Welcome to The Once Lost Wanderer. The name is derived from two poems: Amazing Grace by reformed slave trader John Newton, and All That is Gold Does Not Glitter by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite Book Blogs / Bookish websites

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

August 14, 2018: Top Ten Book Blogs / Bookish websites

The name is the description. I read mostly classics, so it’s a great place to meet other classics readers/bloggers. 

Well of course I had to list this one. Another good place to network with other bookish types. I especially like the “compare books” function to see how similar your reading tastes are to others on goodreads.

Because FREE BOOKS, as long as they are in the public domain, and since I read mostly classics, ie mostly old books, many of them are public domain, and therefore free. It’s free, but I make a donation once a year – they don’t bug me for it.

#4 Course Hero – but I’m linking to the Infographics page

Well, because I like the infographics

#5 OK, gonna stop there. Sorry. I’ve reached the point where I am tempted to start listing fellow bloggers, and there’s too many wonderful souls that I’ve connected with. I would hate to leave anyone out. Besides, one of my favorite blogs is there one day, gone the next. No telling. Some of you know who I’m talking about.


Monday, August 13, 2018

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (novel #107)

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known. ~ Sydney Carton

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. ~ Our Lord Jesus Christ

A Tale of Two Cities is unlike Dickens’ other novels: there is no humor, no caricatures, no amusing aptronyms, all characteristics I enjoy – and yet, for me – A Tale of Two Cities is Dickens’ greatest work.

I first read this in high school. I was one of the few who liked it. I was even teased a bit for liking it – I’ll gladly own that.

Before beginning this reread I wondered if, four decades later, it would be as powerful? if I would enjoy it quite so much? It was! I did!

In truth, this is my new #1 – The best novel I’ve read.

The setting is the two cities: London and Paris, in the years of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five leading up to and during the French Revolution.

Dickens’ prose is almost like poetry. He describes the passions that overwhelmed France in a way that was almost beautiful – though they were a bloody terror. He describes life in Britain going jolly well on, but with unspoken trepidation when news from across the channel was whispered in dark corners and back rooms.

         It was the best of times, 
         it was the worst of times…

The characters are believable, flawed, fearful, pitiable, passionate, and noble. The hero, except for one shining moment, is a perfect reprobate – and would tell you so himself. But oh! – that shining moment!
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done…

But it is not Dickens’ prose, nor his characters that are the great achievement of A Tale of Two Cities; it is the subject, the topic, the thesis…

Love, more precisely – The Greatest Love.

It’s a classic theme, one that has been used time and again, and I must be careful in my praise of Dickens, for although I believe he employed the time-honored motif with brilliant effect, he is not the original author. There is a much older book, that speaks more perfectly of sacrificial love.

Nonetheless, Bravo Mr. Dickens!

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this novel for The Classics Club Spin #18 (number 9, being the chosen number)

As I’ve already mentioned, this is the second time I’ve read A Tale of Two Cities and the sixth work of Dickens [A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers]. Admittedly, I have not yet read Bleak House, which along with David Copperfield and Great Expectations are more commonly held to be his greatest. I respectfully dissent. Have you read A Tale of Two Cities? Where does it fall in your estimation of Dickens’ works?

Other Excerpts:
The famous opening lines…
It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief
it was the epoch of incredulity
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair,

Mere messages in the earthly order or events had lately come to the English Crown and People, from a congress of British subjects in America:  which strange to relate, have proved more important to the human race than any communications yet received…

…the hangman, ever busy and ever worse than useless…

Recalled to life

…although Sydney Carton would never be a lion, he was an amazingly good jackal…

She looked so beautiful in the purity of her faith in this lost man, that her husband could have looked at her as she was for hours.

Above all, one hideous figure grew as familiar as if it had been before the general gaze from the foundations of the world – the figure of the sharp female La Guillotine.

I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die ~ the scripture that Sydney Carton recalled, from his youth, on the eve of his finest hour

Miss Pross was the family’s devoted friend, Miss Pross knew full well that Madame Defarge was the family’s malevolent enemy.

Miss Pross, with the vigorous tenacity of love, always so much stronger than hate, clasped her tight, and even lifted her from the floor in the struggle that they had.

I have been able to raise my thoughts to Him who was put to death, that we might have hope and comfort here today. ~ an innocent victim of la Guillotine 

Eye to eye, voice to voice, hand to hand, heart to heart, these two children of the Universal Mother, else so wide apart and differing, have come together on the dark highway, to repair home together, and to rest in her bosom.

Famous last line of a Tale of Two Cities
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Six Degrees of Separation: From Atonement to Jane Eyre

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly meme hosted by Kate @ Books Are My Favorite and Best.

This month’s chain begins with Atonement by Ian McEwan, a tale of a terrible injustice, and the main character’s nearly hopeless attempt to atone. The ending of this novel – well, there are two endings. The reader – this reader – was confused, then troubled, then satisfied, though imperfectly so.

Another novel with alternate, confusing, troubling, and imperfectly satisfying endings is The French Lieutenant’s Woman. It is the tale of a beautiful, intelligent, beguiling, manipulative, and yet somehow still likeable young woman.

Which is a pretty accurate description of Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair.

And Becky reminds me of Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind (rumor has it Becky was the inspiration for Scarlett, though I don’t think Margaret Mitchell ever confirmed this.)

And Scarlett in turn reminds me of Anna Karenina, perhaps partially because Vivien Leigh play both roles, but more importantly because both fall for unattainable men – and both to their own unhappiness.

Misplaced love leading to ruin and unhappiness, leads me to Emma of Madame Bovary.

And finally, by antithesis. Scarlett, Anna, and Emma all remind me of Jane Eyre, who also loved an unattainable man, but who refused to compromise her morality – and ultimately to her happiness and reward.

And that – is how you get from Atonement to Jane Eyre.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (novel #106)

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome

This is my first read of Three Men in a Boat, and the second work I've read by Jerome K. Jerome [Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow]

Three Men in a Boat is a comic novel and the first-person narrative of “J” and recounts the tale of a boating trip down the Thames with two friends, George and Harris…to say nothing of the dog Montmorency. I understand the book was originally intended to be a serious travel guide, and indeed it does include some genuine information about historical points along the route, but I got the distinct feeling that Jerome could not resist injecting his droll wit. It is a marvelous farce.

Pleasure boating on the Thames was all the rage, and the reader is quite aware that the three would-be boatmen – were not at all qualified – but rather chose the outing to be chic and sophisticated. They failed.

I was prepared to love this book, but to be honest, I was just a bit disappointed. I definitely prefer Jerome K. Jerome’s short stories or essays. Three Men in a Boat is funny, but not hilarious, enjoyable but not riveting.

A few excerpts to demonstrate Jerome’s signature prose dripping with sarcasm or oozing with satire.
When George is hanged, Harris will be the worst packer in this world 
I don’t know why it should be, I am sure; but the sight of another man asleep in bed when I am up, maddens me. 
People who have tried it, tell me that a clear conscience makes you very happy and contented; but a full stomach does the business quite as well, and is cheaper, and more easily obtained. 
…and I yearn for the good old days, when you could go about and tell people what you thought of them with a hatchet and a bow and arrows. 
It must have been worth while having a mere ordinary plague now and then in London to get rid of both the lawyers and the Parliament.

And a few excerpts to show the elegance of prose he can write with when he chooses.
From the dim woods on either bank, Night’s ghostly army, the grey shadows, creep out with noiseless tread to chase away the lingering rear-guard of the light, and pass, with noiseless unseen feet, above the waving river-grass, and through the sighing rushes; and Night, upon her somber throne, folds her black wings above the darkening world, and, from her phantom palace, lit by the pale stars, reigns in stillness.  
It was a glorious night. The moon had sunk, and left the quiet earth alone with the stars. It seemed as if, in the silence and the hush, while we her children slept, they were talking with her, their sister – conversing of mighty mysteries in voices too vast and deep for childish human ears to catch the sound.

My Rating: 3 ½ of 5 stars

This novel satisfies – Back to the Classics Challenge 2018 – Category: a classic travel or journey narrative.


Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Classics Club Spin #18

I’ve been a member of The Classics Club for years now, but I’ve never participated in a club spin – due to my self-imposed and inflexible reading schedule (My Quest).

But I completed My Quest last month, so it’s time I finally played along. If you don’t know how the spin works, check it out HERE – and ya know, join in, and/or join the club, because if you haven’t well…why not?

My 20 Classics for the Spin:

1. Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
2. The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
3. The Idiot by Dostoyevsky
4. Watership Down by Richard Adams
5. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
6. Candide by Voltaire
7. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
8. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
9. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
10. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
11. Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor
12. The Adventures of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
13. Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth
14. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
15. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
16. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
17. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
18. The Stranger by Albert Camus
19. Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens
20. Lost Horizon by James Hilton


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Top Ten Novellas / Short Stories - Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

July 17, 2018: Top Ten Novellas / Short Stories

#1  Easy – The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry

#2  The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

#3  The Story of the Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke 

#4  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

#5  The Adventure of the Speckled Band – by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Sherlock Holmes short story

#6  Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

#7  The Man Who was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton

#8  The Call of the Wild by Jack London

#9  The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

#10  Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

I have the short stories of Edger Allan Poe on my TBR, and I suspect there will be some in that collection that I'll want to put in this list...but for now, this is how it stands.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

A Fine and Pleasant Misery

A Fine and Pleasant Misery by Patrick F. McManus 

Is a collection of short stories by Patrick McManus that originally appeared in Outdoor Life and Field and Stream magazines.

In fact, that is exactly how I first encountered this marvelous American humorist – doctor’s waiting room, flipping through Outdoor Life, found an article at the very back with a funny title: They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They?

And I’ve been hooked ever since. McManus’ stories are all about his many misadventures in the Great Outdoors. He is self-effacing, droll, sarcastic, dry, and very funny.  

This particular collection is the first published of at least 14 collections, and introduces several of his recurring characters: Ma and Gramms, sister known affectionately as The Troll, dog Strange, and most importantly the curmudgeonly mountain man and mentor from Patrick’s youth Rancid Crabtree (Crazy Eddie Muldoon does not yet appear).

The stories with titles such as: The Modified Stationary Panic, Kid Camping, or How to Fish a Crick are ridiculous – and yet – there is something painfully relatable to any outdoorsman in most of these stories.

Just good clean fun. One of the few authors who has made me actually laugh out loud while reading. I used to read them out loud to my father and brothers, and sometimes we’d all be laughing so hard we’d be crying.

I just learned today, that Patrick McManus passed away just three months ago, April 11, 2018, age 84. Thanks Patrick for the laughs.