Posts Tagged With: Classics

Lady Susan by Jane Austen

lady-susanSynopsis:

One of Jane Austen’s shortest works, “Lady Susan” is an epistolary novel, a novel told entirely in the letters of its title character, her friends and family. “Lady Susan” is the story of a recently widowed woman who is actively searching for a new marriage while trying to play matchmaker for her daughter as well.

This is not a well known Austen book, and is rather short. Austen adopts a different writing style, and narrates the whole book in a series of letters. This did not ruin the story however, as each letter was extremely descriptive, so one also knew what was going on. In fact, this way of narrating gave each character a little more depth as it allowed the reader to see what the character was really thinking.

The story follows Lady Susan, who had not been widowed long, search for a new husband. She is manipulative and cunning. She goes and stays with her brother-in-law and attempts to make a union with her sister-in-law’s brother. We follow her through her bid to do this, and see the reaction of her sister-in-law and the other side of the family. Susan also attempts to sort out a suitable marriage for her daughter, who seems timid and shy. She is not a nice character, however I was intrigued by her and wanted to know the outcome of her fate.

This is not my favourite Austen, even though it did contain the usual Austen traits, of love, class, manipulation and family. I did find I had to force myself to finish the book, and the ending was fairly predictible.

The book did make me ask a few questions though – such as who was Austen? Does she relate to any of the characters in her books? Was she manipulating, or just surrounded by it?

Overall, I found this book to be just OK. I can see why it isn’t one of the more popular Austen novels.

6/10

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Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Synopsis from Amazon:

Independent and spirited Bathsheba Everdene has come to Weatherbury to take up her position as a farmer on the largest estate in the area. Her bold presence draws three very different suitors: the gentleman-farmer Boldwood, soldier-seducer Sergeant Troy and the devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak. Each, in contrasting ways, unsettles her decisions and complicates her life, and tragedy ensues, threatening the stability of the whole community. The first of his works set in Wessex, Hardy’s novel of swiftpassion and slow courtship is imbued with his evocative descriptions of rural life and landscapes, and with unflinching honesty about sexual relationships.

I found this book slow at the beginning, and in all honesty I did consider giving up on it. However, I am glad I didn’t. I enjoyed it once I felt it got going! This is the first Hardy book I’ve read and my goodness, he definitely has a way with words! His descriptions were capturing, although sometimes maybe a little long winded!

As for the story and characters, well I wasn’t a fan of Bathsheba. I admired her independence, but she seemed thoughtless and manipulative. At the end I did find myself feeling a bit sorry for her with the whole Troy shabang, and the Baldwood ordeal, but for the most part I felt a lot of what happened to her was the repercussion of her own actions.

Oak however, he I did like. He was strong and silent, and he was there when he was needed. He seemed selfless and just a gentle, ideal man. It was interesting how Hardy introduced him first, even though the story followed Bathsheba. I think this shows the significance of his character and actually made me like him instantly. First impressions weredefinitely key in this book.

The story, well predictible for the most part, but that didn’t spoil the story. Every question I had throughout the book was answered and I was satisfied at the end. I think it was quite radical, with Bathsheba taking on the roles she did, most unusual for the time. That aspect gave the book a little more depth.

Overall, a good read.

7/10

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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Synopsis from Amazon:

Ebenezer Scrooge, whose name is now synonymous with greed and parsimony, believes Christmas to be ‘humbug’. Refusing to donate any of his fortune to the poor, he comforts himself by saying, ‘I don’t make merry myself at Christmas, and I can’t afford to make idle people merry.’ But then the ghost of his old partner, Jacob Marley, returns from the grave to haunt him. Dragging a long and heavy chain, representing his mant sins, Marley sends down the three spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future to warn scrooge against a similar fate…

This is an extremely well known story, and there have been many adaptations of the book, however, I would heartily recommend people read the book. It is a thoroughly enjoyable book, which I loved right from the beginning. Dickens is engaging, and writes in such a descriptive way I felt like I was there with Scrooge on his journey. Dickens looks at family, Christmas, community, poverty, wealth and personality, but in a light-hearted and engaging way. However, a message is conveyed throughout the book – don’t be miserable, selfish, rude and tight-fisted towards those in need.

My favourite character was probably Fred, Scrooge’s nephew. He was full of life, able to stand up to Scrooge, and embraced him as a family member even though Scrooge did not want to be accepted.

There is so much that can be said of this book, many issues raised, a whole life looked at and of course Dickens as a writer. I think he tactfully looks at poverty vs. the rich, and makes a point that people with money should be sharing, and that life would be better for those in need, and those in ill-health if charity was given. My favourite period in Scrooge’s life was probably when he was a young man, an apprentice, full of life and fun. Had he kept on that road, his life would have been full of family, community and happiness. And as for Dickens, he is wonderful writer and I can find no faults with this book, I loved it.

10/10

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