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Evangeline by Ben Farmer


by Ben Farmer

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Retelling. (of a) Classic. Poem.

Just letting you know, that is my dream combination for a historical fiction YA novel.

So I really wanted to love this, (I read the poem before)...and it was miserable.


This poem has really come into the spotlight lately, another retelling of Evangeline called Anxious Hearts by Tucker Shaw is coming out soon, so we shall see it that's any better. ( )
  FutureMrsJoshGroban | Sep 21, 2011 |
Seventeen-year-old Evangeline Bellefontaine lives in Grand Pre, Acadia. It's 1755, and the motherless girl is looking forward to marrying her love, Gabriel Lajeunesse, in less than a week. All of their plans change, however, when the French Acadians are rounded up by the English and sent away from their now-destroyed homes. Evangeline and Gabriel are separated, not to see each other for over ten years as they struggle to survive, find each other again, and forge new lives for themselves in the strange lands of the American colonies in this retelling of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's famous poem.

I had really high hopes for this book. The idea of the plot is great: a retelling of Longfellow's poem, written on a historical subject that is rarely touched upon in history classes. The expulsion of the Acadians from their homes in Canada and journey to the American colonies, including Louisiana, is one of those huge (and awful) events in colonial history that, for whatever reason, doesn't get discussed that much in either courses or literature. What's disappointing about Evangeline is its characters and the telling of the story. The book covers the years between 1755 and 1769, yet few changes are seen in the characters - primarily the same throughout the novel - and I found it hard to connect with the characters themselves. Especially towards the end, their motives seemed unclear, almost as if the author was trying to work in some deeper reflections on individual power and gender relations that didn't quite come through. The last 100 pages or so just left me frustrated with all of the characters.

What Farmer does do well, however, is carry across the idea of a pre-Revolution America that would be alien to most of us today. Much of the plot takes place in Baltimore and New Orleans, but not the Baltimore and New Orleans readers today are familiar with. Farmer portrays Baltimore as your average little (emphasis on little) port town, while New Orleans bears similarities to the final outposts of the Western frontier with their attendant rough men, drinking, soldiers, conflicts with Native Americans, and lack of women. Another piece of history the author portrays well is how the Acadians, like other groups, were caught between two European powers in their struggle for colonial American empires, with both sides having other things to worry about besides the welfare of a single colonist group. It's amazing what unfair things people will do to each other in war just over greed and cultural misunderstanding. ( )
  SusieBookworm | May 12, 2011 |
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" Charles Rosen's qualities as an interpreter are nourished by the range of his knowledge, his vast culture lending his interpretations an intensity and validity that prove that, far from killing spontaneity, culture enriches it. It is precisely this combination of culture and a pragmatic approach that lends his personality its exceptional profile. In the end, it is also what makes him an ideal pedagogue in the broadest and least pedantic sense of the term.'---Pierre Boulez" " Charles Rosen is one of the truly great musical minds of our time and a great virtuoso to boot.---Sir Charles Mackerras" " Charles Rosen is regarded by many as the single most influential writer on music of the past half century. Rosen's method, as always, is breathtaking in its simplicity: paying close attention to the actual behavior of the music. In doing so he identifies precisely and specifically the stylistic devices and procedures that provide each of the major historical periods from 1750 to 1920 with its particular expressive profile.---Robert L. Marshall, Professor of Music, Brandeis University" " A marvellous text ... Rosen points the reader in the direction of old friends, musically speaking, and finds new things to say about them, all without a shred of unnecessary jargon.'---Nigel Simeone, University of Sheffield" "How does a work of music stir the senses, creating feelings of joy, sadness, elation or nostalgia? Though sentiment and emotion play a vital role in the composition, performance and appreciation of music, rarely have these elements been fully observed. In this succinct and penetrating book, Charles rosen Draws upon more than a half century as a performer and citic to reveal how composerts from Bach to Berg have used sound to represent and communicate emotion in mystifyingly beautiful ways." "Through a range of musical examples, Rosen details the array of stylistic devices and techniques used to represent or convey sentiment. This is not, however, a listener's guide to any correct' response to a particular piece. Instead, Rosen provides the tools and terms with which a appreciate this central aspect of musical aesthetics, and indeed explores the phenomenon of contradictory sentiments embodied in a single motif or melody. Taking examples from Chopin, Schumann, Wagner and Liszt, he traces the use of radically changing intensities in the Romantic works of the nineteenth century and devotes an entire chapter to the ke of C minor. He identifies a unity of sentiment' in Baroque music and goes on to contrast it with the obsessive sentiments' of later composers including Puccini, Strauss and Stravinsky. Profound and moving, Music and Sentiment is an invitation to a greater appreciation of the craft of composition, and performance"--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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