Tag Archive for Classics

Book Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula by Bram Stoker I’m pretty sure I read this back in high school, but as I started to read it just before Halloween, I realized I had completely forgotten everything about it. It has a good dose of creepy and thrilling elements, though it’s a bit plodding in parts, what with all the journal entries and exclamations of “oh, what brave men!” Some of the characters’ actions were a bit baffling, and they felt like they were written that way to fit in later plot points. (Why on earth would they keep Mina out of things, right after saying how great and smart she was, with her “man’s brain?” And then see what happened as a result!) That said, it’s still a good book, and a classic, at that.

Link: Huffington Post: 10 Forgotten Classics You Need To Read

Huffington Post: 10 Forgotten Classics You Need To Read

A great list of some nearly forgotten classic novels that you may not have heard of before.

Book Review: Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery I thought I’d read this once long ago, but reading it now, it felt very new to me. I remembered some parts of it, but others seemed completely unfamiliar. My only guess is that I confused memories of it with the TV adaptation which may have merged multiple books in the series.

Either way, it’s a lovely book, full of wonderful details of Avonlea and the people in it. Anne is quite an imaginative and chatty young girl, but it’s nice to see the world through her eyes. She sees beauty in the smallest things, something that becomes harder the older we get (at least for me).

Book Review: The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham I’ve only read one other book by W. Somerset Maugham — Cakes and Ale — and I didn’t realize that some of his other works were slightly more contemporary, including The Painted Veil. The story follows a young English couple who get married, despite their not really being a loving couple, and then relocating to part of China, where the husband is going to work for the British government. The wife is the main focus though, and so we see her struggling with her marriage and this new life, and she eventually realizes just how selfish and uncaring she is.

The story was all right, but I had a hard time reading on, because I hated the main character so much. She was really quite a despicable character, very selfish and spoiled, and without any consideration for other people, especially her husband. I’d say it was an all right read, but I don’t really feel any urge to read other works by Maugham.

Book Review: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie I haven’t ever really read any mysteries, other than maybe one book by Mary Higgins Clark in high school (or is that suspense?). The notion of a reading a story that revolves around someone’s murder just seemed a bit too macabre for me, though I could see the detective work being interesting.

However, my interested was sparked recently when I watched a documentary about David Suchet traveling on the current Orient Express, in preparation for filming the “Murder on the Orient Express” episode of Poirot. They made various references to the plot, which I wasn’t really familiar with, other than knowing it was a classic. I decided to look for the book at the library, and then perhaps watch the TV version afterwards.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie was a quick read for me, mostly due to how smoothly the mostly conversational writing style flows. There were certainly details about the characters and situation, but in a way that painted the picture, rather than overdoing it, as other books can do.

The main character is Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgian detective, and we follow his travels as he tries to return to London from Syria. He ends up on the Orient Express along with a variety of other passengers, who all seem to draw his interest. The train gets stuck in snow in the mountains, and shortly after, the crew discovers that one of the passengers has been murdered.

Poirot takes on the case and gets right to work to figure out who is the murderer, and I liked following along and trying to guess who was to blame. I figured a few details out, but I definitely didn’t expect the way it turned out in the end, though I liked how it was done.

I would say that I definitely enjoyed this book, and plan to read more in the Poirot series that Christie wrote over the period of many years. I’ve seen a few of the TV episodes of Poirot, but not this one yet, so that’s on the list as well. I just hope that they’re not all about murders; it seems like there are many other kinds of mysteries that could need solving.

Book Review: Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh I don’t remember how I learned of Evelyn Waugh’s work, but last year I read Scoop, which I found to be a light and funny read. After that, I picked up a few other books by Waugh, and thought I’d finally read Brideshead Revisited, which is his first novel and the one he’s most known for. Unfortunately, I didn’t really enjoy reading it, and I wonder about all the hype I’ve heard about it.

Brideshead Revisited introduces us to Charles Ryder, following along as he looks back on different points in his life in England. Initially, we meet him during his military training during WWII, when he is temporarily stationed at Brideshead, an estate owned by the Flyte family. Charles looks back on how he first came to Brideshead after meeting Sebastian Flyte at Oxford. Among the strange students he meets, Sebastian stands out from the rest and they end up spending a great deal of time together. Charles ends up meeting the rest of the Flyte family, which isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially for how much their religion influences their relationships.

I think what really frustrated me was the way the story was told, not only in how it jumped back and forth in time, but more for how little the reader is shown. Initially, we look back on Charles’ time with Sebastian, but then later, we jump back to roughly the same time period to focus on Julia, Sebastian’s sister. Julia had been there before, in the background, so it seemed odd to separate them so much.

This separation wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t felt like I was already missing something from the start. From the way Charles described Sebastian, it sounded like he meant a great deal to him. But this was told to me, rather than being shown to me, so I really didn’t understand why Sebastian made such an impression on Charles. Maybe it was implied, like other things seemed to be, but I just didn’t understand the attachment to Sebastian, especially when he later developed a severe drinking problem. In a sense, I didn’t feel that I cared about him either way.

Despite Sebastian being so important, I was confused when it was almost entirely dropped from the story later on, with the focus moving almost entirely to Charles’ relationship with Julia. Apparently, Charles was in love with her before, but we aren’t told about this until much later. A lot of things felt tacked on later, or perhaps intentionally hidden the first time around, but it’s not done in an enjoyable way.

The book felt like it changed later on, showing a lot more than earlier, but by then, it felt too predictable. Perhaps this was because of how much was left out earlier on, but I was just glad for it to be wrapping up and returning to the present day. It just seemed like the last third of the book was a lot more interesting, so if the first two-thirds could have been equally interesting, I might have enjoyed reading it more. It wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t as good as I’d expected, at least from all I’d heard of it and the fact that multiple movie/mini-series have been made of it.