Posts Tagged ‘Book Review’

I have finally finished reading “Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen! It’s only taken me almost 4 months to get through it!

“Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen (via Goodreads)

The blurb reads:

“Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny’s uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry’s attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary’s dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords’ influence and finds herself more isolated than ever. A subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s most profound works.”

I am reading my way through the complete works of Jane Austen, but they can be a bit long and boring at times, which is why it took me ages to get into Mansfield Park. It’s not the best of Austen’s novels, but after several fruitless attempts to get into it, I promised myself that I would finish it by next weekend! As I was a little bit bored this weekend, I was driven to reading and before I knew it, it had got more interesting so I managed to finish it!

Fanny Price is kind of boring. I suppose I understand that she is a quiet girl who sits on the outside of the social circle for most of the first part of the novel, and then gets sucked into the action as time progresses. Being quiet, kind and useful is probably Fanny’s advantage in this social circle, as she quietly judges the others as they make mistakes. Fanny is fairly grounded and modest, which is a contrast to her cousins, and certainly in comparison to her own family when she visits them and realises how much she has changed since moving to Mansfield Park when she was younger. The issues surrounding social classes show when Fanny is thinking about how she could never be deserving of, or able to even consider, a marriage proposal from someone out of her social class, no matter how much she has changed since being parted from her uncouth family and brought up in a refined environment such as Mansfield Park with her aunt, uncle and cousins.

The development of the relationships between the characters is interesting, with a massive scandal shaking up the foundations of many of them. Fanny grows to be accepted as a kind friend and cousin, even if she is not so keen on people around her at first, and then as a surrogate daughter towards the end of the novel. Her choice of who she is likely to marry is sort of obvious, even if it seems that she is too lowly in social class to be considered. I did grow to respect Fanny and her decisions in the end as she was the most sensible of the lot and took everything into consideration.

This novel took too long to get to the juicy bits, so it’s not going to be one of my favourite Austens! I have issues with how much time these characters spend fretting over stupid little things like what necklace to wear, which girl is likely to marry which man, or that someone was selfish to go for a walk without telling a certain person! I also don’t like the idea of cousins marrying each other! I suppose these things come with being privileged and not having anything too pressing to worry about.

I give it 5/10 because it took a while to get into, and when it did get interesting, it seemed to end a bit too abruptly for my liking. I can’t like all of Austen’s work!

I have just finished reading “Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert.

“Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert (via Goodreads)

This is the sequel to “Eat, Pray, Love” and follows Liz and Felipe as they continue their relationship in the way they want: travelling around the world, making a living, and generally being content. Then the US Immigration department bans Brazilian Felipe from entering the US, thus stopping him from settling down with Liz in her home country and also preventing him from making a living by selling his goods in the US. The only solution they are offered is to get married.

Neither of them wants to marry again after each already having a failed marriage behind them. So, while they wander around Asia trying to distract themselves and not make plans for the future, they spend months organising the complicated process of paperwork for their marriage and Felipe’s visa. Liz takes it upon herself to research marriage, hoping that she can find a way to make peace with the idea of it after her divorce.

She asks people in all the countries the couple visit about marriage and learns about how different societies and cultures see and treat it. She reads many books and studies on the subject of marriage through history, and she also asks her friends and family about it as well.

The book is mainly about Liz’s research into marriage, and how her findings question everything she knew about marriage. She does a lot of soul-searching and assesses all the information as she tries to reconcile herself with the fact she is being forced into another marriage just to stay with the man she loves. The reader gets to see how life without a permanent home and how the pressure of the visa application affects the couple. There are some tense moments but ultimately they know each other so well that they get through the difficult times.

This book has less of a story than “Eat, Pray, Love”, but it covers an important topic and introduces many different ideas around marriage. Nevertheless, it’s still an interesting read and worth a go if you liked the previous book! I give it 7/10.

I have just finished reading “The War Of The Worlds” by H.G. Wells.

“The War Of The Worlds” by H.G. Wells (via Goodreads)

“Man had not yet learned to fly when H.G. Wells conceived this story of a Martian attack on England. Giant cylinders crash to Earth, disgorging huge, unearthly creatures armed with heat-rays and fighting machines. Amid the boundless destruction they cause, it looks as if the end of the world has come.”

I have never read this classic before and thought I would give it a go! I do like science-fiction novels, and this was particularly interesting because it deals with the invasion of aliens, in this case Martians, when they arrive on Earth.

The narrator describes the invasion quite well, from the mysterious cylinders falling to Earth and their contents, to the chaos of the mass exodus of the population of London and the surrounding suburbs when the Martians increase in number and rampage their way through the city.

It’s amazing how slow people are  to realise just how dangerous these aliens are and so many people are killed before people start to realise how unstoppable these creatures are. The scary thing is how easily society disintegrates into chaos as people leave their normal lives and home behind to escape the Martians. Classes, sexes and races mean nothing when they are all threatened by invasion of creatures who seek to reduce the human race to the level of an inferior species, just like humans have turned animals such as cats into an inferior species.

The narrator describes his wanderings through London as he tries to avoid being killed by the Martians, striking up brief alliances with other survivors in order to escape the chaos of the fleeing people and to learn more about the aliens.

It’s not the best book I’ve read about humankind being threatened with extinction, but it’s one of the original stories about this subject which was written before man learned to fly, which makes the Martian invasion seem even more futuristic and more advanced than anything the human race could have dreamed of.

I give it 7/10 because it is an interesting read with good characters and good descriptions, but the end is a little too unsatisfactory for the subject which it covers.