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Search tags: The-Royals-made-me-do-it
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review 2015-07-30 00:27
Fathers & Sons
Fathers and Sons - Ivan Turgenev,Richard Freeborn

When I'm drawing a blank about what I want to say in my space about a book, I go take a stroll through my highlights for inspiration.


No inspiration was found this time around! Funnily enough, what I did notice was that when taken in quotes, this book feels quite heavy - when, on the whole, it was very readable.


I had trouble connecting with any one character though I probably most enjoyed Nikolai. His inappropriate love for the servant girl, adoration of his son, and desire to do good by his freed farmers sort of grounds him among the rest of the cast who were quite focused on their own sphere.


Of speaking of the young 'nihilists' or 'the sons', Nikolai says:


'Do you know what I was reminded of, brother? I once had a dispute with our poor mother; she stormed, and wouldn't listen to me. At last I said to her, "Of course, you can't understand me; we belong," I said, "to two different generations." She was dreadfully offended, while I thought, "There's no help for it. It's a bitter pill, but she has to swallow it." You see, now, our turn has come, and our successors can say to us, "You are not of our generation; swallow your pill."

And shortly later, regarding the 'fathers':


'My brother says we are right,' he thought, 'and apart from all vanity, I do think myself that they are further from the truth than we are, though at the same time I feel there is something behind them we have not got, some superiority over us.... Is it youth? No; not only youth. Doesn't their superiority consist in there being fewer traces of the slaveowner in them than in us?'


Which, I think is my takeaway thought. Every generation has to come to grips with the mistakes they make while juggling the solutions to the previous lots mistakes.  Wisdom is gained, not gifted. Taking stock in what we believe to be the truth should be done with an open mind - sometimes tradition wins and should win. But not always. In a book that is in essence about generational gaps, Nikolai was who I felt I'd personally relate to.


Overall, it was very fine to watch Arkady part from the discipleship of Bazarov, our principle nihilist,  and forge his own path, one that leads to love and happiness. 


The irony of Anna not being able to feel, while Bazarov who feels a great deal though he doesn't believe in feeling, was not lost on me. This experience of heartbreak did a big fat load of nothing to help Bazarov become a something other than an ass.


Which is unfortunate, because his own father speaks so lovingly of him:


"He is averse to every kind of demonstration of feeling; many people even find fault with him for such firmness of character, and regard it as a proof of pride or lack of feeling, but men like him ought not to be judged by the common standard, ought they? And here, for example, many another fellow in his place would have been a constant drag on his parents; but he, would you believe it? has never from the day he was born taken a farthing more than he could help, that's God's truth!' And I don't only idolise him, Arkady Nikolaitch, I am proud of him, and the height of my ambition is that some day there will be the following lines in his biography: "The son of a simple army-doctor, who was, however, capable of divining his greatness betimes, and spared nothing for his education ..."' The old man's voice broke"


Which is why, in the end, I didn't feel a whole lot of gushing love for this book. Bazarov was not redeemed. And while I can understand the reality that few men of his caliber of egocentricity are redeemed, I still don't have to like it.


Still, that aside, I think there is a satisfactory outcome for all other characters and I'm glad I read it.




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text 2015-04-09 22:57
Miss Marjoribanks - Margaret Oliphant

I have entered the land of female tyrants - Lucilla is like a conglomeration of precocious Anne Shirley, self confident Mary Poppins,  and some ancient Pharoah King who expects hand fed grapes, stat.


But I'm starting to see that her 'ultimate aim in life' as a joke rather than an annoyance. ;)


 Reading with the Reading the Victorians Book Club

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review 2015-04-08 18:14
A Novel in Verse - a first for me...
Shakespeare Bats Cleanup - Ron Koertge

I went to vote last night, and my polling place just happens to be at my library.  I've been thinking about finding a baseball themed book since the fever has taken me yet again (Go Royals!), and so when I spied this on a display table, I grabbed for it like there was a run on the library and I was going to have to beat some people down for my check-outs.


I might have squeaked a little too because the cover was speaking to me.


It was an off day last night, meaning no baseball game to watch, so I sank into the couch and filled a little time reading this book.


This is a fast read, affecting, with a little touch of humor.  Fourteen year old Kevin, recently diagnosed and struggling with mono, finds he has a lot of time on his hands and very little energy - without school, his baseball team, and the flirtations of youth to keep him busy - he finds solace in journaling (and poetry) to help him deal with loneliness and a recent loss.


There is an obvious ploy to encourage the exploration of poetry and teach a little too, and while this may have somewhat distracted from the story, it is forgiven as a worthy cause. And I learned a thing or two or seven.


I really enjoyed it and hope to find a copy for our home library.



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review 2015-03-20 15:33
The one where I reference R&B and the Bible in a Thomas Hardy review...
Far from the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy,Shannon Russell,Rosemarie Morgan

First, a little theme music courtesy of American R & B singer, Doris Troy:

Just one look and I fell so hard
In love with you, oh-oh, oh-oh
I found out how good it feels
To have your love, oh-oh, oh-oh
Say you will, will be mine
Forever and always, oh-oh, oh-oh
Just one look and I knew
That you were my only one
Oh oh-oh oh!

I thought I was dreamin' but I was wrong, yeah, yeah, yeah
Oh, but-a, I'm gonna keep on schemin'
Till I can a-make you, make you my own!

So you see, I really care
Without you I'm nothin', oh-oh, oh-oh
Just one look and I know
I'll get you someday, oh-oh, oh-oh

Just one look, that's all it took
Just one look, that's all it took
Just one look, that's all it took

Of course, you might also know that song as it was covered by The Hollies & Linda Ronstadt, among others...but I digress. This theme song is appropriate for this tale.


After reading Far from the Madding Crowd, I thought to write a semi-serious review. It is a classic, after all, and all classics require seriousness. Right? That's what I was taught in school anyway, when they forced me to read such wonderful stories as The Scarlet Letter, The Jungle, The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men, (the list goes on...), thus showing me that classics should all be avoided if you don't want to fall into a pit of depression.




I'm sorry to say that I just don't have it in me.


On the onset, I drew a very obvious parallel between Bathsheba Everdene and King David's Bathsheba, where just one look was all it took for the good king to succumb to temptation and lust and desire. And we all know that story and how it ended for Bathsheba's husband.


Not good, my friends.


So, for most of the book, I just had to accept that Bathsheba's beauty caused men to lose their minds. Which, honestly, is a poor way to paint a love story.


To be fair, there was an effort on Hardy's part to show Bathsheba as an intelligent and independent woman, and I suppose that at the heart of it, any woman who would take over a farm and act as her own bailiff during this time period is, undoubtedly, intelligent and independent. But I also found her to be silly, impulsive and thoughtless - hardly stunning qualities.


Even with this picture of Bathsheba, I did enjoy the story. There were some very amusing chapters (The Malthouse being a favorite of mine), intermingled with some dull-as-spoons chapters (The Sheep Fair), but overall I wanted to turn the pages and see what would happen with these men and their unbridled love of a single woman.


After finishing, my gut was to go with three stars for this one. I labored through so many descriptions of leaves and barns and fairs that it dampened my enthusiasm, but upon reflection, I really did see some spectacularly nuanced writing - particularly around Boldwood's character, which made me reconsider.


Now, for some spoiler-y thoughts and reflections...


When Bathsheba's sheep where laying dying in the field after eating the clover, I cheered aloud when Oak sent back a message to Bathsheba to ask him nicely to come help her.


And while on that subject, I had no idea why her sheep were dying. I live in the mid-west where cattle reign on high (not to mention I live in the suburbs), and know nothing about sheep. My assumption was that they overate - or gorged on young clover that gave them deadly gas? As horrible as it was intended, it was nearly comical truth be told.


Bathsheba's beauty even drove her a bit crazy I think. When she rails at Liddy and Liddy tells her that she'll not be railed at, I also cheered.


I basically cheered anytime someone gave Bathsheba the finger.


Oh, and why, oh why, could we not get an additional chapter of Oak and Bathsheba's courtship? Some of that banter? I really wanted Oak to say, at the end when Bathsheba came to his home, that he was waiting on her to come to him as it was HER TURN to give in a little. It opened with Oak, I knew it would close with Oak, I just wanted more of it.



(spoiler show)



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text 2015-01-20 22:44
The Scarlet Pimpernel - Emmuska Orczy

The guillotine haunts me.

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