Tag Archive for Family

Book Review: Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

This is the first Gaskell book that I’ve read, but I’m not sure why I kept reading as long as I did, as it wasn’t really a very enjoyable book. It was overly long for having so little happen, and every little thing felt drawn out and it sometimes got a bit repetitive, due to all the overly detailed descriptions and build-up. And yet, there was still more to come, except that the author had died before writing the rest!

Beyond the length being an issue, the biggest problem was that the characters felt more like paper dolls than real people. It seemed like the author danced around really defining them, getting too caught up in the overly wordy writing style to make them seem like actual humans. A lot more telling than showing.

It also didn’t help to have the regular reminders that the story took place some years before it was written, though the author contradicted herself or dated things incorrectly on multiple occasions (as the included endnotes pointed out). Not to mention the annoying overuse of “tête-à-tête!”

Perhaps some of her other works are better written, but this one certainly hasn’t made a great initial impression on me, especially after having recently read works by Dickens and Trollope.

Book Review: Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya Von Bremzen

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing by Anya von Bremzen

Interesting at first, but it wasn’t quite the food memoir I was expecting from the descriptions. It was nice to have the historical context, but this often overtook the more interesting stuff about food and the author’s experiences and family, and I felt like I had to slog through a lot of dull history to get to the (dwindling) good stuff.

Book Review: To Let by John Galsworthy

The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy Maybe just a tiny bit less interesting than the previous book (which was a tiny bit interesting than the first), but still enough family drama to be intriguing and keep my reading.

Book Review: In Chancery by John Galsworthy

The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy A continuation of the Forsyte Chronicles, I think I liked this one a little bit less than The Man of Property, but it was still enjoyable. I missed some of the characters from the previous book, but there was still plenty of drama to keep things interesting. I do wish there were more of Irene’s perspective, rather than treating her as a thing of beauty and not a whole person (which I think was one of Virginia Woolf’s criticisms of these books).

This series continues to be a bit of a guilty pleasure, as it’s a rather richly done — and engrossing — soap opera. The historical tidbits interspersed throughout make it more interesting and help make the time period more vivid.

Book Review: The Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett

The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett I’m not sure why I kept reading through to the end (or very near it). It was slightly interesting at first, but then it just dragged on…and on… and on. I hoped it would pick up or do something to redeem itself later on, but it never really did. I only wish I’d stopped reading earlier on…

Book Review: The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka

The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka I really loved the author’s first book (A Long Long Time Ago and Essentially True), but this second book just didn’t do it for me.

I don’t tend to be drawn to modern stories, especially with sports as a theme, but I figured I’d just give this one a try. The book started off well enough, and the writing style felt familiar and was pleasant at first. It sort of lost that feel though, and with it went my interest. I never really became that attached to any of the characters, especially the main character Etto, who I liked less and less as I kept reading.

Beyond that, this book just felt a lot fluffier and less genuine than the author’s first. It didn’t feel like there was anything special to it, and eventually I just decided to stop reading.

Ah well.

Book Review: Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Bleak House by Charles Dickens Phew! I managed to finish the whole thing! I think this was the first Dickens novel I read in full, at least that I can recall, and it was quite an experience.

It’s a hefty tome, especially in terms of the often weighty language and cast of characters. (I wish I’d taken notes or had a list of who’s who to refer to as I read along. Though sometimes it seemed like there were only 30 people in England at this time, and they all knew each other.) I often had to reread passages to grasp was what going on, or go back to a previous chapter to remember if I’d seen a certain character before, and I’m sure I missed some clever coincidences or small events that played into the bigger story.

Despite all this, I did enjoy reading it, though I feel I’d need to reread the whole book to really see all that was going on, and to appreciate the writing more fully. Maybe someday.

Book Review: Selected Stories from Sholom Aleichem

Selected Stories from Sholom Aleichem I liked the writing style of these stories, and they were interesting in terms of where and who they focused on. But a lot of the stories didn’t really go anywhere and felt incomplete. Some were more like portraits of individual characters, but without a story. Others seemed to be heading to a climax, but then abruptly ended without any resolution. A bit of a mixed bag, really.

Book Review: The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon

The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon I didn’t realize this was by an author I’d tried to read before, but I figured I’d give it a try. The first chapter seemed really good, so I thought I’d keep going. It wasn’t as strong after that, but I thought it was ok, though I credit that to having been sleep-deprived. I got a good night’s sleep, and then I realized that this wasn’t the book for me. I didn’t like the characters, and the writing was so sappy and overly wordy. Just too annoying in so many ways.

Book Review: Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Newell Clark, Jr.

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune I have mixed feelings about this book. Some of the Clark family history was pretty interesting, but most of the focus on Huguette’s adult life was not so much. I felt a bit sad for this woman, who clearly did not cope with change (or life in general) in a very healthy way. Eventually it felt like I was just reading lists of high-end transactions (and all such a waste of money), and the court battle over her estate was bothersome, to say the least. Perhaps the book was just too long for what it covered; had it been shorter, it might have been more enjoyable.