Do you remember a while ago I made a decision to focus on reading more classics this year? Well, I am definitely sticking to it, more or less. I am happy to announce that there are 7 classics of the 28 books I have read as on date. It seems to me that reading them is a lot simpler than reviewing classics.
Classics with little boys in them
This month on review shots I have picked up three classics that have little boys as one of their main characters. So let us get on with it shall we?
Little Lord Fauntleroy
Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Genre: Fiction – Children Classics
No. of Pages: 164
This rags to riches children classics revolves around Cedric and his family. His mother and the seven year old Cedric are one of those nice, kind and goody good people who barely make their ends meet in New York City. He is found to the inheritor to earldom in England and his newly found grandfather invites them back home. The grumpy, stubborn Earl already dislikes them even before he meets them.
How the charming boy turns the misanthropic grandfather around forms the rest of the story. I read Little Lord Fauntleroy as a part of the children’s classics challenge and surprisingly have never read it before.
It is always difficult to review a children’s book given that we are not the target audience. Despite that, I enjoyed this book and it would still be suitable for kids even in the current age.
Final thought: Clean and charming children’s tale
Recommended to: Children of 4-7 years old.
Turn of the Screw
Author: Henry James
Genre: Fiction – Classics Horror
No. of Pages: 131
This is one of the classic horror stories with a twist. When a young governess is given a chance to run a forlorn estate and teach two young and lovely children she decides to do her best. Troubles begin when the young boy is expelled from the school and she starts seeing a shadow man. Smitten by the master of the house and in an attempt to appear competent she decides to solve things by herself.
It appears that there are two dark creatures that want her innocent students and the estate’s haunting past makes it difficult for her to believe it is all her imagination. To make matters worst, the children seem to enjoy these visits and do not seem as innocent as she thought they were. How does she escape the nightmare and does she win in safe keeping the kids form the rest of the story.
I loved the ending that left things for the reader to decide if indeed the haunting was true or it is just an attention seeking behavior of the lonely and lovesick governess. The Turn of the Screw might be tedious read and frankly I was happy that it was a short story, I might have given up if it were any longer.
Final thought: Despite the intriguing story the writing seemed too tedious to enjoy
Recommended to: Classic and horror lovers
Author: Lois Lowry
Genre: Fiction – Classics, Fantasy
No. of Pages: 204
The Giver is set in a dystopian world where everyone is assigned a job that they are good at when they turn twelve. This perfect world is devoid of colors, emotions and free will. Except for Jonas, who is chosen as the Giver, the receiver of memories – basically the only one who can question anything in the society.
But when he realizes what people are denied in seeking this apparent utopia, Jonas has a change of mind, He is ready to give up his assigned family and his prestigious role in the society to have a real life. What happens further and did he escape his society forms the rest of the book.
I read The Giver as a part of the Banned book club and I was surprised on why it was banned. While I liked the premise of the book I didn’t end up loving it, like many of my friends did. I understand that this is just the first part of the Giver Quartet and that might be a reason why it was such an underwhelming read for me.
Final thought: Short novel with bits of sci-fi element to it.
Recommended to: Science fiction lovers
Have you read any of these books? What was the last classic you read recently? Do you push yourself to finish a classic even if you don’t enjoy it? Let us chat.
Today let us talk about a book that I have been raving about to everyone I know and their mother in the past few days. And it is a re-read too, which makes it a rarer thing, because most of my reread attempts end up badly for me. I would avoid rereading a loved book if I can help it for the same reason. And we are talking about The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.
About The Bell Jar
Book Name: The Bell Jar
Author: Sylvia Plath
Genre: Fiction – Classics, Literary, autobiography
Characters: Esther Greenwood, Mrs. Greenwood (her mother), Doreen, Jay Cee, Betsy, Constantin, Buddy Willard, Doctor Nolan, Mrs. Willard, Lenny Shepherd
Setting: Boston, Massachusetts, New York City, The United States of America
Plot summary of The Bell Jar
The Bell Jar is a semi autobiographical account of the author and her struggle with depression and suicide. Set in New York City’s 1950s before the big sexual revolution and the birth control pills, Esther works at a glamorous newspaper that takes her to the happening parties and galas. But she is lost between her worlds while her mind is on the execution of the Rosenbergs and ‘being burned alive’.
When she learns that she failed to receive the scholarship that she had been planning for all along, she falls into a bout of depression. The Bell Jar talks about her perspective as a college educated woman in a sexist world and later her struggle with her existential despair.
Between her stays in different mental asylums and the consequent electro-shock therapies, she spends her time writing a novel and planning her suicide. Can this poignant and bleak tale have a not-so-sad ending? You might be surprised if you read The Bell Jar!
Book review of The Bell Jar
I should start with saying ‘yes this book is depressing’ and you have to be prepared for that before you pick the book. In spite of having read it earlier, I was not ready for it when it hit me. It is not a long book but sure needed a bit of more of time than normally something of this size would have.
Esther’s disinterested narration felt so close to home that I had to stop more than once. She does not talk about her feelings at all but convincingly transfers her emotions to the reader.
The Bell Jar is much more than the foreshadowing of the author’s ill fate, it is a social commentary. At some point, her insanity made more sense to me than the current socio-political scenario.
Despite that fifty plus years that have passed since the book first came out, we still are chastising women for talking about their sexuality, and stigmatized about mental health issues. The conundrum of having to choose between career and having a family is somehow still a huge issue for woman of all ages. May be we have not moved ahead at all.
Things that worked for me
- I loved the poetical narration that changed pace so often, yet kept me hooked to it.
- Though the author does not introduce any character or even describe them, by the end of the book I felt like I knew each of them personally and I was trying to match them up with my real life counterparts.
- If you have been afflicted by suicidal thoughts or depression, or just the patriarchal world, you will totally relate to The Bell Jar.
- The book is full of quotes that I loved and kept highlighting until the end.
Things that may not work for you
- Being a semi-autobiography, it unsurprisingly is not plot oriented. So if you are looking for a fast paced story you might be disappointed.
- The Bell Jar deals with suicidal attempts, self harm, sexual abuse, depression and ill treatment of mental health patients. If these are your triggers, you SHOULD avoid this one.
I loved this book in spite of the melancholic emptiness it left me after I finished reading it. Though I liked The bell jar when I read it the first time, I ended loving it more, understanding it better, and relating to the author deeper during my second visit.
Well, if that is not the mark of a great book I don’t know what is. Just read it.
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Let us chat
Have you read The Bell Jar? Have you read her poems? Do share your recommendations other books that deal with suicide attempts, please. Let us talk.
The Woman in the Window is a book that everyone I know has read and reviewed already. So when my book club chose this one as our March BOTM I knew I had to read it. And having been focusing on the classics until now this year, I loved the chance of reading a contemporary thriller. So let us check how that turned out shall we?
About the book
Book Name: The Woman in the Window
Author: Finn A J
Genre: Fiction – Thriller
Characters: Dr. Anna, Ed and Olivia Fox, Alistair, Jane and Ethan Russell, Dr Fielding
Setting: New York, The USA
Dr. Anna Fox, a child psychologist suffering from agoraphobia, has not left her house for almost a year now. Her daily routine includes drinking a lot of wine while being highly medicated, watching retro movies and peeking into her neighbours’ house through their respective windows. Her life is fairly “usual” until the Russells move into her neighbourhood.
Soon they become her new obsession, especially their young son, Ethan. But when she sees something untoward happening at her nieghbours’ she has no grounds to report about it. How she proves that she did not hallucinate and finds out the culprit form the rest of the story in The Woman in the Window.
My initial thoughts
Though a little long winded in the first half of the book, The Woman in the Window kept me fully entertained. The author takes a lot of time to get us into her world but once you get past the draggy first 100 pages, the pace fastens and the book turns unputdownable.
If you have read as many thrillers as I have done or more, you will find the twists coming a mile away. Anna is not a protagonist that I liked or related to, but I think that is what the author was going for – an unreliable narrator with ‘the whole should I believe or not’ vibe. And maybe that is why there are a lot of comparison with the Girl on the Train, and rightly so.
Things that worked for me
- Despite the predictability, The Woman in the Window kept me hooked with its short chapters and fast pace (the second part).
- Like me if you had a special interest in the unreliable narrator category, you are in for a treat.
- There are quite a number of twists to keep the readers on their toes sprinkled all through the book.
Things that didn’t work for me
- As I already mentioned, The Woman in the Window is totally predictable and it takes quite a while for something to actually happen.
- I didn’t relate to any of the characters in the story, and the narrator was borderline annoying.
The Woman in the Window might be old wine in a new bottle but will keep you occupied in a pinch, and might even turn to be unputdownable. With the movie version coming before the end of the year, you might wanna read it already.
Let us chat
Have you read this one? Does predictability spoil the fun for you in a thriller? If not, what turns you off in a thriller? Let us talk.