This is 1200 pages long and took me nearly four months to read but it was definitely worth the time. The characters are memorable, the language is bri...moreThis is 1200 pages long and took me nearly four months to read but it was definitely worth the time. The characters are memorable, the language is brilliant, and the details of 19th-century European history are fascinating. I think fiction that inspires me to do some research is most awesomely awesome. Most importantly, though, we have a damn good story here. As an English teacher, I am compelled to come up with a theme, and I'd have to say it is that what goes around, comes around. If you ruin an innocent man's life for no reason other than petty jealousy, there are going to be consequences. Also, if you devote your life to getting revenge, there are going to be consequences. Either way, in the end people more-or-less get what they deserve, but there is also hope for redemption and a new start. But never mind all that. This novel was published in serial form. It was the 19th-century equivalent of watching 24 or Lost. I can just imagine waiting for the next episode with baited breath, barely able to breathe in my corset. Finally, this book contains the same annoying class, ethnic and gender stereotypes which annoyed the heck out of me in by the same author, but I was able to get past it this time. This is just a better story, I guess, and I like the writing better. Your mileage may vary. (less)
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 me...moreIt 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. (less)
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 an...moreI 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!!
And that's the tragedy. I am left sad and angry, just absolutely furious that Plath lived at a time where a woman with her skills was not appreciated and told to learn bloody shorthand instead of focusing on her writing! Even more so, the people around her, except for 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, exactly as Plath describes so perfectly. You can get treatment and watch for the signs, but an episode can hit with no warning and it is so 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.(less)
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 itsel...moreWell, 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 in maybe a third of the scenes. I actually wept at the end of Hugo's Les Misérables so I was expecting the same level of brilliance and connection. It didn't happen. This one was sad and violent and just so terribly unfair, but the characters just did not touch my heart the way Jean Valjean did. In fact, more than anything, I found myself cheering for Djali the goat! That said, 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.(less)
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 prequ...moreFull 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?
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 uncl...moreThis 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.(less)
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 style...moreRay 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.(less)