Showing posts from February, 2012

Book Review: The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James

Charlotte Bronte is the author of Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villette, The Professor (published after her death, was rejected for publication during her lifetime), and an unfinished work entitled Emma Brown--that would later be finished and published by Claire Boylan.
I have read all of the above with the exception of The Professor.
Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books.
I've also read a biography that was written by Elizabeth Gaskell about her dear friend Charlotte Bronte. The name of the book is
The Life of Charlotte Bronte. If you have not read this book I highly encourage it. It is a book not only about Charlotte Bronte, but will give the reader a history lesson on life during Charlotte's era.

The Bronte sisters to me are fascinating. It could be that I associate them too much with their writings. Meaning, Emily and Charlotte wrote such dark and yet romantic stories. Emily's, Wuthering Heights is a story more about obsession that love itself, albeit mental illness. Charlott…

Book Review: Berlin Diaries 1940-1945 by Marie Vassiltchikov

Marie Vassiltchikov was born in St.Petersburg, Russia on the 11 January 1917. Her family left Russia in 1919, and then lived in Lithuania until 1940. Marie and her sister Tatiana immigrated to Berlin, Germany in late 1939--early 1940. World War II had just began. Marie and her sister felt fortunate to both find good jobs and a reputable apartment to live in.
Their parents, older sister and younger brother would spend most of the war years spread out in Italy, France, and Germany.
Marie's family was apart of White Russian royalty. Their family, friends and acquaintances were wealthy and aristocratic. From 1940-1945 Marie faithfully kept a diary, most of it survived the war, some was misplaced or accidentally destroyed. Later Marie in reminiscing re-wrote those periods where the diary was absent. Marie died of Leukemia in 1978 and her diary became a published book in 1988.

What stands out the most in Marie's diary is the dramatic, turbulent period when the bombings in Berlin h…

Book Review: The Great Influenza by John M. Barry

This book was recommended to me by my primary physician a couple of years ago. I had the title and author of the book written down on a future reading list. Last Christmas it was apart of a group of books I ordered for myself.

This is an in-depth look at the Great Influenza also known as the Spanish Flu, that was a pandemic during 1918-1919.
This book is also an in-depth look at medical schools, the education of physicians, medicine, and laboratory skills.
This book gives historical information about World War I, and more importantly how the Great Influenza directly and infamously influenced the negotiations and treaty after World War I.
I walked away, so to speak, from this book having attained much knowledge of this pandemic that killed at least 50 million, and by some counts as high as 100 million world wide.
Before reading this book I knew little about medical practices and the lack thereof of labs and research at the beginning of the 20th Century. That when World War I began lab…

Book Review: Notes From The Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Notes From The Underground was written in 1864 before Doystevsky wrote his more famous books: Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Brothers Karamazov.

The paperback copy I read was not available for me to download without other graphics pasted across the picture in order for you to see the cover photo. If you are interested in reading this story and you have a Kindle, I advice the free e-Read available.

This I have to admit, is one of the oddest books I've read. At 91 pages I read this quickly, but not easily.
The main voice which is a man and (which we do not have a name for) is an: acerbic, acrid, maniacal, isolated, reclusive, introspective, introverted, prudish, and neurotic person.
Half of the book is in monologue, the later half is in his conversations with male friends his own age, and also with a woman. These conversations scream out at the reader that this person, (known as the underground man) is defunct of social abilities.
This book is considered to be one of the …

Book Review: The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

The Bookseller of Kabul was written by a journalist from Norway, Asne Seierstad. In the fall of 2001 Asne was in Afghanistan traveling along with "the commandos of the Northern Alliance." After the Taliban fell she traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan. In Kabul she found a book shop and met the owner Sultan Khan (anonymous name). She asked him permission to live with his family in order to write a book about life in Afghanistan. Sultan graciously agreed. Sultan's entire family was gracious and hospitable to Asne during her stay with them. Sultan is the eldest son of his siblings, the husband of 2 wives, the father of several children. In his home 13 people live. His youngest sister Leila age 19 is the primary servant/slave. Her task-master's are the men, especially Sultan. The women cannot perceive a different life, for centuries men have been the dominant ruler. During the Taliban strictness and brutality became apart of their lives. The books theme is supposed to be abo…

Book Review: Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin

Alice Pleasance Hargreaves is considered to be the real Alice of the story Alice in Wonderland. She was the 4th child and 2nd girl born to a large family. Most of her childhood was spent in Oxford, England. Her father was dean of Christ Church, domestic chaplain to Prince Albert, and headmaster of Westminster School in London. Alice's mother was a stoic, all starch and no emotions type woman. In Alice's mind she felt no affection from her mother, never felt she quite lived up to what she should be in her mother's eyes. In early childhood an attachment to Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) grew. Often he photographed her. He made her feel seen, important, loved. Their "excursions" to her were innocent. But, in reality he knew better, he was the adult, or supposed to be the adult. They were in fact extremely inappropriate. The author never comes bluntly out in the story to state they were intimate, it is certainly alluded to that Alice has been soiled. Alice'…

Book Review: The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon

Mariella is the only child of well to do parents living outside London in the mid 1800's. It is the Victorian Period, and society and culture standards are as strict and suffocating as a too tight whale bone corset. Mariella learned to stitch and sew as a young girl from her "poor Aunt Eppie." Sewing is a hobby, escape, and creative and emotional outlet for Mariella. Eppie died leaving a young son Henry that grows up to be a surgeon. He has the appearance of being a successful and enterprising and mature young man. When the Crimean War begins Henry makes startling plans to help using his skills for the wounded. Mariella is consumed with worry for her dearly loved Henry. Rosa is a cousin of Mariella, they are closer than cousins or even friends. There is an emotionally dependent bordering on obsession with them. Mariella is a poster girl of a Victorian woman. Rosa is a woman who wants to leave the constraints of culture and make a positive difference in her life. Rosa is…

Book Review: Five Empresses, Court Life in Eighteenth-Century Russia by Evgenii V. Anisimov

This is book 2 in my Winter Reading Challenge for 2012.

The emphasis of the book is on five Empresses of Russia that ruled during the 1700's. But, the book begins by telling us the story of Peter the Great. It was his strong legacy that these 5 Empresses followed and were thus measured by.

The 5 Empresses, each given a chapter, are as follows:
The Cinderella from Livland, Catherine I
The Poor Relative Who Became Empress, Anna Ioannovna
The Secret Prisoner and Her Children, Anna Leopol'dovna
The Russian Aphrodite, Elizabeth
The Sovereign of the North, Catherine the Great

Peter the Great married his 2nd wife Catherine I, after they'd had children. She was his 2nd wife. She was not beautiful, but rather frumpy and dumpy, and of peasant stock.Yet they were a match, or rather she had the inborn skills to deal with his personality. Peter the Great was demanding, a tyrant, cruel, he had fits of rage which could produce seizures, he had periods of depression. He was gone often on…