Showing posts from July, 2012

Conclusion of A Victorian Summer Celebration June/July 2012


Book Review: The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Novels by Henry James

This is the second book of short stories I've read by Henry James. The previous book of short stories (four) I loved. This book of short stories (six) I did not like. As in the previous review I'll give a brief synopsis and review.

The time period for all the stories are late 1800's. Most have the theme of traveling, American versus European ideas and culture, men and women relationships. The Turn of the Screw is the odd one out, completely different from Henry James's other short stories. 

An International Episode published in 1878
~~~Two Englishmen travel to the United States, specifically New York. They tour the city, dine in the best restaurants, attend social gatherings. There is more than one reference of "American girls are very clever." A young woman named Bessie meets these men and is attracted to one of them. Later she will travel to London and reunites with one them.
~~~This story was okay. What I found interesting was: the gossip, assumptions, gen…

Book Review: Daisy Miller and Other Stories by Henry James

This is the first time for me to review a book of short stories. I was not sure how to go about it. Do I give a brief synopsis and then my review on all of them? Or give a synopsis and review on one favorite story?
Since there were four stories in this volume I've chosen to give a brief synopsis and review on all of them. Emphasis on brief.

Time period for all the stories are late 1800's. Most of the setting for the stories are on board ship, either traveling to Europe or to America.  

Daisy Miller published 1878.
~~~Daisy Miller is a young American woman who is traveling in Europe with her mother and young brother. An American man who has been living in Europe for several years (and has adapted to the culture) meets her brother first and then Daisy. He is instantly smitten with her looks and intrigued by her demeanor. Daisy is the billboard image of the slang term "American Girl." She is original, not refined and educated, new money, independent, does not think a…

What is a Classic?

Edith Wharton wrote,

"A classic is a classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard.) It is a classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness."

My Top Ten Favorite Classic Fiction Books

Jennifer over at Relentless Reader listed her top ten favorite books. Instead of posting my full answer in her little comment box. I'll answer on my blog in a new post.
Note, this is my top ten list of favorite classic fiction books.

1. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
2. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
5. Silas Marner by George Eliot
6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
7. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
8. My Antonia by Willa Cather
9. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
10. Beloved by Toni Morrison

A few of my other favorites are:
Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
How Green was my Valley by Richard LLewellyn
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Persuasion by Jane Austen
The Mill on the F…

Book Blogger Hop, July 27 Through August 2

"What is one thing that your blog readers probably don't know about you?"

I'll name a few things!

1. I train at a gym. I do it all: cardio, abdominals, core work, stability, weights.
I try and train 5-6 times a week, some weeks it is only 3 times.
I love it!

2. I am crazy about Greek olives. I eat at least 5 or 6 everyday at lunch. I prefer them with pits. I prefer a mix of Greek Olives.

3. I don't get jokes. After nearly 30 years of marriage my husband still has to explain a joke.

4. I prefer to eat peanut butter with a spoon. I eat 1 spoonful of peanut butter almost everyday.

5. My favorite colors are aqua, turquoise, teal blue, sage green. 

6. When I'm not happy with a comment someone has made, or I think their full of it, or I'm ticked off-----my left eyebrow goes up.

Have a great weekend!

Next Classic up for Review

I have discovered Henry James!
Not that he was lost, or unheard of by me. Until this week I'd never read a story written by him.
I'm almost finished with an Oxford World Classic that holds a collection of four of his stories. So far I've read Daisy Miller, Pandora, and The Patagonia. One story is left in this edition, Four Meetings.
I have another book also holding his short stories but from Signet classic. In this volume of stories is: An International Episode, The Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers, The Altar of the Dead, The Beast in the Jungle and Daisy Miller (which I've read.)
I have another book written by Henry James The Portrait of a Lady. This novel is lengthy and will take several days to read.
How do I feel about his work, his writing?
Marvelous, just a joy to read! He is a charming writer brought about from his study of people, both American and European. Their old world versus new world mentality. At times his tongue-in-cheek remarks from his charact…

Book Review: The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

This is the second book I've read written by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans.) It was just a few weeks ago that I'd read Silas Marner. Before reading Silas Marner I'd read my first book of Ernest Hemingway's Farewell To Arms. Hemingway's sentences are short and stiffly non-descriptive. Eliot's sentences contain as many as 76 words. Her writing is fluid, and evokes an emotional response. She creates a dramatic sweeping story with words, similar to an artist painting a picture on canvas. Her stories are not neat and tidy. They contain rural village life in 19th century Victorian England. Some of the characters are judgmental, pious, discriminating, and unyielding. The main characters tell me they felt misunderstood and unheard. They felt taken advantage of and discriminated against. From what I've read of George Eliot's life (Mary Ann Evans) she too felt the feelings of her main characters. She was not a religious person (not in my definition, she toyed with…

Book Review: An Impartial Witness, A Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles Todd

Bess Crawford is a nursing sister in World War I and stationed in France. When the book begins it is the summer of 1917 and she is transporting wounded soldiers back to London. Amongst these soldiers is a burned pilot named Lt. Meriweather Evanson. Pinned to his lapel jacket is a photograph of his wife Marjorie Evanson. Bess is given a 36 hour pass in London before going back to France. At the train station she sees a woman saying goodbye to a soldier. This woman looks exactly like the woman in the photograph pinned to Lt. Evanson's lapel.When Bess is back in France she sees a newspaper with an article about Marjorie Evanson's murder. Bess had seen her only hours before her death when they were at the train station. Bess already felt an attachment to Lt. Evanson, and feels drawn to help find the murderer.

Although I liked this book, I did not enjoy it as well as A Duty to the Dead or A Bitter Truth.
I have also decided I like the inspector Ian Rutledge books a bit better. His…

E-Book Review: A Small Town Near Auschwitz, Ordinary Nazi's and the Holocaust by Mary Fulbrook

A Small Town Near Auschwitz is the town and county of Bedzin, Poland. Bedzin is located in southern Poland, or Upper Silesia province. This area had once been a German province. When Nazi Germany invaded Poland September 1, 1939 they wanted to regain what they'd lost after World War I. From the south and the west they marched into Poland, and on immediate arrival began their murderous rampage against the Jews. While Germany invaded from the south and west. The Soviet troops moved into Poland from the east. At the time of the invasion the town of Bedzin's Jewish population was more than half of the total population. It was a town with a new rail station, new schools, and new factories. Antisemitism had always been there, but the people lived and worked together despite prejudice. Bedzin's Jewish population was from the wealthy to the poor. After Nazi Germany invaded they began a program of resettling the Jew's into a Ghetto in order to keep them contained in one area. T…

Book Review: Search The Dark, by Charles Todd

Search The Dark is the third book in the inspector Ian Rutledge series.
The time period is August 1919. 
Inspector Ian Rutledge is called by Scotland Yard to a small town named Singleton Magna. The town is south of London and near the coast. A woman has been brutally beaten by a blunt object on her head. It is considered to be an aggressive passionate murder. A World War I veteran named Bert Mowbray has been arrested. He had been on a train traveling to a job opportunity, he saw a woman and two children that looked like his own family. While he was at war his family had died by a bombing in London. They were presumed dead. Yet, this woman and children remind him of his own beloved and missed family. He reacts with dramatic zeal, desperately looking for them in Singleton Magna. When a woman is found murdered, the police believe Mowbray is the murderer.

A murder can not be solved in the first few pages of the book, so I felt Mowbray may not be the correct criminal behind bars.
The stor…

Book Blogger Hop, July 13-19, 2012

This weeks question courtesy of Crazy-For-Books.

"How long does it take you to read a book?"

It depends on whether the book is non-fiction or fiction.
If the book is a Christian non-fiction book it may take a week or more (only because I read several books at one time.) I want to make sure I have an understanding of the book, as well as the correct facts before I write a review. Theology, textual criticism, Bible history, commentaries, etc. These are weighty subjects and I read at a slower pace.
A biography, memoir, will also take a bit longer to read, but not as long as Christian non-fiction.
Christian fiction will take 1 to 2 days for me to read.
A Mystery book 2 days to read.
A Classic literature book may also take several days to read. Word usage in a classic literature book is advanced, dialects are often used, and symbolism explored.
Whatever book I am reading the goal is 100 pages a day.
I have been reviewing books for over 5 years, at this point, I do not just read…

Book Review: Silas Marner, The Weaver of Raveloe by George Eliot

George Eliot (Mary Anne or Marian Evans) wrote Silas Marner (1861) shortly after The Mill on the Floss (1860) was published. It is her shortest work, at 200 pages. If I'd read this story without reading the introduction, I would have read the story believing the author had written a Christian fiction story. The introduction told me that George Eliot's story was of humanity and "redemption." "Redemption" not in the Christian definition, but in a humanity definition. After reading about Marian Evans life I don't know if she was set in a certain religious belief; but instead tried on a few beliefs before making a decision to pick and choose for herself.

Silas Marner  is the story of a man named Silas Marner. He had lived in a small village named Lantern Yard, England. The time period is "in the early years of this century" (19th century.) Lantern Yard had falsely accused Silas Marner, and he left to begin anew in Raveloe. Small towns and villages …

A Poesy Crevice

T.S.Eliot wrote:
"Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things."
From Everyman's Literary T. S. Eliot

How do you feel about this excerpt? Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Book Review: A Test of Wills, An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery by Charles Todd

A Test of Wills is the first book in the inspector Ian Rutledge series. The hardcover was published 1996, the paperback in 1998. Ian Rutledge is a veteran of World War I. He was an inspector with Scotland Yard before the war and has since rejoined the force. He is unmarried, has one sister named Frances. He suffers from claustrophobia, sleepless nights, nightmares, and anxiety in social situations. I am currently reading Search in the Dark and it is the third book in the Rutledge series. Each book reveals a little more about Rutledge the man, the inspector, and his PTSD issues since the war. He is a character that I admire, because of his tenacity and perseverance. He seems to come across as a calm and reserved person. Yet, in his mind he is fighting his own adversity. He is a dimensional character, this makes him believable, real. He is a character that I can easily imagine being flesh and bone. I can picture him tipping his hat to me, with his low-key quiet persona.
I am new to read…

Austen in August 2012

Join us for Austen in August?
Please read the above information by clicking on the above link.
The Victorian Celebration of reading for June and July will be finished for me, but my commitment for the Classics Club will continue. In August I plan to read Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sandition which is in one volume by Penguin Classics. I also plan to read Northanger Abbey. I believe these are the only books by Jane Austen I've not read.

Book Review: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

I do not think there is another author who can write such vigorously descriptive characters, whether they are good or evil. Charles Dickens was truly gifted in this art.
Oliver Twist is a character that Charles Dickens used to show the "blinded world" of human suffering. The workhouse, poverty, street children, illegitimate children, women who had babes without being married, the sick, and the Churches discrimination against the out-cast and unfortunate people. All these Dickens weaved into his stories in order to teach the public of "the least of these." I do not believe Dickens taught out of Christian duty. I do believe he taught out of his hearts conscience and from his own experiences.

This talent for Dickens to create such gripping characters, added to the readers ability to have sympathy or hatred or love for his creations.
When describing The Old Jew Fagin, he was compared to a rat or reptile. Another words we were given a description of a creature that w…

July Prompt-A Classics Challenge

Lasting Impression

Choose one of the classics I've read this year or are currently reading. What is a moment, quote, or character that you feel will stay with you? Years from now, when some of the details have faded, that lasting impression the book has left you with? What is it? Why did it fail to leave an impression?
This post was created by November's Autumn blog.
Link for original post:

Of the classics I've read this year:
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
Notes From The Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The quote that I will remember (maybe not every word, but certainly the attitude.)
 From page 391 in Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell
"Her ways were very quiet; she never spoke much. Anyone who has been oppressed with the weight of a vital secret for years, and much …

Book Review: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

I could not find the exact cover of my copy of The Woman in White. Since I've purchased my copy, Penguin has changed the front cover to this:

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins is considered the first English sensation novel and was a prelude to our modern detective novel. Written and published in 1860 during the Victorian era---I'm sure this novel caused a stir! If you have the chance to read my below links on the man, Wilkie Collins, you will be intrigued by his unusual lifestyle (for his era.) He was certainly rebellious and defiant against the norm for the 19th century. I did a little research On-line looking for what happened to his three children and could not find any further information. Maybe one of my reader's knows?

The Woman in White is a novel of bigamy, murder, plots, intrigue, madness, fraud, secrets, love story, suspense, mystery, abuse, blackmail, horror, Gothic and psychological type literature. Did I leave anything out?

The novel is divided into three…