- #2 in Stephanie Plum series
- American author
- Originally published 1991
- Review: Fun! Gotta love Grandma!
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
- Book Club selection, May 2012
- Originally published 1860
- British author
- Article sent by Judy Plum to include for discussion at book club.....autobiographical nature of this novel:
•On 5 March 1860, the scientist and journalist GH Lewes reported to the publisher John Blackwood that "Mrs Lewes is getting her eyes redder and swollener every morning as she lives through her tragic story. But there is such a strain of poetry to relieve the tragedy that the more she cries, and the readers cry, the better say I."
"Mrs Lewes" was, of course, George Eliot1, and "the tragic story" on which she was working so damply was The Mill on the Floss, published by Blackwood 150 years ago next week. What was making Eliot cry was having to write the last few pages of her novel in which the heroine Maggie Tulliver and her estranged brother Tom drown in the swollen River Floss, locked together "in an embrace never to be parted".
More than mere melodrama, the watery hug represented a wishful reworking of Eliot's fractured relationship with her own adored brother, with whom she had grown up on the Warwickshire family farm in the 1820s. Ever since she had written to Isaac Evans three years before to explain that she was now cohabiting in London with the married Lewes – "Mrs Lewes" was a term of social convenience, her legal name remained Mary Ann Evans – the rigidly respectable Isaac had refused to have anything to do with her. Even more hurtfully, he had instructed their sister to break off contact too. This silence was to stretch bleakly over the coming quarter of a century. The brother and sister who, like Tom and Maggie, had once "roamed the daisied fields together" in loving childhood, would never meet again.
Unusually for such an intensely autobiographical novel, The Mill on the Floss was not Eliot's first work of fiction, but her third. Shortly before it came out she explained to a friend that my "mind works with most freedom and the keenest sense of poetry in my remotest past", and her first two novels had indeed truffled her own prehistory. Scenes of Clerical Life (1858) was drawn from stories circulating around her childhood community about a series of mild scandals that had taken place several decades earlier. Adam Bede (1859) was based on the young adulthood of her father, her uncle and her uncle's wife. It was as if Eliot had been working through what she called the "many strata" of collective memory before she was ready, finally, to confront her own past.
Literary theorists tend not to approve of reading novels as if they were fictionalised autobiography. Still, it is a stern critic who would deny readers the pleasure of spotting which parts of her own childhood George Eliot transferred to Tom and Maggie. The dynamics and personalities of the Tulliver family are remarkably similar to what we know of the Evanses. Mr Tulliver, the hot-headed miller, is described as finding "the relation between spoken and written language, briefly known as spelling, one of the most puzzling things in this puzzling world", and you only have to glance at the diaries of Eliot's father, Robert Evans, to realise that he too was an uncertain penman.
Evans, like Tulliver, was a fond father, who doted on "his little wench", born when he was already middle aged. And while he was far too astute to follow Tulliver's example of mounting ruinous law suits, Evans often found himself called into court to give expert witness on matters of land management.
Then there is Tom Tulliver, whose rigid respectability and lack of capacity for original thought makes him a ringer for Isaac. Some of the best scenes in the book show Tom struggling over schoolboy Latin while the younger Maggie races ahead, exhibiting a cleverness that upsets the gender expectations of her highly conventional family. Isaac, like Tom, grew up to be a practical man of business. Mary Ann, by contrast, followed Maggie into a self-punishing adolescence marked by an intense longing for the kind of intellectual and artistic life not generally available to girls in the muddy backwaters of late-Hanoverian England.
But it is the Dodson aunts who are the real stars of The Mill on the Floss. This bustling trio of self-regarding matrons is one of the great comic creations of 19th-century fiction, as good as anything Dickens ever did. The Dodsons are Mrs Tulliver's married sisters, and regularly descend on the mill in a disapproving chorus, ready to dispense home truths beginning with, "It's for your own good I say this." Devoid of culture or curiosity about lives other than their own, the Dodsons nonetheless know themselves to be experts in everything that really matters, including "obedience to parents, faithfulness to kindred, industry, rigid honesty, thrift, the thorough scouring of wooden and copper utensils".
Behind Eliot's comedy there is, as ever, a more serious intent. As a careful reader of all the new scientific theories, including Darwin's, Eliot wants to show us the Dodsons in their larger historical context. Thirty years ago, she explains, this is how rich Protestant peasants lived in middle England. Fussing over butter-making and swollen ankles, household linen and fashionable bonnets may strike her readers as tiresome and vulgar, but it is important to realise that this way of being represents a particular moment in human development. Now that moment has passed, and, for all their ant-like vitality, the Dodsons and their ilk are as dead as dodos.
The Dodson aunts derive much of their grotesque energy from Eliot's close observations of her own mother's sisters, the Pearsons. This formidable set of women lived in a series of prosperous farmhouses at several miles' distance from the Evanses' own home. Robert Evans's diaries for the early 1830s record a constant round of comings and goings, with aunts and uncles descending periodically just as they do in The Mill on the Floss. In return little Mary Ann is sent on overnight visits, especially to her Aunt Garner, the model for Aunt Deane. Eliot tells us that one of the main planks of Dodson respectability is the desire "to leave an unimpeachable will", so it is nice to report that the real-life model for the stuffiest of all the Dodson aunts, Aunt Glegg, did exactly that.
In 1844 wealthy widow Mary Everard departed the Warwickshire earth, leaving much of her household furniture to be divided between her three nieces: Mary Ann Evans, Mary Ann's elder sister Chrissy (the model for Mr Tulliver's sister Gritty) and their cousin Bessy Garner (possibly the original for the angelic cousin Lucy, whom jealous Maggie pushes into the mud). The will and its codicil comprise a remarkable inventory of Mrs Everard's household goods, written with an attention to detail that would have delighted her fictional counterpart. While Chrissy gets her aunt's best bed, and Bessy gets a wardrobe, Mary Ann gets 12 teaspoons, four saltspoons marked MP (for Mary Pearson) and the clock in the kitchen.
It is, though, Maggie Tulliver who towers over The Mill on the Floss, one of those great literary heroines whom bookish girls grow up wanting to be. Just like Anne of Green Gables or even Jane Eyre, Maggie captures exactly the dilemma of being the clever girl of the family, the ugly duckling, the misplaced foundling who longs to be recognised for the genius she secretly knows herself to be. (Maggie fantasises about writing to Sir Walter Scott, who will naturally recognise her specialness). Several of the most celebrated incidents in Maggie's life are said to be taken straight from Mary Anne's own emotionally jagged childhood – the hacking off of her unruly hair with the scissors, the running away to join the Gypsies, the mortification of being displaced in her brother's affections by a new pony.
The central crisis of the novel is a reworking of the drama that defined Eliot's own adult life. Towards the end of the book, the adult Maggie goes on an ill-advised boat trip with Stephen Guest, her cousin Lucy's beau. "Nothing happens", as we might say today, apart from Stephen begging Maggie to elope with him by heading to Scotland for a quick marriage. Maggie realises just in time that what she is doing is wrong and returns home. However, her absence has caused a storm of gossip and "the world's wife" is busy painting the blackest picture of what really went on during those missing hours. Respectable women turn away from Maggie in the street, and coarse men laugh knowingly. Tom, who is now head of the family, refuses to let his disgraced sister return to the mill, declaring savagely: "I wash my hands of you for ever."
Here, surely, is a fictional transmutation of Eliot's own "elopement" with Lewes in 1854. That, too, had started with a boat trip – to Germany, where the middle-aged couple spent the first few months of their life together. While Maggie commits no actual sin – she has not slept with Stephen – Eliot seems to be making the provocative case that neither has she. Lewes may technically still have been a married man, but that was because his complicated legal situation made divorce impossible. As far as Eliot was concerned, she and Lewes, whom she always referred to as "my husband", had a sacred bond which was more binding than any piece of paper. The "world's wife", though, saw things very differently.
On returning to Britain in the spring of 1855, Eliot found herself the centre of a storm of vicious finger-pointing. As a "fallen woman" she was not welcome in any respectable home, and several of her women friends were forbidden by their fathers from calling on her. Inveterate gossips such as Elizabeth Gaskell and Harriet Martineau made things even murkier by adding embellishments, including a fictitious illegitimate baby, to this already most juicy of literary scandals.
That Eliot was often writing about herself when she wrote about Maggie is betrayed by the uneven shape of The Mill on the Floss. The first two sections are leisurely and detailed, studded with examples of the comical Dodsons and the minute plotting of the changing relationship between the young Tullivers. It is as if Eliot is unable to achieve the critical distance required to move her story briskly forward, but instead lingers lovingly over her memories of those early years with Isaac.
And so the ending, when it comes, is rushed and breathless. A terrible tidal flood has marooned Tom in the mill and, in a reversal of the usual rescue plot, Maggie rows out from the town to save her elder brother. On the way back a piece of flotsam breaks off and heads towards their small boat. "'It is coming, Maggie!' Tom said, in a deep, hoarse voice, loosing the oars, and clasping her." The boat sinks, taking Tom and Maggie down in that final embrace. In real life this reunion of brother and sister never took place. Instead, Isaac and Mary Ann Evans spent their adult lives apart, he on the Warwickshire family farm, she as an increasingly successful and fêted author in London.
- Characters: Maggie & Tom (brother and sister), Mr. Tulliver (their father, the St. Ogg's miller), Mrs. Tulliver (nee Dodson, with three married sisters...Mrs. Deane, Mrs. Glegg, and Mrs. Pullet), Bob (faithful childhood friend0, Philip Wakem (hunchback, son of Tulliver nemesis, loves Maggie), Stephen Guest (Lucy's boyfriend who falls in love with Maggie)
- Notes from introduction:
- "...an attempt at a realistic 'history of unfashionable families'
- author drew on own family history
- people saw themselves in the stories
- issue of writing literary portraits.....
- Epigraph: "In their death they were not divided"
- Opening Line: "A wide plain, where the broadening Floss hurries on between its green banks to the sea, and the loving tide, rushing to meet it, checks its passage with an impetuous embrace"
- p. 54...lovely description of the environs....idyllic
- irrefragable: not to be disputed or contested
- fromenty: a kind of porridge made from hulled wheat boiled with milk, sweetened, and spiced
- nidus: a place or point in an organism where a germ or other organism can develop or breed
- Quotes I Like:
- p.57..."....if you see a stick i' the road, you're allays thinkin' you can't step over it." Tulliver to Bessy
- p.60..."It's no mischief much while she's a little un, but an over 'cute woman's no better nor a long-tailed sheep - she'll fetch none the bigger price for that." Tulliver about Maggie
- p.62..."...milk and mildness are not the best things for keeping, and when they turn only a little sour they may disagree with young stomachs seriously."
- p.64..."This was a puzzling world, as he often said, and if you drive your waggon in a hurry you may light on an awkward corner."...Tulliver about quick changes
- p.65.."I'll niver pull my coat off before I go to bed. I shall give Tom an eddication an' put him to a business, as he may make a nest for himself an' not want to push me out o' mine. Pretty well if he gets it when I', dead an' gone. I shan't be put off wi' spoon-meat afore I've lost my teeth."...Tulliver
- p.67..."But it seems one mustn't judge by th' outside. This is a puzzlin' world."....Tulliver on passing judgement
- p.73..."When a workman knows the use of his tools, he can make a door as well as a window."...on being a generally educated instructor
- p.75..."We live from hand to mouth, most of us, with a small family of immediate desires - we do little else than snatch a morsel to satisfy the hungry brood, rarely thinking of seed corn or the next year's crop."
- p.77..."Besides, a man with the milk of human kindness in him can scarcely abstain from doing a good-natured action, and one can't be good natured all round. Nature herself occasionally quarters an inconvenient parasite on an animal towards who sh has otherwise no ill-will. What then? We admire her care for the parasite."
- p.144..."It had come across his mind that if he were hard upon his sister, it might somehow tend to make Tom hard upon Maggie, at some distant day, when her father was no longer there to take her part; for simple people, like our friend Mr. Tulliver, are apt to clothe unimpeachable feelings in erroneous ideas, and this was his confused way of explaining to himself that his love and anxiety for 'the little wench' had given him a new sensibility towards his sister."
- p.145..."Childhood has no forebodings; but then, it is soothed by no memories of outlived sorrow."
- p.184..."And the present time was like the level plain where men lose their belief in volcanoes and earthquakes, thinking to-morrow will be as yesterday and the giant forces that used to shake the earth are for ever laid to sleep."
- p.185..."Mrs. Glegg had both a front and a back parlour in her excellent house at St. Ogg's, so that she had two points of view from which she could observe the weaknesses of her fellow-beings and reinforce her thankfulness for her own exceptional strength of mind."...LOL
- p.222..." There is no sense of ease like the ease we felt in those scenes where we were born, where objects became dear to us before we had known the labour of choice, and where the outer world seemed only an extension of our own personality: we accepted and loved it as we accepted our own sense of existence and our own limbs."
- p.229..."...but the largest amount of winking, however significant, is not equivalent to seeing through a stone wall."
- p.270..."They had gone forth together into their new life of sorrow, and they would never more see the sunshine undimmed by remembered cares. They had entered the thorny wilderness, and the golden gates of their childhood had for ever closed behind them."
- p.363..."I share with you this sense of oppressive narrowness; but it is necessary that we should feel it, if we care to understand how it acted on the lives of Tom and Maggie - how it has acted on young natures in many generations, that in the onward tendency of human things have risen above the mental level of the generation before them, to which have been nevertheless tied by the strongest fivres of their hearts. The suffering, whether of martyr or victim, which belongs to every historical advance of mankind, is represented in this way in every town and by hundreds of obscure hearths; and we need not shrink from this comparison of small things with great; for does not science tell us that its highest striving is after the ascertainment of a unity which shall bind the smallest things with the greatest? In natural science, I have understood, there is nothing petty to the mind that has a large vision of relations, and to which every single object suggests a vast sum of conditions. It is surely the same with the observation of human life."
- p.369..."It is something cruelly incomprehensible to youthful natures - this sombre sameness in middle-aged and elderly people whose life has resulted in disappointment and discontent, to whose faces a smile becomes so strange that the sad lines all about the lips and brow seem to take no notice of it, and it hurries away again for want of a welcome."......Tom's condition
- p.385..."In writing the history of unfashionable families, one is apt to fall into a tone of emphasis which is very far from being the tone of good society, where principles and beliefs are not only of an extremely moderate kind, but are always presupposed, no subjects being eligible but such as can be touched with a light and graceful irony. But then, good society has its claret and its velvet carpets, its dinner engagements six weeks deep, its opera and its faery ballrooms; rides off its ennui on thoroughbred horses, lounges at the club, has to keep clear of crinoline vortices, gets its science done by Faraday, and its religion by the superior clergy who are to be met in the best houses: how should it have time or need for belief and emphasis? But good society, floated on gossamer wings of light irony, is of very expensive production; requiring nothing less than a wide and arduous national life condensed in unfragrant deafening factories, cramping itself in mines, sweating at furnaces, grinding, hammering, weaving under more or less oppression of carbonic acid - or else, spread over sheepwalks, and scattered in lonely houses and huts on the clay or chalky cornlands, where the rainy days look dreary. This wide national life is based entirely on emphasis - the emphasis of want, which urges it into all the activities necessary for the maintenance of good society and light irony; it spends its heavy years often in a chill, uncarpeted fashion amidst family discord unsoftened by long corridors."
- p.405..."...for getting a fine flourishing growth of stupidity there is nothing like pouring out on a mind a good amount of subjects in which it feels no interest."....Tom in school
- p.462..."Sad ending to the day that had risen on them all like a beginning of better times! But mingled seed must bear a mingle crop.".....we reap what we sow
- p.645..."Where these minds are low and gross, the area of that 'appearance' is proportionately widened."...the assumptions and rumor mongering by townsfolk about Maggie
- Review: If you love period literature, moral struggle, and enchanting heroines, you will love this novel by George Eliot. The main characters in this book are loveable, human, heartrending, and ridiculously funny. Eliot wrote this story of what she considered common folks and the struggles they live with day in and out. She describes the small town social hierarchy, the pride, and the honor of the people in this community, through the experiences of Maggie, a dark haired beauty who is both intelligent and moral. Her life is filled with strife, oppression, and also with two men who love her beyond all else. She loves her older brother, Tom, since childhood and lives her life trying to obtain his approval despite multiple roadblocks. You have to read the book to see how it all turns out! Themes in this book: Love, honor, pride, moral struggle, loyalty, family ties. Wonderful novel....I laughed, I held my breath, and I got teary.....great blend to find in one novel!
- Early Review edition
- American author
- Debut novel
- Originally published 2012
- Quotes I Like: -
- p.5 - "...because that's what an African writer was supposed to have, the wild clutched to her bosom, suckling the continent, all those tired imperial fantasies."
- p.7 - "In my experience, governments mostly take very little notice of what private citizens have to say unless they say it in unison."
- p.9 - "We all know how people suffer over the unexpected, violent death of a family member. It is fundamentally no different for the family of a murdered innocent or the family of an executed criminal. It is vivisection. It is limb loss. No prosthetic can substitute. The family is crippled."
- p.47- "In my case the censor was a bodily invader, always with me, entirely within me, internally bloodsucking."
- p.47 - "I wrote books, effectively, which the censors could not understand, because they lacked the intelligence to read beyond the surface, and the surface itself was almost opaque to them,darkness etched in darkness."
- p.71 - "And that is when one knows that the censor has won, because, ultimately, what the censor most desires is not total control of information but for all writers to self-censor."
- p.72 - "She was an internal doppelganger, hovering just behind me with a blue pencil, poised to attack."
- p.121 - "Biography is cannibalism and vampirism."
- p.162 - "This is how she appears to me, and these are her words, as I recorded and transcribed them, but when I reread them I find I've lost who she is: that system of continuous small explosions, contained in a tall pouch of skin."....Clare about Laura
- p.171 - "You know that I don't ask for absolution, since that's something you don't believe in and therefore can't give or won't give.".....Laura to Clare in final letter
- p.180 - "The thought of deaths you had caused - deaths for which you alone were ultimately responsible - filled the whole of you, was played into fullness by a song beating through your memory. You were deep inside yourself, absorbed, death filling you past the point of contentment, erfullte sie wie Fulle, sweetened by the thought of your own death, the death that must come, that might arrive within the hour or the next day."...Clare writing about Laura, but possibly expressing her own feelings abut herself s well
- p.197 - "I do no know, in the end, how much influence parents can have over the beliefs of their children, or how they choose to act on those beliefs. One can but sow the seed and provide the proper environment, and hope that the flower promised by the illustration on the packet is the one that will grow, trust that the hybrid will not revert to the characteristics of some earlier generation, or be so transformed by unpredictable and wholly external factors-- a drought, a storm, environmental pollution--that the seed mutates and something unrecognizable grows."
- p.214 - "I dance with steps of my own devising, an unbalanced dervish, hair in the wind, a blue crane, a crone. I keen as I should have keened before."...Clare tries to summon Laura's spirit to her
- p.215 - " I no longer care if I am seen and thought mad--or worse, sane and an agent of evil."....Clare
- p.221 - "Comforting fantasies are undoing this world, By the laws of comforting fantasies one group feel it right and roper to subjugate all others."....Clare about the notion of free will
- p.229 - "I like this idea. God as creator whose creations are all perhaps no more than counterfeits of lost originals which probably no longer exist, if they ever did."......Clare
- p.233 - "...and began to understand that Wald's stories were not only spaces to inhabit as real as the house he lived in with his aunt, the house he might have hoped to live in with Clare herself, but they were also keys that opened the library of his memory.".....Sam about the books by Clare he read as a youth......."If he could not actually live with Clare, he could live in the house of her words."
- p.252 - "They are the ones who see all whites as parasites, and they are the analogs to those of the old regime who saw all blacks as terrorists or idles. It may only be a matter of time before the likes of me, and you in particular given the nature f your work, are described as enemies of the state. We are the new sleeper cells, the plotters inn the dark. To dissent now is to commit treason, in a way that could not even have been imagined by the old apartheid government."
- p.258 - "A state of unlimited privacy would inevitably be a state of chaos--a state that could not for long remain a state."
- p.269 - "What safer way to write about the self than from a distorting distance?"...Clare about her memoir
- p.271 - "Life since the death of his parents had felt like a series of corners; a corner of his aunt's small house; a corner of a room or a series of rooms at school and then at university; a corner of an airplane cabin; a corner of his dorm room in New York....Sarah offered more than a corner."...Sam about Sarah
- p.272 - "before coming to New York he had always assumed that Britain was his country's model and frame of reference, but the longer he spent in the city, he realized how wrong he must have been. America felt like his country in different terms,its inverse and possibility, its cultural twin and opposite."
- p.281 - "Simply, the case is this: investing oneself in the institution of family is always about the partial annihilation of self."
- p.293 - "I think about provocation. Was it possible for a white woman of privileged background , who could only be a beneficiary of this country's unjust system, to feel provoked into attack or provoked into aiding and abetting an attack?"
- p.294 - "I look at what our democratic country has become, at the way civic violence has been forged as its currency and coat of arms, and I wonder whether nonviolent civil disobedience, notwithstanding the sluggishness of its progress might have been the better way to win liberation. India achieved it thus; it may be an unequal society, but one can walk its streets for the most part without fear."...Clare
- p.308 - "But there is also fatigue in its pages, beneath which courses a puzzled anger at the way the world has turned out"....Sam's review of Clare's memoir...."Clare seems to say, the country has shown itself to be a cruel microcosm for the way the world really is, the war of all against all, red in tooth and claw, a waking nightmare of exploitation and corruption and hideous beauty that appears doomed never to end or to end in only one possible way."
- p.309 - "The Law is a good antidote, my own pair of binoculars. Clare wondered if he knew how little one could see though binoculars--detail of one small object at a distance, but nothing around it or in between: the thing but not the context for the thing."...Clare in conversation with son, Mark
- Ideas I Like:
- Clare like the physical layout of the court, populace audience set above the justices, lawyers below both
- "Absolution", the title of the memoir being written by Clare, the protagonist > Clare and he husband hid books....Laura acted outside the law
- Clare, famous author, aging, seeking absolution for perhaps aiding in the murder f her sister and brother-in-law, and for not mothering her daughter the way she ought to have, and for denying responsibility for Sam
- Nora: Clare's sister, abusive to her, tried to take child away
- Laura: Clare's daughter, believed to be anti-apartheid activist, actually a double agent - Sam: child of Laura's co-conspirators, Clare responsible for their accidental death when car bomb detonated early
- Sarah: Sam's American wife
- Review: It is difficult to believe that this is a debut literary effort! The writing is masterful, dreamlike, and gripping. The form of the novel reels the reader into a confusion of dream, truth, and untruth, creating the confusion which is the primary theme of the novel. What is truth? What is history? What can ever be known for certain? This is true for personal and social history as portrayed in this wonderfully woven story of the pursuit of both personal and national absolution. Absolution is sought for actions taken, actions which are perceived differently by each individual as well as factions within one nation, both before and after apartheid in South Africa. Patrick Flanery is an author who has set a high standard for himself in this first novel. I look forward to seeing what comes next from this new literary voice.
Monday, April 16, 2012
- Originally published 2000
- Audiobook, narrated by Sydney Poitier
- Bahamian author
- Review: What a voice! I enjoyed this story of trying to live a life that did not dishonor his parents in any way! And that, my friends, is one measure of a man or woman!
- Originally published 2012
- English author
- #9 in Maisie Dobbs series
- Review: Maisie Dobbs is faced with the moral ambiguities and terror as WWII looms on the horizon of her life. This was a really good story. They have all been good, but this one is particularly so!
Sunday, April 15, 2012
- US author
- Originally published 2006
- Review: Anne Tyler consistently writes good stories well. Two families meet at the airport while picking up their Korean infants for adoption, and thus begins a special relationship which lasts a lifetime. It is the story of sharing experiences, sharing the riches of varied ethnic backgrounds, and sharing the joys and sorrows which life throws at everyone regardless of ethnicity. So, the reader digs in and discovers some of the wonderful aspects of life in America. Nice story, nice writing, nice ending!
Friday, April 13, 2012
- Originally published 2000
- Irish author
- Review: Audiobook............Listening to Colum McCann's prose is like listening to poetry, regardless of the subject matter. He is an excellent writer! This is the first time I have read his writing in the shorter format of novella and short stories, and I think he is masterful at it. All I will say, is settle back in a comfy chair with a beautiful view and listen. You will be carried away to the tough and demanding world of Ireland and its day-to-day realities. It's worth the time!
- Audiobook.....narrated by Susan Sarandon
- Originally published 1946
- Characters: Frankie (age 12).....Jarvis (brother getting married to Janice, corporal in Army, went to Alaska), Berniece (cook w/blue glass eye), John Henry (Frankie's 1st cousin, age 6)
- Quotes I Liked:
- "And the season of dog days is like this. It is the time at the end of the summer when as a rule, nothing can happen. But if a change does come about, that change remains until dog days are over."
- "She was an "I" person. She had to walk around and do things by herself. Other people had a "we" to claim, all others except her."
- Ideas I Liked:
- afraid of the questions and the answers of life
- "unjoined" person
- Review: An absolutely lovely performance by narrator, Susan Sarandon! What a heartrending, beautifully written story of adolescent angst! Meet Frances Jasmine Adams, aka Frankie, aka F. Jasmine (pronounced Jasmeen) Adams, depending on her mood at the moment. Accompany this 12 year old girl on the excruciating emotional journey from childhood to the cusp of adulthood, and lose your heart to her and her cousin, John Henry, and the family cook, Berniece. Her brother's wedding is the occasion, her desire to be a member of anything rather than continue "unjoined" is her state of being, and her yearning motivates her dreams, wishes and near tragic bad choices. I felt like I was walking beside her through the entire story. Great literature!
Thursday, April 12, 2012
- Arts & Lecture author May 2012
- Originally published 2009
- "In nature, all is useful, all is beautiful." - Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Art"
- "To regret deeply is to live afresh." - Henry David Thoreau, "Journals"
- Reminiscent setting and feel to Douglas Lake, for me and for Bob
- p. 5..."....famous line from Thoreau: Cape Cod is the bared and bended arm of Massachusetts. The shoulder is at Buzzard's Bay; the elbow at Cape Mallebarre; the wrist at Truro; and the sandy fist at Provincetown."
- Review: This was a story about the human condition as told through the vehicle of a New England family and their individual struggles to find their way in life. One child has a medical condition, but it becomes clear that her condition is no more or less difficult to live with than making bad choices, being lonely, being a closeted gay man, or being perpetually detached from life. The characters and their lives are resoundingly real, but the plot was too predictable for my taste.
- Audiobook.....narrated by Will Patton
- US author
- Originally published 1957
- "I was halfway across America at the dividing line between the east of my youth and the west of my future."
- Review: The highlight of this book was narration by Will Patton. He does an excellent job with this book and has on others that I have read. What can I say that hasn't already been said about this novel? It is almost anti-climactic to read it after living with its icon status for so long. I enjoyed it, was not wowed by it, yet realize that at the time it was written it was groundbreaking. The writing was excellent, and I think I give it four stars because I know that because of groundbreaking, stream-of-consciousness first person narratives such as this, others have thrived. It was a bucket list read, and worthwhile to boot!
Monday, April 9, 2012
- Originally published in 1978
- USA author
- Reading this as part of a Group Read on LibraryThing.com, reading novels about closed societies
- Quotes I Liked:
- p. 6..."It was always necessary around Hollywood to remind people that you were still in demand at whatever it was that you were celebrated for."
- p. 54...."Is he using, as we suspect, his potentially enormous influence as a religious figure to subvert the American way of life in order to serve an alien creed based on inhuman collectivism?"
- p. 120..."When I notice something ridiculous, I notice it only much later. I do not observe a moment while I am living it. It is only later that I go over every detail of my life."
- p. 120..."The romantic looks at a large mirror and believes it to be the sea. The realist looks at the sea and believes it to be a mirror. But the man with a straightforward mind says, in front of the mirror: 'It is a mirror!' and in front of the sea: 'It is the sea.' "
- p.149..."What other nation has made itself a world empire not so much through force--or sale--of arms as through the invention of the multinational corporation which owes allegiance, officially, to no nation on earth but, unofficially, is the creation of ruling class United Statesmen or persons?"
- p. 154..."C'etait pendant l'horreur d'une profonde nuit".....Racine
- p. 155..."I am the mind that contains all things as well as no thing or nothing. I am, and that is all."....Kalki
- p. 186..."What really matters is that as the matter of each of us ceases to exist in its present form, it reassembles in yet another form. Naturally, there can be no loss of anything in a constant nature. But there is rearrangement."
- p. 211..."Le dernier acte est sanglant, quelque belle que soit la comedie en tout le rests."...Pascal
- Review: Not just your plain everyday end of the world tale! This novel, written in the 1970s, is more of a sociopolitical statement than a novel. Using the Hindu concepts of Vishnu come again as avatar Kalki, to end the current era of human life on earth, the protagonist manages to manipulate the masses in order to achieve his own ends. Not only does he manipulate the common person on the street, but he is able to successfully manipulate Congress, the Chinese Mafia, and the CIA to his own ends. Charisma and intellect combined create a dangerous entity! Yet, without spoiling the book for anyone, I would have to say that if the reader is not enjoying the author's sociopolitical commentary in the first two thirds of the book, the final third is just a great ending to the entire novel, satisfying in many ways!
- #24 in Alex Delaware series
- Originally published 2009
- Review: I normally am a fan of the Alex Delaware series, but this one was difficult to stick with. And frankly, this was more of a Milo Sturgis story than an Alex Delaware story.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
- Originally published in 1800s, this collection in 2010
- English author
- Two Stories
- "Malachi's Cove":
- Malachi Trenglos, or "Old Gloss" saved seaweed and sold it for manure
- setting: Tintagel, beautiful cliffs in England
- Mally Trenglos, his granddaughter, helped as he got old, a strong hardworking girl, 20 years old
- turns out the path and cove did not belong to Trenglos
- Bertie, sworn enemy until accident occurs
- "Father Giles of Ballymoy":
- a man comes to a crowded inn, is rude to a man who crawls into bed with him
- then finds out it is the parish priest, Father Giles, and it was his bed
- shoves man down stairs, is taken to jail to protect him
- turns out the priest had been gracious to share with the narrator
- townspeople angry at him, he was ashamed
- fearful of Roman Catholics
- The suspicion followed by warm acceptance, very Irish emotional volatility, ability to let go of anger and move straight to friendship
- Review: I am not sure that the short story is Trollope's strength. I am a big Trollope fan, but these two stories, although sweet are quite simplistic, were a little too simple for my taste. Volatility of emotion is the theme of both.
- Originally published 1994
- USA author
- #1 in Stephanie Plum series
- Review: Delightfully funny and wicked! I chuckled all the way through this story as Stephanie Plum bungles her way to solving a murder case in her first attempts at being a bounty hunter. Such a pleasure! Evanovich blends good suspense with witty dialogue. Enjoyed the characters and their interactions immensely!
Monday, April 2, 2012
- Originally published 2012
- USA author
- Review: Did you ever want to know the odds of being killed in a bus crash? The odds of being proposed to on Valentine's Day? The odds of honeymooning in the same place twice, with the same man? The odds of surviving going over Niagara Falls with or without a barrel? Do you want to cringe at the realism of this novel about a 30 year old marriage? This is the book for you.
As usual, Stewart O'Nan, finds a way to convey to the reader some sense of the small amount of control we have over our lives, over our relationships, and over our feelings. He writes in a manner which makes you cringe, and smile, and cry. Tough to read, but very good.
- Audiobook, narrated by the author
- Originally published
- No relationship lasts forever
- autobiographical, re her family history of divorce, her relationship history
- swore off marriage.....until lover was ill, then very happy
- Review: A personal history of relationship...touching, true