The Ghost-Feeler Stories of Terror and the Supernatural is an anthology of ghost/supernatural stories written by Edith Wharton. The collection include...moreThe Ghost-Feeler Stories of Terror and the Supernatural is an anthology of ghost/supernatural stories written by Edith Wharton. The collection includes both chilling and even comedic stories. Her supernatural tales include ghosts, the dead walking, simple murder, psychological tales, and more. In each story I was struck with Wharton’s ability to weave vivid detail and imagery to create an unforgettable scene, such as in this description of a person dying:
At last even these dim sensations spent themselves in the thickening obscurity which enveloped her; a dusk now filled with pale geometric roses, circling softly, interminably before her, now darkened to a uniform blue-blackness, the hue of a summer night without stars. And into this darkness she felt herself sinking, sinking, with the gentle sense of security of one upheld from beneath. Like a tepid tide it rose around her, gliding ever higher and higher, folding in its velvety embrace her relaxed and tired body, now submerging her breast and shoulders, now creeping gradually, with soft inexorableness, over her throat to her chin, to her ears, to her mouth … Ah, now it was too high; the impulse to struggle was renewed; … her mouth was full; … she was choking…. Help!
‘It is all over,’ said the nurse, drawing down the eyelids with official composure.
While reading this collection, I have also been reading The Turn of The Screw by Henry James. One story in particular, The Lady Maid’s Bell, reminded me a lot of Henry James’ writing style. Which according to the introduction of this book is not surprising. Her style is also reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe.
Overall, this book is a great collection of wonderfully put and vividly written stories. They aren’t scary in the traditional sense, but are indeed chilling and anyone who has a chance to pick up this collection should. It is like taking a walk through someones life and a journey through the dark recesses of Wharton’s mind. (less)
Magic, sexual escapades, court intrigue, death, war … The Devil’s Queen A Novel of Catherine de Medici by Jeanne Kalogridis has it all. Despite this f...moreMagic, sexual escapades, court intrigue, death, war … The Devil’s Queen A Novel of Catherine de Medici by Jeanne Kalogridis has it all. Despite this fact, I am left wondering what I got out of this book. There were times in the book where I was turning the pages fast desperate to know what would happen next and other times where I was immensely bored and wondering when something interesting would happen. Sometimes I felt a connection with the protagonist other times I felt there was something lacking in her, that she was slightly two dimensional. I’m not sure what was missing in this book. The story and plot line were fascinating. The ideas were great. I don’t believe there was much historical fact to the story line and that most of it was fiction, but that is to be expected in a historical fiction novel. I was also left at times disturbed by the some of the characters in the story.
The imagery used to describe dreams, visions, magic, and clothing were spectacular. They were filled with vivid details and allowed one to truly see those scenes. Those aspects of the book were brilliant and well done.
After reading The Devil’s Queen I am left with a neutral feeling. I don’t dislike the book, but I am not raving about it either. I feel it is an fascinating read and had it’s good points, but it wasn’t one where it held my interest the entire time and it felt a little slow and drawn out. (less)
I felt deeply sympathetic with the protagonist and this shows the masterful way Alison Weir writes her novels to tug at the emotions of the readers. L...moreI felt deeply sympathetic with the protagonist and this shows the masterful way Alison Weir writes her novels to tug at the emotions of the readers. Lady Jane’s tale is a tragic tale and you find yourself hoping for some great happiness to befall her at every turn of the page.
Despite my love of the story, I was not as enthralled with this book as I was with The Lady Elizabeth. I found I had some difficulty getting past the narrative style in Innocent Traitor. The book was written from the point of view of multiple characters all using the first person. Though Weir always designated who was talking I felt, as another reviewer pointed out, none of the characters had their own “voice.” I found males, females, and even children at times all sounded the same when they were speaking in first person. It always took me a moment to register who was talking. Even though the narrative style was difficult to get past the overall story was still well written.
If you are fascinated with the history of Tudor England and want to read a book from the perspective of an individual who eventually gets put to death through the folly of the adults around her, Innocent Traitor is a worthy read. It will not leave you disappointed if you are looking for a good historical story. (less)
I’ve been craving historical fiction of late and this soothed my craving to no end. I’m not a historian so I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the histo...moreI’ve been craving historical fiction of late and this soothed my craving to no end. I’m not a historian so I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the historical information in the novel, nor would I as this is a fictional account of the life and times of the Lady Elizabeth who would eventually become the Queen Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen. The novel by Alison Weir provides a well written narrative that not only follows Elizabeth, but those around her and influencing her life. Alison Weir in her note to the reader admits to taking some liberties with the historical facts in this novel, but she states that she attempts most of the time to stay as true to the accounts of fact as she can. Once again as I am not a historian I can not vouch for this, but as a reader and lover of history I would like to think that this is true.
As is typical of my nature when reading novels, I find myself fascinated by a supporting character. The Lady Mary, who eventually becomes Queen Mary is a well written character in this book who you find yourself at times sympathizing with and at other times despising. I think the emotional attachment that one finds themselves entangled in while reading this book is proof of Alison Weir’s ability to write a believable and entrancing tale surrounding the early life of Lady Elizabeth.
In The Lady Elizabeth, Weir does a fantastic job of providing a viewpoint both through the eye’s of a precocious child and through the eyes of the adults around her. I found myself so entranced and emotionally attached to all of the characters in the book that I could not put the book aside until I had finished reading it completely. (less)
For a little bit of sadness and a whole lot of laughter open up the book Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Taking place during WWII, the novel follows the an...moreFor a little bit of sadness and a whole lot of laughter open up the book Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Taking place during WWII, the novel follows the antics of a bombardier captain and his companions while they are stationed in Italy. The book is witty and well written. I couldn’t tear myself away from the pages and found myself laughing at the numerous scenarios presented, as they were often outlandish and silly. For those who shy away from scenes of prostitutes and war, this won’t be the book for them as they are often described in gruesome detail.
The protagonist, Yossarian, is a character that despite his shortcomings you find yourself cheering for throughout the book. Each of his companions are so well written that you are emotionally connected to them, you either love them or hate them. You laugh when they do something funny or they get in a ridiculous situation, you cheer for them when they find love, you cry when something bad happens to them; Heller wrote his characters well.
This book is filled with discussions of insanity. No one is safe from being considered crazy. Not the protagonist, not his superiors, and certainly none of his friends. Everyone in the book has a shade of insanity. The rule of Catch-22 is a rule that is as insane as the people in the book and is hilarious.
Catch-22 is not a book for the faint of heart, but is worthy of it’s classifications of a classic and a top book of the 20th century. If you can handle discussions of insanity, sex, and war and if you want a book that will make you laugh and cry a little then you must pick up Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.(less)
My first thoughts on the King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes was wow … what a great book! It was written with an open in your face attitude. Despan...moreMy first thoughts on the King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes was wow … what a great book! It was written with an open in your face attitude. Despantes hits on a lot of important social issues and covers several controversial subjects including rape, prostitution, porn, and masturbation. She wrote about things that you don’t find in mainstream writings and this makes it a worthy piece of feminist literature. I would recommend anyone with an open mind to pick this book up and read it. As Despentes says in the opening line of her book …
“I am writing as an ugly one for the ugly ones”
Even if you don’t feel you are an “ugly one” I’d say this is worth a read. (less)
It is a hard book to describe in any sufficient fashion. The basic theme of the story explores the relationship between a white woman and her maidserv...moreIt is a hard book to describe in any sufficient fashion. The basic theme of the story explores the relationship between a white woman and her maidservant over time in pre and post apartheid South Africa. The tale takes place in a small farming community and explores complications in marriage, farming, race relationships, illness, and family.
The narration is done in several formats. One is from the perspective of the protagonist as she lays dying and paralyzed in her bed with the maidservant as her caretaker. Another part of the narration is from diary entries, yet another is third person to clarify missing points in the diary entries. The fourth narration type is free-form thoughts interspersed through out the book. These multiple narration styles can make reading this book somewhat complicated, especially at the beginning. I found that as I got further into the story though I was able to get used to it.
The story began somewhat dry and slightly confusing. As it moved along it got more and more interesting. The best part of the book was the last quarter of it. I felt it was the most emotionally charged section of the entire novel.
The prose and imagery in this novel were gripping and beautiful. There were times when the words read out beautifully and other times when they were ugly and you knew they were supposed to be. This book carries a lot of emotions in the words and images it conjures up.
Overall this was a good book, full of emotionally charged and very difficult issues dealing with life, death, and human relationships. If you can move past a book that begins slowly and are adaptable to varying narration styles then this is a excellent book to read. (less)