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October 2016: Historical Fiction > Dracula / Bram Stoker - 5*****

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Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5793 comments Dracula by Bram Stoker
Dracula – Bram Stoker
Audiobook narrated by Alexander Spender and Susan Adams
5*****

Does anyone really need a synopsis? If you’ve seen any of the movies, you know the basic plot, but the original novel is so much more!

Stoker wrote the work as a series of journal or diary entries, letters and newspaper clippings. This could easily become disjointed, but in this case, it serves to give a certain immediacy to the writing. It also builds suspense, as we leave one character to jump to another’s perspective, frequently with a disconnect in terms of what each of the characters knows about the full situation. The danger they are in is frequently a result of not having the full picture, of not truly understanding the force against which they are pitted.

But the novel is more than just a horror story. There are several themes which would be great for book group discussion.

To begin there is the typical Victorian theme of strong men coming to the rescue of pure damsel in distress. However, Stoker turns the tables a bit when he gives Mina the intelligence, foresight and courage to fight the evil forces in her own way. Yes, the men do the actual fighting, but it is Mina who first puts together all the individual notes into a coherent chronological story, and ultimately gives the men what they need to go up against Dracula. The woman has steel!

Stoker also includes a fair amount of sexual – or at least sensual – tension. Bosoms heave, blood quickens, breathing is rapid, and people are completely overcome and overwhelmed by desire. They are simply helpless in the face of their base instincts … or are they?

The novel is wonderfully atmospheric; from the delights of a new culture as Harker first experiences the loveliness of Eastern Europe, to the growing sense of doom when surrounded by howling wolves, to the creepy, skin-crawling scene with the hordes of rats (I feel squeamish as I type this), and finally to the “pure-white” snow of the mountain blizzard, time and again Stoker puts the reader smack dab in the middle of the scenes.

There are several different audio versions. The one I had from my library was masterfully performed by Alexander Spander and Susan Adams. Each voiced the journals / diaries based on the gender of the character writing that segment.


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5793 comments Note .... I wouldn't classify this as "historical fiction" because it was "contemporary" when written, but at least 247 people have tagged it as such on Goodreads.


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7756 comments Book Concierge wrote: "Note .... I wouldn't classify this as "historical fiction" because it was "contemporary" when written, but at least 247 people have tagged it as such on Goodreads."

I also really liked this book when I listened to it last year! You have an excellent point about Mina being more well respected for the time the book was written, particularly because the men seemed to view her as an intellectual partner in the endeavor...well, at least 75% of a partner. lol

The book lost me toward the end for a while when all of the men took turns waxing poetic about how much they loved Mina and about how perfect she was and about how they just wanted to protect her virtue. Blech. But, perhaps appropriate for that time?

And, I never really thought of the historical fiction tag not technically> being appropriate! You are absolutely right on that one but I say it definitely still counts ;)


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Anita Pomerantz | 6423 comments I've never read Dracula nor seen any Dracula movies . . .sounds like a definite gap in my literary knowledge, lol. Good to hear it is actually good - - when I go back to reading classics (something I have not done at all this year), maybe this is one I should get around to reading.


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5793 comments Anita wrote: "I've never read Dracula nor seen any Dracula movies . . .sounds like a definite gap in my literary knowledge, lol. Good to hear it is actually good - - when I go back to reading classics (something..."

I have already put it on the list for my F2F Book group for Oct 2017. They may lynch me, but ....


Regina Lindsey | 1005 comments I'm finding it hard to believe I've never read this either.


Ladyslott | 1880 comments I only read it last year because it was my Fall Flurry book. I really enjoyed it except for the parts where the men were constantly talking about Mina. I rated it 4 stars. Like many books translated to the screen Dracula the book is nothing like the many movies- neither is Frankenstein.


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