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Possession, I Capture the Castle…And Why I Haven’t Blogged For A Month


 

I Capture the Castle (film)

I Capture the Castle (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I think it’s official: I’m the worst blogger ever. I haven’t blogged in nearly a month? How did that even happen? Well, I sort of know how it happened: I got lazy and I also took a two-week community service trip to Nicaragua. (Which was amazing, by the way – the trip, not the laziness – but doesn’t make for good blogging). So anyway, sorry for that, and also sorry that I only have two books finished to show for it…Not exactly the best way to start off a reading-filled summer!

 

Possession by A.S. Byatt was, in a word, amazing. Gorgeously written, completely enthralling, and hugely ambitious, it’s the kind of book that allows you to escape the hum-drum mundanities of everyday life (or, in my case, the sweltering Nicaraguan climate) and dive into a fascinating world of academic rivalries, doomed love affairs, and epic poetry. Every page held an ingenious turn of phrase, colorful character, or thoroughly convincing imitation of Victorian-era poems, letters, and diaries. Some books are so impressive that you feel not only as if you’re reading them, but as if you’re experiencing them as a fully immersed participant in an event. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed Possession, and my only (very minor) complaint would be that at times I wished for less of Roland and Maud (such academic-y academics, which probably doesn’t even make sense as a phrase, but what I mean is that they were just so serious and their research was so obscure and they spoke so formally all the time…it made me want to force them to watch a couple hours of Jersey Shore, just to show them that there is a world outside of a University library…) and more of Randolph and Christabel, but even in lovely, accomplished, practically flawless novels, there is always something to find fault with.

 

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith was also a great read, with one of sweetest and most convincing protagonists I’ve ever encountered. I was completely swept away by Cassandra’s descriptions of her life living in a decrepit castle in the English countryside with her eccentric family. It was also interesting to hear a British perspective on America and Americans, too, since it’s a bit of a rare experience for me to be seen as the strange outsider. Cassandra would always point out differences in phrases and customs Americans and British people used, little things such as Americans moving their fork from hand to hand when cutting and eating meat. Things I’d never really thought about before as being different or unique, but apparently are. All in all, a very good and though-provoking read.

 

• I’m also a little more than halfway through on The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman and it is absolutely brilliant so far. Can’t wait to talk about it more!

 

 

The Joy Luck Club, The Maytrees, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, and Part of Possession…


 

Cover of "The Maytrees: A Novel"

Cover of The Maytrees: A Novel

 

Arggh I’m tired today. It’s finals week and everyone is annoying and all I want to do is watch the Borgias until my eyeballs fall out BUT I have posted in over two weeks, so I felt like I should at least TRY to be a good blogger and, you know, actually post once in a while…

 

1. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan was a great book that I just finished. Just the write length, well-written without being overblown or flowery, populated by believable, (mainly) sympathetic characters, and definitely deserving of the love that’s been heaped upon it over the years. Tan captures the misunderstandings and annoyances between mother and daughters perfectly, as well as the lighter times. Her vision of two generations of Chinese-American women is perfectly realized and written with such refreshing elegance and assurance.

 

2. The Maytrees by Annie Dillard was one that I just finished and wasn’t quite so crazy about. While I loved Dillard’s evocative imagery and note-perfect descriptions of the ocean, I couldn’t get past her over-reliance on alliterations (seriously, sometimes enough is enough…) and the often foggy and under-developed motivations of her characters. Without giving much away plot-wise (I personally am never interested in long plot descriptions in reviews), I’ll just say that she seems to set the reader up for one set of events before completely turning them all on their head in a way that I frankly found unbelievable and incongruous. The characters also bothered me in that they never seemed to DO much of anything. Sure, there was a lot of staring at the sea and pondering the nature of love, but come on, can’t they work a little bit too…? Or just do something that could be construed as useful…? Overall, this book had moments of lovely writing marred by half-baked and maddening characters.

 

3. I read One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey for my English class, and I ended up really liking it, though I just can’t say I ever really LOVED it. (Unlike The Grapes of Wrath or The Great Gatsby for instance…) I really don’t know why, I just never fully connected with the character of McMurphy, and I think without that, the book just lost a little bit of its pull for me. Great message though, obviously (basically, stick it to the Man!), and well-written/constructed.

 

4. Possession by A.S. Byatt doesn’t really count, sicne I just started it and am only about 50 pages in, but it is SO GOOD. Really, SO SO GOOD. Every time I read it I literally feel like I’m being swept away into another time and place. (Okay, maybe not literally). Byatt’s writing is almost insanely brilliant and incredibly versatile. AHH better get back to reading it!

 

 

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