I'll probably revise this later but for now, I will just say that the back cover of my edition of this book calls it "The Strangest Love Story Ever ToI'll probably revise this later but for now, I will just say that the back cover of my edition of this book calls it "The Strangest Love Story Ever Told" and I have to concur. It is weird, creepy and frankly, not really a love story. It is more of a ghost story, or a tale of revenge and how it can destroy a person's soul. Be prepared to find every single character unlikeable and/ or pathetic. In the early 19th-century words such as alcoholism, child abuse, co-dependence or post traumatic stress weren't used, but whoa do these people need therapy! The two families are about as dysfunctional as it gets. A few things that made it more intriguing are :
that awesome '80s tune by Kate Bush, which I have been unable to get out of my head Come on sing it with me...."Heathcliff, it's me, I'm Cathy, I've come home,I'm so cold...."
the idea that Heathcliff may be mixed-race. Maybe that is a modern interpretation but if he is part Roma, Indian, or black, that adds depth to the story and to his obvious psychological issues
the idea that Nelly Dean, the servant who tells most of the story, is a unreliable narrator and actually manipulates the other characters...twisted!! Me like...and I do think there is something off about her.
Anyway don't forget to shut your windows tonight! There are restless spirits walking the moors....(Shivers) ...more
This was, to be honest, just OK. I enjoyed it as a cultural artifact, but as a story...not so much. It certainly isn't something I'd read to a young cThis was, to be honest, just OK. I enjoyed it as a cultural artifact, but as a story...not so much. It certainly isn't something I'd read to a young child. It is sexist (if not downright misogynist), racist, and some of the language is incomprehensible to a 21st century reader. It's also a lot darker than any of the film versions I've seen. The Lost Boys are carrying actual weapons, people actually get killed, and Peter is pretty much a sociopath. Consider it a weird little piece of history, and watch the Disney version with your kids....more
Some of my students have selected this book for reports and presentations over the years . Just to be clear, they are non-native speakers of English.Some of my students have selected this book for reports and presentations over the years . Just to be clear, they are non-native speakers of English. Sometimes they select the book because it is short. I don't think they realize how intense it is , until they get into it, but few have ever regretted choosing it. I require them to read at least one novel by an American, preferably still-breathing female writer of color, not because I personally dislike the classic Dead White Males, but because said Dead White Makes are covered quite well in their other classes. I consider it my job to create balance and give students a chance to broaden their horizons.
This book made me smile, cringe, and at the end shed a few tears as I turned the last pages on a crowded commuter train. I can absolutely see why the book is controversial. But read it anyway. Teachers, include it anyway. None of the issues it deals with (racism, sexism, poverty, horrific child and spousal abuse, mental illness) have gone away, and the writing is just plain beautiful. Another thing I can absolutely see, is why Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature. She happens to be the only still-living American author to have won the Nobel, and the only African-American out of only 14 women. By the way, only 14 women, out of 111 Literature laureates...ummm, what's up with that? Food for thought....more
Ray Bradbury was a brilliant writer whose gift with the language goes beyond genre. This book is generally classified as a dark fantasy but his styleRay Bradbury was a brilliant writer whose gift with the language goes beyond genre. This book is generally classified as a dark fantasy but his style is definitely Literary. I would not call this a page-turner. I had to keep going back to really savor the words and let them sink in. There are a lot of Big Issues here: good vs. evil, nostalgia for childhood, fear of death and the unknown. The main characters are Will and Jim, two 13 year old boys in a small town, but I would say the real focus is on Charles Halloway, Will's father, who is struggling with getting old and with his need to protect his son while still allowing him to grow up and be independent. A creepy traveling show comes to town, and the boys are drawn to it, while sensing that something is just not right....
The style is equal parts Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, and Federico Fellini, with a dash of Hitchcockian suspense. More than the plot (which is engaging) I found myself just getting lost in the images, and feeling my heart speed up when the creepiness sneaked up on me. All in all, a good read but not a fluffy one. Give yourself time to fully appreciate it....more
Well, first and foremost, this is not a Disney movie! The title is a misnomer. The original French title is Notre Dame de Paris and the cathedral itselWell, first and foremost, this is not a Disney movie! The title is a misnomer. The original French title is Notre Dame de Paris and the cathedral itself is the star of this show. The unfortunate hunchback is only in maybe a third of the scenes. I actually wept at the end of Hugo's Les Misérables ...the book not the musical...so I was expecting the same level of brilliance and connection. It didn't happen. This story was sad and violent and just so terribly unfair, but the characters did not touch my heart the way Jean Valjean did. In fact, more than anything, I found myself cheering for Djali the goat! Yes, folks, there is a goat. As for most of the human characters...meh.
Nevertheless, Hugo's detailed descriptions of his beloved city, the weird Fellini-esque Court of Miracles, and the cynical, verbose, always self-preserving Gringoire the starving poet, make this book worth reading....more
I have conflicting feelings about this book. On the one hand, it deserves its place as a classic if only for the author's keen sense of observation anI have conflicting feelings about this book. On the one hand, it deserves its place as a classic if only for the author's keen sense of observation and way with words. She also had a sense of humor...Sylvia Plath, who knew!!
On the other hand, that's the tragedy. I was almost too pissed off to finish. What a horrible waste of a gifted writer who was actually an interesting person. I am left sad and angry, just absolutely furious that Plath lived at a time when a woman with her skills was not appreciated and told to learn bloody shorthand instead of focusing on her writing! Even more infuriatingly, the people around her, except maybe Dr. Nolan at the end, simply did not "get" her. Which, sadly, is often the case with depression even today. Living around depressed family members my whole life I have learned that it is a roller coaster ride, which Plath describes perfectly. You can get treatment and watch for the signs, but an episode can hit with no warning and it is crucial that the right support is there at the right time. Plath didn't have this support , and says near the end that in spite of her recovery she is sure "the bell jar" will descend and isolate her again. As we all know, it did. She was only 30 when she ended her life, ten years after the events of this book took place. It takes my breath away that she was able to get out of her own head long enough to write so compellingly about what it was like to be inside a depressed mind. Most of us, even we "normal" folks, don't generally have that kind of perspective on our lives....more
This was just OK for me. The first two-thirds were slow-paced, but I kept going because the complicated relationship between the narrator and his unclThis was just OK for me. The first two-thirds were slow-paced, but I kept going because the complicated relationship between the narrator and his uncle was interesting. I also really enjoyed the descriptions of Iceland and would totally LOVE to visit. The last third of the book was a lot more exciting and I liked the way it ends, although it's completely out of the realm of scientific possibility. Things that really bothered me: Verne was sexist, or just not all that interested in women. He also was guilty of the typical 19th century ethnic stereotypes. While I know not to impose my liberal 21st-century views on a classic from 150 years ago, I still have a hard time getting past that sort of discrimination and just don't enjoy reading it. All told, it was an enjoyable read and I'll still recommend it to my students along with the work of H.G. Wells as a classic science fiction adventure....more
It has taken me weeks to post this! Meanwhile, I've been grumbling about this book in my groups. I finished it, and didn't hate it, but it bothered meIt has taken me weeks to post this! Meanwhile, I've been grumbling about this book in my groups. I finished it, and didn't hate it, but it bothered me. In fact I nearly chucked it across the room a few times, but as a rule I do not finish books that I don't believe are worth my time. This one was. My rating is sort of an average between a 5 for the book's literary merit and just barely a 2 for my enjoyment (or lack thereof).
First the good stuff: it's a classic and deservedly so. I'm glad to say I've actually read it now. One doesn't get to criticize a book that one hasn't actually read. It's a quick, entertaining read and at times, the interaction among the four buddies is hilarious. Also, I learned more than a few bits and bobs of European history, always a plus.
Now the stuff that pissed me off: I know it is true to its time but it's ragingly sexist and classist. The female characters are Madonna or Evil Whore and are treated brutally. And don't even get me started on the servants! If you treated an employee the way the servants are treated here, you'd end up with a major lawsuit if not a black eye. I was ready to step into the page and slap the next Musketeer who said something on the order of, "He's only a lackey, not a gentleman of quality, so it matters not that I just insulted him/killed him/boinked his wife!" I would actually LOVE to use this in one of my Uni classes to talk about how horribly female and working-class characters are treated in literature.
On the other hand, at least the characters' behavior is historically appropriate. It's even more annoying to read a 17th-century character speaking or acting like he stepped out of a 21st-century Sensitivity Training Workshop.
The not-so-great 3 star rating is me, calling it as I see it. Everyone is entitled to my opinion. ...more
Full disclosure: I am a life-long Tolkien geek. Mock me, and I'll cuss you out in Elvish. And then I'll breathe a bit of fire at you. This is the prequFull disclosure: I am a life-long Tolkien geek. Mock me, and I'll cuss you out in Elvish. And then I'll breathe a bit of fire at you. This is the prequel to The Lord of the Rings. I actually read LOTR first when I was 9 years old (back when dinosaurs walked the earth...) and it was rough going, so I highly recommend reading The Hobbit first. It explains a lot of things that are important to the trilogy. Also, unlike LOTR, this is a children's book. It's not just for children, by any means, but it is shorter and easier. LOTR, both books and films, will make a lot more sense if you have read The Hobbit.
I can't recommend this book enough. Tolkien created a fascinating world, unforgettable characters, and the best story ever. In particular, I have a thing for the dragon. We don't get to meet him till very near the end, but he totally steals the show. The film version is coming out soon. Although I fully expect it will be great, just like the LOTR films, they've taken some liberties so I strongly suggest reading the book first. I'd say a precocious 7 or 8 year old could handle The Hobbit, but it is a wonderful, magical journey for readers of all ages. Come on, trolls, a wizard, a dragon, big scary spiders, and life-changing adventure. What are you waiting for?