Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I have to say I am truly surprised. This is the third time I've read Jane Eyre, and yet the first time I've found anything positive about the experience. I read it once as an 11/12 year old because my mother bought me a lovely red leather-bound edition (apparently she loved the book and thought I would too). I hated it- too hard to read, too much philosophical rambling, no action, annoying heroine, etc. I read it for the second time as a freshman in high school because it was required. I no longer found it hard to read, but I still found Jane annoying and unsympathetic, and I still hated the book.

Fast forward to this year and my decision to revisit the classics, including giving Jane Eyre one last try before forever consigning it to the "I just don't understand how people can like this book" pile. All I can say is thank goodness I gave it that one last try because the book is a masterpiece. All the philosophical rambling that bored me before is now a central element to the text, superior in many way to the storyline itself. I see now that there is a lot of action for a book of its time, and Jane is certainly not annoying so much as she is inspirational. I mean, she is still a bit pious for my taste, but even so she rebels strongly against the conventions of her time to try to live a life that she finds both emotionally and spiritually satisfying.

All of the things that annoyed me when I read this book as a child are the elements that resonate most strongly with me as an adult. I read this book too early, and was too dismissive of it at the time. Like with Anna Karenina, I saw everything in black and white with the merciless clarity of a teenager; I now understand how wonderfully shaded with grey life (and good literature) often is. If you haven't read Jane Eyre since high school, I highly recommend giving it another try- definitely a 5 star!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Weekly Geeks #2

Weekly Geeks has posted a new challenge to get book bloggers to link their reviews to other blog reviews of the same book. I really like this idea because it is always interesting to see what other people took away away from a book that either I enjoyed or couldn't stand, whether the experience was shared or not.

In order to make this easier, here's a list of books I've reviewed so far on the blog (not many I know)- if you have also reviewed one of these books, leave me a comment on this post and I'll add you link to my review. Eventually I hope to set up an email for this purpose, but for the immediate future, I'll just go with this comment thread to collect the information.

I look forward to reading your reviews of the following books:
The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay
The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi
A Singular Hostage by Thalassa Ali
The Sari Shop by Rupa Bajwa
Accidental Mother by Rowan Coleman
Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy Sayers
The Runaway Jury by John Grisham
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Friday, May 2, 2008

5 New Blogs (new to me at least!)

I signed up for the Weekly Geeks challenge, and found these new fun book blogs:

1) Reading Derby Darcie posted to my blog so I checked hers out as well. Great reviews and an interesting mix of books- definitely worth checking out.

2) This Redhead Reads She's a redhead. She read at recess (or tried to at least). 'Nuff said- we could be twins (except that my school let me read at recess- thanks Sister Marietta!)

3) Educating Petunia I chose this one because I call my little sister Petunia. Petunia talks about feeling bogged down by the books she should be reading and the desire to sometimes just pull some fluff off the shelf. Since I regularly reread Agatha Christie or Jane Austen just to clear my palette, I feel her pain. Interesting reviews of a nice selection of books.

4) Adventures in Reading This blog title sucked me right in, and the blog itself is a gem. In-depth reviews, lots of books I've never read, and a great voice- well worth a visit!

5) Book Addiction Heather reviews Harriet the Spy. That alone says it all!

The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay

After losing her mother on her 18th birthday, Rosemary Savage arrives in 1970s New York with nothing more than $300 and a burning need to find something to fill the void. She winds up at the Arcade, a spralling used bookstore characterized by piles of books, acquisitive customers, and eccentric employees. As Rosemary tries to adjust to life away from her native Tasmania, she finds herself drawn into an intrigue surrounding a lost novel by Herman Melville.

The mystery element of this story was the weakest part in my opinion- the storyline was neither compelling nor convincing, and too many unanswered questions remained unanswered at the end of the book. Regardless, the beautiful prose was enough to carry this weak story from start to finish. The portraits of the characters were deftly drawn, and I truly felt the pain of Rosemary's extreme naiveté and her awkward relationships with Oscar and Mr. Geist. The writing is lyrical and dense, a festival for the eyes and brain that called to mind another novel of literary discovery- The Thirteenth Tale. Though I wish the details of the mystery had been more fully fleshed, I highly recommend this book for the power of the writing alone.

Other Reviews:
Passion for the Page