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review 2018-11-30 21:03
Fun romp
The Scarlet Pimpernel - Emmuska Orczy

Very easy and fast read. It would have been the type of book I would have adored as a kid in that liminal space where high reading skills put you beyond children's books but maturity does not really afford you adult reads. So yeah, classic adventures for the win.

 

The devise of telling the story from the third limited of a character other than the Scarlet Pimpernel allows for a show of his BAMF qualities that would have sounded boastful otherwise, so that's another good bit.

 

Most of my gripe comes from the ever moronic woman (I'll leave the political and racial alone this time). We are constantly told she's the cleverest woman in Europe, but either that's a huge fail of informed quality, or the author was taking the mickey on it by drawing a contrast of what the world says of a characters intelligence vs what happens behind curtains of a person's life. Still, the fact that she's absolutely useless and most times an obstacle, continued to bother me. I thought the story would redeem her when she decides to go to France, that we would be shown her being resourceful and clever and see her save the day right alongside the Pimpernel. Hell, for a bit there I was prepared to be blown out of my mind by a turn of the XX century female author writing a woman saving the hero. Alas, no dice.

 

The other bit that is a bit weak (beyond several un-reveals, duh), is the constant over explaining. Orczy does an excellent job of showing the pieces so that you can puzzle it out. It is a pity she wastes pages and belittle her readers intelligence by spelling it all out yet again in expository dialogues and what not.

 

Anyway, if you are not nit-picking like I've been, it is good entertainment.

 

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review 2018-10-27 18:25
Since I'm not reading for spirituality's sake
The Divine Comedy - Eugenio Montale,Sandro Botticelli,Peter Armour,Dante Alighieri,Allen Mandelbaum

Done! *cheers* (and an abrupt end it was)

 

I confess I started to loose my enthusiasm by Purgatory, and Paradiso veritably dragged for me.

 

Inferno is indeed the most interesting, likely because it concentrates more on describing the poetic (and in many cases gruesome) justice inflicted there.

 

Purgatory gets a bit wishy washy because we are even more deluged with contemporary examples, which was exhausting from a "pausing to research WTF" whenever I needed context to understand the grade, and felt like self indulgent page bloating when I didn't. And then we get to Eden, pretty cavalcade of symbolism lead by the still much discussed mystery that is Matilda, and meet Beatriz. Ahhhh, the lady herself, that symbolizes theology. Maybe it is no wonder I found her supercilious and overly jealous.

 

I have to praise Dante's balls: first he aligns himself equal among Homer, Ovid and Virgil in that Limbo chat, and here he places his lady love highly enthroned in the Empireum, representing the Dogma by which he knows God.

 

If I could leave Paradiso just taking away that love has been his salvation and his way to heaven, we'd be good. But no, he had to insist on hammering until rigid conformity to scripture was reached. Thorough what felt like endless proselytizing (hey, I know it is my fault, because what was I expecting, right?) and pointing fingers of doom everywhere (the amount of eggs thrown the church's way! And his political enemies... you bet this got him the exile prophesied to him here).

 

Also, even considering some pretty descriptions, the spheres felt lame and boring reward (and here I'm reminded of Huxley calling happiness undramatic and boring, and Le Guin criticizing those that think "Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting"). Where is the imaginative poetic justice of the first third? Methinks Dante got too tangled in the discussion of virtues and splitting hairs on their display levels. So yeah, I get the whole "watching god and feeling his light is rapture beyond comprehension", I'm still contending that the theological got in the way of the literary, and there goes one star. Sue me.

 

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review 2018-10-21 06:10
Surprised me
The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Speare

I was not expecting to find such a flawed, three-dimensional cast and a sad grim tone in a short, children's book. I don't know why, really, since I've come across both of those separately often enough in them (Dark Materials, Little Princess) paired with the big questions too. Specially given the fact that I've been a heavy reader since my tweens, and a firm believer in that Cabal's quote "when I want to write something that I think adults will have trouble understanding, I write children books" (I'm paraphrasing, I don't have that good a memory, and she likely borrowed too).

 

Here is the deal: this was way dramatic than I expected. And when I say dramatic, I mean angst, grief, homesickness, the loneliness of being an outsider. Really sad. Also maddening.

 

It is maddening because human nature is maddening. And because everyone, MC included, are flawed people with some good qualities and reasonable ideals and opinions and stances, and some appallingly wrong mixed in, so even with the best intentions they rub the wrong way and clash, misunderstand, work at cross-purpose. And there is always a little bitch witch shit ready to hate.

 

It was an interesting read even before the context of publishing-time kicks in (though I suspect there were some interesting witch-hunt related things coming out then... wasn't The Crucible a contemporary of McCarthyism too?)

 

At any rate, it was a really good book (totally deserves those awards), and it ended all sweet, happy and neat.

 

Hey! I keep missing my read for making another bingo. At this point, I'm not even pretending to curve my mood-reading. (There is also the bit where there is no magic here, but I'll let the title excuse my being misled)

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review 2018-10-17 18:55
Guess who has a new favourite author?
Nights at the Circus - Angela Carter

This was bloody amazing!

 

The writing was gorgeous, the braided in stories colorful and as bizarre as you could expect, and even when at their most tragic, always running this underground hilarity out of sheer cynicism and pragmatic pizazz. All seasoned with a good dose of feminism and magical realism.

 

I laughed a lot, but it actually ran me through the whole gamut of emotions and I did not want it to end. Loved it, will read more by the author, and will buy whatever of hers I can find around here.

 

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review 2018-10-12 08:03
Par for course (it's Holmes by ACD)
The Valley of Fear - Arthur Conan Doyle

Despite never having read this one before, I called it soon enough.

 

Second part, as is par for course with Holmes novels MO, was a narration of the history (on a far place and piquant circumstances for the edifice of London society), spawning the issues at present. Was mislead nicely for a bit, but called too by the letter.

 

I have to say though that both instances were very gratifying conclusions.

 

The epilogue was an interesting partner to the third chapter in a way.

 

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