Sunday, November 30, 2008

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Title and author of book: Persuasion by Jane Austen
Fiction or non-fiction? fiction
What led you to pick up this book? I have read 3 Austen novels, and I would like to read them all. And, since I already owned it,this was a perfect book to read for Trish's Classics Challenge.
Plot summary: Anne Elliot is the middle daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, a rather silly and vain man. In her early 20s, she falls in love with Frederick Wentworth, and wishes to marry him. However, Lady Russell (her friend and mother-figure) discourages the match, and Anne breaks off the relationship, which breaks Wentworth's heart as well as her own. Eight years later, she again becomes acquainted with Wentworth, but he seems to be interested in one of her friends.
What did you like most about the book? Jane Austen does a good job with the different characters--they all have their own unique personalities. I also would describe the entire book as pleasant. Though there isn't much action or suspense, it was a nice, solid story with a good plot that didn't drag out too long.
What did you like least? I had to read the book much slower than usual to fully comprehend all the language.
Have you read any other books by this author? I've read Pride and Prejudice, and I loved it (and the movie with Keira Knightley), as well as Northanger Abbey and Emma. I really don't remember Emma or NA, so I would like to re-read them, as well as read the other two Austen novels.
What did you think of the main character? I like Anne Elliot as much as, if not more, than Elizabeth Bennett. She is kind, level-headed, and well-liked by all who meet her. Her only flaw is that she can be persuaded by others to go against her own wishes (hence the title??).
Any other particularly interesting characters? Anne's father, Sir Walter, is so ridiculous. He cares little about his own daughters, and all his attention is upon himself and his status. I really liked Admiral Croft and his wife. They don't think about societal conventions at all, but they do as they please. It's neat that they spend so much of their time together simply because they enjoy each other's company.
If this book has been made into a movie, and if you’ve seen the movie, compare the book to the movie.: I haven't seen a movie version, but I know there are multiple movies out there, and I would like to see one!
What did you think of the ending? (slight spoiler warning) I know there are some people who are a little annoyed with the way Austen's books wrap up so nice and neatly, but it makes me so happy! There are so many books that have a sad ending, or just leave you hanging, that it is nice to have a good, solid ending.
Do you recommend this book? I definitely recommend it! It isn't too long, and the story is engaging and wholesome.
(I borrowed this questionnaire from Dewey).

Date completed: November 28, 2008
# of pages: 150

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

As described by Victoria A. Brownworth of the Baltimore Sun, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova is "part thriller, party history, part romance." Told in alternating viewpoints, as well as letters and historical writings, the story spans several decades and involves 3 generations of a family. When Paul is a young graduate student and conducting research, a mysterious book with empty pages, except for one depicting a dragon, falls into his possession. When he asks his advisor, Professor Rossi, about this book, he begins to learn that this is not just any book, but someone or something wanted him to have this book, knowing he would be curious enough to try to find the source. Paul also learns, though he can't quite believe it, that Dracula is more than a legend, or a classic literary figure. Soon after, Professor Rossi disappears, and Paul knows he must try to find him, regardless of the danger. Thus begins his journey across Eastern Europe, where Paul and his new friend Helen travel to places he had only read about in history books. They don't know whom to trust, why Professor Rossi disappeared, or where this dangerous journey will lead them. The feeling that someone is following them keeps them constantly looking over their shoulder, and as they learn more about Vlad the Impaler, they realize how much danger they are in themselves.

Unlike Rebecca, which I also read for Carl's RIP III Challenge, The Historian was too frightening for me to read at night. I started reading it at about 2 am in the read-a-thon, but I had to keep putting it down because my imagination kept getting the better of me. Though the whole premise of the story seems unbelievable and almost ridiculous, the incredible writing of Kostova makes it seem real. She spent ten years doing research for this book, and that is very evident in all the detail within the story. I read the book over the course of a month, because I could only read it during the daytime, or when people were in the next room. Because of the fact that I would go days without reading it, I frequently confused the many characters within the story. I also felt that there was a bit too much history involved, and I found myself skimming over sections of history in order to get back to the story. However, for people who are not a scardy-cat like myself, and could read through this book without getting so freaked out, the characters and history probably would not present such a problem. And even though the story was frightening, I was so involved that I needed to keep reading to see how it would end.

Because it took me so long to finish, I finished the RIP III Challenge 2 weeks late. However, I am glad I did sign up for the challenge, because I greatly enjoyed both Rebecca and The Historian. I think I've had my fill of creepy for a while though! Maybe I'll be ready next year when the challenge rolls around again!

Date completed: November 14, 2008
# of pages: 676

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Somehow, I was completely unaware of the classic gothic novel Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier until I began blogging. After the first review I read, I was intrigued, but after reading The Thirteenth Tale (one of my favorite reads of 2008, which alludes to Rebecca), I decided I HAD to read this book! Carl's RIP III Challenge was a perfect push for me to pick it up, and I'm very glad I did!

From the back cover:

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." So the second Mrs. Maxim De Winter remembered the chilling events that led her down the turning drive past the beeches, white and naked, to the isolated gray stone manse on the windswept Cornish coast. With a husband she barely knew, the young bride arrived at this immense estate, only to be inexorably drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Rebecca, dead but never forgotten...her suite of rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant--the sinister Mrs. Danvers--still loyal. And as an eerie presentiment of evil tightened around her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter began her search for the real fate of Rebecca...for the secrets of Manderley.

I don't do well with scary stories, but this was just the perfect amount of creepy to be enjoyable, but not to keep me up at night. I immediately felt a connection with the narrator (who remains unnamed) as she a bit awkward, a bit plain, but who has good common sense, good manners, and an imagination. Of course, I was extremely curious about what happened to Rebecca, how she died, and why Max and others acted so strangely about anything relating to her. The housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, gave me the utmost creeps--thanks to the vivid physical descriptions of her by du Maurier. I didn't figure out the mystery until the very end, and I was quite surprised! I would definitely recommend Rebecca to those who enjoy gothic literature or to those looking for a chilling, suspenseful read that isn't gory or too scary. (Also, I read the majority of this book during the October Read-a-thon, and this was a perfect book to read for long periods of time.)

Date completed: October 18, 2008
# of pages: 380

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mini-Reviews: Smith, Christie and Kinsella

I read the following 3 books on vacation, and they were all great beach reads!

Joy in the Morning is a lesser known book by Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. However, I found it just as enjoyable to read! Joy in the Morning is the story of the first year of marriage for Annie and Carl Brown. Annie is just 18, and Carl is a 20 year old law student at a university in the Midwest in the late 1920s. Money is tight, but they still find a way to manage to live and enjoy a few simple creature comforts here and there. While there may be some who would find this book a bit dull, I loved both Annie and Carl from the beginning, and found it a delight to read about their lives together!

Date completed: November 9, 2008
# of pages-296

Sophie Kinsella's The Undomestic Goddess is a light and funny, if a bit unbelievable story about a 29 year old lawyer who has spent the last 7 years of her life working long, hard hours to try to realize her dream of becoming the youngest partner in her law firm. Her life isn't her own, because she is virtually chained to her cell phone and Blackberry. However, when she discovers that she missed a very important deadline that could potentially cost a client millions of dollars, she panics and ceases to make any rational decisions. The rest of the story is a bit unbelievable, but I couldn't help but like Samantha, and I found myself chuckling at the situations she found herself in, and her reactions. I would recommend this for a fun beach read!

Date completed: November 11, 2008
# of pages: 384

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie is an eerie mystery about 10 strangers from completely different backgrounds who find themself in a house on a small island with no access to the mainland. The owner of the island, U.N. Owen, is absent, and after one guest suddenly dies within the first few hours, and a second dies soon after, it becomes apparent to the remaining guests that their lives are in danger. No one knows whom to trust or who will be next! This is a classic mystery that I never figured out until I read the epilogue!

Date completed: November 13, 2008
# of pages: 264

Oh Dear!

The last time I posted was for the read-a-thon, which was almost a month ago! Though I usually never post more than once or twice a week, I have been woefully neglecting my blog and everyone else's as well. Even though I've continued to read, I haven't posted reviews or spent much time visiting other blogs. As the weeks have passed, I have felt more and more guilty, and I've gotten further and further behind. So...I need suggestions of how to catch up! I have 11 books to review. I really enjoyed most of them, but I am really slow at writing reviews, even if I try to keep them short, and even if I use the different question and answer formats. What are some ways that you write a quick review? Do you review EVERY single book you read? Do you feel guilty if you read a book, but don't review it?

Also, I just got back from a wonderful vacation with my husband to the beautiful Maroma Beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. My Google Reader has almost 300 posts! I'm going to try to read some of the posts, but I'm going to have to mark most of them as read and start fresh. Hopefully I will be better in the upcoming weeks about visiting and commenting on blogs, though work will be extremely busy, and everyone is busy during the holidays!

I'll leave you with a picture from my vacation, and I look forward to reading your suggestions!