The Thirty-Nine Steps

  
Title: The Thirty-Nine Steps

Author: John Buchan 

Published: 1915

Challenges: Reading the Twentieth Century, The Classics Club, TBR Pile 2015

Synopsis

Richard Hanney is just thinking about how boring is London life is and how he should leave when his upstairs neighbour appears seeking refuge.  This mysterious man has uncovered some kind of plot involving various governments and although he gives Hanney some hints, he largely keeps the plot to himself.  When this neighbour is then found murdered in Hanney’s flat, Hanney knows he must disappear for a while and try to find some way to warn the British Government of the plot.  He hotfoots it to Scotland with the police (who are after him for murder) and some Germans (who think Hanney knows all about their plot) hot on his trail.  His time in Scotland involves a wealth of adventure, from disguises and explosions to car crashes and finding some unlikely allies, Hanney is determined to do anything to ensure he stops this mysterious plot. 

My Thoughts

The Thirty-Nine Steps is a good old fashioned adventure.  Told from the perspective of Hanney, this is a simple and engaging narrative that is action packed but in a simplistic way.  That’s not an insult to the book, in fact it is compliment as I found this an easy and exciting read; you know the hero is going to be successful but it’s fun to read of his scraps and the challenges he faces.  It’s pure adventure escapism.

Published in 1915, I was surprised that there weren’t really any major comments on the war, at least not until the very end of the novel and that was just a passing sentence.  But then the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  The Thirty-Nine Steps was written at a time when Britain was slowly waking up to the reality of war so it makes perfect sense that this novel is old fashioned adventure and a tale where good overcomes evil; readers probably needed that.  And there are some ‘subtle’ hints at war and the German enemy.  The bad guys in The Thirty-Nine Steps are crafty Germans who are good at disguises and hoodwinking their enemies.  They are portrayed as lying tricksters who will stop at nothing to get what they want and they get their comeuppance.   

Overall this was a great read and one that I enjoyed much more than I expected.  I think I might hunt out some more of Buchan’s work. 


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A Room of One’s Own

  
Title: A Room of One’s Own

Author: Virginia Woolf

Published: 1929

Challenges: The Classics Club, Reading the Twentieth Century, Women’s Classic Literature

Synopsis

A Room of One’s Own is an extended essay by Virginia Woolf based on a lecture she gave at Girton College, Cambridge in 1928. In it she explores the life of women and fiction: how they have been portrayed; the struggles they have faced when writing; their style of writing and what they need in order to be a successful writer.  Woolf discusses famous nineteenth century writers, such as Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen, and their writing and goes on to discuss what would have happened if Shakespeare had a sister.  

My Thoughts

I added A Room of One’s Own to my Classics Club List earlier this year as I knew I wanted to re read it (I studied it at university and can remember sitting in my room in my second year house drinking copious amounts of tea and reading it in an afternoon).  When The Classics Club announced their Women’s Classic Literature event and various posts on Woolf and this work in particular started appearing I knew it was time to pick it up again.  The premise is quite simple: in order to be a successful writer a woman must have money and a room of One’s own own with a lock on it.  This is why literature has been dominated by men for centuries – they have always had the freedom to escape their families and explore the world – although this has often depended on money.  Women through history have usually been stuck in the kitchen or at home popping sprigs and raising them and for some bizarre reason that isn’t very exciting to read about. And the women who are written about in fiction? As Woolf puts it:

‘Indeed, if woman had no existence save in fiction written by men, one would imagine her a person of the utmost importance; very various;heroic and mean; splendid and sordid; infinitely beautiful and hideous in the extreme; as great as a man, some think even greater.’ 

As I type this my mind instantly turns to characters like Lady Macbeth.  If your only knowledge of women came from this character alone, you would certainly think women ruled the world and that their husbands were there to do their bidding.  Obviously she doesn’t have a happy ending, but she does persuade her husband to commit murder so she is a formidable woman. 

A Room of One’s Own helps to encapsulate a world where women were just starting to enjoy the freedom granted to them by movements such as the Suffragettes and gaining the right to vote.  Woolf’s essay seems to be encouraging (admittedly quite forcefully in places) women not to miss this opportunity and to be spurred on to help rewrite history, to ensure that women find their rightful place in literature and write their history…even if it is a tad mundane in places. One section in particular struck a chord with me.  Below is my favourite section of the book:

‘Therefore I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast.  By hook. Or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourself of money enough  to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.’ 

Women’s Classic Literature Event 

  
I have decided to join The Classics Club Women’s Classic Literature Event and below is the survey about the event and my responses. 
Introduce yourself. Tell us what you are most looking forward to in this event. I’m Linda and I have been blogging at LindyLit for just over three years. I joined The Classics Club way back when it first started and after taking a mini break from blogging over the summer I am keen to get back into some events. I’m looking forward to this event as there aren’t any real pressures to read a certain amount by a certain date and because I know I naturally read a few women’s classics but it will be good to have this event to spur me on to tick a few more women off my list. I’m also looking forward to seeing the women I read or aren’t on my original list. 

Have you read many classics by women? Why or why not? I have read quite a few classics by women (Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Virginia Woolf) largely because I have studied them at sixth form and university and then been inspired to visit more of their works in my own time. I also have a huge love for Agatha Christie and Persephone Books and I know I will definitely read books from these two over the course of the next year. 

Pick a classic female writer you can’t wait to read for the event, & list her date of birth, her place of birth, and the title of one of her most famous works. I think I am most looking forward to revisiting some of Virginia Woolf’s work. I read a fair amount of it at university and I think a reread is long overdue. Woolf was born in England in 1882 and perhaps one of her most famous works is A Room of One’s Own. 

Think of a female character who was represented in classic literature by a male writer. Does she seem to be a whole or complete woman? Why or why not? Tell us about her. (Without spoilers, please!). Without a doubt I’m going to say Tess from Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. I love Hardy and I love Tess. To me she is a complete woman, yes some of the things that happen to her are a tad unrealistic (surely no woman could go through all that and survive) but she copes and in my eyes she is presented as a strong and determined woman. Even if she is a little bit constrained by Victorian morals. 

Favorite classic heroine? (Why? Who wrote her?). I would go for Tess (see above) or maybe Miss Marple by Agatha Christie as I love a detective novel and I think we can all relate to a somewhat nosey and meddlesome old lady who sticks her nose into other people’s business and helps solve crimes…or maybe it is just because I live in a little English village and have a fair few old, nosey ladies (quite harmless) in my family that I can relate.

We’d love to help clubbers find great titles by classic female authors. Can you recommend any sources for building a list? (Just skip this question if you don’t have any at this point.). Definitely Agatha Christie or go to straight to the Persephone Books website.  

Recommend three books by classic female writers to get people started in this event. (Again, skip over this if you prefer not to answer.). Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier    

Will you be joining us for this event immediately, or will you wait until the new year starts? As I am currently reading an Agatha Christie it would seem foolish not to start straight away and I’m intrigued to see how many books by classic women writers I will read over the next year and a bit. 

Do you plan to read as inspiration pulls, or will you make out a preset list? I’m going to just read as inspiration pulls as I never really stick to reading lists. I would like to aim for at least three books by female authors from my classics club list but that is the only real ‘list’ I’ll stick to. 

Are you pulling to any particular genres? (Letters, journals, biographies, short stories, novels, poems, essays, etc?). Again, I’m not really leaning towards any genres so I shall just see where my reading takes me. 

Are you pulling to a particular era or location in literature by women? My main era will probably be the early half of the twentieth century as it is an era I love reading about and I know I will naturally gravitate toward that era. I tend to stay in England with a lot of my literature so maybe I might lush myself and go elsewhere. 

Do you hope to host an event or readalong for the group? No worries if you don’t have details. We’re just curious! I have never hosted a Readalong and don’t really have any plans to at the moment, but that might change in time so who knows. 

Is there an author or title you’d love to read with a group or a buddy for this event? Sharing may inspire someone to offer. I am always keen to read other people’s views on Agatha Christie or Persephone Books so I shall be looking out for posts on these two areas, but I don’t think I’ll be reading anything as a group.  

Share a quote you love by a classic female author — even if you haven’t read the book yet. As I established at work in the week, I am rubbish at remembering quotations so maybe I will leave this one as ‘yet to be completed’ and go from there. 

I can’t promise I’ll be amazing at joining in on regular posts or readalongs, but I am hoping that as this is a genre /area of literature I will naturally read it should be an event I can easily t

Gone With The Wind

  
Title: Gone with the Wind

Author: Margaret Mitchell

Published: 1936

Challenges: Reading the Twentieth Century and The Classics Club

Synopsis

Starting before The American Civil War Gone with the Wind is an epic novel spanning the war and the years following it.  The entire novel focuses on Scarlett O’Hara, who begins as a vain and incredibly self obsessed sixteen year old and ends the novel as a slightly less vain and self obsessed woman in her late twenties.  I say ‘slightly less’ as these (along with money hungry) are probably some of the best adjectives to describe Scarlett.  That being said she is also fierce, strong willed and absolutely determined to succeed at everything she wants and this is what she does.  Along the way she faces many hardships, especially as the defeat of the Confederate Army brings about the loss of the world she grew up in; a world where old families on their plantations ruled the South and women were brought up to be ladies.  She sees those she grew up with killed fighting for a cause she cares very little for, she loses those she cares about, buries two husbands and recklessly ruins her relationship with the third, she is dirt poor, starving and has to defend her family home from Yankees.  She becomes a business woman, much to the disgust of the families she grew up with.  She realises that maybe lusting after and wasting her life wishing for a man she can never have may have jepordised her chance for real love and this is probably one of the hardest things for her to learn. 

  
My Thoughts

I’m not going to pretend that my thoughts are going to bring about some wonderful new insight into this enormous novel or that I am going to offer anything profoundly interesting to say, but I am going to type up my jumbled thoughts and my own experience of reading Gone with the Wind.  I feel as though I started this novel in a different lifetime; I bought it in Australia and began reading it on the plane home.  Since then I have returned to work, restarted yoga and the gym, attended a hen party and a wedding, been on a mini trip to Cornwall and grown a year older (*sob*) so you can see how my thoughts might be a tad mixed up.  

Before starting Gone with the Wind I knew very little about it: I knew about Scarlett O’Hara; the setting of the American South; the ‘frankly my dear I don’t give a damn’ film line. That’s it.  My knowledge of America during this time period is also very limited so it was very interesting to learn more about this period in American history and how Atlanta and the neighbouring area coped with such a tumultuous time and all the changes this brought about.  

I did really enjoy Gone with the Wind and I was so keen to finish it.  I loved Scarlett as a character as she is so strong minded and determined to get what she wants.  There were times when she frustrated me, when she couldn’t see the good in people or accept that some people (Ashley) just aren’t going to change or live up to the ideal you have in your head.  And there were times when her behaviour was to be admired, such as when she refused to lose her childhood home, Tara to the Yankees.  Scarlett is certainly a formidable woman and I love how she was willing to break with conventions regardless of what other people thought.  This would have been truly shocking for a woman in the 1860s and I loved how she just didn’t care.  

My limited prior knowledge of Gone with the Wind did go as far as knowing that Rhett Butler is one of Scarlett’s love interests.  Therefore I was expecting some sweeping romance and a happy ever after.  How wrong was I? Rhett is a perfect hero as he is a bit of a scoundrel but he isn’t afraid to call Scarlett out on her behaviour and to put her in her place.  He also won’t stand for any of her nonsense or any nonsense from the people around him.  I can’t believe how long the build up to their relationship was but it was clear throughout that something about Scarlett kept drawing Rhett back to her.  As mentioned their romance does not have the typical happy ever after we expect.  In fact Rhett leaves Scarlett just as she realises how much he means to her,  thus leaving the reader in a somewhat ambiguous position as to what truly happens to Scarlett in the end. I have no doubts that Scarlett gets her way in the end and rekindles her relationship with Rhett, but the unclear ending is frustrating. 

Overall, despite the fact it took me forever to read I really enjoyed Gone with the Wind and I can see it will be a book I return to in a few years time and one I am sure you discover new things about each time you re read it.  I think I would like to read around this novel before a reread as I am sure there is so much I have missed. 

North and South

 
Title: North and South.                                                                                                                                                   Author: Elizabeth Gaskell.                                                                                                                                            Published: 1854.                                                                                                                                                                Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.                                                                                                                                             Challenges: The Classics Club

Synopsis

Margaret Hale is living a lovely life in the South; having spent some years in London with her charming, if somewhat shallow cousin, Edith, she returns to her parents in the Hampshire village where her father is the Reverend.  Life continues in this bliss until the day her father decides he can no longer honourably serve the church and so he uproots his family to the Northern town of Milton in the fictional county of Darkshire.  Margaret and her mother are both unwilling to go and make this perfectly clear from the moment they arrive in Milton. They are disgusted by the busy, noisy and smoky atmosphere of Milton and even more put out by the locals.  However, Margaret soon comes to feel passionate about the lives and struggles of these Northerners and seems determined to make life better for those she grows to love, this bridging the North/South divide that forms a prominent theme throughout the novel. 

My Thoughts

I was supposed to read North and South at university.  In fact, I got a fair way through the novel but something invariably came up, whether it was my inability to read more than one book at a time or my tendancy for a few too many nights out who knows, although I suspect the latter.  I added it to my Classics Club list in the hope that one day I would finish it and as it was my Spin number for the most recent Classics Club Spin, now seemed to be the time.  I found it hard work.  I had very little interest in the characters if I’m honest and needed a slightly jucier story to keep me gripped throughout. There were parts I enjoyed, such as the descriptions of the settings and the hustle and bustle of Milton, but equally there were parts I had to force myself to read.  I can fully appreciate how Gaskell aimed to raise the plight of the poor in the social consciousness of Victorian Britain, but I prefer Dickens’ slightly more melodramatic way of doing this.  I did enjoy her efforts to highlight the vast difference in lifestyle between the North and the South and as someone who has family in both parts of the country, I certainly agree with some of her more astute observations.  

A slightly mixed experience of reading, but I’m glad I finally finished North and South and I think I would happily read more of Gaskell’s work. 

 

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

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Title: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Author: Anne Bronte
Published: 1848
Challenges: The Classics Club, Reading England
Star Rating: 3 and a half out of 5

Synopsis
When a mysterious new tenant moves into Wildfell Hall all the local residents are curious to discover more about her. Mrs. Graham – potentially a widow – and her young son move in and rarely visit or have anything to do with their neighbours, something which sparks great curiosity in a small community. It is certainly that way for Mr. Markham, who is intrigued by the young woman, how she came to live in such a secluded area and just what is her true relationship with her landlord, Mr Lawrence. Told partly through Mr. Markham’s letters to his friend and partly through the private diary of Mrs. Graham, this is a novel that explores the difficulties facing women who marry ‘cads’: men who willingly spend their time and money on alcohol, gambling and pursuing extra marital affairs. Women who don’t have the option of divorcing a husband who is mistreating them, but instead have to quietly cope, knowing that they have very little rights and would be destitute if they even dared to think about divorce.

My Thoughts
I always think I’m not a fan of the Brontes, however when I truly reflect on this I realise that I base this solely on Wuthering Heights, which I find somewhat overrated. I studied Jane Eyre at A Level and it was one of the first books that truly convinced me I wanted to study English Literature at university and I enjoyed Villette when I read it for a Classics Club Spin, so really this is an unfair opinion. Having read books by her two sisters I thought it was time I gave Anne Bronte a chance and as The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is on my CC Reading List, I decided Match was the perfect time to pick it up.

I’m not about to start screaming my love of the Bronte sisters from the rooftops but I was pleasantly surprised with The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Anne is arguably the most overlooked of the Bronte sisters and I never remember hearing about her work when I was at school…or university for that matter, so it was interesting to form my opinions and decide whether this reputation as the least memorable sister is justified.

I found Helen’s part of the narrative much more interesting than Mr. Markham’s as it is where the main part of the action seems to take place. Mr Markham’s narrative focuses on how this mysterious new tenant is perceived by her new neighbours and whilst this is quite interesting in terms of background, I found the reasons she ended up at Wildfell Hall much more interesting. The attitudes of the neighbours help to show the prejudice a woman living alone faced in Victorian times, but it is Helen’s relationship with her husband that truly shows the unfair, sexist society of the time. Helen makes the mistake of marrying for ‘love’ and going against her family’s wishes and is duly punished; her husband is a gambler, drinker and serial womaniser who does little to hide this from his wife and shows no remorse when it is discovered. I felt sorry for Helen, who had no rights and if she had divorced her husband – even though he was in the wrong – she would have been left destitute and without her son. For the time, her act of running away and essentially hiding from her husband was a brave, but reckless one for which she would have been severely judged. It just seems so surreal when I think about the life I lead and how restricting it was to be a woman in Victorian times, something which always fascinates me. I love reading about the difficulties female characters face and how they struggle to overcome these.

Of course this is a novel where are heroine overcomes her personal struggles and lives happily ever after, but I was very pleased that Bronte took the time to clear up the loose ends of all the characters. My favourite was the fate of Annabella, a woman who marries a Lord and one of the first woman Helen’s husband has an affair with. Her husband eventually divorces her (because of course men could divorce their cheating spouses even though women had to put up with it) and she dies poor, destitute and alone in a foreign country with no one to care for her. Of course it is the woman who falls from grace and goes against female conventions who ultimately meets a messy end and the woman who is virtuous and stays true to her morals who lives happily ever after. Thank goodness we have a slightly less black and white society as I’m not sure what my fate would be if I lived in a Victorian novel.

On the whole I think it is quite sad that poor Anne Bronte is overlooked in favour of her sisters, I for one found The Tenant of Wildfell Hall more enjoyable than Wuthering Heights and I’m certain I can’t be the only one with this view. I almost feel a need to read a biography of the Brontes, something which sets alarm bells ringing in my head, luckily I am on a complete book buying ban as the fear of moving all those books again is slowly starting to creep up on me.

Challenges
I have hit a milestone in terms of my Classics Club List as The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is book number 20 ticked off the list…a list I have serious doubts over completing by my March 2017 deadline.
This also ticks another county in my Reading England list as according to some other bloggers the majority of the action is set in Cumbria.

The Great Gatsby

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Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Published: 1926
Reread
Challenges: The Classics Club, Reading the Twentieth Century
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
On the banks of the river in Long Island is a magnificent, opulent house. Every weekend it is thrown open to the most lavish parties, with never ending streams of liquor, the most talked about guests and fantastic music that takes everyone to the small hours of the morning. Few people are officially invited to these nights of decadence and even fewer people have met their enigmatic host, Mr Gatsby. Some say he is related to the German royal family, others say he is a spy; the sad truth is very few of his guests can actually be bothered to find out, something which is clearly evident at the end of the novel. One of the few who does make an effort is next door neighbour, Nick Carraway, our narrator and it is through him that we discover Gatsby’s background, rise to fortune and the love that has been the driving force behind his life.

My Thoughts
This is probably the third time I have read The Great Gatsby and I find that each reread I have discovered something new and something else that I enjoy about it. From the recent Baz Luhrman adaptation I think people have a certain image of this book and it is so much more than just these spectacular parties you see in the film trailer.

The term ‘The American Dream’ has come up quite a lot recently in my teaching life and I am planning to teach The Great Gatsby so I had this particular theme in mind throughout. The idea of ‘The American Dream’ is that everyone in America has the opportunity and ability to achieve their dreams, whether this is owning a plot of land (I’m thinking Of Mice and Men) or making a pile of money, America is the land of opportunity. But as with many works of literature the reader is left wondering if ‘The American Dream’ is actually achievable or is it just some myth sold to those planning a new life in this country? This is certainly the case for Gatsby, who has all the money he could possibly ever need and yet he is still searching for and desperate for the love of a woman (Daisy) who rejected him when he was poor. In turn, Daisy is trapped in an unhappy marriage with a man who can’t seem to stay faithful, so it seems her American Dream has also fallen short of the mark.

I remember the first time I reread The Great Gatsby I felt a little underwhelmed, however this time I thoroughly enjoyed it. I find the character of Gatsby so fascinating, especially in his attempts to reinvent himself and his quest for money. I also found myself feeling sorry for him at the end of the novel as he truly epitomises the idea that money cannot buy you happiness and can certainly not bring you true and loyal friends. I’m not going to ruin the twist in the novel, but it is a fantastic one and I think Fitzgerald has been very clever when weaving hints at what is to come throughout the novel.

I feel quite scathingly towards some of the characters in this novel and Fitzgerald sums it up perfectly when he writes ‘They were careless people…they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness…and let other people clean up the mess they had made.’ . Saying that I would LOVE to have attended one of Gatsby’s parties and the ‘romantic possibilities’ they held.

Challenges
Yay another book ticked off of my Classics Club list, this is the challenge I am most worried about -if I could honestly say I was worried about any of them – as I haven’t been as good with my classics reading.
The Great Gatsby counts towards my Reading the Twentieth Century challenge, filling a space in the 1920s.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

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In the last Classics Club Spin I was fortunate enough for it to land on Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, a book I had not only read before but one that was fairly short too. I was pretty happy when I saw this was my read and it fitted in nicely with my reading schedule and I have finished it before I return to school.

The Hound of the Baskervilles sees the return of Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick Dr Watson. This was published after Conan Doyle had sent Holmes to his untimely death so can be seen as an attempt to submit to the braying public who clearly needed more Sherlock adventures in their lives. It is also one of the few Holmes novels, with the majority of the stories being in short story form. We begin at Holmes’ infamous address of 221B Baker Street and Dr Mortimer calls to discuss the recent death of his friend and neighbour, Sir Charles Baskerville. The Baskerville family have been haunted by a terrifying hound for generations and when Sir Charles is found terrified to death, everyone is convinced the hound is responsible. Dr Mortimer is worried that Sir Charles’ heir might meet the same fate, so he enlists the help of Holmes and Watson to solve this mystery. Watson sets off to Devon on his own to get to know the neighbours and more about this mysterious, supernatural beast.

Like the rest of the world I have been an avid viewer of the fantastic series starring Benedict Cumberbatch, but it has been a while since I read any Sherlock Holmes so it was great to reread one. I vaguely remembered the plot, but had forgotten how intricate and detailed Holmes’ thinking and logic are and the in depth descriptions Conan Doyle uses throughout. The detail and thought behind his plots is amazing; it’s almost hard to believe that Conan Doyle believed in fairies and the supernatural having created such a logical and scientifically minded detective.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is a brilliant read and I would say it is a great introduction to Holmes if you haven’t read any of the stories before. I love how the majority of the narrative takes the reader out of the grimy streets of London and to the windswept, misty and unknown landscape of Devon and the moors. The setting is what makes this novel so memorable. The backdrop of Dartmoor and how it is a landscape full of bogs, mires and ancient, abandoned buildings helps to create an eerie atmosphere throughout, one where you can really believe in the supernatural and this hound from hell that is terrorising the Baskerville family. It truly shows how nature can hold such mysteries and uncertainties. I can’t think of any criticisms for this book; Holmes comes across as arrogant at times, but then that is one of the key traits of his character that makes him so endearing and unique. Watson’s narrative allows the reader to feel truly involved in the investigation. We know everything he does and can share in his clues and his frustrations at Holmes’ superior knowledge and secret methods. It is a brilliant detective novel and I do love detective novels, so really it was everything I could have asked for in a read and I’m so glad the Spin landed on The Hound of the Baskervilles as it meant I reread it much sooner than I would have done without the Spin.

Challenges

The Classics Club

Reading the Twentieth Century

Sense and Sensibility

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The Classics Club Spin #6 was good to me and not only did it land on a book I already owned but one I really wanted to read fairly soon: Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. If I remember correctly this was the first Austen book I read when I was a teenager, choosing to shun the more conventional and better known Pride and Prejudice in the first instance. This was over a decade ago ( god that makes me feel old) and although I have watched various adaptations since then, such as the fantastic Emma Thompson one and one starring Dominic Cooper, I have been looking forward to a reread.

Sense and Sensibility follows the lives of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, from the death of their father and the subsequent loss of their family home to the dilemmas of love and loss that all women in an Austen novel seem to face. Elinor, the older sister, embodies sense; she loves Edward Ferrars but knows she cannot have him and so she carries her heartache with quiet dignity. On the other hand, her younger sister, Marianne falls head over heels in love with the cad, Willoughby and when he inevitable breaks her heart she falls into a devastation and simply cannot function because the loss of Willoughby is just too much.

I love Sense and Sensibility. I loved it when I first read it and I always had a sneaky suspicion that I loved it more than Pride and Prejudice and reading both of them in recent months I know that I do. What’s not to love? It has all the usual love drama of an Austen novel and a happy ending. The characters are so perfectly created that even over 200 years later you can spot their modern day counterparts in real life; we all know a meddlesome older lady who whilst annoying and a bit of a busy body, means well (luckily my grandma doesn’t understand the internet so she will never read that comment and to be fair I could be talking about her sister ha). I think her characters and how relatable they are is one of the reasons why I enjoy Austen’s writing and arguably why she has remained a significant part of literature as a whole. Everyone loves a story with good guys and bad guys and then a lovely happy ending, at least I know I do. And I do love a romance story every so often.

Overall, an enjoyable read and what made it even better was the lovely British sun over the weekend so I could actually sit outside, read and tan/burn slightly. I always find it so much easier to completely relax and read for hours when the sun is out and I can just lie there and not have to worry about anything. It doesn’t help the work situation, but hey ho, I’m happy. In the past year I have reread three of Austen’s novels (Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility) and I think now I’m halfway through, not including the unpublished one, I might as well continue and aim to the read the remaining three in the near future, mainly because I have a great looking book called What Really Matters in Jane Austen? that I have yet to pick up and a refreshed reading of her novels will certainly enrich my experience reading this book.

Challenges

As I said I reread Sense and Sensibility as part of The Classics Club Spin, so that’s one more book ticked off the list. ;

The Classics Club Two Year Anniversary

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Having been so focused on not missing my second birthday with The Classics Club, (original list here) I missed my blog’s second birthday on the 22nd March, so a belated anniversary to me. I will postpone a two year round up post until the Easter holidays when I hopefully have a bit more time to reflect on my reading in general. It has now been two years since I joined up for The Classics Club and I can’t say my reading is going tremendously well, but I’m getting there.

In my first year I read the following books.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Villette by Charlotte Bronte
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Major of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
1984 by George Orwell
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

However in my second year I perhaps haven’t been as good at sticking to the reading schedule and reading as much as I could have done to ensure I keep on track. I have reread a book from last year (Pride and Prejudice) as I have been teaching that this term, so I think that counts as a half at least. So throughout the second year I have read:

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
The Old Curiousity Shop by Charles Dickens – Classics Club Spin
Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H.Lawrence – Classics Club Readathon
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien – started for Classics Club Readathon
Howards End by E.M.Forester

I am pleased that four of these books have been linked to Classics Club Events and it is clear to be that these types of events do spur me on in my reading, so I am grateful to everyone who helps organise them.

Most Anticipated:

Lord of the Rings

Most Beautifully Written:

Tess of the D’Urbervilles, but them I love Hardy so I’m bias

Most Disappointing:

None of them, I enjoyed them all, although at a push it would be Mansfield park as I didn’t like Fanny Price.

Most Surprising (In A Good Way!):

Lord of the Rings as I have attempted to read it before and not enjoyed it.

Most Memorable Character/s:

Tom Bombadil in LOTR
Alec D’Urberville for sheet evilness in Tess

Most Recommended-to-Others:

Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Ambitions for 2013/2014:

Keep going with my list and ensure I take part in more events run by The Classics Club to help me focus on my reading and my list in particular. I would also like to have more time to read more blogs and see how their reading is going.

So after two years I have read 15 of the 50 books I originally set out to read, let’s hope I pick up the pace next year…but if I don’t at least I’m enjoying it still!

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