Quick Lit // December 2014 & January 2015

collage jan15

Here are a few mini book reviews of novels I’ve read over the last two months . . . Enjoy!

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – still my favourite novel. Brilliant dialogue, passionate emotion + moral fortitude = perfection.

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens – the story of a young boy becoming a man. Full of exaggerated characters, I found David Copperfield a little slow in places, but there were parts of the story that resonated deeply. For instance, near the end of the story David describes his first love as, “The first mistaken impulse of an undisciplined heart” – and I can’t get that line out of my head. When was the last time the hero of a novel was admired for discipline and prudence? Our culture is all about ‘following your heart’ no matter where it leads . . .

Adam Bede by George Eliot – the story of a young man maturing – learning forgiveness, falling in love, experiencing sorrow. Eliot is so insightful about the way people act and think, plus her writing is really beautiful. I found myself frequently underlining thoughtful observations like this: “There are few prophets in the world; few sublimely beautiful women; few heroes. I can’t afford to give all my love and reverence to such rarities: I want a great deal of those feelings for my everyday fellow-men, especially for those few in the foreground of the great multitude, whose faces I know, whose hands I touch, for whom I have to make way with kindly courtesy.” Quite simply one of the best books I’ve ever read.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler – this novel rests on a startling reveal about 70 pages in, and I certainly did not see it coming. So – points for surprise. But I found the jumpy narrative irritating, all the characters unsympathetic, and the persistent psychological trauma unconvincing.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer – a dystopian retelling of the Cinderella fairytale – except not really, as many of the plot points do not align. This YA novel is pretty engaging, but far too fluffy and unrealistic to be satisfying (Prince, why are falling in love with this cyborg for no discernible reason? And why are you telling her state secrets on your second or third meeting?).

Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery – another lovely instalment in the Anne of Green Gables series.

The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde – quite a fascinating story of a young man’s obsession with beauty and the growing corruption of his soul. The asides on art and philosophy were way over my head, as were many of the British witticisms, but I enjoyed the story nonetheless.

I’m linking up with Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy today; head on over for more brief book reviews!


18 thoughts on “Quick Lit // December 2014 & January 2015

  1. dawnomite says:

    Very accurate description of the Fowler book. I just read it recently as well. It didn’t impress.

    I have never read Jane Eyre. Your review has compelled me to do so this year.

    • arendadehaan says:

      Well now, if there ever was a book I’d encourage others to read, it’d be Jane Eyre! I’m thrilled to hear you’re going to read it this year and would love to hear what you think of it. πŸ™‚

      Ha, isn’t it great to know others share your scornful opinions sometimes?

  2. Rachel says:

    I’d like to frame that Eliot quote. So beautiful and poignant. “Middlemarch” has been sitting up on my shelf looking imposing for years. I should pull it down and give a try. Great reviews!

    • arendadehaan says:

      Thanks Rachel! That quote is perfect, isn’t it? I found “Middlemarch” intimidating, too, and a fair bit more difficult than “Adam Bede” because of the complex plot and numerous characters. It’s lovely and insightful, though, very much worth the effort!

  3. Anne says:

    Jane Eyre is way, way up there for me, too. Once I had to rewrite the ending to a gothic novel for an English class, and I chose Jane. It was great fun! She is a superb character.

    • arendadehaan says:

      Ooooh, fascinating! A tricky assignment, though – some novels seem to come with perfect plots, like they couldn’t be written any other way, and I feel like Jane Eyre is one of those . . . I wouldn’t know where to begin with changing the ending!

  4. Sarah @ Seriously, Sarah? says:

    You’ve inspired me to pick up Adam Bede, ASAP. I have the audio version sitting on my iPad, and have put it on my Classic Reading challenge list. I haven’t started it yet, but I do love George Elliot’s books. I’ll have to bump that one up in the queue.

  5. cassierauk says:

    I have heard a lot of talk about Fowler’s books, I will have to add that to my library holds. I am excited to get into the Cinder series but I am making myself wait until towards the end of the series, I am too impatient otherwise!

  6. Erica M. says:

    I really loved “Dorian Gray”. I think some of Wilde’s meanderings about philosophy made a little more sense because I had looked into the aesthetics movement around that time period. I think Wilde was exploring how far was too far to go in the pursuit of art and pleasure. (I like his quote about the book, too: “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry is what the world thinks me: Dorian is what I would like to be-in other ages, perhaps.”)

    I really want to read George Eliot, for no other reason than her “Silly Novels by Lady Novelists” essay is hilarious. πŸ˜€

  7. sarahkerner says:

    Wow, I haven’t thought about a lot of those books since high school English class! I remember really enjoying Jane Eyre and Dorian Gray. I don’t normally like rewrites like Cinder, but I’ve heard good things about a Jane Austen one… is it Lizzie and Kate?

  8. Krysta says:

    I recently finished Middlemarch and your quote from Adam Bede reminded me all over again why I love Eliot. I haven’t read Adam Bede yet, but now I really want to!

    Also, it’s kind of a relief to see someone else who wasn’t blown away by Cinder. The series is huge in the blogosphere, but I just thought it was sort of a typical fluffy romance with a cyborg. The setting was cool and unique, no doubt, but the rest didn’t “wow” me in any sense. And, I too, was confused by some of the plot events. Telling someone you just met state secrets? Definitely strange!

    As for David Copperfield–I love Charles Dickens, but I really didn’t enjoy that one as much as I do his other works. It was rather dull, from what I remember. I remember very little. That’s how uninterested I was, I suppose.

    • arendadehaan says:

      I know what you mean about Cinder – there’s a lot of hype about the series! One blogger said the first book wasn’t the greatest and the series got better as it went along . . . but I wasn’t hooked enough to keep reading.

      And yes, I enjoyed a number of other Charles Dickens books more as well. Like Bleak House. That was amazing!

      • Krysta says:

        I loved Bleak House! I actually had the urge to give you a high five when I read you liked it, too, and then I realized this is the Internet.

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