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review 2014-06-19 22:56
TBR Challenge - Seven Tears for Apollo
Seven Tears for Apollo - Phyllis A Whitney

This month’s TBR challenge, reading one of the classics, had me scratching my head for a little bit. Did I want to reach for one of those books that could be considered part of the romance canon(to the degree we have one), or did I want to pick a classic trope or author? In the end, I decided on Seven Tears for Apollo. When we start talking about old school romantic suspense or gothics online, certain names tend to pop up. Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Barbara Michaels – all have their fans. However, Phyllis Whitney is one of those names that seems to be mentioned almost as an afterthought.

I’ve read a few Phyllis Whitney novels, all historicals, and I did enjoy them. However, I had yet to read one of her contemporaries and so I gave this one a whirl. Written in 1962, it captures a world that for 21st century readers feels like a curious blend of old and new.

The spineless heroine drove me completely nuts at times, but otherwise I enjoyed this meander through 1960s Greece and I’d probably give it a B-.

 

This is a partial review. You can find the complete text at All About Romance.

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review 2014-01-14 00:00
In Love (Modern Romance Classics)
In Love (Modern Romance Classics) - Alfred Hayes via tumblr looks to be a fine specimen of self-pitying droll, to be read during self-reflection mood
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review 2013-06-07 00:00
The Blithedale Romance - Annette Kolodny,Nathaniel Hawthorne The Blithedale Romance is the story of Miles Coverdale and his summer living at the commune-like community of Blithedale Farm. They spend their days working on the small farm, hoping to realize the efforts of living simply without the involvement of society. He befriends three important characters, Hollingsworth, Zenobia, and Priscilla, and a love “square” develops. Hollingsworth is the natural leader of the community and greatly devoted to prison and criminal reform; Zenobia is wealthy and beautiful and unapologetically critical; Priscilla is gentle and mysterious. Miles cannot help but become intrigued by them, but he has promised to leave the farm at the end of the summer, as it is only an experiment for him.

The Blithedale Romance seems quite mundane for the first half of the novel. The commune isn’t very exciting and there isn’t any devil-worshiping or satanic rites or some strange mystery occurring. That was difficult to get out of my imaginative mind because of some recent movies I’ve seen and the fact I kept expecting some sort of Nancy Drew plotline with a secret staircase.

Much of the story is dialogue between Miles and other characters, so it is easy to become bored and wonder where Hawthorne is intending everything to go. Remember, the focus is on the romance, not on the farm, which I kept expecting the latter to be of more importance.

Everything exciting happens after Miles leaves the farm when the summer ends. I won’t go into it because of spoilers, but then it becomes a page turner and things are reveled about important characters. The Blithedale Romance essentially is a book that gives you everything at the end, and makes you want to go back and re-read the tedious beginning to see if there was anything you could have picked up on. Although these sorts of stories are always interesting, it is difficult to become invested if the beginning was such a snooze.
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review 2011-12-15 00:00
The Blithedale Romance - Annette Kolodny,Nathaniel Hawthorne the three stars are all for the consummate writing skill that hawthorne commands, but with this novel i've come to realize i don't really like his novels. i like his short stories, and i think he was attracted to that form, in his time a new one that he helped define in the US, because i feel he chafed against the conventions of the novel in his day. as with what i experienced in reading the house of the seven gables, the prose of the blithedale romance is dense, molasses thick, and while artful, a strain to my attention span.

even when the characters dialogue, it is work because their conversations are peppered with so much contemporary content without being contextualized -- the stuff about fournier here required more than any footnote provided in my edition, for example, i had to go do some serious research to understand the protagonist's allusion to him -- all he mentions is turning water into lemonade, not fournier's attitude toward open sexytimes which is what the other character hollingsworth, a religious conservative, is ostensibly responding to... i have to read all these words, and then do all this research to understand them? it made my brain hurt, but not in a good way.

and while i was happy to finally read about zenobia, a character name that has long haunted me, in the end, i just found it all very tiring. so i will continue to admire the hell out of hawthorne's abilities as a writer, and love his short stories, but i don't think i'm going to go out of my way to read any more of his novels. i think i'm too modern, and too impatient for them.
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review 2011-11-29 00:00
The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne,Nina Baym,Thomas E. Connolly While being a elegantly written and composed story the tale of a puritan society I believe was better told by Arthur Miller in his "The Crucible". It seems that Nathaniel Hawthorne tries to convey how the all pervasive power of stifling religion kills life, love and all pursuits of pleasure but he does it in an almost confused way. The ending in particular felt rather ambiguous in the context of the rest of the narrative. Was Hawthorne condemning a moral standard that would cast judgement upon such a woman as Hester or was he instead admitting that their 'love' as it were was greater than the onlooking judgement of such a puritan society.

I personally believe any super rigid form of lifestyle is negative. If there's no room for a person to grow then how can they truly live. I disagree in particular with the lifestyles of the Puritans and believe any such work focusing on their communities could serve, as with The Crucible, as a warning to avoid such strict religion. Because the Bible as I read it does not mention a life of virtual slavery to rules and regulations as the pinnacle of the Christian faith but rather reveals to me that life is meant to be lived in freedom. It is Pharisaical religion - puritanism - that binds itself to such strict lifestyles. In my view this novel while well written, and with an excellent plot, was simply too morally ambiguous.

Hawthorne clearly does criticize the religious institutions which would condemn Hester and her child to a life of constant despite. Yet at the same time he does not give an indication as to whether it was wrong for Hester to cheat upon her husband is it were. Perhaps some would say that this was due to the implications being that yes Hester did wrong but the members of the community did more wrong to her. I didn't read that implication in this work. Instead it came across to me that Hawthorne was confused about what truly was morally right in a way. Where I would state that all within the book were sinners Hawthorne attempted to divide up the characters into levels of guilt and I really don't believe in that.

Still would I recommend this story? Yes I would if for the sheer enjoyment of the language. However if you want a moral warning I would instead direct the audience to The Crucible - a far better warning in my mind. For in that play even the 'hero' recognizes himself a sinner.
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