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The Professor: A Review

This was another book on my classics list.

ProfessorI decided to try this because it was another offering by the Bronte sisters, this one from Charlotte. I adored Jane Eyre and wanted to see what else the wonderful author had penned.

This is her first published offering and it does show a little. The book dragged a little more and seemed to have less feeling in it but it was still a wonderful classic romance. Having a book evidently written by a woman with a male lead is not an easy sell even now, back then I can understand why the Bronte sisters published under a male pseudonym.

Not the easiest classic to read (I maintain Jane Austen is still one of the easiest) but not the worst either (Dickens, definitely Dickens), but it has the all important happy ending and plenty of witty lines.

All in all, another reasonable classic I’m very glad I read.

White Fang: A Review

This was the next book on my classic challenge. I’ve always wanted to read this one.

White FangWhite Fang is one of the shorter classics books and didn’t take me too long to read. Right from the beginning I was captivated by the way the author explained the minds of wolves and of the peril of the two men in the wilderness and being hunted by a whole pack of the animals.

Just like most classics it seemed like the story took a while to get to its point, although having now finished I’m still not completely sure what all of the story was actually there for. With that said I enjoyed every bit of story. I really think the author’s voice was what did it. I could have had a year’s worth of weather reports in the same voice and enjoyed it.

The last quarter of the book was the best bit. White Fang came into his own and the author gave him a sort of justice to finish things off.

Brilliant short classic by a brilliant writer.

Dracula: A Review

This is one of those books most people probably don’t expect me to have read. I don’t read horror and don’t tend to enjoy it, but this is a book I’ve just finished reading for the third time! It’s amazing and not really horror in the way we think of horror today. So here’s my thoughts.

This has got to be one of the worst of the many covers Dracula has had over the years but it definitely has a point. You’d be surprised how Christian this book is. Through out the story are references to God, trusting in Him, and defeating the demonic to honour Him and aid in His work. I suppose this stems from the book being written at a time when pretty much everyone went to church and believed that this sort of thing happened, at least in the spiritual realm even if not in the physical.

I also thought it was well written for a classic. A lot of them drag and take a while to get going, but this one plunged right into the action with Jonathan Harker on his way to visit Count Dracula and although it had a few lengthy paragraphs of description here and there (no worse than George R. R. Martin’s like of description) it was still a relatively fast paced read for a classic.

For a horror novel, the accounts of the gruesome side of things are quite tame and few and far between, instead the book relies on making you feel the dread of the characters and their fear of being cut off from God and eternally walking the earth as something that will never honour Him. There was a brilliant quote that summed up the emotion behind that sentiment in a way I can only wish I’d thought of. – ‘But to fail here is not mere life or death. It is that we become as him, that we henceforth become foul things of the night, like him, without heart or conscience, preying on the bodies and the souls of those we love best. To us forever are the gates of heaven shut, for who shall open them to us again? We go on for all time abhorred by all, a blot on the face of God’s sunshine, an arrow in the side of Him who died for man.’

In short, I love this novel, partially for not being what’s expected of it, partially for being so honest about the belief system behind it, and partially for being inspiring and encouraging in the face of great fear. This is everything a good horror book should be.

Jane Eyre: A Review

Another classic has been devoured in my quest for more books. This time one of the Bronte sisters fed my addiction.

I first saw Jane Eyre only a few months ago and it happened to be the version pictured to the left. Normally I try and read before I watch but teh acting was fantastic. As usual I loved the book more and found it very easy to read considering it was a classic.

I felt for Jane very easily, loving how she handled being a child and growing up in the school that seemed to double up as an orphanage. The version I saw glossed over this stage in Jane’s life which is a shame as it contained some of my most favourite parts. Her friend was amazing and presented a very interesting viewpoint in life.

The part in Mr Rochester’s house was almost identical and I found myself imagining what I’d seen. Jane was calmer and more forgiving than I could have been. I also totally adored the banter between her and Rochester. His continued teasing that she was something other than human and had bewitched him was very funny and had me laughing aloud and reading parts to anyone who’d listen.

Finally the book really excelled in making me hate the missionary near the end of the book. I won’t plot spoil but I found myself yelling aloud that he was a manipulative so-and-so and didn’t deserve even an ounce of respect from Jane. He was amazingly described and with Jane’s thoughts and feelings made clear by the author it was very easy to see how he might make her feel but I’m glad she made her way through and ended up in the right place. As all good romances should end.

I think this is going to go on my list of all time favourite classics. I loved every page and will definitely have to read it again. Even writing this makes me want to read it again and I’ve only recently finished it.

Anna Karenina: A Review

Yup, another classic book that I’ve managed to read. This one did take about six months but I got there in the end.

I just want to say that the first half of this book is a tough slog and although I gave it 5 stars I did struggle to finish this book thanks to the first chunk. It takes a while to get going (although it’s never as slow as war and peace) but I really enjoyed the characters and everything they struggled with. Tolstoy is a master at writing about the things that really matter.

Most of this book focuses on what it is to be happy and content in life. The characters all have very different approaches but I most resonated with Levin and his thoughtful outlook on life. He loved to improve things and would spend hours thinkging about the really deep questions. Considering I was on holiday when I read the end of this and it was talking about the very things I often think about when on holiday and not rushed by the rest of the world it was perfect.

As you’d expect with a classic it was very descriptive and several chapters meandered off onto other subjects like politics and farming but it was an interesting insight into the way society worked back then and in a few places I actually wanted more information on how it worked for them then.

Still totally in love with the classics.

War & Peace: A Review

I started this very epic novel about March/April last year and managed to finish it in December, which resulted in me proudly letting everyone know on facebook and twitter. Here’s a few of my thoughts on this 550k (that’s 100k words longer than lord of the rings) epic russian novel.

It probably took me about the first 100k or so words to actually get into the book. There are a lot of similar character names and Tolstoy goes into a lot of detail about their looks, habits and conversation.

I got the feeling that when the book was written and reading others in a similar period that it was more common to describe social interactions in more detail and include more of the authors own thoughts on everyday character study. I quickly realised Tolstoy had an insight into people, their character defects and natural inclinations that is rare today but must have been much more common then. In short he’s a great thinker on the human character and it comes across well.

The book spanned a period of wars between France and Russia towards the end of Napoleon’s campaigns and bounces between the activities of the army and several important officers and the other social elites of Moscow and Petersburg. It’s also split into several ‘books’ and the first chapter of each is Tolstoy directly addressing the reader to explain his opinion on why this particular part of the war was important and how it fits with the greater whole.

Despite the slow pace of the book and the extra concentration needed to understand the complicated sentences I really found myself growin rather attached to the people and I had to put the book down and shed a few tears when a character I particularly liked died. So all all I’d say this book is still a classic. For people who can chomp through the weighty prose it’s still well worth reading.

And on top of that the second of the two epilogues was again directly from the author to reader and went into all manner of interesting thoughts concerning where ‘power’ comes from and how much of life is down to fate and how much freewill.

The next great classic on my list is another of Tolstoy’s Anne Karenina.

The Picture of Dorian Gray: A Review

I saw the film of this story a couple of years ago when it came out at the cinema but I’d not read the book. As part of my journey through more classical literature I picked up an ebook copy and read through it rather quickly.

It’s not too long and considering it’s age a nice easy read. The point of view switches a little unobviously between the characters here and there but nothing too disorientating. My biggest problem with the ebook, however, was the plot. I found that the film had embelished the plot a little more and made more of the events than the book itself did.

I found myself skim reading quite a few large chunks of dialogue from Henry, which appeared to just be the author’s opinions of what the world was like in a very monologue type format and as I often completely disagreed with what was being said I found it really rather boring.

The ending also left me feeling rather dissapointed. It was a tad predictable even though it didn’t match the film at all and very very short.

It’s rare I prefer the film over a book, especially when the book came first but here I’d definitely say the book wasn’t worth my time. The film was much more dramatic and plot driven. The book was all about whether sin was really good or bad in the most dry way possible.

The Count Of Monte Cristo: A Review

I’ve been reading the Count of Monte Cristo for over three months now. I finally finished it in a flurry of excitement.

It’s really not a book for the fainthearted. It’s very long and in a very traditional english style (it was written about 200 years ago). I have to admit I struggled through the first third or so of the book wondering how on earth something so wordy and in places a little dull managed to make it out of a publishing house. It’s very different to the standard of books we have now. Most people would be very bored with the overwhelming amounts of description (I skim read a lot of those paragraphs) and a little bored with the slow pace of the plot too.

However, the book painted it’s characters wonderfully and is by far it’s saving grace. Every person was so detailed and well suggested that by the time I’d laboured through the first few chapters I was actually keenly interested in what was going to happen. I’m not sure I’d have been so desirous to find out if Edmond Dantes found his happiness had I seen the film but I hadn’t and it definitely meant I was hooked.

I have to admit I got to the end and my favourite character was rather unexpected. I decided I liked a little greek slave called Haidee the best but I won’t say anymore than that. She was delightful but to say more would give the plot away.

For those people who enjoy Austen and Lord of the Rings, The count of monte cristo is a nice in between sort of book, enough romance but enough adventure that it blended the two superbly.