Recommend A Book to a GS friend

LRK

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I've read "Vilette", but I prefer "Shirley", that's my second favourite Charlotte Brontê - but I can definitely second humbaba's endorsement of "Vilette"; it's very well done, but darker than "Jane Eyre". The fact that I like "Shirley" more is due to personal preference - not quality. Also, I've read "The Proferssor" as well, which was actually her first novel - it's a slight work, and not up to par with her other books, but if one goes into it with temperate expectations, it's still worth reading.

So anyone here read Anne Brontë? "Agnes Grey" and "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall"? Both completely different, yet I like them both.
 

skatedreamer

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I've read Villette (ages ago) but not Shirley. Remember very little about it except that I liked it in spite of its being rather dark, as LRK mentioned. Still prefer Jane Eyre, though.

Haven't read Agnes Grey but can definitely recommend The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
 

anyanka

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Muriel Barberry's "The Elegance of the Hedgehog". It's a beautiful English translation, or you can read it in the original French, too!
 
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Also, I would be very happy if I could convince just one person to read Charlotte Bronte's novel VILLETTE. Bronte is so identified with JANE EYRE that most people don't seem to realize she wrote anything else. Anyway, VILLETE is a very wonderful, very looooong book and an interesting exploration of what it meant to be a creative, artistic woman in the Victorian era.

Humbaba, did your screen name come from the Epic of Gilgamesh? How cool.
 

louisa05

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After having recommended so many Victorians, wanted to mention something written a bit more recently. ;) Today's offering: The Voice at the Back Door by Elizabeth Spencer.

I had never heard of Spencer prior to running across the review linked below in Slate, an e-zine. What caught my eye was the reviewer's comment that he preferred Back Door to To Kill a Mockingbird. Since Mockingbird is on my all-time personal hit parade, I was intrigued (albeit somewhat incredulous, too :)).

Anyway, Spencer was a contemporary of Harper Lee's and came from a similar Southern background. In 1957, she received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for Back Door but didn't win. Lee, of course, did win the Pulitzer for Mockingbird in 1961. Both books deal with the same subject matter -- racial relations in the deep South prior to the Civil Rights movement. (I'm having trouble pinpointing the time period for Back Door :confused:, but it feels like it takes place a bit later than Mockingbird.)

As the Slate reviewer says, Back Door is "edgier and more ambivalent" than Mockingbird. Its characters are vivid, well-drawn and compelling, but they aren't as easily likable as Harper Lee's. Spencer's book lacks the charm and affectionate nostalgia of Mockingbird. She's telling an extraordinary story, but won't make you feel all warm and fuzzy. Instead, think bracing, astringent, and no-nonsense.

This isn't a criticism, though -- just a comparison. Although I'm not too far along in it yet, my gut tells me that it's going to be very rewarding. Definitely worth a read! And if you decide to pick it up, I'd love to "hear" your thoughts about it.



http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/..._of_short_stories_starting_over_reviewed.html

I've read To Kill a Mockingbird probably 22 times thanks to teaching it twice a year for ten years. I don't find it warm and fuzzy. If you read it deeply, it is not at all. It is a coming of age story in which we see two children learn that their world is not the innocent, just and fair place they believed it to be. The good does not win--Tom is convicted and ends up dead in spite of what Atticus does. And the Slate reviewer's summary is extremely simplistic. The Ewells, for example are not all depicted as ignorant and bad. Mayella Ewell is actually a sympathetic character and a closer reading reveals that she is just as much a victim of her father as Tom Robinson and, later, Jem. The other Ewell children are depicted as badly neglected and we are given no hope for them. The Slate writer strikes me as someone who has not revisited the book since not really reading it in high school.
 
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I've read To Kill a Mockingbird probably 22 times thanks to teaching it twice a year for ten years. I don't find it warm and fuzzy. If you read it deeply, it is not at all. It is a coming of age story in which we see two children learn that their world is not the innocent, just and fair place they believed it to be. The good does not win--Tom is convicted and ends up dead in spite of what Atticus does. And the Slate reviewer's summary is extremely simplistic. The Ewells, for example are not all depicted as ignorant and bad. Mayella Ewell is actually a sympathetic character and a closer reading reveals that she is just as much a victim of her father as Tom Robinson and, later, Jem. The other Ewell children are depicted as badly neglected and we are given no hope for them. The Slate writer strikes me as someone who has not revisited the book since not really reading it in high school.

Good point. That scene when the mob comes to the jail and Atticus is outside is scarcely a Hallmark moment. The coziness of the book stems from the child's-eye view of life--as author Susan Cooper pointed out, even World War II was exciting and upbeat in its way for children in England, because kids often see only their own context--but readers are also given an adult's awareness of the darkness through the subtlety of Lee's writing. When we see Tom Robinson stand up in court for the first time, with his withered arm, and it is plain that he couldn't possibly have attacked Mayella, we realize that the odds are against him from the start solely because the system is corrupt, and the eloquence of a lawyer isn't likely to even those odds.
 

LRK

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Talking about humour on the Mysteries thread reminded me of Richmal Crompton's William books. While I enjoyed them as a child, I enjoy them as much - if not more - as an adult, albeit in a somewhat different way.

"You see," said Jameson Jameson, "we're all human beings. That's a very important point. You must admit that we're all human beings?"
Jameson Jameson, aged nineteen and three-quarters, was very eloquent. He paused more for rhetorical effect than because he really needed confirmation on the point. His audience, all under nineteen, agreed hoarsely and unanimously.
They were all human beings. They admitted it.
 

E.A. Week

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I haven't read "Watership Down" - yet - but it is certainly something I want to get to. Did you know that, apparently, there is a sequel? "Tales from Watership Down".

I've actually read "Traveller" by him, the US Civil War as seen through the eyes of General Lee's horse - that may be more your cup of tea if "Shardik" (which I haven't read) didn't work for you. I really loved a children's book by him, though, "The Bureaucats", which I thought was a great deal of fun. (Note: I'm a cat fanatic, though, so anything with cats in it, and I'm predisposed towards it. :) )

If you can get hold of a copy, his "Girl in a Swing" is also excellent (creepy mystery/ ghost story/ love story).
 
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E.A. Week

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Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier. Probably my favorite book of all time. I've never seen a filmed adaptation that really does it justice. I first read it when I was twelve, and it shaped my reading tastes for the rest of my life. Every time I re-read it, I pick up on something new. Fantastic novel.
 

LRK

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Eleanor H Porter: "Pollyanna" (Re-read) - I really do enjoy reading a feel good book - it makes me feel good, and I enjoy feeling good.:) Actually, the glad game is harder than one could think - at least I found it so when as a child I was inspired by the book to try it. But then, being quick-tempered and irritable doesn't really help.;)

Mrs Snow had lived forty years, and for fifteen of those years she had been too busy wishing things were different to find much time to enjoy things as they were.

(I miss Olympia. She asked me to tell her what I thought of the book when I'd re-read it. I did reply, and I was pretty right in how I'd feel about it as it turns out - but I'd forgotten how funny it was!)
 

dorispulaski

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The humor in children's / young adults' books often is more appreciated by the adults in the reading audience.

I missed half of Marilla's jokes in "Anne of Green Gables" when I first read it as a ten year old. :laugh:
 

LRK

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The humor in children's / young adults' books often is more appreciated by the adults in the reading audience.

I missed half of Marilla's jokes in "Anne of Green Gables" when I first read it as a ten year old. :laugh:

I know - the same can be true of some children's programs. I used to love a program called "Fablernas värld" (the world of fables) as a child - and then I happened across an episode as an adult and thought... "Wow, this is really great - and funny!" (I now own the DVDs.:)) I think it's especially irony that tends to pass one by...
 

LRK

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Thomas Mann: I read the book in Swedish translation "Bergtagen" - the original German title is "Der Zauberberg" - and it has been translated into English as "The Magic Mountain".

Hans Castorp, feeling a tad under the weather, is sent to a Swiss mountainside sanatorium to recouperate. The visit was supposed to last three weeks - he ended up staying there... seven years.
 

LRK

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Anthony Trollope: "The Struggles of Brown, Jones and Robinson" - A new-to-me Trollope - one of the few last ones left to me. An ironic tale about how the ill-assorted trio of Brown, Jones and Robinson go into business together - and how it, eventually, all goes to heck in a handbasket. (Scarcely a spoiler, as George Robinson, the youngest member of the firm, tells us as much in the Preface.)

This is a new age (the 1850s), in which capital is no longer of any consequence - what matters is credit... and advertisement.

That necessty of having something to sell almost overcame Mr Brown in those days. 'What's the good of puttng down 5,000 Kolinski and Minx boas in the bill if we do not possess one in the shop?' he asked; 'we must have some if they're asked for.' He could not understand that for a first start effect is everything. If customers should want Kolinski Boas, Kolinski Boas would of course be forthcoming - to any number required; either Kolinski boas, or quasi-Kolinski, which in trade is admitted to be the same thing. When a man advertises that he has 40,000 new paletots, he does not mean that he has got that number packed up in a box. If required to do so, he will supply them to that extent - or to any further extent. A long row of figures in trade is but an elegant use of the superlative. If a tradesman can induce a lady to buy a diagonal Osnabruck cashmere shawl by telling her that he has 1,500 of them, who is injured? And if the shawl is not exactly a real diagonal Osnabruck cashmere, what harm is done as long as the lady gets the value for her money? And if she don't get the value for her money, whose fault is that? Isn't it a fair stand-up fight? And when she tries to buy for £4 a shaw that she thinks is worth about £8, isn't she dealing on the same principles hersef? If she be lucky enough to possess credit, the shawl is sent home wthout payment, and three years afterwards fifty percent is perhaps offered for settlement of the bill. It is a fair fight, and the ladies are very well able to take care of themselves.

A pleasant and amusing read for the already dedicated Trollope aficionado, I'm not sure I'd recommend it as much to someone who is just starting to get acquainted with him. And it probably is not the ideal first Trollope read - seeing how atypical it is to his other work. But, I enjoyed it. :)
 

LRK

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David Almond: "The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas"

Here's a question. How would you like it if someone in your house - your Uncle Ernie, for instance - decided to turn it into a fish-canning factory? How would you like it if there were buckets of pilchards and tubs of mackerel everywhere you looked? What if a shoal of sardines was swimming in the bath? What if your Uncle Ernie kept making more and more machines - machines for chopping the heads off, cutting the tails off, getting the guts out; machines for cleaning them, and boiling them and squashing them into cans? Can you imagine the racket? Can you picture the mess? And just think about the stink!
What if your Uncle Ernie's machines grew so big that they took over every room - your bedroom, for instance, so that you had to sleep in a cupboard? What if your Uncle Ernie said you couldn't go to school any more but had to stay at home to can the fish? Sounds good? Ah, but what if instead of going to school you had to start work every morning at six o'clock on the dot? And you got no holidays? And you never saw your old pals? Would you like that? Would you heck! Well, neither did Stanley Potts.
 

Kitt

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I just discovered Joyce Maynard. All I knew about her before is that when she was young she was the paramour of J. D. Salinger.

I read The Good Daughters and really liked it, so I might get her memoir and some of her other novels.
 

LRK

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Charlotte Brontë: "Jane Eyre" (Re-read) - This is one of my Absolute Favourites, and this was probably my fifth or sixth re-read (it would be more, doubtless, were it not for my very strict Reading Rules). This time my re-read was very leisurely, and I took my time through the book, savouring it. I loved doing doing so; but one character did not fare well from it. I was never a St John Rivers fan - but this time he managed to really get up my nose!
 

LRK

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Elizabeth von Arnim: "The Enchanted April" - Delightful, joyous, and happy-making.
 

LRK

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Wilkie Collins: "Miss or Mrs?" (re-read) - Victorian "sensation" fiction. This (Oxford University Press) edition includes three novellas: 'Miss or Mrs?', 'The Haunted Hotel' and 'The Guilty River'.
 
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