Carsten's (ctpress) 2017 - Take and Read - part 1
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Painting by Danish artist Oluf Høst.
Welcome to a new year of book-sharing, novel-talk, fiction-discussion, chit-chat and/or deep philosophical musings. This is my seventh year in this group - I'm living in Copenhagen, Denmark. Working as a journalist and I'm almost always reading some classic. But new literature will slip through. Hope to reread more novels this year, but let's see how it goes.
11. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1861) 5/5 reread audiobook
10. White Fang by Jack London (1906) 5/5 reread audiobook
9. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1861) 5/5 reread
8. Old Yeller by Fred Gipson (1957) 3,5/5 (audiobook)
7. Villette by Charlotte Brontë (1853) 3,5/5
6. Shirley by Charlotte Brontë (1849) 4,5/5
5. Lady Susan by Jane Austen (1793) 3/5
4. Mike and Psmith by P. G. Wodehouse (1909) 3/5
3. He Wants by Alison Moore (2016) 4,5/5
2. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (2016) 4/5 (audiobook)
1. Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian (1969) 4/5 (audiobook)
Each year has some memorable reads - and this year I was happy to get started with crime series like Maisie Dobbs and Lord Peter Wimsey. I continued my exploration of P. G. Wodehouse and also read further on in the bibliography of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.
But here are my Top ten picks of 2016.
The Painted Veil by Somerset Maugham (best depiction of forgiveness, grace and redemption)
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (best love story)
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt (best coming of age novel)
A Philosophy of Walking by Fréderic Gros (best non fiction)
Leave it to Psmith by P. G. Wodehouse (best comedy)
Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (best modern novel)
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (best sci-fi)
Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear (best crime fiction)
I Am David by Anne Holm (best children's novel - and it's Danish)
Thanks Anita - I love a fresh new start of reading. Full of promise and hope for hours and hours deep involved in great stories.
Nancy - Almost finished with my meme. Having fun with it.
If I had to pick the one book it would be The Painted Veil - Somehow that novel was just perfect for me. I'm still thinking about it and I think it would make a great audiobook listen (listened to it in Danish). A.J. Fikry was also a good narration.
Love your Best-Of list. Just placed a hold on I Am David from my library.
>1 ctpress: Beautiful painting. I can imagine a cozy fire glowing inside! Winter light is amazing!
Thank you for your "best of" list. I will do a cut and paste and pursue!
Hi Cindy - Sounds great. Hope you'll enjoy it.
Mary - Yes, I like the winter colors in this one. Paste and Pursue - great hunting :)
And of course... The New Year Book Meme:
Describe yourself: The Inimitable Jeeves
Describe how you feel: State of Wonder
Describe where you currently live: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Island of the Blue Dolphins
Your favorite form of transportation: A Philosophy of Walking
Your best friend is: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
You and your friends are: Writers to Read
What’s the weather like: Summer Lightning
You fear: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
What is the best advice you have to give: Leave it to Psmith
Thought for the day: The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction
How I would like to die: Unnatural Death
My soul’s present condition: Mariette in Ecstasy
Happy New Thread, Carsten! Sounds like you are feeling great, from your meme . Ah oh, your best friend is Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Scary, my friend! Happy 2017! I've yet to decided on my 10 / or 5 best reads of the year.
Perfect meme, Carsten, made me laugh! You keep company with some sketchy folks, Dr Jekl and Mr Hyde, LOL! I'd be in a State of Wonder, too! And your Thought for the day is especially appropos. Well done!
Deborah - I have to admit that I prefer it when Dr. Jekyll is not Mr. Hyde :) Looking forward to your best reads list.
Nancy - Yes let's hope for many hours of pleasure reading in this age of distraction :) and being in a state of wonder. (Some books actually helps with that)..
Paul - Always find it thrilling to prepare a new year of reading. Looking forward to your meme....
I am part of the group.
I love being part of the group.
I love the friendships bestowed upon my by dint of my membership of this wonderful fellowship.
I love that race and creed and gender and age and sexuality and nationality make absolutely no difference to our being a valued member of the group.
Thank you for also being part of the group.
Oh, the meme! I love doing that. I haven't even come up with a Best Books list yet. Well, it's not midnight here yet so I refuse to believe I could already be behind.
Happy New Reading Year, Carsten.
Rachel - Happy New Year to you too.
Paul - I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment. It's what makes this a special group.
Jim - Thanks. And thank you for keep this group going.
Mary - I agree - it's a fine statement.
Deborah - And a Happy New Year to you. Hope you had a quiet and peaceful New Year celebration. Looking forward to your new 2017-thread.
Lori - Thanks.
Donna - Happy New Year. Yes, I love doing them also. Chuckle a lot when I find one that fits :)
Beth - Happy New Year. Yes, some great reads last year.
So I spend the first new years day quietly planning out some of my reads for this year. Besides the ebooks and audiobooks that I've lined up there are also a few paperbacks and hardbacks. Two or three new ones and the rest have been on the shelves for too long. Hopefully I will get to these in 2017.
Ah, love the book covers, but I need some help with translation, Carsten : ). Which are the Amy Tan and Indridason selections? I hope you will enjoy Hannah's The Nightingale as much as I did (rec from Deb).
>29 ctpress: Ah, yes, I know ... my Danish is sorely lacking ... a lazy scholar here I am afraid, LOL. Good titles by Indridason and Tan though!
Nancy - I'm looking forward to the next chapter in the Erlendur-series. It's been a while since I've visited Iceland.
I'm envious that you are starting 2 Robinson book fresh! I LOVED them. I think she is a marvel.
I love the stack and the art you have used as your topper..
Happy new thread. My friend is in Sweden for a medical placement this neext few months, and there is talk of a trip to Copenhagen... Any bookish tips?
Happy New Year to you, Carsten! Love your meme, and your list of top reads in 2016. I have picked up and put down The Painted Veil a few times recently. Your endorsement should lead me to pick it up the next time!
Mary - Looking forward to some more Robinson - and already considering when to reread Gilead :)
Charlotte - A visit to the central library new building would be good. It's called Diamanten (The Diamond). Totally dark and shining and beautifully situated near the canal. And totally contrast to the very old library besides it. Some hate it, others adore it. Also Politikens bookstore at the central square is large and have many English titles.
Thanks Deborah. I've also a digital pile of ebooks and audiobooks lined up....
Anne - Happy New Year. Delighted to see you back for another year of reading. The Painted Veil was a surprisingly good read. The best in 2016.
1. Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian (1969) 4/5 (audiobook) Narrator: Simon Vance
This is Jane Austen on a ship of war, with the humanity, joy and pathos of Shakespeare. (quote from a blog-review)
The praise and accolade for Patrick O’Brians 20-novel long Napoleonic naval series are worth attention. And I agree. This first one in the series was just great. You are instantly brought back to this period in time - with attention to detail and naval expressions and conversation.
In this first book we are introduced to our hero, Jack Aubrey, a fighting captain in the British Navy, and the beginning of his long-lasting friendship with Stephen Maturin, naturalist and naval surgeon.
Aubrey gets his first command and there’s ups and downs through the book as the newly appointed captain navigates the seas.
I couldn’t have asked for a better narrator in Simon Vance - but I regret the choice of listening to the novel. I needed explanations of the seaman’s terms and quaint expressions - and several times I was lost (at sea) and couldn’t figure out the naval tactics and ships positions. Next time I will try it in book form so I can stop and check. And I’m even considering this companion:
>39 ctpress: That was a great book, Carsten, I read it in Dutch translation in 2011. Sadly they stopped translating after the 10th book and my reading in English is so terrible slow :-(
What a fabulous quote!: This is Jane Austen on a ship of war, with the humanity, joy and pathos of Shakespeare. I am familiar with the movie Master and Commander (which was excellent), but not the book ... but I'm thinking with Simon Vance narrating, this is one for the list! Hmm, but then there's the matter of being lost at sea while I'm listening ...
Anita - There's also a Danish translation for the first few books and I might try one. Maybe it will help in terms of understanding.
Nancy - Yeah, ok - that quote is a bit overstated but you get the point. But I think the relationship between Aubrey and Maturin is really interesting as they approach life at sea and the ethics of war very differently - as the movie brilliantly portrayed. One of my favorite movies. I can recommend if you don't get to easily seasick.
>39 ctpress: I am a huge fan of the series, to the point that I have been toying with setting a year long goal of rereading the whole series.
I was introduced to the books through a college course and the book Patrick O'Brian's Navy: The Illustrated Companion to Jack Aubrey's World was a required resource. I found it very useful and always make sure and lend it out when I introduce someone to the AubreyMaturin books because it so helpful in picturing the parts of the ships that are being discussed.
Robin - Thanks for dropping by and dropping a star :)
Erik - Thanks for the link to that companion-book. It looks beautiful and fantastic from the preview on Amazon. Although it comes with a hefty price tag I'm interested - not only because of the Jack Aubrey info, but in general I'm interested in this time period mainly because of it's rich literature. Of course it should be an illustrated companion.
I know you and Nancy ( among many other audio readers ) have a not so secret love of Simon Vance, Carsten :) I'm not familiar with The Master and Commander, but I am glad you enjoyed it so much. Great review. Right now I am reading Dr Jeykll and Mr Hyde, but yes, soon I'll be ready to read He Wants.
Simon Vance the man, Deborah :)
Great when a modern novel leads you back to a classic. Some R. L. Stevenson is not a bad way to start the new year :)
I'm thinking of reading the novels of the Brontë-sisters this year. Seven in all. I was wondering if there had been a Brontenathon recently like we did the Austenathon a few years ago.
Would anyone be interested in a group read? Also maybe if you're interested in reading just one or two of their novels. This will also include discussions of the movie adaptations.
I wouldn't mind setting up a thread.
Maybe we could skip The Professor to make it six and read one every two months.
Is there plans for reading some of their works this year?
I'm talking about:
The Tenant at Wildfell Hall
I want to read The Tenant, Carsten. Some of them can be read for free via the Serial Reader app. I was doing quite well with Middlemarch before Xmas, got distracted. Need to get back to it!
Charlotte - I wasn't aware of a Serial Reader App. Looks like a good idea - although I don't think it will work for me as I read many of the classics with whispersync Kindle/Audible. When you buy an old classic for 99 cent, you can often add audible version for 2-5 dollar, making it a good deal. I like the opportunity to switch between listening and reading.
I'm interested in reading The Tenant of Wildefell Hall, too, Carsten. I remember reading your review of this one a few years ago ... and I've been wanting to get to it since.
Great, Nancy and Charlotte.
I might be late to the game with a Brontënathon as many have already made plans for reading this year. But at leat we could do a group read of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. February/March-ish...we'll see what the response is - I've also posted it on the "What We are Reading: Classics" thread.
Nice review of Master and Commander. I have it on my Audible, but I haven't listened to it yet.
Thanks Rachel. It's a good narration but prepare for some quaint seaman expressions. I think I will continue reading the series.
2. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (2016) 4/5 (audiobook narrated by Jon Lindstrom
I liked the Wayward Pines-sci-fi-trilogy - I liked this sci-fi-thriller even more. No wonder it was a popular one in 2016 and another one very likely to be adapted as a movie.
A man’s desperate attempt go get back to his wife and son and the life as he knew it, before he got kidnapped and ended up in an alternate universe.
A delightful, suspenseful and mindboggling story. If you’re into time-travelling and/or alternate universes this is for you. There’s seveeral twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. What an imagination Blake Crouch has.
Dark Matter sounds scary, Carsten. Nice review! I'm not sure about the Austen sisters challenge. I'm going to start He Wants as Nancy has already started reading it, and I think I'm going to try the Canadian Author Challenge some of the months, which means I'll be reading Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels this month. I think that is about all the planned reading I can do! ;)
Woohoo! Alternate universe ... Carsten, you are reading some Dark Matter! Excellent review. Never really caught on to sci-fi, so I'm glad you're taking one for the team. Well done!
Rhian - That sounds great. There's an interest in reading The Tenant at Wildfell Hall - and I'll set up a thread on that one in late February beginning of March. I'll let you know so you could join us by then if you wish and discuss the novel and anything Brontë.
Deborah - Oh, it's the Brontë-sisters challenge - I'll let my beloved Austen rest for a while. Yes, everyone have already made reading plans, but if you're interested in late February start of March we'll be reading The Tenant at Wildfell Hall.
Nancy - You have to be in to the sci-fi thing to really enjoy it Nancy. I've started my Brontënathon and are reading/listening to Shirley now and will try to complete the remaining Brontë-novels I haven't read: Shirley, Vilette and The Professor - all by Charlotte. By the end of february we could plan a group-reading of "Tenant".
Robin - Don't expect nuanced characters or anything like that - but as a sci-fi-thriller heavy on action and suspense - you're in for a treat.
Hi Carsten, Do you know about this fellow......Meik Wiking? A Happiness Research Institute??? Wow!
"It's rumored that the Danish are among the happiest people in the world, and their secret is said to be hygge (pronounced hoo-ga), which is loosely translated as a feeling we get when we are with people we love, a feeling of home, and a feeling of safety. Now the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen has written a guide to achieving your own warm and fuzzy feelings of contentment in The Little Book of Hygge. " (from Goodreads) The link recommends a few books that are on my shelf such as Winnie the Pooh and The Little Prince.
I am surprisingly a home-bird too - despite living quite so far from my birth place.
I guess it is a sense of belonging?
Have a great weekend, Carsten.
Oh, so embarrassing, me mixing up the Bronte sisters with Jane Austen . Somehow, I know that was the dog's fault! Oh that Poppy! She ate my homework too.
Yes, end February is good, Carsten, for our GR of Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Thanks for getting us together!
Mary - Yes, I know about him - he is often interviewed when the subject of "hygge" comes up (or in broader sense happiness) and they are of course closely related. Could be interesting to read - Winnie-the-Pooh and The Little Prince are both great books - where were they recommended?
Paul - Definitely a sense of belonging.
Deborah - Yes, literary sacrilege :) And then blaming it on poor Poppy. For shame :)
Nancy - Great. Looking forward to that group-read - Am enjoying "Shirley" at the moment as an audiobook.
Hi Carsten, great post over at Deb's on He Wants. Have just finished this one and posted a review. Excellent read! Moore is becoming a favourite.
Yes, Wow, Nancy. One of those novels you can find several layers in and discuss details and several meanings. Like "The Detour".
>65 ctpress: Carsten these were books recommended by Meik Wiking for his happiness/hygge book and discussed in a link from Goodreads. Here is the link. I think there were 5 books discussed. Bring on the happiness!
3. He Wants by Alison Moore (2016) 4,5/5
He does sleep through earthquakes. There was one recently, with a magnitude of three, right where he lives but he was unaware of it until he read about it in the paper in due course. He would like to experience an earthquake, to feel the ground shaking beneath him, to feel the bed trembling, all the ornaments rattling like something out of an exorcism.
Lewis, a 70 year old retired Religious Education teacher, does sleep through earthquakes. As he sleeps through so many other things that could have changed the course of his life. He aches for Beef Wellington, but ends up eating his daughters cold soup. He dreams of flying to Australia, but he never travels anywhere. And then there’s a denial of even deeper desires.
But then he meets his old schoolfriend Sydney - a whimsical, rather mysterious character with his yellow Saab and Golden Retriever - and Lewis starts to wake up.
Desire, regret, fear - all of these primal emotions is in play in this well-crafted, suspenseful novel - that also contains a lot of dry humor. You can just feel that a lot of thought have gone into every element, every sentence of this story. Like the many references to yellow and gold - suggesting something wild, colorful and dramatic set against the mundane and drab lonely life of Lewis.
One thing we now have to expect from Moore is the surprising endings. In “The Lighthouse” it was brutal - in this one it felt surreal, dreamlike. I flipped back and reread bits of several chapters and there’s clues along the way. That is brilliant writing.
Like this quote:
And of course the references to D. H. Lawrence.
I also like the dry humor. Like the repeated references to Goldschläger, the Swiss liqueur with bits of gold in it….an exotic and mysterious drink.
”Have you ever had it”, asks Lewis, taking a sip of his shandy.
“No”, she says.
Lewis shakes his head. What kind of a man, he thinks, walks around asking for Swiss liqueurs with bits of gold in? He stands at the bar with his drink, thinking about the things he’s never had and never will.
hmmm…I might try to order a Goldschläger today.
Carsten, fabulous review of He Wants! I got such a chuckle out of your closing. You'll have to let us know how you like Goldschlager ... I didn't know you were that kind of man, LOL! Thumb-up, my friend.
Thanks, Nancy. I actually went to a café today with a friend, and I was thinking of ordering a Goldschläger - but then I totally forgot it. Well, I'll let you know if I taste the elusive Swiss liqueur :)
Fabulous review of He Wants. I've been making copious notes as I read and I'm about at page 120 or 130 out of 180 pages in my paper copy, but I've come down with a nasty cold. There are a lot of signposts as to where the novel is going , I think and but I've yet to get to the end. I recall reading The Lighthouse twice in order to better understand it, so this time I'm trying to read really carefully.
I think I have a vague memory of my dad purchasing or being gifted with a bottle of Goldschläger one Christmas in days past. I think we all in humourous awe , and I think it gave my dad a big chuckle. Not sure that it tasted that good, but was good for fun at Christmas. A bit like the time someone gave my dad " chocolate flavoured beer" and I thought okay, I might try that. But I gagged on it. I don't like beer , but I thought the so - called chocolate flavour might be passable. Nope.
I really love your cover as opposed to mine in Canada. The yellow cover is so much more appropriate than my blue and and whatever colour cover.
Thumbed, my friend :)
I do miss my dad - he was full of " hygge " moments. You know, just " casual stupid on purpose ." We had a lot of laughs.
Sorry to hear you're down with a cold, Deborah - and then in the middle of finding all the "signposts" in He Wants - I hope you'll get better soon.
The Goldschläger sounds like a very special drink, so I might not like it either. But as Sydney says in respons to the drink: "I've tried it. You've got to try these things, haven't you?
Good that although you miss your dad can remember good "hygge" moments together with him. He does sound like one you would have a cosy time around. Chocolate beer is a challenging beer - I'm not a big fan either, although I generally am fond of beer.
The cover is so much better in yellow. Wonder why they change cover from country to country - can it really be cost effective to hire a new designer?
HI Carsten, I finished I am David today and have you to thank. I read about it first on your thread last year.
Great that you liked I am David. Yes, it was one of my big reads last year. Hopefully there will be more good children's books in 2017.
4. Mike and Psmith by P. G. Wodehouse (1909) 3/5
After reading Leave it to Psmith (Blandings Castle #3) I wanted to explore Wodehouse’s Psmith-character. He first appears in this short novel where Mike is the main character, although he’s quickly outshined by the eccentric and quick-thinking Psmith.
Mike and Psmith quickly become close friends as they arrive at the same time as new students at Sedleigh School - the novel is filled with pranks, mischievous boys, a clueless headmaster and a strict housemaster with his beloved bulldog (the biggest prank is painting the bulldog red which ensues in an extensive manhunt for the culprit).
The story also features a lot of cricket which Wodehouse was fond of. (I have to part ways with him there). Good fun and an example of the early Wodehouse - a little too juvenile to be very interesting - not up there with the Blandings Castle-series or Jeeves and Wooster.
He, he....I just found out that my list of Top 10 books of 2016 only contained nine books.
I think I had in mind to put two Wodehouse's on the list...The other were The Inimitable Jeeves. If you want to start and read Wodehouse - and you should - that's a good one to start with.
>78 ctpress: One of the best things about my library's ebook collections : access to free audios of Jeeves.
Carsten, another great Wodehouse review. Mike and PSmith sounds like fun, if a little juvenile.
Charlotte - Ahh, Wodehouse works great on audio - have listened to both Simon Prebble and Jonathan Cecil - the last probably my favorite.
Marie - Thanks for dropping by and a happy 2017 to you.
Nancy - It was ok fun - and interesting to read Wodehouse before his more mature works. I don't think I'm going back to that anytime soon - there's still some Jeeves and Wooster left to read - and the Blanding Castle series.
HI Carsten! Do you have to cover Trump's inauguration with your work, or are you lucky enough to have those days off? On one the news broadcasts that I watch here in Canada, the usual news anchor spoke about the challenge of reporting on Trump and how much of his twitter stuff should they mention , and was some of it so offensive as to not be worth mentioning. She also mentioned the quandary of reporting on the Intel that the Russian supposedly have on Trump, but there is no credible source for it. Do they mention it or not? A lot of challenges to good journalism and " no fake news." Such a complex world.
I'm glad you enjoyed Mike and PSmith, even if was not quite up to your standards. Humour can go a long way .
Oh, and then Trump's hostility to the press? Maybe all we'll get is his raving tweets?
>82 ctpress: I like Jonathan Cecil too. Although Fry and Laurie acting the parts for TV are hard to beat...
>83 vancouverdeb: I think it will not be business as usual with him for sure. His press conference this last week was shambolic. He is boorish, inarticulate and extremely offended by as well as offensive to a concerted liberal media. It makes for addictively uncomfortable viewing.
Deborah - It's an ongoing, day-to-day debate what we should report on and mention - specially the late night Trump-twittering. I think it's very difficult. You can't ignore the fact that it will be the president speaking - and that alone create a lot of attention. It seems that he will continue to engage in embarrassing personal attacks etc. It's also difficult to figure out how reliable the russian hacking sources are on Trump. It has been heavily discussed here.
Charlotte - I haven't seen any of the tv-series of Jeeves and Wooster. Maybe I should try to find some of them. Could be fun.
Paul - Yes, the press conference showed what I think we'll have to get used to. Miles away from Obama in so many ways.
5. Lady Susan by Jane Austen (1793) 3/5
I read this mainly as a preparation for the new adaptation of the novel. Jane Austen’s short epistolary novel is an example of her early writings - for whatever reason she didn’t try to get it published and it also seems a little unfinished.
Surprisingly it features an absolutely unscrupolous woman as the main character. Manipulation, flirting and scheming - she tries everything to ensnare first a married man and then a much younger man but there’s no real feelings of love or affection here. There’s no one to root for here - well, yes, Lady Susan’s daughter, but we really doesn’t get to know her that well.
The novel does show a great novelist in the making - and Jane Austen’s talent for ironi and humour.
I don't envy you covering Trump's inauguration, Carsten. This is what I absolutely cannot understand: It seems that he will continue to engage in embarrassing personal attacks etc. I don't know where to go with that ... I don't think the world does either. Just my opinion.
Tonight I watched the movie adaptation “Love and Friendship” - I guess it was an ok adaptation, but of course it suffers from the starting material. We have no Emma or Elisabeth here - just an “anti-hero” you want to strangle whenever you see her on screen. The dialoque was great and very witty, even hilarious in places. But I don't think it will find a place into my Austen-collection.
Nancy - Yes, it defies all belief. One cannot still understand that he's actually the next president.
>91 ctpress: It does defy belief, Nancy, Paul, and Carsten. I don't envy your Carsten, sorting out what to report. I found it interesting on TV that the anchor discussed with " the audience " the quandary they find themselves in . And that would be the same for you , Carsten. In the US some seem to believe that there is such a thing as " fake news." I believe that here in Canada, we don't get " fake news." In Canada, I don't think we are delivered fake news, unless you read a partisan blog. The whole idea of " fake news" is a foreign idea to me.
Glad you sort of enjoyed Lady Susan. I'm not familiar with Love and Friendship, but glad you enjoyed. I think I'm going to see if my library has a the cinema version of Mr Pip.
I haven't heard a discussion about "fake news" here either, Deborah. Of course biased news, partisan news etc. What you choose to report and how you report it is often debatable - why focus on this story in that way rather than present it this way is a difficult question.
If you're looking for an adaptation of Great Expectation I would recommend David Lean's classic (1946) - if you like old movies, that is. So good. Beautifully fllmed. But the novel has been adapted so many times - also a modernized version with Ethan Hawke (1998) that I also liked.
>90 ctpress: That's good to know. I had sort of wanted to see it, but I think I'll pass for now.
Hi Marie - I think it's still good entertainment if you like period-drama - it suffers because I compare it to the other Austen adaptations. It left no big impression on me.
Appreciate your comments on Lady Susan, Cartsen. This is one I've known about for some time but have never picked up, for whatever reason. Doesn't sound that I've missed a great deal. Also not familiar with Love and Friendship, and I realize you probably weren't trying to be funny in your review, but I laughed out loud at this: We have no Emma or Elisabeth here - just an “anti-hero” you want to strangle whenever you see her on screen. LOL!
Ha, ha, Nancy. I was dead serious. I guess it's to the credit of Kate Beckinsale, who plays Lady Susan to perfection. The critics loved the movie (maybe for the same reasons I didn't) so it might just be me.
You are reading up a storm, Carsten! I have now seen two excellent reviews of He Wants... I'll take it as a sign!
I read Lady Susan a couple of years ago or so, and completely agree: Ms. Austen's wit was delicious!
I have listened to and enjoyed many Jeeves & Woosters over the years -- Jonathan Cecil is definitely my favorite narrator. On a whim, I picked up a set of the Jeeves & Wooster TV shows at the library by Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, and now my family is hooked!
Hi Anne - Yeah, I've been starting 2017 with a lot of reading. It was nice to read the early parts of Austen's work. Now I only need to read Sandition and The Watsons for the smaller works.
Being a great Wodehouse-fan it's silly I've never seen a Wodehouse tv-adaptation - I think I'll follow your lead on the Hugh Laurie/Stephen Fry version :)
6. Shirley by Charlotte Brontë (1849) 4,5/5
My Brontënathon is off to a good start with Shirley. I loved it more than I expected.
Five reasons why I liked Shirley:
Free-spirited Shirley: Miss Keeldar is a great heroine. Charlotte Brontë have enriched Shirley with great wealth, she’s a land owner and independent, which means she can speak against the corrupt curates, help the mill owner - start a social reform program for the poor - and in one of the best scenes of the novel go against her uncle when he thinks he has found the best match for her. Just brilliant.
Luddites uprising: The novels first chapters takes us right into the historical setting (1811-12) in Yorkshire during the Napoleonic Wars where the poor workers try to attack and kill the mill owner, Robert Moore, because he’s replacing workers with new industrialised equipment. A very interesting conflict that’s the background for the two romantic plots.
Women’s role in society: The novel have several interesting discussions on women’s emancipation - We empathize with Caroline Helstone and the constraints society puts on her - she has limited possibilities in life without parents and dependent on a fickle uncle - and marriage seems out of reach. Shirley on the other hand embraces her economic and social independence which defies conventions and expectations.
Enduring friendship: The deepening and beautiful friendship between Caroline and Shirley is a great pleasure to follow. They have altogether different temperaments and characters - yet support and help each other throughout the novel.
“The Valley of the Shadow of Death” Headline for this chapter with Caroline on her deathbed. I can still remember walking and listening to it with both fascination and trembling - and it reveals one of Charlotte Brontë's famous plot twists. It’s haunting with gothic elements - and no doubt influenced by her own life experience. Three of Charlotte Brontë’s siblings died during the writing of this novel (all wihtin nine months). First her alcoholic brother, Bramwell, and then shortly after each other, Emily and Anne.
I wasn't convinced by the film of Love and Friendship either Carsten. One of those films where I couldn't work out who to sympathise with! Your comments about Shirley are fascinating: perhaps I should get over my negative attitude to Victorian novels.
Oh, Charlotte - negative attitude to Victorian novels - we got to repair that :) Well, I wouldn't recommend Shirley as a starter. It surely has it faults in it's composition, but I like Charlotte Brontë's "fierce heart" and passionate writing.
>100 ctpress: I usually love Victorian novels but I have to say I really didn't get on with Shirley . It seemed to start off as one thing and end up as something different and much more conventional. Not to say that there weren't interesting elements to it (the place of women in society being one) but it didn't work for me overall.
Rhian - Yes, you do point to one of it's faults - the plot structure was confusing - and presenting Shirley so late in the novel. But I liked the conventional ending, it made it a very satisfying novel for me.
Woot! I'll say your Brontëathon is off to a roaring start! Fabulous review of Shirley, Carsten. Here's a sign of a tremendous read, in which a reader is fully invested: I can still remember walking and listening to it with both fascination and trembling . Big thumb-up!
A roaring start, Nancy. There were several very memorable passages in the novel that just made it a wonderful read for me. I'm reading Villette now, but so far it hasn't gripped me in the same way.
Deborah - Shirley is the longest of the Brontë-novels. Great that you're onto Dickens now. It's one of his "small" reads - half the size of his normal chunksters :) Still a long read I would say. I'm into the last chapters of my reread of Great Expectations and just loving it. Well, I'm prejudiced in favour of the Victorian novel, I dare say :) If they were just not so long I could get through more of them.
I love how you've given your reasons why you liked Shirley. So concise and informative and great biographical background. Super review!
>100 ctpress: I have to agree with Mary. Great review and a timely reminder to read that one, Carsten.
Have a great weekend.
Thanks Mary and Paul - I once did a review like this a couple of years ago and I think I'm going to do it again soon. I like the format.
I'm reading Villette at the moment, and I think it's time for a ranking of the Brontë novels I've read - and then I will re-rank them all after The Brontënathon.
1. Jane Eyre
2. Tenant of Wildfell Hall
4. Agnes Grey
5. Wuthering Heights
unread: Vilette, The Professor
I have given Wuthering Heights a low 2-star rating, but it was years ago when I read it, and I hope I'll appreciate it more after a reread. Can't remember what made me rank it so low, as some consider it the best of them all.
I know everyone is going crazy over "La, La, Land" and all the Oscar-buzz - haven't seen it yet but hoping to do it soon - but let me recommend "Sing Street" - it will probably not get so much love as "La, La, Land" at the Oscars, but it's just a cool celebration of music, artistry, friendship and love.
Oh I just watched the trailer. Irish movie...it looks wonderful. Thanks for the recommendation.
Mary - You'll love it :) I think it's on Netflix or will be soon. One of those quirky movies that took me by surprise.
I have loved some Irish movies. The Commitments, Magdalene Sisters, My Left Foot, Snapper, The Guard, Angela's Ashes. Well maybe "love" is not quite the right word as some are very dark and disturbing but tell a story that needs to be told I think! I just looked up "Irish movies' and there are many more out there that I need to see but Sing Street is now on the list. Our Canadian Netflix is not the same as other countries so we shall see...........ooops bad me, it is on our Netflix afterall.
Mary - Well then what are you waiting for :)
Oh, yes, The Commitments - totally forgot that. Just checked and it's on Netflix, so I'll have a rewatch of that one pretty soon I'm sure. Some good/important movies you're mentioning - The Snapper of course but also Magdalene Sisters although hard to watch.
Carsten, I read some Dickens many years ago, but not Great Expectations. What a dark and interesting story. It is amazing that I am doing my first read of Great Expectations while you do a re- read. And while you were reading Shirley in Copenhagen I was thinking of you here in Vancouver when I went to the library and had a peek at Shirley. I've read Jane Eyre, but I'm not sure about Wuthering Heights, it was so long ago that I read Bronte.
>110 ctpress: I'd put my Bronte list as follows:
1 Wuthering Heights
2 Jane Eyre
3 The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
5 Agnes Grey
The first three are in a different category to the last two in my opinion. I haven't read the others.
Deborah - The Victorian novels are calling from Canada to Denmark and vice versa :)
I haven't read that many Dickens novels, but so far Great Expectations and David Copperfield are my favorites - and about Miss Havisham...wait for her comeback later in the novel...just saying...
Jane Eyre is by far my favorite of the Brontë novels - but I have a feeling you might enjoy The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne, I think, is more realistic than both Charlotte and Emily who has a more romantic and gothic style going. Realistic for an early Victorian novel that is. As you know we have a group-read of that one in March....
Miss Havisham is a scary character! The entire novel is kind of surreal! Just when I get a bit comfortable, then Pip moves onto to something new ( which I suppose is the point of the novel) . Right now he is just happily settling in with Herbert, who seems to be quite the gentleman to me. And oh, Biddy and Joe! Such lovely people but...
Oh, for sure. Dear old Joe - and Biddy - such gentle and faithfull characters. One of the novels big themes are the value of friendships, I think. Herbert is another good fellow you can't help love.
>114 mdoris: Another fan of The Guard here. Would also recommend Calvary by the same writer/director and lead actor combo. Impressive stuff. Good Vibrations manages to make a Troubles setting funny, which is impressive in a whole different way.
I love the Commitments film too - and anything by Roddy Doyle, of course. I think my favourites are still the historical fiction though. Hopefully someone will film his books about the Easter Rising through to Hollywood and Maureen O'Hara, one day.
arubabookwoman: I didn't know that - I can see I have to check Roddy Doyle's novels - looks interesting. Thanks for the recommendations.
Charlotte - I haven't yet seen "The Guard" and "Calvary" but Brendan Gleeson is such an enigmatic actor that I can easily believe they would be worth watching. Specially Calvary looks intriguing.
>110 ctpress: Woot! Love seeing The Tenant of Wildefell Hall right behind Jane Eyre on your ranking of the Bronte novels, Carsten. I adored the latter and am looking forward to reading the first in March. Didn't like Wuthering Heights at all, but I know it's a well loved novel. Perhaps one day I will reread.
Morning, Carsten. Just ordered The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Penguin Classics, from my fav local bookstore. It'll be a couple weeks getting here. Excited!
#124 arubabookwoman: Good point. If I should read him I think I'll choose another novel.
Nancy: You are ready, my friend - I really like those Penguin editions - the covers and their lengthy introductions, notes, chronology etc. I have a few of them myself. I have to admit that sometimes I "cheat" and buy the Kindle samples - that way you can get the introduction for free...if it's placed in the beginning of the book.....but then sometimes I end up buying the physical book as well...
Paperback or hardback?
For "Tenant" I bought the new "Penguin English Library" paperback-edition - the new lineup they have printed the last few years. I like it not for the "extras" - they only have an essay at the end that is not so long. But for the quality of the paper - there's something so soft and delightful about this type of paper that make you want to caress it all the time. And the font is very readable. I'm a nerd in that respect about books. And then the covers are cleverly designed - all different but the same theme.
My first reading was a Danish translation, but I'm going to the original this time. Almost regretting not buying your edition. Maybe there's an important note I'll be missing :)
Erik - Thanks for the Wuthering Heights top ranking :) That novel sure have it's devotees. It'll be interesting to see if the novel can redeem itself in my eyes after a rereading. But it's trailing after by a few lengths so it's a longshot.
LOVE that cover, Carsten. Didn't even see it in my search for Penguin edition of Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Ooh, now I'm going to be imagining: the quality of the paper - there's something so soft and delightful about this type of paper that make you want to caress it all the time. Only a bookaphile!
That's a beautiful edition Carsten. I spent yesterday evening in a bookshop looking at lovely penguin classics editions. So tempting!
LOL - I admit it, Nancy. A bookaphile. Talking of books as they were things to wear. Try to caress one if you get the chance :)
Charlotte - They are beautiful - and there are over 100 different ones in that series - that is the new edition of the series.
Penguin book-video for you, Charlotte.
Oh Carsten I LOVED that book cover in >130 ctpress:.....the trees, the simplicity, and the repitition is comforting. Very nice.
Hehe, I don't only caress them, Carsten: I absolutely love to smell them, too! It's nice to be in good company here on LT with my obsessed bookie friends, LOL.
I love the cover of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I've got two different copies of Great Expectations out from the Library right now, in case I don't finish it in the allotted three weeks time ( I did not start as soon as I got it out of the library ) . I looked online at amazon ca for nice copy of Great Expectations but I could not really find one. Dover Thrift Editions are kind of less than great - I have a relatively new copy of a book by that publisher and that was about all that was offered on amazon ca. I confess I don't usually caress my books, but I love well worn books. Easy to flip, stays open on the page and just seems friendly.
>134 ctpress: I know what the topper for my next thread is going to be!
Mary - Well put, the simplicity I like too.
Nancy - Exactly, don't forget to smell your books - they deserve to be noticed once in a while :)
Deborah - Buying classics online are really difficult, I think. I've also had my share of disappointments with some series - I guess that's why we need the bookstores - I found my first "english library classic" in a bookstore - Jane Austen's "Persuasion" - now I have five from the series. At you some of my favorite ones are old well-worn books that stays open on a page.
I ordered a copy of "Penguin's Clothbound Classics" (Jane Eyre) but was disappointed. I know they are popular and they look beautiful - but hmmm....heavy, too thick paper and just didn't feel great to hold and didn't fold well. I guess we're not easy to please :)
Charlotte - Thought you would appreciate it :)
Good to know about the Penguin's Clothbound Classics, Carsten. I very nearly ordered The Tenant from that series because the books look so beautiful! Of course, this series isn't one that is regular stock by any local bookstores, so there's the difficulty again of ordering something online without properly seeing/holding it.
It is so difficult, Nancy. Of course it's just my taste, but I didn't find them "reader-friendly" with the thick paper and very inflexible trying to hold down the pages while you read.
I know a new hardcover has to be used to fold properly - but this is just ridiculous - here's what my "Jane Eyre-clothbound-edition" looks like while resting on it's own:
Here's what it's suppose to do in a good hardcover: (danish edition of Ivanhoe)
I know I'm a little on the obsessive side here, but my grandfather was a bookbinder, and I used to spend time in his workshop where he would show me some things about good bookbinding. I can remember when he took a used book - usually an old worn out Bible people would like to preserve - and then give it a new leather binding meticulously stitching it together with glue....the joy of good workmanship.
Oh, I love the book geekery Carsten. I know what you mean about a book that is easy to read. I get quite cross with some of those penguin classics in paperback when they haven't reset the type inside to go with the lovely new cover.
Charlotte - Yes, that's sloppy - repackaging books with just a new cover. It gets a little geekery around here :)
Carsten, how cool that your grandfather was a book binder! No wonder you have a bit of book geekery! Get your geek on! Last night Dave and I were discussing the size of the print in a couple of books. I argued that the size of the print in one book was bigger than the other, but Dave felt that the print in each book was of the same size, but the spacing between the lines was what made the difference in readability. So Dave retrieved a huge electronic caliper from his tools ( he is a tool geek too ) and we both measured several letters in the books in question. Sadly, it turned out that Dave was correct. He did concede that the font might also make a difference. :) LOL. That's how Dave and I pass the evenings together in the dark of January. I was discussing my two different library copies of Great Expectations and my Dover Thrift Copy of Wuthering Heights and that is what led into our intense discussion.
>141 ctpress: Bookbinders are becoming a rare breed. It's almost impossible to locate one who will rebind books by hand, such as Bibles. However, the commercial binderies libraries use are not thriving very well since so many libraries no longer bind many periodicals (which they now get digitally rather than in print). The quality of work is also lacking in those. Libraries are putting theses and dissertations in digital repositories now rather than getting them in print which requires binding.
>141 ctpress: Good grief, thanks for the posting the photos/comparison, Carsten. Glad I didn't go with the clothbound edition ... I would have been very unhappy with that. How wonderful that your grandfather was a book binder! How you must have loved to spend time in his shop.
As usual, you two crack me up, Carsten and Deb:
It gets a little geekery around here.
Get your geek on!'
HI Carsten. It is so fun to visit your thread. I love the memories you express of time with your grandfather in his bookbinding workshop. Such sensory memories, no doubt. I love too the discussions going on in Deborah and Dave's house about print size and space size difference enough that caliper tools must be found to measure and resolve the issue. Yes for sure these are great discussions in dark January (wedded bliss). Love it! And in our house we are having discussions about moving AGAIN, early March so some changes can be made to tne old house we bought in our new community. Ahhhh, life goes on. Back to my book!
Yes Nancy >147 lit_chick: Geeks unite!
Deborah - LOL - Love that you have a gentle "font-fight" passing the dark evenings of january - I want a tool like that :) As I've also have layout-experience doing magazines the line height actually does make a difference also in perception as to the imagined font size...maybe David will back me here :). There's where the ebook certainly has the advantage - being able to choose a font, font size, line height and column breadth.
Lori - Yes, I can imagine bookbinders would have a hard time making ends meet nowadays. In his later years he would do private bookbinding for friends and relatives and charging almost nothing, but it was a labour of love seeing that old worn out book and turn it into state of the art.
Nancy - Get the geek on! LOL - Yes...I really miss those times spend in his workshop and then afterwards grandmother always ready with tea and light bun halved and toasted with thick layer of butter....Once when I was a child he promised me a gift if I kept on with piano lessons. So I kept on practicing, dreaming of big things. A new football maybe, or even a pair of sneakers. After a year or so he gave me.....a hymn book. Had a hard time not looking disappointed. But he had made it himself in real fine leather with my name in gold print on the cover. Ungrateful kid as I was :) Later it meant a lot to me, but you know....
Mary - Some fine discussions here for sure. Brightens up a dark january. Love it :) Ah, moving is such a hassle, but at least you have something to look forward to when its all done. Geek unite :)
7. Villette by Charlotte Brontë (1853) 3,5/5
Second reading in my Brontënathon. Librarything description: With neither friends nor family, Lucy Snowe sets sail from England to find employment in a girls’ boarding school in the small town of Villette. There she struggles to retain her self-possession in the face of unruly pupils and a suspicious headmaster.
A few thoughts:
- I liked it but I didn't love it - Villette didn’t capture my imagination as either Shirley or Jane Eyre.
- I never really warmed up to the heroine Lucy Snowe (no pun intended) - she fascinated me, but not enough.
- Liked the gothic elements which created an eerie feeling throughout the novel - the appearence of a ghost - a white nun….
- Liked also the descriptions of Lucy’s loneliness and despair and her deliberate attempts to be an independent free spirit.
I might read The Professor in february - or maybe wait until march and The Tenant…we’ll see.
Good morning, Carsten! this is my first visit your thread and I found a lot to enjoy.
>39 ctpress: Though I have not fully engaged this series, I listened to one on audio, as well, some years ago. I'll have tor revisit is on audio as Simon Vance is a master narrator. I recent listed to him narrate Hero of the Empire by Candace Millard. As for British Napoleonic fiction, I have loved the Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell. It's a ground troop series as apposed the sea.
>55 ctpress: I really enjoyed Dark Matter. It was suspenseful but not scary.
>70 ctpress: Leave it to Psmith and The Inimitable Jeeves are on my to read list for Wodehouse. Mike and Psmith might fun as well...if I can find it.
>77 ctpress: This sounds interesting, but I don't know if my patience would win out. ;-)
>93 ctpress: I heartily agree that the 1946 Great Expectations film is superior to anything before or after. Excellent film. I'm considering a reread of GE, but it may have to wait until next year.
You have been starred. :-)
Thoroughly enjoyed a few thoughts on Vilette, Carsten. As others commented when you posted a previous review, this is a great format!
Brodie - I always love new visitors. Welcome :) Simon Vance is my favorite narrator no doubt. Looked at Hero of the Empire and I would love to hear Vance take on that one. Haven't heard of the "ground troop" series by Cornwell but it looks good.
I wouldn't recommend Mike and Psmith other than a curiosity for a Wodehouse fan. Leave it to Psmith and The Inimitable Jeeves are both very good, I think.
Great - another David Lean fan. i found a recent adaptation on Netflix a few nights ago and started watching, but hmmmm....I think the 1946 adaptation have ruined all other versions for me. It's just sheer perfection.
Nancy - Thanks. I know it's a little unfair to compare coming so close after Shirley maybe it was too much at the same time. Anyways...I'm glad to have satisfied my curiosity with the Brontë-collection - only The Professor to go and I've read them all.
Nice review of Vilette. I've put a hold on The Tenant of Wildfell Hall at the library, just in case and to have a look at the book. Someone else has the only copy out right now. How's KP :)
The cover of Vilette is very eye catching. I like it and I'm not one to notice that sort of thing very often :) Unlike Duchess Kate, I am not an Art grad from the University of St Andrew's , more is the pity. Trump's visit to the Queen will be awkward, I hope. Can you get an invite to that particular occasion and get a close up look at Crazy Trump and the Queen? Should be a piece of cake for you, Carsten, with your connections! :)
Deborah - I like the cover too. Sort of captures the melancholic mood of the novel. Hope you'll get a hold on The Tenant - otherwise you can always download a free ebook version. So Trump is going to visit the Queen? I might be able to pull a few strings and get an inside scoop. We'll see :)
Ya, no pressure, Deb (LOL!), but if your library hold on The Tenant does not come in, you can always download a free ebook copy. Did I say no pressure?
8. Old Yeller by Fred Gipson (1957) 3,5/5 (audiobook narrated by Peter Francis James)
A classic story about a boy Travis and his beloved dog. It’s not love at first sight, rather hate at first site, but soon the ugly, but clever dog wins the heart of everyone - and even manage to save the boys life.
As in Ingalls Wilders prairie stories you really have a good sense of the harsh realities in the farmhouse, a family where the 14 year old kid/man has to take responsibility as the father is away on a long cattle drive.
Peter Francis James reading with a slow deep southern accent is excellent.
A Newbery Honor book
>158 ctpress: Ooof, that's one that I just couldn't handle very well. Those dog stories get me every time.
>158 ctpress: That book caused my entire 4th grade class, including boys, cry when the teacher read it aloud to us.
Amber - It is so, so sad...I can't blame you.
Lori - Oh, that must have been some experience - a book capturing the imagination of the whole class. There's some hard earned lessons in that book.
Have anyone seen the movie version? I'm considering it.
Lovely review of Old Yeller, Carsten. A classic indeed! And I love what you've written here, so true: harsh realities in the farmhouse, a family where the 14 year old kid/man has to take responsibility as the father is away on a long cattle drive.
Some wonderful reading of the classics being done by you, Carsten. I remember loving David Copperfield when I read it many years ago. That may be a reread (or listen) for me this year. I can work up a few tears just thinking about Old Yeller. I will not be reading that one again. Too sad.
Thanks for sharing the memories of your bookbinder grandfather. How cool that he used to do it for friends and family with little profit. I think just seeing the rebirth of a good book would be a great reward. No wonder you are such a lover of the old books.
Nancy - It is a great classic. I have a feeling I've seen the movie once as a kid, but can't remember - I love those children's books that graps both child and adult. It's true with this one.
Donna - Yes, true that my grandfather learned me to appreciate the older books. He was all about books. I don't think he ever went to the cinema - and they had no tv for sure.
Funny you should mention David Copperfield - I just bought an audiobook-version today. I loved it when I read it a couple of years ago. Would like to listen to it also at some point. Read by Richard Armitage.
Bought it with the Audible Whispersync deal and got it for 2 dollars I think.
Carsten you are inspiring me with your wonderful classics reading!
I have a large collection of Dickens books, packed away somewhere (and I will take a picture of them when they are unpacked....which will not happen anytime soon) and will then commit to reading them then. They are a gorgeous edition all with lovely small green leather covers, and very light onion skin paper, I think! Now I need your grandfather's advice on these ones......how should I take care of them! They were in my parents' library.
Nancy - I listened to the sample and it sounded promising. For sure, he's great in "North and South". It's running 36 hours so I will get used to him when I embark on a reread :) I don't know if you've seen the movie "Hereafter" - an Eastwood-movie with Matt Damon? Well, I sometimes think of it as one of the main character, Damon, is a Dickens-fan and listens to audiobook-readings every night.
Mary - I am in the mood of rereading classics at the moment, I have to say. Looking forward to a photo of that Dickens series - once you've settled in. You just describe the perfect book. "Small green leather covers and very light onion skin paper..." :)
I saw the movie Old Yeller when I was a child, second or third grade I think. It gave me nightmares for months afterwards, and made me fear that what happened to Old Yeller would happen to our dog. I have very vivid memories of it.
Going to have to find a copy of Hereafter, Carsten: Eastwwod, Damon, Dickens, and audiobooks ... a winning combination!
arubabookwoman - I can imagine it would make a strong impression on a child - specially if you have a dog yourself. Maybe it's better to leave the movie alone.
Nancy - It's actually one of his more thoughtful movies - kind of dark in tone - but I like the ideas presented - and well, Matt Damon is always good I think.
Deborah - It is a sad read for sure, but I can see why it's a children's classic - very powerful....I've bought a few cheap classics as audiobooks lately as they are very cheap with the Whispersync-deal. Oh, KP....yes, well, you know... I'm trying :)
9. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1861) 5/5 reread
“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before – more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”
5 reasons Great Expectations is a great novel
1. Pip’s journey It’s a great bildungsroman. At its heart it’s about Pip’s inner journey toward greater self-understanding and molding of his character. He does not get what he expects, but in the journey finds so many other things of greater value.
2. Enduring friendships For me one of the most touching themes is that of friendship - Pip’s and Joe’s and later on with Herbert Pocket. When Pip need his friends the most they do turn up by his side. And Pip will also himself be a true friend to an unexpected person.
3. Surprises, surprises You’re not aware of it, but slowly this “bildungsroman” turns into a tightly constructed mystery plot. The second half is full of surprising twists and turns.
4. Lessons on wealth Wealth is the vehicle in the story. Everything hinges on what people are in terms of class and money and “expectations”. I like that Pip finds happinness in “working for his profits” rather than living on someone else’s money.
5. A wealth of memorable characters You could mention this about any Dickens novel - but just think about Pip himself, Joe and Biddy, Miss Havisham, Estella, Jarvis, Wemming, Magwitch etc, etc.
I like your comments Carsten. I read this for school and we watched the David Lean black and white film as part of the study. Miss Haversham was creepy, and London much cleaner than I think it can have been. I just read a short bio of Dickens. I don't think I realised how much was based on his own experience (e.g. the bad experiences with the law, and debt).
Charlotte - Thanks - I'm going to re-watch David Lean's classic adaptation now - I just love it - have to look for how clean London is - can't remember that :) - Dickens "Great Expectations" comes as a late part of his life as a writer and I think it shows - as you mentioned with his own experiences with the law and debt etc.
Carsten, superb review of Great Expectations. That is a moving quote, and I'm really liking your new review format. Love this, so very Dickens: Wealth is the vehicle in the story. Everything hinges on what people are in terms of class and money and “expectations”. I look at the inequality in our world today, and I see the wisdom of the classics authors everywhere.
Good point Nancy...."inequality in our world today". Great review Carsten and I love your format too.
Also love the quote....."we should never be ashamed of our tears......overlying our hard hearts".....
Thanks, Nancy - I see the wisdom of the classics authors everywhere. True, my friend. To think of Dickens social conscience back then making visible the plight of the impoverished through his stories - actually I'm reading Night Walks by Dickens at the moment - during a period of insomnia he would walk through London at night observing the night life, the homeless people, the shelters etc. And I guess collecting in his mind material for future stories.
Thanks, Mary - Dickens was a great writer. I've underlined several quotes in my edition of Great Expectation and it's not the last time I've read it.
Excellent review of Great Expectations, Carsten. Dickens certainly did have a great social conscience. Thumbed of course.
Thanks, Deborah - I think the reread was better than the first read of Great Expectation. I've come to appreciate him more and want to read more of his novels.
Nancy - I came across this book on a review on Youtube - sounded like my kind of book - as I've recently read A Philosophy of Walking - didn't know Dickens was a "night walker".
Brodie - Thanks, I was a real joy to do a reread. I think it improves on a reread so you have something to look forward to.
Anne - Yes, I heard a snippet of Armitage doing Copperfield and I was almost..almost ready to just listen on, but I'll keep it for later. And that you can get it for two dollars is a treat.
Lori - Glad you like it. Certain books it comes more natural for me to do review in this way.
10. White Fang by Jack London (1906) 5/5 reread audiobook - narrated by John Lee
"The aim of life was meat. Life itself was meat. Life lived on life. There were the eaters and the eaten. The law was: EAT OR BE EATEN. He did not formulate the law in clear, set terms and moralize about it. He did not even think the law; he merely lived the law without thinking about it at all.”
“I’m going to give the evolution, the civilization of a dog—development of domesticity, faithfulness, love, morality, and all the amenities and virtues.” Jack London about the purpose of the book.
The opening scene where White Fang lures out the sledge dogs one by one and kills them - and then goes after the two men - is both frigthening and fascinating.
There are several other frightening scenes - like the crucial fight with the bull dog. Oh, my. But then also delightful scenes where White Fang encounters the God’s (humans) goodness and tenderness.
I had forgotton how great this classic American tale was - up there with Watership Down in it’s realism and moral force.
Brilliant narration by John Lee. Like his deep slow voice. Fits well here.
Thanks, Nancy. It's different from Watership Down as the point of view shifts from wolfdog to humans, so we get perspective from both sides and the relationship between the two. Yes, I like the cover too.
Thanks Deborah. You're definitely missing out :) That is if you like stories told from animals perspective. Both comes with a warning. They contain some grueling scenes with animals fighting to death.
>186 ctpress: Hello Carsten! Excellent review of White Fang. Sadly I have never read it. I have it at home in B&N combination with Call of the Wild. Now that I know it is a John Lee narration, I'm conflicted. I love John Lee. I listened to 37 disc of Lee's narration of The Count of Monte Cristo. It is now once of favorite audio books. I'll keep you posted on White Fang!
Hi Brodie - I know the feeling. Audio/kindle/paperback? Well, you might try a compromise. "Call of the Wild" was London's smash hit so you can read that and finish with John Lee's narration of White Fang :) get it cheap through whispersync.... oh, I'm thinking John Lee would make a great choice for a reread of Monto Cristo. 37 disc? It's a great story.
11. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1861) 4/5 reread audiobook - read by Scarlett Johansson.
“We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” The Chesire cat to Alice
What delightful wonderous nonsense. To spend 2 hours and 44 minutes listening to Scarlett Johansson’s joyful narration of Alice in Wonderland was like a breeze of fresh air for my overworked brain.
“Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin… but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!”
Is it subversive nonsense? Filled with hidden meanings? Cleverly organised and meticulously metered out nonsense? Maybe…I don’t know - overblown psychoanalytical interpretations kill the wonder of it all - and it’s original intention: The enchanted nonsense of a child’s imagination. As the forever tea party - where Alice ponders:
“The Hatter’s remark seemed to have no sort of meaning in it, and yet it was certainly English.”
And it’s certainly a “curious dream” I will revisit again and again. Scarlett, we have a date next year for another 2 hours and 44 minutes.
Great review of Alice in Wonderland, Carsten. Love the quotes! We're all mad here, too, but you've probably noticed! I didn't know you were dating Scarlett Johansson ... this is how rumours get started, LOL!
Scarlett Johansson, Oh, I understand you're dating Carsten. Good choice for you both! Best wishes.........
We're all mad here....Nancy, speak for yourself. Ha ha! Okay, maybe I see your point.
Hi - as a 25 year 4th grade teacher, I never could have made it reading aloud through OLD YELLER or CHARLOTTE's WEB!
Did fine with Little House in the Big Woods, Mr. Popper's Penguins, A Wrinkle in Time, The Mixed-up Files...
when someone recommends a book I've not heard of, my question is: "Does the dog die?"
Nancy - Oh, no? Well, Scarlett and I like to keep things quiet..the press, you know :)
Mary - Thanks - It will be a long engagement if we only meet 2 hours and 44 minutes every year, but I'll take whatever I can get :)
m.belljackson - That's a good question: "Does the dog die?" I'll have to remember that. I can believe it would be a hard one to read aloud. Not at all like Mr. Popper's Penguins....
>192 ctpress: Excellent review of Alice in Wonder Land, Carsten. I remember reading it a couple of time when I was young and finding it interesting but quite disconcerting. Best of luck dating dear Scarlett :) I understand she does not believe that monogamy is a natural state. ( just looked that up )
PS - have you secured a place at KP? ;)
Good morning, Carsten!
>191 ctpress: I may well do that. All this talk of Jack London also brings to mind the study of his famous short story 'To Build A Fire' when I as in high school. excellent story.
>192 ctpress: I loved your review of Scarlett Johansson's Alice in Wonderland. I could use that same breath of fresh air. I'll be putting this on the library hold list immediately. Lovely cover image as well.
Deborah - Oh, those remarks...that was until Scarlett met the right one, tsk, tsk. :) Working on my place at KP - when are they moving? I've not been told yet :)
Brodie - I remember reading "To build a Fire" in an American Greatest short story collection years ago. Frightening read. Yes, a clever cover design - Scarlett does a very good job with it. Before that I've listened to a Danish audiobook edition with one of our famous Danish actors - I liked that very much, but Scarlett is hard to beat.
Hi Carsten, have just finished a Fossum mystery, and I think I'll start The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I seem to be reading at a snail's pace recently, so I want to get a head start. Too, I'm away visiting my sister for eight days in March. So, here goes, my friend ... will start the Penguin introduction later this evening.
it has gone a little quiet in the Danish outpost of the group, Carsten.
Hope you are doing fine this weekend.
Hi Nancy - A ton of work these past several days, but I'll set up a "Tenant" thread tomorrow I think. I'll start with it in a couple of days. Happy Brontë-reading.
Hi Paul - Doing fine, but my work schedule have been insane these previous days - looking ahead to some days off at the end of the week. Have to keep the outpost running :)
Hope you have some fun planned Carsten to get you through the crazy work week. I'm looking forward to Friday!
Sounds like you're ready for some time off after work-insanity, Carsten. Have to keep the outpost running ... YES, you do!!
Will look forward to the Tenant thread when you have a few moments to set up. No rush. As I said, I'm reading at a snail's pace presently.
Hi Charlotte - Those few days off surely went by quickly :) I guess I'm just tired at the moment a lot of the time, been listening to a lot of podcast, watching movies, but no novels read.
Hi Nancy - So the group-read-thread is up and runnning: https://www.librarything.com/topic/250589.
Anyone interesteed in reading Anne Brontë's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall in March are more than welcome to join in. Or others who wants to discuss the novel or The Brontë's
Great to see you, Carsten! So much unsettling news, no wonder if you are tired. Or maybe you have procured a position at KP and have to keep quiet about it? :) Press secretary to the palace? Is Prince Harry going to marry Megan Markle or not? LOL! :) Good to see you!
Hi Carsten, good to "see" you. I do understand about being very tired and simply unable to read in the evenings. I hope that your work schedule eases up soon.
Thanks so much for setting up our GR thread for The Tenant.
Deborah - Oh, secret, undercover journalism at the palace :) I wish.
Nancy - I've got a few days of work and plan to get ahead in "The Tenant" - thanks for posting on the thread. I guess it's just you and me reading it, but it's fine - good to have a discussion going.
Mary - Yes, I'm alright - but still not reading so much at the moment.
Oh, by the way, Carsten, my son and his wife and another couple are headed your way ! They leave tomorrow on IcelandAir for Iceland and are renting a vehicle and have planned a trip around the ring round in Iceland , and are staying at different place each night as they travel Iceland. Then they are heading to Copenhagen for 3 days and then to Amsterdam for 3 days, until they head back home. Should you see four 27 year old troublemakers in your area, you'll know it's my son, his wife and their friends. I am quite excited for them!
Nice to see you posting Carsten.
Have a great weekend and take a rest, man!
Deborah - I haven't seen the troublemakers yet, but I'll let you know if I spot them. The weather here is not that good. Raining a lot, but also some sunshine now and then. Not spring-weather yet.
Mary - It's definitely not going well with reading at the moment. But enjoying The Tenant at Wildfell Hall.
Paul - Thanks. Although I'm pretty late in responding this time.
A Carsten sighting! Such a honour! Well, watch out for trouble in Copenhagen. The kids have sent me Instagram pictures of themselves walking along the wharf with the brightly coloured buildings, the Nyhavn Canal area. I've had one more pic from Instagram from the top of Vor Frelsers Kirke. They are walking around Copenhagen this past couple of days and tell me it is a very stylish ' little city." They have one more day to cause trouble before moving on to Amsterdam to cause trouble there. Wiliam and Serenade are travelling with another couple, so the amount of trouble they could cause is rather high! :) From what I can see, yes, it is colder than here, but not by too much.
Suddenly spring has sprung here! Warmed up quite a bit this week.
Hi, Stasia - good of you to drop by :)
Deborah - Nyhavn Canal area is beautiful and a "must" for visiting Copenhagen - and you do get a very fine view over Copenhagen from the top of Vor Frelsers Kirke (Our Saviours Church). For a capital it is indeed a "little city" to be sure - no skyscrabers here :) I'm sure they've had a good time - despite it being still cold.
Yes, I recognized the Nyhaven Canal right away in the Instagram picture! So lovely and colourful! I was not aware of Our Saviours Church, but my DIL mentioned that they had climbed all 400 stairs to the top and there was a lovely view! I'm sure I'll learn more once they are home.
I suppose the population of Copenhagen might also make them say it is a " stylish' little city. Here in Vancouver, we have an area population of 2. 4 million. No tall building in Copenhagen, Carsten? I'm not sure how many sky scrapers we have in Vancouver, but I suppose we do have a skyline. I looked it up - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tallest_buildings_in_Vancouver.
I think it would be lovely to live in smaller , more walk-able city. You are fortunate, Carsten!
Edited to add that we in Vancouver are very sad to have recently been forced to open a Trump Tower. Sad face about that.
Hello Carsten, you make Copenhagen sound beautiful and such a good place to live. i have just finished How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life and I have my bags packed.
Deborah - It is indeed a very walkable city - and great for bicycle rides - many tourist rent bikes as it is an easy way to get around also with bicycle roads a lot of places. Yes, I will second that: A stylish old city :)
Mary - Of course you must come to "Norden" now when you've completed the "theory-book" - now it's time to practice :)
BTW - the new study/statistic is out - and Norway has now replaced Denmark as the "happiest" people in the world - ah, well, it still stays in Scandinavia :)
>220 ctpress:, Um assessed, researched, and written by a Norwegian.....maybe!
Thank you Carsten, I would love to come to Denmark and 'practice" as you say!
Carsten I noticed the study too. Hmm, I see that Canada places 7th after many nordic countries :) Could it be our weather that makes us happy ? Or perhaps a somewhat socialized democracy? Canada is less socialized , but I am all for socialized democracy. Cradle to grave care , and homes for all. And hyyge of course! :) I can't wait to chat with my son and DIL and understand their perception of the countries, though they will have had a short trip to Iceland, Amsterdam and Copenhagen. I do know that my daughter in law says she could never live in Hong Kong again. She feels the pace of life is far too fast, not much green space, and a lot pressure on kids entering the education system. My DIL was telling me that her sister, who returned to Hong Kong is already stressing about her 18 month daughter getting into the best nursery school , because that shapes her education. You must get into a " good nursery school at the age of 2 -3 in order to secure a good kindergarten and then onto a good private school. That seems like far too much pressure on both children parents too me.
Here , it does not matter what nursery school or pre -school you attend. Of course as a parent you try to pick one that you think your child will benefit from and enjoy, but has no bearing on the rest of your education. And of course you pay for children's pre-school, as we call it.
ETA - I'd think my kids think much about politics much yet. My daughter in law does teach kindergarten, so she doe see the difference in the backgrounds of children at a young age, and how it varies so much at an early age.
A very walkable, cycle-able, stylish old city sounds most appealing, Carsten! My sister and I were talking today about how wonderful it is to love where we live.
Mary - Yes, do come and see for yourself....then you can go from flat Denmark to the beautiful mountains of Norway - that is quit a spectacle.
Deborah - I don't know what to think of these surveys - how do you measure such a feeling or state as "happiness"? - I suspect a lot of factors contribute to the numbers - like stable government, social security, equal access to education and hospitals, a high percentage of middle-class etc. etc. but how exactly does it contribute to "happiness"?
Wow, the fight for the children's education begins before kindergarten - I've been to Hong Kong and yes there's a lot of people everywhere, a lot of noise - it wasn't a place I would like to live.
Nancy - Yes that is a blessing to lov where you live and to be able to make it ones home.
>224 ctpress: Carsten, my P's family comes from central Norway near Dagali. He went for a "wee walk" with his 88 year old great uncle going 8 miles away to visit an elderly aunt, kind of huffing and puffing all the way as a young man. He says that he had just cycled all over Europe and was in pretty good shape but was outclassed by the uncle! So I do know about the mountains in Norway but must experience them first hand I think but before I do i will visit your beautiful country!
Honestly, Carsten, I'm not sure how one determines the happiness of a country. I think the parameters that you have mentioned certainly are most of what they measure. I was just kidding about the weather :) I imagine that whoever does these studies has some sort of criteria, but I'll have to look into that. Yes, the idea of worrying about a child's education at the age of 18 months quite surprised me. Of course I suspect most parents care about there child learning at a very early age. But the level of competition of seems very high in Hong Kong. Apparently if you are not so concerned about education in English, you can use the public system, but it not considered to be a good one - lots of repetition , and not much English taught, according to my DIL.
I do love where I live too , and part of it is the sense of community and safety that I get in my townhouse complex, my dog walking buddies , just a feeling of safety and belonging.
Carsten, of course I could not resist looking up how happiness is measured - here is a link -- http://worldhappiness.report/ed/2017/
Right now, I'd measure happiness by -
having Health Care equal to that of other Western Countries,
having a decent President who cares about the people, animals, environment and future of the country,
with finding solutions to climate change,
with feeling safe in our own communities and free from terrorist attacks,
with having our taxes go for cures and not for more destruction
with food safe from GMOs and pesticides ...
with saving those who are starving and need our help
Mary - ha, ha - great anecdote. Gives me encouragement as I bicycle a lot :)
Deborah - Thanks for the link - I might look into that report. Will be interesting to see how they measure it.
m.belljackson - some good and essential reasons for sure. Feeling safe and healthcare is two reasons at the top of my list.
Paul - Yes, intimidating is a good word for that place - we weren't there for more than three days I think.
Me too, Carsten. Hope all's very good in your life and that this is a a good weekend for you. Happy Easter!
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