I discovered this book when my offspring were young and have loved it since. Today I read it to the grandchildren (I lost my own copy, otherwise I wouI discovered this book when my offspring were young and have loved it since. Today I read it to the grandchildren (I lost my own copy, otherwise I would have read it to them well before now) and James and Zenobia both said they didn't like it! How can that be?!! Questioning revealed that James (aged 7) didn't like it because the prince was mean. Well, that's fair enough. I'll evaluate a book oftentimes on the basis of whether I like the characters in it or not (though I have also been known to find a book excellent despite disliking all the key people in it - but I can't expect the children to be able to do that at their ages). Zenobia (the 5-year-old) gave no reason. I think it's because she loves fairy tales where they get married at the end - that was her reason for liking almost every one of the 20 different versions of The Princess and the Pea that we read.
I first read this book many years ago, though not at school (as many seem to have). I must have done some literature studies but I don't recall them aI first read this book many years ago, though not at school (as many seem to have). I must have done some literature studies but I don't recall them at all - I think it must take a talented and inspirational teacher to be able to lead a group of mostly reluctant teenagers through a study of this kind, and my recollection of the English teachers I had is not of being inspired, so I'm rather glad I wasn't forced to study this novel. Instead, when I read it I was simply immersed in the narrative, and I read it the same way again this time.
I hadn't remembered any of the details, though I did remember how intensely disturbing it was. Now I find myself even more disturbed. When I first read it I thought that the boys became savages because they were without the influence of adults and because they were in a situation that they had no real skills to cope with. Now, I've seen a lot more of life. I've made sense of what I didn't understand as a child (and didn't understand why I felt uncomfortable), but have since identified as bullying - this was verbal bullying by a teacher; I've seen petty vengeance wreaked in many workplaces I've been in; I've stood up to a bully and found myself victimized in retaliation; and I've seen news items on the TV and read articles and reports and academic journals and I know that savagery is a very real and present part of a great deal of humanity.
William Golding could have written tales of the nastiness and savagery he saw among the boys he taught (he was a schoolteacher for many years), but with World War Two still not far behind them, and the atrocities of Hitler's regime so painfully recent, only a much stronger illustration would catch people's awareness. So Golding crafted a compelling novel.
From the descriptions of the surroundings to the details of what happened and to the dialogue, this is an excellent piece of literature. I've never read anything else by Golding - I think this novel and its usage for studying English has overshadowed his other work - but I intend to. I notice there are several titles published, so I will most definitely read one (or more, if his writing style follows through to my satisfaction)....more
I remember reading all of Rene Guillot's books that I could lay hands on, way back when I was at Intermediate School (a middle school here in New ZealI remember reading all of Rene Guillot's books that I could lay hands on, way back when I was at Intermediate School (a middle school here in New Zealand for a 2-year transitioning from children to teenagers - generally at ages 11 and 12). I loved the adventure and I loved the exotic settings. If I recall, many of his books are set in what was then French Africa.
I picked this one up at a Library sell-off in 1985, probably intending to encourage my son to read it in a few years time (he was then 3). I don't remember now if I ever did. Now my dilemma is whether to keep it till my grandchildren add a few more years or whether to keep to my resolve of clearing away as much as I possibly can of my over-large library.
This book is worth reading. It doesn't do excitement the way modern children's novels do, but the word pictures are wonderful. The documentaries we watch about Africa don't go anywhere near these descriptions of the equatorial forests. Listen to this:
Water everywhere, in the earth, in the air, in the mist exhaled by the stagnant pools, in the morass of rotting leaves, in the mud, in the rain . . . the water of the sap, water falling in drenching showers, to rise again as quickly in the blood of the trees, and return to the clouds. It was all one could do to drag one's limbs through that sticky swamp...
Guillot was writing over 50 years ago, but the environment he wrote about hasn't changed. The boy, Michel, stows away on a ship from Marseilles, and disembarks in the Ivory Coast, where he is set to work for a logging business. The way they cut down the trees will be different now, I'm sure, but the sheer oppressiveness of the heat and damp and dark (for the sunlight can't get through the great canopy) must still be the same.
I'm a conservationist, and applaud restrictions placed on the felling of these giants (though, like the poaching of endangered animals which still takes place, protections are only as good as the ability of governments to enforce them (and I attach a small link fromm 2004, and I'm sure if I googled a little longer I could find many more articles). Nevertheless, Guillot's description of the felling of a tree is fabulous:
The tree spoke. It was a long groan, at first strangely human but suddenly becoming brutal and savage. The wind, high above their heads, must have given an added thrust to the almost imperceptible swaying of the huge, quivering column, causing the wound in its side to gape more widely, while the sap came streaming down in a thicker flood. The tree spoke. It was about to cry the news of its death to the forest. The thousand small creaks that came from it, like the explosion of a thousand sparks, were the snapping of its fibres as they parted one after another. There was a sound like a low burst of thunder. The last of the fibrous mass attaching the trunk to its massive pedestal had given way. With a crash theat shook the earth the huge mahogany fell, crushing everything that lay in its path.
If this book is no longer available through our library system, then I'll have to keep it. I repeat myself - it's worth reading....more
Set in the years of the Great Depression, this powerful novel follows the Joad family as they are driven offI first read this book some many years ago
Set in the years of the Great Depression, this powerful novel follows the Joad family as they are driven off the land they have farmed for generations and seek work in the "promised land" of California. Drought has made instant profit impossible and the property owners aren't interested in waiting another year or two for the weather to right things - instead they have invested in great machines that turn the land and everything else in their paths. But the Joads have a brightly coloured handbill telling them of jobs in California, so, reluctant to leave their home but with no other options open to them, they head off in hope. So do thousands upon thousands of others.
Steinbeck made comment after the publication of this book that he held back on some of the atrocities in the Californian camps for these thousands of starving families looking for work, but what he wrote was enough to have his book banned because of the outrage of those who refused to believe. As Kerry wrote in the Goodreads group "Banned and Controversial Books"
The book was banned in a number of USA states, as it was regarded as a form of Communist propaganda. Californians were particularly angry with Steinbeck, as they felt (wrongly, as it turned out) that he has shown them in a bad light. In fact, he had told the truth of the desolation suffered by migrants in the Depression.
When I first read this book, it wasn't as required reading at school (not living in the US), but rather someone introduced me to Steinbeck's books, and I loved the first one so much that I read every one I could get my hands on.
I was a little doubtful about reading it this time round - because of the length (and the many other books I want to read) - but am really glad I chose to. Steinbeck's writing is superb. I love the way he uses repetition to stress what he's saying - the pictures build and build through the repetition and I find myself totally entering into the text, whether it be a description of the fields or a description of the people and what's going on for them.
The story is also so sad. Here in New Zealand we certainly experienced the Depression of the 1930s - I remember my grandparents talking about it, and I've read a number of novels set here in that time - but because our population then was only one and a half million, we never had the mass exodus and migration of workers thrown off their land by technology and the greed of rich landowners.
Reading this gives me some more empathy also for the 'economic' refugees who are still looking for a place to live in so many parts of the world today. Their stories are probably not dissimilar to that of the Joads and all the others in US Depression history. Tragedy continues.
I read this a couple of months ago as part of my plan to read at least of each of the popular series for children that we stock in the bookshop (whereI read this a couple of months ago as part of my plan to read at least of each of the popular series for children that we stock in the bookshop (where I work part-time), and decided that the grandchildren would enjoy it being read to them. James is 6 and Zenobia is 5, and so as part of their (home)schooling they've been listening to this over a few weeks. I'm not sure James was that interested, but, on the other hand, he didn't complain. Zenobia, like many 5-year-olds, just loves princesses, so she was thrilled with it. She's been wearing her own tiara all around the house, and when she wore it on our walk up to the library the other day, she was delighted with the greetings she received!
We will be reading more of the series - the princesses do love their gorgeous clothes, but also love things like outdoor climbing frames and learning to be ninjas. And they determine to work together to rescue any animals in distress. So, plenty of girly stuff, plenty for stretching outside of that, and a lovely caring-for-those-in-need message....more
I read every single Daphne du Maurier in my late teens & early twenties, loved them and bought copies of perhaps every one she wrote. I've been meI read every single Daphne du Maurier in my late teens & early twenties, loved them and bought copies of perhaps every one she wrote. I've been meaning ever since to re-read them, but you know what it's like - there are always so many new and exciting books to read! A friend of mine, however, was recently talking about this title, so I found it on my shelves.
Sadly, it wasn't what I remembered. One of the reasons for that may be because I've read a lot of time-travel books since and so it has lost the impact it would have had on me way back then. I don't know . . . but I'm disappointed because I was expecting to love it.
Putting that aside and looking at it as if I'd never read it before, I find I am still disappointed. To begin, it took quite a few pages before I realised that the narrator's voice was male. Now, I guess that's fine for an author to write from the point of view of the other gender, but I was busy identifying with the narrator until suddenly "she" was whipped away from me because 'she' was a 'he'.
I remember reading a book by a New Zealand author - now, wait a minute and I'll find who it was . . . . . . . got it - The Transformation, and she (the author) told the story from three different people's viewpoints, 2 of whom were male and 1 female. She also narrated 2 of them in the 1st person and the other in the 3rd, so it was quite unusual. Nevertheless, there was no confusion (she might have used their names as chapter titles, or some other way to make things clear - I don't remember right now). The point is, that there wasn't confusion, but in this book I got a shock when I realised I'd been confused.
Perhaps, when this book was written, the actions of the narrator would have made it clear that it was male...? That's quite likely. And du Maurier's characters are rather stereotyped. I think that's what irritates me about the book - it's okay (in my mind) for historical characters to be bound by their gender roles of the time, but the 1960s isn't part of history yet for me and I feel the rise of feminist critique.
Can I put that aside? If I try, I still find myself disappointed. I just couldn't get involved with any of the people. The narrator finds himself caring more about the people of 600 years ago, but I didn't find them particularly interesting. Nor could I find their story compelling in any way. I didn't like the narrator either and couldn't get involved in his 'addiction'. A disappointment all round....more
A friend of mine was reading this book and raving about it, and once he’d finished it he did a book review which he presented (to the group on the couA friend of mine was reading this book and raving about it, and once he’d finished it he did a book review which he presented (to the group on the course we’re both doing). I decided to read it, especially when another of our group also read it and found it profound. However, I came to it with mixed feelings. I’ve read a couple of Christian novels in the past, and have found them preachy, and literarily sub-standard.
This book is different. One of the “What Others are Saying About…” bits is this: Finally! A guy-meets-God novel that has literary integrity and spiritual daring. The Shack cuts through the clichés of both religion and bad writing to reveal something compelling and beautiful about life’s integral dance with the divine.
This isn’t a book that is going to convert anybody (what book could, really?!), but it does have a real depth that will speak to people who have been wondering about who God is, and why a loving God allows bad things to happen. Its theology is orthodox – the Trinity, the Fall, Jesus died to save us from our sins – but it’s not hooked into Christianity as a religion or church as an institution.
In short, four years after a family tragedy, the father is invited to return to the old derelict shack where the bloodied clothes of his abducted daughter were found. The descriptions of what he finds there are quite delightful, and the storyline is set in a modern and believable context. The setting of the story, the context of relationships with family and friends, and his personal struggles, are all very realistic. Through this, the author explores faith. ...more
I first read this book many years ago and have long said I was going to read it again. Finally I have, and I found it just as sad as I did before.
It'I first read this book many years ago and have long said I was going to read it again. Finally I have, and I found it just as sad as I did before.
It's obvious to any reader how it's all going to turn out, but Orwell's skill in portraying the animals is so good that we do feel for the poor dumb creatures who are so taken in by swift talkers and an ideological dream.
The world hasn't changed much since Orwell wrote this!...more
I had the vague feeling I'd read this before, and as I went through I became certain. It's a well-written book, as I find everything written by MargarI had the vague feeling I'd read this before, and as I went through I became certain. It's a well-written book, as I find everything written by Margaret Mahy.
This is a coming-of-age book, in a way. The chief protagonist is between school and university and determined to experience life. He does! In the space of 24 hours he experiences a good portion of the things he imagined he wanted to experience over the coming 24 years (or such).
The characters he becomes involved with are a bit whacky, and intensely interesting. The adventure is fun and happy/sad.
I always find myself wondering whether an author of a series like this has mapped it all out beforehand. Certainly, we are taught that we must write tI always find myself wondering whether an author of a series like this has mapped it all out beforehand. Certainly, we are taught that we must write the backstories of all characters, even the most minor ones, before getting any novel off the ground. And that we may not ever use most of the detail. So I suppose, if you've written (for yourself) all the backstories, and then your original novel is popular, and so is your second and third, ... then you could well decide to take one of the hitherto unnecessary backstories and make it into a novel of its own.
Moreta is referred to in the first books - a ballad was written about her, and generations later still learn and sing it. This novel lets us know why she had that honour.
I notice that some McCaffrey fans liked this as much as the originals, and others didn't. I'm one of the latter, though not by a lot. I think it didn't have quite as much dragon/human interaction as I would have liked, and perhaps a few too many incidental characters. But no matter - I enjoyed Moreta's character, and I enjoyed her love affair, and I enjoyed the other key characters. No disappointments here....more
This is a clever idea - the author/photographer has collected photos of items in the everyday world that pattern the numbers 1 to 9. I read it with thThis is a clever idea - the author/photographer has collected photos of items in the everyday world that pattern the numbers 1 to 9. I read it with the grandchildren, and they were interested, but I found it visually unappealing....more