Posts Tagged With: Classic

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The ‘Blurb’
Pride and Prejudice, which opens with one of the most famous sentences in English literature, is an ironic novel of manners. In it the garrulous and empty-headed Mrs Bennet has only one aim – that of finding a good match for each of her five daughters. In this she is mocked by the witty cynicisms of her indolent husband.

One of her daughters, Elizabeth, becomes prejudiced against her future suitor Darcy, because of his arrogance and uncalled-for interference with his friend Bingley’s courtship of her sister Jane. In spite of this, Darcy falls in love with Elizabeth – a blow to his pride – proposes, but is rejected. However, his sensitive assistance when Lydia Bennet elopes, dissolves Elizabeth’s prejudices, and the two are reconciled.

Oh wow. I can’t believe just how my feelings for this book turned round. I went from feeling so indifferent to it at the start that I kept finding excuses not to read it to wanting to read it slowly in order to make it last.

I wanted to slap some of the female characters hard to start with. My head could tell me that the ladies would have behaved that way in 1813 when the novel was first published, but my heart couldn’t stand the way they were so pathetic! However, I soon got over that and warmed to them.

I especially loved the characters of Lizzy, Mr Darcy (despite never having seen P&P on the TV, I still pictured Darcy as Colin Firth – which is no bad thing!) and Mr Bennet. Oh, and Jane.

I wanted to slap Lydia for being so selfish, and give Mrs Bennet a damn good shake by the shoulders for being such an embarrassment.

It had humour in spades. It was sad too. Mr Bennet being trapped in such a loveless marriage was a tragedy considering his lovable and amiable nature.

I have quite a few ‘favourite bits’, but I think the one that stands out for me was where Jane stood up to Lady Catherine when she came to dissuade Elizabeth from having a relationship with Darcy – this bit showed just how strong the character of Lizzy really was.

As a ‘modern’ woman, it seems very strange to me how society worked back then. For Charlotte to marry someone after only knowing them for such a short time to secure a future for herself seems very alien!

I don’t think a book has caused so many different emotions in me for a long, long time. After feelings of total indifference I simply grew to love this book.

10/10

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Foundation by Isaac Asimov

The Empire is falling. For 12,000 years, it has ruled over countless worlds, but now it is about to collapse. Hari Seldon has found a way to shorten the darkness that will result. He assembles a group of scientists and sequesters them on a lonely planet at the edge of the galaxy, purportedly to create and maintain an encyclopedia of all the knowledge in the universe. He calls this sanctuary The Foundation. However, in the years after he dies, his followers come to realize that there was more to his plan…

It feels odd writing a review of a book that probably everyone in the reading world has already read – how have I lived 32 years without reading it myself? Thank heavens I’ve corrected this gigantic flaw in my reading history….

I was interested to see how a sci-fi novel written over 50 years ago would stand up in the face of modern scientific advances. I mean, we all know how dorky the original Star Wars movies look now that their special effects are years out of date. (Ducking from the inevitable protests of fans – I can’t help it, they look goofy.) To me, Foundation felt like it could be a completely modern novel. Asimov was able to project far enough into the future that we haven’t caught up to him yet. The book seemed almost to be more a collection of short stories about the same idea than an actual novel – each section jumped so far into the future that most of the characters had already died. I am interested to read more books in the series to see Asimov fleshes out the different eras of the Foundation that he introduced in this book. I enjoyed it enough to want to read more, but I wouldn’t call it one of my favorite reads for the year. Perhaps that’s the problem with Great Works of Fiction – they never quite seem to live up to the hype.

Finished: 7/19/08
Source: Franklin Avenue Library
Rating: 6/10

Reviewed by Elizabeth

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The Island of Dr Moreau by H. G. Wells

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Adrift in a dinghy, Edward Prendick, the single survivor from the good ship Lady Vain, is rescued by a vessel carrying a profoundly unusual cargo a menagerie of savage animals. Tended to recovery by their keeper Montgomery, who gives him dark medicine that tastes of blood, Prendick soon finds himself stranded upon an uncharted island in the Pacific with his rescuer and the beasts. Here, he meets Montgomery’s master, the sinister Dr. Moreau a brilliant scientist whose notorious experiments in vivisection have caused him to abandon the civilised world. It soon becomes clear he has been developing these experiments with truly horrific results.

Review:
Like Frankenstein almost 80 years before, The Island of Dr Moreau features a man of science playing God and finding that his creations do not act as he would prefer. The themes of human nature, law, religion and society are expertly mixed against the backdrop of a mysterious Pacific island.

Of course, in recent years, many of the issues faced by Moreau have come to the fore in the media, as the advancement of genetics and cloning have begged the question of whether it is ever right for Man to play God, and just how far is too far? There is also the question of forcing a belief system on another set of “people” – deifying ones-self in order to be protected from one’s own creations – and the degradation of said creations when they are left to their own devices.

Wells has chosen a heady blend of science and nature to portray just how easily mankind can go astray – and one has to wonder if his ideas are not already becoming a reality – which makes for tense and exciting reading. It’s not a particularly long story and it runs at breakneck speed from beginning to end, hurtling the reader into the action and offering no respite until the tale is told.

If you fancy trying a bit of classic sci-fi, this is definitely one to try!

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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