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review 2018-12-16 19:17
[REVIEW] Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson
Miss Buncle's Book - D.E. Stevenson

Surprisingly delightful and fun read populated with lovely (and some hateful) characters. It was very slow at the beginning, the jumping back and forth between different perspectives in the same chapter made me dizzy. Then it picked up the pace along with the tension. There were times where I wanted to skip ahead because I was so frightened of what might happen to poor Barbara 

but no need to worry because it all ends well for her and for many characters that we warm up to.

(spoiler show)


Overall, this book kept me happy, amused and fairly distracted.

 

 

Reading progress notes

 

12% - This is nice but a little slow. Having a hard time with the violent perspective jumps, lol.
 
36% - Still moving along albeit slowly. It is picking up the pace just a tad.
 
53% - Damn it, Dr. John. I was about to say that I liked you but then you said that the book had to be written by 'a very simple-minded person--a woman' and now I want to smack the crap out of you.
 
75% - I think Sally might be my favorite.
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review 2018-12-14 08:39
WWI Front Line: "The Dark Lantern" by Henry Williamson
Dark Lantern (Pocket Classics) - David Fine,Henry Williamson



(Original Review, 1981-05-05)


The best fictional writing about the First World War is a series of novels written by Henry Williamson. In a long fictional cycle with the overall title of "A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight" there are 5 novels that deal with the period 1914 - 1918.

These are: “How Dear is Life”, “A Fox under My Cloak”, “The Golden Virgin”, “Love and the Loveless”, “A Test to Destruction.”

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-12-12 14:15
24 Festive Tasks: Door 6 - International Day for Tolerance, Book
A Very French Christmas: The Greatest French Holiday Stories of All Time - Jean-Philippe Blondel,Dominique Fabre,Alphonse Daudet,Irène Némirovsky,Guy de Maupassant,Jean Brassard

 

An anthology of French Christmas short stories, from 19th century classics to contemporary, up to and including stories published in 2017.  "Nobody does Christmas like the French" is, of course, monumental sales hyperbole (and that's not even taking into account the ubiquitous non-French usual suspects like Dickens's Christmas Carol and E.T.A. Hoffmann's Nutcracker), but the stories included are enjoyable enough, even if (on balance) a bit on the preachy side.

 

Since several of these stories are set in Paris, I'm using this as my book for the 24 Festive Tasks - International Day for Tolerance square.  Since one of the anthologized stories is by Irène Némirovsky, I'm also using it for the "N" square of the Women Writers Bingo.

 

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review 2018-12-10 03:06
Howard End by E.M. Forster
Howards End - E.M. Forster

These days I often find myself appreciating classics more than contemporary fiction – but not all classics; there are still books whose quality doesn’t quite live up to their reputation. This is one of those.

Set in early 20th century England, this book follows the adventures of Margaret and her younger sister Helen; these two are certainly appealing characters to a modern audience, being intelligent, thoughtful, socially-conscious youngish women who inherited sufficient funds from their now-deceased parents to live independently and comfortably for life. So they travel and enjoy social and intellectual pursuits and worry about what they should be doing for those less fortunate than themselves. Their liberal guilt is dramatized through two families they encounter: the wealthy Wilcoxes, a sporty family whose focus on their own financial interests lives little room for even basic politeness to anyone else, and the lower-middle-class Leonard Bast, a clerk struggling on the edge of poverty, and his unfortunate wife.

It’s an interesting premise, and the issues of the role of money in people’s lives and of liberal guilt are fairly well-developed. It’s also a reasonably interesting portrayal of England before the First World War; the sisters’ father was German and the determination of both their German and English relatives that their own country is meant to rule the world is treated with gentle irony. Unfortunately, the first half of the book – after a strong opening – loses momentum fast and is almost entirely lacking in plot. Nothing much happens to these characters for a long time; Margaret, our protagonist, glides through the story without struggle; there’s nothing she needs or wants and doesn’t have. The true plot appears around the halfway point, but unfortunately so many character decisions lacked believability that I can’t say much for it in the end. Meanwhile, while some of the issues Margaret ponders remain interesting and relevant today, its philosophical maunderings often left me underwhelmed, and the ideas about the superiority of England haven’t aged well. The rest of my criticism contains a lot of SPOILERS, so beware.

The second half of the book rests on two big eyebrow-raising decisions, and the story finally wraps up with a third. Margaret receives a marriage proposal from Henry Wilcox, and the book never gives any particular reason that she should marry him, aside from the fact that he expresses a liking for her: he’s a smug, self-satisfied conservative old enough to be her father, who embraces self-serving platitudes on both gender and economic inequality and has a nasty tendency to use Margaret’s moments of weakness as evidence of the inferiority of all women. And in the single scene portraying their physical relationship, he leaves Margaret disappointed and confused. And then it turns out that his track record for fidelity is not great. Margaret doesn’t need Henry, yet she gives up her autonomy to be with him – why?

Helen’s encounter with Leonard is equally baffling: she’s presumably a virgin, living in a society where women who have premarital sex are shunned; he’s probably never slept with anyone other than his wife, who is asleep in the next room at the time; he’s in awe of her as his benefactor, and he’s probably none too clean or well-fed; at no point in the story does there appear to be any romantic or sexual attraction between the two. And yet they have sex?

All of which leads to the final confrontation, which is believable enough – and then Forster skips right to the aftermath, perhaps knowing that tracing out these events would strain credibility too much. Helen decides to stay in England even though she’d enjoy more social acceptance in Germany; Henry abruptly loses all concern about Helen’s wayward behavior; Margaret’s magical influence apparently convinces everyone to live together happily every after. Um, okay.

So I didn’t really buy this one. The writing is fine, and many of the issues it raises are important and remain timely. But Forster’s plotting and ability to get the characters to the places where he needs them to be in a believable way left something to be desired.

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review 2018-12-05 05:18
Pride and Prejudice - Review
Pride and Prejudice (Manga Illustrated Classics) - Jane Austen,Shiei

Overall this book is boring. There's really nothing that happens except taking strolls, playing cards and having balls/parties. Of course there's talking, lots of talking.

That being said there's a lot here that modern romance and YA novels can learn here.

First of all Elizabeth (the MC) never doubts her beauty and it's Darcy making a snide remark about her that makes Lizzy hate Mr. Darcy.

Also here we have the male falling into basic "insta-love" after he sees Lizzy a few times. Her on the other hand is of course hating him as he is NOT making himself a good person.

Lizzy also is one to speak her mind and tell him off as well as his mother. She's not a shrinking violet that most female main characters are. She doesn't let people treat her as a doormat. Another thing to be taken from this book.

 

Now another thing is that after Lizzy reject Darcy';s marriage proposal, he doesn't keep harassing her to get a yes, that most books do. Nor does he do ONE good thing in saving her life that she suddenly likes him for. He actually works to build her trust back up.

Where he told Mr. Bingley to give up on Jane, he rectifies this by telling him the found truth. He helps Lydia out when she runs off with Wickman to "save her honour". He also discharges some of Wickmans debt so Lydia can live better. (They don't as both of them pretty much waste all thier money frivolously). It's also only after these things that Lizzy starts to like and then love Mr. Darcy. So a good half of the book she hates him.

Most of the love interests are assholes and remain assholes and we are supposed to love them for this.

Finally Lizzy gets to tell Darcy's mom off after she insults her and her family. Most modern MCs just roll over and take it. This also doesn't affect the way Mr. Darcy views Lizzy in any negative way.

 

The parts which should be left behind are of course the whole "women as property" and the "marriage for status". Also it says that Lizzy is "poor" but she has a few servants so we know she isn't that poor. Just a poor noble. Also there's talk about hos women are a certain way and of course Lydia running of with a man "ruins her" as if she was some object to be used. Also the fact that Lydia is 16 and Wickman is 25 is pretty gross.

Also there's no real plot to speak of other than talking and talking and more talking. The only point of this talking is to get the girls married. There's no real big thing. You can call this book a slice of life in that regard.

 

Overall there's a lot modern books can get from this book, but leave the past garbage in the past.

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