These letters are described in this way at Audible:
"The deepest currents of passion seldom break the surface of literature. Romantic classics abound; but however skilled a writer may be in verbalising an emotional experience, he cannot publicly evoke the heat of blood, the yearning of soul, bared in perfect intimacy between two beings. But letters can do this, and songs never meant to be sung by any but the lover, or the beloved."
"The Letters of Heloise and Abelard perpetuate perfectly the bitterness of love thwarted and betrayed. How these letters were preserved no one quite knows. But they are as authentic as the two people from whose tormented lives they were wrung."
I certainly need help if I'm to fully understand the letters, let alone judge them.
The narration is done by two: Claire Bloom and a male narrator that is not stated! Bloom does a very good job in expressing through her intonation her emotions. Her lines are easier to follow than the male narrator who reads Abélard's letters.
I have done a little research. The letters are written years after the love affair. The two fall passionately in love. She gets pregnant, and they marry. Her parents are furious. He is castrated. Their physical love and passion is transformed into a "spiritual love". I certainly did not get all of this by listening to the audiobook! I did feel Héloïse's love for Abélard in the lines of her letters to him, less in his to her.
An engaging memoir focusing upon the author's life in the predominantly white Irish Catholic “Old Colony Housing Project” neighborhood of South BostonAn engaging memoir focusing upon the author's life in the predominantly white Irish Catholic “Old Colony Housing Project” neighborhood of South Boston. 85% lived on welfare. The author was born in 1966. The book follows the family through the 70s to the middle 90s. We are told at the start that four of the family's eleven children will die. Living conditions in the area start out bad and get progressively worse. Initially focus is set on the virulent sentiment against compulsory school busing. W. Arthur Garrity Jr. of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts enforced a compulsory busing plan of students between predominantly white and black areas of the city. What follows are the busing riots of 1974 -1976. Crime, drugs, violence, racism and social injustices mount. All attempts at desegregation and integration are futile. We watch how this plays out in the family. We watch how the four children die and are told of the death of numerous acquaintances. The telling is grim.
I am glad I read the book. Previously I supported busing, naively assuming this must aid desegregation, but as it was done here in Boston it didn't. The book made vividly clear what life was like for the residents of the area.
I had a few problems with the book. I never came to understand the love the author felt for his neighborhood; this is an essential part of the book. There are court proceedings that are not clearly presented. Part of the problem here is that important events are not satisfactorily emphasized making events difficult to follow. You are left only with a general, fuzzy understanding of what exactly happened! The fate of family members is clearly told, yet the fates of numerous other acquaintances are only rapidly sketched. Through mentioning so many we are to understand the size and the gravity of the problem, but in that there are so many and each one's fate so summarily told they become mere numbers rather than breathing, living human beings the reader might feel empathy for. I found this unsatisfactory. Acronyms abound, and they are not defined the first time they are introduced. Frustrating to say the least. These are all small quibbles; I am glad I read the book.
The author reads his own book. It is clear, but at times too fast. ...more
I totally disliked this book. I have read Woolf previously and enjoyed several of her volumes. I cannot imagine that the few lines of stream of consciI totally disliked this book. I have read Woolf previously and enjoyed several of her volumes. I cannot imagine that the few lines of stream of consciousness writing could be a stumbling block to readers. The problem here is instead that this is a polemic. A polemic is by definition:
-an aggressive attack or refutation of the opinions or principles of another -the art or practice of disputation by controversy
Aggressive is the word to focus upon.
The substance of this novel is based on lectures given by Virginia Woolf at Newnham College and Girton College, two women's colleges at Cambridge University in October 1928. A fictional narrator is woven around the “extended essay” based on the named lectures. These lectures are about women both as authors and as characters in fiction. A second fictional character is added by Woolf - Judith, Shakespeare's sister.
The fictional characters and narrative allow the author to use her distinctive "stream of consciousness" technique but it is used sparingly and not hard to follow.
What I objected to was the aggressive, angry and negative tone of the lectures, the central and most important focus of the book, i.e. the non-fiction part of the book. Over and over again with example after example Woolf illustrates how historically women have been dominated and repressed by men. She rants that society has made it impossible for women to promote themselves. To succeed they must have both money and "a room of their own" where they can write undisturbed. Rather than ranting about the past I would have preferred that Woolf focused not upon the negative but those few women who have succeeded. Give positive examples for other women to follow rather than focus on past failures. There have been female authors who wrote and were acclaimed as early as in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Aphra Benn (1640-1689), Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762), Mary Masters (1706?-1759?), Fanny Berney (1752-1840) and Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) to name but a few! There are female artists too. I say encourage rather than discourage.
There are a few descriptive lines in the fictional sections that I enjoyed. I could scarcely appreciate them due to the anger boiling up in me.
The audiobook I listened to is narrated by Juliet Stevenson. She is utterly magnificent. It was not the narration that caused me trouble. The audiobook has no introduction but at the end there are fragments of poems. These poems are called short stories, which they really were not. Merely very short fragments of something…… They did not speak to me. ...more
ETA: The only thing that prevents me from giving this book five stars was that I wanted to hear the voices of Chapman and George Putnam. I wanted theiETA: The only thing that prevents me from giving this book five stars was that I wanted to hear the voices of Chapman and George Putnam. I wanted their personal words because I am sure they were hurt. To draw Amelia honestly, more of these two men's personal thoughts should have been given. Amelia was such a very strong woman. I admire her. Yet to view her honestly one has to acknowledge how her determination must have hurt others close to her. My rating is a rating of the book, not the person.
After chapter 2:
I know already that this is going to be a very good book. I adore meeting imaginative, special individuals, people with spark. Amelia was just such a person. Can an author write about such a person and make even them boring? I think so. What I am saying is that Susan Butler, the author of this book, has the knack of knowing what to put in a book to make a person's "story" sparkle.
I must add this. In the beginning you are plunked down not understanding who is who. Many have the same name or a nickname. Such is extremely difficult with an audiobook! You begin with the great grandparents on both sides. I went to Wiki for a clarification of who is who; this allowed me to stop worrying and let me suck up the delightful details instead.
I am not all that interested in "the pilot" Amelia Earhart, but rather the person.
(There are three Amelias! Amy is Amelia’s mother. Both the “pilot” Amelia and her maternal grandmother often go by the nickname Meeley. Her sister Muriel is Pidge. Her father, Samuel Stanton Earhart, is called Edwin. Her maternal great-grandmother goes by Maria. This should help!)
I think you see very much by looking at a person’s childhood. I see it as a plus that the book goes back several generations. Amelia was born in Atchison, Kansas, in the home of her maternal grandparents. She came to live several years with her grandparents and she shared several personality traits with her maternal great grandmother. To understand Amelia you have to get the feel of her environment and her family background. I even appreciated the historical details of whether Kansas would be a free state or a slave state; this was an issue that shaped her whole family. In addition, there are amusing incidents related, like the ramp she constructed from the roof of the shed. This woman even as a child was always climbing up as high as she could, and she was thrilled by the speed of descent – “it was like flying”.
I definitely learned about Amelia. In fact she really was “not just a pilot, but also an educator, a social worker, a lecturer, a business woman and a tireless promoter of women’s rights” as stated in the book description. She was a whirlwind of a lady. She was feminine and strong. She knew what she wanted and she went after it. A person this strong can easily squash others. This is what makes me give the book four rather than five stars. Her strength simply must have been hard on other people. I am thinking of her beau, Sam Chapman, whom she kept hanging for years. I asked myself, “Is this a hagiography?” Well, she became such an American idol that it is hard to avoid singing her praise. Yet I would not classify the book as such. She makes mistakes, and she lies and that is given here too. Her ruthlessness is not shied from. I just wish that those whom she hurt could have been given a chance to speak from their heart.
All of her flying achievements are detailed. The word to emphasize is detailed. This may put off some readers. I found her achievements, the related history of aviation, as well as the in-depth discussion of her disappearance in 1937 fascinating. It has been thought that perhaps she was taken prisoner by the Japanese. Well forget that! I thought when one made a solo flight one was a-l-o-n-e. That is not so. There are navigators and co-pilots and …. These “solo flights” are the result of intense teamwork. Did you know that her first transatlantic flight in 1928, the first time a woman flew across the Atlantic, she was merely a passenger? OK, she was responsible for the flight log, but she didn’t even touch the wheel. The pilot was Wilmer Stultz with co-pilot Louis Gordon. Yet it is questionable if it would have happened had she not been there. Her role at Trepassey Harbor, Newfoundland, is significant. I did sometimes get lost with the technical aspects of the various airplanes.
I see Amelia more as a pilot and a feminist than a social worker. When asked where she stood in relation to social work after gaining such aviation fame, she replied, “She had never left it!” Those were her words. In a pickle where she had to choose between one or the other I am certain she would prioritize flying. She needed, above all else, independence financially and emotionally. Read to find out what she stipulated before she agreed to marry George Putnam!
Read to see how with the help of Eleanor Roosevelt she prevented Gene Vidal from getting fired as Director of the Bureau of Air Commerce. She loved Gene too.
I adored the audiobook narration by Anna Fields/Kate Fleming, even if I at times had to rewind to jot down facts. She knows exactly which words to emphasize. Such a reader helps you “digest” the significance of each word. Superb narration. A five star narration without a doubt. ...more