I've thought a lot about this book since reading it. Forgive me, this review will probably sound like philosophical mumbo jumbo and make no sense what...more I've thought a lot about this book since reading it. Forgive me, this review will probably sound like philosophical mumbo jumbo and make no sense whatsoever (I'm going to just carelessly throw all my thoughts out there), but I haven't shut my brain off since reading this.
It made me ask myself : What is the truth?
By reading I found my answer had developed into this thought: It seems every single person has their own truth. Are life events ever remembered by their witnesses and bearers as they really happened? Or does each of us have our own versions of our experiences, even when they are shared experiences and events. Is any memory the complete truth then?
Then it hit me. Life is the biggest game of telephone ever.
Is Antoinette even crazy?
I want to err on the side of no. She is not. I want to say that Rochester is just a passive aggressive arrogant punk.
After all, he left Jane sitting in chairs silently as he played with his cronies. He left a little boy weeping outside. Yet he tried not to scare anyone. He sometimes seems too reasonable to act maliciously, yet sometimes not. Oh how I love multi faceted characters.
Or maybe not and maybe he did not do any of those things. I have no idea.
I don't have much to say about Antoinette. She felt like a friend that just had some bad luck...I felt sorry for her and liked listening (I mean reading) to her describe her world.
The truth: I still don't know the truth about dear Rochester or even Antoinette. What is the true story? The one that Rochester tells, the one Antoinette tells, or the versions given by the third parties?
I am going to say we'll never know but I like that Rhys leaves it to her audience to think about. I enjoy a novel that does not spoon feed readers the story, but lets the story unfold so naturally it gives readers the sense that they bore witness to the same events as the fictional characters. I felt close to this place and all of the people.
Lovely writing of atmosphere and story development. A lot of beauty, pain, madness, and life found within its pages. But life is madness and nothing seems completely true most of the time--that is why I liked this book so much (that is my conclusion). In the end I am not surprised that this novel is considered a classic but that is only my humble opinion.
I read this many years ago, around the time it first came out. From what I remember the language is beautiful. It is heartfelt and touching, yet someh...more I read this many years ago, around the time it first came out. From what I remember the language is beautiful. It is heartfelt and touching, yet somehow still remaining distant. I feel this is the point. After all, no matter how close humans get to figuring our own lives and humanity out, we never receive full disclosure, do we?
Sometimes I wonder if I went overseas to the places of my ancestors would I feel more at home? Would I find some lost part of my self that I left there? Would I make more sense to myself?
This type of personal searching and eloquent language (some thought provoking lines and beautiful descriptions) are what I remember from reading it long, long ago. (less)
The summer after my grandma died, my aunt and I went to have a picnic at her grave because we had promised her we would have lunch with her after she...more The summer after my grandma died, my aunt and I went to have a picnic at her grave because we had promised her we would have lunch with her after she left the world. As we spread out our blanket, something caught our eye. A beautiful doe stood looking at us, in the middle of a city grave yard, almost close enough to touch. She stood there through most of lunch until we helped lead to her to an opening so she could run back to the woods (even though the wooded lots were so small we couldn't believe deer lived in them.) We couldn't help but wonder if grandma had sent her to let us know she knew we had kept our promise.
Animals are sometimes symbols or the embodiment of the people that have died for those left behind. And I think this is one the reasons I found myself drawn to this book. Jamie, an eight year old swears his dad will return to them in some fashion and he spends his time trying to find him. He looks for clues about what has happened to his father. Where is heaven? Is there an address? Is he on vacation? Will he come back maybe as a different person or maybe as a bird? How will he know where to find them now that they have moved to a remote Scottish island? How can he send him a message?
I love Jamie. He reminds me of one of my sons and a million little boys I have taught. Jamie has a hard time reading. Letters are a secret code he has a hard time cracking. He has a difficult time deciphering the meanings in language (I found his thoughts abstract and beautiful). He is often verbally attacked by others though (like his sister Alba who thinks her cruelty towards him will toughen him up) but his different learning style also makes him see the world as a place full of wonder and beauty. Jamie is a child whose innocence, wonder, and kindness brings people joy especially the skeptics. I loved looking at the world through Jamie's eyes and through his precious little open heart. Jamie is why I love this book.
Alba is cruel to her brother but I couldn't help but feel sorry for her. Also, I could not help but understand what she was going through. After all, it's a difficult thing when people and places fall from their pedestals and break into a thousand pieces at your feet. Ignorance is bliss and logical Alba lost her ability to see the world through innocent eyes. She feels that the world is a cruel place she must be ready for.
Georgia is the eldest child. She is a mixture of the two, mature, trust-worthy but also trusting. She wants to know the reasons behind the death of her father, a British diplomat, yet she is scared to know. She is also at the start of spreading her wings, trying to balance responsibility and freedom.
All three children are brought to life. They seem like children I've met before. Their thoughts and actions are completely believable and familiar to me, maybe memories of what I felt like as a child or from recent memories of my sons. Their depictions are what kept me reading late into the night.
Of course, I also love the bear. What is there not to love about a cute lumbering bear that collects pretty and interesting items on the island he finds himself stranded on? This part of the story is true. There once was a tame bear that got lost on the island. During his ordeal, even though he found himself half starved he never hurt a single soul. Not even a sheep lost a hair due to his enormous claws. He simply waited for someone to find and rescue him.
I want to rescue the bear. I want to rescue these people. They do not seem fictional. They seem like family.
On a different note, this book can't be all good, right? Some reviews said that some parts were offensive because the author didn't do her research. That life in the British embassy is not like that and that the descriptions of Germany is not fair. I can respect that. It's probably true for those that live there and/ or live that life. The lack of authenticity probably is offensive and annoying. However, for those that do not know any better like me, these parts of the story are so understated that they do not feel like negatives against the places and careers mentioned.
To me, the power, the heartbeat of the story are the three children that look for their dad's presence everywhere, even in the most remote emotional places. There is so much heartache found in Jaime's sweet little voice as he calls out for his "Dada". This book broke my heart. I think all good stories do. It is a tender and touching book.
The writing is not that sophisticated, not bad, not the best, good enough to keep you turning the pages long into the night (for me this magic number...more The writing is not that sophisticated, not bad, not the best, good enough to keep you turning the pages long into the night (for me this magic number was 3 am). After the first chapter I couldn't stop reading this.
Christine loses her memories by morning every day. So every morning she is introduced to what has happened to her in her adult life. Most of her memories went missing after her accident . For something so repetitive the plot did not wear on me. So that is saying something. In fact, I found it suspenseful even when she is introduced to her husband over and over, every. single. morning. I had to find out what had happened to her and what her future held. I enjoyed it.
I don't think this will end up on anyone's favorite list, but it's not a book readers leave unfinished. (less)
The River King took awhile for me to get into. At first the characters didn't interest me. I didn't care about the ghost story, the deceased horrible...more
The River King took awhile for me to get into. At first the characters didn't interest me. I didn't care about the ghost story, the deceased horrible professor and his wife that never ran away (but should have), and all the crotchety adults that seemed to settle for their unhappy lives in a desolate town at an eerie boarding school. Even Betsy, whom I like and seemingly gets the attention of the entire town still didn't do anything for me.
Then I was introduced to Gus and Carlin, two teenagers that attend the boarding school, coming from poverty, but wanting to fit in, so they invent happier stories about their lives. Their characters are full of dimension. I instantly fell in love with Gus and it makes me angry his teachers find him a slacker and his peers think he is disgusting. And I like Carlin just for her independence even though I felt angry with her for not seeing things for what they were. And I loved them together. Regardless of Carlin and Gus having a sense of right from wrong, and inherently being good decent people, they still can not prevent the cruel and hidden hearts of some of their classmates. What happens still leaves me sick and uncomfortable. It made me not want to read the book anymore yet I couldn't stop turning the pages, especially when the police officers are introduced because I finally felt that maybe there were adults in this book worth a damn. So I kept reading because I wanted justice. I wanted all the secrets revealed.
Quite frankly, I can't believe it . I want to scream at all the tired worn down adults that did nothing to prevent people from getting hurt. And it's sad that there are parts of this depressing book that happen in real life and the same type of adults do nothing about it.
Another point of interest for me involved the similarities between The River King and the story of the Fisher King. Both involve someone in need of saving and these literary comparisons added some interest to this book for me. I think this would be an excellent book to discuss in an English course. There are a lot of literary elements to discover within its pages.
It's a good book. Out of all the Hoffman books I've read this has the most details and character development, though if I am honest I like her distant dream like type books better when reading for fun. This is just so heavy and depressing but still worth the read. 3.5 stars.(less)