Well, that was a very refreshing read! I have never seen a movie, play or cartoon of A Christmas Carol or read this before. Now that I have finished t...moreWell, that was a very refreshing read! I have never seen a movie, play or cartoon of A Christmas Carol or read this before. Now that I have finished this book, I have to say... WONDERFUL! The best way to convey the message of love, kindness, and generosity to all! There is a little bit of Scrooge in me at times, and this makes me more thoughtful to say the least. It took me a little longer to read than I thought it would. I love Dickens' writing, but I did have to read and re-read several paragraphs to be sure I didn't miss a thing being conveyed. I am so happy I went slowly and absorbed every word. He is a genius, no doubt. This book makes me appreciate the simple things in life more than any other! I recommend this book for EVERYONE.(less)
I have not seen any movies of Rebecca nor heard anyone talk of it. In fact, I never knew it existed. I mentioned to a few fr...moreWell, well, well, Rebecca.
I have not seen any movies of Rebecca nor heard anyone talk of it. In fact, I never knew it existed. I mentioned to a few friends that I was reading Rebecca and they knew the story right away. (Oh, my, gosh, Becky, where have I been?) And, an interesting point for me was that it reminded me of Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte, that same kind of tension and anticipation. I looked up the genre and they are similar – both are modern gothic literature. In fact, a reference was made in an article I read that Rebecca “mirrors the plot elements of Jane Eyre”, another Bronte.
At the beginning of the story, Mrs. de Winter is reminiscing about her past; looking back as to how she came to be where she is presently. As a young girl in her early twenties she worked as a companion for a wealthy American woman, Mrs. Van Hopper. They were vacationing in Monte Carlo when the story starts, but her life with Mrs. Van Hopper was dull, unexciting and demeaning. Mrs. Van Hopper is a want-to-be socialite and is always trying to connect with the upper-crust. One day as they are sitting having lunch, Mrs. Van Hopper sees Mr. Maxim de Winter, a few tables over, the owner of the Manderley estate, and comments to her companion, “It’s Max de Winter, the man who owns Manderley. You’ve heard of it, of course. He looks ill, doesn’t he? They say he can’t get over his wife’s death….” This is where the story begins!
One aspect that I loved about this young girl was her honesty, naiveté, and, as described, her gaucheness. Wow, she reminds me of myself if I had been in her situation. She was the complete opposite of Rebecca; Rebecca, the beautiful, much-loved, accomplished wife of Maxim de Winter, and the mistress of Manderley. Everyone loved Rebecca. Rebecca’s ghost still lived at Manderley even though her body was gone. Her signature in a poetry book, the morning room where she used to sit and write letters and send out invitations still had her presence; her scent still lingers in a coat that the 2nd Mrs. de Winter wore. Rebecca’s room is left exactly as it was the night she passed away. Rebecca was still in that house, she would never leave. This is a major theme throughout the novel.
Oh, the changing weather descriptions within the story that correlated to the different moods as the story progressed – absolutely superb! You could see and feel the fog rolling in and the mist on your face; you could hear the waves breaking on the rugged shoreline; the thunderstorms that rolled in when the tensions grew high. And, here I go again blathering about beautiful descriptions of landscapes. I can’t help it, the details of Happy Valley, the most serene and beautiful area at the Manderley estate was like heaven and you never wanted to leave it. The narrative of the flowers that surrounded Manderely was with such precision the aromas came wafting from the book right up my nose. You could see the carpet of blue bells, the azaleas and rhododendrons framing the road. Your sense of smell, touch, and sounds were triggered immensely in this novel. Here is an excerpt from one description: “but on either side of the narrow path stood azaleas and rhododendrons, not blood-colored like the giants in the drive, but salmon, white and gold, things of beauty and grace, drooping their lovely, delicate heads in the soft summer rain. The air was full of their scent, sweet and heady, and it seemed to me as though their very essence had mingled with the running waters of the stream….” Now, there is plenty more of this lovely verse throughout the novel.
Rebecca has many twists and turns that kept me turning the pages faster and faster. I haven’t been compelled to read a novel continually like this (ignoring dishes, ignoring dirty clothes, ignoring my children) for a long time! I couldn’t get enough. I recommend this to EVERYONE! And, thank you Mauro for recommending it to me! (less)
When I started reading Emma, it was a very slow start for me (the first two chapters were tough and I almost...moreEmma is my first Jane Austen. I am hooked.
When I started reading Emma, it was a very slow start for me (the first two chapters were tough and I almost put it down for another book). A few friends said that Emma wasn’t their favorite and I probably shouldn’t have picked it as my first Jane Austen. Well, I did start it so I was determined to finish it. Maybe it was an omen to read this one first because now I can say without “prejudice” that this may end up being my favorite of all her books. As I got into the rhythm of her writing, it was easier and easier to read. It is a wonderful and hilarious story! I’m so glad I didn’t give up!
Emma Woodhouse is a spoiled, beautiful, intelligent, and obstinate woman who has no desire to be married. She lives with her father (Mr. Woodhouse) in a very comfortable house and is of want for nothing. Her status in life is such that she does not need to be employed. But, she does have a penchant for matchmaking and this is where the story begins. Emma befriends a pretty young woman of 17 whose name is Harriet Smith. Harriet tells Emma about a fellow down the way named Robert Martin and how very good-humored and obliging he is. This is the start of a confusing matchmaking scheme where Emma is right in the forefront.
The characters Jane Austen created in this novel are unique and diverse in personality. Some of these characters can be very annoying, and others you fall in love. Miss Bates, for example, is a character (literally). The funny way she strikes up a conversation, and then it never ends. Mr. Knightley is a handsome fellow and about ten years older than Emma. He is a good friend of Emma’s father and doesn’t approve of Emma’s matchmaking ideas. He believes she should stay out of other’s love affairs. Frank Churchill is a fun, happy-go-lucky sort and the twists and turns regarding his role in this story are quite a kick.
The main theme of Emma is social status. And, at first I thought, “oh I am not going to enjoy this because I despise the subject”, but as I continued on and finished the book I realized that it is a masterpiece of mockery of this subject. The comical characterizations, the convoluted aspect of the story itself; this book took me by surprise!
Like I mentioned, it was hard for me to get started, but I think this is a pattern for me with every new book I pick up. I have to regroup my brain into the writing style of every new author. I would say that is MY problem, not Jane Austen’s. The point is that I quickly found Emma to be a warm, funny and extremely entertaining novel. I recommend this to everyone who loves a good laugh, and some nice old fashioned romance. Five Stars! (less)
As I started reading The Pearl, enjoying the beautiful descriptions of an early morning through Kino’s eyes, lulled and mesmerized, all of a sudden so...moreAs I started reading The Pearl, enjoying the beautiful descriptions of an early morning through Kino’s eyes, lulled and mesmerized, all of a sudden something unexpected slapped me awake from my reveries. Oh, my, that was unexpected! And from that point I was hooked on The Pearl.
The Pearl is based on a Mexican folk tale. John Steinbeck had heard the folk tale while visiting La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, and was inspired to write this novella. This is very simply written, but the message is so powerful. Kino, who is a pearl diver, lives with his wife, Juana, and baby Coyotito, near the village of La Paz, which is a pearl-rich region. The story starts off showing a simple life that they lead with daily chores and peaceful times, until one morning, during a diving enterprise, something happens that changes their lives in a way that will never be the same.
At the start, we are enlightened to the thoughts of Kino. His thoughts develop into songs. He would look at his wife Juana and baby, Coyotito, and hear a certain song, a song of family. This song came through many times throughout the story. You could feel the love of Kino towards his wife and baby. There was music of evil, music of the enemy in his head. You could feel the mood of the moment with these songs. These enhanced the story beautifully.
Within this story you will see that Kino and Juana are very savvy to the ways of the outer world, the world outside of their grass-hut village, the world of “stone and plaster”. Juana’s strength is very evident throughout and you develop a respect for her, she is not one to be pitied because she is so strong.
Now here is what John Steinbeck does to me with his writing. He lulls me into a reverie and makes me calm then suddenly shocks me back into reality. He starts off a section with slow methodical rhythm describing beautiful scenery and then builds to a crescendo where I find myself holding my breath until I think I’ll pass out. There are surprises at every turn.
I loved the message that came through this folk tale. It makes you stop and reflect on your own life what we are trying to achieve. Hum, do I really want that Castle on the hill? Is it worth all that stress and aggravation? I don’t think so. Let me live in my little grass hut and be comfortable and healthy. I really enjoyed reading this novella. I recommend this to everyone. (less)
After all the different reviews and comments that I have read about this book, I am so glad I read it myself. It was ironic, I just started reading Da...moreAfter all the different reviews and comments that I have read about this book, I am so glad I read it myself. It was ironic, I just started reading David Copperfield a few months before and the first sentence of The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caufield states, “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth”. Wow, did I laugh out loud when I read that. This book was meant for me to read now. I thought I had read it back in high school, and put it down in goodreads as "read" and only gave it three stars because I couldn't remember if I liked it or not. Well, of course I didn't remember because I had never read it. This rating has changed.
This was a journey through four days in Holden’s life that was very interesting. Life in New York, hum, nice place to visit, but don’t want to live there. The different comments I read earlier about The Catcher in the Rye was “Holden was a complaining spoiled kid”, “The dialogue was too repetitive”. I empathized with Holden, really felt for him. Many of his statements were true. His main theme of phoniness was right on. It was too repetitive? That’s what this story is all about –Holden’s thought process.
His relationship with his sister, Phoebe, was the warmest and happiest parts of the book. His interaction with the nuns at the coffee shop counter was priceless, and the little boy walking along the curb singing was a significant scene. You could see the small windows of happiness within Holden in pieces like these. And it’s funny that in reality, these small windows of happiness are out there throughout all of our daily lives, but we overlook them many times. In fact, the way he described his feelings about the museum was so accurate to the feelings I have had of past experiences. His appreciation of the simple things in life was evident in many instances.
Holden’s sympathy for the kids at school who weren’t as popular, who had the pimply faces; Holden seemed to be more compassionate towards them. In fact, he had compassion towards many of the unfortunate, and brought it out in descriptions of clothing and food. But, I interpreted an envy of those people in Holden because their lives seemed more simple, not striving for the big bucks, not keeping up with the Joneses, just living life. Not phony.
Now I have to say, I did not “get” The Catcher in the Rye title at first and did not understand the carousel horse on the front page, but as I read on it became very clear and the tears came streaming down my face. I love this book for so many intimate reasons that I can’t get out here on "paper". I can really relate to Holden. Excellent read. Five star. (less)
The ups and downs of my attitude toward Pride and Prejudice made me go from 5 stars at the beginning to 3 stars/2 stars in the middle and the latter s...moreThe ups and downs of my attitude toward Pride and Prejudice made me go from 5 stars at the beginning to 3 stars/2 stars in the middle and the latter section brought me back to a 5-star appreciation. So, I averaged it up to 4.
The best parts of this novel and others like it (Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte; Emma, Jane Austen; and Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte) are the conversations between the leading man and the leading lady. The conversations alone are what I look forward to – so engaging and mentally challenging; I could read these for hours. I couldn’t even fathom conversations with a potential mate like these – unbelievable! But, about three or four chapters in the middle of this book made me so edgy I wanted to pull out my hair. They were too repetitive. There was one chapter that completely covered a point, and yet, the next two following chapters repeated itself with only rewording involved. It was one of those moments I definitely thought in my mind – “Oh, was Jane paid by the word?” Well, it had to be the explanation for the points being stated over and over until it was run into the ground. Agghh, I was frustrated! But as I look back, maybe the point that was reiterated over and over was to punctuate the theme of pride and prejudice. I think I will go back and reread those sections to see if that may be the case.
The message of this novel came through loud and clear and that is what I enjoyed the most. We all know about class structure, yadda, yadda, but I loved the creativity of the message. Jane Austen gave it twists and turns to work your mind. I walked away from this novel with an emotion that was very positive; kind of under the theme “I’m ok; you’re ok”. I love when a novel moves me that way!
But, like I said earlier, the beginning was wonderful, the middle was dragging and the last quarter of the book was excellent. Again, the dialogue was superb; everything fell into place at the end. The last quarter of the book kept me turning pages and I wouldn’t put it down until I finished; which means: late for work (got fired); no house cleaning was accomplished (husband kicked me out); now have time to read as long as I want (that’s the good news). I am living on the streets because of my Pride and Prejudice; but, I do recommend this book to ALL. Just be careful to balance your life. (less)
The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry . . .
Well, I can't believe I missed reading "Of Mice and Men" in high school. My kids even said they...moreThe best laid plans of mice and men often go awry . . .
Well, I can't believe I missed reading "Of Mice and Men" in high school. My kids even said they read this as freshmen. This past weekend I was looking for a quick read to help my goal status of the 2012 Reading Challenge, and looked up "Of Mice and Men". I achieved an additional book toward my challenge, but the reward of the read was so much more. This small book gave quite a punch.
Right from the start, Steinbeck's landscape descriptions of California's Central Valley, close to Soledad are so vivid you can't help but feel the leaves crunching beneath your feet. The deep green pool of the winding Salinas River, the dry crisp leaves from the sycamore tree thick on the ground and the lizard "skittering" through them, the water snake with its head up like a periscope, the rabbits sitting on the sandy bank in the evening, the heron "pounding the air with its wings", and the ashes pile in front of the great sycamore from others traveling through this spot will forever be embedded in my mind.
This story takes place in only three days. It is during the depression, 1930, on a California ranch. Steinbeck slowly and methodically builds up the characters of George and Lennie, two migrant farm workers looking to start a new job at a ranch near Soledad. George is a small, compact, quick-moving fellow with well-defined features and savvy. He dreams of buying his own piece of land someday, to be his own boss. Lennie on the other hand, is a very large, slow-moving man, who is also very slow mentally. He dreams alongside George about the property they hope to attain someday. After Lennie's Aunt Clara died, George knew he would have to take care of Lennie. The friendship and "kinship" of George and Lennie are the most touching part of this book. Conversations between George and Lennie are repetitive all the way through, but you come to understand the significance of this as the story progresses.
This novella is full of themes such as: friendship, hopes and dreams, aloneness, innocence, violence, and prejudice. For such a small piece of work, Steinbeck outright covered each subject thoroughly and completely.
I never was exposed to the storyline of this book before, so I went in "fresh". As the New York Times stated on the back of my copy, "A thriller, a gripping tale . . . that you will not set down until it is finished". This was my experience exactly! What a dramatic thriller it is, and I am so glad to have experienced it. Definitely a FIVE STAR!!
Little Women is near the top on my list of best books EVER written!
I have to admit, when a good friend of mine suggested Little Women to read recently...moreLittle Women is near the top on my list of best books EVER written!
I have to admit, when a good friend of mine suggested Little Women to read recently, I had some reservations. I was unsure about reading a story about women of the 19th century and their lives, while I am living the the 21st century. I thought I wouldn't be able to relate to anything in this book. Oh, was I incorrect! This was the most pertinent book for today as any novel written in the 21st century.
What I gained from this book were the life messages. Many emotions you encounter throughout life are in this book: Happiness, sorrow, jealousy, pride, patience, anger, and with each one there is a lesson of some sort that Louise May Alcott brings out so artfully. My favorite lesson was when Jo loses her temper, and then repents and talks it over with her mother, Mrs. March. The dialogue of that episode was so well done, it should be put into a book titled "How to Talk to your Children regarding Emotional Dilemas". I probably will remember this scene more than any other because of how tender and warm Mrs. March explained human nature to Jo. The language throughout the book is completely "hip" to today's language which is really incredible, and makes the reading that much more enjoyable. That is why this is a classic that will never fade away.
Something I didn't know until I picked up this book is that Ms. Alcott wrote this mostly from her own family experiences. It made me cry harder and laugh louder knowing that much of this was a "true" story.
I did not hurry this read, as I don't hurry through any good read. For me it is like a savoring. When a book is as good as this, I want to absorb every morsel into my brain. I laughed, I cried and I mused. Even though written in the 19th century, it is still apropos to today's life lessons. We all have the same human emotions, no matter what century it is.