Two great classics: Great Expectations and The House of Mirth

It seems that I’ve missed a whole month!  Where did January go?  I’ve not posted since the end of December – have you missed me?  Probably not…

My neglect has been bugging me, but honestly, I’ve not had the time to act on that niggle in the back of my mind.  I started a new job the week before Christmas, and new hours and a new location have meant that I haven’t been able to use my usual blogging time – i.e. on the train! – to write.  And I’ve not felt like putting my laptop on at home.  I look at a screen all day, and my evenings and weekends have become very precious to me.  The idea of using them to look at a computer for any longer, even to write, fills me with lethargy.

However, on Friday my first magazine at my new job went to print, and after a hectic few weeks I feel a bit more myself again!  I felt like a new start, and so thought a blogging update was in order.  I’m still following Savidge Reads and AJ Reads’ Classically Challenged, and reading along with them, but the reviews have been getting behind.  I was already behind on my reviews before I started my new job, and now my “to review” shelf is filling me with despair!  But I want my blog to be fun, not a chore (another reason why I haven’t forced myself to blog while I haven’t felt like it), so I thought that I could combine a little update with two short reviews in one.  Hopefully you won’t feel too short-changed! More


Book Review: The Warden by Anthony Trollope

The Warden by Anthony TrollopeMy mum has wanted me to read Trollope for years.  I’m not sure why I resisted the recommendation really, as she usually knows what I’ll like: she did introduce me to the wonderful Rebecca after all.  I think the idea I’d formed of what the Barchester Towers series would be about didn’t really appeal.  A load of books set in a church?  What’s really going to happen with a setting like that?  It seemed a bit too safe and quiet.


Book Review: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Persuasion by Jane AustenPersuasion was completed when Jane Austen was already a successful writer, and was published shortly before her death, aged 41, in 1817.  It’s her most romantic and best-loved novel, in the opinion of some, and her weakest and most mournful according to others.  It has a reputation for dividing her fans into one of these love/hate camps.

If you’ve read my Classically Challenged introductory post, you’ll know that I’ve already planted my feet squarely in the romantic camp.  I love Persuasion for so many reasons!  I’ll take you through a few of them…


Are you Classically Challenged?

Are you someone who reads a lot of classic novels?  Or someone who hated them at school and still can’t face a 19th century novel?  Or are you somewhere in the middle?  Maybe you’ve tried a few classics in the past and you’d quite like to read more, but you just never seem to get round to prioritising them over more modern literature?  Perhaps the thought of struggling through difficult language puts you off!

Wherever you fit in on the classics scale, you might be interested to know about a read-along which has been started up by Simon Savidge of Savidge Reads and AJ of AJ Reads called Classically Challenged!   More

Book Review: The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne

The Mysterious Island by Jules VerneJules Verne’s stories of science fiction adventure have acquired an almost legendary status.  I was aware of his reputation as an author with an uncanny knack for predicting the future, yet I’d never got round to reading a single one of his books until I tried The Mysterious Island.

Rather than being introduced to Verne through one of his best-loved works such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea or Journey to the Centre of the Earth, I must confess that I chose to download this one because it was a free ebook.  It also happened to tie in nicely with the escapism theme which I keep returning to recently: the idea of retreating to a peaceful spot in the middle of nowhere appealed to me.

In The Mysterious Island, the five main characters (and their dog) find themselves stranded on a small, undiscovered island in the South Pacific.  They are thousands of miles from civilisation and all other human contact, and they have no way of sending or going for help.  So the group set about making the best of what they have and embark on civilising the island.


Book Review: Hard Times by Charles Dickens


Hard Times by Charles Dickens

“I entertain a weak idea that the English people are as hard-worked as any people upon whom the sun shines.  I acknowledge to this ridiculous idiosyncrasy, as a reason why I would give them a little more play.”

In celebration of the great man’s 200th birthday on 7th February 2012, a diverse range of literary and other tributes are planned or have already taken place: Claire Tomalin’s new biography Charles Dickens: A Life has been well-received amidst much publicity; the BBC screened a lavish three-part adaptation of Great Expectations over Christmas; and many locations associated with Dickens, such as Rochester, have arranged commemorative festivities.  Oh, and my book group decided to read Hard Times, although unfortunately we’re not able to meet on the date itself.

Hard Times isn’t the first book which comes to mind when I think of Dickens, but it is considered to be one of his best judging by recent collections of his major works.  I actually found Hard Times a lot more accessible than some of his other more famous tomes, not just because it’s his shortest work at a mere 280-odd pages (depending on your edition).  More