Overall good story, but MAJOR content advisory. I can’t recommend this one, in all honesty, but I’ll read the next one in the series because I don’t tOverall good story, but MAJOR content advisory. I can’t recommend this one, in all honesty, but I’ll read the next one in the series because I don’t think the content will be as bad. (June 2008)...more
I watched the movie for the first time with my roommate in the last few weeks of school. I enjoyed it more than I expected to (which isReading notes*
I watched the movie for the first time with my roommate in the last few weeks of school. I enjoyed it more than I expected to (which is to say, it's quite good) but I did miss all the little funny lines which they couldn't put in without it being constant narration. Naturally, when I got home I found my copy of the book and started it. It's just as lovely and tantalizing and downright frustrating as ever. I completely understand the literary value of the ending, but I suppose I like my old-fashioned desire for a satisfying resolution.
It strikes me once again how central London is to the English consciousness (major generalization alert). In Austen it's simply called "town" and while here it's called London, it does seem to have that same sense of a center which bounds the whole country. That sounds very literary theory. Derrida maybe? I don't know--I'm forgetting it all after two years.
The depth of allusion is astonishing! Just look at the names. Cassandra, of course, but also Cassandra Austen. Héloïse and Abelard, who I only properly appreciated after my Medieval Intellectual History course this semester. Rose has that connotation of being very bound up with love--the symbol of love and also the object which is desired and won. Leda's name is particularly interesting given that in the book she seems to be cast more in the role of the swan than of the ravished maiden. And of course there are all of the conversations about books--Rose and Cassandra arguing about Austen and Bronte, for instance.
I own the St. Martin's Press version, which has some rather silly questions in the back. "What is the meaning of the book's title?" for instance. I'm fairly sure that it's supposed to be one of those things which you just understand, like Cassandra's image of Midsummer's Eve as a cathedral-like avenue. Ah well.
I love the little sketches at the beginning of each section. They're so lovely and capture the surroundings without being overly specific.
* Reading notes? A possible new feature I'm trying. Less formal than an actual review and more specific. We'll see if it lasts. Since it's more me blathering on than anything else, don't necessarily expect anything sensible....more
I know. A recent classic of YA literature and I'm just now getting around to reading it. In my defense, I wasn't doing a ton of YA reading in 2004 anI know. A recent classic of YA literature and I'm just now getting around to reading it. In my defense, I wasn't doing a ton of YA reading in 2004 and this probably didn't sound like my cup of tea at the time.
Fifteen year old Daisy has been sent from New York to live with her cousins, who she's never met, in England. And if you know anything about this book, you're probably doing a significant eyebrow waggle right now. To get it out of the way, yes, Daisy and her cousin Edmond fall in love. However, their relationship gets surprisingly little screen time; although they have a huge connection, they spend more time apart than together.
At first I had a hard time getting into this one. The tense is, I suspect deliberately, ambiguous, shifting from past to present and finally settling on a kind of immediately experienced past. I kept being jolted out of the story by this, at least until it settled into a more regular pattern. As I'm thinking about it now, this is probably partly explained by the epilogue, but still.
Similarly, Daisy's world-weary attitude grated on my nerves a bit. I don't know many fifteen-year-old socialites. (Okay, fine, I don't know any.) The point is, to a certain extent I had a hard time with her age and how much was put on and how much was older Daisy filtering.
But then at a certain point, the writing just clicked and instead of slightly annoying Daisy and her cousins, we had a claustrophobic view of England in the throes of war and its cost. I do think that the switch from the personal story to the war story was a big help, since Daisy started to grow up, and instead of Edmond & Daisy being lovey-dovey, we had Daisy and Edmond separated and not sure when they would see each other again.
Again, just at first I kept noticing how dated this part felt in a certain way. That is, the story seemed to come out of the period just after 9/11 and 7/7. I wonder how it will read in a few years--whether it will seem even more dated, or whether in a way it will have cycled around to being entirely relevant. There's certainly a sense of timelessness to most of it--Daisy's fears and uncertainties especially. In the end, I managed to get past all of my issues and got completely sucked into the story, unable to pay much attention to anything else around me.
So this was an odd read for me--a book which I actually almost put down at least twice, but which ended up being rewarding to the persevering reader. I'm not sure I recommend it to everyone, but for the right reader it should be a real treasure.
Book source: public library Book information: Wendy Lamb Books, 2004; YA...more
Most Janeites know Jane Austen’s biting wit of old. It is certainly present in all of her novels. But if you love Jane Austen and have not read “The HMost Janeites know Jane Austen’s biting wit of old. It is certainly present in all of her novels. But if you love Jane Austen and have not read “The History of England,” you are missing one of the most exuberant displays of that wit. This little book, written by a young Jane and dedicated to her sister Cassandra, pokes fun at historians, historical figures, and unreasonable prejudices. The edition I read included both a facsimile copy of the manuscript, complete with Cassandra’s pictures, and the text typed out (since the handwriting is a bit hard to read sometimes).
The “historian” is an ardent advocate for the Stuart family and anyone who is a Stuart or helped a Stuart is entirely innocent of any wrong they might have been accused of. Anyone hurt or opposed a Stuart is instantly vilified. Poor Elizabeth I, who executed Mary, Queen of Scots, has no chance at all. She is “that disgrace to humanity, that pest of society, Elizabeth….the destroyer of all comfort, the deceitful Betrayer of trust reposed in her, & the Murderess of her Cousin.”
A reasonable knowledge of English history from the reigns of Edward IV to Charles I is helpful when reading this, but the main part of the history, from Henry VIII to Elizabeth (that pest of society) should be accessible to everyone. Highly recommended for all ages.
Hilariously funny. I was rolling about in silent laughter the whole time (silent because there were people sleeping). I really need to get my hands onHilariously funny. I was rolling about in silent laughter the whole time (silent because there were people sleeping). I really need to get my hands on the third book! (Aug. 2010)...more
I had read this book years ago and decided that my good memory of it was worth going back and trying it again. I was right. This is one extremely wellI had read this book years ago and decided that my good memory of it was worth going back and trying it again. I was right. This is one extremely well researched, thought out, and written book.
Nat Field is a young actor recruited by a somewhat mysterious man named Arby to play Puck in Arby's version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream". The company of actors are all boys aged 11-18. They will play in the brand-new reproduction of Shakespeare's Globe. Just before the play opens Nat falls ill. He is taken to the hospital where he is diagnosed with bubonic plague. Meanwhile Nat wakes up in 1599, four hundred years before his own time. Everyone believes him to be Nat Field from St. Paul's school, loaned to Shakespeare's company to play Puck to Shakespeare's Oberon in a very important performance of the "Dream." Shakespeare and Nat quickly connect, forming a strong personal bond. Nat, who has suffered much loss in his life, is a kindred spirit to Shakespeare, who recently lost his son Hamnet. Their relationship is one of the most believable and warm parts of the book. Cooper's Shakespeare is one you want to be the real Shakespeare.
The company is nervous as it is believed that Queen Elizabeth I herself may come to see the play. But the big day arrives and all goes well. Nat, a boy from 1999, meets Queen Elizabeth. After the play Nat realizes that his current situation cannot stay the way it is. Nat Field will be returning to St. Paul's where Nat will instantly be rejected. He promises Shakespeare to come back when he is grown and act with him again.
I am a weepy person. And I cried at the end of this book. It was beautiful. And you know, I believed it, the possiblity of it. I can't really say anything else because I'll completely spoil the book, but the characterizations were such that it felt right to me. Bravo Susan Cooper!...more
When I was younger the library in my old home town had this book in their children’s section and I loved it. Then they got rid of it and for years I sWhen I was younger the library in my old home town had this book in their children’s section and I loved it. Then they got rid of it and for years I suffered its lack in silence. Finally I realized that I needed to read it again and so I asked for it for a Christmas present. My copy is very old and in a protective cover and my father told me that it was extremely difficult to find so I am very careful with it. It is the story of an American family who lives in a modern apartment filled with “push-buttons” until the day that Gran drags them to a country auction. Highly recommended for all ages (if you can find it)....more
This is an Orthodox Christian anthology, largely taken from the Philokalia, on prayer. It includes sections from St. Theophan the Recluse, St. IgnatyThis is an Orthodox Christian anthology, largely taken from the Philokalia, on prayer. It includes sections from St. Theophan the Recluse, St. Ignaty Brianchininnov, and others. Highly recommended, although more for Orthodox than non-Orthodox....more
This is, in my opinion, a most enchanting book. It is the story of a number of years in the life of Brede Abbey, a fictional English Catholic woman’sThis is, in my opinion, a most enchanting book. It is the story of a number of years in the life of Brede Abbey, a fictional English Catholic woman’s monastery, and the nuns who live there. The book opens very simply with Penny Stevens, the juniorest typist in a government office run by a Mrs. Philippa Talbot, who Penny adores. On this particular day Penny can tell that something is going to happen—namely that Mrs. Talbot has been given a promotion. She is called into Mrs. Talbot’s office where, quite to her surprise, she is told that Mrs. Talbot is going to be a nun and is leaving, for good.
The story then switches perspectives and goes to Philippa Talbot as she prepares to make her entrance to Brede. For a large portion of the book the narration continues to focus on Philippa as she enters the monastic life but it occasionally switches to another character.
The pace of the story is gentle and slow, like monastic life itself. A fast-paced adventure story this is not. However, I would not call it boring. There are major troubles within the monastery and the conflict surrounding them was very gripping. Rumer Godden’s nuns live and breathe: sweet Dame Emily Lovell, stately Dame Maura, vivid Dame Colette, and steady Dame Catherine. A few of them will naturally become most dear, just as real people. Philippa herself, Hilary, and Dame Catherine were my favorites.
Godden’s descriptions of the monastic year are very striking and could be applied to any Christian liturgical tradition. “The Church is like a wise mother and has given us this great cycle of the liturgical ear with its different words and colours. You’ll see how you will learn to welcome the feast days and the saints’ days as they come round, each with a different story, and, as it were, a different aspect; they grow very dear, though still exacting.” (p. 60). As an Orthodox Christian, I nodded in agreement with every word of that sentence, not excluding the last bit (“though still exacting”).
My experience of monasticism has been different than the experience of Catholic monasticism that I gained from this book. Orthodox monasticism has developed differently than its Western counterpart, and there was much that was unfamiliar or that I disagreed with. Still, the desire to serve God and the world by retiring from the world is one that I can understand and respect. And again, the characters became so real with their struggles and triumphs that I felt I could count them as friends.
“If a place has been filled with prayer, though it is empty something remains; a quiet, a steadiness.” (p. 195) ...more
I believe that this was the first time I actually finished this book. It is a must-read for any serious Tolkien lover. It gives a much more comprehensI believe that this was the first time I actually finished this book. It is a must-read for any serious Tolkien lover. It gives a much more comprehensive view of Tolkien’s character than any other work, including Carpenter’s excellent biography. It includes some wonderful letters to his sons which are very personal and also many which shed light on different aspects of the writing of his books. Highly recommended for anyone who has read his works. It does contain a few minor swear words, I believe. ...more
This is the original book, the real story behind “The Sound of Music.” I remembered liking it when I read it years and years ago and so I re-read it aThis is the original book, the real story behind “The Sound of Music.” I remembered liking it when I read it years and years ago and so I re-read it and was amazed. It is ten times better than the movie. The Trapps were a very faithful family and Mrs. von Trapp is very honest about their vision and beliefs. She is also an extremely entertaining writer. Highly recommended for slightly more mature readers....more