Booking Through Thursday and Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier

It is November 11th, known here in the U.S. as Veteran’s Day, formerly Armistice Day to remember the end of WWI but expanded to honor all veterans who have fought for their country, so …

Do you read war stories? Fictional ones? Histories?

This question reminded me about a gaping hole in my reading experience. I have to say, I really haven’t read much, be it fiction or non-fiction, about wars. Of course, I’ve read the occasional book where war makes its influence known. Two novels which come to mind are ‘The Sun Also Rises’ by Ernest Hemingway and ‘Brideshead Revisited’ by Evelyn Waugh. However, these two focus less on combat and more about the after affects of war, how it changes people and the society in which they live. As for non-fiction writing which deals with the topic, I only read it when forced (for university). At the risk of perpetuating the stereotype of female readers, I can’t stand history books, no matter how well written. I need a personal story, something to connect to.

Its long overdue, but here are my thoughts on ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne duMaurier;

First off, here’s the blurb;

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

So the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter remembered the chilling events that led her down the turning drive past the beeches, white and naked, to the isolated gray stone manse on the windswept Cornish coast. With a husband she barely knew, the young bride arrived at the immense estate, only to be inexorably drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Rebecca, dead but never forgotten…her suite of rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant- the sinister Mrs. Danvers- still loyal. And as an eerie presentiment of evil tightened around her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter began her search for the real fate of Rebecca… for the secrets of Manderley.

This blurb makes ‘Rebecca’ seem to be a little melodramatic. It is, but that’s part of its charm. As a lover of gothic fiction, this novel appealed to my love of all things melodramatic. There’s mystery, romance, and thrills.

This book often reminded me of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It takes that book and gives it a modern twist, Rebecca is the ultimate ‘Madwoman in the Attic’. Although her presence in the house is not physical, only mental, she still manages to haunt it. The author effectively creates mood through setting, especially through weather and description of the house and surrounding landscape.

That being said DuMaurier does little to change the attitude of equating female sexuality with evil or madness. The characters are very much stock characters within the genre. The heroine who eventually gains strength and the love of a man through the solving of the central mystery of the plot, the hero who is handsome but who has a tortured soul, the creepy house keeper, and finally the ‘madwoman’ who represents the impurity of a woman who is the opposite of the ‘Angel in the House’.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It would be a great first read for those who had never read any Gothic fiction before, as it’s highly readable and has all the characteristics of the genre.

Advertisements
Posted in Booking Through Thursday, Books Read | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wishin’ and Hopin’ and Prayin’

There’s really only one book that made it onto my wish list recently. However, it probably has enough pages to count for three.

Under the Dome by Stephen King

This baby weighs in at a hefty 19lbs (I’m not sure about the paperback) and contains somewhere around 1500 pages. It would be perfect for my winter hibernation. Here’s the blurb;

King’s return to supernatural horror is uncomfortably bulky, formidably complex and irresistibly compelling. When the smalltown of Chester’s Mill, Maine, is surrounded by an invisible force field, the people inside must exert themselves to survive. The situation deteriorates rapidly due to the dome’s ecological effects and the machinations of Big Jim Rennie, an obscenely sanctimonious local politician and drug lord who likes the idea of having an isolated populace to dominate. Opposing him are footloose Iraq veteran Dale “Barbie” Barbara, newspaper editor Julia Shumway, a gaggle of teen skateboarders and others who want to solve the riddle of the dome. King handles the huge cast of characters masterfully but ruthlessly, forcing them to live (or not) with the consequences of hasty decisions. Readers will recognize themes and images from King’s earlier fiction, and while this novel doesn’t have the moral weight of, say, The Stand, nevertheless, it’s a nonstop thrill ride as well as a disturbing, moving meditation on our capacity for good and evil.

Fanfreakingtastic.

Posted in Wishin' and Hopin' and Prayin' | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Booking Through Thursday

Suggested by Barbara:

I’ve seen many bloggers say that what draws them to certain books or authors is good writing, and what causes them to stop reading a certain book or author is bad writing. What constitutes good writing and bad writing to you?

This is a question which definitely calls for some pondering. There are many facets to what constitutes good writing and what constitutes bad writing. For a book to have good writing it needs first of all to be grammatically and structurally correct. It probably goes without saying that if a book doesn’t follow the guidelines it can be practically unreadable. Beyond that, though, is up to interpretation. I think a book ought to be balanced. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given up on a book, only to be told later that it picks up in the second half. A good premise is a must. A book can’t ride on its premise alone, however. Believable dialogue and a plot which keeps the reader interested both go towards the creation of a piece of literature which is not only readable, but is good.

As for what constitutes bad writing? Cardboard characters, unrealistic dialogue and an inability to make me believe in the world the author has created.

Posted in Booking Through Thursday | Tagged , | Leave a comment

WWW Wednesdays, The Woman In White, and Fallen

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Right now I’m reading Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier. I’m only thirty pages in so I’ll reserve judgment for the moment. I’m still reading Twilight by Stephenie Meyer in Spanish. It is so slow moving, considering I have to look up twenty thousand words in the dictionary. Darn my thick head. Díos mío, I almost forgot, I’m also reading Fallen by Lauren Kate, but I’m giving up on that one for reasons explained later in this post.

What did you recently finish reading?

I just finished The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. My review can be found below. Go on, you know you want to check it out…

What do you think you’ll read next?

Probably For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Hemingway but my choice of books in English here in Mexico is quite limited.

And for the moment you’ve all been waiting for (or not, whatever)

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

I should say before I get started that I’m a lover of Victorian literature. I adore its subtle psychology and the society its literature attempts to represent. The colonialism of the time makes for an interesting influence, as well. Moreover, the Victorian era was an interesting time in terms of gender and sexuality, two themes which arise again and again in the literature of this period, especially in sensation novels. Due to this, I may be a  little biased in the favour of The Woman in White.

Firstly, the blurb from amazon.com;

Considered one of the first mystery novels, “The Woman in White” is Wilkie Collins’s epistolary novel that tells the tale of Walter Hartright, who encounters a woman all dressed in white on a moonlit road in Hampstead. Hartright helps the woman to find her way back to London. The woman warns him against an unnamed baronet and when they part he discovers that she may have escaped from an asylum. Hartright travels to Cumberland where he takes up as an art tutor and meets two half-sisters, Laura Fairlie and Marian Halcombe, who are somehow entangled with this mysterious “woman in white”.

One of my favorite things about this novel are the varying narrators. With this device, Collins is able to point out the biases of the different narrators. This is especially evident in the narrators’ impressions of the other characters. While one  may see the evil in one character, the other sees the good. This adds to the mystery of the book, as the reader can at times question their own impression of a certain character. And so, it is only when were are presented with all the hard facts can we begin to pass judgment on anyone within the novel. This device also prevents a certain monotony in the narration. A couple of the changes in narration not only further the plot, but provide comic relief. My only criticism about this is that the narrative voices aren’t distinctive enough.

The rights of women is a recurring theme within The Woman in White. Collins exposes the injustice of the legal system of the times towards the rights of women. The women are subject to the wishes, or at times indifference in the case of Mr. Fairlie, of the men in their lives. Marian Halcombe is a character who feels her own impotence against this force rather acutely. Often she tells the reader what she would have done were she not a woman. Incarceration in mental institutions is ultimately another way of taking away the voices of ‘difficult’ women. Again men, be them husbands, doctors, lawyers or uncles, control their finances, social standing, and bodies.

Throughout reading The Woman in White, I inevitably compared it to one of Collins’ other novels that I have read, The Moonstone. Ultimately, I thought this was the superior of the two novels, although I’m more interested in the themes of colonialism which are more present in the latter book.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Woman in White. Although it’s written in the usual Victorian flowery language, the suspense created by the history makes it easy to ignore if that’s not quite to your tastes. I recommend it.

Fallen by Lauren Kate

This is pretty rare for me, but I couldn’t finish this novel. I understand a lot of book bloggers love this book so I`ll try and be as delicate as possible ;). Just remember, this is only one person’s opinion.

The reason I’m not continuing with Fallen is the unbelievability of the novel. I know what some people might say, it’s a YA paranormal romance, it’s supposed to fantastical.  That’s true. However, I loved Twilight and Harry Potter knowing that little of  what’s between those pages is possible. Ms. Kate is just unable to create a fictional world in which I can lose myself and forget about the unbelievability of the story line, characters, and settings.

 

Posted in Books Read, WWW Wednesdays | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

October 2010 in Books and Teaser Tuesday

First things first, Teaser Tuesday!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This weeks Teaser comes from The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (yes, I’m still reading it. Almost done though!

He sat down on the side of the bed and he says to me, “Lizzie! I always told you that woman was a bad one- I always said she would end ill, and I’m afraid in my own mind that end has come already. (Page 488)

Scandal!

I also wanted to recap my month in reading. This month has been awfully slow for reading. But anyway,

Books Read

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson

I honestly couldn’t work out what all the fuss was about. An enjoyable read, nevertheless. I just couldn’t get myself to really care about the outcome.

 

 

 

 

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

My favorite book this month.

 

 

 

 

 

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Rather amusing. A fun, fast read.

 

 

 

 

 

Still Reading

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

I’m dying for the mystery to be solved. I should finish this today.

 

 

 

 

 

Crepúsculo por Stephenie Meyer

He estado leyendo esta novela por mucho tiempo. Es más fácil leerla en inglés pero necesito practicar mi español :(.

 

 

 

 

Fallen by Lauren Kate

I honestly don’t think I can read anymore of this. Maybe I’m too old for YA fiction. I love the cover, though.

Posted in Books Read, Teaser Tuesdays | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Musing Mondays

This week’s musing asks…

Do you have any special reading that you do as it gets closer to Christmas? If so, tell us about it! And, if not, tell us why not! ;)

I don’t do any Christmas related reading as the season approaches. I know this is shocking, but I don’t really like Christmas all that much. I know what you’re thinking, bah humbug and whatnot. I really do enjoy the day. I love spending time with my family, eating some good food and enjoying some even better wine. The whole preparation for it stresses me out, though. When they start putting out the Christmas decorations at Costco (in August?!? What’s that about, eh?) I get this knot in my stomach. For that reason I prefer to read something that helps me escape the craziness!

Posted in Musing Mondays | Tagged | 2 Comments

Wishin’ and Hopin’ and Prayin’

Probably like the majority of book bloggers out there, I have a monumental wish list when it come to books. Starting blogging hasn’t helped either because I keep on hearing about great reads from all the blogs I’m reading. Here are a small selection of the books most recently added to my list;

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Supposedly one of the best horror novels of the 20th century. In the same vein as Turn of the Screw.

 

 

 

 

 

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Human devouring plants? Count me in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

I can’t believe I only found out about this book yesterday (thank you blogger that I can’t remember!). Jeez, I guess I’m in the mood to be scared if I’m yearning for books like these.

Posted in Wishin' and Hopin' and Prayin' | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment