-by Jane Austen (annotated/edited by David M. Shapard)
740 pages (2004)
a more focused glimpse into Austen’s world
The Annotated Pride and Prejudice, indefatigably researched by David Shapard, contains intriguing particulars ranging from regency-period events, economy, society and customs of the time, to facts about Jane Austen’s family life and personal history, as they apply – verse by verse, paragraph by paragraph – to her most beloved of novels, Pride and Prejudice.
Not only a lovely bound volume of Austen’s masterpiece, Shapard’s meticulous work is also a uniquely comprehensive reference tool, or glossary, for the analytical prowess of the Regency-period zealot. Even more enjoyable are the literary commentaries, and “enlightenments” of certain ambiguous passages and behaviour of Austen’s enduring characters.
Within its tirelessly investigated annotations, in simple easy-to-read terms, Shapard effectively explores the development of Austen’s novel, drawing from the historical context “behind the scenes”, that the Regency-period author drew from -- the society from which Austen lived, and the world that shaped her creative mind to produce such a well-loved story.
The striking detail and explanations, encompassed by ample definitions, maps, illustrations and how it all fits into the novel’s context, will add a full, rich dimension to one’s reading.
The Annotated Pride and Prejudice is a book every avid “Austenite” and Pride and Prejudice aficionado would not want to do without – it is a more focused glimpse into Austen’s world, which will offer immense delight to the book’s enthusiasts.
reviewed for Curled Up With A Good Book
You Are 50% Left Brained, 50% Right Brained
The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.
The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.
-by Augusta Trobaugh
224 pages (2002)
delicate as a paper crane
Simply, yet beautifully, written and poignant, Sophie and the Rising Sun -- a narrative, in the plaintive voice of various characters -- takes place in a sleepy southern town in Georgia.
Sophie, a refined lady and middle-aged spinster, finds she has depleted her "young and beautiful years" caring for her elderly mother and aunts, after her beau, Henry, never returned from WWI. Finds herself quite resigned to the idea of never finding love at her age, Sophie, finds solace in painting by the town's beautiful river, and meeting with her dear friend Miss Anne -- that is, until Grover Oto moves into town, under mysterious circumstances.
Gentlemanly and kind, Mr. Oto, an American-born man of Japanese decent, is soon commissioned as Miss Anne's gardener. Despite being limited to mere greetings in passing, Oto and Sophie form a suppressed friendship. Discovering they both share a passion for creating art, they meet weekly at the river, painting in comfortable silence as their connection to each other flourishes. However, between the antics of Ruth - the prejudiced town meddler - and the rigid racial and social structure of the time, it is almost guaranteed that the unconventional duo of Sophie and Mr. Oto will be expected to keep a formal distance. Forced into hiding from the enraged townsfolk, after the Pearl Harbour bombing, Oto experiences the full consequences of the attack, as Sophie and Miss Anne courageously support him. Will he and Sophie ever be able to realize their true feelings for each other, in a society that is so obstinate regarding their cultural differences?
Through the words and reactions of her characters, the author offers a unique perspective of the events at Pearl Harbor. In its own way, the entire substance of the novel serves as a social commentary on the war's psychological fall-out -- including the malicious treatment (thinly veiled as patriotism) of Japanese immigrants, American citizens, living in United States.
And yet, the elegiac cadences of Trobaugh's prose, coupled with her tender imagery and ambiance, adds an emotional richness to this touching account. Lovely for a light, but unforgettable, weekend read, Sophie and the Rising Sun is highly recommended.
272 pages (2005)
A history lesson with heart
Lisa See's beautiful, yet heartbreaking, tale of women's intimate relationships, and the rigid customs of 19th century China, is set in a remote village in Hunan province.
Often in poetic, tender prose, the dynamics of the lives of two girls are recounted -- Lily, the narrator of the story, a sensitive daughter of a poor farmer; and Snow Flower a well-bred daughter of privilege -- spanning childhood ("milk years" and "daughter days"), adolescence ("hair pinning days"), mature married days as wives and mothers ("rice and salt days"), to old age ("sitting quietly days").
From childhood the two girls' lives are bound together, at the instigation of a match-maker, by the customary laotong tradition - linking them to become life-long bosom friends (or "old sames"). Even at a distance, both geographically and status-wise, Lily and Snow Flower's correspondence reaches out across the boundaries as they write to each other in nu shu, a clandestinely-kept writing form known only to women, and a temporary respite in their oppression.
Along with life's everyday hard lessons for a woman living in 19th century China, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan unveils the traditions behind arranged marriages, the superstitions and the ceremonies, the unyielding codes of conduct for daughters, wives and mothers, and the disturbing traditions of foot-binding ("Only through pain will you have beauty; only through suffering will you have peace"), and the placing of little value on women's life, except for their facility to bear sons for their husband.
With a stoic acceptance - and, often times, eventual resignation - of their fate as the unappreciated sex, Snow Flower and Lily go their separate ways in life, due to a grave misunderstanding in their correspondence.
As both an excruciatingly poignant story and an enthralling historical account, See's beautifully portrayed Snow Flower and the Secret Fan will be sure to touch your heart.
-by Wilkie Collins
720 pages (1860)
Wilkie Collins’ most captivating oeuvre
A master craftsman of timeless classics that still garner accolades today, Wilkie Collins’ brilliance was often eclipsed by the illustriousness of his well-known contemporary, Charles Dickens. Fortunately Collins’ literary tour de force can still be enjoyed and appreciated today.
The Woman In White is unquestionably one of his best works — a superbly written, gripping gothic mystery that will enthrall Victorian lit and ‘whodunit’ lovers alike. Complex, yet incredibly involving, the novel is full of atmosphere and rich description. Collins is also verified as a superb stylist with his evocative array of unforgettable characters.
Throughout the novel, Collins’ allows several of his characters to espouse the role of narrator, which lends an exciting edge, where readers are unsure which characters, can or cannot, be trusted.
When a mysterious woman clad in white, accosts Walter Hartright, a young art master on his way to a new commission to teach two half-sisters, the catalyst emerges upon which the entire narrative turns. The idealist Hartright is soon introduced to and fast becomes close friends with his two new pupils at Limmeridge House? Laura Fairlie, the young naïve maiden and heiress, who abides by her father’s deathbed-wish to marry Sir Percival Glyde; and Marian Fairlie, head-strong, independent, and fiercely loyal to her younger half-sister. Despite Marian’s belief that her sister’s wedding should continue according to their father’s wishes, Marian soon becomes suspicious of Sir Percival’s intentions in marrying Laura, who she believes is only pursuing Laura for her fortune. Enter the cunning and rapacious Count Fosco from Italy, who is also strangely suave and genial a villain as one is likely to meet in literature. Sir Percival, together with his intelligent ally, Fosco, conspire to ruin the lovely Laura Fairlie, for her family fortune. There is also a secret of Sir Percival’s that he will keep, whatever the cost. As a result, the sisters and Hartright are drawn into the intrigue and danger as the plot unfolds.
What is Sir Percival’s secret? Who is this woman in white and how will she affect the lives of those at Limmeridge House?
The engaging mystery wrapped up in The Woman In White vies three sanguine youth against the likes of avaricious, black-hearted villains who will stop at nothing to get what they want. It is truly a riveting classic that encompasses romance, drama and mystery. The Woman In White is a timeless favourite and a must-read for any classics lover!
|Your Personality is Very Rare (INTJ)|
Your personality type is logical, uncompromising, independent, and nonconformist.
Only about 3% of all people have your personality, including 2% of all women and 4% of all men.
You are Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Judging.
-by Diane Setterfield
416 pages (2006)
"Tell me the truth..."
“People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in books they write, they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved....”
Setterfield’s novel The Thirteenth Tale is a captivating debut — brimming with complex twists, secrets, confused identities, squeaky staircases and gothic-like intrigue — conjuring up loose comparisons to Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White and Brönte’s Jane Eyre.
At the heart of the story is Margaret Lea, a plain bookish girl who works in her father’s antiquarian bookstore in London. Constantly surrounded and preoccupied with books, she has also written a minority of amateur biographies of relatively unknown historical figures.
The intrigue commences when a mysterious letter arrives for Margaret, from Vida Winters – an eccentric famous author who insists on confounding her aficionados and biographers with fictional adaptations of her life story with an oath of their authenticity. Aside from countless best sellers, Winters has also written a book entitled “The Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation” which, curiously enough, only contains 12 stories. The letter summons Margaret to Winter’s home where she is asked by the terminally ill author to embark on a biography of her life at the tragic Anglefield Estate. It is a story of twins, shadows, scandal, and deception.
As work on the biography begins, both Winters and Margaret struggle to deal with the truth of their painful pasts. Not before the dreadful realities are skillfully revealed by the author, the secret behind the strangely absent “thirteenth tale” is finally uncovered.
The Thirteenth Tale succeeds in being equally heart-pounding and heart-wrenching, and most definitely worth a read. One can only look forward to Diane Setterfield’s next novel.