I can't believe I never gave this book a chance before! Great Expectations is easily one of the most beautiful works of literature I have ever read. AI can't believe I never gave this book a chance before! Great Expectations is easily one of the most beautiful works of literature I have ever read. And Old Joe is one of the most endearing characters I have ever come across. Despite the fact that he was a secondary character, it was my desire to see his goodness and devotion finally be acknowledged that kept me going. Everyone needs a Joe in their life. ...more
The first half of this book was a bit of a tough slog, and were it not for the fact that I had it on excellent authority that I was in for a treat, IThe first half of this book was a bit of a tough slog, and were it not for the fact that I had it on excellent authority that I was in for a treat, I would have been tempted to give up. The pace picked up considerably at the start of section 3, though. This book has a little bit of everything to please an array of tastes. There are unsavory, disreputable characters (which Dickens did so well), the ridiculous and self-important who are worthy of nothing but contempt, and kind and honorable characters. There is mystery, murder, greed, romance, jealousy, betrayal, and it is all topped off with a thoroughly satisfying ending.
I chose this particular edition over the myriad of others that are available because it included an introduction by Nick Hornby, whose books I love. Sadly, I could have done without Mr. Hornby's introduction. After disparaging many contemporary writers (and there are many out there who may feel rightly so, but I don't feel the was the appropriate forum to voice this opinion), he then went on to state, ". . . it is only fair to warn you that Our Mutual Friend - his last completed novel - is in the opinion of many, including this writer, far from his best." Perhaps the publishers should have looked a little harder to find someone who actually likes and respects the novel to write an introduction, rather than go with a popular writer who clearly does not.
Also included in this edition was a list of characters and some charming illustrations. I don't know if the list of characters is standard in all editions, but I found it invaluable as I read the first half of the book. Trying to keep track of something like two dozen principal characters while trying to follow the story would have been near impossible for me without this tool.
So let me sum up my rating: 5 stars for the work by Dickens, and 1 star for the introduction by Nick Hornby....more
I had read a few books and short stories by Mark Twain in my teens, but I was unfamiliar with this one. I'm so glad I stumbled on it. The Adam portionI had read a few books and short stories by Mark Twain in my teens, but I was unfamiliar with this one. I'm so glad I stumbled on it. The Adam portion of the story is one of the funniest things I have ever read. I was actually laughing out loud as I read it.
The Eve portion of the story has quite a different tone. Being from the female perspective, it is a little more introspective and emotional and less laugh-out-loud funny. Nonetheless, the two sets of "journal entries" work well together to poke fun at the differences between the two genders when comparing how the two completely misinterpret each others actions, and can witness the same event and come up with two different versions of what happened. And despite their seemingly irreconcilable differences, Adam and Eve still come to love and depend on each other. ...more
This is probably the saddest book I have ever read. I was so disappointed not only with the sad ending, but with the utter lack of hope. I don't mindThis is probably the saddest book I have ever read. I was so disappointed not only with the sad ending, but with the utter lack of hope. I don't mind books with sad endings, but at least offer me some gleam of hope at the end! I was going to give it a 3-star rating for being such a downer, but it is too beautifully written to warrant 3 stars. So 4 stars for beautiful prose....more
This was a fun, lighthearted story, not at all what one expects from Thomas Hardy! There is very little in the way of tension or drama, which is probaThis was a fun, lighthearted story, not at all what one expects from Thomas Hardy! There is very little in the way of tension or drama, which is probably the main reason this is not listed among his great works. If you're looking for a good, clean romance, look no further.
Beautiful language, beautiful scenic descriptions, and excellent characterizations. In these respects, it is exactly what one expects from Thomas Hardy....more
**spoiler alert** I don't know what to say about this book. It's been a week since I finished it, and I can't stop stewing about it. It started off in**spoiler alert** I don't know what to say about this book. It's been a week since I finished it, and I can't stop stewing about it. It started off interesting enough, but I was initially afraid that as Lucy's circumstances changed, the most interesting part and characters of the story were left behind in Bretton, leaving me with the hope that the frequently used device of coincidence would bring them back into Lucy's life. The book got exceedingly slow once Lucy settled into her life in Villette, and the pace did not really pick up until about 2/3 of the way through. There were a few moments before then where I found the book unputdownable, but I could tell the story would not unfold the way I wanted it to, so these bits of the story always felt anti-climactic. Specifically, I refer to how Lucy seemed to hope more than friendship from Dr. John.
It wasn't until M. Emmanuel's odd behavior toward Lucy became more frequent that I felt the story really got going. Oh, the sparks that would have ignited between the two if Lucy had had any of Jane Eyre's fire! I admire the skill with which Ms. Bronte introduced us to repulsive men, and leaving the readers (the female ones at least) head over heels in love with them at the end.
I just don't know what to make of the ending, though. I am a sappy, romantic optimist by nature, so when Ms. Bronte said "to leave sunny imaginations hope . . . . conceive . . . the fruition of return . . . . picture union and a happy succeeding life," that's exactly what I did. It wasn't until I started reading other reviews that I realized I might have misread it. After overcoming the machinations of the "secret junta" and waiting three years, to know Lucy would never get her happily ever after with Paul is just to cruel to fathom!
It was like reading Tess of the D'Urbervilles all over again: being brought on this beautiful journey only to have all hope wrenched away.
I've seen many comment that Ms. Bronte's constant censure of Catholicism detracts from the story. I'm Catholic, and this did not bother me nearly as much as the constant use of French. Entire conversations were conducted in French, and if there hadn't been notes in the back of the book providing translations, it would have severely impacted my ability to enjoy the book. My copy of The Professor did not have translations for the French contained therein, and my reading of that short tome was slowed considerably by having to Google the translations. It's quite challenging trying to hold a book open with one hand while trying to type text in a foreign language with the other....more
I have to agree with many other reviewers: this was not one of Hardy's best. One of Hardy's favorite themes was exploring the social roles of women. WI have to agree with many other reviewers: this was not one of Hardy's best. One of Hardy's favorite themes was exploring the social roles of women. While he succeeded in Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Far From the Madding Crowd, I feel he quite missed the mark in Two on a Tower,
It is the story of Viviette and Swithin. I continuously vacillated between being annoyed with Viviette and sympathizing with her. She seemed to be in love, but her extreme caution made her come across as indecisive. The little experience she had with men had taught her to be cautious: her husband was a brute and she did not want to end up a victim again. And poor Swithin, so clueless about love and women, just allowed himself to be led.
Hardy also made ample use of another device seen in his other novels: the near miss. There were so many times where they were moments away from living happily ever after, but fate always intervened. And in the end, the greatest obstacle seemed to be that Viviette was SOOOO much older than Swithin: a whopping 8 years. Note extreme sarcasm :P (view spoiler)[Swithin himself was taken aback by the change in her when they finally reunited at the end. At 33, she was middle-aged and haggard. How times have changed! A woman of 33 today is just as appealing to a man of 25 as a woman his own age. (hide spoiler)]
I think I would have forgiven most of these things, or at least looked less unfavorably on them if it hadn't been for the ending. I found it to be too abrupt and implausible. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more