James Fenimore Cooper
Around 500 pages
After a string of forgettable novels that no one has ever heard of, we reach this classic. I had heard from both my mother and sister, who were forced to read this book in school, that the novel was dreadfully dull. However, I adored this book and obsessively finished it within a few days.
Uncas, the title character of the book, is actually only a minor character in this story. Cora and Alice Munro are actually featured much more prominently. The Munro sisters are escorted through the wilderness by Duncan Heyward, who is in love with Alice (she is kind of a blubbering idiot, but hey, she's pretty). They are ambushed by the Huron tribe, led by Magua. Hawk-eye and Uncas are able to save them but not for long, since they both get captured more than Daphne from Scooby Doo. I think if you are kidnapped that many times, you are pretty much on your own.
First of all, I absolutely can see why people would be turned off by this book. His style is formal and verbose. Having followed this list chronologically, I am quite used to the romantic style that he uses. However, it seems to be going out of style by this time, at least in America. This demonstrates another advantage of going through the list in order: you see trends a lot more easily.
I hesitate to say this book is progressive. The Native Americans are often referred to as savages and they are easily fooled by someone wearing a bear costume. However, the "good" Native Americans (the ones that help white people) are portrayed in a positive and noble light. Additionally, Cora is a very intelligent and independent character. Not only is this a step in the right direction for feminism, but because she is of mixed race, race relations as well. So good on him, though there are some cringe worthy moments.
Overall, a great adventure story. Certainly not everyone's cup of tea, but it was what I needed to get out of this slump.
Mark Twain wrote an essay in which he criticized Cooper's style in "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses."
Parodied in South Park.
Trailer for movie: