I have an undying adoration for The Importance of Being Earnest. It's the most fabulously ridiculous play, and I can't help but giggle every time I re...moreI have an undying adoration for The Importance of Being Earnest. It's the most fabulously ridiculous play, and I can't help but giggle every time I read it. It's hilarious from start to finish, from lines about handbags to Bunburying to aggressive muffin eating. Also, I always end up wanting muffins after I read this, and if it weren't absolutely pissing with rain right now, I would walk the three blocks to the supermarket to buy a packet of (English) muffins.
The other plays compiled in this volume are sort of a mixed bag for me. I love An Ideal Husband, and it's worth reading if only for Wilde's character descriptions, which are utterly phenomenal. Mabel's description ends thusly: "To sane people she is not reminiscent of any work of art. But she is really like a Tanagra statuette, and would be rather annoyed if she were told so." Similarly, we're told that Mrs Cheveley is "A work of art, on the whole, but showing the influence of too many schools". And finally, Robert Chiltern: "It would be inaccurate to call him picturesque. Picturesqueness cannot survive the House of Commons. But Vandyck would have liked to have painted his head." In other words, Oscar Wilde was the sassiest sass explosion to sass his way through the nineteenth century.
Lady Windermere's Fan and A Woman of No Importance show less humour than Earnest and An Ideal Husband, and focus instead on the wonktastic nature of society and its morals at the time. And finally we have the historical Salome and A Florentine Tragedy, which are my least favourite of the collection, but which nonetheless feature female characters in rather unusual positions of power.
Basically? It's an excellent collection of work from one of the greats, and you should read it (or at the very least, Earnest) at least once in your life. (less)
Well, I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. It wasn't what I thought it would be, namely the story of Odysseus' journey home from Troy. In...moreWell, I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. It wasn't what I thought it would be, namely the story of Odysseus' journey home from Troy. Instead, it was equal parts what happened while Odysseus was away, what happened on his journey home, and what happened when he eventually reached home.
Sure, there were times when it felt a little repetitive (if Dawn's rosy fingers stretched over the horizon one more time, I was going to scream), and I struggled a little with the use of Greek spellings (Klytemnaistra and Akhilleus and Kirke instead of Clytemnestra and Achilles and Circe). And there were moments when my predominant thought was "Wow, Odysseus is kind of a douchebag". But for the most part? It was thoroughly enjoyable. (less)
Oy. This was kind of rough. The story took a long time to get going, partly due...more2.5 stars. Edited version of review published on Melbourne on my Mind.
Oy. This was kind of rough. The story took a long time to get going, partly due to the fact that the part where Leo's going through all the documents is filled with slabs of Greek and Latin and Medieval English. Much of the dialogue once they arrive in Africa is meant to take place in an antiquated form of Arabic, and is therefore written thusly: "blame me not if thou dost wear away thy little span with such a sick pain at the heart that thou wouldst fain have died before ever thy curious eyes were set upon me."
So that made it quite difficult to get into the story because it was constantly flicking between nineteenth century English (for Holly's observations) and something resembling Shakespearean English for the dialogue. As a result, my brain struggled to keep up, and I found myself unable to read more than 25-30 pages at a time before my eyes started to glaze over.
It's really hard to read this type of book in the twenty first century without constant headdesking over the Victorian ideas about women and race. Here, the Amahagger people over whom Ayesha rules are billed as uneducated, cannibalistic savages who practice animal sacrifice. It's billed as a matriarchal society, but then we're told that every decade or so, the men rise up and kill off all the older women to put them back in their place again. Ayesha rules over them because she's white and educated, but even then, a lot of her ideas are billed as "the noble savage"-esque.
In Kôr, we're given a lost African civilisation, which YAY! But Ayesha shows Holly the catacombs of Kôr's citizens, and they're all white (Their perfectly preserved 4000 year old corpses also make excellent fire starters, apparently). Obviously, the idea of a lost civilisation that was highly educated AND populated by people of colour was too much for Victorian sensibilities to handle...
Ayesha's an...interesting character. She's a woman in a position of power who's not afraid to use her beauty to convince men to do her bidding. Even Holly, who happily proclaims himself a misogynist, falls under her charms when he sees her face. But on the other hand, she's obsessed with the idea of her "lost love", despite the fact that Kallikrates chose his wife over Ayesha, and she killed him for it. It's her way or the highway - anyone who displeases her is rapidly put to death, and she considers all her subjects to effectively be primitive slaves. She uses her beauty as a weapon, and ultimately it betrays her.
Headdesking aside, the last 50-odd pages were pretty exciting stuff. Yes, it was still a little slow but FAR more thrilling than the book's early stages. On the whole, it wasn't nearly as action packed as I remembered it being, and I can't help but feel like it would have been a lot more enjoyable if the dialogue hadn't been so formal and stilted a lot of the time...(less)
It had been a whopping fifteen years since I last read Macbeth - we studied it for year 11 English - so it s...moreOriginally posted on Melbourne on my Mind.
It had been a whopping fifteen years since I last read Macbeth - we studied it for year 11 English - so it seemed appropriate that I revisit it for Classics Club.
I think everyone knows the plot of Macbeth. Three witches tell an already rich and powerful dude that he's going to get even more rich and powerful, and then become king. He (or, more correctly, his wife) takes this to mean that he should kill the current king. He does so, and the king's sons flee for their lives, which inadvertently makes them look guilty. Macbeth rapidly becomes a tyrant, killing off anyone who he thinks has a chance at overthrowing him, even children. Macduff goes to track down one of the old king's sons, who's hanging out in England, to persuade him to stage an invasion and overthrow Macbeth. Macbeth is all "Pff, whatevs" because the witches told him that he could only be killed by someone who wasn't "of woman born". Except PLOT TWIST! Macduff was born by caesarean. He kills Macbeth, and the old king's son takes the throne.
(Yes, that's vastly oversimplifying things, but you probably knew the basics anyway.)
It took me a while to get into the knack of reading Shakespeare again, simply because I haven't read any of his plays since I studied Hamlet at university in 2001. Thankfully, I was using my year 11 textbook, which is still filled with all my scribbled translations into modern English! Still, I found it much easier to read if I muttered the lines under my breath.
Macbeth is possibly my favourite Shakespeare play. It's filled with murder and spooky supernatural nonsense and ruthlessly ambitious characters. Lady Macbeth is an absolutely brilliant female character, especially given that she was created in the early seventeenth century. She's ruthless and calculating and manipulative. When her husband freaks out about killing Duncan, she tells him to suck it up. When Macbeth can't bring himself to smother the guards in Duncan's blood, framing them, she takes over. And she gets FABULOUS speeches of badassery:
"Come, you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood, Stop up the access and passage to remorse, That no compunctious visitings of nature Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between The effect and it!" (Act 1, Scene 5)
Macbeth is an interesting character, too. He starts out full of disbelief at the witches' prophecies. Then, when he's made Thane of Cawdor, he sees a little glimmer of possibility, and grabs onto it with both hands. He justifies things to himself time and time again, whether it's the murder of Duncan, or of Banquo, or of Macduff's family. He's convinced that the three prophecies about his downfall can't come true, and stares in astonishment when they do.
There's some interesting historical narrative involved on Shakespeare's part. First we get Banquo's kingly descendants appearing to Macbeth in Act 4, Scene 1, who are widely accepted to represent the new Stuart monarchs who finally - in the form of James VI/I - united England, Wales and Scotland under one crown. Though James I had only been king for a couple of years when Macbeth was written, his descendants are still on the throne today.
Then there's a (rather long-winded, to be perfectly honest) section in Act 4, Scene 3 in which Malcolm and Macduff are at the court of Edward the Confessor and discussing how he could cure scrofula by touching the sufferer. Apparently when James I came to the throne, he declared that he wasn't going to practice the whole idea of curing the plebs of scrofula with the king's touch because EW GROSS with a side of THIS SOUNDS TOO CATHOLIC FOR MY LIKING. Though whether Shakespeare was having a sneaky dig at his patron or not should be left to the academics and not the likes of me!
It's not always an easy read - without the descriptions of the character's facial expressions or emotions that we'd get in a novel, and with only limited stage directions, the reactions of some characters to certain events (the death of a child, for instance) seem cold. There's also some serious artistic interpretation of history on Shakespeare's part (really? They had cannons in Scotland in the 11th century?? How interesting, considering the British Isles didn't have gunpowder prior to the 1300s!). It's definitely not a perfect play - some scenes drag longer than necessary while others seem a little short - but it's still excellent.(less)
This was kind of a struggle for me, and I think a lot of my struggle had more to do with the edition I was reading than the content. First of all, the...moreThis was kind of a struggle for me, and I think a lot of my struggle had more to do with the edition I was reading than the content. First of all, there are superscripted numbers marked in the text, but NO ACTUAL FOOTNOTES/ENDNOTES which drove me completely insane. Secondly, the fact that it's the miniseries tie-in edition means that there's a great whack of pictures right in the middle of the book. This meant that I knew certain plot points well before they happened, and also couldn't discover the characters for myself, as there were pictures of the actors in front of my all the time (see: THE FRONT COVER).
There's a lot going on in this book. It's effectively two completely different stories with occasional overlaps. I preferred John and Bella's story - Bella's kind of a brat but she's still likeable, and their story includes the Boffins who are pretty fabulous. Plus, there was an element of mystery to it. The other story could easily be adapted into a contemporary YA, what with the love triangle and the epic "you friendzoned me!" insanity. Lizzie - despite featuring on the front cover of my edition - is a fairly minor character. Much like Oliver Twist, the story focuses more on the people around her than it does on her.
In short, I enjoyed it, but I probably would have been more compelled to keep reading if the two stories had been separated out into different books. And if there'd been a little less of the random political interludes...(less)
So I wrote an entire review on this, and then tried to change the shelves I had it on before I published it, and Goodreads got all "Oh, you want to GO...moreSo I wrote an entire review on this, and then tried to change the shelves I had it on before I published it, and Goodreads got all "Oh, you want to GO to that shelf? SURE!" and I lost the entire review. *HULK SMASH*
Ahem. I shall attempt to summarise my thoughts in list form instead: 1. This is by no means my favourite Austen book. In a ranking, it would come fourth, after Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey. That said, it's still pretty great. 2. There's an awful lot of stuff packed in to such a short book. I was really surprised when I reached the end of volume one (100-ish pages in), and so much of what I remembered about the story had already happened. 3. It's less melodramatic than the film adaptations - Marianne, for example, doesn't contract her near-fatal cold from trying to walk to Willoughby's house. She just gets it because she spends all her time wandering around the gardens so that she doesn't have to be around people (girl, I hear you). 4. Or maybe it's MORE melodramatic. Because when Edward turns up to propose to Elinor, she runs out of the room to happy cry, and he has to come back another day. 5. The characters are pretty fabulous (or you love to hate them. See: Fanny Dashwood, Lucy Steele). 6. I did NOT remember there being so many conversations about money and how much one required to live on comfortably.
So yes. Good, but definitely not my favourite.(less)
I love the crap out of this book. Yes, it's pure cheese from start to finish. Yes, a lot of the dialogue is completely and utterly ridiculous. And yes...moreI love the crap out of this book. Yes, it's pure cheese from start to finish. Yes, a lot of the dialogue is completely and utterly ridiculous. And yes, the ending feels incredibly rushed and there are a lot of scenes towards the start of the book that could easily be cut down. But I don't care. Sir Percy is completely fabulous - although so much of the book is from Marguerite's perspective that it's easy to miss. Chauvelin is a pretty fabulous villain. And the whole intrigue at the foreign minister's ball is amazing from start to finish.
The one niggling problem I had throughout was Marguerite herself. She and Percy have only been married for a year or so. Prior to that, she was an actress in Paris. And prior to that, she and her brother Armand were orphans, making their own way in the world. So why - given that she's spent the vast majority of her life in poverty - would she be all "Ew, this place is gross" or "OMG, I had to walk like two whole miles and now I'm so tired I'm falling down"? So that was a bit weird.
But on the whole, if you're looking for some cheesy French revolution awesomeness? I wholeheartedly recommend this. (Or, at the very least, the miniseries version starring Richard E. Grant, because he is MAGICAL)(less)
For something that was written around 120 years ago, this was incredibly readable. I loved the story - it was full of twists and turns and misdirectio...moreFor something that was written around 120 years ago, this was incredibly readable. I loved the story - it was full of twists and turns and misdirection, and it paints a brilliant picture of 1880s Melbourne. I think at least part of my enjoyment was due to the fact that I knew all the places Hume mentions in detail, so I could get a mental picture of Brian hailing a hansom cab outside Scot's Church, of the cab making its way down St. Kilda Road, of strolls through the Treasury Gardens, and trips through the seedy underbelly off Little Bourke.
I think what I enjoyed most were his character portrayals, particularly for the supporting characters. Not so much the "He was tall and blond and had a moustache" kind of descriptions, but the parts that made them human - the squeaky singing voices and nasal laughs and crackling joints. It added humour and depth to a story that could otherwise have been a fairly standard whodunnit. (less)
Holy CRAP, this took me a long time to read. To be fair, I was reading other books at the same time, because I just couldn't handle reading nothing bu...moreHoly CRAP, this took me a long time to read. To be fair, I was reading other books at the same time, because I just couldn't handle reading nothing but this.
Don't get me wrong, I love the crap out of this story. But Victor Hugo is crazy long-winded, and had a tendency to go off on massive tangents about philosophy and social welfare and military history. All of which basically means that you can plough your way through over 100 pages of the book without any reference to a single character who has some degree of bearing on the story. I think if I'd read an abridged version and it hadn't taken me two months to read it, it would have been four stars rather than three...
Long story short, Les Miserables is one of the few times I would recommend reading an abridged version of the book. Because you're not going to lose any of the story. You're just going to lose all the tangents. And really, those are only of interest if you find religious history and philosophy in nineteenth century France to be completely fascinating. (less)
In all honesty, I had absolutely no idea what The Great Gatsby was about before I read it. I'm quite hesitant when it comes to early twentieth century...moreIn all honesty, I had absolutely no idea what The Great Gatsby was about before I read it. I'm quite hesitant when it comes to early twentieth century fiction - I'm a big fan of nineteenth century books, so progressing from carriages and the formality of the Victorian era to cars and the decadence of the Jazz Era was something of a dramatic shift for me.
I liked it well enough, but I don't know that it's going to be a book that I read over and over again. Essentially, while it was an enjoyable story, it was 150 pages of white people swanning around, revelling in their richness, and 30 pages unexpected death.
Perhaps I missed the point of the story, and would feel differently if I'd had to study it in high school like many Americans. But for me, it was an enjoyable if somewhat plot light story. (less)
Plot summary: Edwin Drood is engaged to marry Miss Rosa Bud, under the terms of their fathers' wills. Around the time Edwin comes of age, at which poi...morePlot summary: Edwin Drood is engaged to marry Miss Rosa Bud, under the terms of their fathers' wills. Around the time Edwin comes of age, at which point the marriage should take place, they mutually decide to call it off. Shortly thereafter, Edwin disappears leaving nothing but a few personal belongings. Has he been murdered? And which of the suspects (including his uncle, John Jasper, who's a secret opium addict and is in love with Rosa) is responsible?
Thoughts: This is Dickens' last novel, and he very rudely went and died just as the story was starting to get particularly fascinating. It's that typical Dickens mix of the realistic and the fantastic, the middle classes and the seedy underbelly. The lack of an ending is immensely frustrating, as the story wasn't even far enough along to deduce clearly what's going to happen (unlike, say, Wives and Daughters). Sure, you may have your suspicions. But it's not the same without Dickens' way with words to lead you there.
Definitely worth the read, even though it's technically only half a book!(less)
It seems like it took me FOREVER to finish this book. It was worth it, though. I think having watched the mini-series recently actually hindered me a...moreIt seems like it took me FOREVER to finish this book. It was worth it, though. I think having watched the mini-series recently actually hindered me a little because I kept going "OMG, JUST GET TO THE POINT ALREADY!!" Plus, I kept picturing Matthew McFugly McFadyen as Mr Clennam... I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I did Bleak House. But it's still Dickens and therefore still awesome.(less)
I first read Anna Karenina in year 11 literature, and we had a pretty rough time together, Anna and I. Still, with the exception of the big train stat...moreI first read Anna Karenina in year 11 literature, and we had a pretty rough time together, Anna and I. Still, with the exception of the big train station scene, I'd forgotten practically everything about the story and managed to convince myself that my vaguely remembered dislike was just because I didn't enjoy the assignments I had to write on it. Unfortunately, my vaguely remembered dislike proved to still apply 15 years after the fact.
I...did not enjoy this. There were elements of it that I enjoyed, to be sure. But for the most part, this was a long hard slog. I found myself tuning out and reading the same page over and over again, and had to force myself to pay attention to read it in 30 page blocks to actually get through it.
I think the main problem for me was that I didn't find any of the major characters engaging. I didn't like Anna or Vronsky at all, Oblonsky drove me nuts, Dolly was kind of a wet blanket, and the most interesting of the lot - Levin and Kitty - became dull as dishwater once Kitty had their first child. I mean, I get that Anna was miserably trapped in a loveless marriage. But her story felt, to me, like the epitome of #firstworldproblems. And while Levin's proposal to Kitty was pretty much the most adorable thing ever, all the tangents about Russian peasants and their ties to the land or politics or horses or election processes reminded me far too much of Victor Hugo's hundred page tangents in Les Miserables: probably fascinating to people at the time, but not even remotely of interest to me.
I honestly think the thing that annoyed me most about Levin's character was the last 50-odd pages in which he's clearly suffering from depression, but everything is made right when he finds religion. Because uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh. SERIOUSLY??? I know Levin is clearly the counterpoint to Anna's character - they both love passionately, have serious trust issues, struggle to bond with their children, and have mental health problems - but did we HAVE to have a "JESUS FIXES EVERYTHING!!" storyline?! Blurgh.
I did appreciate the complexity of his characters - there's no villain, no hero. They all inhabit the moral grey areas, they all experience jealousy and hatred and humility and kindness. But ultimately, I didn't care about any of them and wasn't engaged in their stories.
One thing I *did* find interesting was all the ideas about giving additional power to the peasant classes, and making them invested in the land and their work. One line only pages from the end made me flip to the front to check what year the book was first published because I felt sure it must have been not long before the Russian Revolution: "Twenty years ago we should have been silent, but to-day the voice of the Russian people is heard, ready to rise up as one man and sacrifice themselves for their oppressed brethren."
In that little speech, Koznyshev is talking specifically about Russia going to fight for the freedom of Christians in Serbia, but it could easily be applied to the workers uniting to free themselves from the rule of the elite in 1917. In all honesty, though, I was desperately hoping for the Revolution to happen 50 years ahead of schedule during this book just so that there would be something worth paying attention to in the story...
I know I'm well and truly in the minority in not loving this book. But I was firmly on the "HOW MUCH MORE??" train from start to finish. And no, the irony of being on the "kill me now" train is not lost on me. Final verdict? 2.5 stars, and the half star is for the adorableness of Levin's proposal...(less)
Bilbo Baggins and I go back a long way. Back, in fact, to 1994 when my mum read The Hobbit to me and my little brother as a bedtime story over the cou...moreBilbo Baggins and I go back a long way. Back, in fact, to 1994 when my mum read The Hobbit to me and my little brother as a bedtime story over the course of several weeks. I've read it maybe twice since then, but the last time I did a reread was probably in about 2009, so it's been a while.
I'm pretty sure everyone knows the story of Bilbo Baggins and his adventure to the Lonely Mountain, whether it's from the book version or the two (soon to be three) movies that Peter Jackson's managed to drag out of a 350 page book. But what surprised me this time around was how obvious it is that it's a children's book. Maybe it's that I've been reading more middle-grade books since I started working in a primary school library, and so it's more obvious to me?? Whatever it is, there's something about the descriptions, about the language used, about the simplicity of much of the dialogue that just makes the intended audience incredibly obvious.
It shows through too in the fact that much of the violence of the story - and it IS a violent story. There's a dragon, trolls, giant spiders, and an enormous battle for starters! - takes place quickly and in very brief terms. The Battle of the Five Armies takes place over the course of seven pages, and at least one of those pages is basically Bilbo going "Oh shit, we're all going to die" and then getting knocked unconscious. Smaug being defeated takes about a page to describe, and the dwarfs have no idea it even happened until days after the event. It's all surprisingly low-key when compared to the story that Peter Jackson tells us.
I loved the story, as I always have. But what I loved most this time around were Tolkien's illustrations. Despite being simple, black and white line drawings, they really bring the story to life. Especially when it's apparent how much the illustrations have influenced the set designs in the films. All you have to do is look at Tolkien's drawing of the front hall at Bag End to see the similarities! (Seriously, Google it)
All in all, I love the somewhat childish story Tolkien weaves. It gives you this warm fuzzy sense of nostalgia while still being full of action. And I'll be very interested to see how Peter Jackson handles the remaining chunk of the book (I mean, he inserted that ridiculous dip-the-dragon-in-melted-gold scene to The Desolation of Smaug, so......) when the final film comes out at the end of the year.
In short, there's a reason this book is a children's classic and remains on bestseller lists across the globe - it's really freaking good.(less)
I'm fairly certain that I read Nineteen Eighty-Four as a teenager, but I discovered over the course of the story that I had very little memory of it o...moreI'm fairly certain that I read Nineteen Eighty-Four as a teenager, but I discovered over the course of the story that I had very little memory of it other than the BIG BROTHER EVIL GOVERNMENT CONTROL ALL THE THINGS aspects.
Written in 1949 but set in 1984, this is the grandfather of all those dystopian novels floating around the YA shelves today. The world that Orwell created is a truly terrifying one, and very much a product of the post-war era. It's clear throughout that Nazism and Soviet Russia were pretty strongly on his mind while he was writing it. One wonders what Orwell would have made of the Cold War and the 1950s...
It's a hard book to review, because I'm kind of on the fence about it. So I'm going to go ahead and bullet point my responses instead of trying to be more coherent.
The good stuff: - The writing. It grabbed me from the first sentence ("It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen") and didn't let go. - The feeling of tension that came with reading about this awful society and the risks that Winston and Julia were taking. - Part three. Yes, I can understand why a lot of people didn't like it. It makes you deeply uncomfortable. But let's be honest - it's accurate as hell. - The admission that ultimately, it's about power.
The stuff I could have done without: - Creepily evil children. Yes, the idea of children turning in their own parents is a big part of why the society is so terrifying. - The insaaaaaaaanely long chapter in which Winston is reading Goldstein's book. Yes, it's giving us a whole lot of backstory, but that chapter is OVER FORTY PAGES LONG. And it was a lot like reading an "Intro to Dystopian Societies" textbook. - The numerous references to Winston's varicose ulcer. Because gross.
The stuff I had questions about: - The proles. Do they know that they're being oppressed? Or do they just realise that they've actually got it better than a lot of the Outer Party and keep their mouths shut? - How and when the social change came about. There are references to the Nazis and their actions, so presumably some time in the 1940s? Which means that in the space of forty years, superpowers formed, society was completely overhauled, the government started watching people 24/7 and everyone just...went along with it? I NEED MORE INFORMATION. - Were the Party intentionally manipulating Winston into some of the decisions he made? Because it certainly seems that way. But why put so much effort into it? If they knew years ago that he was having doubts - when he saw the photograph - why drag it out so long when others are being arrested for talking in their sleep??
In short: I enjoyed it (inasmuch as it's possible to enjoy a book about an evil government manipulating its population), but there was a lot that I just didn't understand. I guess this is why it's put on so many high school reading lists! Still, I would recommend it, despite my "WTF IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW??" confusion.(less)
I read this book a million years ago (possibly during high school? But not for class), and I was amazed at how much I'd forgotten. I'd seen the movie...moreI read this book a million years ago (possibly during high school? But not for class), and I was amazed at how much I'd forgotten. I'd seen the movie a year or so ago, so I thought I had the basic plot down. What I neglected to take into consideration is that the movie crams a lot of stuff into a short space of time, and stretches out other bits.
Basically? I'd forgotten that the story takes place over several years, and that pretty much the first half of the book has very little to do with Tom Robinson's trial. It's all necessary, though, in developing the story and the characters and the town, not to mention immersing you in the way things were in the South during the 1930s. But with such a sleepy, bildungsroman beginning, it's something of a rude awakening to then be thrown into a rape trial and revenge and prejudice and death. Which, I suppose, is exactly what it would be like in real life.
It's not a book I'll reread every year, but I'll definitely read it again a couple of years down the track.
(Completely irrelevant point - I love this bit from the author bio: "Apart from writing, her chief interests in life are collecting memoirs of nineteenth-century clergymen, golf, criminology, and music." Harper Lee is one hell of an interesting lady!)(less)
Oliver Twist is quite possibly my least favourite Dickens book for somewhat inexplicable reasons. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that so...moreOliver Twist is quite possibly my least favourite Dickens book for somewhat inexplicable reasons. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that so much of the story happens AROUND the titular character rather than TO him. Certainly, Oliver features in large chunks of the story but the majority of what happens to him is due to the actions of others and not because he makes his own decisions. He - despite spending an awful lot of his time crying and generally being a bit pathetic - falls on his feet time and time again. People always believe his story no matter what and OKAY FINE, I ADMIT IT: Oliver is a little shit and I really don't like him.
Still, the characters that Dickens creates AROUND Oliver - Fagan, Bill Sikes, Dodger, Nancy, Mr Bumble and so on - are all far more memorable and far more interesting to read about, even if the vast majority of them meet unpleasant ends. Plus, I'm pretty sure Dickens named a character Master Bates on purpose just to mess with prudish Victorians.
So yes. Enjoyable characters and social commentary shoved into an orphan-boy-with-a-secret-he-doesn't-know-about plotline. Shame Oliver himself is rubbish. (less)