Tag Archives: classic

Howards End

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Bethany and I finished Howards End. Mixed feelings…but mostly satisfaction. I think we both enjoyed it. It helped that we were predisposed towards Mr Darcy’s (I mean, Matthew Macfadyen’s) character. The ending perhaps felt perhaps a little rushed. But it was satisfying. 

At any rate, I bought us each a copy of the novel written in 1910 so we shall see if the book is as good! Grab a copy at your local Half Priced Books and join us! (Barnes and Noble did not carry it, much to our disgust.) 

Also, happy palindrome day! 02-02-2020 reads the same backwards and forwards! (Oh, and I guess happy super bowl day or however you celebrate it.) 


Pamela by Samuel Richardson

Two stars (and 592 pages long!)

It took me seven months, but I did it. I survived Pamela. Published in 1735, this book really set the stage for the modern novel. And what a stage it was. 

Allow me to save your precious time:

Pamela, The Short-ish Version: 
Pamela: I am a virtuous maiden!
Pamela’s parents: PAMELA. GUARD YOUR VIRTUE.
Servants: PAMELA. GUARD YOUR VIRTUE.
Pamela: I must guard my virtue!
Me: Whoah, chillax, dudes. She’s like 15. Stop making a big deal out of her virtue. What’s the worry?
Young Lord: I will take Pamela’s virtue!
Me: Ah, that’s the worry.
Young Lord: * repeatedly makes attempts at Pamela’s virtue * 
Pamela: I must stay strong! 
Young Lord: You’re pretty. You must be a slut.
Young Lord: * dresses like a servant girl and sneaks into Pamela’s bed *
Young Lord: I will have you!
Pamela: * repeatedly barely escapes with her virtue * 
Servants: Oh no! GUARD YOUR VIRTUE.
Pamela: SOME HELP WOULD BE NICE. Woe is me!
Servants: He’s our master. What would you have us do? GUARD YOUR VIRTUE.
Pamela’s parents: If you lose your virtue, we, like, aren’t ever going to talk to you again.
Young Lord: * makes more attempts at Pamela’s virtue *
Young Lord: The servants like you. Somehow you have fooled them all into thinking you are not a slut!
Young Lord: * kidnaps Pamela and locks her away in another house *
Pamela: Alas! Poor me! For I can do nothing! But above all I must preserve my virtue. 
Pamela’s parents: If you lose your virtue, we still won’t ever talk to you again. 
Young Lord: * makes more attempts on Pamela’s virtue *
* this goes on for about 300 pages * 
Young Lord: Well, Pamela! You’ve resisted me. You must be virtuous. I will marry you. 
Young Lord: * under his breath * Haha! Yeah right, slut. I’m going to pretend to marry you but not really.
Pamela: I heard that. Woe is me!
Young Lord: No you didn’t. 
Pamela: Yeah I did. I think maybe I will kill myself instead of giving up my virtue. Woe is me!
Young Lord: Wow, you must really be virtuous. 
Pamela: Ya think? Woe is me!
Young Lord: Okay, you can go home now. 
Young Lord: JK, I want to marry you for real now. I’m sick and can’t leave my bed for love of you.
Pamela: What a coincidence! I love you too! But I am so beneath you!
Me: How is there still 30% of this book to go?????
Young Lord: Beneath me in rank and wealth but not in virtue! 
Me: Duh, you freaking kidnapped her!! Pretty sure you have no virtue. The cow has more virtue than you.
Pamela: If you marry me, I will spend the rest of my life devoted to you for showing such kindness. 
Me: HE KIDNAPPED YOU.
Young Lord: Let’s get married tomorrow.
Pamela: Oh! But as a virtuous maiden, the thought of getting married fills me with shyness! Let’s push it off.
Young Lord: Must we?
Pamela: Just for two weeks.
Young Lord: Two weeks is sooooooooo long.
Pamela: But I’m so shy! 
* This goes on for some time *
Pamela’s Dad: I am here! If Pamela is still virtuous, she can come home with me. If not, I never want to speak to her again. 
Pamela: I’m getting married!
Pamela’s Dad: Cool beans! In that case, have fun, kiddo. Bye. Oh, by the way future son-in-law, thanks for the money!
* Pamela and Young Lord finally freakin’ get married *
Me: Why is there still 20% of this book to go???
Young Lord: Now, Pamela, I shall tell you all the ways you must act and behave to make me a good wife.
Pamela: I love my master so! I will do all you say. 
Young Lord: Always be happy and dress nice and never contradict me or point out my faults or ever talk about my faults to anyone and always tell everyone what a great guy I am. 
Pamela: But these are all exactly what I most wish to do! 
Young Lord: You make a great wife.
Pamela: Oh! I do not deserve your compliments! You are too good! Too kind!
Me: Have we just all agreed to forget about the kidnapping? Attempted rape? etc. etc.?
* insert long and boring plot point about Young Lord’s older sister who hates Pamela but then comes to love her when Pamela takes her side in an argument * 
Young Lord: PAMELA. How DARE you take my sister’s side over mine! You shall leave this house without me.
Pamela: Oh! Don’t make me! I will never not take your side in an argument again.
Young Lord: Oh, okay. You’re forgiven. I guess I can be a bit temperamental. We all have our faults, right? 
Pamela: Oh! But you have none! You are so kind, generous, good, loving, noble! 
Me: 
Pamela: By the way, you wanted to see all my letters to my parents and friends. Can I mail this one? 
Young Lord: How come you only sign it with your first name? 
Pamela: It seemed too presumptuous to assume you would let me take your last name!
Young Lord: By golly, I like this humility in you. Go ahead and use it. 
Pamela: You are so kind, generous, good, loving, noble!
Me: WHY IS THERE STILL 10% OF THIS BOOK TO GO?????? 
Young Lord: Oh, btw, remember that one time when I tried to take your virtue? 
Pamela: Oh yeah, why?
Young Lord: Well, once I did the same thing to another girl, but she gave up her virtue and gave me a daughter. And…surprise! Here is the daughter. 
Pamela: Oh! I love her above all things! Let me keep her!
Young Lord: Uh…maybe. Or we could just leave her at the boarding school…
Young Lord: We could have our own kids…
Pamela: Oh! Don’t speak so vulgarly! 
Pamela: Um, dare I ask what happened to your cast off lover? 
Young Lord: Well, I tried to make her my lover again but she fled to Jamaica. Aren’t you thrilled? You don’t need to worry about competition. 
Pamela: I feel kind of bad for her. Had she not succumbed to temptation, she would still have her virtue, like me!
Young Lord: You behave so nobly! How I love you! 
Pamela: And I love you!
Author: I shall now endeavor to tell you what each character means. 
Author: * goes into exhaustive description about what moral lesson each character represents *
THE END
Me: * gags repeatedly *


Watching P&P…

My Jane Austen kick continues. I watched the 2005 Pride and Prejudice and have moved on to the 1995 version with Colin Firth. I don’t recall ever watching this one straight through, but according to my sister we already watched the whole thing together. At any rate, it is better remember, or more accurately, don’t remember. If this lasts, I might try Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (because we own it and I actually really enjoy that one!) or look up the 1940s version. Maybe I will rewatch the Lizzie Bennet Diaries! I draw the line at Bride and Prejudice, however. Once was enough! 

Austen is my weakness. I am an eternally recovering Janeite. I feel like I could very easily become one of those people who dress up and attend Regency balls, and that might be my fate in the end, but for now, I resist! I love the story but I will not become a cliche! Now excuse me while I go sip my Jane Austen tea, wear my Jane Austen socks, and read Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World by Claire Harman. 


Classics 2016

It is my favorite time of the year! (Next to Christmas, Easter, July 4th, and my birthday, of course.) This is the time I blog about all the books I read over the past year. However, before I jump into my stats, I thought it might be fun to list out all the classics I read this year. 

You see, I have a bit of an inferiority complex where classic literature is concerned. I blame my friend Hope. When we were seniors in high school, she was appalled at how few Charles Dickens novels I had read (only 3!) and proceeded to introduce me to some really great reads, like Our Mutual Friend. Since then, no matter how many classics I read, a tiny part of my brain always tells me I’m behind. This is part of the problem with being friends with English majors. It is also partially because, outside of school, it isn’t very usual to read classics unless you have specific motivation. This year, I challenged myself to work through my to-read list, especially the classics. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed most of these books. You will probably see many of these on my 5 (or 1…) star book review posts!

Brave New World by Adolph Huxley
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Iliad by Homer
The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Dracula by Bram Stoker
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
The Tempest by William Shakespeare
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Gulliver’s Travels by Johnathan Swift
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
The Stranger by Albert Camus
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
The Metamorphosis by Frank Kafka
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
Villette by Charlotte Brontë
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren


Whatcha Reading…? 5/27/16 Book Update

I have so many books to read! Today I started my 4 day weekend and the hardest part is going to be not spending the whole thing reading. I’ve got stacks of books from the library that have collected over the past few weeks, waiting for just such an opportunity as this. Right now I’ve narrowed the stack to 5 that I am reading right now (6 if you count the book I just finished.) Some are super good…others I am not sure I will finish. They are…

Overrated by Eugene Cho, Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and (yes, I know it is weird that I haven’t read this yet) Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. I’m also listening to Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe on audio book. 

Overrated is one of those books so relevant it almost hurts. Every chapter I feel like the Holy Spirit is shouting ‘Pay Attention!!’ I’ve heard Eugene Cho speak but it has been a while and this book does a great job conveying his message. I’m only half way through but I’ll already say it…this book is a must read. 

Another must-read is the book I just finished, Breaking Busy by Alli Worthington. This book has taken me a “while” to read because I’ve been reading it slowly, one chapter at a time. That is all I will say for now, because I might give it its own review later. Highly recommended for all the “busy” ladies out there!

On the other side of the spectrum, I’m extremely unimpressed with Eligible so far. A Pride and Prejudice retelling set in the 21st century? Yes, please. Except not. While the author does a clever job conveying the social and relational nuances of the original (such as making Jane nearly 40, and still unmarried!) he has also ruined the entire Bennett family. They are awful, materialistic, pathetic people. I’m not even sure I will finish this one. 

In Cold Blood has the dubious honor of being the true-life story of a gruesome murder. The lack of “chapters” is frustrating, but the overall story is riveting and horrifying. Most striking is how Capote humanizes the killers and killed. It is not as darkly written as I was expecting, and somehow that makes it all the worse. Incredibly well-written. I’m not sure what I’ll think when I’m done. 

Where The Red Ferns Grow…yes, I know everyone read this in middle school, but somehow I missed it. I’m familiar with the plot – lovely writing and great tragedy. This is truly an American classic.

Finally, Robinson Crusoe. I was seriously making fun of it when I started but I am actually enjoying it now. I wasn’t prepared for how much of a sermon on trusting God it is. Yet it is easy to see why this book has captured the imagination for so many years…and for 1719, this book is downright impressive! 

 


Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

29 CDs, 36:08:08 hours, and countless miles later…I’m finished. I made it through Don Quixote.
Deep sigh of contentment.
I will be honest, it was rough at times. Don Quixote and I did not always get along. The references to books of chivalry were often over my head and the audio format meant no handy footnotes of explanation. The plot got long winded and bombastic. Occasionally, I caught a particularly deep strand of hidden humor, but it was physically exhausting to puzzle out the meaning. In that sense, the audio was probably not the best format for this book. I couldn’t see it, re-read it, or tangibly grasp what I was missing. The story marched on, with or without me.
However, that is probably the only reason I finished at all. Every time I got in the car, the CDs were right there. All I had to do was listen. So I did.
It wasn’t a book I enjoyed while I was reading. Yet now that I done, I don’t find myself condemning it like I thought I would. In fact, as overwhelming as it was, I sense a level of brilliance to the overall story. I don’t fully grasp it, but I have a greater idea of why it is a classic. If I had stopped half way, I don’t think I would have reached this point of understanding. This book is a mixed bag. You have to put up with flowery poetry, random details, and breath-taking maidens at every corner, but in exchange you get the story of man fully convinced he is doing the right thing along with his dopey but witty companion.
The story of Don Quixote is the story of Sancho taking a dump and pretending it wasn’t him. It is the story of lovely maidens reunited with lovers, twisted pranks, and random plot tangents. It is an adventure and a romance and a comedy. It is dull and confusing and frustrating. There is little cohesion and yet the whole plot stands together, somehow.
I find I can easily say I enjoyed Don Quixote and Sancho now that I am done. However, I’m not sure I fully appreciate them. I think I might have to get a little more context and re-read it to say that. It was worth the time listening by audio, though, if for no other reason than it forced me to finish.
 
 

Review: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Note: I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars, so you’ll probably see it come round again at my end of the year review. However, I wrote a lengthy review for Goodreads and thought it was worth sharing. 

I have finally completed David Copperfield! Huzzah! Time for a celebratory drink (of water.) I would not have made it through the whole thing if it weren’t for the audio book I got. Simon Vance made an excellent narrator. This book is longgggg and feels even longer. I started getting creative on my commute home, trying to stretch it out an extra ten or fifteen minutes to finish a disc. There were moments I loved this book and moments I hated it. However, in the end, I have to say, loving or hating, I really enjoyed David Copperfield. It was kind of a gender-bender Cinderella story.
This is the story of David Copperfield, his entire life story. The plot follows his difficult childhood, happier adolescence, many loves, different occupations, tragedies, and even successes. All of this comes with an entire cast and crew of quirky characters who make their way in and out of David’s life. 

At first, I wasn’t sure I would like it. I was unimpressed with “David’s” desire to narrate his life story. Dickens is not always my favorite (case in point, Great Expectations) and even though I loved A Tale of Two Cities and Our Mutual Friend…the orphan boy story of David Copperfield sounded more Oliver Twist (a book that took me on and off 3 years to read.) I felt an interest in the character of Peggotty and her family (especially Mr. Barkis), but it wasn’t until David met Mr. and Mrs. Micawber, about a third of the way through the narrative, that I really  started loving the story. Almost all my favorite characters get introduced after that (the exception being Traddles, who was introduced before but is more interesting when he is older anyway.) David’s aunt, Betsey Trotwood, was a marvel. Mr. Dick was endearing. Agnes was a little too perfect but I ended up really liking her too.
With all the characters and their random manner of popping in and out of David’s life, you never knew who was going to show up next. There were a lot of characters but it was surprisingly easy to keep them straight. I like how everything was tied up and how everything comes around. The characters balance each other and create interesting contrasts and themes. (I do love a good theme.)
There was one character, I must admit, who I could not stand. Dora. I disliked her from the start and grew to hate her more as story went on. She was so childish. She made no real effort and I suppose the point is no one seriously demanded it of her. Her relationship with David went from ‘passing fancy’ to life commitment only because it faced opposition. Otherwise, it would have quite naturally died. Her nickname for David – Doady – made me want to gag. I couldn’t stand her spoiled dog. In short, I went from ‘This book is amazing! It will get 5 stars!’ to ‘DORA. One star for Dora. Take that, you nincompoop.’ I was surprised and appalled when they actually got married.
But then (spoiler)…Dora gets sick and dies. And I realized I was genuinely sad. Dickens manages to take this character, a person I couldn’t stand, and leave me mourning her death. David’s thoughts about his marriage and his mourning Dora made sense and were emotionally very real. It made me like David, but also pity him. He is a good guy. But also kind of a weak at times…and it all blends together to create a realistic hero.
This book has many improbable moments (okay, basically there are more improbable moments than probable ones) and the characters have a tendency to be Super Good or Super Evil, and always Super Eccentric. However, in this book I really think you see more gray. There is Steerforth, who is ‘evil’ but not. He is covered by David’s pity and love.
I like that the description on the audio book says, “tragedy and comedy in equal measure.” That is David Copperfield. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry. And in the end, it is totally worth the 34 hours, or 900 some pages, or whatever else it takes to get through it. Definitely a book I want to re-read someday.