Jane Austen wrote this when she was only 18 years old. One may wonder how she knew of the cunning manners of some women, but after all, Jane was an avid reader herself.
Lady Susan is the only immoral main character in Austen's books, in return, she's extremely immoral. She is mean, egocentric, she seems to hate her daughter, and only wants the best (in terms of finance) for herself. She's absolutely willing to destroy people's lives if it puts herself in a better position. She enjoys to influence Jane Austen wrote this when she was only 18 years old. One may wonder how she knew of the cunning manners of some women, but after all, Jane was an avid reader herself.
Lady Susan is the only immoral main character in Austen's books, in return, she's extremely immoral. She is mean, egocentric, she seems to hate her daughter, and only wants the best (in terms of finance) for herself. She's absolutely willing to destroy people's lives if it puts herself in a better position. She enjoys to influence people - men especially - with her eloquence, of which she is very proud.
The book is Austen's only epistolary novel and she's done it brilliantly. The difficulty in a novel only existing of letters, is that the reader, in contrast to the writer and addressee of the letters, has no previous knowledge of the situation and relations at all. In contrast to an auctorial novel, the author has no mean of introducing characters or stations in letters. Austen solves this brilliantly - in only three letters, she introduces us the seven characters in the book. In the first letter, written by Lady Susan herself, addressing her brother-in-law, one may believe she is a likable woman, with great manners and high intellect. In the second letter, however, written to her best friend Alicia Johnson, the reader is confronted with the true nature of our heroine.
I thoroughly enjoyed this little novel - Austen's ironic style is just the best. I even liked the heroine in a way - at least she's a strong, confident woman, which is seldom for that time. Lovely!
A very interesting story about the miraculousness of our existence - while yet only very few people really seem to wonder about that. IF one thinks about it, it is a miracle you exist - not just talking about the origination of the earth and life on it, but the fact that YOU are alive means EVERY of your ancestors has survived natural disasters, pandemics, wars, diseases, etc etc. Well isn't that a miracle?
At the same time, this is a story about creation and the question whether we are real creatures or just products of someone's mind. But if there was such a God, why don't we ever see him? Because the creator cannot live next to its creations, for it would make them aware of the fact they are just creations.
These philosophical questions are packed in a wonderful fairytale like story, about a boy who travels to Europa with his father to find his mother and becomes a grownup on the way. He is one of the "chosen ones" so to say, by receiving the story of Frode and his patience cards that came to life.
A recommendation for every little philosopher around.
'The Grapes of Wrath' won a Pulitzer price and John Steinbeck won the Nobel's price for literature. And that is SO well-deserved.
The book was banned soon after its release because Steinbeck criticizes society in it. The story is set in the 30s and describes the time we now know as the Great Depression. After several years of drought and resulting dust storms, the farmers of Oklahoma suffered of great damage. Combined with the fast mechanization of farm equipment and the rise of capitalism, many farmers were forced to leave their farm and home. Tens of thousands people went on the road, heading to California, a state that was like a promised land for them. It is described how the situation was misused by, for example, car sellers: people were in desperate need of a vehicle, and thus seller could ask any price. The same thing for buyers of used goods: migrating people needed to sell their household, and thus buyers bid low prices. It is empathized very sharply that 'no one can be blamed. It is the bank, the society that forces us to do what we do.' It's confronting to see how people created their own hell - a situation that can't be made undone.
The book follows the Joad family on the road to California. Each character is unique and incredibly well worked out. They all have their background they carry with them - uncle John, for example, is haunted by his bad conscience and constantly believes he is sinning. Their development throughout the journey is beautiful, interesting, very credible and sad to witness. I especially was amazed by Ma Joad, who transforms into a strong, independent woman who takes the lead when the men aren't able to do so.
When they approach California, they hear negative stories already. And though the Joads keep hoping they will be lucky, the stories prove to be true. There are so many people on the road in search for jobs, the farmers can pay any price. They perfectly know people are starving and ready to work for any price, only to earn some bread for the night. Migrants, who are disrespectfully called 'Okies', are put into camps, and the police tortures them. The Californian authorities are afraid the immigrants will gather and start a revolt, and therefore they do everything to prevent that. Every now and then, they burn the camps down to force the people to move forward again.
Steinbeck proposes socialist thoughts, and was accused of communism propaganda. It isn't communism he is proposing, though, since he does not only suggest that people work for the whole, but also keep their individuality and personal freedom. He mainly criticizes the institution of very rich companies that own much property, making it impossible for mid-sized or small farmers or businesses to exist.
The writing is genius - the dialogues are realistic (I love the Oklahoma accent), descriptions are vivid, the pace of the story is perfect. I very much enjoyed the intersecting chapters not focusing on the Joads, but describing the overall situation in the US at that time. Somehow they even were more tragic although or because it was told from a greater distance.
I was already crying even before I knew what the ending would be, just because it was clear it couldn't turn all good in the remaining three pages. In fact the ending is open, but I think I can guess where it will lead to - the Joad family will further fall apart, some will die of hunger, some will leave. But Ma Joad will never stop fighting.
I am still a dummy when it comes to reading Dickens. I have (of course) read A Christmas Carol, and did Oliver Twist earlier this year. But for some reason I think this was the first novel with which I could really get to know Charles Dickens’s work.
Admittedly, it was quite a task getting through the book. My concentration level had to be higher than with other books to be able to really digest everything and I had to scroll back more than once to reread a page. The first chapters were extremely long-winded and lacked all context one needed... At some point I was going to put the book down if it wouldn’t get better soon. Fortunately, it did get better.
What I’ve learned of Dickens so far is that his characters are brilliant and they really come to life turning the pages, and even their names fit to their traits. Likeable characters have lovely names (Lorry, Manette), and for example for someone named ‘Cruncher’ I imagine a rather poor, cantankerous and man with yellow teeth and dirty fingernails and exactly that’s how he’s described.
I LOVE the theme of the book – the French revolution, the Reign of Terror, the Guillotine, and a great deal of social commentary. Dickens was a child of the lower social class himself (his father even was in prison because of debts) and his novels all contain critics on social stratification in his time. But above all ‘A tale of two cities’ is a tragic novel about love – unrequited love, but a love so strong that the lover makes the greatest sacrifice of all. The last couple of chapters that have Sydney Carton in focus were really gripping, and those chapters are definitely worth 6 stars.
After finishing this book I am keen on reading more of Dickens's works, but I still will give this novel ‘only’ four stars for the effort it took me.
BTW I'm not sure if it was a good or a bad thing that the blurb of my edition already gave away the ending. It sure would have been a different reading experience when I didn't know how things would end, but I cannot say if it would have been a better or a worse experience...
This is a tragically beautiful graphic novel. I’ve read a couple of novels about the Jewish suppression and Jew-baiting during WWII, but this novel hits the point like no other. The story is tragic, though or maybe because it’s written rather objectively.
The frame story is set in the late 70s in the USA. Art Spiegelman plans to write a graphic novel about his fathers’ history during WWII. He and his father do not get along well. Also, Art seems to blame himself for the suicide of his mother, because he never showed her the love she had longed for. Vladek Spiegelman has survived the concentration camps, but has grown to be a rancorous, greedy old man, who is racist to black Americans, who is complaining about his health and his second wife, even to his son – who clearly doesn’t want to hear about the marital problems of his father. I loved how Vladek still speaks English with a Polish accent. Art and Vladeks relationship is rather detached. Nevertheless, Art urges his father to tell him about his life in 1939-1945. Those events are shown in flashbacks told by Vladek and drawn by Art.
The characters are drawn as animals instead of humans – Jews are mice, Germans are cats, Poles are pigs. By making animals out of the characters, Spiegelman uses the only way to tell such a horrible story in the format of a comic book. Also, he reduces the differences between people of each ethnicity: they all look alike. And is this not exactly what happened during the war? Jews were all the same vermin in the eyes of the Nazis. Spiegelman depicted that by making mice out of them, which are hunt by the cats, naturally.
This book is so beautiful and powerful that it will touch one deep in the soul and leave an impression there for all times.
I absolutely loved this book. Not because it's the diary of a jewish girl that, after two years of hiding, had to go through horrible circumstances and died just before liberation. Not because I'm supposed to love or at least be positive about it. No, I loved this because of what Anne wrote and how she wrote it. This little girl was extremely wise, especially if you realize she was 14 when she was writing her diary. There is so much life lessons to learn from this book. This isn't a book about t I absolutely loved this book. Not because it's the diary of a jewish girl that, after two years of hiding, had to go through horrible circumstances and died just before liberation. Not because I'm supposed to love or at least be positive about it. No, I loved this because of what Anne wrote and how she wrote it. This little girl was extremely wise, especially if you realize she was 14 when she was writing her diary. There is so much life lessons to learn from this book.
This isn't a book about the Holocaust, as I've read in many other reviews, in fact Anne doesn't even write so much about the war. Rather, these are the thoughts of a teenaged girl who is finding her place in the world. She struggles with herself and with her parents, just like every girl in her puberty - with the only big difference that she was captive in a house in a time of war.
She writes about being accepted by her parents, about becoming a woman, about love, sexuality, and about what she wants to become. Anne had big dreams. She wanted to be more than a housewife, like her mother was. She wanted to study and learn, be a journalist and a writer - she would have become a great one, based on her diary writings - and she wanted to mean something to the world. She probably wanted to do more as she had the chance to do in her short life span, but she has made a big impression on millions of people, and I am so happy her father made that possible by publishing her diary.
After having read her diary letters, I bought a complete collection of her writings. During her time in the back house, she not only kept a diary, but also wrote several short stories and gathered 'beautiful sentences' from books that she loved.
Victor Hugo is a true master of language. Under his pen, words turn into gems, forming perfect jewels when strung together. No matter what he writes about, it sounds delightful. A joy for every literature loving eye. But he does not just write about anything; he is also blessed with the gift of writing magnificent storylines and creating extraordinary characters. The main characters in this book are tragic in all kinds of way: tragically ugly (Quasimodo), tragically innocent (Esmeralda), tragically in love (Claude Frollo). One could even say that captain Phoebus is tragically plain.
In ‘Notre Dame de Paris’, Hugo brings a church and a city to life. I choose to use the original title, because the main character is not, as the English title suggests, the bell ringer Quasimodo. I would say the main character is love. The ugly outcast and the priest love the beautiful gypsy girl, the gypsy, in turn, loves a captain. But it’s not just the passionate love the plays its part. The story also is about everlasting love and pain for a lost daughter and the unconditioned love for a younger brother. The bell ringer, the priest and the girl all suffer from unrequited love (even if Esmeralda doesn’t realize that her soldier just wants her for one night, naïve as the young girl is). Unrequited love can be taken for granted if one silently accepts it, as Quasimodo is forced to do because of his looks. But it can also evolve to jealousy, hatred and thirst for revenge – the feelings that swell in the breast of the priest. And so the one who loves her crazily brings her to the gallows. Pierre Gringoire, one of the characters in the book, correctly states: “That’s life… It’s often our best friends who make us fall”.
This is a great and very important book on the development of human life and the world.
Mary Shelley wrote this story in the beginning of the 19th century, when science was developing in an enormous speed. More and more was possible with new scientific discoveries. In fact, scientists were experimenting with bringing animals, even humans, to life using electricity. Mary Shelley, who enjoyed a great education, knew about this and wrote this book. It warns us for the other, dark side of scientific progress: if we don't combine scientific potential with our own reason and moral, bad things can arise; things we aren't prepared for... This happened to scientist Victor Frankenstein in the novel. He is obsessed by the idea of animating dead things, and without thinking about anything else, he brings a human-kind being, excisting of dead bodyparts, into life. He detests it from the moment it takes his first breath, then banishes it and calls it 'a monster'.
The story is surprisingly relevant also in our time, 200 years after. The plot says a lot about humanity in general. We create something that we then detest but do not blame ourselves, but the thing we created instead. For example, we all drive a car and complain that we are in traffic. In Mary Shelley's time, but also now, we are surpressed by the rise of big cities and industries - that we created ourselves. We don't feel free anymore because we are online night and day, 7 days a week; but seem to forget that we created this situation ourselves - by scientific developments and 'improvements'. Are those really improvements, or are we creating more and more monsters, that will eventually haunt us? Think about the global wars of the past century, think about the nuclear threats, and answer for yourself. Science is said to kill God - I think it's different: science makes us think we are gods. With one significant difference: God thought about his creation before performing it.
I had never read this book before. I have never seen the 2005 movie nor the 1990s tv series. Though I couldn’t believe that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy wouldn’t marry (I mean, the book is known as a romance…), I still felt excited for them until the final moment. Thank you, naivety! And thank you Jane, for supporting it :).
I had prejudices about Austens novels myself, funny enough. I thought they would be cheesy, dull etc. etc. In fact, they are everything but that. After Northanger Abbey (which was big fun) and Mansfield Park (which was lala), I decided to read her most famous. A bit sceptic, still, but already at the first chapter I recognized it’s such a joy to read. I love Austens cynicism. I laughed out loud more than once. I love her characters: I could totally imagine the lovely but little naïve Jane, silly Lydia, ‘this-world-isn’t-getting-better-for-me-anyway-so-f*ck-it’ Mr. Bennet, crazy, exaggerated Mr. Collins, empty-headed Mrs. Bennet, prim-and-gruffy-but-actually-so-good-hearted Mr. Darcy… And so on.
Some people say nothing happens in this book. Well, that is true as long as you expect super exciting things like world travels, alchemical inventions, ghostly appearances or whatever. But this is a 19th century romance written by a middle-class young woman, so the book is about 1-1,5 years from the life of an English middle-class family with five daughters and no heir, so it is important that they marry someone rich (at least that’s the thought of their mother, and, also, the thought of lots of people living in that time). That may sound dull, but Jane Austen is such a talented author, her characters are so funny, and he timing is perfect. I am happy to see that many men (!) give this book 4 or 5 stars. If you are one of the few people alive who haven’t read this book, do yourself a favor and try. I promise it will be fun.
Villette is a special book. I loved Jane Eyre and hoped and expected a similar kind of book in Villette. That was wrong. The narrator in Jane Eyre is openhearted, whereas Lucy Snowe, the narrator and heroine in Villette, is very introvert and holds back her thoughts and feelings from the reader. This annoyed me at first, until the point I realized that Charlotte Brontë did this on purpose. Being reticent is pro Lucy’s main trait. She doesn’t tell us what she’s feeling, neither does she tell any of her friends and acquaintances. She remained a mystery for hundreds of pages, and all of her closer connections have different impressions of her. She giggles about that, but doesn’t reveal herself - neither to us, nor to the people around her.
The book is slowly moving (as many of the books written in that time). There were points at which I thought ‘Is this going to get somewhere anyway? When is Lucy finally going to fall in love with Dr. Bretton, as promised at the backside of the book? Then, I realized that she wasn’t ever going to write it down – that is not her style. One has to read between the lines to get close to Lucy.
She must have suffered so much, but she won’t tell us about her pain. She left England in her early twenties, leaving back no one, to go to Villette, the capital of Labassacour (a fictive, French-speaking country based on Belgium), where no one is waiting for her. She starts working as a teacher in a girl’s school. But because she is so introvert, she won’t have many contacts. She accepts the presence of Ginevra (a spoiled English girl she met on the ferry) even if she doesn’t like her. She falls in love, yet the object of her love would never recognize her as a potential wife – and falls in love with another girl, a girl Lucy loves dearly. A tragic love triangle, but no one except for Lucy will ever know there was one. And then, the second man she loves, and loves deeper even, is taken away from her by a trio of people, who seem to want to destroy her last chance of happiness.
But – and this is a very important ‘but’ - her reticence fades, maybe even disappears, from chapter 38 on. Lucys heartache grows so big that she cannot longer keep her feelings to herself. She drew me into her pain completely. I felt her grief, her sorrow. The last four chapters are the most tragic, yet most beautiful and gripping pages of the book, and the main reason it gets five stars from me.
Oh, dear Lucy, I just hope you found happiness, eventually.