The disappointment... I understand the point of the story. The exploration of Victorian double standards etc. The descriptions of the countryside areThe disappointment... I understand the point of the story. The exploration of Victorian double standards etc. The descriptions of the countryside are nice, but nothing spectacular. The ambiguity of some scenes have almost a mystical quality, and I always appreciate subtlety.
However, the way Hardy deals with the character of Tess is uncomfortable. He has an obsession with Tess's beauty (describes her looks far too often; we get it, she has a lovely face) and makes the point of women being the fairer and more noble sex several times.
Hardy's way of examining the Victorian mores and fatalism through a female martyr is off-putting. He uses Tess as a mere tool, and doing so he fails to make her a convincing and compelling character. She carries her guilt through her entire life, but it's just all too much. Hardy hits you in the head over and over again with misery, so instead of feeling depressed or sorry for Tess I couldn't care less about anything that happened.
Wuthering Heights is full of darkness, but at least it's executed more smoothly and atmospherically. Tess is just kicked around and she ends up shedding all her character, becoming almost a caricature. She's the ultimate pure woman of the 19th century, but Hardy seems to enjoy a bit too much showing us the purity. Tess drags herself from one event to the other, but never did I feel the actual connection between her and what Hardy was trying to say.
Everything about this book is obvious, heavy-handed, and contrived. I never shy away from depressing stuff, but when a message is jammed down my throat (often at the expense of the characters) I become strongly averse to the whole story. The same happened with 1984. Nor am I the kind of person who rates a book low because I don't like the characters. Hardy tries to build a halo around Tess and treats the story as a fatalistic string of tragic events, so Tess is not really unlikeable but very hollow. I don't dislike her per se, but instead I dislike how she's fleshed out.
I can just imagine Hardy sitting at his table and thinking: "Alrighty then, let's make this as glum as possible, so even the dumbest ones will see the shitty situation of women in my time".
Fortunately, there's one thing that I can take from this: sexual encounters still mean different things with men and women. There are still far too many who uphold these double standards. There's for example a certain type of man who sleeps around until he can find the perfect woman to be his wife. At the same time he claims that the women he hooks up with in bars are just promiscuous dummies and good for nothing but one night stands (even though they have no idea how many partners the women have had), and his future wife should be pure and innocent without a huge sexual past (but it's ok for a man to have one). Ah, the good ol' madonna-whore dichotomy!
You have to be blind if you don't see the relevance of Tess with modern society....more
Kuopion satamassa vilisee. On se aika vuodesta, jolloin tuoreet ylioppilaat lähtevät kohti uusia seikkailuja, ja Antti Ljunberg on yksi heistä. HössötKuopion satamassa vilisee. On se aika vuodesta, jolloin tuoreet ylioppilaat lähtevät kohti uusia seikkailuja, ja Antti Ljunberg on yksi heistä. Hössöttävä äiti yrittää parhaansa mukaan huolehtia vielä viimeisen kerran pojastaan ja tämän vaatetuksesta, mutta sillä hetkellä kun Antti astuu laivaan alkaa uudenlainen elämä.
Aho kuvaa vähäeleisesti mutta tehokkaasti humalaista välietappia, joka lipuu kodin ja Helsingin opiskelijaelämän välillä. Antti uhkuu nuoruudenintoa, mutta itsevarmuus osoittautuu laadultaan pinnalliseksi, kun isän mielipide maakauppiaista on otettu kritiikittömästi vastaan ja laivalla mallia yritetään ottaa milloin kenestäkin Antin mielestä tyylikkäästä herrasmiehestä, koska "hän tahtoo näyttää, ettei hän ole nuori eikä kokematon". Naistenkaan kanssa Antti ei tule toimeen ihan niin kuin oli ajatellut, vaikka lapsellisesti kuvitteleekin itsensä Don Juaniksi. Entisestä elämästä on vakaa halu irroittautua, mutta jostain syvältä kumpuaa toisinaan ajatus siitä, mitä perhe kotipuolessa mahtaakaan juuri sillä hetkellä tehdä.
Antin vastakohdaksi päätyy Pekka, joka viinan sijaan juo maitoa ja on muutenkin hyvin pragmaattisen sekä varovaisen lukutoukan oloinen. Pekka hoivaa krapulaista Anttia, mutta Pekan kunnollisuus selvästi tuntuu Antista ainoastaan painolta, joka raahautuu uusista kokemuksista innostuneen nuoren perässä. Leppoisa ja helppo elämäkin vaikuttaa olevan Antin mieleen: "[h]äneen olisi tehnyt vastenmielisen vaikutuksen, jos sohva ei olisi ollut näin siististä sametista ja joka messinkiesine noin kirkkaaksi kiilloitettu". Horisontissa siintävät lokoisat kesälomat hienossa kartanossa. Antin yritykset esittää jotain muuta on ajoittain epämiellyttävää, mutta antaa romaanille monikerroksisemmat puitteet.
Siinä missä Yksin (1890) -romaanissa Aho kuvasi herkästi erään nuorukaisen kulkua Pariisissa, Helsinkiin tuntuu ehkä vieläkin modernimmalta. Ruotsalaisten ja suomalaisten erot ovat tapetilla laivan pöydän ääressä (esim. suomalaisten soveltumattomuus virkamiesaloille), josta päästään siihen, miten ylioppilaiden velkaantuminen ja höllä moraali puhuttavat, ja miten Suomessa pitäisi opiskella enemmän käytännön miehiksi kuin virkamiehiksi. Opintolainat, juhliminen, ja ylikouluttautuminen. Kuulostaako tutulta?
Epävarmuus, vapaudenkaipuu, "merenkäyntiä tyynessä vedessä"... Ahon tarkkanäköisyys ja taito päästä nuoren ylioppilaan nahkoihin on ihailtavaa. Joihinkin asioihin voi samaistua itsekin, kuten siihen miten ylioppilaaksi pääsy oli erään vaiheen päätös, mutta konkreettisesti olo ei tuntunut erikoisemmalta kuin muutoinkaan, eikä kukaan (onneksi) kohdellut jotenkin parempana ihmisenä. Antin kova hinku itsenäistyä on ymmärrettävää, koska onhan siinä oma hohtonsa kun pääsee lapsuudenkodista aloittamaan uudenlaista vaihetta elämässä.
Romaanin huumaava tunnelma on tarttuvaa. Antin saavutettua vihdoin Helsingin punaiset lyhdyt ja juhlien jatkuttua yömyöhään, jää viimeisistä sanoista haikea mieli. Miten meidän nuorelle ylioppilaallemme käy? Saavuttaako hän kaiken haluamansa vai sekoittavatko kaupungin huvitukset pään?
"Poskia lämmitti, ja jäsenet kävivät suloisen raukeiksi. Oli mahdottoman mukavaa tällä tavalla puhallella hienoa sikarinsavua ylös kattoon ja katsella, kuinka sen sitten avonainen ikkuna yhdellä henkäyksellä riipaisi pyöreään kitaansa...
...Hän on merenkulkija maailman aavalla valtamerellä. Hän on ja elää, nauttii nuoruudestaan eikä mistään huoli. Ei sillä väliä, mihin laiva laskee. Aina niitä on keulan edessä päinvänpaisteisia rantoja. Ja vähät siitä, vaikka karillekin kurahtaisi ja laiva hajoaisi pieniksi pirstaleiksi. Tottahan löytyisi joku tyhjä tynnyri hänellekin, jonka päällä kulkea kelluttelisi, mihin myötäinen tuuli puhaltelisi. Ihmisten pitäisi jo nuorina antautua onnensa ohjattaviksi! Mennä vain! Huilata huolimatta mistään!—"...more
Just as fun as the first one, although for some reason it took me a while to get into the story, so I let the book rest a few days. The further I readJust as fun as the first one, although for some reason it took me a while to get into the story, so I let the book rest a few days. The further I read, the more addictive it became.
I loved the snarky exchange of words between (view spoiler)[Amelia and Emerson (hide spoiler)], and I was happy to see that their personalities hadn't changed one bit, but that they could still spar with each other despite the situation changing. People like them can seem a bit hard, though, but there were moments where their hard exteriors melted and they seemed more human. Not that they didn't seem human before, but now there were more faults visible as well, like with real human beings. It was pretty obvious, too, that Amelia wouldn't settle into tea parties. The way she appears next to the ridiculous Lady Baskerville, who's constantly fainting out of shock like your typical romance heroine, would make anyone want to escape with Amelia to the dusty digs.
The characters were more interesting this time around, especially the insane Madame Berengeria, who loved her bottle a bit too much and dressed like ancient Egyptians. Bigger bunch of people also meant there were more choices for the murderer, and although the identity wasn't a complete shock, I wasn't disappointed either. Peters handled the twists and turns with style.
There's a cat, too!
Ok, that was a bit random, but Bastet deserves a mention.
All in all, I liked the sense of adventure. I can't give four stars, because I still feel there's something missing, but for certain situations these are perfect light mysteries, and I'd love to know where Amelia ends up next.
"Bucolic peace is not my ambience, and the giving of tea parties is by no means my favorite amusement. In fact, I would prefer to be pursued across the desert by a band of savage Dervishes brandishing spears and howling for my blood. I would rather be chased up a tree by a mad dog, or face a mummy risen from its grave. I would rather be threatened by knives, pistols, poisonous snakes, and the curse of a long-dead king."["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
"A young man in one’s hotel bedroom is capable of being explained, but a corpse is always a hindrance."
Is there a better way to return to reading and"A young man in one’s hotel bedroom is capable of being explained, but a corpse is always a hindrance."
Is there a better way to return to reading and reviewing than write about a light, bubbly, vibrant, and sparkly mystery? When my studies calmed down a bit and my brain began to miss fiction, I started a ridiculously long classic, but then I noticed a book whose blurb made my heart beat a little bit faster. A detective story that is set in the roaring twenties and whose main character is a bold and unconstrained female private detective, can't be bad. Am I right?
My expectations turned out to be reasonable. Phryne is the soul of the book. Whenever you start a new series, you want to make sure that you like the main character who carries the weight of the story, so that you're interested enough to continue with the series. Phryne Fisher carries herself with style and enjoys the luxuries of life, but isn't arrogant or afraid to get her hands dirty in seedy back alleys. This unabashed and clever adventuress, who enjoys cigarettes and - quelle horreur! - sex, exists in an entirely different sphere than the rest of the characters. Especially the squeaky clean maid Dorothy seems puny next to her mistress, even though she does find courage in the end when things become dangerous.
On the other hand, the plot itself didn't have the spark I was hoping for. One important identity was easy to guess about halfway through, because Greenwood's hint is pretty heavyhanded. Not knowing Melbourne, I also couldn't pinpoint the events to Australia, because it seemed like any metropolitan city would have been the location, which of course is a shame since Australia is an interesting country. The endless descriptions of Phryne's dresses just radiated iffy chick lit vibes.
Although the fluffiness wasn't entirely my thing and occasionally style moved ahead of substance, I believe I could continue with the series if I ever need something that wouldn't require any brain activity. Based on this first installment the series might potentionally be addictive, and because of that extra that the 20s brings to the plate, things could be worse. Greenwood's writing style has the kind of perkiness and sharpness which in the end makes reading fun, and that's what you want from a cozy mystery. If, however, I don't feel like reading the whole series, there's the tv show that I'm going to check out at some point. Maybe I'll make those cucumber sandwiches and cocktails as seen on Phryne's website to get in the mood....more
Evokes gothic atmosphere maybe with three sentences overall (the first chapter is alright). Varney's interesting in theory, as he's a sympathetic vampEvokes gothic atmosphere maybe with three sentences overall (the first chapter is alright). Varney's interesting in theory, as he's a sympathetic vampire and by far the only character who actually has a soul (ha!). The others are like cardboard cutouts. Not that there seems to be any logic to the story itself, anyway. Rymer either forgot every once in a while what his book was about, or he was so broke that he absolutely had to bloat the text by every means necessary, including ministories here and there that have no bearing on the story whatsoever. A hack writer if there ever was one. Or maybe he just stopped giving a flying fuck.
Would I pay a penny for each installment? Hell no. I knew this would be bad, being a penny dreadful and all, but I didn't expect an exhausting bore. So much so, that it wasn't even funny anymore....more
Not the best writing or dialogue, but the pulpiness and the engrossing story are enough to keep one interested. I might be a bit partial though, becauNot the best writing or dialogue, but the pulpiness and the engrossing story are enough to keep one interested. I might be a bit partial though, because I like The Thing (1982) (watched The Thing from Another World (1951) yesterday, but wasn't that impressed). Nevertheless, an isolated research station in Antarctica as the setting creates a slightly claustrophobic atmosphere, when the alien starts to wreak havoc and paranoia ensues....more
It's curious how Gudmund seems to be uncomfortable around the determined and self-assured Hildur, but he's smitten with Helga, who even retracts his aIt's curious how Gudmund seems to be uncomfortable around the determined and self-assured Hildur, but he's smitten with Helga, who even retracts his accusation towards his old boss (who impregnated her) because she's afraid of his soul (he's about to lie in court). Noble maybe, but also slightly implausible and makes Helga seem like an angel descended from the heavens.
The story itself is a sweet romance (not saccharine, thank god), but also a sort of morality tale. I read an old and battered copy from 1920, which may have affected in my opinion on the prose a little, because I'm fond of old Finnish. I still didn't like this that much, though. I'm mostly looking forward to reading Lagerlöf's other works (mainly The Wonderful Adventures of Nils and Gösta Berling's Saga). I just happened to stumble upon this at my parents' house, and I need to give this back to my mum. Too bad, since the paper cover seems to have been painted by hand, and it's incredibly beautiful....more
On the outside, the Radleys are a normal middle-class family. Parents Peter and Helen struggle with their marriage that has started to taste like cardOn the outside, the Radleys are a normal middle-class family. Parents Peter and Helen struggle with their marriage that has started to taste like cardboard, and their children Rowan and Clara struggle with teenage problems in a small town community. The kind of small town I personally have experience from: growing older, you start to escape from it in different ways, until you realize buses and internet connections are in danger of diluting your life into a half existence. You can never come and go as you please, because the bus connections are scarce, but you can't spend the rest of your life lying in bed reading books either, and certainly not spending time in town events (if there are any, usually there aren't) with small-minded and gossipy people.
"Drinking wine is just another thing designed to make them feel like normal human beings, when really it only proves the opposite. Helen insists they drink it for the taste, but he’s not even sure he likes the taste."
Behind the ordinary facade, however, Peter and Helen are harbouring a secret. They are vampires, but the children don't know yet. Until a tragedy occurs. The bland existence of the Radleys can never be the same again. Blood is passion, truth, temptation, excitement, and everything what the Radleys are trying to suffocate in themselves. When the urges begin to surface, Peter remembers the old days with Helen and his brother Will. The wild blood red days of night club lights and recklessness. As a contrast, the scene where Peter and Helen dine with their neighbours appears as hilarious. Mark rambles on and on about his job, Lorna's playing footsie with Peter, and Helen is completely off planet Earth. None of them truly happy.
The demented Will is of course a bad influence, but he does manage to break the bubble the Radleys have built for themselves. The masks of quiet respectability have only managed to hide the ripples, and Haig's subtle approach to violence only emphasizes the problems that the characters are facing. I wasn't particularly interested in what was happening with the kids, nor was I that enthusiastic about the love thingy, but the way blood and vampirism were mixed with family life was intriguing and satisfying. For me, the excitement was whether the Radleys would find the balance between living in hiding and being true to themselves. After all, loosening up a bit never hurt anyone, but suppression only makes way for an explosion.
Very different than the gritty vampires I usually prefer, but I'm glad I gave this a chance. Despite being a fairly light read (at least for me), Haig packs a lot of hefty stuff between the lines and never underestimates his readers. If you want to know why I hate self-help books, read The Radleys.
"Confine your imagination. Do not lose yourself to dangerous daydreams. Do not sit and ponder and dwell on a life you are not living. Do something active. Exercise. Work harder. Answer your emails. Fill your diary with harmless social activities. By doing, we stop ourselves imagining. And imagining for us is a fast-moving car heading towards a cliff.
The Abstainer’s Handbook (second edition), p.83"...more