Saturday, 17 May 2014

Review: Beatrix Potter Collection

Title: Beatrix Potter Collection volume 1
Author: Beatrix Potter
Pages: 350
My Rating: 4/5 stars

This new collection by Wordsworth contains 11 stories by the children's author and illustrator Beatrix Potter. Honestly, there's not too much to say about this, other than that the stories and drawings are absolutely adorable. Once in a while there's a drawing which is not in that style we're used from Potter which is all too bad, but over all, it truly is a fun read.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

"My love for Linton is like foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff" 

Title: Wuthering Heights
Author: Emily Brontë
Pages: 245
My Rating: 5/5 stars

Wuthering Heights is a gothic novel which tells the story of Catherine Earnshaw and her passionate relationship with Heathcliff. While this may sound like your ordinary love story of doomed, starcrossed lovers, it is not. This novel has so many more layers to it, and it's worth reading the book as often as needed to explore all those layers thoroughly. Now, I must admit I've personally only read it twic, and the first time I was a young ignorant teenager of 16. Some of you may argue that I'm still young, but having read quite a lot more and, if I may say so myself, having become slightly more intelligent, I feel the second time I actually understood the novel. I would lvoe to read it again to clsoe read certain scenes, and I'm pretty sure that after that I'd want to read it again to analyse other aspects and so on. Unfortunately, I do not -yet- have time to do so, but I hope the rest of this review will give you a sense of my initial feelings.
I tried writing a spoiler free review, but I think I've failed. However, I don't think I gave much more away than the basic knowledge, so if you've not yet read the book I don't think it would do much harm to read on. However, it is at your own risk. To summerise for those who decide to not read on: The novel is awesome, go and read it. Now for a more intelligeble comment on this beautiful piece of fiction:

Wuthering Heights is most definitely not the most liked novel of all time. The story is not fun and light, and the characters are not at all likeable. Even though at least the latter may seem like a crucial aspect - liking at least a few characters - this is in fact what makes this novel interesting.
Cathy and Heathcliff are introduced as young and innocent children, and although clearly scarred by previous events, they seem to be coping with it well. It soon becomes obvious the two are falling in love, and as a reader you've already started loving them. Gradually these obviously loving characters acquire traits which makes them more and more despiseful. Eventually they are both extremely narcisistic and cruel. This is not only the case with the two main characters as the nurse, Nelly Dean, also turns out to be a lot less caring than initially thought. This is one of the great things about Brontë's style of writing. By making us, readers, truly love characters before she shows us how they really are, forces us to care about them, despite all their flaws. You will probably dislike them greatly, but you could never hate them because of the way Brontë introduced them to us.
Not only the characters turn bleaker after a while, so does the story. What was first called love between Heathcliff and Cathy turns out to be a relationship built on hartred and obsession. The passionate dialogue and the most eloquent writing is what in fact makes this novel bearable. The plot line may be interesting, but the fact that it keeps on going down hill makes you want to stop reading - just to have a somewhat happy ending. But please, do not. Every word Brontë writes in this novel should be read.
What should be kept in mind, and is not known by many people who have not read the books - and perhaps have only seen adaptations - is that the plot of the story is not confined to Heathcliff and Catherine's story. There is a second part, and perhaps this part is even more interesting. However, I wish to not go into too much detail on the grounds of not spoiling too much. Moreover, I think the aspects I mention are applicable to both parts, in their own ways.
One negative aspect of the story is credibility. I do not mean the fact that the story may be far fetched, but the way in which it is narrated. Most parts are told by Mr Lockwood, using Miss Dean's perspective. This means, Lockwood is reproducing a story which Miss Dean has told him. The fact that Miss Dean would already remember the story in so much detail is, to me, already doubtful - but Lockwood repeating those exact words then, is rather strange. You could look at this as an unreliable narrator, and Brontë is likely to have done so on pupose, but at the times that I realised how complex the origin of the story was, it did bother me. However, for the greater part of the novel I was able to ignore this and it did by no means affect my reading experience enough to rate it down a star.
I have run out of things to say about this novel, just because I love it so much - I'd just be repeating myself. Maybe after a while, or perhaps a third read, I'd be able to talk about it with greater distance and perhaps more critical.

"I love my murderer - but yours! How can I?"

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Review: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

I had mentioned before that I am currently extremely busy with uni. That's why I have not been putting up any reviews. I have read a few books, mostly for courses, and reviews of those will be written, but I'm afraid they won't be too elaborate. I am going to be writing them in the order in which I read them, and I've decided that today I can spend a little time writing the first one.

Title: Manfield Park
Author: Jane Austen
Pages: 472
My Rating: 2/5 stars

As an English student, disliking Jane Austen's writing is a very unpopular opinion. Everybody seems to love her writing style and the character she creates. That's why I, at first, felt ashamed not liking this novel, or others I've read. Thinking about it though, and discussing it with a friend who didn't like it either, reminded me that I am allowed to have my own views. I hoped that the lecture in which we discussed Mansfield Park would help me appreciate it more, but honestly, it only made it worse.
     First of all, I found the novel confusing. This was probably due to my inability to concentrate long enough to even remember some characters. When Austen writes a great amount of pages about why someone may or may not have a headache, I get bored and tend to skip parts or just stop reading. This results in me reading the same passage over and over again, which means I will only get more bored and confused.
     Now, there is our heroine, Fanny. Can we even call her a heroine? She is the most submissive character I've ever read about. Besides, she's very predictable and therefore boring.
     In order for a book to get a two star rating, there must be some things it did do right, I hear you think. Of course, there were some parts which I truly enjoyed, and some bits of writing which I found very interesting. Unfortunately, often in the middle of a beautiful scene, either a character does something annoying, or it just gets weird, and that's why this novel is, to me, not worth any more than two stars.