robert Jordan and Maria is stunningly beautiful. Much of its power arises from the dire circumstances, from the uncertainty if they would live another day. When you find yourself face to face with death and put this in context of a love affair it is of great intensity.
I also enjoyed the slow pacing. It allowed for real character depth to emerge and it helped craft a great suspense. It showed Hemingway's maturity as a story teller. For Whom the Bell Tolls is harsh, brutal, compassionate, and pure. It is one of the truest novels I've ever read. It is a celebration of love, life, and humanity. By far my favorite Hemingway book. ...more
A very fascinating novel. Milan Kundera is a unique voice in contemporary fiction. He has that rare ability to write prose bordering poetry. I mean thA very fascinating novel. Milan Kundera is a unique voice in contemporary fiction. He has that rare ability to write prose bordering poetry. I mean that his language penetrates the narrative to a great depth of feeling. 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' has soul. Each character explores the very essence of what it is to be a human being. He achieves this through subtleties, through deep observation. This novel is all about relationships. The mysteries between the relationships of love, sex, attraction, betrayal, selflessness, soul, and body. This is a novel to be savored---like a poem---and to be read again, to resonate with something new. It is an unconventional narrative, meaning that it is not a linear story. Rather this is a novel of ideas, musing over people, their emotions, their desires, fears, hopes, and dreams. The way he delicately explores these multifaceted and complicated characters is genius. I look forward to reading more of his work....more
A breezy entertaining page-turner. Holden Caulfield's tone of voice, his angsty sarcastic sense of humor is pleasantly amusing and will pull you in. IA breezy entertaining page-turner. Holden Caulfield's tone of voice, his angsty sarcastic sense of humor is pleasantly amusing and will pull you in. I even found myself thinking like him from time to time. The Catcher in the Rye is a character piece examining contemporary themes of isolation, alienation, angst, confusion etc. Holden doesn't find anything of real value in his environment which is why he feels these emotions. He is very young too, insecure, emotionally immature, however intelligent. He's figuring out what he's made of. And he is also fascinating because he is at a significant juncture in his life. He is capable of achieving true greatness, even genius, in his life, but he is also capable of falling to the other extreme, of growing into a bitter, lifeless, brittle man. Recommended especially for those coming of age, as they may relate to this story personally....more