wow, this is a dark book, but great! Labrynthine, a deep character study, with a perfect (but surprising) ending that kept me completely captivated. Iwow, this is a dark book, but great! Labrynthine, a deep character study, with a perfect (but surprising) ending that kept me completely captivated. It is an academic novel, but that should not imply it's a coming of age story or put it in a humorous category with Straight Man. It's more along the lines of The Basic Eight, or the movie Heathers. Ms. Tartt's narrator, Richard, being an outsider was a brilliant move, and while some of the characters come to life more quickly than others, they all do become fully-rounded individuals that felt like living breathing humans. Having attended a small liberal arts college like Hampdon College(although not quite that tiny, and not as "progressive"), the setting rang true. I see why people say The Secret History should be a modern classic. In the hours since I finished, I cannot stop thinking about it and keep thinking of new levels....more
How oh how did I manage to never read Anne of Green Gables when I was a child? I have a sister named Anne, and we used to watch the TV show and we likHow oh how did I manage to never read Anne of Green Gables when I was a child? I have a sister named Anne, and we used to watch the TV show and we liked it. But somehow I just never read it. The friend who loaned it to me warned me that people who come to Anne as an adult might not have the same love as those who read it as children, but I adored it!
Anne is such a well-rounded three-dimensional character from the minute we meet her. She's sweet, engaging, a chatterbox, and so well-intentioned, we love her from the start. What Ms. Montgomery does brilliantly, is also create very real and sympathetic characters in Matthew and Marilla, the older sister and brother who adopt her, who could come across as very flat and bland. Yet they come across as so loving and thoughtful and caring.
As we get to know Anne, the book speeds up. The first year she's at Green Gables is over half the book, but her 15th year is covered in just one chapter. The book altogether covers her from 11-16. That was an interesting component of the writing that I wasn't expecting and yet it worked. I was so glad to see Anne grow up, to see her become more mature and less silly over the years, to still value her imagination but not let it run away with her, to finally come around to forgiving Gilbert.
I have been filling in a few gaps in my literary background, and this is the first book in the gap-filling, where I really want to keep reading. I want to read the rest of the series! I am eager to see how Anne continues to grow and become an adult. I am worried about Marilla, and intrigued by Anne's pending relationship with Gilbert. Ms. Montgomery has created such a real world that I am completely vested in it. Bring on book #2!...more
this is NOT a children's book. Everyone sees the cute bunny and makes a very bad assumption. It's a political allegory about society, and real bunniesthis is NOT a children's book. Everyone sees the cute bunny and makes a very bad assumption. It's a political allegory about society, and real bunnies have sex and do kill each other. Fascinating and occasionally heartbreaking, I loved this book. Still feel the urge occasionally to call a car a "hru-du-du". It does seem to be a more appropriate word....more
I thought I was going to hate this book. I expected some trashy, syrupy, Harlequin-esque romance, and instead it was powerful, captivating, adn I readI thought I was going to hate this book. I expected some trashy, syrupy, Harlequin-esque romance, and instead it was powerful, captivating, adn I read it all in one sitting (as a school assignment, it was meant to be spread over a week). A wonderful, sweeping, romantic tale far exceeds any assumptions brought to mine by the word "romantic." ...more
I read this classic as a child multiple times. (Actually, the books I reread multiple times were #1, 6, and 7.) Thought I would reread them as an adulI read this classic as a child multiple times. (Actually, the books I reread multiple times were #1, 6, and 7.) Thought I would reread them as an adult to see if they held up. I reread The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Like most children’s books I’ve been rereading it went by so fast that I didn’t have much time to really get into it.
In TLTWATW, Lucy and her sister and two brothers are staying out at a large estate with an elderly man (“The Professor”) for the duration of WWII to avoid the bombings in London. While exploring, Lucy finds that through the back of an ordinary wardrobe, she can enter the magical world of Narnia. However it is currently unpleasant there as The White Witch has declared herself Queen, and made it always winter, but never Christmas. Eventually her siblings join her there, and they struggle to evade the White Witch, and search for Aslan who is said to be returning and who will set things to right.
The books features strong characters, exciting plots, and independent-thinking young women. I get why I liked them both and why they won awards. They are terrific, imaginative and inspiring children’s novels that hopefully will stay classics for decades to come.
One thing I really wanted to check out upon my rereading them though, was how religious they were. At the time, any religious elements went right over my head. But as an adult I became aware of the author's full oeuvre, which included quite a bit of religious writing. I also was eventually told that TLTWATW was a flat-out Christian allegory which I really had missed entirely. Interestingly, it doesn’t mention God at all. In retrospect, the allegory is fairly obvious and plain, but as a child I just took the story at face-value and read nothing more into it. Still, I’m not very comfortable with books proselytizing to impressionable children. However, I managed to escape unharmed. ...more
Rereading this book 15 years after my last read made me nervous. What if it didn't hold up? Yes, I know it won the Pulitzer (yes, it really did! Any oRereading this book 15 years after my last read made me nervous. What if it didn't hold up? Yes, I know it won the Pulitzer (yes, it really did! Any of you who'd been thinking it was just a romance novel should be rethinking and heading out to buy it.) That was reassuring but I was still worried. And I shouldn't have been. It was just as wonderful, if not better than I remembered. The one disappointment was that unlike back in high school and college the last 80 pages didn't make me cry. There are spoilers in this review, so if you haven't read the book before go read it right now, and come back to this review in about 20 hours. I'll wait.
I find it surprising that some people think Scarlett a huge bitch. She is in the very beginning, before the war, but after the war she does anything and everything she can - including murder and essentially prostitution - to save her land, and therefore her family and their livelihood. It isn't fun or easy for her - she has to swallow her morals, she thinks she's going to hell, she knows her mother would have lost all respect for her, but she does it anyway. I think if she absolutely had no other options, she would have knocked on Belle Watling's door and asked for a job. I love her resilience, her strength, her determination, and her fierce, abiding love for her family and her home. Sure, she doesn't like her sisters very much (would you? Especially Suellen?) but that doesn't mean she doesn't love them. I admire her, and I think in the same position I'd have done everything she does. A classic oldest child, she does what has to be done, with little to no recognition and a lot of consequences to live with.
K. and I were talking about some of the differences between the book and the movie. The movie was pretty darn close to the book, with both Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Haviliand carrying the book around and referring to it constantly while arguing with the director and producers. Naturally, a few things had to be cut for length. The most obvious being Scarlett's two older children. So we were discussing what purpose those children served in the book that was missing from the movie. I think the most important thing is that Wade Hampton made it obvious that Scarlett and Charles's marriage was consummated even though it was so short. Otherwise, she might have tried to have it annulled, or at least could have implied to prospective second husbands that she was in fact unsullied, regardless of the truth of that. K. thought that it also had an up side - it showed she was fertile, and in fact gave birth to sons which could be considered an advantage by prospective in-laws.
Another thing that was cut were two important male characters from the last third of the book - Will Benteen who took care of Tara and eventually married Suellen. And Archie, the former convict who drove Scarlett and the ladies of Atlanta around town on their errands. It's interesting that the one line from each man that just couldn't be cut were both given to Mammy. (Will to Scarlett about Ashley: "He's her husband, ain't he?" and Archie to the women at Melanie's: "Hush up, someone's coming.") In the movie, it was easy to gloss over the fact that there were just a couple of women and former slaves at Tara after Scarlett left, but you just couldn't in the book. Also in the movie it was easy enough to skip the part where at first she had a semi-respectable driver before she started driving herself to the mill alone. In the book, the scandalousness of the situation would have been just too much. Otherwise, it's amazing how accurate the movie was.
I was also surprised upon rereading to discover the first day - when she's flirting with the Tartleton twins, then talking to her father, takes 65 pages. By the end of the ball the following day, we're on p. 111. I know this is a long book (862 pages) but I was wondering how we were going to get through 12 years at that pace! It's interesting how Ms. Mitchell was able to speed up and slow down the pacing of the book, without making the action seem at all jumpy or disjointed. A lot of people also don't realize over what a long time the book takes place. We know Scarlett is 16 at the beginning and toward the end Rhett asks her how old she is, and she's 28.
I never understood her fascination with Ashley and will admit there were times I wanted to shake/slap her out of that. In fact, personally I don't understand how anyone but a quiet, contemplative, bookish woman like Melanie could ever like Ashley, but my mother always had a crush on him, so I guess he isn't just the wussy, effete crybaby I think of him as. (By the way, according to the book he has a large, distinguished, sweeping moustache which was the only description difference of anyone that I noticed from book to movie.)
Ms. Mitchell is a masterful writer. Her characters are true, three-dimensional, honest, and real. She's obviously done her research on the Civil War (although it was only 80 years gone when she wrote this - about the same distance as now and WWII - so it wouldn't have been as much research as we probably imagine as there would have been people still around who remembered that time.) And I found it interesting that she didn't actually feel the need to give us a lot of details about the war. Many writers would have (in fact, I think I learned more about the Civil War from reading the North and South trilogy by John Jakes than I ever did in school.) But Scarlett isn't interested, that doesn't change as the years go on, and Ms. Mitchell remains true to her point of view. She's great at building to an amazing climax that takes place over 200 pages - that's a shocking amount of space to maintain tension and anticipation over. And like a true soap opera, a massive amount of tragedy soaks the last of the book, to our exquisite torture.
Do I believe she'll get Rhett back? I do. I don't think someone who has loved her as long as he has (and mostly without being able to do anything about it) can stay away forever. He had tried to forget about her for years, and hadn't been able to do so. But, DO NOT read the horrible sequel Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley. I read the first half twice but both times just had to throw the book across the room when Scarlett decided she didn't need to wear corsets anymore! Puh-Lease! Scarlett will be the most vain person until the day she dies, and throwing off her corset for comfort would likely kill her from the shock. I've heard Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig is much, much better but I just can't risk it after the horror that was Scarlett.
Gone With the Wind is, and will always be one of my very favorite books. It is the best distraction in the world. I was going through a bit of a rough patch when I picked it up, and I was having trouble sleeping because I couldn't turn off my brain when I went to bed. Well Scarlett took care of that! A dose of Miss O'Hara was all it took to completely distract me. I slept like a log after picking it up. I have foisted this book upon plenty of Yankees who ended up loving it, so don't use that as an excuse. And it's a perfect book to read right now. I wrote one of my English AP essays on this book, and how one reason it was so popular when it came out in the 1930s was because it so perfectly mirrored what was going on at the time - A lighthearted, easy era, then a war, and a depression. By reading Gone With the Wind, people during The Depression could see a light at the end of the tunnel. We Americans had been through bad times before - in fact bad times very, very similar to the current bad times - and gotten through it just fine. And gee, a lighthearted, easy era followed by war and an economic depression - does that sound familiar to anyone today? Hmmm.
Everyone should read this book. I think it's one of the essential American literary classics. It perfectly captures an era (or two, as it more subtly also captures the era in which is was written) in our history, it gives us an indelible heroine who epitomizes many truly American traits - stubbornness, covetousness, resilience - and shows the American spirit won't be knocked down. Scarlett's absolutely a symbol of America, and I don't doubt for a minute that she'll never admit defeat in her quest for life, love, and the pursuit of happiness until the day she dies. ...more
Another one I would have given up on at p. 50 if it hadn’t been for book club. And boy, am I glad I didn’t! The beginning is draggy and weird, but ofAnother one I would have given up on at p. 50 if it hadn’t been for book club. And boy, am I glad I didn’t! The beginning is draggy and weird, but of course it all makes sense when suddenly we realize that set up isn’t how the whole book is written, and it has an excellent reason for being, and for being the awkward style that it is. It’s hard to review this book without giving away too many spoilers, but it was brilliant, exquisite, heart-breaking, and is a masterpiece....more