I listened to this. The narration by Wanda McCaddon was excellent. Listening to classics is often a pleasure since the stories told are most often pre...moreI listened to this. The narration by Wanda McCaddon was excellent. Listening to classics is often a pleasure since the stories told are most often presented chronologically; each character is introduced one by one and the story moves forward without confusion. And so was it with this one too.
This book was first published in 1847 by the eldest of the three Brontë sisters. This was a literary English family raised in a parsonage. Charlotte writes of her own time and circumstances. The language is florid. Don't expect anything else. Perhaps listening to it is easier than reading it? Even listening to it gave me trouble; every time the door was "unclosed" I jumped.
There are clearly Gothic tones to the novel - fires and storms and blood and horror and who is that creature up in the attic? Heavy symbolism. What does that dream mean? What does that sundering of the mighty horse-chestnut tree signify? Our curiosity is aroused. What will happen? But I was not scared..... I think I was supposed to be.
Others have found this book to be character driven. I instead saw it as plot driven. For me each character is a fixture. Each one has a specific personality and they contrast with each other, but there is little internal conflict within the person. There was more internal struggle within Rochester than in Jane, and that is why I liked him more and could empathize with him. I think people are constantly unsure of where they stand and what they should do; I prefer to see inner turmoil within each character, not between characters.
And God and religion is a given. There is no discussion of WHETHER God exists.
This is a book written to pull on your heartstrings. There are orphans and horrible boarding schools and poverty and total destitution, yes even for the good and worthy God-loving people. For me this felt like a fairy tale for adults. The events are unbelievably coincidental. I had to laugh. Was I supposed to be feeling pity? I couldn't, not for Jane. She is too strong a woman; she doesn't need my pity. Rochester is the one I came to feel for, but the events were just too coincidental, too melodramatic and too simplified. So I close the book and think, what was Chalotte Brontë saying? (view spoiler)[ For me it was: marry the one you love. (hide spoiler)] Huh, I knew that......
Again, don't trust MY review. Everybody but me loves it.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I listened to the audiobook version narrated by actor John Wood. This is the 1881 edition, not the later one from 1906, which is known as the "New Yor...moreI listened to the audiobook version narrated by actor John Wood. This is the 1881 edition, not the later one from 1906, which is known as the "New York Edition". Unfortunately, the later edition, which many claim has a better ending, was not available anywhere as an audiobook.
Review: I enjoyed this book because of the author’s writing style and his humor. The humor is often sarcastic, but not nasty. The humor is based on knowledge of different cultures, life styles and human behavior. It is this that made my reading of the book enjoyable. And I believe Henry James was laughing with me at the antics of Victorian mannerisms.
So what is the theme of the book? It is set in Europe, predominantly, Italy and England, during the 1870s. The author is comparing Americans and Europeans. Having spent the first 18 years of my life in the US and thereafter having moved to Europe, of course this is the theme that drew me to the book. Henry James has beautifully captured Victorian manners and how they differed, how Americans bent them. Americans are shown to be more independent, freer, less constricted by set norms....but also amusingly naive. The characters are all well-to-do, educated and aspiring. How to succeed, how to be happy, how to get what you are striving for - those are the questions posed. Each character has followed different paths, had different goals and widely varying scruples. For the main character, Isabelle, the prime question is marriage - to marry or not to marry, who to marry and how do you balance independence and against the constraints imposed in those times by propriety. This is a question that we still grapple with today. Every couple will find a different solution; some marriages succeed and other fail and even how you define failure and success is up for grabs.
The writing is elaborate, even wordy, but Henry James has a superb vocabulary. Over and over I was amazed at his ability to grab just the right word. Yeah, this really impressed me. It is for his writing ability and his humor that I will be reading more by the author.
What I didn't like: there isn't one single successful marriage in this book, and by the way Henry James never did marry. Also, the ending is extremely abrupt. I was so shocked by the conclusion that I figured I had missed something and so I listened to the last chapters again. No, I missed nothing. You, the reader, have to stop and figure out what you think will happen. Everyone can draw their own conclusion. I know what I think. For me this is clear, and I do not want things spelled out for me, but the ending is just too abrupt! Remember I read the author's original version, not the revised 1906 version.
I will tell you this. You will get a big surprise near the end, for which, when you think about it, you realize you have been given clues.
The audiobook narration by actor John Wood was good! It is so easy to listen to classics on audiobooks; they don't mix time-lines or jump around as so many contemporary novels do. You just get the story in a straightforward manner. Nice.
I had three hours left of this nine hour audiobook, and I was still not enjoying it. But I persisted. This is one of those books that it takes a while...moreI had three hours left of this nine hour audiobook, and I was still not enjoying it. But I persisted. This is one of those books that it takes a while to warm to. By the end I cared for some of the characters (not just Doc, but Fauna and Hazel too) and there was some humor that made me smile. It has a "cute" ending. How do you rate a book that for the most part bores you but then at the end it turns for the better? By the end I liked it, but not in the beginning and not in the middle either! It is too much a repeat of Cannery Row.
When I had listened to 2/3 of the book I was annoyed, so annoyed that I had to stop and write a review just to let off steam. I am thinking you should hear both points of view. Here is what I wrote then:
Sweet Thursday is the second in Steinbeck’s series following Cannery Row (my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... ). However this second book is just sort of a repeat! In this book I feel no empathy for any of the characters. In this book they all feel like a bunch of misfits. In this book I don't even love Doc. Will there be a big party at the end? Authors rarely can produce a series where the momentum is sustained. This is boring, and the humor does NOT make me laugh.
The narration by Robin Field was very good. He made Stoner's wife sound really bitchy and Stoner so full-of-despair. He never stood up for himself. ON...moreThe narration by Robin Field was very good. He made Stoner's wife sound really bitchy and Stoner so full-of-despair. He never stood up for himself. ONLY once did he stand up for what he believed in. Only at that point was I rooting for him. I guess what the author wanted to say was that if you do not stand up for yourself you will be trampled. The author fills the book with two truly, truly evil people (view spoiler)[(Stoner's wife and Lomax, the head of the department at the university) (hide spoiler)]. I do not think people really are this evil!
This book is about people who live their lives with despair, people who never stand up for themselves and at the end are left only with regret.
I do agree the author can write well, but I did not like the theme of the book. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)