Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Book Review- East of Eden

For the Classics Club I read John Steinbeck's novel East of Eden.
Synopsis from Goodreads- Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Adam Trask came to California from the East to farm and raise his family on the new rich land. But the birth of his twins, Cal and Aaron, brings his wife to the brink of madness, and Adam is left alone to raise his boys to manhood. One boy thrives nurtured by the love of all those around him; the other grows up in loneliness enveloped by a mysterious darkness.
I have been very bad about getting to my classics club list recently but East of Eden was actually one of the books chosen for my book club so I was glad for the nudge to get this book knocked off the list.
East of Eden was one of those complicated books that didn't really have any great characters. There were a couple minor characters like Lee that were good but most of the characters had personal failings to some degree or another that made it hard to like them. Some obviously had major moral failings (Cathy!) too. Let's talk about Cathy. Wow! I'm not sure I've ever been so revolted by a character in literature! She is so morally reprehensible even as a child without any obvious excuse even... not there is any excuse for her behavior... that it is impossible not to be disgusted by her. I found myself reading it just waiting to see what next horrible thing she was going to do.... and she could always top herself! In the end, I felt disappointed in her outcome... I felt she deserved more recompense for her horrible life... though I know her ultimate punishment was to come after her death.
As for the other characters... I found Adam to be so weak of a character, though I pity him. His sons were intriguing overall... I would have liked to see more of them actually to get a better idea of them.
Samuel Hamilton and his whole family for the most part are likable and definitely interesting to follow but overall don't have as much drama as the Trasks so take a back burner in the book.
Overall there's just so much to pick through in the book. It spans three generations making for an interesting read. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. I'm glad I read it and unlike some books of this nature I could see myself reading it again in the future as I think there's a lot to be gleaned from it.

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Monday, February 17, 2020

Book Review- Don Quixote

It only took me a year and a half but I have finally finished Miguel Cervantes's novel Don Quixote! I was reading it for the Classics Club but it's also one of my husband's favorite books. Currently I'm questioning his judgement.
Before I get started on my review, here's a synopsis from Goodreads.
Don Quixote has become so entranced by reading chivalric romances that he determines to become a knight-errant himself. In the company of his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, his exploits blossom in all sorts of wonderful ways. While Quixote's fancy often leads him astray—he tilts at windmills, imagining them to be giants—Sancho acquires cunning and a certain sagacity. Sane madman and wise fool, they roam the world together, and together they have haunted readers' imaginations for nearly four hundred years.
Now don't get me wrong... it's not a bad book. It's really quite intriguing and oftentimes humorous. It's just simply too long! It needed some editing. Several of Don Quixote's and Sancho Paz's adventures were madcap hilarity but then several were also just meh and made the story drag. There are actually two parts to the story. The two parts are published together now but they were actually originally published ten years apart. I think I preferred the second part overall... the writing was tighter.
While Don Quixote is the titular character I found Sancho Pax the most interesting. He continually baffled me as he blindly follow Don Quixote and even as especially in the second part when Sancho Paz begins to question Don Quixote's sanity. Throughout the book you question Sancho's own sanity and wait for him to come to his senses to no avail. He is the one that kept me continually intrigued throughout the book.
My thoughts are rambling on this book. It took me so long to read that I have trouble remembering some of the beginning. I actually started it, stopped for a couple months and then restarted it in a different translation. My husband and I both owned copies and while mine is a beautiful old edition the translation was just harder to read. My husband's translation was more modern and easier to read and made the overall experience more enjoyable. If you're interested in which translation it was the one done by Edith Grossman and I'd recommend it if you're interested in reading it.
I do understand why it is considered a masterpiece and I liked it but I just didn't love it.

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Monday, February 10, 2020

Movie Review- Little Women (2019)

I debated whether or not to write a review for Little Women as there's already so many out there but part of the reason I began blogging and why I still come back to it is because it's an outlet for me to process my thoughts as well as (hopefully) get feedback. So here are my random, incoherent thoughts.
Synopsis from IMDB: Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters - four young women each determined to live life on their own terms.
Spoilers ahead.
Going into watching it I knew that the film would jump back and forth between the past and present so I was prepared for that. If you are not familiar with the story I think that could be confusing but even then there were subtle clues to keep you on track. I know some didn't like that method of telling the story but I actually felt like it worked pretty well. My favorite part of how I thought it was better was that I thought it really made the Laurie and Amy romance play out well. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I think Laurie and Amy work well together and I did not want Laurie and Jo to get together... I like Jo and the professor. With that said, I don't think the other film versions before this have given justice to Amy and especially her's and Laurie's romance.
On that note, I loved the casting for Amy. I was not familiar with the actress before this film but she did such a great job with the role. Laurie's casting was perfect too. He was boyish and immature but I felt he matured also. Like Amy, sometime I want to slap him.
Actually, all of the casting was marvelous. Saorise Ronan was absolutely perfect for the role of Jo... born for the role you might say. She captured the essence of Jo that is shown in the book. The casting for Professor Baehr and his portrayal seemed fine but he didn't get nearly enough screen time and in the end their romance seemed rushed, which disappointed me as, as I mentioned above, I love Jo's and his romance.
I was not sure about Hermione Granger.... I mean Emma Watson.... as Meg going into the film but I ended up loving her in the role as well. As I've gotten older, married and had my first child I've really come to resonate with Meg more and this film made me feel even more in touch with her character. The casting for John Brook was great too! I did not like his casting and portrayal in the 1994 version! It did him no justice. Laura Dern as Marmee was a pleasant surprise as well. I just wasn't feeling her portrayal in the trailers and I've had a sour taste in my mouth about her ever since The Last Jedi Admiral Holdo disaster. I was proven wrong though and she is now my favorite film Marmee. Meryl Streep as Aunt Josephine was hilarious. Enough said.
My one qualm with casting/portryal was that of Beth. I've been trying to find words for where I felt they went wrong then I saw on a discussion post someone say that they thought she was made to be overly childish and almost cognitively impaired and that exactly is my disliking with the portrayal. I don't know what else to say. Beth has never been my absolute favorite character as I know she is to many but this movie seemed to do her a deep injustice.
One part I found odd in the film was close to the end after Beth has died Jo is lamenting her life to Marmee and saying maybe she should have married Laurie. Marmee gives her some sound advice but still Jo goes and writes a letter she puts in their little mailbox to Laurie saying she'll marry him. I was racking my brain trying to remember if that was in the book as I was almost positive it was not. I did double check and it was not. I'm lost as to why it was added in then. It made the ending, romance wise, for Jo seem to fall flat. It makes it seem like the Professor was just her second choice since she couldn't marry Laurie. As mentioned above, I didn't like how they rushed the ending with her and the professor.
There's so much more to say about the film but I think I'm out of thoughts for now. I'd love to hear yours... even if you disagree with me! I'm excited to see it again in the future and I'm sure I'll have more musings after a second viewing. Thank you for putting up with my ramblings and happy reading and viewing.

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