The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith
This was an interesting read, to say the least. It offered a peek into an England and the customs and language and sensibilities of an age long gone. Yet was completely enjoyable in its own way. The story follows a family as they fall from fortune and take up a new place, and the adventures and misadventures while there. The writer pokes fun at many of the characters, by painting them in very broad strokes. All but the eldest son, who is supposed to be the writer himself.
The main character of the father, Dr. Primrose, is the main focus and the moral center of the book, and we are not left long and doubt of his thoughts and beliefs. Personally, I was really amused and enlightened by those thoughts and how they were conveyed. I tend to have more patience for older forms of writing than contemporary, as that was simply how they wrote and feels somehow more honest and simple than many books that came out later that tried so hard to be clever and ironic that they can forget how to tell a good story. But I won’t linger long on that soap box.
The introduction was written by Ernest Brennecke. He did a good job summarizing the contents of the book and helped make it somewhat more relatable to the modern reader. And I got to warn you, there are many modern readers who might find the language of the book off-putting. There are some names that, while not bad, are not politically correct either. This might offend someone who grew up in today’s culture where political correctness had swung completely in the other direction. Personally, as I already said, I enjoyed the language.
I fancy myself as something of a student of history, and to catch a glimpse into what people of the mid seventeen hundred would have called a best-seller is fascinating. It is not perfect. There is more melodrama than I would like, and the characters are, while good characters, are a bit two-dimensional and sometimes even goofy, the pathos and humor of the family do shine through. And I found it an interesting read, and am not sorry to have read it.
Check it out and have a happy nerdy-wordy day!
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
It stinks. Moving on.
Okay, okay, I won’t cheat you with that pathetic review. It after all, does have some good merits. But let me first say, there is a reason classical books have such a bad reputation. One of them is that they are all grim and pessimistic. Now that I am reading
One of them is that they are all grim and pessimistic. Now that I am reading books on the ‘Thousand and One Books You Must Read Before You Die’ list, I am starting to see why people say this. For instance, Animal Farm does not exactly end on a happy note, now does it. And do I even need to bring up Frankenstein, or The Gold Bug? Well, actually that one did end happily. But Wuthering Heights?
But this one really takes the literary cake in grim. Almost every chapter seemed bent on hurting me. I ended up listening to it on audio to blunt it some, and I still had to read something more cheerful. Maybe you heard of it. The Little Match Girl. I like how Conrad wrote tension, and the description was really good. But I could not wait to get out of that world and check it off the list, never to come back to it again.
Because of the descriptions, and because some people would like the military angle and some of the characters, I think it’s worth skimming. But only barely. Check it out, give it a read, and see if your wordy-nerdy selves agree or disagree with me.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow written by Washington Irving
What can one say about this short story, that had not been said before? There is a reason why Washington Irving is so celebrated as one of America’s first celebrated writers. He has a fine grasp of telling a thrilling story in a concise manner.
In this story, the main character, though sympathetic, as a somewhat dislikeable character who charms people so that he might have enough to fill his vorocious appetite, and courts the only daughter of a prosperious farmer with the sole intention of owning that farmer’s property when that worthy gentleman dies. The most remembered section of the book is, of course, when the headless horseman shows up, and the wild chase as Crane tries to run away from him, and all that happened as he reached the bridge. Nobody in the book can say what happened to Incabob Crane. Tales
Nobody in the book can say what happened to Incabob Crane. Tales circulated wildly. But the most widely held belief was that he was spirited away by supernatural means. This is still a good read now, and I strongly recommend it come Halloween. So I would rate this a worth re-reading.
Enjoy it, and let me know what you think of it. And have a happy wordy-nerdy day
Gathering Blue Written by Lois Lowry
A sequel to The Giver, it tells the story of a girl who has a bad leg, forced to learn to live on her own in a very brutal world. After losing her Mother, the last living relative, and last guardian, she finds herself challenged for the right to even continue to survive in the village, because of her disability. And in their world, if you have any kind of disability then you are going to die. You are not seen as having any value at all. But She is also strong, and clever, and has a talent in her strong, capable fingers that might not only end up saving her life but give her status enough to ensure comfort and useful work that she never dreamed of. But what would the price for that life be? And would she be willing to pay that price?
Lois Lowry did it again. This masterful writer once again invites us to an immersive world, that unlike the Giver, does not even pretend to be utopian. It is not friendly, it is savage, and the environment turned the people as savage as the world around them is known to be. Yet nothing is what it seems to be. And the twists and turns of the simple yet deep story will leave you guessing. Well, for the most part. There is a twist that happens near the end that I saw coming a mile away. But for the target
Written by Lois Lowry
The book, The Giver, is a young adult fantasy novel about a seemingly utopian world. But when the main character got his job as Reciever, his whole world was turned upside-down. And he slowly found out that the perfect, serene world that he lived in was not at all what he had expected it to be. But what can he do about it? What would happen to him, if he dares to fix it? I was entranced when I first read this treat of a book. I first started reading it, when I saw it on the list of books, 150 book list, that was on the webpage, Level Up Live. It is a great site, by the way! One of many that allow you to gamify your life. But I will write a review of that later. When I read it, I thought at first that it would not be that great, but I looked it up at the library, ready to give it a chance for the points mostly. See, if I had remembered another book, A Summer to Die by the same author, I would not have been so nervious about reading this one. But again, the review on that book will be soon. I didn’t make the connection at first, and more shame to me. Also more shame to me for ever doubting the worth of this book. I cannot recomend it enough. the characters are wonderful. The setting is wonderful, the pacing, the story, the plot, all are completely wonderful, and wonderfully engaging. Written in sweet yet dark, and completely simple language, it is also a short read. Even slower readers would probably finish it in two or three days. I know I was a little let down at the end. It came too quickly for me. I wanted to live in the book a while longer. But it was amazing, and I give it an Ultamate Recommendation. Read it! As soon as you can. Don’t wait, go now!
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Fantastic Beasts took the movie world by storm. It took off like a hippogriff in flight. But I won’t say yet what I think of the movie, as I had not seen it yet. And this review is not about the movie anyway. This is a joint review of both the book and the screenplay. Yup, Rowling allowed another screenplay to be published, and I just don’t know how to feel about that.
I have to warn you right off the bat. I do not care much for reading plays and screenplays. They bore me. I like prose that had good descriptive narration and plays never have what I most love about reading a good tale. So I went into reading the FB screenplay with a bias against it. It was a tedious read, and I hope that would be the only time I would say that during this readathon. Still, some lines were funny, some were dramatic, and reading it made me want to watch the movie. So it did accomplish that much. And at least I did read it. Which is more than I will do with The Cursed Child. More on that, when it’s time comes.
Now for the book. The book for FB had been a favorite of mine for years now. I heard there is a new edition out, but seeing it was a bit of a disappointment at first. It seemed a trifle too clean, without the scribbles of the kids in it. They added so much to the amusement factor in the book. Still, without them, it’s like getting a clean copy for your very own years at Hogwarts. Imagine the roleplay potential! Have your own FB copy to mark up!
As to the book itself, well, it was written to be a textbook. It was a trifle dry and as a stand-alone book, would not really work. But as supplemental reading for the Harry Potter books, it is brilliant. You get to immerse yourself even more into the world of Harry Potter and Hogwarts. Again, so many roleplay possibilities. I think I will end up writing fanfiction from all this. Again, been warned. Serious, I got to get started on this. About my character’s years at Hogwart’s. An outsider’s look at the events of Harry Potter, most likely.
So to sum it up. The two FB’s read was a good start to this exciting readathon. And now we are getting deep in the first of the Harry Potter books, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.