Posts Tagged ‘Book Reviews’

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 “Watch Me Disappear” by Jill Dawson.

“Watch Me Disappear” by Jill Dawson (via Goodreads)

The blurb reads:

“A ten-year-old girl vanishes without trace from a Fenland village, her body never found. Thirty years on, she comes sharply back to life in the mind’s eye of her childhood friend, Tina Humber, who has done her best to put the past behind her. But now, as Tina returns home for a family wedding, she replays her memories in search of what happened, fearing that deep down she has always known who killed Mandy Baker.

In this subtle, moodily atmospheric novel, Jill Dawson explores the line between innocent and perverted desire, and that volatile stage when young girls become away of their attractions, but do not grasp the dangers.”

It’s a really creepy novel, with descriptions of some disturbing events. At times, one can’t be sure what is real and what is Tina’s fantasy.

She seems to have a lot of “funny turns” where she lapses into a state of mind where she is bombarded by memories from her childhood. Leaving her young daughter and husband in her new home in America, she visits her old childhood home village when her brother gets married and being home triggers her memories of her missing friend, Mandy.

Her dad seems to be the main source of her unhappy childhood, with rumours and his strange behaviour, especially as he seems to have a thing for young girls. We see how she was his favourite child, but there are many disturbing comments which he makes in her flashbacks, which make you realise that she could have easily been abused by him. She never acknowledges whether or not something happened.

Tina as a young girl was intrigued by desires and sex and we read about her experiences, and how boys and men like girls, but she isn’t as intrigued by men as they are by her.

The novel deals with a lot of important issues, but never really gets interesting. I found it disturbing and uncomfortable at times, but mainly it’s just a jumbled mess of the present and the past blurring together. The narrator seems to be in a foggy state: nothing seems that clear. It’s easy enough to read but the story doesn’t go anywhere and I was a bit bored by the end. I give it 5/10 because it deals with an important phase in a girl’s development into an adult, but it doesn’t really go anywhere.

I have just finished reading “Wool” by Hugh Howey.

“Wool” by Hugh Howey (via Goodreads)

The blurb reads:

“In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo.

Inside, men and women live an enclosed life full of rules and regulations.

But some people choose not to conform.

These are the people who dare to hope and dream.

These are the dangerous ones.

Jules is one of these people.

She may well be the last.”

I picked this book up in Waterstones as it was on a display table by itself, and I was intrigued by the clearly dystopian ideas in the novel, a theme which I have been interested in for years.

I wouldn’t say it is as good as “The Hunger Games” but it is of sufficient interest as a dystopian novel to warrant some attention.

It takes a while to get started in my opinion, even though it dives right into life inside this huge silo, and doesn’t get exciting until people start dying.

It’s interesting how relationships are forged in the silo, with so many rules and restrictions on how they live their lives. The connections between people are vital in aspects of life and death in this novel.

I was disturbed by the way people are punished in this novel, and how easy it is for everything to go wrong quickly.

Juliette is an interesting character: initially an unknown from the bottom of the silo, her promotion brings up to the top of the silo where she starts to learn just how easy it is for things to go wrong and fights for her life and her sanity. When her future in the silo seems lost, she quickly discovers how much people care about her and how their help enables her to survive the very worst thing in their controlled world.

It is a really good novel, although not the best dystopian novel I’ve read. It’s always fascinating to read about different scenarios in a future where things have gone badly wrong. This ranks around a 7/10 because it is an interesting concept what with being underground and has good characters, but it ends too suddenly and too easily for me. I felt short-changed by the ending, but I wasn’t particularly enamoured of the novel as it seems to be missing something, a little je ne sais quoi. It’s full of ideas to think about, but it doesn’t feel as intense, desperate and gripping like other dystopian novels I’ve read. I would like to read the other books in the series, and I hope they will have more in them to hook me.