Sunday, November 27, 2016

Booksgiving Tag

I saw this first at Zezee With Books and she got it from booktuber SophiesSeries. Since I didn’t do anything for Thanksgiving on my blog – well, now I am.

Characters from Literature at your Thanksgiving Meal

The Wrangler/Savior
What character would be most likely to chase after a turkey and what character would be most likely to save it?

Chase after a turkey – as in hunt it down to kill it right? That would be Sophie’s father from Tom Jones, though I don’t believe turkeys are found in Jolly Ole England.

Most likely to spare the bird? I can’t think of anyone that quite fits this bill, so I’ll go with Melanie from Gone with the Wind, as she is one of the sweetest, gentlest characters I’ve read.

The Drama King/Queen
What book character would be most likely to start an argument at the table?

Swede’s daughter Merry from American Pastoral.

The Space Cadet
What character would accidentally set the oven on fire?

Might have to go back to Gone with the Wind – This time Scarlett. It could also be Dora, David’s first wife from David Copperfield.

The Loner
What character would most likely be a loner on Thanksgiving? (because, let’s face it, no one wants them there).

The one character from my reading that I want least at my Thanksgiving dinner is Caligula from I, Claudius. I’ll throw in Suaron from The Lord of the Rings as dishonorable mention.

The Perfectionist
What character would be too preoccupied making sure that everything at the event is absolutely PERFECT?

Only because she was planning a dinner party in the novel, I’ll say Mrs. Dalloway. 

The Embarrassment
Which fictional character has a littleee too much (AKA a LOT) of the holiday spiced apple cocktail?

The Consul from Under the Volcano. Close second is any Hemingway main character. 

What book are you least thankful for this year?

What book are you MOST thankful for?

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. The Count of Monte Cristo seemed like the obvious choice at first, since I gave it 1/2 star more, but it was a reread and Atlas Shrugged was a new find. It is brilliant. Oddly enough, I’m now on my second ever Ayn Rand Novel, The Fountainhead, and I’m not loving it.

Name one random thing that you’re thankful for.

I’m thankful this was not called the Turkey Day book tag. Hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

He did not think of himself as a tourist...(Wednesday Quotation)

He did not think of himself as a tourist; he was a traveler. The difference is partly one of time, he would explain. Whereas the tourist generally hurries back home at the end of a few weeks or month, the traveler, belonging no more to one place than to the next, moves slowly, over periods of years, from one part of the earth to another. ~ Port Moresby from The Sheltering Sky

(and as always...Remember, it's a quotation - not a quote.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (74 down, 26 to go)

Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. ~ Pip

This is the second time I’ve read Great Expectations, the first being nearly 30 years ago. I’ve also read several other works by Dickens.

Great Expectations is a Victorian era novel and bildungsroman. It is the first-person narrative of Philip Pirrip commonly known as Pip. Pip is an orphan in mid-nineteenth century England. From humble beginnings, Pip comes into the promise of great expectations by an anonymous and mysterious benefactor.

I am a fan of Dickens, but this was one of my least favorite of his novels. However, my opinion improved quite a bit with this second reading. I am incredulous that it should be ranked ahead of A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens' greatest work in my opinion, but still, I found Great Expectations quite captivating.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel satisfies item #11, a Classic you read in school, of the 2016 Back to the Classics Challenge.

Pip is not your typical Dicken’s orphan. He is neither wretched nor forlorn, in fact, he is reasonably comfortable, living with his sister Georgianna and her husband Joe Gargery. Pip’s sister views him as a burden and herself a martyr. She is not tender or loving, but neither is she terribly harsh. Pip and Joe however, love each other tenderly and each, with the support of the other, abide tolerably well under the domineering Mrs. Joe. Joe is the village blacksmith, and Pip is destined to be apprenticed to him one day…until his fortune changes.

Before his fortune changes however, there are two significant events in Pip’s life. First, while wandering some marshes by his house, he chances upon an escaped convict, who compels Pip to help him, by stealing food and a file from home and bringing it to him. Pip complies, but manages to flee while the convict is filing at his shackles. A bit later, authorities arrive searching for two convicts. Pip and Joe witness the authorities capture the two convicts, and though the one recognizes Pip, he does not reveal that Pip assisted him.

The event seems to be behind and forgotten, but if you know anything of Dickens – you know it likely has some import to be revealed later.

Sometime later, Pip is asked to visit an elderly woman of the village. The exact purpose of his visit is unclear, but it seems she wants a youthful presence or diversion in her unhappy home. Miss Havisham is wealthy and reclusive. Upon visiting, Pip discovers she is also eccentric and bitter over a jilted marriage. She spends all day, every day, in her wedding dress, never allows a ray of sunlight into the house, and has left everything in the house the way it was decades earlier on the day that was to have been her wedding day.

She’s sort of nuts.

She also has an adopted daughter Estella, who is pretty, about Pip’s age, and completely aloof to Pip or anyone else. Notwithstanding – well you already know – Pip is infatuated, hopelessly and miserably infatuated. Miss Havisham makes Pip a regular visitor and revels in watching Estella wound Pip. In fact, she encourages him.
Love her, love her, love her! If she favors you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces – and as it gets older and stronger it will tear deeper – love her, love her, love her!


Pip considering Miss Havisham’s words

She said the word often enough, and there could be no doubt that she meant to say it; but if the often repeated word had been hate instead of love – despair – revenge – dire death – it could not have sounded from her lips more like a curse. 

But then, as I’ve mentioned, Pip’s fortunes change. He is contacted by a lawyer, Mr. Jangles, representing an anonymous client who confers upon Pip “great expectations”. The benefactor intends for Pip to be a gentleman, so besides fine clothes, Pip is wanting an education. Arrangements are made for him to move to London for such refinement.

Pip is on his way up in the world, and the reader would feel very happy for him, but Pip is forgetful and even embarrassed by his former life, and even of dear Joe. The reader is embarrassed for Pip and his unfaithfulness, and indeed Pip, who is narrating his story reminiscent, also admits more than embarrassment, but sincere shame for his conduct.

You might also guess, that as Pip becomes a gentleman, Estella becomes a lady and a peerless beauty pursued by Pip and every other single gentleman who meets her.

And there I will leave it. There are more changes of fortune, some dear friends, bitter enemies, intrigues, adventures, ironies, and surprise twists.

The ending quite surprised me. I remembered it ending entirely differently. It was much more satisfying this time. I learned it is an alternate ending. The original ends dismally, this version the later alternate, ends hopefully.

Film Rendition: 2012 version starring Jeremy Irvine as Pip and Holliday Grainger as Estella is faithful to the book, well cast, well portrayed. I’m usually not a fan of film adaptations of Dickens, but this was quite good. Ralph Fiennes was perfect as Magwitch.