Tag Archive for Victorian England

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: The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue

The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue I came across The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue while browsing through my local library’s online catalog, and then I happened to find a copy at the used bookstore the library runs nearby, so I bought it and dug right in. The story sounded interesting, about two women in Victorian England, good friends reunited after many years, but who are accused of having a romantic affair, the details of which are written in a sealed letter.

However, this description — which I’d read online somewhere — wasn’t actually what the book was about, which was confusing. The letter in question was actually only a minor element later on in the book, and the scandal was actually about one of the women — who is married — having an affair with a colleague of her husband’s, not about her and the other woman. There was a tiny detail about the latter possibility thrown in at the very end, but by then, it just frustrated me.

I really hate when a book is described — by others or the author — as something it ends up not becoming, or when a big emphasis is put on something that is actually not that significant in the book. Meet the expectations you’ve set up, or just get your story straight to begin with!