I finished 7 books in October, 5 for Bingo and 2 Netgalley selections. I made Blackout on Bingo, yay!
I enjoyed the Halloween Bingo very much. That's sayng something because I don't usually do challenges. I can't deal with the stress of my own obsessive nature and I'm not the world's fastest reader.
However, this one was of special interest since I've been in a Horror book phase and I love Halloween! Would I do it again? Quite probably next year. Will I do other Bingos or challenges? Mmmm.... maybe. Certainly not right away.
I enjoyed choosing the books to fill the squares, but the one downside is I'm a random reader and I felt constricted by my own commitment to read all the books I chose. I also felt a little guilty about neglecting Netgalley books.
On the up side, I read 6 Classics, most of which I've wanted to read for ages:
The Ghost Pirates by William Hope Hodgson
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde
Dracula by Bram Stoker
I learned that not all books with young protagonists suck:
Bloodfire by Helen Harper
Demoniac Dance by Jaq D. Hawkins
Willa Wicked by A.M. Hudson
The bottom one was a bit young for me, but I really enjoyed the other two. I also learned that I really don't like Cozy Mystery but I can enjoy a Mystery like Thorneyhold by Mary Stewart.
I read a couple of 'fun' books:
Goblin Tales by Jim Hines
It Was A Dark and Stormy Night by Snoopy
and enjoyed some lesser known author Horror:
Hell Bound by Andrew P. Weston
Letters to the Damned by Austin Crawley
Rise Headless and Ride by Richard Gleaves
A few of the reads didn't strike me enough to mention and I might have DNF'd them if they weren't for the challenge, but it gave me some discipline to go ahead and get through them.
Over all it was great fun and I thank the organizers once again for making it so fun! I even won a prize. :D
by Victor Hugo
This Classic was originally written in French and I've found that the translation does make a difference. I have a paperback copy from Penguin, translated by John Sturrock and my first impression was that the writing was very poetic, but I got the free Kindle version from Gutenberg with a different translator because it's easier for me to read on Kindle and in this one, the first chapters felt overly wordy and dragged a little.
I persisted though. I've seen various film versions of this story and didn't recognise most of the names I was reading until we finally meet Quasimodo in chapter five, followed by Esmerelda, though Gringoire who falls foul of the Paris underworld does make an appearance in the old 1939 black and white Charles Laughton version. From Quasimodo's introduction the story digressed into the history of Notre Dame Cathedral.
This one takes a little patience because there are many digressions. Life in fifteenth century Paris under Louis the XI, individual character histories and other commentaries on the times all come together to form a very thorough picture of the circumstances surrounding the familiar story line, but they do break continuity.
The extent to which Quasimodo's story intertwines with Esmerelda's was never fully expressed in the movies. I found the connections very interesting indeed! And Frollo was given a bit of undeserved bad press, especially by Disney. Movies require a villain and a priest immersed in austerity isn't a sympathetic character, but his reasons for adopting Quasimodo were based in charity, not obligation.
Quasimodo's back story is revealed in reverse, first showing us his experience with the Feast of Fools, then later revealing how he came to be ward of Frollo, and after that his origins and how he came into Frollo's path. Then later we move forward.
While the book would never get commercial publication in today's publishing market due to the extent of the digressions, the story is well told as a whole and the Classic enthusiast is likely to enjoy the fullness of the description and depiction of the time and place and how it shapes the events of the plot. I'm glad to have read it now and will look on film repeats with a more detailed knowledge of the whole of the story.
A worthwhile Classic, for those who have the patience to assimilate a fair bit of history between story events.
This is how I'm going to resist requesting Netgalley books.
The books listed on this post are all in my possession, either on Kindle or in hard copy. I've been dying to read them, but they keep getting delayed for review obligations. So, I'm going to look at this list whenever I'm tempted to request more books. Then I'm going to read them. I don't know how long it will take, but these are all 'next' after my current reads.
Once I've done that, I can start reading all the other books on my Kindle, like the massive collection of free ones that I might just reject and clear up space. But at least if I decide to read them after all, they won't put anymore delays on the A-list.
There are a few more on the list than pictured above. I may have to write out a comprehensive list.
I don’t know about you, but I think about obsessional crimes and stalking as modern phenomena, exacerbated by life in huge cities. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame demonstrates that there is truly nothing new under the sun. Victor Hugo wrote this tale of obsession in the 1800s. The gypsy girl, La Esmeralda, has the misfortune of attracting the obsessional gaze of two men, the archdeacon Claude Frollo and his protégé, the deformed bell-ringer of the cathedral, Quasimodo. She, in her turn, is fixated on handsome Captain Phoebus, who couldn’t care less about her although he is willing to take advantage of her when an opportunity presents itself.
None of these people actually know one another—they have only observed from afar and projected their own fantasies onto other people. Quasimodo has the most reason for his adoration of La Esmeralda—she brought him water while he was incapacitated at the pillory during an undeserved punishment. Earlier, we see La Esmeralda save Pierre Gringoire, the unsuccessful playwright, from hanging by accepting him as a temporary husband. Pierre is somewhat disappointed when he discovers that she intends a platonic relationship, but is sensible enough to appreciate that her kindness has spared his life.
La Esmeralda is presented as a kind, good person. But like many women, she finds herself the focus of unwanted male attention. We often think of stalking in relation to celebrity, but in reality many ordinary citizens find themselves the object of obsession of other “regular” people. A waitress may, by serving a cup of coffee, unwittingly launch an obsessive on a mission to “own” her. Having had a small brush with such behaviour myself, I have realized how startlingly easy it is to become involved in such situations. There are so many lonely people living in our cities, who are used to being ignored while resenting it. If your job requires you to be polite and helpful, these folks may misinterpret your intentions. The crumbs of attention that they receive from you may trigger that hunger for more, beginning something that you never meant to start and which you feel powerless to stop.
At the same time, La Esmeralda is guilty of a similar behaviour—she knows nothing about Phoebus except that he is handsome and wears a beautiful uniform. She is very young and it is like a young woman today becoming enamoured of a celebrity. Unlike many, La Esmeralda has the opportunity to meet her crush and is only prevented from consummating her desires by her stalker, Archdeacon Frollo.
None of this can end well. Modern instances of stalking are liable to end in death, either of the pursuer or the pursued. The HoND deals with these apparently timeless topics—I’m reminded of Shakespeare’s tragedies, especially Othello. Victor Hugo’s tale definitely deserves its reputation as classic literature.