Sunday, 2 February 2014

3 reviews in 1 (Fifth Business, Pride and Prejudice, and Rose Madder)

My reading goals have gotten off to a slow start, but I do have some reviews to share with you all :)

Fifth Business, by Robertson Davies

Summary (from Goodreads):

Ramsay is a man twice born, a man who has returned from the hell of the battle-grave at Passchendaele in World War I decorated with the Victoria Cross and destined to be caught in a no man's land where memory, history, and myth collide. As Ramsay tells his story, it begins to seem that from boyhood, he has exerted a perhaps mystical, perhaps pernicious, influence on those around him. His apparently innocent involvement in such innocuous events as the throwing of a snowball or the teaching of card tricks to a small boy in the end prove neither innocent nor innocuous. Fifth Business stands alone as a remarkable story told by a rational man who discovers that the marvelous is only another aspect of the real.

My take:

This was one of the few school books that I thoroughly enjoyed. I'm finding myself taken with novels that advocate a certain philosophy or psychology (remember The Fountainhead)?

Back in elementary school, I read through this non-fiction series on dreams and our subconscious. Freud and Jung were constantly mentioned; now whenever I hear anything about these two theorists I get this rush of excitement. Freud is often cited in many of my classes, but Jung not so much. So when I found out that this book followed Jung's thinking it was the best present ever :D

Davies' expertise with his narrative voice is also to be envied. His writing is very simple, concise, almost basic... and yet the meaning that we derive from them is anything but. It's a wonderful intermediary between those action books that never allow for character development and novels that aim to flesh out their characters but end up being over-descriptive.

Finally, he's Canadian :) Bonus points!


Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

Summary (from Goodreads):

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's witty comedy of manners--one of the most popular novels of all time--that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the "most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author's works," and Eudora Welty in the twentieth century described it as "irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be."

My take: 

This has been on my TBR list for forever, and I'm so glad I finally got off my butt and read it. I was afraid this would be one of those over-hyped books that end up being severely disappointing, but I was happily surprised. It's the simple story of a stubborn female changing an equally stubborn male, but you just fall in love with it. Austen's writing doesn't even seem particularly compelling (I find her narrative voice to be kind of flat), but you just can't help needing to read on.

Book magic.


Rose Madder, by Stephen King

Summary (from Goodreads):

After 14 years of being beaten, Rose Daniels wakes up one morning and leaves her husband -- but she keeps looking over her shoulder, because Norman has the instincts of a predator. And what is the strange work of art that has Rose in a kind of spell? In this brilliant dark-hued fable of the gender wars, Stephen King has fashioned yet another suspense thriller to keep readers right on the edge

My take:

This was my first book by Stephen King, and hot damn, it was so good. He uses psychology in a way that allows you to combine both reality and fantasy with two storylines that blur into one... I don't know if that's innovative or not but it's certainly effective

The idea reminded me of the movie Enough (but there must be a million abusive relationship stories out there, so that doesn't really matter) but the plot was so unique. So terribly exciting. Such a guilty pleasure. I shall definitely be reading more Stephen King books in the future.


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