Monday, April 18, 2011

Lady Chatterley's Lover - DH Lawrence

lady chatterley's lover
dh lawrence
c. 1928
324 pages (154 pages read)
stopped reading 4/10/2011

read for: back to the classics challenge, page to screen challenge, penguin classics, 1001 books

*may contain spoilers*

Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically.

Only months after marrying Connie, Clifford Chatterley is wounded in the trenches of World War I. Though at first feeling pride in her duty to her husband, now paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair, Connie soon finds herself feeling stuck in a loveless marriage and a meaningless life. As Clifford pulls away from his wife, becoming more involved with his new housekeeper and his writing, Connie searches for her own fulfillment in the form of a relationship with her husband's gamekeeper.

I'm not really sure if she ever find fulfillment since I didn't finish it. Even though I have feelings of failure whenever I put down a book, I'm trying to get myself to quit books I'm really not enjoying so I'm not just dragging my feet and can move on to something more enjoyable.

Two things that made me put down the book...First, I really couldn't get behind the relationship between Lady C and the gamekeeper. It seemed really forced. Neither of them seemed to provide any reason for any sort of attraction or affection for the other, and I felt their relationship began very bizarrely, based more on convenience or lack of any other option. Maybe I'm wrong and an understanding of their motives for entering into such a relationship becomes more apparent if I keep reading, but I was put off by their initial love scene. This was a time of sexual and social revolution for women and in England especially, it was quite explosive. So I would have expected Lady C to be less passive in the process.

Second, I have trouble at times when novels are neither plot nor character driven, but are instead given over to the author's musings on a specific philosophical or social issue (in this case female sexuality). Some musing is fine, but I start to tune out significantly when ruminations so greatly take the place of active narration. I like action. To me, that's important, and I feel it can replace and enhance too much musing and can often better show (as opposed to tell) an author's thoughts on whatever issue it is (s)he's musing over. Wilkie Collins is a good example of this (and the first that popped into my head), using No Name as a commentary on the absurdity of inheritance laws.

Last of all, I discovered this is one of those texts where I'm much more interested in its history and influence than actually reading it. The obscenity trial in England in the 60s is pretty interesting.


As I read this in part for the Page to Screen Challenge, check back later for my review of the 1992 miniseries.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Music Mix Friday...Belinda Carlisle "Heaven is a Place on Earth"

I'm a little concerned about the closet she seems to be trapped in, but I'm diggin the glow in the dark globes.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Fourth Bear - Jasper Fforde

the fourth bear
jasper fforde
c. 2006
378 pages
completed 3/23/2011

read for: global challenge, tbr challenge

*may contain spoilers*

The little village of Obscurity is remarkable only for its unremarkableness.

Though they received recognition and praise for their work in the Humpty Dumpty murder, things are not going so well for Detective Inspector Jack Spratt, his partner Sergeant Mary Mary, and the rest of the gang at the Nursery Crimes Division. After some bad publicity for using children as live bait in an investigation, the NCD is overlooked when the Gingerbread Man, a psychopathic murderer, escapes from an institution for the criminally insane, and the case is handed over to another department, despite Jack being the arresting officer when the Gingerbread Man was first incarcerated. With no new cases thrown their way, the NCD begin investigating a missing persons case brought to them by an antagonistic reporter. His sister Goldilocks, an investigating journalist, has gone missing. Though at first they seem to be looking into some illegal porridge distribution, Jack can't seem to keep out of the Gingerbread Man's way and it's becoming more and more clear that the two cases have some kind of connection. If only Jack and Mary were allowed to investigate...

I've now read both books in the series and am eagerly awaiting the next one. I really enjoy all the random nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters (especially when they're just a name-drop that could really be easily missed such as the shout out to Bobby Shafto) and the world Jasper Fforde has created. It's not quite as awesome as Sondheim's Into the Woods, an incredible Broadway musical which explores what happens after "happily ever after," but it's close.

While reading, I did think at times there was a little too much going on without quite enough explanation. I remember thinking this during the first book too. I don't mean within the mystery, that I could follow pretty well, but just in the world itself. The politics regarding the social status of PDRs (Persons of Dubious Reality) and anthropomorphic bears could get a little confusing. Maybe some people would find the immense complexities Fforde is able to create an asset, but for me it detracted somewhat, however that could be just my own shortcoming.

Like the first of the series, I really enjoy the characters. Jack and Mary work so well together. And even the smaller characters are well fleshed out, especially those with folkloric backgrounds. It was exciting to see the way the famous foibles and characteristics manifested themselves, and to get explanations for plot holes in the original sources material (such as the disparate temperatures of the three bears' porridge). Though they initially really annoyed me, I ended up especially enjoying the inclusion if Punch and Judy. I really appreciate Fforde's inclusion of more obscure folklore references. I would have liked a little more time spent with Prometheus and Pandora, since there's obviously a history there. I'm interested to see where that will go. Maybe in the next one.

One last thing I just want to mention, and this is the only thing about the books that really annoys me. I don't like the little excerpts at the beginning of each chapter. They're like clippings from magazines and newspapers and history books (fictitious ones from the Nursery Crimes world) and for me, they add nothing. In fact, after the first few chapters, I just ignored them entirely.


Friday, April 1, 2011

By the end of April...

It's sad when it's only April 1 and you already know there's no way you're going to complete your challenges for the year. I always start out so ambitious, mostly because I refuse to accept how slow of a reader I am. Plus I'm easily distracted. I mentioned in my last review that I did just finish a quarter a few weeks ago so I had final papers and final exams to take up a lot of my time, but also so did watching Chuck and Psych with my sisters. The monthly lists are getting longer. Soon they'll be completely out of control...

To be Read by the End of April
Lady Chatterley's Lover - DH Lawrence
Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
Against Nature - Jori-Karl Huysmans
Mirror Mirror - Gregory Maguire
One Amazing Thing - Chitra Banejee
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
Slow Man - JM Coetzee
La Mort d'Arthur - Thomas Malory

To be read...

An Irish Country Doctor - Patrick Taylor
The Watery Part of the World - Michael Parker
The Personal History of Rachel DuPree - Ann Weisgarber
The Love of My Youth - Mary Gordan
A Long Time Ago and Essentially True - Brigid Pasulka
The Four Mrs. Bradwells - Meg Waite Clayton
The Peach Keeper - Sarah Addison Allen
The Judge and His Hangman - Friedrich Durrenmatt
Blood Work - Holly Tucker
The Report - Jessica Francis Kane
Portrait of an Unknown Woman - Vanora Bennett
Black Bird - Michel Basilieres
The Girl in the Blue Beret - Bobbie Ann Mason
Galore - Michael Crummery
Queen Hereafter - Susan Fraser King
The Midwife of Venice - Roberta Rich
Deliverance from Evil - Francis Hill
My Most Excellent Year - Steve Kluger
A Man Lay Dead - Ngaio Marsh (series)
False Mermaid - Erin Hart (3rd in a series)

18 new books and 2 new series. And the list goes on...