Wednesday, July 30, 2014

127. Silas Marner

Silas Marner
George Eliot
Around 200 pages

I have been so behind on my blogs lately.  I started physical therapy for my leg and have been pretty burnt out by the end of the day.  I finally had some energy to write yesterday but it was my birthday so I had to party!  Now I am back and I think we can get a few of these out before I crawl into my bed and refuse to move.

This is a pretty short book but I had a lot of trouble picking it up and reading, so it took me about a week and a half. It simply wasn't very interesting; if I wanted to see an old man doing old man things I would go to a diner at 4:30.

Silas Marner flees his town after being framed by his best friend for stealing money from the congregation.  Does this kick off an amazing story of revenge?  No, he just becomes a recluse weaver in another town.  One day, a two-year-old girl shows up at his house with seemingly no relations.  Silas takes her in, but what happens when her real father shows up?  Nothing terribly interesting, I promise you.

It is cool for the time, I suppose, that in this story the bond between a family doesn't necessarily have to be genetic.  It doesn't make for that entertaining of a read now, though.  I would definitely skip this one; particularly because Eliot has much better offerings in her works.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Adapted on BBC with Ben Kingsley.

UP NEXT: Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev.  Excited to see what all the fuss is about.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

126. Great Expectations

Great Expectations
Charles Dickens
Around 400 pages

I recently did a count of all the Dickens novels I have read.  I came up with four that I absolutely loved and seven that I absolutely hated.  Conclusion: I am formally recommending him on this blog.  I know; it is such an honor that you are freaking out.  Don't worry; I still think he is capable of being dreadfully dull but on the other hand, he is capable of being hilarious and compelling.

Phillip Pirrip (which is possibly the worst name I have ever heard; subsequently, he is nicknamed Pip) is an orphan who only has his sister and her husband to look after him.  Since this is a Dickens novel, the sister is, of course, a total monster. Pip is eventually anonymously sponsored to be a gentleman.  Oh right, who is the incredibly creepy woman pictured above?  You know, the one from Insidious: Chapter Two?  That would be Miss Havisham, a creepy spinster who takes Pip on in order to provide a companion for her adopted daughter, Estella.  Side note: there were a bunch of sexy pictures of Gwyneth Paltrow as Estella that I could have used for the above picture but I instead chose Helena Bonham Carter being frightening.  You're welcome.

I actually tried to read this book in high school and failed, so I was a little weary going in.  However, I had so much fun with this one, particularly since my sister is currently reading David Copperfield for the first time.  We had a good time reading out loud humorous passages and relating to how melodramatic the characters were (we have a tendency to overstate things).  I still prefer David over Pip, but Great Expectations is a close second.

So after being extremely disappointed in A Tale of Two Cities, we get this novel to make us fall in love again.  It won't last long; we have Our Mutual Friend coming up.  Shoot me.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Mixed reviews by critics but considered by Charles Dickens to be his best book.


UP NEXT: Silas Marner by George Eliot.  I am seriously falling in love with this woman.

Monday, July 7, 2014

125. On The Eve

On The Eve
Ivan Turgenev
Around 115 pages

Can you believe I am back already?  This novel only took me around an hour and a half and it is Russian!! I feel as though I deserve some sort of award for that.

Before we get started, I thought I would address a question I get asked frequently: where do you get all these books??  This is a personal preference, but I really love paper books.  To that end, I check the libraries around me first.   If I am near a city, the selection is usually pretty good.  However, smaller libraries usually suck.  That is when I use eBooks.  I have an iPad and use Project Gutenberg.  Most of the List Books (at least the early ones) are available for free.  I don't think I have ever absolutely had to pay for a book.  If you come across this problem, contact me and I can usually help you find the novel. So that's that and I hope it helps!

Like I said, this was a super fast read.  I almost felt like it was the Reader's Digest version of War and Peace.  There were similar themes and characters but it wasn't a month long project!  Two friends, a philosopher of sorts and a sculptor,  are in love with the same woman.  Wait, didn't this just happen in yesterday's book?  Anyway, her affections may belong to someone else entirely.  To add a little spice, all this takes place during the Crimean War.

Can I just copy and paste my review from Castle Richmond?  I want to make the exact same points.  Seeing the juxtaposition of a courtship against the backdrop of a national tragedy was kind of startling.
Did I use enough synonyms to make it seem like this isn't exactly what I just said in the last post?

This is basically a better version of Castle, so read this one instead.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Not received well by critics upon its initial release.

UP NEXT: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.  Oh crap.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

124. Castle Richmond

Castle Richmond
Anthony Trollope
Around 510 pages

After pissing off several men in my life via text, I thought I would hop onto the computer and write this review.  Yes, my words of wisdom are that important.

This is pretty much your typical romance novel, with a few notable differences.  For one thing, a mother and a daughter are romantic rivals.  Of course, the mother is "old" (i.e. early forties) so apparently, there is not much of a contest.  Still, I haven't seen that before and it was quite interesting to have an author acknowledge that a mother figure could still be sexually attracted to young men.  Additionally, this novel takes place in Ireland during the Great Famine.  So for instance, two characters will be discussing marriage and other sickeningly sweet things and a woman will come up behind them, begging for money to feed her starving children.  It is certainly an odd juxtaposition to get used to.

I have to say, I was mostly interested in the love square (??) between the Countess Desmond, Lady Clara, Owen Fitzgerald, and Herbert Fitzgerald.  Unfortunately, that didn't get as much attention as the "fascinating" story of Herbert's mother's ex-husband. I almost wanted to scan those sections, since it was clear Trollope thought he had the reader at the edge of their seat so was drawing it out as long as possible.

I had fun with this one.  I liked rooting for my guy to get the girl (although he failed, damn him) and reading about the Countess trying to repress her crush on Owen.  Still, it is entirely skippable, particularly if you are not heavily into romance.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Did not sell well upon its initial release.

UP NEXT: On the Eve by Ivan Turgenev