Author spotlight: Margaret George

She’s a recent addition to my library, but if you like well-researched historical fiction, she’s the girl for you! She’s written six books, and I’ve only read the last three: Mary, called Magdalene, Helen of Troy, and Elizabeth I–but Helen is one of my all-time favorite novels. Her first three novels are about Cleopatra, Henry VIII, and Mary, Queen of Scots.

So if this is your sort of reading, I highly recommend her. She knows how to spin a tale. 🙂

Friday Query: Shakespeare

What Shakespeare plays did you read in school? When did you start?

Me:  Romeo and Juliet (9th); Julius Caesar (1oth); nothing junior year, because we did American Lit; and MacBeth senior year.

In college I took an entire Shakespeare class, where we read: Twelfth Night, Othello, King Lear, Henry IV (both parts), Henry V, The Merchant of Venice,  and a few more I can’t remember. Read Hamlet in Intro to Lit freshman year.

On my own, I’ve read: The Tempest (well, I was in this in college, so I’ve done more than read it. :)); A Winter’s Tale; As You Like It; Richard III (which is really good);  Henry VIII; Measure for Measure; Midsummer Night’s Dream; Much Ado About Nothing; Taming of the Shrew; and Atony and Cleopatra.

So I’ve read most of them…the histories tend to trip me up.

 

For your reading pleasure

Please check out this entry on the Dominican blog (which is, btw, linked our sidebar), from the Bookish Girls’ dear friend Br. Humbert, who is a Dominican novice in the province of St. Joseph. He has his PhD in mathematics, hence the mathematical timbre of the post (but read it anyway! If even I, a math dunce, can read it, you can too!)

http://www.dominicanablog.com/2011/10/19/rising-into-infinity/

 

The Problem with Jane Eyre

(And Charlotte Bronte, actually)

(SPOILERS abound. So if you haven’t read Jane Eyre, stay clear. Unless you’re like me, and you don’t care.)

OK, I figure I might as well explain my problem here, before y’all think I have irrational hatred of C. Bronte.

I don’t, really, except for the fact that she didn’t like Jane Austen, because she didn’t think her books were “real.” They lacked passion.

Right. And hiding a crazy wife in the attic is, um, real?

That, right there, is my biggest beef with dear Charlotte. She tried to make Jane so rational, so calm, so collected–and she succeeds, for about 75% of the book. Then–bam!–crazy wife in attic, and nice, rational Jane is going to run off to the moors TO DIE.

I realize this could be seen as a psychotic break or something on Jane’s part, which would lead to her totally rash actions. But that’s not what happens. She stays in her room the whole afternoon, evening and night following the bizarre almost wedding, then flees to the moors. With no money, no clothes,no ideas about where she’s going to go. She had money–she could have gotten a coach and at least gone to a town to get shelter!

I feel the entire book falls apart here, and doesn’t really get back to itself until Jane hears that Rochester is still alive. I realize, yes, that their reunion would lose poignancy and power if they were not separated. I’m not saying that a separation shouldn’t have happened, but that Jane does not behave at all in character. She just, whoops!, flies off to the moors! (“To die. In the rain. Alone.”)

To me, that really kills the novel. If I’m reading it, or watching it, (because there are some great scenes, before and after this episode), I skip this section.

(Oh, and more randomness–not only was she on the moors, but she’s apparently an amnesiac. WHAT?!)

Charlotte does something similar in Vilette, making Lucy Snowe,  her heroine, a weeeeeeee bit unstable.  She hears things, sees things, thinks she’s being haunted by the ghost of a dead nun (I think–it’s been awhile since I read it), and then you have the Famous Ambiguous Ending.

At least when her sister Emily wrote nuttiness, it was consistent nuttiness. Heathcliff is Heathcliff, until he dies, as is Catherine. Neither of them have totally random breaks in character–Heathcliff doesn’t get a conscience before he dies, and neither does she. Redemption doesn’t come to Wuthering Heights from those characters, but from their children.

Anyway. This is why I do not like Charlotte Bronte.

Discuss.

Killing Two Birds with One Stone

I decided to post my answers to both questions asked by Emily and Camille in the same entry.

After cleaning a lot of cobwebs from my childhood memories, I can say that my first chapter book was The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary (who I found out is still alive, she is five years older than my great-grandmother). It did not take me that long after reading that book that I would start my journey into more chapter books near where I found that one my school library; books like The American Girl Series, Dear America Series, Wayside School Series by Louis Sachar. I started reading chapter books at the end of my second grade year, for I was catching up my reading level after attending a bad school district for half a school year.

As for what books brought me to tears, I think some of the books that brought me to tears would surprise many. My Dearest Friend, which is a collection of letters by John and Abigail Adams. I cried with certain letters for those two went through so much and were in constant in their love for one another. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I think it took me a few times reading the book before I could actually say I read the book because I cried so much. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, another historical book that brought this girl to tears, the details of the horrors many tribes went through was just heart-breaking. To Heaven with Diana, I cried with the last letter.

I hope that answered the questions!

~Nikita

Query: First Chapter Book?

Hi girls–

I want to know what the first chapter book you ever read was, and when you read it.

For me, it was Little House In The Big Woods. I was six, and in first grade. In my reading circle, we got to pick from a selection of chapter books, and this was my pick. I soon read all of them, including The First Four Years and West From Home, and eventually read all the spinoff series (Charlotte, Caroline, Rose…didn’t get to Martha, sadly). I have my mom’s copy of the novel. It’s a hardback copy, a gift from her parents one Christmas. Of course, I’ve colored in the pictures. (I was six, cut me a break!)

I always thought it would be great fun to make a pig bladder balloon, and make candy on a pan of snow. Maybe I should try that sometime.

Emily 

I’m just going to add to this post…make’s it easier 😀

The first chapter book I picked up was Babysitters Club Little Sister series. I was also in first grade when I started reading chapter books…hence the move up to second grade reading. I also read Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie, as well as the Boxcar Children series, and American Girl series. I became a bookworm very early on so I cannot remember exactly which of these books was first…but they were all fun to read! 😀

~Camille

Change in Genres

Niki–

I did this with Lord of the Rings. Actually, it started with Harry Potter. I didn’t like fantasy novels growing up, the Narnia books excepted. The only people who read The Hobbit at my school were the nerdy middle school boys, so it didn’t seem like my type of reading. But when my sister brought home the first Harry Potter, I ended up picking it up off the coffee table and reading it–and then I was hooked. I even read the sixth one in the ICU after my transplant; it had come out a few days before (I don’t recommend doing this, because you get very, very strange dreams).

I finally read Lord of the Rings when the movies came out, because I wanted to know how Return of the King ended. Namely, I wanted to know who died. Yes, I am that person. I like spoilers. I don’t mind if people “ruin” the ending of a movie or book for me. So I read it, and then found out that I liked it quite a bit, so I read the entire series, The Hobbit withstanding (and I have to get on that). But I’m still not a huge fantasty fan.

I’m also not really a fan of sci-fi or supernatural fantasies. They just push my “suspension of disbelief,” to use a theater term, too far. I did, however, like Dracula and Frankenstein, but probably because they deal with much deeper and broader issues than just writing a “monster” story.

And I don’t read romance novels. That doesn’t mean I don’t read love stories–I mean the bodice ripper “romance” section at Barnes and Noble. No thanks. Of course all of Jane’s novels are love stories, and I love those! But I like my characters to have brains, thanks. 🙂

Emily