"Little Women" was one of the most frequently read books of my childhood. I loved reading about the March sisters and their trials and triumphs. It wa"Little Women" was one of the most frequently read books of my childhood. I loved reading about the March sisters and their trials and triumphs. It was a real treat to read this beloved story with adult eyes, enjoying both what was familiar, as well as coming to see some things in totally new ways. I believe it had been at least ten years since my last reading, and what a difference a decade has made in this reader and her views on many things!
This well-known tale centers around four sisters. Meg, the eldest, is gentle and pretty and longs for the luxuries which she sees other young ladies and their more affluent families possess. Second-born Jo has quite an independent streak, and her quick temper and tongue often get her into trouble. Beth is the picture of a servant's heart, always looking for ways to help others and make their lives better, often at the expense of herself. Amy, the youngest, is artistic and ambitious, determined to make her mark on the world and marry her way into material happiness. The girls may occasionally fuss and fight with each other, but their deep bond of sisterly love sees them through many tough times.
Guiding the young ladies is their wise mother, whom they call Marmee, and their father, who opens the story away from home, serving as a chaplain in the Civil War. Their kind neighbor Mr. Laurence keeps a generous eye out for them, while his grandson Laurie provides a rambunctious companion for many of their adventures.
The book follows the girls from the foibles of youth, through the struggles of making their own way, through courtships and falling in love, through heartbreak and loss, and on into the realm of marriage, with homes and children of their own. Along the way they draw inspiration from "Pilgrim's Progress," wear out their New Testaments from frequent use, and learn timeless lessons which we can still relate to almost 150 years later.
What I enjoyed most on this reread was a greater appreciation for the second half of the story. As a youngster I didn't understand the choices of life partner some of the girls made, but more maturity on my part made me value Alcott's direction and the nuances of her storytelling. Having moved beyond girlhood myself, of course it would be those struggles and joys which tugged at my heart this time, more than the youthful squabbles of the first half. This really is a literary treasure, and a classic which will never grow old. If it's not one you've read yet, make some time and welcome the March sisters into your life. You'll be glad you did!
I was inspired to read this 1862 classic after falling in love with the Hugh Jackman musical. I had already been familiar with the Liam Neeson versionI was inspired to read this 1862 classic after falling in love with the Hugh Jackman musical. I had already been familiar with the Liam Neeson version for several years, but the 2012 musical put this story in another place for me.
This is the story of Jean Valjean, who as a young man was forced of necessity to steal a loaf of bread. For this crime and for various escape attempts, he spent 19 years in prison, emerging a desperate man. Convicts were the worst sort of people in France at this time; mistrusted by everyone and rarely able to find any kind of work at all. To survive he must steal again, but this time his life is changed in a much different way. Upon being captured, the bishop Valjean stole from forgives him and encourages him to find God and live for Him.
With a new outlook, Valjean takes a new name and uses the money from the bishop for very good purposes. He becomes wealthy and successful, even to the point of being mayor of the town. He is loved by everyone because of his generosity and taking care of the ones who work for him.
Then his world tumbles when Inspector Javert, a former prison guard, comes to town and begins to suspect his true identity. A woman who was dismissed from one of his factories also leaves him the care of her young daughter. Valjean must flee everything and find a way to take care of himself and Cosette.
Valjean never stops working for the good of others, and Javert never stops hunting him. This is a story of forgiveness, redemption, love, and the fight for liberty. Who does not identify at different times with these characters, The Miserable Ones? Will we allow the work of God to transform us, as Jean Valjean did?
You've perhaps heard that "Les Miserables" has lengthy sections which contain huge departures from the narrative. This is true. Those make for difficulty in sticking with the reading, and therefore this is one of the rare occasions on which I find myself suggesting an abridged version might be an acceptable consideration. Either way, this epic story has resounded in my heart, and I would be remiss if I did not encourage everyone towards this heart-stirring tale. It's a beautiful journey.
"The pupil dilates in the night, and at last finds day in it, even as the soul dilates in misfortune, and at last finds God in it." -- Les Miserables...more
When Jane Austen died in 1817, she left behind eleven chapters of a novel she had just begun writing. An anonymous author undertook the task of finishWhen Jane Austen died in 1817, she left behind eleven chapters of a novel she had just begun writing. An anonymous author undertook the task of finishing it in the 1970's and has truly given a gift to Austen fans all over the world.
"Sanditon" begins with Austen's original work just as she penned it. One of the owners of the seaside resort Sanditon overturns his carriage and takes refuge in the home of the Heywoods, a large country family. Out of gratefulness for the hospitality shown to him and his wife, the owner invites 22-year-old Charlotte to accompany them back to Sanditon for a special holiday.
Being a calm and observant outsider, Charlotte is able to see the inhabitants of Sanditon for exactly who they are. Her hosts, the Parkers, are exceedingly amiable and well-meaning. It seems everyone in town kowtows to the rich and elderly Lady Denham, seeking either her good opinion or a share of the fortune she will leave when she dies. Other townsfolk include the secretive Sir Edward and the young and beautiful Miss Brereton. Charlotte greatly enjoys watching and interpreting the interplay of these characters, until her own powers of observation become clouded in direct relationship to her friendship with a young man.
One of the things I admire most about Jane Austen is her ability to bring alive an entire community. There's no doubt each of her novels benefits from a large and vivid cast of characters. The same proves true in "Sanditon." The whole town is caught up with the excitement of who may visit the seaside resort next. I loved Austen's description of their society: "...The Miss Beauforts were soon satisfied with 'the circle in which they moved in Sanditon,' to use a proper phrase, for everybody must now 'move in a circle' -- to the prevalence of which rotary motion is perhaps to be attributed the giddiness and false steps of many." Indeed!
The transition between Austen and the finishing author is smooth in every way. While Austen made me laugh out loud early in the story, I continued laughing throughout and never saw anything come up which it was not plausible Austen herself could have written. We're treated with a dashing hero, hypochondriacs, secret engagements, an attempted kidnapping and the moving power of love. I would highly recommend this book for all who love Jane Austen and want to read more than her six well-established and completed novels. You'll enjoy every moment of seaside fresh air or ramble over the beach. Go ahead... take a trip to Sanditon and fall in love with Austen all over again!
After falling in love with the BBC's 2004 miniseries and deciding I firmly favor John Thornton over Austen's Darcy, I knew it was high time I read thiAfter falling in love with the BBC's 2004 miniseries and deciding I firmly favor John Thornton over Austen's Darcy, I knew it was high time I read this novel. I was not disappointed and was in fact delighted from the opening at how easy to read Gaskell is, the shortness of the chapters which aided this busy person to feel like she was progressing even when only given a few moments to read, and how very vividly the characters are portrayed. I was also thrilled to find how closely the miniseries did stick to the book, and that both held their own where they differed.
There is much to be enjoyed in this story. Margaret is the most free-thinking heroine I've encountered in classic literature and she's got the personality to pull it off during a time when opinionated women were still looked askance upon. Mr. Thornton is a man of immense honor and seemingly immovable opinions on life which are decidedly different than Margaret's, and while he is immediately attracted to her their minds are so far apart he feels she would never love him. The whole cast of characters is very well-developed, family and friends alike.
One of the best parts of the story is how both Margaret and Thornton change for the better as the plot progresses. Individually they make mistakes and learn from them, and have experiences in their immediate spheres which make them take another look at their preconceived thoughts. Both go through much before we get to the final chapters which make us as readers feel like we've walked this path right along with them.
I knew that the book did not conclude the story the same way as the miniseries and one of my greatest anticipations was to see how Gaskell herself wrapped it up. I began to be anxious about some of it, as Margaret tries to take too much into her own hands, but then it all worked out perfectly. The final exchange is just perfect to how us where each one of them has been and how they have changed. Extremely delightful and satisfying!
Rating it 4.5 stars, only taking away because I find the sentimentality a little overdone in parts. Margaret *does* go through a lot, but all the crying got on my nerves. Elsie Dinsmore she is not: just give us our Margaret Hale!...more
I love to read. I have loved every Dickens adaptation I've seen. It would be a natural leap to finally read some of his novels, right? That's what I tI love to read. I have loved every Dickens adaptation I've seen. It would be a natural leap to finally read some of his novels, right? That's what I thought! I picked "Great Expectations" because it was completely unknown to me and I wanted to approach it openly.
It took me 23 days to read this story. No, let me state it this way: it took me 21 days to read the first 250 pages, and 2 days to read the final 200. Obviously it picked up for me somewhere in there. ;-)
I enjoyed it overall. While I found the main character rather unlikeable due to the fact that he was discontent with his life and always striving ambitiously to be something that I knew would not make him happy, I loved many of the minor characters such as Herbert, Wemmick and the Aged P. Miss Havisham is strangely haunting and Mr. Jaggers was very distinctive, too. My main problem with the story was the fact that it was so over-developed... when things started falling apart for Pip was when I got interested. I'll definitely be reading more of Dickens; he and I share the same sense of humor and I laughed out loud many times while reading. I'll just let my brain rest through some nice light stories first. :-)...more
The first Christian classic I read, and one I have revisited several times since. It always resounds within me and inspires me to seek God for Who HeThe first Christian classic I read, and one I have revisited several times since. It always resounds within me and inspires me to seek God for Who He really is....more
Having seen two versions of this movie and enjoying the creepiness factor of the well-known tale, the book started out slowly for me. I also found theHaving seen two versions of this movie and enjoying the creepiness factor of the well-known tale, the book started out slowly for me. I also found the characters much less sympathetic on paper than on screen! Once our characters arrive at Manderley the pace picks up tremendously and I had trouble putting the story down. Richly descriptive in writing, the young new Mrs. de Winter faces the presence of the late Rebecca at every turn. I never get over the irony of the book being titled after a woman who is dead throughout the story while the heroine's first name is never revealed. Talk about living in the shadow! Who will have the last laugh, the living or the dead? It is still undetermined to me at novel's end and I'm just thankful I don't know any of these people in real life!...more