As I approach my 7-year blogging anniversary, I’ve been looking at some of the old reviews I posted. A lot of them are pretty short, with limited plot descriptions, and mostly my opnions. I’d love to go back and beef them up a bit, but I think I’d have to re-read the books before I did that. So today I’m just going to share three short reviews of books I liked, but didn’t say too much about!
Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca is a great example of excellent and timeless writing. Daphne du Maurier’s story is suspenseful with plenty of well-thought out characters who give us a look into the life of the old English elite. How does a young bride find her place at the Manderley mansion as the second Mrs. de Winter? We watch as she stumbles through her early weeks at Manderley and tries to acquire Rebecca’s grace, please her husband, and earn the respect of the household staff and Maxim’s friends and family. All the while staying far away from the menacing Mrs. Danvers. The plot develops into an exciting twist of events that keep you reading enthusiastically straight to the finish.
Mr. and Mrs. de Winter are very busy and keep to an active schedule, but it is all leisure. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the lavish tea-times. How funny to think of people living this way!
Little Bird of Heaven
Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates is an excellent writer and does a great job pulling you into this story of a murdered woman and two families that fall apart. I think she shows just how complicated and destructive family relationships can be. What I think is most interesting is how Oates’ main characters still cling to the idea of family, despite their estrangement.
I have seen criticism of her writing style, saying it’s too repetitive and rambling. In this story, I think maybe she’s trying to show the way her characters are processing their thoughts and trying to cope by repeating themselves, a very human behavior.
I was a little frustrated with the ending, not quite believing that Krissy would be satisfied with what is revealed. I also did not fully buy into the attraction between Krissy and Aaron.
This is not a nice story. It’s often twisted, ugly, violent and depressing. But I liked it anyway because it made me think about and cheer for the characters, hoping they would find a way to happiness. It’s a hard read, though, and now I want to read something to make me laugh.
Oates can be difficult to read because of her intensity, but I appreciate the depth of her characters and I always come back for more.
The Sun Also Rises
In The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway describes aimless, jaded and wounded characters and their efforts to numb these feelings of emptiness by leading idle lives of excess. Hemingway’s great talent is that he shows these complicated emotions with his classic clean and simple writing style.
There are endless back and forth exchanges between the narrator Jake Barnes, Robert Cohn, Lady Brett Ashley, Mike Campbell and the people they meet in Paris and in Pamplona. Hemingway tells his story through these seemingly insignificant conversations and Jake’s narration where we discover important things about each character. We learn how Jake is still struggling to accept his war injury and understand his relationship with Brett. We see how Robert Cohn becomes more and more shunned as he pursues Brett. And with every one of Brett’s reckless relationships with the men who surround her, particularly Mike and the bullfighter Pedro Romero, we discover her own feelings of a lost life.
I particularly liked how Hemingway took his description of Cohn on the very first page of the book and directly tied it to Cohn’s exploding temper in Pamplona. I saw hope in Jake’s bitter-sweet relationship with Brett despite the overwhelmingly hopeless theme of the story.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think?
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