Thursday, December 26, 2013

103. Shirley

Shirley
Charlotte Bronte
1849
Around 600 pages












So I have been watching the poll and it looks like Charlotte may come out ahead.  I, however, have been rooting for Anne, especially after this terrible novel.  Also, I am hoping Emily will at least get one vote, because I feel sorry for her. So, for this holiday season, find it in your hearts to give to a Bronte sister in need.

Charlotte begins her book by saying this to the reader: "Do you anticipate sentiment, and poetry, and reverie?  Do you expect passion, and stimulus, and melodrama?  Calm your expectations; reduce them to a lowly standard."  Basically, she is warning us that the book isn't going to be very exciting.  I, of course, ignored this warning because it was so well written.  Charlotte also begins some of chapters with a short subtitle, one of which was "in which the reader would be well advised to skip."  So she is pretty much constantly telling us that her book is boring.  I guess I only have myself to blame for not liking it.

The writing style is interesting enough.  Charlotte writes in second person, as if she is there the entire time.  For example, she introduces us to characters having dinner then asks us to step out in the hallway for a second while she tells us about them while they are talking.  It was an interesting way of narrating but I think it just showed that Charlotte is better at writing in first person, like in Jane Eyre.

The story follows the love triangle between Robert Moore, who is seeking financial redemption, the rich heiress Shirley, and the meek Caroline.  None of these characters are particularly intriguing in their qualities or actions and it always clear to the reader what every should be doing if they were less stupid.  This can be true with a lot of good novels, but my copy was 700 pages, which is a bit harder to endure.

A disappointing end to the Bronte reign but we still had some good times.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Panned by critics.

Led to the popularity of the name Shirley for a girl which was previously an unpopular boys' name.

Available online here.

UP NEXT: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. NOOOOO