This is a difficult book to rate for me. On the one hand, it's a history worth reading and a very important subject (one of particular interest to me)This is a difficult book to rate for me. On the one hand, it's a history worth reading and a very important subject (one of particular interest to me), being about Eisner's experiences in the Warsaw ghetto and his participation in the uprising and survival. On the other hand, unfortunately, it is in fact very poorly written, and this often made it impossible to connect with the story. People were introduced abruptly and with hardly any background or explanation, description and establishing details were choppy at best, and except when expressing anger he relied almost entirely clichéd and over-dramatic turns of phrase, often when it was totally inappropriate and just made reading uncomfortable (purposelessly so). He seemed to think he was writing an adventure story, or at least he seemed to want to, and the effect was alienating--why on earth would you write an adventure story about such awful experiences? What Eisner really needed was a ghost writer or co-writer, someone who could prompt him to find the more interesting and relevant details, coach and critique on the best story telling methods and ways of communicating, refine the technique and make it accessible and relate-able. Because it really is a shame to have to say I didn't like this book, but in the end, I just didn't....more
I really enjoyed this book. It was about half and half for things I knew already and didn't. A few of her conclusions I disagreed with (but mostly notI really enjoyed this book. It was about half and half for things I knew already and didn't. A few of her conclusions I disagreed with (but mostly not), and some aspects I wished she would talk about for longer, but mostly it was a really great read. More than anything, it just made me want to reread and reexamine her books--again. It especially maid me want to look more in depth into her biography. It's incredibly easy to read and entertaining and goes very quickly. It's definitely a great book and perfect for an introduction to Jane Austen's life. ...more
Ok, I could not--COULD NOT--finish this. Maybe it was just too close on the heels of Vanity Fair. Maybe I'm just sick of High Victorian Melodrama. MaybOk, I could not--COULD NOT--finish this. Maybe it was just too close on the heels of Vanity Fair. Maybe I'm just sick of High Victorian Melodrama. Maybe I've just tried to read too much 19th century literature in a (relatively) short space of time. Whatever it was, I could barely stand reading this, which really is a shame as I normally quite like Elizabeth Gaskell. But, since it had gotten to the point that I was having to force myself to read this book (which was supposed to be for pleasure), and hating nearly every minute of it, and so aggravated I constantly wanted to argue with someone over it, I decided that enough was enough, and that I'm not actually obligated in anyway to finish it.
To make at least a few notes on the books itself, you can tell it's an early book (her first, I think?). Writing wise, it lacks maturity and polish, and awareness of what actually makes a good narrative. The story itself is conceivably good except, as I mentioned before, the extreme melodrama of it. And while the subject is very interesting (Trade Unions and striking workers in the 1840's, relations between the classes in Manchester, possibilities and consequences of seeking marriage outside one's class) the entire book is written with a sort of condescension which exposes Gaskell as the upper-middle class outsider that she was: someone who ultimately doesn't and probably can't (or just won't) really understand what she's talking about, all of her work with the poor notwithstanding. Her sympathies are too completely with the masters--even when she knows they're wrong, and even when she tries to show understanding for the workers. She never stops defending the system, never stops criticizing Trade Unions, the Chartists, the Communists, or any radical/progressive movement or thought which vocally and forcefully questions the justice of the current system. She seems to be wringing her hands at all the violence and anger, but whenever presented with an actual problem she has no answer except the vague, feel-good, and essentially useless sentiment of, "Well, who knows why these horrible things happen; let's all just hold hands, love one another, and trust God to do something." Basically, all of the problems I've had with her other writings--her simplistic treatment of the poor, her (very Victorian) obsession with "maiden-modesty" etc, her refusal to questions current mores or the privilege and unneeded wealth of the upper classes--are here in full force, and whereas in Wives and Daughters & North and South these were relatively small issues in otherwise superbly written tales that were well thought out and thought provoking, in this novel it's the entire focus and just plain provoking....more