I previously read the title story, "The Hanging Tree," as well as "Lost Sister" in another collection which I reviewed here. The eight other stories tI previously read the title story, "The Hanging Tree," as well as "Lost Sister" in another collection which I reviewed here. The eight other stories that accompany them in this collection are every bit as good. Flawlessly written, gripping and entertaining. One thing I really love about Johnson is how adept she is at portraying a variety of different characters and viewpoints. In this collection alone she writes from male, female, adult and child's perspective—and very nearly mixes all four in "The Gift by the Wagon," which could be my favorite. Most of the stories are dramatic, but "I Woke Up Wicked," the tale of a young cowboy who "accidentally" becomes an outlaw, is wonderfully funny, and "The Man Who Knew the Buckskin Kid" deftly mixes dry humor with its drama too. And you'll have a hard time forgetting the bittersweet "The Story of Charley." Definitely recommended for serious Western fans, and a volume I wouldn't mind adding to my personal library....more
3.5 stars. I've been trying to get my hands on a copy of this book for several years so as to finish up Tarkington's "Growth" trilogy (The Magnificent3.5 stars. I've been trying to get my hands on a copy of this book for several years so as to finish up Tarkington's "Growth" trilogy (The Magnificent Ambersons and The Turmoil being the first two). National Avenue ends up being my least favorite of the trilogy, though it's certainly worth reading as most of Tarkington's books are, for his perceptive portrayal of a vanished time and changing times. As in Kate Fennigate, though even more so here, it's a little hard to take at times because of the frustrating behavior of the characters. Dan Oliphant's ceaseless, enthusiastic obliviousness is more exasperating even than George Amberson Minafer's snobbery and stubbornness (at least you can understand George's upbringing being the cause of that).
The ending, too, didn't seem quite as strong to me as either of the other two novels; it's touched more with resignation than resolution. There is the satisfaction of some likeable characters at least securing contentment and hope of their own, though their whole world as it existed at the beginning of the novel is gone—the industrial revolution and the growth of the city have been accomplished, but there is still a touch of beauty left in the world for consolation, is all that it seems to say. I don't know, perhaps it just seemed that way to me because some of the characters who are contrasted to Dan by not sharing his faults don't stand as strongly on their own. The exception to that, of course, would be Grandmother Savage, definitely the most opinionated and dynamic character in the book; and I couldn't help liking George McMillan—at least he's honest about his own shortcomings as well as others'.
It's neat to note that Tarkington slipped in some little offhand references to characters and places from the first two "Growth" novels—I did read this in the collected one-volume version of the trilogy, but the references seem organic rather than stuck in afterwards, so I have a feeling he may have done it while writing with a view towards using National Avenue to link and round off the other two....more
This is such a charming little old-fashioned romance. Rose Wiley, the prettiest girl in her little Maine village, seems on the way to marriage and hapThis is such a charming little old-fashioned romance. Rose Wiley, the prettiest girl in her little Maine village, seems on the way to marriage and happiness with a fine young man, Stephen Waterman, but she is not quite contented. Rose is a sweet girl, but she has a few things to learn about life—she doesn't quite realize just what an admirable man Stephen is, or how much it means to be loved by him. She has qualms about being a farmer's wife, having dreams of tasting city glamor, so when a neighbor's city-dwelling nephew begins paying his attentions to her she is drawn away from Stephen. By the time she realizes her mistake, will it be too late? It's a simple story, but so beautifully told, with memorable characters, touches of humor and a lovely portrayal of life in the Maine countryside....more
I hadn't re-read this book in a while, and I'd forgotten just how wonderful it is. It's definitely one of my favorite Austen novels. Anne Elliot is aI hadn't re-read this book in a while, and I'd forgotten just how wonderful it is. It's definitely one of my favorite Austen novels. Anne Elliot is a quieter but tremendously appealing heroine; we can empathize with her and feel what she feels. She is a sensitive person who experiences a great deal of emotion, both painful and pleasurable, yet is called upon to conceal most of it. I think there is a heightened sense of characters' feeling and emotions in general in Persuasion, compared to Austen's other novels. There are also much clearer and detailed physical descriptions of people and places, though I don't think Austen ever goes so far as to tell us what color hair someone has!
Another thing that particularly struck me on this reading is that Persuasion seems to contain a much larger number of happy and pleasant people—the Crofts, the Harvilles, the Musgroves, Mrs. Smith. The Crofts are some of the most charming characters in all of Austen, and probably the nicest example of a happy married couple in all her books. Even Lady Russell, though she can be regarded as an antagonist for the role her advice has played in Anne's initial unhappiness, is depicted as a woman of sense and kindness, who in spite of her shortcomings is still a true friend to Anne, and is willing to admit her misjudgment of both Captain Wentworth and Mr. Elliot....more
4.5 stars. Thoroughly enjoyed this one! In many ways it's vintage Dickens, and yet there's slightly different elements to it too. The various threads4.5 stars. Thoroughly enjoyed this one! In many ways it's vintage Dickens, and yet there's slightly different elements to it too. The various threads of plots seem a little bit more loosely connected than in some of his other books, the intertwining of characters' lives a bit more haphazard. I found it interesting that the existence of a big secret is actively suspected by Arthur Clennam almost from the beginning of the book, instead of coming as a surprise somewhat later on. And this is one Dickens novel where the hero and heroine actually deserve the titles! Arthur Clennam and Amy Dorrit, the two people at the center of the story, are well-developed characters and people you can sympathize with and cheer for.
Among the supporting characters, one of my favorites was Mr. Pancks—I wasn't sure what to make of him at first, but he grew on me as the story went on, till I was ready to give him three cheers at his final scene. The ones that had me laughing out loud more than once were the perpetually comma-less Flora and her "legacy," Mr. F's Aunt. Mr. Sparkler's Venetian courtship via gondola was hysterical too. I guessed where the Merdle plotline was going long in advance...partly because it reminded me of similar characters in another book, (view spoiler)[the Melmottes in Trollope's The Way We Live Now(hide spoiler)] And I was waiting for a long time for the come-uppance that I knew had to be coming to one particularly dastardly character, but I must say the shape it took was unexpected! The satirical portrait of the Circumlocution Office is a painfully acute as well as funny depiction of politics as we know them all too well...some things never change. And the character of Amy's father, and how he does not change with his change in circumstances, is similarly maddening and yet marvelously done, so that I couldn't help feeling Dickens must have particularly enjoyed sketching out all the nuances of Mr. Dorrit.
In short, if you like a good Dickens novel, you ought to like Little Dorrit.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more